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A FAMILY EXPOSITION OF THE PENTATEUCH. By
the Rev. HENRY Blunt, M.A., Rector of Streatham, Surrey, and Chaplain to his Grace the Duke of Bedford. London ; Hatchards. 1841 and 1842.
The author of the “Family Exposition” is one of the few writers of his class whose works have had an extensive circulation. Some of Mr. Blunt's earliest publications have reached, we believe, the 13th and 15th editions. The Lectures on the History of Abraham, of Jacob, and of Peter, and on some of the New Testament characters, are to be found in the family library of almost every pious household: they have passed into many countries beyond the seas, and have even merited the censure of popish advocates at Rome. The charm of Mr. Blunt's writings consists in their extreme simplicity, as well in the ideas themselves, as in the construction of the sentences. They are read without trouble, and felt without an effort : they have no pretensions to learning: they are simply expositions of Scripture, depending for their effect upon the mind and feelings; not on the force of argument, but on the force of truth. If the strongholds of vice and error be assailed, it is not by means of hard blows or heavy artillery directed against them, but a silent flowing stream is brought about the foundation, and they fall before men are aware. In reading Mr. Blunt's works criticism is disarmed; and if we occasionally find faulty passages, we can say nothing, for at least we are not disposed to say anything against them. We by no means, however, estimate all that the author of the “Family Exposition” has written, alike; we think it was a mistake when he published his Lectures on the Seven Churches of Asia; and even in his Pentateuch, although we discover the author of “ Lectures on the History of Jacob,” yet we lose those exquisite touches which produced so thrilling an effect on the crowded and attentive congregations at Chelsea.
The Family Exposition appears to have been written, or at least to have been began, at Rome,“ in that part of the Christian world where the duty of thoroughly searching the Scriptures is the most neglected." (Preface, p. v.) After a laborious career of usefulness in a large suburban parish, Mr. Blunt has been compelled to seek the restoration of a feeble frame by residing in warm climates; and although nearly wasted away by years of pining sickness, and in search, not of health, which he can never hope to enjoy, but of some alleviation of his pain, his active and zealous mind must needs employ the freshness of the morning
hours in writing this Family Exposition. It would, therefore, be most unkind in us to try this work, written at intervals, and often, as it seems, amidst the hurry and bustle of travelling, by the same standard as we should apply to his earlier and more careful compositions. The same deep and solemn tone of piety runs through these volumes of the “ Family Exposition.” The smallest incidents, which other commentators pass by, are turned into practical lessons of Christian piety. The family circle cannot but be attentive to the “patriarchal sire" as he reads aloud these illustrations of the earliest history of God's people; but still we lose the beauty and pathos which once told how " Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents.” Nevertheless, we apprehend that few of the former readers of Mr. Blunt's Lectures will neglect to add the Family Exposition of the Pentateuch to their stock.
The exposition on Numbers and Deuteronomy has not yet appeared. We shall select from each of the three preceding books of Moses an example of that skilfulness for which the Author of the “ Exposition” is remarkable, in turning a simple idea, or an apparently trifling incident, into an admirable lesson of practical piety.
On Genesis xli. 25–57. Joseph, although raised from poverty and obscurity to affluence and rank, does not sink into inglorious ease and idleness :
" There is scarcely anything more obvious in the pages of God's revealed Ford, than the divine dislike to idleness, self-indulgence, and sloth; and it is practically important that Christians should well observe and
meditate upon this. How many there are, and we are speaking now of real Christians, especially in the higher ranks of life, who do not appear to have ever observed the fact, that revelation calls them to activity and industry. Born to a competency of this world's goods, they feel freed from that necessity of exertion which influences other men, and they do not sufficiently acquaint themselves with the will of God and the mind of the Spirit, to perceive that another Decessity has been laid upon them by God himself, and woe is unto them if they do not seek some reasonable or some religious employment; in fine, if they suffer those wonderful powers of mind, by which God has distinguished them from the mere animal, to run to waste through selfish indulgence and habitual sloth."
On Exodus ü. 16—25. “By faith Moses forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king,” and entering the land of Midian, is found seated on a well, and accidentally is led to take part with some females whom the cowardly and idle shepherds attempt to drive away from the well :
This one act of kindness, trifling as it appears, gives a colouring to the whole of his (Moses') future life; it causes him to become the guest and, finally, the son-in-law of Reuel, and for forty years to employ himself in the quiet and meditative occupation of tending his father-in-law's flock in the desert...... Who shall dare to pronounce what is accident, and what is design? Was it accident that Moses rested himself at that particular well ? Yet surely it was no accident that he became a keeper of sheep for forty years in the desert; but who can separate the one from the other; the cause from the effect. Let it teach us, then, to acknowledge a particular providence in the smallest mercies of our daily lives; let it lead us to make all and each a subject of prayer and praise ; let it convince us that nothing is too trifling, too insignificant, for the cognizance of that being, without whom not a sparrow falleth, and by whom the very hairs of our head are numbered.”
On Leviticus x. 1–7. Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire before the Lord; men, but especially Christian ministers, may apparently promote what they consider the honour and glory of God with a false zeal and a flame of devotion not kindled at the true fire of the altar.
“They may be influenced by the desire to elevate a particular church, or sect, or opinion, or to aggrandise and advance themselves; to obtain more power and more consideration, or rank, or influence among men; kindled at this unholy flame, their censers may burn as bright, and the fire of their zeal glow as resplendently as that of the most holy, humble, and devoted followers of the Most High ; but He who knows whence the fire is taken, the unhallowed source from which it flows, and the unsanctified end for which it burns, sees in it, as in the offspring of Nadab and Abihu, only self-will and will-worship, under a more refined garb than the grosser ambition and more obvious egotism of the man of the world, and rejects at once the strange and unholy incense."
