|My Bible Studies and Comments|
I n my studies, I use a standard Kings James version of the Holy Bible. Not the original 1611 version. I also use the Strong's Exhaustive concordance of the Bible, with His Greek and Hebrew dictionary. It is my opinion, that this is the best way the English reader has to study the original manuscripts, other than acquiring a set, and going through the lengthy process of learning, not only how to read Greek and Hebrew, but understanding just what it is that you are reading. I tried it. I studied hard and learned to read Hebrew, but to my surprise, I still didn't know the meanings of the words. Didn't have any idea of what I was reading. I then decided that rather than to try to re-invent the wheel, so to speak, that I would just stick with the Strong's. His work is brilliant. One of the reasons I like using the Strong's is that if a word has several different meanings, which many do, he listed them all. This gives the reader all the information needed to make a proper decision on what the scripture really means. Even in our English language, some words may have more than one meaning. Enough so, that if it the wrong translation for it were used, it could change the entire meaning of what was meant to be said. The translators of the manuscripts pretty much state this, in their letter to the readers. If there is a place in the scriptures that appears unclear, by using the Strong's, one can have a clearer understanding of the Holy Bible. This process is not taking away from or adding to the scriptures. I strongly recommend the Strong's.
Below is the letter, written to the readers, by the translators. As you will find, it's lengthy in comparison to the one they wrote to King James, the person who commissioned them to do the task. That in itself, should reveal to one, just how important they thought this letter would be to the readers of their translation.
Please read. I had to read it a few times, just to get used to the Old English.
THE TRANSLATORS OF
Zeale to promote the common good, whether it be by deuising anything our selues, or reuising that which hath bene laboured by others, deserueth certainly much respect and esteeme, but yet findeth but cold intertainment in the world. It is welcommed with suspicion in stead of loue, and with emulation in stead of thankes: and if there be any hole left for cauill to enter, (and cauill, if it doe not finde a hole, will make one) it is sure to bee misconstrued, and in danger to be condemned. This will easily be granted by as many as know story, or haue any experience. For, was there euer any thing proiected, that sauoured any way of newnesse or renewing, but the same endured many a storme of gaine-saying, or opposition? A man would thinke that Ciuilitie, holesome Lawes, learning and eloquence, Synods, and Church-maintenance, (that we speake of no more things of this kinde) should be as safe as a Sanctuary, and out of shot, as they say, that no man would lift vp the heele, no, nor dogge mooue his tongue against the motioners of them. For by the first, we are distinguished from bruit-beasts led with sensualitic: By the second, we are bridled and restrained from outragious behauiour, and from d oing of iniuries, whether by fraud or by voilence: By the third, we are enabled to informe and reforme others, by the light and feeling that we haue attained vnto our selues: Briefly, by the fourth being brought together to a parle face to face, we sooner compose our differences then by writings, which are endlesse: And lastly, that the Church be sufficiently prouided for, is so agreeable to good reason and conscience, that those mothers are holden to be lesse cruell, that kill their children assoone as they are borne, then those noursing fathers and mothers (wheresoeuer they be) that withdraw from them who hang vpon their breasts (and vpon whose breasts againe themselues doe hang to receiue the Spirituall and sincere milke of the word) liuelyhood and support fit for their estates. Thus it is apparent, that these things which we speake of, are of most necessary vse, and therefore, that none, either without absurditie can speake against them, or without note of wickednesse can spurne against them.
Yet for all that, the learned know that certaine worthy men haue bene brought to vntimely death for none other fault, but for seeking to reduce their Countrey-men to good order and discipline: and that in some Common-weales it was made a capitall crime, once to motion the making of a new Law for the abrogating of an old, though the same were most pernicious: And that certaine, which would be counted pillars of the State, and paternes of Vertue and Prudence, could not be brought for a long time to giue way to good Letters and refined speech, but bare themselues as auerse from them, as from rocks or boxes of poison: And fourthly, that hee was no babe, but a great clearke, that gaue foorth (and in writing to remaine to posteritie) in passion peraduenture, but yet he gaue foorth, that hee had not seene any profit to come by any Synode, or meeting of the Clergie, but rather then contrary: And lastly, against Church-maintenance and allowance, in such sort, as the Embassadors and messengers of the great King of Kings should be furnished, it is not vnknowen what a fiction or fable (so it is esteemed, and for no better by the reporter himselfe, though superstitious) was deuised; Namely, that at such time as the professours and teachers of Christianitie in the Church of Rome, then a true Church, were liberally endowed, a voyce forsooth was heard from heauen, saying: Now is poison powred down into the Church, &c. Thus not only as oft as we speake, as one saith, but also as oft as we do anything of note or consequence, we subiect our selues to euery ones censure, and happy is he that is least tossed vpon tongues; for vtterly to escape the snatch of them it is impossible. If any man conceit, that this is the lot and portion of the meaner sort onely, and that Princes are priuiledged by their high estate, he is deceiued. As the sword deuoureth aswell one as the other, as it is in Samuel; nay as the great Commander charged his souldiers in a certaine battell, to strike at no part of the enemie, but at the face; And as the King of Syria commanded his chiefe Captaines to fight neither with small not great, saue onely against the King of Israel: so it is too true, that Enuie striketh most spitefully at the fairest, and at the chiefest. Dauid was a worthy Prince, and no man to be compared to him for his first deedes, and yet for as worthy an acte as euer he did (euen for bringing back the Arke of God in solemnitie) he was scorned and scoffed at by his owne wife. Solomon was greater than Dauid, though not in vertue, yet in power: and by his power and wisdome he built a Temple to the Lord, such a one as was the glory of the land of Israel, and the wonder of the whole world. But was that his magnificence liked of by all? We doubt of it. Otherwise, why doe they lay it in his sonnes dish, and call vnto him for easing of the burden, Make, say they, the grieuous seruitude of thy father, and his sore yoke, lighter. Belike he had charged them with some leuies, and troubled them with some carraiges; Hereupon they raise vp a tragedie, and wish in their heart the Temple had neuer bene built. So hard a thing it is to please all, euen when we please God best, and doe seeke to approue our selues to euery ones conscience.
