What is not as well known is that his judiciousness as a commentator perhaps even excelled his skills as a theologian. This remains, after years, to be one of the best commentaries available. Slowly read it and you will understand why. How well has Calvin reached the meaning of the prophets—no one better.
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Of all commentators I believe John Calvin to be the most candid. In his expositions he is not always what moderns would call Calvinistic; that is to say, where Scripture maintains the doctrine of predestination and grace he flinches in no degree, but inasmuch as some Scriptures bear the impress of human free action and responsibility, he does not shun to expound their meaning in all fairness and integrity. He was no trimmer and pruner of texts. He gave their meaning as far as he knew it.
King very truly says of him,.
He is scrupulously careful to let it speak for itself, and to guard against every tendency of his own mind to put upon it a questionable meaning for the sake of establishing some doctrine which he feels to be important, or some theory which he is anxious to uphold. This is one of his prime excellences. He will not maintain any doctrine, however orthodox and essential, by a text of Scripture which to him appears of doubtful application, or of inadequate force.
For instance, firmly as he believed the doctrine of the Trinity, he refuses to derive an argument in its favor from the plural form of the name of God in the first chapter of Genesis. It were easy to multiply examples of this kind, which, whether we agree in his conclusion or not, cannot fail to produce the conviction that he is at least an honest commentator, and will not make an passage of Scripture speak more or less than, according to his view, its divine Author intended it to speak….
If you needed any confirmatory evidence as to the value of his writings, I might summon a cloud of witnesses, but it will suffice to quote one or two.
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Here is the opinion of one who is looked upon as his great enemy, namely, Arminius:. Poole — was a reformed puritan. Poole has more largely discussed, and has industriously declined what is to be found there. The three volumes, tolerably cheap, and easily to be got at, are necessaries for your libraries. He is a very prudent and judicious commentator; and one of the few who could honestly say:. Poole is not so pithy and witty by far as Matthew Henry, but he is perhaps more accurate, less a commentator, and more an expositor. You meet with no ostentation of learning in Matthew Poole, and that for the simple reason that he was so profoundly learned as to be able to be able to give results without display of his intellectual crockery.
A pedant who is for ever quoting Ambrose and Jerome, Piscator and Oecolampadius, in order to show what a copious reader he has been, is usually a dealer in small wares, and quotes only what others have quoted before him, but he who can give you the result and outcome of very extensive reading without sounding a trumpet before him is the really learned man… Strange to say, like the other great Matthew [Henry], he [Poole] did not live to complete his work beyond Isaiah 53; other hands united to finish the design.
Beyond all controversy, Gill was one of the most able Hebraists of his day, and in other matters no mean proficient. His great work on the Holy Scriptures is greatly prized at the present day by the best authorities, which is conclusive evidence of its value, since the set of the current of theological thought is quite contrary to that of Dr.
His ultraism is discarded, but his learning is respected: the world and the church take leave to question his dogmatism [systematic theology], but they both bow before his erudition. Say what you will about that lore, it has its value: of course, a man has to rake among perfect dunghills and dustheaps, but there are a few jewels which the world could not afford to miss.
Gill was a master cinder-sifter among the Targums, the Talmuds, the Mishna, and the Gemara. He was always at work; it is difficult to say when he slept, for he wrote 10, folio pages of theology. The portrait of him which belongs to this church, and hangs in my private vestry, and from which all the published portraits have been engraved, represents him after an interview with an Arminian gentleman, turning up his nose in a most expressive manner, as if he could not endure even the smell of free-will.
In some such a vein he wrote his commentary. He hunts Arminianism throughout the whole of it.
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He is far from being so interesting and readable as Matthew Henry. He delivered his comments to his people from Sabbath to Sabbath, hence their peculiar mannerism. This is an easy method, gentleman, of filling up the time, if you are ever short of heads for a sermon. Show your people firstly, secondly, and thirdly, what the text does not mean, and then afterwards you can go back and show them what it does mean. It may be thought, however, that one such a teacher is enough, and that what was tolerated from a learned doctor would be scouted in a student fresh from college.
For good, sound, massive, sober sense in commenting, who can excel Gill?
Very seldom does he allow himself to be run away with by imagination, except now and then when he tries to open up a parable, and finds a meaning in every circumstance and minute detail; or when he falls upon a text which is not congenial with his creed, and hacks and hews terribly to bring the word of God into a more systematic shape. Gill is the Coryphaeus of hyper-Calvinism, but if his followers never went beyond their master, they would not go very far astray. Clarke c. If the spirits of the two worthies could descend to the earth in the same mood in which they departed, no one house would be able to hold them.
