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DISCOURSES UPON HOLY SCRIPTURE,
JOSEPH PARKER, D.D.,
," "THE PARACLETE," "THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST,'
," "THE INNER LIFE OF CHRIST, AD CLERUM,"
FUNK & WAGNALLS COMPANY
LONDON AND TORONTO
N concluding my pastoral notes upon the Old Testa
ment I feel that the necessities of space have seriously curtailed the outline which I had hoped to fill up. The same remark will apply to the eight volumes devoted to the New Testament. From the outset the number of volumes was fixed at twenty-five, and I cannot but think that the number ought not to be enlarged. I look back upon my labours with religious thankfulness.
Sometimes I am inclined to think that I have had but little to do with THE PEOPLE'S BIBLE. I have been but an instrument in the hands of God. I can own nothing but the imperfections of the service. I believe the work can claim a large degree of uniqueness in the printed history of the Christian pulpit. That one man should comment upon the whole Bible is a novelty in these latter days, when all kinds of labour have been classified and distributed by an analysis which has been jealous lest any worker should encroach upon the task of another.
Yet such boldness as mine is not without specific vindication, inasmuch as it is, in my judgment, better to preach steadily through the Bible than to treat its sacred contents irregularly and capriciously. Preachers do, it is presumed, cover most of the Bible in the course of a lifelong ministry. I only differ from many of my brethren, therefore, in what may be called the method of working; that is to say, whilst they have traversed the Biblical field from every conceivable point of approach, now in Genesis, now in Titus, now in Nehemiah, now in Revelation; to-day amongst the prophets, and to-morrow amongst the apostles, I have pursued an undeviating line from the beginning to the end.
My experience, as represented in these volumes, is that congregations are not averse to systematic and expository preaching. Objectors there will of course always be. It is, however, quite in consonance with my experience to affirm that the people who constitute the real strength of any church regard with appreciation all efforts at consecutive teaching. Here I would fain be the counsellor of those who are my juniors in the ministry, and of those who shall arise in years yet distant, asking permission to exhort them not to be irregular textists, but to be Biblical expositors.
And here I remind myself, with great satisfaction, that Biblical exposition is no longer an affair of technical grammar alone, but of that larger treatment of expression and purpose which shows that the Bible speaks all languages, and includes the whole range of human experience.
Greek has been critically translated into English ; now let English be sympathetically translated into the whole spirit and action of daily life. Do not let us cower under the taunt that we have read meanings into words; rather let us rejoice that inspired words contain infinitely more meaning than their human writers ever dreamed. God has at once enshrined and concealed himself in words. He has tarried for us in unsuspected places. The shrub which we treated as an anonymous wayside plant has suddenly become the tabernacle of the Most High.
Let us always look for the larger meanings. In the Biblical mine particles may be diamonds. In the Book divine even prepositions and adverbs may contain some secret of God. I am confident that mere literalists, who confine themselves to pedantic parsing, and who lock up the prophets within centuries as within cells, can never represent the whole idea of divine inspiration. What is done within these volumes is a most imperfect attempt to show that the horizon of my ideal has enlarged and receded as I have vainly endeavoured to realise and appropriate its infinite glory.