Eale to promote the common good, whether it be by deuiſing any thing our ſelues, or reuiſing that which hath bene laboured by othersThe beſt things haue been calumniated, 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 ǁἔξο βέλους. 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 ſenſualitie: By the ſecond, we are bridled and reſtrained from outragious behauiour, and from doing of iniuries, whether by fraud or by violence: 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 menAnacharſis with others. 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 fome Common-wealesLocri. 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,Cato the elder. 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,Gregory the Diuine 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 the 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 reporterNauclerus. 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 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;2.Sam.11.25. 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 Captaines1.King.22.31.to fight neither with ſmall nor 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 backe the Arke of God in ſolemnitie) he was ſcorned and ſcoffed at by his owne wife.2.Sam.6.16.Solomon was greater then 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 ǁσεισάχθειαν. eaſing of the burden, Make, ſay they, the grieuous ſeruitude of thy father, and his ſore yoke, lighter.1.King.12.4. Belike he had charged them with ſome leuies, and troubled them with ſome cariages; 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.
The higheſt perſonages haue been calumniated.If wee will deſcend to later times, wee ſhall finde many the like examples of ſuch kind, or rather vnkind acceptance. The C.Cæſar.Plutarch.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 Conſtantine.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,Aurel. Victor. as who would ſay, a waſtefull prince, that had neede of a Guardian, or ouerſeer. So the Theodoſius.beſt 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,Zoſimus. (though in deed he excelled in feates of chiualrie, and ſhewed ſo much when he was prouked) and condemned for giuing himſelfe to his eaſe, and to his pleaſure. To be ſhort, the Iuſtinian.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 benè facerent, malè 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; Numb.32.14.You are riſen vp in your fathers ſtead, an increaſe of ſinfull men. Eccles.1.9.What is that that hath been done? that which ſhall be done: and there is no new thing vnder the Sunne,His Maieſties conſtancie, notwithſtanding calumniation, for the ſuruey of the Engliſh tranſlations. faith the wiſeman: and S. Steuen, Acts 7.51.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 offpring for euer, ἁυτὸς, καὶ παῖδες, καὶ μαίδων πάντοτε παῖδες.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 vpn 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 abibe to heare of altering. Notwithſtanding his Royall heart was not daunted or diſcouraged for this or that colour, but ſtood reſolute, Suidas. ὥσπερ τις ἀνδριὰς ἀπερίτρεπτος καὶ ἄκμων ἀνήλατοςas 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 vnto them a farre moſt excellent weight of glory in the day of the Lord Ieſus. For the Scripture faith not in vaine, 1.Sam 1.30.Them that honor me, I will honor, neither was it a vaine word that Euſebius deliuered long agoe, that θεοσέβειαpietie towards God was the weapon, and the onely weapon that both preſerued Conſtantines perſon, and auenged him of his enemies.Euſebius lib.10 cap.8.
