Cottage Polyglot Testament
Cottage Polyglot Testament, 1846
The Cottage Bible was first printed in London in 1825-27 and was reprinted many times. Rev. William Patton (1798-1879) added extensive notes and edited the American edition, where it was first published in 1833-34. The Bible was primarily designed for home use, and a home Bible study today is still sometimes called a “Cottage Bible Study.” The notes were designed for teachers of Bible classes and Sabbath schools who were not able to afford the more expensive commentaries of Matthew Henry or Thomas Scott
A short and cheap commentary upon the New Testament has been for a long time much needed. Owing to the size and necessary expense, most of the teachers of the Bible Classes and Sabbath Schools are prevented from consulting the valuable commentaries of Henry, Scott, and others. Whilst preparing for the press the American edition of the Cottage Bible, the thought occurred, that, by retaining the notes of that work upon the New Testament, with the addition of others, selected and original, a brief and valuable commentary might be prepared, at a price within the reach of every Sabbath School teacher. With what success the design has been accomplished, others must decide. The author has not aimed at originality, but at utility—to present such hints, selected or otherwise, as would facilitate an acquaintance with the meaning of the scriptures. Frequently, various opinions are stated upon difficult passages, and the reader left to make his own selection. This course was adopted, with the hope that it would lead the reader to think for himself—to exercise his own powers of discrimination, and not to be dependant upon the mere opinions of other men. Considerable attention has been paid to the geography of the New Testament. Much information, illustrating the location, changes, &c., in places, will be found in the notes. Two maps accompany the work, which have been selected from the most approved authorities. Care has also been paid to the chronology. The year in which the events occurred will be found at the top of each page, and where considerable doubt remains, as to the precise time, notice is taken of the difficulty in the notes. A good chronological table will be found at the close of the work. Many facts from natural history have been introduced, and free use has been made of the Oriental Customs, an interesting and valuable work, by Samuel Burder. From these sources, many striking illustrations of the scriptures have been secured. Considerable reference will be found, in the notes, to the discoveries of modern travelers. These have afforded much interesting matter. Many historical facts are introduced, to show the fulfillment of prophecy. Particular attention has been given to the many of the passages which teach the Divinity of Christ. A large portion of the exegetical part of Professor Stuart”s letters to Rev. Wm. E. Channing have been incorportated in the notes. Another class of scripture has come under particular notice, viz., those upon which reliance is placed, by the advocates of the doctrine of Universal Salvation. Some thought has been bestowed upon those portions of the New Testament which speak of the “Man of Sin,” of “Antichrist,” with the evidence that these texts refer to the Papists, or the Roman Church. It is not pretended, in a work so limited as this, that all the passages are treated at length, and that all the objections are stated and answered.
By consulting the parallel passages, as intimated in the marginal references, the reader will find illustrative notes, which, for the sake of economy, have not been repeated.
Whilst this commentary contains much that is found in the notes upon the New Testament of the Cottage Bible, still that, in the exposition, contains much valuable and instructive matter, not to be found in this work. It is also true, that a considerable amount of notes not found in the Cottage Bible will be found in this.
This commentary was undertaken with the desire of doing good. The constant aim has been to concentrate, in a small compass, a valuable help to the knowledge of the scriptures. That it may be brought within the reach of all, especially of Sabbath School teachers, the publishers have stereotyped it, and, as the price is very reasonable, they depend, for remuneration, upon an extended circulation.
With feelings of gratitude, that so wide a circulation has of late been given to larger and truly valuable commentaries, this little work is now presented,
“To Zion’s friends, and mine.”
The author is conscious that it has defects, and that every thing of value cannot be found in this limited compass: still he hopes that much information may be derived from its perusal. He commits it to the kind feelings of all the friends of Zion, with the prayer that Jesus Christ, the Only Head of the Church, would by the influences of the Holy Spirit, use this instrumentality for the salvation and sanctification of souls, and the glory of the Holy Trinity.
INTRODUCTION to the COTTAGE TESTAMENT
“Whoever would attain to a true knowledge of the Christian Religion, in the full and just extent of it,” says Locke, “let him study the Holy Scriptures, especially the New Testament, wherein are contained ‘the words of eternal life.’ It had God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter.”
In calling the latter part of our Scriptures the New Testament, reference was undoubtedly had to Heb. ix. 16, 17, wherein the death of Christ is represented as sealing to believers all the blessings of the Gospel: and yet the original term (Diatheke) is so much oftener rendered Covenant than it is Testament, that we cannot but agree with Doddrige, Campbell, and most modern commentators, that our Scriptures would be more accurately defined, “The Old and New Covenants;” as containing the history and doctrine of the Two Covenants, legal and evangelical: the former ratified by the Mosaical sacrifices; the latter, by the atonement of Jesus Christ.