If wee will descend to later times, wee shall finde many the like examples of such kind, or rather vnkind acceptance. The first Romane Emperour did neuer doe a more pleasing deed to the learned, nor more profitable to posteritie, for conseruing the record of times in true supputation; then when he corrected the Calender, and ordered the yeere according to the course of the Sunne: and yet this was imputed to him for noueltie, and arrogancie, and procured to him great obloquie. So the first Christened Emperour (at the leastwise that openly professed the faith himselfe, and allowed others to doe the like) for strengthening the Empire at his great charges, and prouiding for the Church as he did, got for his labour the name Pupillus, as who would say, a wastefull Prince, that had neede of a guardian, or ouerseer. So the besxt Christened Emperour, for the loue that he bare vnto peace, thereby to enrich both himselfe and his subiects, and because he did not seeke warre but find it, was iudged to be no man at armes, (though in deed he excelled in feates of chiualrie, and shewed so much when he was prouoked) and condemned for giuing himselfe to his ease, and to his pleasure. To be short, the most learned Emperour of former times, (at the least, the greatest politician) what thanks had he for cutting off the superfluities of the lawes, and digesting them into some order and method? This, that he hath been blotted by some to bee an Epitomist, that is, one that extinguished worthy whole volumes, to bring his abridgements into request. This is the measure that hath been rendred to excellent Princes in former times, euen, Cum bene facerent, male audire, For their good deedes to be euill spoken of. Neither is there any likelihood, that enuie and malignitie died, and were buried with the ancient. No, no, the reproofe of Moses taketh hold of most ages; You are risen up in your fathers stead, an increase of sinfull men. What is that that hath been done? That which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the Sunne, saith the wiseman: and S. Steuen, As your fathers did, so doe you. This, and more to this purpose, His Maiestie that now reigneth (and long, and long may he reigne, and his offspring for euer, Himselfe and children, and childrens children alwayes) knew full well, according to the singular wisedome giuen vnto him by God, and the rare learning and experience that he hath attained vnto; namely that whosoeuer attempteth any thing for the publike (specially if it pertaine to Religion, and to the opening and clearing of the word of God) the same setteth himselfe vpon a stage to be glouted vpon by euery euil eye, yea, he casteth himselfe headlong vpon pikes, to be gored by euery sharpe tongue. For he that medleth with mens Religion in any part, medleth with their custome, nay, with their freehold; and though they finde no content in that which they haue, yet they cannot abide to heare of altering. Notwithstanding his Royall heart was not daunted or discouraged for this or that colour, but stood resolute, as a statue immoueable, and an anuile not easie to be beaten into plates, as one sayth; he knew who had chosen him to be a Souldier, or rather a Captaine, and being assured that the course which he intended made much for the glory of God, & the building vp of his Church, he would not suffer it to be broken off for whatsoeuer speaches or practises. It doth certainely belong vnto Kings, yea, it doth specially belong vnto them, to haue care of Religion, yea, to know it aright, yea, to professe it zealously, yea to promote it to the vttermost of their power. This is their glory before all nations which meane well, and this will bring vnot them a farre most excellent weight of glory in the day of the Lord Iesus. For the Scripture saith not in vaine, Them that honor me, I will honor, neither was it a vaine word that Eusebius deliuered long agoe, that pietie towards God was the weapon, and the onely weapon that both preserued Constantines person, and auenged hint of his enemies.
But now what pietie without trueth? What trueth (what sauing trueth) without the word of God? what word of God (whereof we may be sure) without the Scripture? The Scriptures we are commanded to search. Ioh. 5:39. Esa. 8:20. They are commended that searched & studied them. Act. 17:11. And 8:28, 29. They are reproued that were vnskilful in them, or slow to beleeue them. Mat. 22:29. Luk. 24:25. They can make vs wise vnto saluation. 2. Tim. 3:15. If we be ignorant, they will instruct vs; if out of the way, they will bring vs home; if out of order, they will reforme vs, if in heauines, comfort vs; if dull, quicken vs; if colde, inflame vs. Tolle, lege; Tolle, lege, Take vp and read, take vp and read the Scriptures, (for vnto them was the direction) it was said vnto S. Augustine by a supernaturall voyce. Whatsoeuar is in the Scriptures, beleeue me, saith the same S. Augustine, is high and diuine; there is verily trueth, and a doctrine most fit for the refreshing and renewing of mens mindes, and truly so tempered, that euery one may draw from thence that which is sufficient for him, if hee come to draw with a deuout and pious minde, as true Religion requireth. Thus S. Augustine. And S. Hieroine: Ana scripturas, & amabit te sapientia &c. Loue the Scriptures, and wisedome will loue thee. And S. Cyrill against Iulian; Euen boyes that are bred up in the Scriptures, become most religious, &c. But what mention wee three or foure vses of the Scripture, whereas whatsoeuer is to be beleeued or practised, or hoped for, is contained in them? Or three foure sentences of the Fathers, since whosoeuer is worthy the name of a Father, from Christs time downeward, hath likewise written not onely of the riches, but also of the perfection of the Scripture? I adore the fulnesse of the Scripture, saith Tertullian against Hermogenes. And againe, to Apelles an heretike of the like stampe, he saith; I doe not admit that which thou bringest in (or concludest) of thine owne (head or store, de tuo) without Scripture. So Saint Iustin Martyr before him; Wee must know by all meanes, saith hee, that it is not lawfull (or possible) to Learne (any thing) of God or of right pietie, saue onely out of the Prophets, who teach vs by diuine inspiration. So Saint Basill after Tertullian, It is a manifest falling away from the Faith, and a fault of presumption, either to reiect any of those things that are written, or to bring in (vpon the head of them, dπεισάγειν) any of those things that are not written. Wee omit to cite to the same effect, S. Cyrill B. of Hierusalem in his 4. Cataches. Saint Hierome against Heluidius, Saint Augustine in his 3. Booke against the letters of Petilian, and in very many other places of his workes. Also we forbeare to descent to latter Fathers, because wee will not wearie the reader. The Scriptures then being acknowledged to bee so full and so perfect, how can wee excuse our selues of negligence, if we doe not studie them, or curiositie, if we be not content with them? Men talke much of εkρεσίανη, how many sweete and goodly things it had hanging on it; of the Philosophers stone, that it turneth copper into gold; of Cornu-copia, that it had all things necessary for foode in it; of Panaces the herbe, that it was good for all diseases; of Catholicon the drugge, that it is in stead of all purges; of Vulcans armour, that is was an armour of proofe against all thrusts, and all blowes, &c. Well, that which they falsly or vainely attributed to these things for bodily good, wee may iustly and with full measure ascribe vnto the Scripture, for spirituall. It is not onely an armour, but also a whole armorie of weapons, both offensiue, and defensiue; whereby we may saue our selues and put the enemie to flight. It is not an herbe, but a tree, or rather a whole paradise of trees of life, which bring foorth fruit euery moneth, and the fruit thereof is for meate, and the leaues for medicine. It is not a pot of Manna, or a cruse of oyle, which were for memorie only, or for a meales meate or two, but as it were a showre of heauenly bread sufficient for a whole host, be it neuer so great; and as it were a whole cellar full of oyle vessels; whereby all our necessities may be prouided for, and our debts discharged. In a word, it is a Panary of holesome foode, against fenowed traditions; a Physions-shop (Saint Basill calleth it) of preseruatiues against poisoned heresies; a Pandect of profitable lawes, against rebellious spirits; a treasurie of most costly iewels, against beggarly rudiments; Finally a fountaine of most pure water springing vp vnto euerlasting life. And what maruaile: The originall thereof being from heauen, not from earth; the authour being God, not man; the enditer, the holy spirit, not the wit of the Apostles or Prophets; the Peu-men such as were sanctified from the wombe, and endewed with a principall portion of Gods spirit; the matter, veritie, pietie, puritie, vprightnesse; the forme, Gods word, Gods testimonie, Gods oracles, the word of trueth, the word of saluation, &c. the effects, light of vnderstanding, stablenesse of perswasion, repentance from dead workes, newnesse of life, holinesse, peace, ioy in the holy Ghost; lastly, the end and reward of the studie thereof, fellowship with the Saints, participation of the heauenly nature, fruition of an inheritance immortall, vndefiled, and that neuer shall fade away: Happie is the man that delighteth in the Scripture, and thrise happie that meditateth in it day and night.
