A key to the New Testament, giving an account of the several books, their contents, their authors, and of the times, places, and occasions on which they were respectively written online

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Online LibraryUnknownA key to the New Testament, giving an account of the several books, their contents, their authors, and of the times, places, and occasions on which they were respectively written → online text (page 1 of 22)
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Received Sept ember. , - / 885 ,

Accessions No . ^ & *~73 Shelf No. -










The Sixth Edition corrected.



frinted by T. C. Hansard, Peterborough-court, Fleet-street, London.


S H U T E,


HPHE favourable opinion, which
your Lordship was pleased to
entertain of this little Work in the
first Edition, has induced me to give
it a Revisal, and, by removing some
inaccuracies, to render it less un-
worthy your acceptance.

THAT so slight a performance should
have been able to attract your notice,
I must attribute to that vigilant, un-
remitted attention, which so eminently
distinguishes your Lordship's conduct;
and makes you esteem no attempt un-
deserving your regard, which has the
remotest tendency to promote the in-
terests of religion or learning.
A 2


THAT this little manual may be of
some use, especially to the Youth of
both Sexes, I am encouraged to hope,
from the candid reception it has met
with in our Universities, where, I am
told, some of the Tutors have adopted
it, as a proper compendium to be put
into the hands of the younger Stu-
dents at their entrance on a course of
sacred literature. If it contributes in
any degree to make the Holy Scrip-
tures more attentively read and better
understood, I shall esteem it a pecu-
liar happiness to have had this oppor-
tunity of testifying the sincere respect,
with which I am,

Your Lordship's
Most obliged and
Faithful Servant,



A CLEAR introductory illustration
** of the several Books of the NEW
TESTAMENT, shewing the design of
their writers, the nature of their con-
tents, and whatever else is previously
necessary to their being read with un-
derstanding, is a work, that, if well
executed, must prove the best of com-
mentaries, and frequently supersede
the want of all other. Like an intel-
ligent guide, it directs the Reader right
at his first setting out, and thereby
saves him the trouble of much after-
inquiry : Or, like a map of a country,
through which he is to travel ; if con-
sulted before-hand, it gives him a ge-
neral view of the journey, and pre-
vents his being afterwards lost and be-
wildered .

THAT the following little work will

be found to answer this flattering de-
A 3


scription, the Compiler dares not take
upon him to assert ; he can only say,
that the contents are chiefly extracted
from two eminent Writers, who have
particularly distinguished themselves
in this branch of sacred criticism, and
have lately thrown great light upon
the subject.

TH^rst of these is, Mr. Professor
MICHAELIS, of his majesty's univer-
sity of Gottingen, whose " Introduc-
" tory Lectures to the sacred Books
" of the New Testament," translated
from the German, were published, in
one volume quarto, in 1761*. The
other is the Rev. Dr. LARDNER,
whose " History of the Apostles and

* Since this translation of Mr. MICHAELIS'S Book
was published, that eminent Writer has very much
improved and enlarged his Work in the original Ger-
man : and it will give satisfaction to the learned
Reader to be informed, that a Translation of this ex-
cellent Performance, with all the late additions and
improvements of the deceased Author, may soon be


" Evangelists, writers of the New
" Testament, with Remarks and Ob-
" servations on every Book/' was
printed in three Volumes Svo. in 1760.
The former of these has displayed so
much ingenuity and discernment, and
the latter such a depth of learning, as
give the greatest advantage to such as
would avail themselves of their la*

BUT as their works are not of porta-
ble size, and contain a multitude of
curious disquisitions not within the
reach of the generality of readers, the
editor was tempted to give a short
abstract of their respective contents,
cleared from all miscellaneous digres-
sions, and reduced within a small
compass for the pocket. He has'not,
however, merely confined himself to
those two writers, but has enriched his
work from other authors ; thus in the
Key to the writings of the several
Evangelists, a full account is given of


the curious Hypothesis of the learned
and ingenious Dr. OWEN, who, in his
" Observations on the Four Gospels,"
Svo. 1764, has opened a new source
of information, and, by comparing the
original language of the several Evan-
gelists, has started many new hints.,
which had escaped former inquirers.
If the Doctor should find a difficulty
proposed, in the following pages, in
respect to one part of his scheme, he
will also see a solution offered-, \vhich
the editor apprehends will give new
strength and consistency to the whole

BESIDES these late writers, recourse
was occasionally had to the learned
and useful labours of PYLE, DOD-
other former Critics and Commenta-
tors ; from each of whom such parts
were selected as seemed most solid
and judicious ; forming, in the whole,
what, it is hoped, will be found a


clear, concise, and not inconsistent
compilation ; in which the editor
frankly acknowledges that very little
will be found of his . own, and that he
has no other merit than that of bring-
ing into one compendium whatever he
thought was most excellent in so
many valuable writers.