The praiſe of the holy Scriptures. 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. S.August. confeſſ.lib.8.cap.12Tolle, 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. S.Auguſt. de vtilit. credendi cap.6.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 truely 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. Hierome: S.Hieronym. ad Demetriad.Ama ſcipturas, & amabit te ſapientia &c. Loue the Scriptures, and wiſedome will loue thee. And S.Cyrill againſt Iulian; S.Cyril.7° contra Iulianum.Euen boyes that are bred vp in the Scriptures, become moſt religious, &c. But what mention wee three or foure vſes of the Scriptrue, whereas whatſoeuer is to be beleeued or practiſed, or hoped for, is contained in them? or three or 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? Tertul.aduerſ. Hermo.I adore the fulneſſe of the Scripture, faith Terullian againſt Hermogenes. And Tertul. de carne Chriſti.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 Iuſtin.προτρεπτ. πρὸς ἕελληναςSaint Iustin Martyr before him; Wee muſt know by all meanes, ſaith hee, that it is not lawfull (or poſſibleοἷόν τε) to learne (anything) of God or of right pietie, ſaue onely out of the Prophets, who teach vs by diuine inspiration. So S. Baſil.περὶ πίστεωςSaint Baſill after Tertullian, It is a manifeſt falling away from the Faith, and a ὑπερηφανίας κατηγορίαfault of preſumption, either to reiect any of thoſe things that are written, or to bring in (vpon the head of them, ἐπεισαγεῖν) 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 deſcend 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, of curioſitie, if we be not content with them? Men talke much of Εἰρεσιώνη σῦκα φίγει, πίονας ἄρτους, καὶ μέλι ἐν κοτύλῃ, καὶ ἔλαιον, &c. An oliue bow wrapped about with wooll, wherevpon did hang figs, & bread, and honie in a pot, & oyle.εἰρεσιώνη, 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 ſpitituall. 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 ſuſſicient 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-ſhopκοινὸν ἰατρεῖον. S. Baſil. in Pſal. primum. (Saint Baſill calleth it) of preſeruatiues againſt poiſsoned hereſies; a Pandect of profitable laws, againſt rebellious ſpirits; a treaſurie of moſt coſtly iewels, againſt beggarly rudiments; Finally a fountiane 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 Pen-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.
Tranſlation neceſſarie.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, 1.Cor.14.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; Clem. Alex.1°.Strom.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. Hieronym. Damaſo.S. Hierome himſelfe calleth the Hebrew tongue barbarous, belike becauſe it was ſtrange to ſo many) ſo the Michael, Theophili fil. Emperour of Conſtantinople calleth the Latine tongue, barbarous, though 2.Tom. Concil. ex edis. Petri Crab.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 Cicero 5°. de finibus.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 away the ſtone from the mouth of the well, by which meanes the flockes of Laban were Gen.29.10. 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 Iob 4.11. mentioned by Eſau, to whom when a ſealed booke was deliuered, with this motion, Reade this, I pray thee,Eſay 29.11. hee was ſaine to make this anſwere, I cannot, for it is ſealed.
The tranſlation of the olde Teſtament of the Hebrew into Greeke.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 See S. Auguſt. lib.12. contra Fauſt. e 32. 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 reconciliation through faith in his blood, not 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 ſeruants, ready ſcribes, to copie them out, and ſo they were diſperſed and made common. Againe, the Greeke tongue was well knowen 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 the 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 good 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 though they made a Tranſlation to ſerue their owne turne, and therefore bearing 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 Epiphan. de menſur. & ponderibus.Theodotion, and after him Symmachus: yea, there was a fift and a 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 by 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 named doeth attribute ſo much vnto it, that he See S. Auguſt. 2o. de doctrin. Chriſtian. c. 15o Nouell. (illegible text) 146. 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 enlighted with propheticall grace. (Greek characters) Yet for all that, as the Egyptians are ſaid of the Prophet to bee men and not God, and their horſes fleſh and not ſpiritEſa.31.3.: ſo it is euident, (and Saint HieromeS. Hierom de optimo genere interpret. 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 leaue 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.
Tranſlation out of Hebrew and Greeke into Latine.There were alſo within a few hundreth yeeres after Christ, tranſlations many into the Latine tongue: for this tongue alſo was very fit to conuey 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 (Latini Interpretes nullo modo numerari poſſunt, ſaith S. Auguſtine.See S. Auguſtin. de doctr. Chriſtian. 2.cap.11.) 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 not altogether cleare, the Latinefrom it must needs be muddie. This moved S. Jerome a most learned father, and the best linguist without controversie, of his age, or of any that went before him, to undertake the translating of the Old Testament, out of the very fountaines themselves; which hee performed with that evidence of great learning, judgement, industrie and faithfulnes, that he hath for ever bound the Church unto him, in a debt of speciall remembrance and thankefulnesse.