Adam Clarke is the great annotator of our Wesleyan friends; and they have no reason to be ashamed of him, for he takes rank among the chief of expositors. His mind was evidently fascinated by the singularities of learning, and hence his commentary is rather too much of an old curiosity shop, but it is filled with valuable rarities, such as none but a great mane could have collected. Like Gill, he is one-sided, only in the opposite direction to our friend [Gill] the baptist. The use of the two authors may help to preserve the balance of your judgments.
If you consider Clarke wanting [lacking] in unction, do not read him for savor but for criticism, and then you will not be disappointed.
The author thought that lengthy reflections were rather for the preacher than the commentator, and hence it was not a part of his plan to write such observations as those which endear Matthew Henry to the million. If you have a copy of Adam Clarke, and exercise discretion in reading it, you will derive immense advantage from it, for frequently by a sort of side-light he brings out the meaning of the text in an astonishingly novel manner. I do not wonder that Adam Clarke still stands, notwithstanding his peculiarities, a prince among commentators. I do not find him so helpful as Gill, but still from his side of the question, with which I have personally no sympathy, he is an important writer, and deserves to be studied by every reader of the Scriptures.
He very judiciously says of Dr.
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Known as the JFB Commentary. Highly recommended. We consult it continually, and with growing interest. The first volume was published in and the last in He is a link between the modern school, at the head of which I put Poole and Henry, and the older school who mostly wrote in Latin, and were tinctured with the conceits of those schoolmen who gathered like flies around the corpse of Aristotle. He appears to have written before Diodati and Trapp, but lacked opportunity to publish. I fear he will be forgotten, as there is but little prospect of the republication of so diffuse, and perhaps heavy, an author.
He is a very Alp of learning, but cold and lacking in spirituality, hence his lack of popularity. English Annotations on the Whole Bible , v ol. These were also popularly known as the Westminster Annotations, as over half of the commentators were Westminster divines. The first edition has rather brief notes. The fuller third and last edition is considered the best edition. Here is an introduction to the commentary with the list of contributors. The notes are too short and fragmentary to be of any great value. The volumes are a heavy investment. The work is probably less esteemed than it should be.
Ness was the reformed puritan that wrote An Antidote Against Arminianism, which is known to some reformed folk. You will find it contained in four thin folio volumes, and you will have a treasure if you procure it. Full of remarks such as are to be found in Thomas Fuller and Bishop Hall.
This was the first whole Bible commentary to come from American soil. Cotton was a reformed puritan.
The series is projected to be 10 volumes. These volumes are very pricey as they are done by an academic publisher. Notes on the New Testament an undisguised plagiarism from Guyse. Scott, Thomas. The very first money I ever received for pulpit services in London was invested in Thomas Scott, and I neither regretted the investment nor became exhilarated thereby. His work has always been popular, is very judicious, thoroughly sound and gracious; but for suggestiveness and pith is not comparable to Matthew Henry. Sutcliffe was a Wesleyan minister. Sutcliffe, though an Arminian, is in general so good that we wish we had more of him; his style is vivacious and forcible.
Chalmers was a leader in the early Free Church of Scotland. Here are brief expositions through the Bible. The contents of the volumes are: 1 Genesis — Joshua, 2 Judges- Job, 3 Psalms — Jeremiah, 4 The New Testament, 5 Genesis — 2 Kings 11 the content of this last volume is different than the first two volumes.
They are precious fragments of immortal thought. The Pictorial Bible, vols. This is a full commentary full of scholarship as footnotes on the Biblical text. Many of the pictures are small and helpful as one finds in a Bible dictionary ; the large pictures are exceedingly well done and sometimes magnificent. You mean to [should] take that godly freight on board before you launch into married life [speaking to young seminary students].
As you cannot visit the Holy Land, it is well for you that there is a work like the Pictorial Bible, in which the notes of the most observant travellers are arranged under the texts which they illustrate. For the geography, zoology, botany, and manners and customs of Palestine, this will be your counselor and guide. You have reading more interesting than any novel that was ever written, and as instructive as the heaviest theology. The matter is quite attractive and fascinating, and yet so weighty, that the man who shall study those eight volumes thoroughly, will not fail to read his Bible intelligently and with growing interest.
Barth, Christian, G. We have referred to it with benefit. We have nothing equal to them as a series. These volumes are not all of equal value, but, as a whole, they are a grand addition to our stores. The American translators have added considerably to the German work, and in some cases these additions are more valuable than the original matter. For homiletical [preaching] purposes these volumes are so many hills of gold, but, alas, there is dross also, for Baptismal Regeneration and other grave errors occur. It gives many precious hints, and much of the choicest thought of medieval writers, besides suggesting catch-words and showing connections between various passages.
Geikie — Porter; Dr.