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The following Lectures were originally delivered (though in a more simple form,) in the ordinary course of pastoral instruction; and they are now offered to the public, in the hope that they may be useful in promoting the interests of practical Christianity. It has been my aim to unfold the mind of the sacred writer, in an impartial manner, without allowing any particular system to bias my judgment. I have stated, without reserve, what I conceive to be implied in the text; and I am not conscious of having wrested, in any instance, the words of inspiration, to support a favourite theory.
The Epistles to the Corinthians form an important part of the New Testament writings. Not only do they illustrate most of the leading doctrines of the Gospel, but they throw great light on the order and discipline of the primitive church. To those who profess to follow the apostolie model, in their mode of worship, it is hoped the remarks in this volume will supply some useful hints; but while their improvement is more especially kept in view, I have endeavoured to render the work acceptable to the christian community in general. I have aimed at as much brevity as might be consistent with perspicuity ; otherwise, it would have been impossible to comprise the whole work within the limits of one volume. There is an unavoidable prolixity, and even awkwardness, in the paraphrastic mode of exposition, where the sacred writer is made to express, in his own person, the various senses which have been put on his words by commentators. Where mere criticism is the object of the writer, (as in some modern productions,) there is nothing to satisfy the pious reader, who aims at his own spiritual improvement; and, on the other hand, where only practical reflections are offered, there are still many difficulties left unsolved, which the critical student of the sacred text would wish to see removed. I have endeavoured to combine the advantages of these different methods—how far I have been successful, the public must determine. The principal authors to whom I have had recourse, arc, M‘Knight, Doddridge, Guise, and Scott. While I admire the critical acumen of the first of these respectable writers, I have often been obliged to express my dissent from his theological sentiments.
When I commenced the work, I was not aware that any separate publication on this part of Scripture was in existence. After it had gone to press, however, I was favoured, hy my respected friend, the Rev. Adam Blair of Ferryport-on-Craig, with a sight of an old Commentary, in the Latin language, on the Epistles to the Corinthians, by
Dr George Weinrichius, Professor of Divinity in the University of Leipsic. It is printed in small quarto, in 1609 and 1610. The original Greek text, with a Latin translation of each chapter, is first transcribed at length; then the argument, or general summary, of the chapter is laid out; the division of subjects being marked according to the rules of the ancient logie. A short exposition of each part, thus arranged, is afterwards given, to which are added certain corollaries (Tropianeta) of doctrines deduced from the preceding text. In these, the practical observations are chiefly contained. So far as I have had an opportunity of examining this work, the Author's sentiments appear evangelical, and his illustrations are in general judicious. Mr Horne notices several detached treatises on parts of these Epistles, lately published in Germany, none of which I have seen, (Introd. vol. ii. p. 794.)
Instead of transcribing the whole passage expounded, at the head of each section, I have (to avoid repetition) simply introduced the verses as they occur in the course of illustration. But each verse is distinctly marked; and the whole contents of the two Epistles are thus, with very little variation, engrossed. In quoting the Apostle's words, I have, in general, retained the received translation. Sometimes, however, I have ventured to vary the expression, when the sense appeared ambiguous or obscure. In these cases, I have inserted the original word or phrase. Indeed, I have often done this where no alteration is made, to put the learned reader in possession of the principal words in the sentence, without the trouble of constant reference to the Greek Testament. This gives the pages rather a confused appearance, which may, at first sight, discourage the English reader ; but as the Greek phrases are enclosed within parentheses, it is hoped it will not occasion much inconvenience. For the accommodation of such persons, I have also added translations of the passages quoted from the Greek and Latin classics. I have revised the sheets with considerable care, but owing to my distance from the press, I have been unable to attain that degree of accuracy which I could have wished.
I take this opportunity of returning my sincere thanks to my respected friends, in various places, who have kindly come forward as subscribers for the work. Encouraged by their patronage, I have been enabled to carry it through, and now submit it to their candid inspection, and to the blessing of God.