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HAVING brought the Guide to the Acts of the Apostles to a close, the Author desires to express his thankfulness for the continued encouragement which has accompanied the monthly publication of that work; and his sense of the mercy and goodness of God in enabling him to carry it on for two years, added to the ten during which he had published the former work, the Cottager's Guide to the New Testament.
The statement made in the preface to the Guide to the Acts of the Apostles will apply in every particular to the present work, which will be carried on, as before, in monthly numbers. The only difference between the two will consist in an alteration in the mode of printing the text of the Scripture. It may be hoped that the mode employed in the present work may be considered an improvement, and especially as being more adapted to the character of the subject matter of the Epistles. nature of the alteration will be explained in some separate remarks, in the "Helps in reading the Epistles of St. Paul."
The Epistles will be taken in the order in which they were written, according to the account given in the Guide to the Acts. They will follow thus:
The First Epistle to the Thessalonians, written from Corinth, A.D. 50.
The Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, from Corinth, A.D. 50.
The First Epistle to Timothy, from Nicopolis, A.D. 65.
THE GENERAL EPISTLES.
The First Epistle of Peter, from Babylon in Egypt, A.D. 59.
The Second Epistle of Peter, from Rome, a.d. 65.
The Epistle of Jude, A.D. 65 or 66.
The First Epistle of John, A.D. 68 or 69.
IN READING THE EPISTLES OF ST. PAUL.
THE writings of St. Paul beautifully illustrate the power and capacity of the divine Scriptures. Great truths lie plainly upon the surface in a manner which can reach the simplest mind; while at the same time, the style of the whole is such as requires the exercise of thought with care and diligence, in order to embrace the subject in its completeness; and the more care and diligence are used, the greater the depths of knowledge and wisdom discovered.
In order the more readily to adapt the points of application that may be suggested to the subjects in each portion, they will not be stated in a manner so distinctly separated from each other as in the former parts of the work. It will be found that one point of application may arise so naturally from the preceding point, that the thoughts will flow so as to combine them; and for this reason questions will not be suggested after each Application as before, but more condensed hints for self-examination will be placed after the last of each portion, to assist in preparing the mind for "the Prayer." The particular scriptures from which each point of application is drawn, may commonly be traced by observing the parts which are given in the same line of indentation; but in order to simplify a reference to them, the verses will be noted at
the end of each Application. For the sake of more ready reference in subsequent portions to suitable applications already suggested, the numbers will be carried on throughout the whole of an Epistle, and not confined to each portion as formerly.
By an attentive reading of each portion of St. Paul's Epistles before any reference is made to the Explanation given in this Guide, difficulties may be removed, and the mind will be prepared to judge of the explanation, so as greatly to improve the knowledge it may afford. One great point with every reader should be, to obtain a view of the scope and purpose of the whole passage, before any attempt is made to apply any particular sentence :—too many are satisfied with gathering the sense of separated texts, without seeking the knowledge of the apostle's object in connexion with the general subject. To avoid this insufficient reading of the Epistles, and to assist the mind in that advantageous exercise which has been alluded to, the Scriptures will be printed in this Guide in such a manner as may afford some important "Helps ;" while it will not prevent those who do not need them from reading each portion without hindrance or confusion.
These helps will consist of
First, a side column, in which a very concise indication will be given of the relation in which the Scripture placed opposite stands to the general subject on which the apostle is writing. A reference to any of these short index-words will shew at once the assistance they are calculated to afford.
Secondly, in printing the Scripture itself, instead of the common mode of indenting the words according to verses (which is the way most bibles are printed), the indentations will be made according to the divisions of the subject.
These indentations will correspond, in the first place,