But how shall men meditate in that, which they cannot vnderstand: How shall they vnderstand that which is kept close in an vnknowen tongue? As it is written, Except I know the power of the voyce, I shall be to him that speaketh, a Barbarian, and he that speaketh, shalbe a Barbarian to me. The Apostle excepteth no tongue; not Hebrewe the ancientest, not Greeke the most copious, not Latine the finest. Nature taught a naturall man to confesse, that all of vs in those tongues which wee doe not vnderstand, are plainely deafe; wee may turne the deafe eare vnto them. The Scythian counted the Athenian, whom he did not vnderstand, barbarous: so the Romane did the Syrian, and the Iew, (euen S. Hierome himselfe calleth the Hebrew tongue barbarous, belike because it was strange to so many) so the Emperour of Constantinople calleth the Latine tongue, barbarous, though Pope Nicolas do storme at it: so the Iewes long before Christ, called all other nations, Lognazim, which is little better than barbarous. Therefore as one complaineth, that alwayes in the Senate of Rome, there was one or other that called for an interpreter: so lest the Church be driuen to the like exigent, it is necessary to haue translations in a readinesse. Translation it is that openeth the window, to let in the light; that breaketh the shell, that we may eat the kernel; that putteth aside the curtaine, that we may looke into the most Holy place; that remooueth the couer of the well, that wee may come by the water, euen as Iacob rolled the stone from the mouth of the well, by which meanes the flockes of Laban were watered. Indeede without translation into the vulgar tongue, the vnlearned are but like children at Iacobs well (which was deepe) without a bucket or some thing to draw with: or as that person mentioned by Esay, to whom when a sealed booke was deliuered, with this motion, Reade this, I pray thee, hee was faine to make this answere, I cannot, for it is sealed.
While God would be knowen onely in Iacob, and haue his Name great in Israel, and in none other place, while the dew lay on Gideons fleece onely, and all the earth besides was drie; then for one and the same people, which spake all of them the language of Canaan, that is, Hebrewe, one and the same originall in Hebrew was sufficient. But when the fulnesse of time drew neere, that the Sunne of righteousnesse, the Sonne of God should come into the world, whom God ordeined to be a recouciliation through faith in his blood, not only of the Iew onely, but also of the Greeke, yea, of all them that were scattered abroad; then loe, it pleased the Lord to stirre vp the spirit of a Greeke Prince (Greeke for descent and language) euen of Ptolome Philadelph King of Egypt, to procure the translating of the Booke of God out of Hebrew into Greeke. This is the translation of the Seuentie Interpreters, commonly so called, which prepared the way for our Sauiour among the Gentiles by written preaching, as Saint Iohn Baptist did among the Iewes by vocall. For the Grecians being desirous of learning, were not wont to suffer bookes of worth to lye moulding in Kings Libraries, but had many of their sesruants, ready scribes, to copie them out, and so they were dispersed and made common. Againe, the Greeke tongue was wellknowen and made familiar to most inhabitants in Asia, by reason of the conquest that there the Grecians had made, as also by the Colonies, which thither they had sent. For the same causes also it was well vnderstood in many places of Europe, yea, and of Affrike too. Therefore the word of God being set foorth in Greeke, becommeth hereby like a candle set vpon a candlesticke, which giueth light to all that are in the house, or like a proclamation sounded foorth in the market place, which most men presently take knowledge of; and therefore that language was fittest to containe the Scriptures, both for the first Preachers of the Gospel to appeale vnto for witnesse, and for the learners also of those times to make search and triall by. It is certaine, that that Translation was not so sound and so perfect, but that it needed in many places correction; and who had bene so sufficient for this worke as the Apostles or Apostolike men? Yet it seemed god to the holy Ghost and to them, to take that which they found, (the same being for the greatest part true and sufficient) rather then by making a new, in that new world and greene age of the Church, to expose themselues to many exceptions and cauillations, as thought they made a Translation to serue their owne turne, and therefore beating witnesse to themselues, their witnesse not to be regarded. This may be supposed to bee some cause, why the Translation of the Seuentie was allowed to passe for currant. Notwithstanding, though it was commended generally, yet it did not fully content the learned, no not of the Iewes. For not long after Christ, Aquila fell in hand with a new Translation, and after him Theodotion, and after him Symmachus: yea, there was a fift and sixt edition, the Authours wherof were not knowen. These with the Seuentie made vp the Hexapla, and were worthily and to great purpose compiled together by Origen. Howbeit the Edition of the Seuentie went away with the credit, and therefore not onely was placed in the midst of Origen (for the worth and excellencie thereof aboue the rest, as Epiphanius gathereth) but also was vsed by the Greeke fathers for the ground and foundation of their Commentaries. Yea, Epiphanius aboue name doeth attribute so much vnto it, that he holdeth the Authours thereof not onely for Interpreters, but also for Prophets in some respect: and Iustinian the Emperour enioyning the Iewes his subiects to vse specially the Translation of the Seuentie, rendreth this reason thereof, because they were as it were enlightened with propheticall grace. Yet for all that, as the Egyptians are said of the Prophet to bee men and not God, and their horses flesh and not spirit: so it is euident, (and Saint Hierome affirmeth as much ) that the Seuentie were Interpreters, they were not Prophets; they did many things well, as learned men; but yet as men they stumbled and fell, one while through ouersight, another while through ignorance, yea, sometimes they may be noted to adde to the Originall, and sometimes to take from it; which made the Apostles to Ieaue them many times, when they left the Hebrew, and to deliuer the sence thereof according to the trueth of the word, as the spirit gaue them vtterance. This may suffice touching the Greeke Translations of the old Testament.
There were also within a few hundreth yeeres after CHRIST, translations many into the Latine tongue: for this tongue also was very fit to coneuy the Law and the Gospel by, because in those times very many Countreys of the West, yea of the South, East and North, spake or vnderstood Latine, being made Prouinces to the Romanes. But now the Latine Translations were too many to be all good, for they were infinite (Latin Interpretes nullo modo numerari possunt, saith S. Augustine.) Againe they were not out of the Hebrew fountaine (wee speake of the Latine Translations of the Old Testament) but out of the Greeke streame, therefore the Greeke being altogether cleare, the Latine deriued from it must needs be muddie. This moued S. Hierome a most learned father, and the best linguist without controuersie, of his age, or of any that went before him, to vndertake the translating of the Old Testament, out of the very fountaines themselues; which hee performed with that euidence of great learning, judgement, I ndustrie and faithfulnes, that he hath for euer bound the Church vnto him, in a debt of speciall remembrance and thankefulnesse.
