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Christ, that there be no place left among them, either for error in religion or for viciousness in life.” The Work was in the first instance undertaken with the view of placing before my own parishioners a manual for the guidance of their families. I trust, however, and with the blessing of God and your Lordship’s countenance I doubt not, that the measure of its usefulness will be more widely extended, and that it will promote in its little sphere, and during its career, long or short, the spiritual welfare of many. That such may be a result of its publication I most fervently pray; and under the natural protection of your Lordship, as the spiritual father of the diocesan family, may its course be made to prosper. I have the honour to be, my dear Lord,
With great truth, Your Lordship’s very faithful and obliged servant,
J. FREDERICK HONE.
TIRLEY VICARAGE, GLOUCESTER,
February 12th, 1842.
The Epistle is a certain portion of Scripture, appointed to be read at the Communion Table on Sundays and certain other solemn days, immediately after the Col. lect for the day. It is called the Epistle, because it is taken, generally speaking?, from the Epistles of the New Testament, books so called because originally sent as letters to the churches, places, or individuals, to whom they are addressed. The reading of this portion of Scripture, as well as of that wliich immediately follows, called the Gospel, is of very ancient date in the Church. “That a portion out of one of the Epistles,” says Dr. Nicholls, “written by the holy Apostles, was read constantly when the Communion was celebrated, in the primitive Church, may be proved from many passages out of ancient writers.
These readings, indeed, out of the Epistles were larger portions than the Epistles now read. But, however, they are of so long standing, that a writer who flourished near a
Some of the Epistles are taken from the Prophets, the Acts of the Apostles, and the Book of the Revelations.
thousand years ago could not assign the time of their original.” And Wheatley adds, “so that they have most of them belonged to the same Sundays and holidays we now use them on, for above twelve hundred years, as I might easily show also from several authorities.” If the interest, then, attached to these portions of Scripture could by possibility be increased by anything extraneous to themselves, this circumstance of their antiquity would greatly enhance them in the eyes of Churchmen. Indeed it is on this, as well as on other accounts, that the attention of the Author has been drawn to the Epistles. Selected originally by the ancients, and but slightly altered by the moderns; selected, for the most part, from the writings of the Apostles of the Lord Jesus; well adapted to the days to which they are, in their present form, appended; and used in their present form by the Church, with almost one consent, for many generations; they appear well calculated to carry out the great object of their position in the Prayer Book, the edification and improvement of Churchmen in private. Acting, then, upon the principle of Dean Stanhope's argument, that “since these passages are singled out for such times as are supposed to draw the greatest numbers together, it is a fair intimation, and fit to be taken by the generality of people, that such portions of the Bible are not only of singular profit when rightly understood, but are likewise best suited to the capacities of common men,” the Author has attempted his present Comments on the Epistles. And in doing this he has offered such explanations and made such practical applications of the subject of each Epistle, as he trusts may prove profitable to Christian families'. He has especially had in view in his labours the convenience of heads of families, and the edification of their households, and he trusts that his labours for their welfare may not be in vain*. To the Church, then, that is in the house of every head of a family, does the Author commend the following pages, in the hope that they may tend, in and through God's grace, to glorify Him “by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church is governed and sanctified,” and enable “every member of the same, in his vocation and ministry, to truly and godly serve Him, through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen."
1 It will be observed, in the course of this Work, that the history of a Saint is only entered upon in the Comments, when his name occurs in the Epistle for the day.
2 For the sake of greater completeness, Comments on certain days, appointed by authority to be kept holy, have been added.