Remarks upon the Catalogue of Commentaries
HIS Catalogue is compiled for the use of ministers of average attainments, and the brief reviews are written from that standpoint. Other useful lists have been published, specially those by Darling, Orme, and Hartwell Home, but these are not easily procurable, and are not quite what is needed; and therefore as the furnishing of the Pastors' College Library necessitated a Catalogue, and afforded an opportunity for purchasing books, the present work has been produced. Few can conceive the amount of toil which this compilation has involved, both to myself and my industrious amanuensis, Mr. J. L. Keys. In almost every case the books have been actually examined by myself, and my opinion, whatever it may be worth, is an original one. A complete list of all comments has not been attempted. Numbers of volumes have been left out because they were not easily procurable, or were judged to be worthless, although some of both these classes have been admitted as specimens, or as warnings.
The titles have been abbreviated to gain space, but it is believed that in every case they are full enough for recognition. The prices, which relate to second-hand books, have been placed as proximate valuations, and have either been taken from actual invoices, and catalogues, or have been kindly filled in by the aid of various booksellers, to whom we tender our thanks for the kindly interest they have taken in this work. Prices vary according to the condition of the book, the binding, the ever-changing demand, and the bookseller's mode of trade. The abbreviation S stands for second-hand. That mark is not inserted where the date is remote, and where the price can only refer to second-hand copies, since there are no others.
The reader will please observe that the books most heartily recommended are printed in the largest type with the remarks in italics. Good, but more ordinary, works are in medium type, and the least desirable are in the smallest letter. Thus we hope the eye will be caught at once by volumes best worthy of attention.
Latin authors are not inserted, because few can procure them, and fewer still can read them with ease. We are not, however, ignorant of their value. Hosts of family Bibles, discourses, and paraphrases are omitted, because they would have wasted our limited space, and we could only have admitted them by raising the price of our book, which we resolved not to do, lest it should be out of the reach of men of slender incomes. The first volume of this series* has had so excellent a circulation that we are able to issue this second one, although we know from the nature of the work that its sale will, in all probability, never cover the cost of production. We give the labor to our brethren freely, only wishing that we could with it confer upon our poorer friends the means of purchasing the choicest of the comments here mentioned.
It is to be specially noted, that in no case do we endorse all that any author has written in his commentary. We could not read the works through, it would have needed a Methuselah to do that; nor have we thought it needful to omit a book because it contains a measure of error, provided it is useful in its own way; for this catalogue is for thoughtful, discerning men, and not for children. We have not, however, knowingly mentioned works whose main drift is sceptical, or Socinian, except with a purpose; and where we have admitted comments by writers of doubtful doctrine, because of their superior scholarship and the correctness of their criticisms. we have given hints which will be enough for the wise. It is sometimes very useful to know what our opponents have to say.
The writers on the Prophetical Books have completely mastered us, and after almost completing a full list we could not in our conscience believe that a tithe of them would yield anything to the student but bewilderment, and therefore we reduced the number to small dimensions. We reverence the teaching of the prophets, trod the Apocalypse, but for many of the professed expounders of those inspired books we entertain another feeling.
May God bless this laborious endeavor to aid his ministers in searching the Scriptures. If Biblical studies shall be in any measure promoted, we shall be more than repaid.