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 Main Index : Commentaries : PNT : PNT Vol. 2 : Preface

P R E F A C E.

      An interval of eighteen months has passed since the first volume of the People's New Testament, covering the ground of the historical books, was placed in the hands of the public. The favor with which it was received, the testimonials of helpfulness afforded, and the successive editions which have been rapidly called for, have shown that the author has, at least in a measure, been enabled, by the Divine blessing, to supply a need of the lovers of the Word. Encouraged by the cordial reception of the initial volume, he has been stimulated to still greater effort to prepare a concluding volume, which would be a worthy companion of the first, and worthy of the public who have so generously approved his former work. To this end, that he might better equip himself by a study of the sacred localities, he made a journey to the East and personally visited most of the localities named in the New Testament, but especially those which are identified with the earthly life of the Savior, and the evangelical labors of Paul the Apostle. His studies of the scenes of Bible facts, of the seats of the New Testament churches, of the natural features, the people and the customs of the Bible lands, have made many things clear which were obscured in his mind before, and he hopes that he has gathered some fruit which will be enjoyed by the readers of this volume.

      One difficulty constantly presented itself to the writer. Often there are allusions to customs of that age, both Jewish and Gentile, with which the world is not familiar now, and unless these are explained the meaning of the text is not apparent. Often also the argument of an epistle is elliptical, closely condensed, and difficult of comprehension by a reader who lives eighteen centuries and six thousand miles distant from the time and place where the argument was written. It has often been found difficult to combine the brevity required by the limits of the volume, with the clearness of explanation indispensable in a work intended for the common reader. The author cannot hope that he has always been entirely successful in his efforts to combine brevity and clearness, but he begs to assure the reader that he has spared no reasonable effort to so express himself that the meaning of the sacred text will be understood. While he is deeply sensible of the imperfections which will, no doubt, be [3] apparent here and there, he has been so impressed with his responsibility in a work like this, that its pages will always speak of him of long investigations, prayerful and earnest study, of long, continued toil, and of arduous, but at the same time, delightful labors.

      It will be found that, as in the parallel portions of the Gospels, the first volume was condensed by making one explanation suffice, and referring the reader from the passage before him to the parallel passage upon which comments had been given; so also in this volume, where a passage occurs in more than one epistle, one explanation only is given, and the reader is referred to that place where it occurs. The nature of the Book of Revelation is such that no interpretation at all can be given without taking considerable space, and hence less brevity has been here used than elsewhere in the New Testament. It is believed that the explanations and interpretations of this wonderful portion are given with sufficient fullness to give the reader a very clear idea of the meaning of this book of New Testament prophecy. A laborious study of this little understood and much discussed book, made anew with reference to this work, has not led the author to modify sensibly the views which he expressed ten years since in A Vision of the Ages.

      It would be a difficult task to suitably acknowledge the authors whose labors have assisted him in his work. He has consulted with advantage Meyer, Olshausen, the Bible Commentary, the Popular Commentary, Alford, Godet, Lange, Schaff, the older Commentaries of Whitby, Matthew Henry and Barnes, the various "Lives and Letters of St. Paul," the Church Histories of the first century, etc. Whatever may be thought of the gleanings in this volume they have been gathered from rich and abundant sources. If it shall help the reader to better understanding of the Divine Word, point men to the Lamb of God, comfort saints, and help them onward in the heavenward way, the author will feel that he has secured the object for which it has been written. [4]

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