We sincerely hope that the life of this devoted servant of God may be still prolonged, and that he may be spared to give to his numerous readers, and to the Church at large, a uniform edition of his works. The task would be easy to the Author, and if the edition were printed in a cheap form, his sphere of usefulness would be greatly extended. Dr. Chalmer's plan might be adopted with advantage ; and we should not be sorry to have an additional volume of Sermons.
Place. Allnut, Rev. Richard Wicken, P.C. Camb. Austin, Rev. Anthony Alderton, P.C. Wilts. Bagshawe, Rev. A. A Wormhill, P.c. Derbys. Bellman, Rev. A. H. Aldeby, P.c. Norfolk Biscoe, Rev. William Coombe Bissett, v. Wilts,
with W. Harnham, c. Birley, Rev. W. Chorlton, with Hardy,
P.c. Manchester Blaydes, Rev. F.H. M. Harringworth, v. Notts. Brandt. Rev. F.
Aldford, R. Cheshire Buckall, Rev. H. J. Pottersbury, v. Notts. Buckerfield, Rev. F.H. Little Bedwin, v. Wilts. Calvert, Rev. T. St. James, P.C. with St.
Paul, R. Norwich. Childe, Rev. C. F. Sunday Even. Lec. of St.
Mary-le-Bow, Cheaps. Cosserat, Rey. G.P. G. St. Matt. R. nr. Ipswich Cottingham, Rev. H. Weston-on-Trent, v. Staf. Dallas, Rev. J. St. Luke's, Chorlton-on
Medlock, Lancashire Davies, Rev. T. Llancynvelyn, v. Card. Dobson, Rev. John Wivenhoe, R. Essex Dodgson, Rev. Charles Croft, R. Yorkshire Eaton, Rev. Thomas A canon. in Chester Cath. Ekins, Rev. Robert North Wootton, c. Som. Elev, Rev. H.
Broomfield, v. Essex Ellís, Rev. W. W. St. Clement Danes, Lond. Elwyn, Rev. W. H. Chap. of H. M. S. EndyEvans, Rev. Richard St. John's, P.c. Llantris
ant, Glamorganshire Fell, Rev, S. J. Drigg, P.C. Cumberland Fenton, Rev. B. Cockerington, v. Lincoln. Free, Rev. E. D. Sutton, R. Bedfordshire. Ford, Rev. C.
Postwick, R. Norfolk. Gray, Rev. W. Glasson, P.C. Lancashire Gregory, Rev. A. T. Flixton, P.C. Lancashire Hayne, Rev. W. Pilton, P.c. Devon. Hepworth, Rev. A. Ingoldisthorpe, R. Norf. Hibbet, Rev. A. Blakesley, v. Northamp. Hutchinson, Rev. Js. Pleshey, P.c. Essex
Value. lation Patron.
G. B. Rushout, Esq. land
ford Rectory, Salop. Kingdon, Rev. W. Whitstone, R. Cornwall 231 481 Rev. J. Kingdon. Langford, Rev. E. H. Marksbury, R. Som.
240 371 General Popham. Luney, Rev. Preb. Churchstow, v. with
326 Lord Chancellor. Kingsbridge, v. Devon
1586 Ludlow, Rev. A. R. Littleton-on-Severn, R.
52 179 Trustees. Gloucestershire Maingy, Rev. James St. Mary de Castro,
106 1937 The Governor. Guernsey Marriott, Rev. F. N. Archd. of Hobart Town Molineux, Rev. B. W. Whitby, P.C. Yorkshire 206 11725 Archbp. of York. Nevill, Rev. Gerard Titton, v. Leicestershire Newbolt, Rev. W. H. Paulerspury, R. Notts.
1092 New Coll. Oxford. Otter, Rev. J. Ludford Magna, y. Linc. 189 322 G. F. Heneage, Esq. Poole, Rev. G. A. Welford, v. Northamp. 230 1011 Bishop of Oxford. Price, Rev. W. Llangelynin, R. Carnary. Rich, Rev. E. J. St. Paul's Chapel, Writ
tle, Essex Sanders, Rev. John St. Gregory, P.c. London
D.&C. of St. Paul's. Smith, Rev. C. F. Pendlebury, near Manch. Snow, Rev. J. B.
Arreton, v. Isle of Wight 220 1864 J. Fleming, Esq. Stockdale, Rev. Misterton, Notts, with 85 1579 D. & C. of York.
793 Todd, Rev. T. Holy Trinity, Stretford
New Road, Manchester Turner, Rev. J. Fen Ditton, R. Camb.
Bishop of Ely. Vyse, Rev. G. S. H. Boughton, R. Northamp. 296 360 R. W. H. Vyse. Wells, Rev. G. Boxford, R. Berks
628 Rev. J. Wells. Wenman, Rev. W. Sarnesfield, r. Heref. 203 98 T. Monnington. Wilberforce, Rev.H.W. East Farleigh, v. Kent 858 1461 Lord Chancellor.
DEATHS. Blanc, Thomas le, Esq. Master of Trinity Hall, L.L.D.
Cambridge D'Arville, Rev. F. L. Littleton-on-Severn,
Gloucestershire Edwards, Rev. Vincent Broomfield, v. Essex Frobisher, Rev. J. J. Halse, v. Somersetshire Hayton, Rev. John Ryhope, P.C. Sunderland Isaacson, Rev. A. A. St. Woollas, v. Monm.
161 174 100
747 Bishop of London. 444 Mrs. Frobisher. 602 Rector of Bishop
Wearmouth. 7062 Bishop of Gloucester
with Bettws, C.
Malpas, P.c. Cheshire
Whitstone, R. Devon.
95 and Bristol.
60 344 231 73