Now though the Church were thus furnished with Greeke and Latine Translations, euen before the faith of Christ was generally embraced in the Empire: (for the learned know that euen in S. Hieroms time, the Consul of Rome and his wife were both Ethnicks, and about the same time the greatest part of the Senate also) yet for all that the godly-learned were not content to haue the Scriptures in the Language which themselues vnderstood, Greeke and Latine, (as the good Lepers were not content to fare well themselues, but acquainted their neighbours with the store that God had sent, that they also might prouide for themselues) but also for the behoofe and edifying of the vnlearned which hungred and thirsted after Righteousnesse, and had soules to be saued aswell as they, they prouided translations into the vulgar for their Countreymen, insomuch that most nations vnder heauen did shortly after their conuersion, heare CHRIST speaking vnto them in their mother tongue, not by the voyce of their Minister onely, but also by the written word translated. If any doubt hereof, he may be satisfied by examples enough, if enough wil serue the turne. First S. Hierome saith, Multarum gentiu linguis Scriptura anie translata, docet falsa esse qux addita sunt, &c.i. The Scripture being translated before in the languages of many Nations, doth shew that those things that were added (by Lucian or Hesychius) are false. So S. Hierome in that place. The same Hierome elsewhere affirmeth that he, the time was, had set forth the translation of the Seuenty, six lingux hominibus.i. for his countreymen of Dalmatia. Which words not only Erasmus doth vnderstand to purport, that S. Hierome translated the Scripture into the Dalmatian tongue, but also Sixtus Senensis, and Alphonsus a Castro (that we speake of no more) men not to be excepted against by them of Rome, doe ingenuously confesse as much. So, S. Chrysostome that liued in S. Hieromes time, guieth euidence with him: The doctrine of S. Iohn (saith he) did not in such sort (as the Philosophers did) vanish away: but the Syrians, Egyptians, Indians, Persians. Ethiopians, and infinite other nations being barbarous people, translated it into their (mother) tongue, and have learned to be (true) Philosophers, he meaneth Christians. To this may be added Theodorit, as next vnto him, both for antiquitie, and for learning. His words be these, Euery Countrey that is vnder the Sunne, is full of these wordes (of the Apostles and Prophets) and the Hebrew tongue (he meaneth the Scriptures in the Hebrew tongue) is turned not onely into the Language of the Grecians, but also of the Romanes, and Egyptians, and Persians, and Indians, and Armenians, and Scythians, and Sauromatians, and briefly into all the Languages that any Nation vseth. So he. In like maner, Vlpilas is reported by Paulus Diaconus and Isidor (and before them by Sozomen) to haue translated the Scriptures into the Gothicke tongue: Iohn Bishop of Siuil by Vasseus, to haue turned them into Arabicke, about the yeere of our Lord 717: Beda by Cistertiensis, to haue turned a great part of them into Saxon: Efnard by Trithemius, to haue abridged the French Psalter, as Beda had done the Hebrew, about the yeere 800: King Alured by the said Cistertiensis, to haue turned the Psalter into Saxon: Methodius by Auentinus (printed at Ingolstad) to haue turned the Scriptures into Sclauonian: Valdo, Bishop of Frising by Beatus Rhenanus, to haue caused about that time, the Gospels to be translated into Dutch-rithme, yet extant in the Library of Corbinian: Valdus, by diuers to haue turned them himselfe, or to haue gotten them turned into French, about they yeere 1160: Charles the 5. Of that name, surnamed The wise, to haue caused them to be turned into French, about 200. Yeeres after Valdus his time, of which translation there be many copies yet extant, as witnesseth Beroaldus. Much about that time, euen in our King Richard the seconds dayes, Iohn Treuisa translated them into English, and many English Bibles in written hand are yet to be seene with diuers, translated as it is very probably, in that age. So the Syrian translation of the New Testament is in the most learned mens Libraries, of Widminstadius his setting forth, and the Psalter in Arabicke is with many, of Augustinus Nebiensis setting foorth. So Postel affirmeth, that in his trauaile he saw the Gospels in the Ethiopian tongue; And Ambrose Thesius alleageth the Psalter of the Indians, which he testifieth to haue bene set forth by Potken in Syrian characters. So that, to haue the Scriptures in the mother-tongue is not a quaint conceit lately taken vp, either by the Lord Cromwell in England, or by the Lord Radeuil in Polonie, or by the Lord Vngnadius in the Emperours dominion, but hath bene thought vpon, and put in practise of old, euen from the first times of the conuersion of any Nation; do doubt, because it was esteemed most profitable, to cause faith to grow in mens hearts the sooner, and to make them to be able to say with the words of the Psalme, As we have heard, so we haue seene.
Now the Church of Rome would seeme at the length to beare motherly affection towards her children, and to allow them the Scriptures in their mother tongue: but indeed it is a gift, not deseruing to be called a gift, an vnprofitable gift: they must first get a Licence in writing before they may vse the, and to get that, they must approue themselues to their Confessor, that is, to be such as are, if not frozen in the dregs, yet sowred with Leauen of their superstition. Howbeit, it seemed too much to Clement the 8. That there should be any Licence granted to haue them in the vulgar tongue, and therefore he ouerruleth and frustrateth the grant of Pius the fourth. So much are they afraid of the light of the Scripture, (Lucifugx Scripturarum, as Tertullian speaketh) that they will not trust the people with it, no not as it is set foorth by their owne sworne men, no not with the Licence of their owne Bishops and Inquisitors. Yea, so vnwilling they are to communicate the Scriptures to the peoples vnderstanding in any sort, that they are not ashamed to confesse, that wee forced them to translate it into English against their wills. This seemeth to argue a bad cause, or a bad conscience, or both. Sure we are, that it is not he that hath good gold, that is afraid to bring it to the touch-stone, but he that hath the counterfeit; neither is it the true man that shunneth the light, but the malefactour, lest his deedes should be reproued: neither is it the plaine dealing Merchant that is vnwilling to haue the waights, or the meteyard brought in place, but he that vseth deceit. But we will let them alone for this fault, and returne to translation.