AFTER this little work was first
committed to the press, the editor was
favoured by an ingenious friend with
the short Account of the several Sects
and Heresies that prevailed in the
times of CHRIST and his Apostles.
A general knowledge of those is so ne-
cessary to our right understanding the
sacred writings, in which one or other
of them are constantly alluded to,
that this work would have been imper-
fect without it ; it is therefore prefixed,
by way of INTRODUCTION. In com-
piling this brief sketch, the writer ac-
knowledges himself indebted not only


to the valuable works of GODWYN,
HOUSE, but to the very learned System
of Ecclesiastical History by Mr. Chan-
cellor MOSHEIM, of the University of

To the same friend the editor is
also indebted for the short Analysis,
or Key, to the Prophecies contained
in the Revelations, with which this
little book is concluded.


( 11 )




I. Of the Jewish Sects, or Parties - 19
II. Of the Christian Sects or Heresies 27
The Chronology of Christ's public Mi-
nistry - - 36


The meaning of the words. Scripture,

Bible, New Testament, Gospel - 41

The Order of the Four Gospels - 44

St. Matthew's Gospel - - 49

St. Mar/is - 57

St. Lukes - - 63

St. John's - 69

Acts of the Apostles - 75

The Order of the Epistles - 79

To the Romans - - 84

The First to the Corinthians - - 93



The Second to the Corinthians - - 97

To the Galatians - - - - 1 00

To the Ephesians - - - 103

To the Philippians - - 106

To the Colossians - - - - 107

The First to the Thessalonians - - 109

The Second to the Thessalonians -112

The First to Timothy - - 1 13

The Second to Timothy - - 1 16

To Titus - - 118

To Philemon - -, - * - 121

To the Hebrews - - - - 123

Of St. James - - - 129

First of St. Peter - - 131

The Second of St. Peter - - 133

The First of St. John - 134

The Second and Third of St. John - 135

Of St. Jude - - 136

The Revelation of St. John - 137

Key to the Prophecies in the Revelation 143













HTHE PHARISEES were a sect among the
Jews, that had subsisted at least above
a century and half before the appearance
of our Saviour. They affected the most
profound regard for the Law of God, and
the sacred Books ; but for the interpreta-
tion of them, and the manner in which
they were to be obeyed, they depended
chiefly upon traditional accounts. These
traditions encumbered religion with a
thousand frivolous observances, which
drew off the mind from the more im-
portant matters of the law; and made
men look upon themselves as holy and ac-
ceptable to God, not so much from their
moral conduct, and observance of divine
institutions, as from their conformity to
certain modes and punctilios of mere hu-
man invention, introduced among them
under pretence of being the Traditions of
the Elders \ Hence their more than.ordi-

a i, e. Ancients.
B 2


nary strictness in wearing the PHYLAC-
TERY, and singularity in enlarging the
BORDERS or FRINGES of their garments b .
Hence their superstition about the Sab-
bath, as if it had been unlawful on that
day to walk in the fields, or to pluck the
ears of corn, or to cure the sick, or to aid
one's neighbour. Hence too their peculiar
zeal and pretence to purity, in the demure-
ness with which they fasted, the exactness
with which they paid their tithes, the os-
tentation with which they prayed, per-
forming that duty not only aloud, but in
the most public turnings of the streets;
the ardour with which they encompassed
sea and land to make proselytes or con-
verts to their secK; their frequent wash-
ing, not only of themselves, but of their
vestments and utensils ; and their holding
at a distance, or separating themselves not
only from Pagans, but from all such Jews
as complied not with their peculiarities.
To this last circumstance they seem to
have owed the name of their sect; the
word PHARISEE being derived from a verb
in the Hebrew c , which signifies to DIVIDE

b The PHYLACTERIES were little scrolls of parch-*
merit bound to their foreheads and wrists, on which
were written texts of Scripture, taken from Exod. xiii.
9, 16. and Deut. vi. 8. xi. 18. With regard to their
BORDERS and FRINGES, the reader will find the origin,
flf this distinction in Numb. xv. 38. Deut. xxii. 12t
c CHS, Pharash, To divide.