The first part of the New Testament contains the history of Jesus Christ, as recorded by the four Evangelists, whose memoirs are therefore usually called the four Gospels,[*] as containing the good tidings of our salvation. These we consider as distinct and independent narratives, compiled partly perhaps from recollection, but reduced to their present form under the influence of the same Spirit by which the authors preached the gospel, and wrought miracles in its defence. It is questioned whether either of these Evangelists had seen the writings of the other.
It is natural to suppose, that four persons, writing contemporary narratives, might relate different incidents relative to the same facts; one being more impressed by one circumstance, and another by a different one. It must also be recollected, that the apostles were not always together, being sent forth on different missions; (Mark vi. 7.;) consequently they did not all witness the same miracles, nor all hear the same discourses. Our Lord might work many similar miracles, and deliver the same parables, with some variety of imagery or expression, on different occasions. Matthew or Mark might record the one, and Luke or John the other; and this would account for discrepancies which have, without reason, been magnified into contradictions. There is also a great latitude and variety in the Greek, as well as English particles of time and place; these, differently rendered, may occasion seeming inconsistencies, where real ones have not existed. Examples in illustration of all these remarks, we defer to their proper places in the several narratives.
In illustrating the several Gospels, different methods have been pursued; some have considered each singly and detached; others have interwoven them into one narrative, or placed the different accounts in opposite columns, in the form of a harmony, or diatesseron, in order the better to compare them, and reconcile their apparent differences. Our plan will partly combine these methods. We shall go through Matthew first, examining all the facts he has recorded, and compare them with the other Evangelists, who appear to record the same, or others very similar. On Mark, we shall pass lightly over what corresponds with Matthew, and so with Luke and John, which will prevent much repetition. We see little like chronological arrangement in either of the Evangelists. Events were recorded as they recurred, or were brought to mind by the Holy Spirit who directed them, their great object not being to form a well digested history, but to collect such facts and discourses as were adapted to direct their faith to the true Messiah. Thus St. John says, “These things are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing, ye might have life through his name.” John xx.31.
The Old and New Dispensations (or Testaments) compared.
I. But there is another point of view in which the harmony of the New Testament may be considered, namely, as it corresponds with the Old Testament in several interesting points of view, two or three of which we shall just mention.
1. Considered historically, we may observe, that the Mosaic revelation is not only admitted but confirmed by that of Christ. The former may lead a dispassionate inquirer to embrace the latter; but the latter so necessarily supposes the former, that we find it difficult to conceive of any man as a believer in Christ, who rejects Moses and the Prophets. Indeed, our Saviour himself places this in the strongest point of view, when he says, “If men hear not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rise from the dead.” (Luke xvi. 31.)
2. The New Testament corresponds with the Old, as it contains the fulfillment of many of its prophecies; those particularly which relate to the Messiah. To him “gave all the Prophets witness.” From the first promise, that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head, we have a long series of predictions, pointing to the character and works, the life and death, resurrection and future triumphs of the Messiah, the fulfillment of which is distinctly pointed out in various parts of the New Testament, and particularly in the Gospels. Some passages of the Old Testament may be cited only by way of accommodation, or illustration; but others, quoted by way of argument, have stood the test of the most rigorous examination.
Typical institutions are a species of prophecy, by means of emblems and figurative action, which, though not so well understood in our western world, were in the East equally intelligible and satisfactory with the clearest verbal prophecies. Travellers into these countries are surprised to find the frequency of figurative action, and the ease with which it is understood. Among the Old Testament types, the sacrifices are the most interesting and important. The scapegoat, the paschal lamb, the whole burnt-offering, all, though in different points of view, direct us to the one offering of Messiah. But the New Testament, while it clears away the obscurity of former prophecies, presents us with a new series, extending no less distance into futurity than those of Abraham and Jacob, and terminating only with the church and with the world. Our Lord himself foretold the past calamities and present dispersion of the Jews. St. Paul has drawn the character of the Man of Sin, and marked his progress and final overthrow; but St. John, in his Revelations, presents us with the most extensive prophecies ever exhibited. They are indeed enveloped in the same obscurity as those of former ages; but Time has already partially withdrawn the veil and, as he passes on, will still roll back the remaining clouds.