Many mens mouths haue bene open a good while (and yet are not stopped) with speeches about the Translations so long in hand, or rather perusals of Translations made before: and aske what may be the reason, what the necessitie of the employment: Hath the Church bene deceiued, say they, all this while? Hat her sweet break bene mingled with leauen, her siluer with drosse, her wine with water, her milke with lime? (Lacte gypsum male miscetur, saith S. Ireney,) We hoped that we had bene in the right way, that we had had the Oracles of God deliuered vnto vs, and that though all the world had cause to be offended and to complaine, yet that we had none. Hath the nurse holden out the breast, and nothing but winde in it? Hath the bread bene deliuered by the fathers of the Church, and the same proued to be lapidosus, as Seneca speaketh? What is it to handle the word of God deceitfully, if this be not? Thus certaine brethren. Also the aduersaries of Iudah and Hierusalem, like Sanballat in Nehemiah, mocke, as we heare, both at the worke and workemen, saying; What doe these weake Iewes, &c. will they make the stones whole againe out of the heapes of dust which are burnt? although they build, yet if a foxe goe up, he shall euen breake downe their stony wall. Was their Translation good before? Why doe they now mend it? Was it not good? Why then was it obtruded to the people? Yea, why did the Catholicks (meaning Popish Romanists) alwayes goe in ieopardie, for refusing to goe to heare it? Nay, if it must be translated into English, Catholicks are fittest to doe it. They haue learning, and they know when a thing is well, they can manum de tabula. Wee will answere them both briefly: and the former, being brethren, thus, with S. Hierome, Damnamus veteres? Minime, sea post priorum studia in domo Domini quod possumus laboramus. That is, Doe we condemne the ancient? In no case: but after the endeuours of them that were before us, wee take the best paines we can in the house of God. As if hee said, Being prouoked by the example of the learned that liued before my time, I haue thought it my duetie, to assay whether my talent in the knowledge of the tongues, may be profitable in any measure to Gods Church, lest I should seeme to haue laboured in them in vaine, and lest I should be thought to glory in men, (although ancient,) aboue that which was in them. Thus S. Hierome may be thought to speake.
And to the same effect say wee, that we are so farre off from condemning any of their labours that traueiled before vs in this kinde, either in this land or beyond sea, either in King Henries time, or Kind Edwards (if there were any translation, or correction of a translation in his time) or Queene Elizabeths of euer-renoumed memorie, that we acknowledge them to haue beene raised vp of God, for the building and furnishing of his Church, and that they deserue to be had of vs and of posteritie in euerlasting remembrance. The Iudgement of Aristotle is worthy and well knowen: If Timotheus had not bene, we had not had much sweet musicke; but if Phrynis (Timotheus his master) had not beene, wee had not had Timotheus. Therefore blessed be they, and most honoured be their name, that breake the yee, and glueth onset vpon that which helpeth forward to the sauing of soules. Now what can bee more auaileable thereto, then deliuer Gods booke vnto Gods people in a tongue which they vnderstand? Since of an hidden treasure, and of a fountaine that is sealed, there is no profit, as Ptolomee Philadelph wrote to the Rabbins or masters of the Iewes, as witnesseth Epiphanius: and as S. Augustine saith; A man had rather be with his dog then with a stranger (whose tongue is strange vnto him.) Yet for all that, as nothing is begun and perfited at the same time, and the later thoughts are thought to be the wiser: so, if we building vpon their foundation that went before vs, andbeing holpen by their labours, doe endeuour to make that better which they left so good; no man, we are sure, hath cause to mislike vs; they, we perswade our selues, if they were aliue, would thanke vs. The vintage of Abiezer, that strake the stroake: yet the gleaning of grapes of Ephraim was not to be despised. See Iudges 8. verse 2. Ioash the king of Israel did not satisfie himselfe, till he had smitten the ground three times; and yet hee offended the Prophet, for giuing ouer then. Aquila, of whom wee spake before, translated the Bible as carefully, and as skilfully as he could; and yet he thought good to goe ouer it againe, and then it got the credit with the Iewes, to be called κατα Pκρίβειαν, that is, accuratly done, as Saint Hierome witnesseth. How many bookes of profane learning haue bene gone ouer againe and againe, by the same translators, by others? Of one and the same booke of Aristotles Ethikes, there are extant not so few as sixe or seuen seuerall translations. Now if this cost may bee bestowed vpon the goord, which affordeth vs a little shade, and which to day flourisheth, but to morrow is cut downe; what may we bestow, nay what ought we not to bestow vpon the Vine, the fruite whereof maketh glad the conscience of man, and the stemme whereof abideth for euer? And this is the word of God, which we translate. What is the chaffe to the wheat, saith the Lord? Tanti vitreum, quantiverum margaritum (saith Tertullian,) if a toy of glasse be of that rekoning with vs, how ought wee to value the true pearle? Therefore let no mans eye be euill, because his Maiesties is good; neither let any be grieued, that wee haue a Prince that seeketh the increase of the spirituall wealth of Israel (let Sanballats and Tobiahs doe so, which therefore doe beare their iust reproofe) but let vs rather blesse God from the ground of our heart, for working this religious care in him, to haue the translations of the bible maturely considered of and examined. For by this meanes it cometh to passe, that whatsoeuer is sound alreadie (and all is sound for substance, in one or other of our editions, and the worst of ours farre better then their autentike vulgar) the same will shine as gold more brightly, being rubbed and polished; also, if any thing be halting, or superfluous, or not so agreeable to the originall, the same may bee corrected, and the trueth set in place. And what can the King command to bee done, that will bring him more true honour then this? And wherein could they that haue beene set a worke, approue their duetie to the King, yea their obedience to God, and loue to his Saints more, then by yeelding their seruice, and all that is within them, for the furnishing of the worke? But besides all this, they were the principall motiues of it, and therefore ought least to quarrell it: for the very Historicall trueth is, that vpon the importunate petitions of the Puritanes, at his maiesties comming to this Crowne, the Conference at Hampton Court hauing bene appointed for hearing their complaints: when by force of reason they were put from all other grounds, they had recourse at the last, to this shift, that they could not with good conscience subscribe to the Communion booke, since it maintained the bible as it was there translated, which was as they said, a most corrupted translation. And although this was iudged to be but a very poore and emptie shift; yet euen hereupon did his Maiestie beginne to bethinke himselfe of the good that might ensue by a new translation, and presently after gaue order for this Translation which is now presented vnto thee. Thus much to satisfie our scrupulous Brethren.