or SEPARATE. This' sect, however, not
only held the soul to be immortal, but had
some slight notions of a resurrection, be-
lieving that on some occasions the soul
might again re-animate a body : Whence
their conjecture about CHRIST upon his
first appearance, that he was either John
the Baptist, or Elias, or one of the old pro-
phets ; and hence too, notwithstanding
the violence with which they had opposed
the personal ministry of Jesus, that apti-
tude they displayed in after-times, beyond
some of the other Jewish sects, to fall-in
with his Revelation.


THE word SCRIBES, as that denomina-
tion occurs in the New Testament, ap~
pears to be the title not of any particular
sect, distinguished from all others as to
their modes of practice, or belief; but a
general term, applicable to all those of
whatever sect, who made the Law of Moses
and the prophetical and sacred books their
peculiar study, so as to become capable of
commenting upon them, and thence of
publicly instructing the people. This of-
fice seems, however, to have been confined
to the descendants of Levi, who being
very numerous, and not at all times en-
gaged in the immediate service of the
temple, had leisure and opportunity enough


to qualify themselves for this duty, being
unembarrassed with secular employments,
and liberally provided for among all the
other tribes. It appears indeed from the
frequent mention that is made in the Gos-
pel of the Scribes and Pharisees in con-
junction, that the greatest number of
Jewish Teachers or Doctors of the Law*,
for these are expressions equivalent to
SCRIBE, were at that time of the Pharisaical
sect. In the Old Testament, we meet
with the term SCIUBE in a secular sense,
as denoting sometimes a secretary of state \
sometimes a principal clerk in a court of
judicature f , and sometimes a commissary
or muster-master in the army 2 ; and al-
though it is probable that a duly qualified
man belonging to any of the other tribes
might be admitted into any of these em*
ployments, yet the superior opportunity
that the descendants of Levi enjoyed for
all sorts of literary improvements, renders
it likely that they were generally preferred,,
especially in ancient times, even to these

d So the original word should have been rendered,
where in our translation it is improperly expressed by
the modern term, LAWYERS.

e 2 Sam. viii. 17. xx. 25.

1 Matt. ii. 4. 1 Maccab. v. 42.

* 1 2 Chron, xxvi. 11. 2 Kings xxv. 19.



THE most ancient sect among the Jews
was that of the SADDUCEES, This name
may either be derived from the Hebrew
word SEDEC, which signifies JUSTICE; or
from a certain teacher among the Jews
called SADOC. The former seems to have
been the origin of the appellation, accord-
ing to the account of the Sadducees them-
selves; the latter, according to the account
given of them by the Pharisees in tha
Talmud. If we admit the former deri-
vation, it assigns no fixed date of the an-
tiquity of this sect ; if the latter, it ascer-
tains their rise to have been but a few
years before that of the Pharisees. But
be this as it may, the Sadducees seem to
have been originally strict adherents to
the Mosaic institution, and to the Cano-
nical books, only interpreting them in the
most literal sense, and rejecting all other
explications. The superior estimation in
which they held the Pentateuch, or writ-
ings of Moses, to all other compositions
in the sacred collection, gave rise in all
probability to the report of their adversa-
ries, that they entirely rejected the autho-
rity of the rest : and the doubts they en-
tertained about a future state, a doctrine
not clearly revealed in the writings of
Moses ; and about any appearances of
angels or spirits among men, since the