Now though the Church were thus furnished with Greeke and Latine Translations, even before the faith of CHRIST was generally embraced in the Empire: (for the learned know that even in S. Jeroms 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 have the Scriptures in the Language which themselves understood, Greeke and Latine, (as the good Lepers were not content to fare well themselves, but acquainted their neighbours with the store that God had sent, that they also might provide for themselves) but also for the behoofe and edifying of the unlearned which hungred and thirsted after Righteousnesse, and had soules to be saved as well as they, they provided Translations into the vulgar for their Countreymen, insomuch that most nations under heaven did shortly after their conversion, heare CHRIST speaking unto 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 will serve the turne. First S. Jerome saith, Multarum gentiu linguis Scriptura antè translata, docet falsa esse quæ 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. Jerome in that place. The same Jerome elsewhere affirmeth that he, the time was, had set forth the translation of the Seventy, suæ linguæ hominibus.i. for his countreymen of Dalmatia. Which words not only Erasmus doth understand to purport, that S. Jerome translated the Scripture into the Dalmatian tongue, but also Sixtus Senensis, and Alphonsus à 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 lived in S. Hieromes time, giveth evidence with him: The doctrine of S. John (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 unto him, both for antiquitie, and for learning. His words be these, Every Countrey that is under 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 useth. So he. In like maner, Ulpilas is reported by Paulus Diaconus and Isidor (and before them by Sozomen) to have translated the Scriptures into the Gothicke tongue: John Bishop of Sivil by Vasseus, to have turned them into Arabicke, about the yeere of our Lord 717: Beda by Cistertiensis, to have turned a great part of them into Saxon: Efnard by Trithemius, to have abridged the French Psalter, as Beda had done the Hebrew, about the yeere 800: King Alured by the said Cistertiensis, to have turned the Psalter into Saxon: Methodius by Aventinus (printed at Ingolstad) to have turned the Scriptures into ll Sclavonian: Valdo, Bishop of Frising by Beatus Rhenanus, to have caused about that time, the Gospels to be translated into Dutch-rithme, yet extant in the Library of Corbinian: Valdus, by divers to have turned them himselfe, or to have gotten them turned into French, about the yeere 1160: Charles the 5. of that name, surnamed The wise, to have 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, even in our King Richard the seconds dayes, John Trevisa translated them into English, and many English Bibles in written hand are yet to be seene with divers, translated as it is very probable, in that age. So the Syrian translation of the New Testament is in 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 travaile he saw the Gospels in the Ethiopian tongue; And Ambrose Thesius alleageth the Psalter of the Indians, which he testifieth to have bene set forth by Potken in Syrian characters. So that, to have the Scriptures in the mother-tongue is not a quaint conceit lately taken up, either by the Lord Cromwell in England, or by the Lord Radevil in Polonie, or by the Lord Ungnadius in the Emperours dominion, but hath bene thought upon, and put in practise of old, even from the first times of the conversion of any Nation; no doubt, because it was esteemed most profitable, to cause faith to grown 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 have seene.
Now the Church of Rome would seeme at the length to beare a motherly affection towards her children, and to allow them the Scriptures in their mother tongue: but indeed it is a gift, not deserving to be called a gift, an unprofitable gift: they must first get a Licence in writing before they may use them, and to get that, they must approve themselves to their Confessor, that is, to be such as are, if not frozen in the dregs, yet soured with the leaven of their superstition. Howbeit, it seemed too much to Clement the 8. that there should be any Licence granted to have them in the vulgar tongue, and therefore he overruleth and frustrateth the grant of Pius the fourth. So much are they afraid of the light of the Scripture, (Lucifugæ 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 unwilling they are to communicate the Scriptures to the peoples understanding 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 reproved: neither is it the plaine dealing Merchant that is unwilling to have the waights, or the meteyard brought in place, but he that useth deceit. But we will let them alone for this fault, and returne to translation.