Now to the later we answere; that wee doe not deny, nay wee affirme and auow, that the very meanest translation of the Bible in English, set foorth by men of our profession (for wee haue seene none of theirs of the whole Bible as yet) containeth the word of God, nay, is the word of God. As the Kings Speech which hee vttered in Parliament, being translated into French, Dutch, Italian and Latine, is still the Kings Speech, though it be not interpreted by euery Translator with the like grace, nor peraduenture so fitly for phrase, nor so expresly for sence, euery where. For it is confessed, that things are to take their denomination of the greater part; and a naturall man could say, Verum vbi multa nitent in carmine, non ego paucis offendor maculis, &c. A man may be counted a vertuous man, though hee haue made many slips in his life, (els, there were none vertuous, for in many things we offend all) also a comely man and louely, though hee haue some warts vpon his hand, yea, not onely freakles vpon his face, but also skarres. No cause therefore why the word translated should bee denied to be the word, or forbidden to be currant, notwithstanding that some imperfections and blemishes may be noted in the setting foorth of it. For what euer was perfect vnder the Sunne, where Apostles or Apostolike men, that is, men idued with an extraordinary measure of Gods spirit, and priuiledged with the priuiledge of infallibilitie, had not their hand? The Romanistes therefore in refusing to heare, and daring to burne the Word translated, did no lesse then despite the spirit of grace, from whom originally it proceeded, and whose sense and meaning, as well as mans weakenesse would enable, it did expresse. Iudge by an example or two. Piutarch writeth, that after that Rome had beene burnt by the Galles, they fell soone to builde it againe: but doing it in haste, they did not cast the streets, nor proportion the houses in such comely fashion, as had bene most sightly and conuenient; was Catiline therefore an honest man, or a good Patriot, that sought to bring it to a combustion? Or Nero a good Prince, that did indeed set it on fire? So, by the story of Ezrah, and the prophesie of Haggai it may be gathered, that the Temple built by Zerubbabel after the returne from Babylon, was by no meanes to bee compared to the former built by Solomon (for they that remembred the former, wept when they considered the later) notwithstanding, might this later either haue bene abhorred and forsaken by the Iewes, or prophaned by the Greeks? The like wee are to thinke of Translations. The translation of the Seuentie dissenteth from the Originall in many places, neither doeth it come neere it, for perspicuitie, grauitie, maiestie; yet which of the Apsotles did condemne it? Condemne it? Nay, the vsed it, (as it is apparent, and as Saint Hierome and most learned men doe confesse) which they would not haue done, nor by their example of vsing it, so grace and commend it to the Church, if it had bene vnworthy the appellation and name of the word of God. And whereas they vrge for their second defence of their vilifying and abusing of the English Bibles, or some pieces thereof, which they meete with, for that heretikes (forsooth) were the Authours of the translations, (heretikes they call vs by the same right that they call themselues Catholikes, both being wrong) wee marueile what diuinitie taught them so. Wee are sure Tertullian was of another minde: Ex personis probamus fidem, an ex fide personas? Doe we trie mens faith by their persons? We should trie their persons by their faith. Also S. Augustine was of an other minde: for he lighting vpon certaine rules made by Tychonius a Donatist, for the better vnderstanding of the word, was not ashamed to make vse of them, yes, to insert them into his owne booke, with giuing commendation to them so farre foorth as they were worthy to be commended, as is to be seene in S. Augustines third booke De doctrina Christiana. To be short, Origen, and the whole Church of God for certain hundred yeeres, were of an other minde? For they were so farre from treading vnder foote, (much more from burning) the Translation of Aquila a Proselite, that is, one that had turned Iew; of Symmachus, and Theodotion, both Ebionites, that is, most vile heretikes, that they ioyned them together with the Hebrew Originall, and the Translation of the Seuentie (as hath bene before signified out of Epiphanius) and set them forth openly to be considered of and perused by all. But we weary the vnlearned, who need not know so much, and trouble the learned, who know it already.
Yet before we end, we must answere a third cauill and obiection of theirs agains vs, for altering and amending our Translations so oft; wherein truly they deale hardly, and strangely with vs. For to whom euer was it imputed for a fault (by such as were wise) to goe ouer that which hee had done, and to amend it where he saw cause? Saint Augustine was not afraide to exhort S. Hierome to a Palinodia or recantation; the same S Augustine was not ashamed to retractate, we might say reuoke, many things that had passed him, and doth euen glory that he seeth his infirmities. If we will be sonnes of the Trueth, we must consider what it speaketh, and trample vpon our owne credit, yea, and vpon other mens too, if either by any way an hinderance to it. This to the cause: then to the persons we say, that of all men they ought to bee most silent in this case. For what avrieties haue they, and what alterations haue they made, not noely of their Seruice bookes, Portesses and Breuiaries, but also of their Latine Translation? The Seruice booke supposed to be made by S. Ambrose (Officium Ambrosianum) was a great while in speciall vse and request: but Pope Hadrian calling a Councill with the ayde of Charles the Emperor, abolished it, yea, burnt it, and commanded the Seruice-booke of Saint Gregorie vniuersally to be vsed. Well, Officium Gregorianum gets by this meanes to be in credit, but doeth it continue without change or altering? No, the very Romane Seruice was of two fashions, the New fashion, and the Old, (the one vsed in one Church, the other in another) as is to bee seene in Pamelius a Romanist, his Preface, before Micrologus. The same Pamelius reporteth out of Radulphus de Riuo, that about the yeere of our Lord, 1277. Pope Nicolas the third remoued out of the Churches of Rome, the more ancient bookes (of Seruice) and brought into vse the Missals of the Friers Minorites, and commaunded them to bee obserued there; insomuch that about an hundred yeeres after, when the aboue named Radulphus happened to be at Rome, he found all the bookes to be new, (of the new stampe.) Neither was there this chopping and changing in the more ancient times onely, but also of late: Pius Quintus himselfe confesseth, that euery Bishopricke almost had a peculiar kind of seruice, most vnlike to that which others had: which moued him to abolish all other Breuiaries, though neuer so ancient, and priuiledged and published by Bishops in their Diocesses, and to establish and ratifie that onely which was of his owne setting foorth, in the yeere 1568. Now, when the father of their Church, who gladly would heale the soare of the daughter of his people softly and sleightly, and make the best of it, findeth so great fault with them for their oddes and iarring; we hope the children haue no great cause to vaunt of their vniformitie. But the difference that appeareth betweene our Translations, and our often correcting of them, is the thing that wee are specially charged with; let vs see therefore whether they themselues bee without fault this way, (if it be to be counted a fault, to correct) and whether they bee fit men to throw stones at vs: O tandem maior parcas insane minori: they that are lesse sound themselues, ought not to obiect infirmities to others. If we should tell them that Valla, Stapulensis, Erasmus, and Viues found fault with their vulgar Translation, and consequently wished the same to be mended, or a new one to be made, they would answere peraduenture, that we produced their enemies for witnesses against them; albeit, they were in no other sort enemies, then as S. Paul was to the Galatians, for telling them the trueth: and it were to be wished, that they had dared to tell it them plainlier and oftner. But what will they say to this, that Pope Leo the tenth allowed Erasmus Translation of New Testament, so much different from the vulgar, by his Apostolike Letter & Bull; that the same Leo exhorted Pagnin to translate the whole Bible, and bare whatsoeuer charges was necessary for the worke? Surely, as the Apostle reasoneth to the Hebrews, that if the former Law and Testament had bene sufficient, there had beene no need of the latter: so we may say, that if the olde vulgar had bene at all points allowable, to small purpose had labour and charges bene vndergone, about framing of a new. If they say, it was one Popes priuate opinion, and that he consulted onely himselfe; then wee are able to goe further with them, and to auerre, that more of their chiefe men of all sorts, euen their owne Trent-champions Paiua & Vega, and their owne Inquisitors, Hieronymus ab Oleastro, and their own Bishop Isidorus Clarius, and their owne Cardinall Thomas a Vio Caietan, doe either make new Translations themselues, or follow new ones of other mens making, or note the vulgar Interpretor for halting; none of them feare to dissent from him, nor yet to except against him. And call they this an vniforme tenour of text and judgement about the text, so many of their Worthies disclaiming the now receiued conceit? Nay, we wil yet come neere the quicke: doth not their Paris-edition differ from the Louaine, and Hentenius his from them both, and yet all of them allowed by authoritie? Nay, doth not Sixtus Quintus confesse, that certaine Catholikes (he meaneth certaine of his owne side) were in such an humor of translating the Scriptures into Latine, that Satan taking occasion by them, though they thoughth of no such matter, did striue what he could, out of so vncertaine and manifold a varietie of Translations, so to mingle all things, that nothing might seeme to be left certaine and firme in them, &c? Nay further, did not the same Sixtus ordaine by an inuiolable decree, and that with the counsell and consent of his Cardinals, that the Latine edition of the olde and new Testament, which the Councill of Trent would haue to be authenticke, is the same without controuersie which he then set forth, being diligently corrected and printed in the Printing-house of Vatican? Thus Sixtus in his Preface before his Bible. And yet Clement the eight his immediate successour, publisheth another edition of the bible, containing in it infinite differences from that of Sixtus, (and many of them waightie and materiall) and yet this must be authentike by all meanes. What is to haue the faith of our glorious Lord IESVS CHRIST with Yea and Nay, if this be not? Againe, what is sweet harmonie and consent, if this be? Therefore, as Demaraius of Corinth aduised a great King, before he talked of the dissentions among the Grecians, to compose his domesticke broiles (for at that time his Queene and his sonne and heire were ate deadly fuide with him) so all the while that our aduersaries doe make so many and so various editions themselues, and do iarre so much about the worth and authoritie of them, they can with no show of equitie challenge vs for changing and correcting.