3. Another point of view in which these dispensations may be compared, regards their peculiar temper and spirit. That of the Old Testament was partial and severe. It was confined to the children of circumcision; yea, with some exceptions, to a single nation, and that one of the smallest, and which, as their own Scriptures assure us, had as little to boast in respect of merit as of numbers. (Deut. vii. 7,8. Dan. ix. 8,16.) But the gospel has in it nothing peculiar to any nation, or country. We have the clearest proofs in matter of fact, that it suits equally with the climates of England, of India, and of Labrador. It is calculated, therefore, for universal use, and its universal spread is promised.
If we advert also to the miracles with which each dispensation was introduced we find those of Moses were miracles of judgment, inflicting punishment upon sinners (not, indeed, undeserved,) but of a very different character from those by which our Redeemer introduced the gospel: these were, almost without exception, miracles of mercy.
4. Another point of view in which we may advantageously compare the Old and New Testaments, relates to the gradual development of divine truth, which is like that of light, “shining more and more unto the perfect day.” The gospel dispensation dawned on Adam, and gradually opened during the Patriarchal revelations of David and Solomon; but attained not its zenith until the day of Pentecost, when the shadows of the Old Testament types were all withdrawn, and the whole scheme of redemption by Jesus Christ exhibited.
During the middle ages, indeed, darkness, even “such as might be felt,” again covered Christendom, but the Reformation in a great measure cleared away the gloom; and that mighty engine, Printing, has diffused its truths more extensively than ten thousand Missionaries could have done. Nor has it rested there. But the invention of stereotype and steam printing, a new impulse has been given to this vast machine. Steam navigation is another important discovery, which will facilitate the rapid dispersion both of Bibles and of Missionaries throughout the world.
The revival of zeal and energy in the propagation of the Christian religion among almost all denominations of Christians, promises a speedy accomplishment of the divine predictions. Christianity is planted in every quarter of the globe, and is spreading on every hand. Savages of Africa, and in every part of the Pacific Ocean, hitherto considered as the most untameable, are stretching out their hands to welcome it; Hindoos have began to throw away their caste and the bigoted Chinese are studying in their own language, the printed word of God. There is “a shaking” even “among the dry bones” of the house of Israel; and Scripture and facts equally assure us, that the time is coming, when “the knowledge and the glory of God shall cover the earth as the waters do the bottom of the sea.”
The Evidences of Christianity
II. Whatever argument may be named in defence of the Jewish Scriptures, applies with two-fold, yea, with seven-fold, force in favour of the Christian revelation, while there are others peculiar to itself, one only of which we can here mention, referring our readers, who wish to examine for themselves, to Mr. Horne and other able writers.
The argument here presented to our readers, is from one who boldly assumed the character of “a free-thinker,” and scorned the shackles of a creed: we refer to Rousseau.
“I confess to you, that the majesty of the Scriptures strikes me with admiration, as the purity of the gospel hath its influence on my heart. Peruse the works of our Philosophers with all their pomp of diction: how mean, how contemptible are they, compared with the Scriptures! Is it possible that a book, at once so simple and sublime, should be merely the work of man? Is it possible that the sacred personage, whose history it contains, should be himself a mere man? Do we find that he assumed the tone of an enthusiast, or an ambitious sectary? What sweetness, what purity in his manners! What an affecting gracefulness in his delivery! What sublimity in his maxims! What profound wisdom in his discourses! What presence of mind, what subtlety, what truth in his replies! How great the command over his passions! Where is the man, where the philosopher, who could so live, and so die, without weakness and without ostentation? When Plato described his imaginary good man, loaded with all the shame of guilt, yet meriting the highest rewards of virtue, he described exactly the character of Jesus Christ: the resemblance was so striking, that all the Fathers perceived it.
“What prepossession, what blindness must it be, to compare the son of Sophroniscus (Socrates) to the son of Mary! What an infinite disproportion there is between them! Socrates, dying without pain or ignominy, easily supported his character to the last; and if his death, however easy, had not crowned his life, it might have been doubted whether Socrates, with all his wisdom, was any thing more than a vain sophist. He invented, it is said, the theory of morals. Others, however, had put them in practice; he had only to say, therefore, what they had done, and to reduce their examples to precepts. Aristides had been just before Socrates defined justice; Leonidas had given up his life for his country before Socrates declared patriotism to be a duty; the Spartans were a sober people before Socrates recommended sobriety; before he had even defined virtue, Greece abounded in virtuous men. But where could Jesus learn, among his competitors, that pure and sublime morality, of which he only hath given us both precept and example? The greatest wisdom was made known amidst the most bigoted fanaticism, and the simplicity of the most heroic virtues did honour to the vilest people upon the earth. The death of Socrates, peaceably philosophizing with his friends, appears the most agreeable that could be wished for; that of Jesus, expiring in the midst of agonizing pains; abused, insulted, and accused by a whole nation; is the most horrible that could be feared. Socrates, on receiving the cup of poison, blessed indeed the weeping executioner who administered it; but Jesus, in the midst of excruciating tortures, prayed for his merciless tormentors. Yes, if the life and death of Socrates were those of a sage, the life and death of Jesus are those of a God. Shall we suppose the Evangelical History a mere fiction? Indeed, my friend, it bears not the marks of fiction; on the contrary, the history of Socrates, which nobody presumes to doubt, is not so well attested as that of Jesus Christ. Such a supposition, in fact, only shifts the difficulty, without obviating it: it is more inconceivable that a number of persons should agree to write such a history, than that one only should furnish the subject of it. The Jewish authors were incapable of the diction, and strangers to the morality contained in the gospel, the marks of whose truth are so striking and inimitable, that the inventor would be a more astonishing character than the hero.”[†] (Letter to the Archbishop of Paris.)