Many mens mouths have bene open a good while (and yet are not stopped) with speeches about the Translation 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 deceived, say they, all this while? Hath her sweet bread bene mingled with leaven, her silver with drosse, her wine with water, her milke with lime? (Lacte gypsum malè miscetur, saith S. Ireney,) We hoped that we had bene in the right way, that we had had the Oracles of God delivered unto us, 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 delivered by the fathers of the Church, and the same proved 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 adversaries of Judah and Jerusalem, like Sanballat in Nehemiah, mocke, as we heare, both at the worke and workemen, saying; What doe these weake Jewes, &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 even 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 jeopardie, for refusing to goe to heare it? Nay, if it must be translated into English, Catholicks are fittest to doe it. They have learning, and they know when a thing is well, they can manum de tabulá. Wee will answere them both briefly: and the former, being brethren, thus, with S. Jerome, Damnamus veteres? Minimè, sed post priorum studia in domo Domini quod possumus laboramus. That is, Doe we condemne the ancient? In no case: but after the endevours of them that were before us, wee take the best paines we can in the house of God. As if hee said, Being provoked by the example of the learned that lived before my time, I have 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 have laboured in them in vaine, and lest I should be thought to glory in men, (although ancient,) above that which was in them. Thus S. Jerome 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 traveiled before us in this kinde, either in this land or beyond sea, either in King Henries time, or King Edwards (if there were any translation, or correction of a translation in his time) or Queene Elizabeths of ever-renoumed memorie, that we acknowledge them to have beene raised up of God, for the building and furnishing of his Church, and that they deserve to be had of us and of posteritie in everlasting remembrance. The Judgement 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 ice, and glueth onset upon that which helpeth forward to the saving of soules. Now what can bee more availeable thereto, then to deliever Gods booke unto Gods people in a tongue which they understand? 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 Jewes, as witnesseth Epiphanius: and as S. Augustine saith; A man had rather be with his dog then with a stranger (whose tongue is strange unto 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 upon their foundation that went before us, and being holpen by their labours, doe endevour to make that better which they left so good; no man, we are sure, hath cause to mislike us; they, we persuade our selves, if they were alive, would thanke us. The vintage of Abiezer, that strake the stroake: yet the gleaning of grapes of Ephraim was not to be despised. See Judges 8. verse 2. Joash the king of Israel did not satisfie himselfe, till he had smitten the ground three times; and yet hee offended the Prophet, for giving over 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 over it againe, and then it got the credit with the Jewes, to be called , that is accuratly done, as Saint Jerome witnesseth. How many bookes of profane learning have bene gone over 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 seven severall translations. Now if this cost may bee bestowed upon the goord, which affordeth us 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 upon the Vine, the fruite whereof maketh glad the conscience of man, and the stemme whereof abideth for ever? And this is the word of God, which we translate. What is the chaffe to the wheat, saith the Lord? Tanti vitreum, quanti verum margaritum (saith Tertullian,) if a toy of glasse be of that rekoning with us, how ought wee to value the true pearle? Therefore let no mans eye be evill, because his Majesties is good; neither let any be grieved, that wee have a Prince that seeketh the increase of the spirituall wealth of Israel (let Sanballats and Tobiahs doe so, which therefore doe beare their just reproofe) but let us rather blesse God from the ground of our heart, for working this religious care in him, to have the translations of the Bible maturely considered of and examined. For by this meanes it commeth to passe, that whatsoever 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 have beene set a worke, approve their duetie to the King, yea their obedience to God, and love to his Saints more, then by yeelding their service, and all that is within them, for the furnishing of the worke? But besides all this, they were the principall motives of it, and therefore ought least to quarrell it: for the very Historicall trueth is, that upon the importunate petitions of the Puritanes, at this Majesties comming to this Crowne, the Conference at Hampton Court having 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 judged to be but a very poore and emptie shift; yet even hereupon did his Majestie beginne to bethinke himselfe of the good that might ensue by a new translation, and presently after gave order for this Translation which is now presented unto thee. Thus much to satisfie our scrupulous Brethren.