But it is high time to leaue them, and to shew in briefe what wee proposed to our selues, and what course we held in this our perusall and suruay of the Bible. Truly (good Christian Reader) wee neuer thought from the beginning, that we should neede to make a new Translation, nor yet to make of a bad one a good one, (for then the imputation of Sixtus had bene true in some sort, that our people had bene fed with gall of Dragons in stead of wine, with whey in stead of milke: ) but to make a good one better, or out of many good ones, one princiall good one, not iustly to be excepted against; that hath bene our indeauour, that our marke. To that purpose there were many chosen, that were greater in other mens eyes then in their owne, and that sought the truth rather then their own praise. Againe, they came or were t hought to come to the worke, not exercendi causa (as one saith) but exercitati, that is, learned, not to learne: For the chiefe ouerseer and dργοδιώκτης vnder his Maiestie, to whom not onely we, but also our whole Church was much bound, knew by his wisedome, which thing also Nazianzen taught so long agoe, that it is a preposterous order to teach first and to learne after, yea that τ h πιθv κε παμίαν μανθάνειν learne and practise together, is neither commendable for the workeman, nor safe for the worke. Therefore such were thought vpon, as could say modestly with Saint Hierome, Et Hebrxum Sermonem ex parte didicimus, & in Latino pene ab ipsis incunabulis &c. detriti sumus. Both we haue learned the Hebrew tongue in part, and in the Latine wee haue beene exercised almost from our verie cradle. S. Heirome maketh no mention of the Greeke tongue, wherein yet hee did excell, because hee translated not the old Testament out of Greek, but out of Hebrewe. And in what sort did these assemble? In the trust of their owne knowledge, or of their sharpenesse of wit, or deepenesse of iudgement, as it were in an arme of flesh? At no hand. They trusted in him that hath they key of David, opening and no man shutting; they prayed to the Lord the Father of our Lord, to the effect that S. Augustine did; O let thy Scriptures be my pure delight, let me not be deceiued in them, neither let me deceiue by them. In this confidence, and with this deuotion did they assemble together; not to many, lest one should trouble another; and yet many, lest many things haply might escape them. If you aske what they had before them, truly it was the Hebrew text of the Olde Testament, the Greeke of the New. These are the two golden pipes, or rather conduits, where-through the oliue branches emptie themselues into the golde. Saint Augustine calleth them precedent, or originall tongues; Saint Hierome, fountaines. The same Saint Hierome affirmeth, and Gratian hath not spared to put it into his Decree, That as the credit of the olde Bookes (he meaneth of the Old Testament) is to bee tryed by the Hebrew Volumes, so of the New by the Greek tongue, he meaneth by the originall Greeke. If trueth be to be tried by these tongues, then whence should a Translation be made, but out of them? These tongues therefore, the Scriptures wee say in those tongues, wee set before vs to translate, being the tongues wherein God was pleased to speake to his Church by his Prophets and Apostles. Neither did we run ouer the worke with that posting haste that the Septuagint did, if that be true which is reported of them, that they finished it in 72. Dayes; neither were we barred or hindered from going ouer it againe, hauing once done it, like S. Hierome, if that be true which himselfe reporteth, that he could no sooner write any thing, but presently it was caught from him, and published, and he could not haue leaue to mend it: neither, to be short, were we the first that fell in hand with trauslating the Scripture into English, and consequently destitute of former helpes, as it is written of Origen, that hee was the first in a manner, that put his hand to write Commentaries vpon the Scriptures, and therefore no marueile, if he ouershot himselfe many times. None of these things: the worke hath not bene hudled vp in 72. Dayes, but hath cost the workmen, as light as it seemeth, the paines of twise seuen times seuentie two dayes and more: matters of such weight and consequence are to bee speeded with maturitie: for in a businesse of moment a man feareth not the blame of conuenient slacknesse. Neither did wee thinke much to consult the Translators or Commentators, Chaldee, Hebrewe, Syrian, Greeke, or Latine, no nor the Spanish, French, Italian, or Dutch; neither did we disdaine to reuise that which we had done, and to bring backe to the anuill that which we had hammered: but hauing and vsing as great helpes as were needfull, and fearing no reproch for slownesse, nor coueting praise for expedition, wee haue at the length, through the good hand of the Lord vpon vs, brought the worke to that passe that you see.
