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fligate men are willing to bestow on the subject of religion. But doubts may be expressed in few words; objections, misrepresentations and ludicrous allusions, may be soon made, and are easily remembered. Accordingly, although they could never have disproved any one of the evidences of Christianity, they could boldly affirm, that the whole of this evidence was doubtful at best; that the Christian doctrines were contradictory and incredible; and that the morality of Scripture was rigid and inapplicable to the condition of man. And in proportion as a man possessed the "mind which was in Christ Jesus," though they "had no evil thing to say of him," they could try to hold him up to scorn, under the reviling epithets of illiberal, or morose, or visionary, or hypocritical. They who talked thus, and they who listened, were equally willing to support these assertions; the proof of them was not required. Wit or raillery supplied the place both of principle and argument; and wealth, festivity, and increasing numbers, gave spirit to their exertions.
To the patrons of such sentiments, the weekly recurrence of the Lord's day was peculiarly unwelcome. This sacred day has ever been an eminent means of propagating Christian truth, and of forming the Christian character. Of this the Puritans had been fully aware. They had enforced the doctrines of Scripture on this subject, and under their potent ministrations, a serious impression of the importance of sanctifying the Sabbath day, had been widely diffused. Of the religious effects which followed the strict observance of this day, profane and sceptical men were also aware. And they were anxious to counteract its influence, not merely because they were unwilling to worship God, but also because they hoped to supplant religious principle, by introducing a neglect of religious ordinances. A serious regard to the duties of private worship, was now considered by many as beneath the character of a man of rank; and a contempt of every. public appearance of devotion, was a distinguishing
mark of the friends of the King. When CHArles was at any time in the house of God, he seemed to be afraid that it was not sufficiently known, "that he feared not God, neither regarded man." "And Pharaoh said, Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice?" The example of the King was followed by the minions of his pleasures; and the conduct of the court, whatever it may be, will ever be copied by multitudes. Religious men, in every age, have seen cause to lament, that many neglect the duties of the Sabbath; but at this period, the contempt of these salutary duties was open and bold. The torrent of impiety which descended from the throne, was swollen in its progress, and deluged the land. "O my people, they who lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths."
The attention of Dr OWEN had been often directed with grief to this declining state of religion; and he tells us, that to the introduction of a great neglect of the duties of the Lord's day, might be ascribed much of the profaneness which had become so general. While studying the fourth chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, he examined with much care the doctrine of Scripture respecting the Sabbath. The result of this examination is contained in six Exercitations, 'concerning the name, the origin, the nature, the use, and the continuance of a day of sacred rest;' and practical directions for the due observance of this day are subjoined. These Dissertations were a part of the second volume of the Exposition; but as the other parts of this volume were not ready for publication, the six Dissertations were published, in the 1671, in a detached form, that they might be read more extensively, and without delay. When the second Volume was afterwards published, the author thought that it would be unfair to many of his readers to increase its size, by inserting the Dissertations concerning the Sabbath; of which two editions were then in the hands of the public. On this account, they were not included in
the volumes of the Exposition. But as these Dissertations are very important, as they are now but little known, and especially as they constitute an essential part of Dr OWEN's Illustration of the Epistle to the Hebrews, they will be restored to their proper place in this edition.
The style of Dr OWEN's writings has been a subject of frequent censure. The length of his sentences, it is said, their intricacy, and consequently their obscurity, fatigue the reader's attention, and retard his progress. His admirers must indeed admit, that the complaint is not without foundation; but they maintain, that there are few authors whose works will better repay the time and the labour, which are spent in the perusal of them. Dr OWEN was a very voluminous writer; he needed the services of an Amanuensis, and his works bear marks of this division of labour. Accustomed only to dictate his ideas, he surveys the stores of a mind rich in knowledge; and perceiving clearly the leading truth which he meant to illustrate, he brings forward a long series of thoughts, all bearing on the subject. The associations which linked these thoughts together in his mind, were probably most natural; but these thoughts were perhaps not all requisite at the time, parentheses frequently occur, and the passage becomes perplexed. He had neither leisure nor inclination to revise and to retrench; perhaps, though he had made the attempt, he was not qualified for rendering his writings much more acceptable by improvements in style. In general, however, it is not difficult to perceive his meaning, and when the sentence is intricate, a little more attention will generally enable the reader to disentangle the several clauses.
But as many readers will not submit to this labour, an attempt has been made in this edition to render the style somewhat more perspicuous. This has been done chiefly by dividing long sentences, and sometimes by supplying the place of antiquated words, by
equivalent words of more modern use. In these attempts to lessen the labour of the reader, care has been conscientiously taken, that the sentiments of Dr OWEN should not be at all affected. In some passages, after trying to exhibit the thoughts more distinctly, the Editor has left them as he found them; because the only alterations which he could make, either introduced a new idea, or excluded some part of the author's sentiments.
Many typographical errors of the former edition have been corrected, and very considerable care has been taken in the printing and correcting of the present edition. The learned reader will however find room for the exercise of his candour.
As the portion of labour bestowed in revising this work, is not of itself a proof that the office of an editor has been discharged with success, it is unnecessary to mention the time which has been devoted to it. But I may be allowed to say, that my obligations to the author are many; that a minute examination of this work, accorded well with my favourite studies; and that I have not withheld from this edition any efforts, which very moderate qualifications, and which some leisure, could afford.
Markinch, April 25. 1812.
P. S. The attempts which the Editor has made to render the style more perspicuous, have as yet been confined to the Exercitations. In these he was the more inclined to make the attempt, as he hopes that these two Volumes may be read by many, who may not find leisure to study the Exposition. As good men, zealously affected in a good cause, have so powerfully called the public attention to the religious in
terests of the children of Abraham, this first Volume will be found interesting in no common degree to the friends of the Jews. To aid them in their benevolent efforts for the conviction of these men, who have so long been "blinded by the god of this world;" they will not easily find another collection of information and of argument equal to this. No reader needs to be discouraged at the sight of so many quotations in the Hebrew character, as a translation always follows them.
As the Editor's distance from the press, has increased the difficulties of this undertaking, a few errors have crept into the work. It is hoped that they are but few. There is one however which he must beg the reader to have the goodness to correct. It occurs in page 340. line 37. where, instead of eleventh, read two hundred and eleventh. The work will be again carefully examined, and a Table of Errata will be given, if the errors are found to affect the argument.