Now to the later we answere; that wee doe not deny, nay wee affirme and avow, that the very meanest translation of the Bible in English, set foorth by men of our profession (for wee have 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 uttered in Parliament, being translated into French, Dutch, Italian and Latine, is still the Kings Speech, though it be not interpreted by every Translator with the like grace, nor peradventure so fitly for phrase, nor so expresly for sence, every where. For it is confessed, that things are to take their denomination of the greater part; and a naturall man could say, Verùm ubi multa nitent in carmine, non ego paucis offendor maculis, &c. A man may be counted a vertuous man, though hee have made many slips in his life, (els, there were none vertuous, for in many things we offend all) also a comely man and lovely, though hee have some warts upon his hand, yea, not onely freakles upon his face, but all 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 ever was perfect under the Sunne, where Apostles or Apostolike men, that is, men indued with an extraordinary measure of Gods spirit, and priviledged with the priviledge 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 weaknesse would enable, it did expresse. Judge by an example or two. Plutarch 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 convenient; 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 build 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 latter) notwithstanding, might this later either have bene abhorred and forsaken by the Jewes, or prophaned by the Greekes? The like wee are to thinke of Translations. The translation of the Seventie dissenteth from the Originall in many places, neither doeth it come neere it, for perspicuitie, gratvitie, majestie; yet which of the Apostles did condemne it? it? Condemne it? Nay, they used it, (as it is apparent, and as Saint Jerome and most learned men doe confesse) which they would not have done, nor by their example of using it, so grace and commend it to the Church, if it had bene unworthy the appellation and name of the word of God. And whereas they urge 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 us by the same right that they call themselves Catholikes, both being wrong) wee marveile what divinitie 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 upon certaine rules made by Tychonius a Donatist, for the better understanding of the word, was not ashamed to make use of them, yea, to insert them into his owne booke, with giving commendation to them so farre foorth as they were worthy to be commended, as is to be seene in S. Augustines third booke De doctrinâ Christianâ. 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 under foote, (much more from burning) the Translation of Aquila a Proselite, that is, one that had turned Jew; of Symmachus, and Theodotion, both Ebionites, that is, most vile heretikes, that they joyned them together with the Hebrew Originall, and the Translation of the Seventie (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 unlearned, who need not know so much, and trouble the learned, who know it already.
Yet before we end, we must answere a third cavill and objection of theirs against us, for altering and amending our Taanslations [sic] so oft; wherein truely they deale hardly, and strangely with us. For to whom ever was it imputed for a fault (by such as were wise) to goe over that which hee had done, and to amend it where he saw cause? Saint Augustine was not afraide to exhort S. Jerome to a Palinodia or recantation; the same S. Augustine was not ashamed to retractate, we might say revoke, many things that had passed him, and doth even glory that he seeth his infirmities. If we will be sonnes of the Trueth, we must consider what it speaketh, and trample upon our owne credit, yea, and upon other mens too, if either be 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 varieties have they, and what alterations have they made, not onely of their Service bookes, Portesses and Breviaries, but also of their Latine Translation? The Service booke supposed to be made by S. Ambrose (Officium Ambrosianum) was a great while in speciall use and request: but Pope Hadrian calling a Councill with the ayde of Charles the Emperour, abolished it, yea, burnt it, and commanded the Service-booke of Saint Gregorie universally to be used. Well, Officium Gregorianum gets by this meanes to be in credit, but doeth it continue without change or altering? No, the very Romane Service was of two fashions, the New fashion, and the Old, (the one used 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 Rivo, that about the yeere of our Lord, 1277. Pope Nicolas the third removed out of the Churches of Rome, the more ancient bookes (of Service) and brought into use the Missals of the Friers Minorites, and commaunded them to bee observed there; insomuch that about an hundred yeeres after, when the above 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 every Bishopricke almost had a peculiar kind of service, most unlike to that which others had: which moved him to abolish all other Breviaries, though never so ancient, and priviledged and published by Bishops in their Dioceses, 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 jarring; we hope the children have no great cause to vaunt of their uniformitie. But the difference that appeareth betweene our Translations, and our often correcting of them, is the thing that wee are specially charged with; let us see therefore whether they themselves 