Some peraduenture would hue no varietie of sences to be set in the margine, lest the authoritie of the Scriptures for deciding of controuersies by that shew of vncertaintie, should somewhat be shaken. But we hold their iudgmet not to be so sound in this point. For though, whatsoeuer things are necessary are manifest, as S. Chrysostome saith, and as S. Augustine, In those things that are plainely set downe in the Scriptures, all such matters are found that concerne Faith, hope, and Charitie. Yet for all that it canot be dissembled, that partly to exercise and whet our wits, partly to weane the curious from loathing of them for their euery-where-plainenesse, partly also to stirre vp our deuotion to craue the assistance of Gods spirit by prayer, and lastly, that we might be forward to seeke ayd of our brethren by conference, and neuer scorne those that be not in all respects so complete as they should bee, bieng to seeke in many things our selues, it hath pleased God in his diuine prouidence, heere and there to scatter wordes and sentences of that difficultie and doubtfulnesse, not in doctrinall points that concerne saluation, (for in such it hath beene vouched that the Scriptures are plaine) but in matters of lesse moment, that fearefulnesse would better beseem vs then confidence, and if we will resolue, to resolue vpon modestie with S. Augustine, (though not in this same case altogether, yet vpon the same ground) Melius est dubitare de occultis, quam litigare de incertis, it is better to make doubt of those things which are secret, then to striue about those things that are vncertaine. There be many words in the Scriptures, which be neuer found there but once, (hauing neither brother nor neighbour, as the Hebrewes speake) so that we cannot be holpen by conference of places. Againe, there by many rare names of certaine birds, beastes and precious stones, &c. concerning which the Hebrewes themselues are so diuided among themselues for iudgement, that they may seeme to haue defined this or that, rather because they would say somthing, the because they were sure of that which they said, as S. Hierome somewhere saith of the Septuagint. Now in such a case, doth not a margine do well to admonish the Reader to seeke further, and not to conclude or dogmatize vpon this or that peremptorily? For as it is a fault of incredulitie, to doubt of those things that are euident: so to determine of such things as the Spirit of God hath left (euen in the iudgment of the iudicious) questionable, can be no lesse then presumption. Therfore as S. Augustine saith, that varietie of Translations is profitable for the finding out of the sense of the Scriptures: so diuersitie of signification and sense in the margine, where the text is not so cleare, must needes doe good, yea, is necessary, as we are perswaded. We know that Sixius Quintus expresly forbiddeth, that any varietie of readings of their vulgar edition, should be put in the margine, (which though it be not altogether the same thing so that we haue in hand, yet it looketh that way) but we thinke he hath no all of his owne side his fauourers, for this conceit. They that are wise, had rather haue their iudgements at libertie in differences of readings, then to be captiuated to one, when it may be the other. If they were sure that their hie Priest had all lawes shut vp in his brest, as Paul the second bragged, and that he were as free from errour by speciall priuiledge, as the Dictators of Rome were made by law inuiolable, it were an other matter; then his word were an Oracle, his opinion a decision. But the eyes of the world are now open, God be thanked, and haue bene a great while, they find that he is subject to the same affections and infirmities that others be, that his skin is penetrable, and therefore so much as he prooueth, not as much as he claimeth, they grant and embrace.
An other thing we thinke good to admonish thee of (gentle Reader) that wee haue not tyed our selues to an vniformitie of phrasing, or to an identitie of words, as some peraduenture would wish that we had done, because they obserue, that some learned men where, haue beene as exact as they could that way. Truly, that we might not varie from the sense of that which we had translated before, if the word signified the same thing in both places (for there bee some wordes that bee not of the same sense euery where) we were especially carefull, and made a conscience, according to our duetie. But, that we should expresse the same notion in the same particular word; as for example, if we translate the Hebrew or Greeke word once by Purpose, neuer to call it Intent; if one where Iourneying, neuer Traueiling; if one where Thinke, neuer Suppose; if one where Paine, neuer Ache; if one where Ioy, neuer Gladnesse, &c. Thus to minse the matter, wee thought to sauour more of curiositie then wisedome, and that rather it would breed scorne in the Atheist, then bring profite to the godly Reader. For is the kindome of God become words or syllables? Why should wee be in bondage to them if we may be free, vse one precisely when wee may vse another no lesse fit, as commodiously? A godly Father in the Primitiue time shewed himselfe greatly moued, that one of newfanglenes called κράββατον σκίμπους, though the difference be little or none; and another reporteth, that he was much abused for turning Cucurbita (to which reading the people had beene vsed) into Hedera. Now if this happen in better times, and vpon so small occasions, wee might iustly feare hard censure, if generally wee should make verball and vnnecessary changings. We might also be charged (by scoffers) with some vnequall dealing towards a great number of good English wordes. For as it is writtenof a certaine great Philosopher, that he should say, that those logs were happie that were made images to be worshipped; for their fellowes, as good as they, lay for blockes behinde the fire: so if wee should say, as it were, vnto certaine words, Stand vp higher, haue a place in the Bible alwayes, and to other of like qualitie, Get ye hence, be banished for euer, wee might be taxed peraduenture with S. Iames his words, namely, To be partial in our selues and iudges of euill thoughts. Adde hereunto, that nicenesse in wordes was alwayes counted the next step to triflilng, and so was to bee curious about names too: also that we cannot follow a better patterne for elocution then God himselfe; therefore hee vsing diuers words, in his holy writ, and indifferently for one thing in nature: we, if wee will not be superstitious, may vse the same libertie in our English versions out of Hebrew & Greeke, for that copie or store that he hath giuen vs. Lastly, wee haue on the one side auoided the scrupulositie of the Puritanes, who leaue the olde Ecclesiasticall words, and betake them to other, as when they put washing for Baptisme, and Congregation in stead of Church: as also on the other side we haue shunned the obscuritie of the Papists, in their Azimes, Tunike, Rational, Holocausts, Prxpuce, Pasche, and a number of such like, whereof their late Translation is full, and that of purpose to darken the sence, that since they must needs translate the Bible, yet by the language thereof, it may bee kept from being vnderstood. But we desire that the Scripture may speake like it selfe, as in the language of Canaan, that it may bee vnderstood euen of the very vulgar.
Many other things we might giue thee warning of (gentle Reader) if wee had not exceeded the measure of a Preface alreadie. It remaineth, that we commend thee to God, and to the Spirit of his grace, which is able to build further then we can aske or thinke. Hee remoueth the scales from our eyes, the vaile from our hearts, opening our wits that wee may vnderstand his words, enlarging our hearts, yea correcting our affections, that we may loue it aboue gold and siluer, yea that we may loue it to the end. Ye are brought vnto fountaines of liuing water which yee digged not; doe not cast earth into them with the Philistines, niether preferre broken pits before them with the wicked Iewes. Others haue laboured, and you may enter into their labours; O receiue not so great things in vaine, O despise not so great saluation! Be not like swine to treade vnder foote so precious things, neither yet like dogs to teare and abuse holy things. Say not to our Sauiour with the Gergesites, Depart out of our coasts; neither yet with Esau sell your birthright for a messe of potage. If light be come into the world, loue not darkenesse more then light; if foode, if clothing be offered, goe not naked, starue not your selues. Remember the aduise of Nazianzene, It is a grieuous thing (or dangerous) to neglect a great faire, and to seeke to make markets afterwards: also the encouragement of S. Chrysostome, It is altogether impossible, that he that is sober (and watchfull) should at any time be neglected: Lastly the admonition and menacing of S. Augustine, They that despise Gods will inuiting them, shal feele Gods will taking vengeance of them. It is a fearefull thing to fall into the hands of the liuing God; but a blessed thing it is, and will bring vs to euerlasting blessednes in the end, when God speaketh vnto vs, to hearken; when he setteth his word before vs, to reade it; when hee stretcheth out his hand and calleth, to answere, Here am I; here we are to doe thy will, O God. The Lord worke a care and conscience in vs to know him and serue him, that we may be acknowledged of him at the appearing of our Lord Iesus Christ, to whom with the holy Ghost, be all prayse and thankesgiuing. Amen.