THE following Synopsis was originally written and published in French, at the desire and more immediately for the use of Christians speaking that language. It has been already translated into English, and introduced, Book by Book, into a religious publication appearing from time to time. It has been thought desirable to give it as a whole.
The Synopsis of the Book of Genesis, which was felt to be too brief, has been considerably enlarged; and the whole revised and corrected, but without any material change.
In the original publication of the review of that part of Leviticus which treats of the sacrifices which prefigured that of Christ, had been omitted, as such a review had been already published long ago in "Notes on the Offerings," and more fully in French in "Les Types du Levitique," since then translated into English also. To complete the Synopsis now published, this last tract has been, after revisal, introduced into the present work, of which it naturally formed a part.
A few words only are needed to introduce the reader to the present publication. He is not to expect a commentary, nor, on the other hand, to suppose that he has a book which he can read without referring continually to the word itself in the part treated of. The object of the book is to help a Christian, desirous of reading the word of God with profit, in seizing the scope and connection of that which it contains. God has given to the commentator to understand in the main the intention of the Spirit of God, or to furnish philological principles and information, which facilitate to another the discovery of that intention; yet if it pretend to give the contents of scripture, or if he who uses it seeks these in its remarks, such commentary can only mislead and impoverish the soul. A commentary, even if always right, can at most give what the commentator has himself learned from the passage. The fullest and wisest must be very far indeed from the living fullness of the divine word. The Synopsis now presented has no pretension of the kind. Deeply convinced of the divine inspiration of the scriptures, given to us of God, and confirmed in this conviction by daily and growing discoveries of their fullness, depth, and perfectness; ever more sensible, through grace, of the admirable perfection of the parts, and the wonderful connection of the whole, the writer only hopes to help the reader in the study of them.
The scriptures have a living source, and living power has pervaded their composition: hence their infiniteness of bearing, and the impossibility of separating any one part from its connection with the whole, because one God is the living centre from which all flows; one Christ, the living centre round which all its truth circles, and to which it refers, though in various glory; and one Spirit, the divine sap which carries its power from its source in God to the minutest branches of the all-united truth, testifying of the glory, the grace, and the truth of Him whom God sets forth as the object and centre and head of all that is in connection with Himself, of Him who is, withal, God over all, blessed for evermore.
To give all this as a whole and perfectly would require the Giver Himself. Even in learning it, we know in part, and we prophesy in part. The more-beginning from the utmost leaves and branches of this revelation of the mind of God, by which we have been reached when far from Him-we have traced it up towards its centre, and thence looked down again towards its extent and diversity, the more we learn its infiniteness and our own feebleness of apprehension. We learn, blessed be God, this, that the love which is its source is found in unmingled perfectness and fullest display in those manifestations of it which have reached us even in our ruined state. The same perfect God of love is in it all. But the unfoldings of divine wisdom in the counsels in which God has dis- played Himself remain ever to us a subject of research in which every new discovery, by increasing our spiritual intelligence, makes the infiniteness of the whole, and the way in which it surpasses all our thoughts, only more and more clear to us. But there are great leading principles and truths, the pointing out of which in the various books which compose the scriptures, may assist in the intelligence of the various parts of scripture. It is attempted to do this here. What the reader is to expect, consequently, in this Synopsis, is nothing more than an attempt to help him in studying scripture for himself. All that would turn him aside from this would be mischievous to him; what helps him in it may be useful. He cannot even profit much by the following pages otherwise than in using them as an accompaniment to the study of the text itself.
>From what has been said it will easily be understood that the writer can readily feel the imperfection of what he has written. Often he would have liked to have introduced the developments which he has enjoyed, when unfolding, particular passages in detail and applying them to the hearts and consciences of others; but this would have turned him aside from the object of the work. He trusts, however, that the right direction is given to the scriptural researches of the reader: grace alone can make those researches effectual.
He cannot close this short introduction to the book without expressing the effect which the discovery of the perfectness and divinely ordered connection of the scriptures produces in his mind as respects what is called Rationalism. Nothing is proved by the system so denominated but the total absence of all divine intelligence, a poverty associated with intellectual pretension, an absence of moral judgment, a pettiness of observation on what is external, with a blindness to divine and infinite fullness in the substance, which would be contemptible through its false pretensions, if it were not a subject of pity, because of those in whom these pretensions are found. None but God can deliver from the pride of human pretension. But the haughtiness which excludes God, because it is incompetent to discover Him, and then talks of His work, and meddles with His weapons, according to the measure of its own strength, can prove nothing but its own contemptible folly. Ignorance is generally confident, because it is ignorant; and such is the mind of man in dealing with the things of God. The writer must be forgiven for speaking plainly in these days on this point. The pretensions of infidel reason infect even Christians.
He would add that it has not been his object to unfold the blessed fruits the word produces in the mind and ways of him who receives it, nor the feelings produced in his own mind in reading it, but to help the reader in the discovery of that which has produced them. May the Lord only make the word as divinely precious to him as it has been to the writer; to both ever still more so!