III. Of the authority of the four Gospels already named, we shall quote only the concluding remarks of Dr. Lardner.
“In the first part of this work (his ‘Credibility’) it was shown,” says the Doctor, “that there is not any thing in the books of the New Testament, however strictly canvassed, inconsistent with their supposed time and authors. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
In this second part we have had express and positive evidence, that these books were written by those whose names they bear, even the Apostles of Jesus Christ, who was crucified at Jerusalem in the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor in Judea; and their well known companions and fellow labourers. It is the concurring testimony of early and later ages, and of writers in Europe, Asia, and Africa, and of men of different sentiments in divers respects. For we have had before us the testimony of those called heretics, . . . . as well as Catholics. These books were received from the beginning with the greatest respect, and have been publicly and solemnly read in the assemblies of Christians throughout the world, in every age from that time to this. They were early translated into the languages of divers countries and people. They were quoted by way of proof in all arguments of a religious nature: and were appealed to, on both sides, in all points of controversy that arose among Christians themselves. They were likewise recommended to the perusal of others as containing the authentic account of the Christian doctrine. And many commentaries have been writ to explain and illustrate them. All which afford full assurance of their genuineness and integrity. If these books had not been writ by those to whom they are ascribed, and if the things related in them had not been true, they could not have been received from the beginning. If they contain a true account of things, the Christian religion is from God and cannot but be embraced by serious and attentive men, who impartially examine, and are willing to be determined by evidence.”
Of these four Gospels, the first and last (Matthew and John) were written by two of our Lord”s Apostles; the other two by the traveling companions of Apostles, Mark with Peter, and Luke with Paul: so that, independent of their own inspiration, the writers had the best possible means of correct information.
[There followed several table relating to the Gospels, including “A Concise Harmony of the Gospels,” “The Discourses of Jesus, Arranged in Chronological Order,” “The Parables of Jesus, arranged in Chronological Order,” “The Miracles of Christ, arranged in Chronological Order,” and a “Chronology of our Saviour”s life” which compared the years of Christ”s life with the Julian Period, the Olympiads, the years of Rome, and the Times of the Passover for each year.]
[*] The Greek term evangelion (gospel) signifieds “good news” in general; in the New Testament, it is confined to the “good news of salvation by Jesus Christ.” The word gospel is derived from the Anglo-Saxon god, good, and spell,message, or news.
[†] A judicious writer has remarked, that few Deists have ventured to attack the moral character of Christ. Even Thomas Paine, in the midst of his virulence against Christianity, observes, “Nothing that is here said can apply, even with the most distant disrespect, to the real character of Jesus Christ. He was a virtuous and amiable man. The morality that he preached and practiced was of the most benevolent kind.”
Nothing, however is too daring for some writers. A French infidel of the name of Volney undertook to prove, in spite of all history, sacred and profane, that Christ (or Chrestus, as he calls him) was an allegorical personage—the Sun. In answer to which ridiculous notion, we need only refere to Grotius work “On the Truth of the Christian Religion.”
Grotius says, “That Jesus of Nazareth formerly lived in Judea, in the reign of Tiberius, the Roman emperor, is constantly acknowledged, not only by Christians dispersed all over the world , but also by all the Jews which now are, or have ever wrote since that time; the same is also testified by heathens, that is, such as did not write either on the Jewish or Christian religion; Suetonius, Tacitus, Pliny the younger, and many after these.”
Appeal may also be made, not only to the received, but the apocryphal gospels; not only to Josephus, but to Trypho and Celsus, the great Jewish and Pagan antagonists of Christianity. In short, there is no great character of equal antiquity—neither Julius nor Augustus Caesar; neither Cato nor Cicero; neither Virgil nor Horace—whose existence and character is better attested.