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BIBLE CLASS AND FAMILY
OR A FAMILIAR GUIDE
TO THE STUDY OF THE
BEING A CONDENSED SUMMARY OF THE MOST VALUABLE COMMENTARIES;
COMPILED CHIEFLY FROM A WORK OF THE
REV. GEORGE HOLDEN, A.M.
BY THOMAS C. BROWNELL, D. D. LL. D.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1833, by T. C.
BROWNELL, in the Clerk's office of the District Court of Connecticut.
Is presenting the following work to the public, the Publisher believes bat he is performing an acceptable service. Every teacher of a Sunday. School, who assumes the responsibility of instructing children in the holy scriptures, will perceive the importance of clearly understanding them bimself, and will feel his need of suitable helps for that purpose. The same helps are needed by all members of Bible Classes, as well as for the private instruction of families. The larger Commentaries are so expen. sive that they can be obtained only by a small portion of the community, and they are so voluminous that still fewer can find the necessary time for their perusal. Besides which, a large portion of their contents is usually devoted to learned criticisms, which are of little use to any but the professed theological student.
To remedy these inconveniences, and to supply the wants of those class. es of persons for whom the present work is designed, the Rev. George Holden recently published, in London, “ The Christian Expositor ;" a work which he had prepared with great labour and judgment, after a dili. gent examination of all the most approved Commentaries, and a careful reference to the original text of the New Testament. This highly esteemed work has been taken as the basis of that now presented to the public. The Editor has carefully compared it with the most valuable Commenta. ries now in use: And having abridged it, by omitting whatever did not comport with his design, he has found room for some valuable additions from the works of other Commentators, (designating their names,) which may serve as a further elucidation of the sacred text.
At the beginning of each Chapter of St. Matthew, a reference is given to the parallel passages in the other Evangelists, which may serve as a HARMONY OF THE Gospels; and in the body, or at the end of each note, REFERENCES are given to other passages of Scripture of similar import.
The work is published without the text, in order to afford the greatest quantity of information at the least possible expense; and it is hoped that it will be found sufficiently comprehensive to serve as a satisfactory guide to the meaning of the Sacred writers.
Hartford, Sept. 4, 1833.
The first edition of this work having been disposed of within a short time after it was issued from the press, the Publisher has lost no time in presenting this Second Edition to the public. It has passed under the revision of the Editor; and though few alterations have been made in the body of the work, the references have been particularly examined, and their relevancy and correctness determined.
Hartford, May, 1834.
OF SOME OF THE OFFICES AND CONDITIONS OF MEN. PATRIARCHS, or Fathers of Families, such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and his sons.
Judges, temporary supreme Governors, immediately appeinted by God over the children of Israel
Kings, and they either of the whole nation, or after the falling off of the ten tribes, of Judah or Israel
Elders, Senators, the LXX. or Sanhedrim. A Proselyle of the Covenant, who was circumcised, and submitted to the whole law. A Proselyte of the Gate, or Stranger who worshipped one God, but remained uncireumcised.
OFFICERS UNDER THE ASSYRIAN OR PERSIAN MONARCHS. Tirshatha, or Governor appointed by the kings of Assyria or Persia.
Heads of the Captivity, the Chief of each tribe or family, who exercised a precarious Government during the Captivity.
UNDER THE GRECIAN MONARCHS, Maccabees, the Successors of Judas Maccabeus, bigh priests, who presided with king. ly power.
UNDER THE ROMAN EMPERORS.
Tetrarchs, who had kingly power in four Provinces.
ECCLESIASTICAL OFFICERS, OR SECTS OF MEN.
Levites, of the tribe of Levi, but not of Aaron's family; of these were three orders, Gershonjtes, Kohathites, Merarites, several sons of Levi.
Nethinims, inferior servants to the Priests and Levites (not of their tribe) to draw water, and cleave wood, &c.
Prophets, anciently called Seers, who foretold future events, and denounced God's judgments.
Children of the Prophets, their disciples or scholars.
Libertines, freed men of Rome, who, being Jews or Proselytes, had a synagogue or oratory for themselves.
Gaulonites, or Galileans, who pretended it unlawful to obey an heathen magistrate. Herodians, who shaped their religion to the times, and particularly flattered Herod. Epicureans, who placed all happiness in pleasure. Stoicks, who denied the liberty of the Will, and pretended all events were determined by fatal necessity.
Simon Magus, author of the heresy of the Gnosticks, who taught that men, however vicious their practice was, should be saved by their knowledge.
Nicolailans, the disciples of Nicolas, one of the first seven Deacons, who taught the community of wives.
Vazarites, who under a vow abstained from wine, &c. Nazarenes, Jews professing Christianity. Pharisees, Separatists, who upon the opinion of their own godliness despised all others.
Sadducees, who denied the resurrection of the dead, angels, and spirits.
Samaritans, mongrel professors, partly Heathen, and partly Jews, the offspring of the Assyrians sent to Samaria.
Apostles, Missionaries or persons sent; they who were sent by our Saviour from their number were called The Twelve.
Bishops, Successors of the Apostles in the government of the Church.
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO
Tue Author of this Gospel, as appears from the concurrent testimony of all antiquity, was Mathew, surnamed Levi, the son of Alpheus; but as to the precise time when it was composed, there has been considerable diver. sity of opinion. It has been assigned by eminent writers to different years between A. D. 37, and A. D. 64, nor does it seem possible to determine the date with certainty. The accounts of the ancient ecclesiastical historians are vague and confused, and the internal evidence is far from satisfactory; but the preponderance, it is apprehended, is rather in favor of an early date. It is not probable that the Christians should have been left for any considerable number of years without a written history of our Saviour's ministry ; and, as it is the general opinion that St. Matthew's Gospel was the first written, we shall not err greatiy if we assign it to A. D. 37 or 38.
The language in which it was composed has been no less keenly agitated; some contending that it was written in Hebrew, 'not pure Hebrew, but in the mixed dialect, sometimes called Syro.Chaldee, which was the prevailing language of Palestine in that age ; and others that it was written in Greek. The testimony of the ancients to a Hebrew original is so strong, that it can scarcely be rejected without overthrowing the credit of all ancient history. On the other hand, there are not wanting very cogent reasons in favor of our present Greek Gospel, which has every in. ternal mark of being an original writing. As it is difficult to resist the force of the arguments produced on both sides, many have embraced a third opinion, namely, that there were two originals, one in Hebrew and the other in Greek, but both written by St. Matthew. This harmonizes with the testimony of the ancients, and with the internal evidence. Thus Josephus wrote the History of the Jewish War both in Hebrew and Greek. The subsequent disappearance of the Hebrew copy is easily accounted for from the contempt into which every thing Jewish fell after the destruc. tion of Jerusalem, and from the prevalence of the Greek language.
The genuineness and authenticity of St. Matthew's Gospel is establish ed by the most convincing evidence. The Unitarians, indeed, have attempted to expunge the first two chapters as a spurious interpolation, but their reasons have been osten satisfactorily retuted. All the ancient un. mutilated manuscripts, as well as all the aticient versions, contain the first iwo chapters ; and no reasonable doubt remains of their being the genuine production of St. Matthew, the author of the Gospel.
That this Evangelist wrote his Gospel ir Judea, and primarily for the use of the Jewish nation, is attested by the voice of antiquity, and confirmed by the contents of the book itself. Those circumstances are particularly pointed out, which were adapted to establish the faith of those who believed, and to convert those who believed not, among the Jews. As for instance, those prophecies which have reference to the Messiah are more