finishing of the Jewish Canon; seem to
have at first given a handle to the Phari-
sees of rendering them suspected of ir re-
ligion, which in all probability was after-
wards confirmed by men of loose princi-
ples sheltering themselves under their
name. This however is certain, that at
the time of our Saviour this sect is re-
puted to have held doctrines that were
thoroughly impious h . For they are said
to have denied the resurrection of the dead,
the being of angels, and all existence of
the spirits or souls of men departed. It
was their opinion, that there is no spiritual
Being but God only; that as to man, this
world is his all; that at his death, body
and soul die together never to live more ;
and that therefore, there is no future re-
ward nor punishment. They acknow-
Jeged that God made this world by his
power, and governs it by his providence ;
and for the carrying on this government,
hath ordained rewards and punishments,
but that they do not extend beyond this
world. In a word, they seem to have been
Epicureans in all respects, excepting only
that they allowed that God made the
world by his power, and governs it by his
providence. At the same time that they
held these loose notions, they are said to
have had a bigoted attachment to the law
h Vide Frideaux.


of Moses ; and, whether it proceeded from
this, or their considering our Saviour as a
seditious person, they soon joined with the
Pharisees in bringing CHRIST and his dis-
ciples to death; for Caiaphas, who was of
this sect, and who was High priest of the
Jews at that time, was he who condemned
Jesus to be crucified; and Ananus the
younger 1 , another of this sect, put to death
St. JAMES the brother of our Lord.


OF the HERODIANS we meet with no-
thing among ancient writers, except in
the New Testament itself; where also
mention is made of certain GALILEANS,
whose blood Pilate mingled with their sa-
crifices, and who are described elsewhere
in the New Testament as having made an
insurrection against the government, and
are called Murderers, or Sicarii k . The
learned Calmet takes an opportunity hence
of imputing to those called Herodians
whatever was done by these Gaiil jeans,
and thinks they were called HEUODIANS
by the other Jews, because Galilee at that
time was under the command of HLHOD,
surnamed ANTIPAS. But when we reflect
that this insurrection happened long be-

1 Son of Annas the High-priest, mentioned in the
Gospel; who is also called Ananus, by Josephus.

k Acts xxi. 38. See a further account of this Sect 9
r Party, p. 29? under the name of GAULANITES.
B 5


fore CHRIST entered upon his public mi-
nistry, even as early as the tenth year of
his age, when the insurgents were intirely
routed, and the party dispersed ; whereas
the Herodians are mentioned as still flou-
rishing at the very time when CHRIST was
employed in his mission ; we cannot for-
bear assenting to the judicious conjectures
of Dr. Prideaux and others, who look
upon the Herodians not as a religious sect,
but a political party, who began to be-
come eminent in the days of Herod the
Great, as favouring his claims, and those
of his patrons the Romans, to the sove-
reignty of Judea. Some of these no doubt,
might be weak enough to imagine, that
Herod was the Messiah, or wicked enough
to pretend that they did, in order to serve
his cause ; and would be ready to vindi-
cate his conduct, when, the better to pay
his court to the Romans, he consecrated
temples to some of their false deities*
And this party having begun in the time
of Herod the Great, may well be supposed
to have continued long afterwards in fa-
vour and power, by the indulgence of the
Herods, and influence of the Romans.
That Leaven therefore of theirs, against
which our Saviour warns his hearers ', must
in this case have been, either their false
conceptions of the Messiah, or their pliant-
ness and conformity to Idol- worship ; or both,
1 Mark viii, 35.





the religion of Jesus began to
be spread abroad in the world, it had
not only to struggle with avowed adver-
saries, such as the JEW and the PAGAN, by
whom its professors were exposed to all
manner of external disgrace and calami-
ties; but it had to support itself in its
native purity, dignity, and excellence,
against the corrupt doctrines which many
of those whom it received into its com-
munity had brought with them from the
Jewish or Pagan systems; for under these
two denominations were all mankind at
that time included ; and both so very cor-
rupt, as to be far more capable of imparting
infection, than of becoming pure.