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 us: O tandem major parcas insane minori: they that are lesse sound themselves, ought not to object infirmities to others. If we should tell them that Valla, Stapulensis, Erasmus, and Vives found fault with their vulgar Translation, and consequently wished the same to be mended, or a new one to be made, they would answere peradventure, 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 the 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 whatsoever charges was necessary for the worke? Surely, as the Apostle reasoneth to the Hebrewes, 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 undergone, about framing of a new. If they say, it was one Popes private opinion, and that he consulted onely himselfe; then wee are able to goe further with them, and to averre, that more of their chiefe men of all sorts, even their owne Trent-champions Paiva & Vega, and their owne Inquisitors, Hieronymus ab Oleastro, and their own Bishop Isidorus Clarius, and their owne Cardinall Thomas à Vio Caietan, doe either make new Translations themselves, 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 uniforme tenour of text and judgement about the text, so many of their Worthies disclaiming the now received conceit? Nay, we wil yet come neerer 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 certainte of his owne side) were in such an humor of translating the Scriptures into Latine, that Satan taking occasion by them, though they thought of no such matter, did strive what he could, out of so uncertaine 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 inviolable 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 have to be authenticke, is the same without controversie 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 authenticke by all meanes. What is to have the faith of our glorious Lord JESUS CHRIST with Yea and Nay, if this be not? Againe, what is sweet harmonie and consent, if this be? Therfore, as Demaratus of Corinth advised 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 at deadly fuide with him) so all the while that our adversaries doe make so many and so various editions themselves, and doe jarre so much about the worth and authoritie of them, they can with no show of equitie challenge us for changing and correcting.
But it is high time to leave them, and to shew in briefe what wee proposed to our selves, and what course we held in this our perusall and survay of the Bible. Truly (good Christian Reader) wee never 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 principall good one, not justly to be excepted against; that hath bene our indeavour, 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 thought to come to the worke, not exercendi causâ (as one saith) but exercitati, that is, learned, not to learne: For the chiefe overseer and under his Majestie, 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 to learne and practise together, is neither commendable for the workeman, nor safe for the worke. Therefore such were thought upon, as could say modestly with Saint Jerome, Et Hebruæum Sermonem ex parte didicimus, & in Latino penè ab ipsis incunabulis &c. detriti sumus. Both we have learned the Hebrew tongue in part, and in the Latine wee have beene exercised almost from our verie cradle. S. Jerome maketh no mention of the Greeke tongue, wherein yet hee did excell, because hee translated not the old Testament out of Greeke, 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 judgement, as it were in an arme of flesh? At no hand. They trusted in him that hath the 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 deceived in them, neither let me deceive by them. In this confidence, and with this devotion did they assemble together; not too many, lest one should trouble another; and yet many, lest many things haply might escape them. If you aske what they had before them, truely 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 olive branches emptie themselves into the golde. Saint Augustine calleth them precedent, or originall tongues; Saint Jerome, fountaines. The same Saint Jerome 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 Hebrewe Volumes, so of the New by the Greeke 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 us to translate, being the tongues wherein God was pleased to speake to his Church by his Prophets and Apostles. Neither did we run over 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 over it againe, having once done it, like S. Jerome, 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 have leave to mend it: neither, to be short, were we the first that fell in hand with translating the Scripture into English, and consequently destitute of former helpes, as it is written of Origen, that hee was the first in a maner, that put his hand to write Commentaries upon the Scriptures, and therefore no marveile, if he overshot himselfe many times. None of these things: the worke hath not bene hudled up in 72. dayes, but hath cost the workemen, as light as it seemeth, the paines of twise seven times seventie 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 convenient 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 revise that which we had done, and to bring backe to the anvill that which we had hammered: but having and using as great helpes as were needfull, and fearing no reproch for slownesse, nor coveting praise for expedition, wee have at the length, through the good hand of the Lord upon us, brought the worke to that passe that you see.
