« PreviousContinue »
in it. But having such other engagements as rendered it impossible for me to proceed in this great work with such dispatch as to finish it in any reasonable time, I at length determined to resign it with all my materials, into the hands of my worthy friend, Mr. GentleMAN, who, on various accounts, appeared to me the fittest person I knew to execute the design of the worthy projector. It affords me great satisfaction that he has undertaken it, and I heartily wish him encouragement and success from the countenance of the public and the blessing of God.
HACKNEY, Jan. 1787
THE Public will naturally expect some further account of the following work, than is contained in the preceding address.
To afford them information on this head, they will be pleased to observe, that it was drawn up by Mr. ORTON for the pulpit, and delivered by him at Shrewsbury, in the former part of the morning service, during a period of more than twenty one years; his first Exposition being delivered June 16, 1744, and the last on his birth day, September 15, 1765. He prepared materials for this work in an interleaved bible, as they occurred at different times to his thoughts, or were collected from the writings of others, particularly the expositors whose names he entered at the beginning of it as below. * From these materials he wrote his copy for the pulpit in very neat short hand, referring by figures to each verse to which the exposition belonged, and added at the end of each chapter his devotional or practical reflections. This is the copy which is now transcribed and published.
Thar the author intended this work should be published, appears from the Rev. Mr. PALMER's address to the public, and is confirmed by the following extract from a letter to a respectable clergyman of the church of England ;
Nov. 20, 1777. “I fear the plan proposed for printing my practi. cal remarks, &c. will not be executed; I wish it may ; but I can do nothing at it myself, and the person from • A. A. Assembly's Annot.
J. T. Junius et Tremel.
whom I hoped for the execution of the design will not, I fear, attempt it, though he hath strength and ability of body and mind to do it soon, and do it well. I must leave it to Providence, and those who may come after me."
The Editor remembers asking Mr. Orton, whether he would wish the Reflections to be printed like Dr. DodDRIDGE's, without the distinction of figures, or to have the figures retained ? He answered, that he preferred the figures, as they called the attention and helped the memory.
It appears, that in the latter part of his life, he wished to have CLARK's bible published, with his own practical Reflections added to each chapter, in the manner of DODDRIDGE's Family Expositor. This would certain. ly have been a much easier work for an Editor than the present mode; but I apprehend, for many obvious reasons, not so useful, nor so acceptable to the public,
Had the work received the finishing hand of the au. thor, or been published under his own inspection, it would, no doubt, have been more complete; some things would probably have been left out, and others added, I have faithfully transcribed what Mr. Orton has written, excepting in some few instances where a sentence OCcurred which was too local or familiar, or had too peculiar a reference to any denomination of christians, and whịch, I verily believe, the author would have altered.
My great business has been, to connect the text and exposition together; to fill up the sentences where they were deficient, and to correct any small mistakes where I have discovered them. I have added a few notes from Dr. KENNICOTT and other modern writers, carefully distinguishing such by the name of their author, or the editor.
The attentive reader will perceive that the work is not uniformly a paraphrase, but has criticisms and other re. marks (frequently taken from CLARK'S Annotations) intermingled. It was at first my design to let all these
stand connected with the text, in the places to which they belonged; but I soon found this would yery much interrupt the reading, and swell the work beyond the bounds proposed. I have, therefore, by the advice of several respectable friends, put many of these into notes at the bottom of the page.
Though the first volume does not take in so much of the bible as might have been expected, yet it contains about a sixth part of the whole work; Mr. Orton hay. ing been more diffuse in the former part of it, and more concise in the latter; which will be found to be executed in a manner superior to the former, as might be expected from the author's increasing knowledge.
It is hoped the critical reader will not be wholly dis. appointed in the work before him ; but let it be remem. bered, that it was designed by the author, to be a short and plain Exposition for the use of Families and private christians : a consideration, which has certainly prevented the addition of many criticisms and observations, which might have been agreeable to many readers, but would have swelled the work, increased the expense, and been contrary to its principal design : and, as the pious and learned Bp. Wilson observes, * “ Criti. cisms, finding out the meaning of difficult places, &c. are not so edifying, as establishing the heart with prac. tical truths.” Mr. Orton used to say, that “ Exposi. tions should be adapted to tradesmen and farmers, to women, children and servants, as these were the persons who had most need of them, and generally made most use of them.”
The Reflections, which are drawn from the leading circumstances in each chapter, are admirably adapted to practical purposes, and have as much variety as could be expected ; yet, as they were drawn up during a course of so many years, it may reasonably be supposed there will sometimes occur a similarity of thought, or even
• Preamble to Wilson's Bible.
expression, but this is no real blemish. We need the same important and practical truths often inculcated on ourselves and families ; line upon line, and precept upon precept; but whoever brings with him a pious and devotional spirit, will no doubt find it improved by a seri. ous perusal of them.
The sacred text is printed in roman letters, and corrected from the valuable edition of the Bible published at Oxford in the year 1772 ; what is in italics in that edition, is here put into brackets, and the italics are entirely confined to the exposition : so that every one may easily distinguish the sacred text from the exposi. tion, and read the former, if he chooses it, without the latter. The paragraphs are divided according to Bp. Wilson's very elegant edition of the bible.
If my life and health should be continued to finish this work, and it should meet with the favourable regards of the public, and be useful to families and private chris. tians, I shall have great reason to bow my knees in thankful acknowledgments to that Providence which hath made me an instrument of bringing it forward to the world, and which remarkably preserved the manu. script copy, when by a singular circumstance it was very near being destroyed.
I have only to add my earnest prayers that a divine blessing may attend this work ; and, in order to this, I dlevoutly wish, that “ while we peruse the writings of others, with a design to form a judgment concerning them, we may read the word of God, as our supreme and decisive Judge."*
R. GENTLEMAN. KIDDERNINSTER, May, 1788.