OF the JEWS who became Christians,
there were, besides such as had been of
the sect of the PHARISEES, &c. others that
had imbibed the particular opinions of the



THE ESSENES seem to have been of a
very remote antiquity. They might take
their rise from that dispersion of their na-
tion, which happened after their being
carried captive into Babylon. The prin-
cipal character of this sect was, that they
chose retirement, were sober, were indus-
trious ; had all things in common ; paid
the highest regard to the moral precepts
of the law, but neglected the ceremonial,
any farther than what regarded bodily
cleanliness, the observation of the Sab-
bath, and making an annual present to the
Temple of Jerusalem. They naver asso-
ciated with women, nor admitted them
into their retreats; but gladly embraced
every fair opportunity of supporting and
enlarging their society, by rearing, breed-
ing, educating, Und instructing other men's
children, as if they had been their own.
By the most sacre^ vows, though they
were in general averse to. swearing, or to
requiring an oath, they bound all whom
they initiated among them, to the observ-
ance of piety, justice, fidelity, and mo-
desty ; to conceal the secrets of the frater-
nity, preserve the books of their instruc-
tors, and with great care commemorate
the names of the angels. To them in all
likelihood the -Apostle alludes, when he


inveighs against those who forbid to
marry, who commands to abstain from
meat, and who, through a voluntary hu-
mility, pay worship to angels. But a more
particular description of these errors the
reader will find below in the account of
the 1st Epistle to Timothy.


THE GAULANITES were Galileans who
had this name given them from one Judy
Theudas, a native of GAULAN, in uppt *
Galilee : who, in the 10th year of JESUS
CHRIST, which was the last of Augustus,
and ten years after the death of Herod
the great, excited his countrymen the Ga
lilasans, and many others of the Jews to
take arms and venture upon all extremi-
ties, rather than pay tribute to the Romans.
The principles he infused into his party
were, not only that they were a free na-
tion, and ought to be in subjection to no
other, but that they were the elect of God,
that he alone was their governor, and that;
therefore, they ought not to submit to any
ordinance of man. And though he was
unsuccessful, insomuch that his party in
their very first attempt were intirely routed
and dispersed ; yet so deeply had he in-
fused his own enthusiasm into their minds,
that they never rested, till in their own


destruction they involved the city and
temple. To this wild and fanatic party
seems to be addressed many of those pas-
sages in the New Testament, wherein obe-
dience to magistracy is so piously and ra-
tionally inculcated.


THE Pharisees seem to have composed
the chief body of those Christian converts,
who in the earlier times were distinguished
by the appellation of NAZAREENS. These,
though they embraced Christianity, yet
entered so little into the real spirit and
genius of it, that they were still fond of
the beggarly elements and carnal ordi-
nances of the Ceremonial Law. To re-
press this their inordinate superstition,
seems to have been the intention of the
Severity with which the Law is treated in
the Apostolic writings, where not only
circumcision is exclaimed against, but we
are taught to let no man judge us with re-
gard to meats or drinks, or the observance
of holy-days, or of the new moon, or oF the
sabbath ; which were a shadow of things
to come, whereof CHRIST is the sub-
stance l .

1 See Col. ii, 16, &c.




OF the GENTILES who were converted
to Christianity, the most dangerous and
pernicious kind were those who w r ere in-
fected with the EGYPTIAN PHILOSOPHY ;
a system, as it was then taught, intirely
chimerical and absurd. The Christians of
this sort assumed to themselves the name
of GNOSTICS ; a word of Greek deriva-
tion, implying a Knowledge superior to
that of other men. This word does not
occur in the New Testament; but


of whom mention is made in the Apoca-
lypse of St. John m , seem to have been of
the GNOSTIC sect; as were also


for most of the errors 11 maintained by CE-
IIINTHUS, and opposed in the gospel of
St. JOHN, may be derived from the same

WHEN we say the Gentile converts were
chiefly liable to the GNOSTIC infection, we
must not be understood to exclude those
of the Jewish race, many of whom were

m See this Sect described in a Note to Revelations.
n See them described at large in the account of St.
John's Gospel.


tainted with it, but they seem to have de-
rived it from the Essenes .


THE maintainers of this philosophy held,
that the supreme Being, though infinitely
perfect and happy, was not the creator of
the universe, nor the only independent
being: for, according to them, Matter too
was eternal. The supreme Being, who re-
sides in the immensity of space, which
they called Pleroma, or fulness, produced
from himself, say they, other immortal and
spiritual natures, stiled by them jflEons*,
who filled the residence of the Deity with
beings similar to themselves. Of these
beings, some were placed in the higher
regions, others in the lower. Those in
the lower regions were Highest to the

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Online LibraryUnknownA key to the New Testament, giving an account of the several books, their contents, their authors, and of the times, places, and occasions on which they were respectively written → online text (page 1 of 22)