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PREFACE.


THE writer of this volume confesses that he finds the best nutriment of his spiritual life in John's Gospel and Epistles. I have not used the verb "confess" as a preface to an apology for having a favorite among inspired authors, for I remember that Jesus Christ, my adorable Saviour, had His favorite apostle among the Twelve whom He had chosen. As He made no apology for His partiality, I will follow His example, and I will do so more gladly in view of the fact that His favorite and mine is the same person. I acknowledge that in this eighth decade of my life I have chosen the study of these Epistles because of their brevity and of the possibility of their completion by the same hand. I now exceedingly regret that I could not twenty-five years ago comply with the earnest request of Dr. William Nast, of blessed memory, to assist him in his projected exegesis of the New Testament, by taking John's Gospel as my part of his work. Perhaps it would have encouraged this venerable German scholar to complete the task which he so nobly began. It was with great pain that in the midst of work on the Old Testament I was constrained to decline an offer so agreeable to my inclinations. I have used the Revised Version, which embodies the advanced scholarship of our age. In Writing for English readers I have avoided the insertion of words in Hebrew, Greek and Latin.

It would be useless to enumerate all the exegetes from whom I have borrowed ideas and sometimes expressions.

I have had occasion to refer frequently to Bengel's
Gnomon, Whedon's Commentary and Wesley's Notes. I have not so often consulted Alford's voluminous Greek Testament. He has lost the key to the First Epistle by his denial that it is aimed at the Docetic errors of Gnosticism. I have made an extensive use of the very valuable work of Dr. A. Plummer in the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. Above all others I have derived help from the model commentary of Bishop Westcott, whose thoroughness in tracing out the use of a word or a form; in comparing phrases often held to be synonymous; in pointing out the emphatic word as indicated by the order in the Greek; and in estimating the force of different tenses of the same verb in regard to the contexts, is little short of a revolution in exegesis. I regard his lifelong work on John's epistles as a faultless example to all exegetes, of tireless patience in exhaustive scholarly research and exactness.

Haupt, whom I have also consulted, is remarkable for divining from John's words his unexpressed thoughts. In this respect he might be truthfully called a mind-reader. But I have been cautious in quoting him, since there are attending the exercise of his peculiar gift tempting fields for a disporting imagination.

It has been well said that the surest way to an earthly immortality is to link your name with God's eternal Word, which is destined to live forever on earth. But God is my witness that this is not the motive of the writing of this book, but rather to elucidate the Holy Scriptures for the benefit of my fellow men.

D. S.

MILTON, October 24, 1900.