An exposition, book of annotations or remarks. There are some people so wise in their own conceit, and think human helps of so little worth, that they despise commentaries on the Scriptures altogether: but every student or preacher whose business is to explain the sacred oracles, to make known the mind of God to others, to settle cases of conscience, to oppose the sophistry of sceptics, and to confound the arguments of infidels, would do well to avail himself of the most judicious, clear, copious, critical, and sound commentaries on the Bible. Nor can I suppose that commentaries can be useless to the common people, for though a spirit of serious enquiry, with a little good sense, will go a great way in understanding the Bible, yet as the language is often figurative, as allusions are made to ancient customs, and some parts require more investigation than many common Christians have time for, a plain exposition certainly must be useful. Expositions of the Bible, however, may be made a bad use of. He who takes the i/ise dixit of a commentator, without ever examining whether the meaning given comport with the text? he who gives himself no trouble to investigate the Scripture for himself, but takes occasion to be indolent, because others have laboured for him, surely does wrong. Nor can it be said that those preachers use them properly, who, in making their sermons, form their plans from the commentator before they have thought upon the text. Perhaps the best way is to follow our own talents; first, by prayer, study, and attention to form our scheme, and then to examine the opinions of others concerning it. We will here present the reader with a view of some of those commentaries which are the most generally approved.
And, 1st in my opinion, Henry takes the lead for common utility. The sprightly notes, the just inferences, the original thoughts, and the warm applications to the conscience, makes this work justly admired. It is true that there are some expressions which do not agree with the evangelic system; but, as the late Mr. Rylan observes, “‘Tis impossible for a person of piety and taste to read him without wishing to be shut out from all the world to read him through without one moment’s interruption.” Mr. Henry did not live to complete this work. He went as far as the end of Acts. Romans was done by Dr. Evans; the 1st Corinthians, Sam. Brown; 2d Corinthians, Dr. Mayo; Galatians, Mr. Bayes; Ephesians, Mr. Boswell; Philippians, Mr. Harris; Colossians, Mr. Harris; 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Mr. Mayo; 1 and 2 Timothy, Mr. Atkinson; Titus, Jer. Smith; Philemon, Mr. Mottershead; Hebrews, Mr. Tong; James, Mr. Wright; 1 Peter, Mr. Hill; 2 Peter, Mr. Morril; 1,2,and 3 John, Mr. Reynolds; Jude, Mr. Billingsley; and Revelations by Mr. Tong.
2. Pooli Synopsis Criticorum, 5 folio volumes. This is a valuable work, and ought to be in the possession of every student: it is much esteemed abroad, three editions of it having been published on the continent.
3. Poole’s Annotations, a rich and useful work. These were printed at London in 1685, in two volumes, folio. Poole did not complete this work himself. Mr. Jackson, of Moulsey, it the author of the annotations of the 59th and 60th chap. of Isaiah. Dr. Collings drew up the notes on the rest of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Lamentations, as also those on the four Evangelists, the two epistles to the Corinthians, and that to the Galatians. Those to Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and the Revelation, Ezekiel, and the minor Prophets, were done by Mr. Hurst, Daniel by Mr. Cooper; the Acts by Mr. Vinke; the Epistle to the Romans by Mr. Mayo; the Ephesians, Mr. Veale; the Philippians and Colossians, Mr. Adams; the Hebrews, Mr. Obadiah Hughes; the epistle of St. James, the two of St. Peter, and that of Jude, by Mr. Veale; the three epistles of St. John by Mr. Howe.
4. Dr. Gill’s, in 9 vol. quarto, is an immense work; and though it contain a good deal of repetition and extraneous matter, there is certainly a vast fund of information together with evangelical sentiment.
5. Brown’s Self-interpreting Bible, in 2 vol. quarto. Its chief excellencies are the marginal references, which are exceedingly useful to preachers; and the close, plain, and practical improvement to each chapter.
6. Scott’s Exposition is truly excellent. It abounds with practical remarks, and the last edition contains the marginal references. The improvements are also very useful for families.
7. Dr. Adam Clarke’s commentary, with critical notes, and marginal references, possess considerable merit, and will be found a valuable treasure for the Biblical student.
On the New Testament
1. Burkitt contains many ingenious observations, fine turns, natural plans, and pungent addresses to the conscience. There are some expressions, however, that grate upon the ear of the evangelical Christian.
2. Guyse’s Paraphrase is deservedly held in high estimation for sound doctrine, fair explication, and just sentiment.
3. Doddridge’s Family Expositor. the criticisms in this work render it valuable. It must be owned that the doctor laboured to come as near as possible to the true sense of the text.
4. Bezae Annotationes, in quibus ratio interpretationis redditur; accessit etiam J. Camerarii in novem foedus commentarius, fol. Cantab. 1642, contains, besides the old Latin version, Beza’s own version; and in the side margin is given a summary of the passage, and in the argumentative parts the connexion.
5. Wolfii Curae Philologicae, & Criticae, in Omnes Libros, Nov. Test. 5 vols. 4to. 1739, Hamb. Basil, 1741. This is in a great measure a compilation after the manner of Poole’s Synopsis, but interspersed with his own critical animadversions.
6. Bengelii Gnomon Nov. Test. 4to. Tubingae, 1759, and Ulmae, 1763, contains an instructive preface, a perspicuous analysis of each book, with short notes. It is a perfect contrast to that of Wolfius.
7. Raphelii annotationes in S. Scripturam, &c. is an attempt to illustrate the Holy Scriptures from the classical Greek historians, Xenophon, Polybius, Arrian, and Herodotus.
8. Hammond’s Paraphrase and Annotations upon all the books of the New Testament, folio.
9. Whitby’s Paraphrase and commentary on New Test. 2. vol. fol.
10. Wesley’s Explanatory Notes, 4to or 3 vol. 12mo. Of different translations, see article BIBLE.
Commentators on Select Parts.
1. Ainsworth on the Pentateuch, Psalms, and Song of Solomon.
2. Patrick’s Commentaries on the Historical Parts of the Holy Scriptures, 3 vol.
3. Lightfoot’s Works, 2 vol. fol. contain a chronicle of the times, and the order of the text of the Old Testament. The harmony, chronicled, and order of the New Testament; the harmony of the four Evangelists; a commentary on the Acts; Horae Hebraicae, &c. on the four Evangelists, Acts, and 1 Corinthians.
4. Chrysostomi Opera, 8 vol. fol. contain expositions of various parts.
5. Calvini Opera Omnia, 9 vol. contain commentaries on the Pentateuch, Joshua, homilies on Samuel, sermons on Job, commentaries on Psalms, Isaiah, Evangelists, Acts, Paul’s epistles, and the other Catholic epistles; an praelectiones on Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and the Minor Prophets.
6. Lowth on the Prophets. 7. Pocock on some of the Minor Prophets. 8. Locke on Paul’s epistles. 9. Hutcheson on the Smaller Prophets. 10. Newcome on Ezekiel and Minor Prophets. 11. Macknight’s Harmony of the Gospel, and Literal Translation of all the Apostolical Epistles, with Commentary and Notes.
12. Campbell’s Translation of the Gospels, with Notes and Dissertations.
On Select Books.
On Ruth: Macgowan, Lawson.
On Job: 1. Caryll, 2 vol. fol.–2. Hutchinson, 1669, fol.–3. Peters’s Critical Dissertation on Book of Job.–4. Chapellou.
On the Psalms: 1. Molleri Enarr. Psalm. fol. 1619.–2. Hammond’s Paraphrase.–3. Amesii Lectiones in Omnes Psalmos, Oct. 1636.–4. Dickson.–5. Horne’s Commentary.–On Select Psalms: 1. Hildersham’s 152 Lectures on Psalm li.–2. Decoetlogon’s Serm. on Psalm li.–3. Greenham on Psalm cxix.–4. Manton on Psalm cxix.–5. Owen on Psalm cxxx.–6. Luther on the 15 Psalms of Degrees.–7. Horton on Psalms iv. xlii, li, and lxii.
On Proverbs: Dr. Mayer, Taylor, io. Trapp.
Ecclesiastes: Broughton, Wardlaw, Jermyn.
Canticles: Bp. Foliot, Mercier, Sanchez, Bossnet, Cocceius, Dr. James, Ainsworth, Durham, Bishop Hall, Bishop Patrick, Dove, Trapp, Jackson, Dr. Collings, Dr. Gill, Dr. Percy, Harmer, Dr. Durell; but the most recent, and perhaps the best, is Wiliam’s new translation with commentary, &c. where the reader will find a list of other names who have translated and written on parts of this book.
Isaiah: Vitringa, Lowth, M’Culloch.
Jeremiah: Blayney. Ezekiel: Greenhill, Newcome. Daniel: Willet’s Hexapla, fol. Sir Isaac Newton on Prophecies of Daniel. Hosea: Burroughs, Bishop Horsley’s translation, with explanatory notes.
Of the other Minor Prophets, see Commentaries on Select Parts.
Gospels: Hildersham on John iv. fol. Burgess on John xvii. Manton on John xvii. Acts: Mayer, Trapp.
Romans: Wilson, Parr.
Galatians: Luther, Ferguson, Perkins.
Ephesians: Ferguson, Goodwin.
Colossians: Byfield, Davenant, Elton.
Titus: Dr. Thomas Taylor.
Hebrews: Dr. Owen. James: Manton.
1 Peter: Leighton, and N. Byfield on the first three chapters.
2 Peter: Adam.
John: Hardy on 1 Epistle, and Hawkins on the three Epistles of John.
Jude: Jenkins, Manton, Otes.
Revelation: Mede, Daubuz, Brightman, Peganius, Waple, Robertson, Vitringa, Pyle, Goodwin, Lowman, Sir Isaac Newton, Durham, Cradock, Dr. H. Moore, Bishop Newton, Dr. Bryce Johnston.
As this article may be consulted for the purpose of obtaining information as to the best helps for understanding the Scriptures, we may add to the above:–Jacobi Elsner, Observat, Sacrae; Alberti Observ. Philolog.; Lamberti Bos, Exercitat. Philolog.; Lamberti Bos, Observat. Miscell. fortuita Sacra. These, together with Wolfius and Raphelius, before mentioned, says Dr. Doddridge, are books which I cannot but recommend to my young friends, as proper not only to ascertain the sense of a variety of words and phrases which occur in the apostolic writings, but also to form them to the most useful method of studying the Greek classics; those great masters of solid sense, elegant expression, just and lively painting, and masculine eloquence, to the neglect of which I cannot but ascribe that enervate, dissolute, and puerile manner of writing, which is growing so much on the present age, and will probably consign so many of its productions to speedy oblivion.
Charles Buck (1771-1815) was an English Independent minister, best known for the publication of his “Theological Dictionary”. According to the “Dictionary of National Biography”, a Particular Baptist minister named John C. Ryland (1723-1792) assisted Buck by writing many of the articles for the aforementioned publication. One may conclude, based not only Buck’s admiration for his friend Ryland, but also on the entries in his Theological Dictionary, that he stood head and shoulders with the High-Calvinists of his day.