Some peradventure would have no varietie of sences to be set in the margine, lest the authoritie of the Scriptures for deciding of controversies by that shew of uncertaintie, should somewhat be shaken. But we hold their judgmet not to be so be so sound in this point. For though, whatsoever 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 cannot be dissembled, that partly to exercise and whet our wits, partly to weane the curious from loathing of them for their every-where-plainenesse, partly also to stirre up our devotion to crave the assistance of Gods spirit by prayer, and lastly, that we might be forward to seeke ayd of our brethren by conference, and never scorne those that be not in all respects so complete as they should bee, being to seeke in many things our selves, it hath pleased God in his divine providence, heere and there to scatter wordes and sentences of that difficultie and doubtfulnesse, not in doctrinall points that concerne salvation, (for in such it hath beene vouched that the Scriptures are plaine) but in matters of lesse moment, that fearefulnesse would better beseeme us then confidence, and if we will resolve, to resolve upon modestie with S. Augustine, (though not in this same case altogether, yet upon the same ground) Melius est dubitare de occultis, quàm litigare de incertis, it is better to make doubt of those things which are secret, then to strive about those things that are uncertaine. There be many words in the Scriptures, which be never found there but once, (having neither brother nor neighbour, as the Hebrewes speake) so that we cannot be holpen by conference of places. Againe, there be many rare names of certaine birds, beastes and precious stones, &c. concerning which the Hebrewes themselves are so divided among themselves for judgement, that they may seeme to have defined this or that, rather because they would say something, the because they were sure of that which they said, as S. Jerome 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 upon this or that peremptorily? For as it is a fault of incredulitie, to doubt of those things that are evident: so to determine of such things as the Spirit of God hath left (even in the judgment of the judicious) questionable, can beno 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 diversitie 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 Sixtus 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 to that we have in hand, yet it looketh that way) but we thinke he hath not all of his owne side his favourers, for this conceit. They that are wise, had rather have their judgements at libertie in differences of readings, then to be captivated to one, when it may be the other. If they were sure that their hie Priest had all lawes shut up in his brest, as Paul the second bragged, and that he were as free from errour by speciall priviledge, as the Dictators of Rome were made by law inviolable, 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 have 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 prooveth, not as much as he claimeth, they grant and embrace. An other thing we thinke good to admonish thee of (gentle Reader) that wee have not tyed our selves to an uniformitie of phrasing, or to an identitie of words, as some peradventure would wish that we had done, because they observe, that some learned men some where, have 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 every 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, never to call it Intent; if one where Journeying, never Traveiling; if one where Thinke, never Suppose; if one where Paine, never Ache; if one where Joy, never Gladnesse, &c. Thus to minse the matter, wee thought to savour 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 kingdome of God become words or syllables? why should wee be in bondage to them if we may be free, use one precisely when wee may use another no lesse fit, as commodiously? A godly Father in the Primitive time shewed himselfe greatly moved, that one of the newfanglenes called , 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 used) into Hedera. Now if this happen in better times, and upon so small occasions, wee might justly feare hard censure, if generally wee should make verball and unnecessary changings. We might also be charged (by scoffers) with some unequall dealing towards a great number of good English wordes. For as it is written of 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, unto certaine words, Stand up higher, have a place in the Bible alwayes, and to others of like qualitie, Get ye hence, be banished for ever, wee might be taxed peradventure with S. James his words, namely, To be partiall in our selves and judges of evill thoughts. Adde hereunto, that nicenesse in wordes was alwayes counted the next step to trifling, and so was to bee curious about names too: also that we cannot follow a better patterne for elocution then God himselfe; therefore hee using divers words, in his holy writ, and indifferently for one thing in nature: we, if wee will not be superstitious, may use the same libertie in our English versions out of Hebrew & Greeke, for that copie or store that he hath given us. Lastly, wee have on the one side avoided the scrupulositie of the Puritanes, who leave the olde Ecclesticall 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 have shunned the obscuritie of the Papists, in their Azimes, Tunike, Rational, Holocausts, Præpuce, 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 understood. But we desire that the Scripture may speake like it selfe, as in the language of Canaan, that it may bee understood even of the very vulgar.
Many other things we might give 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 removeth the scales from our eyes, the vaile from our hearts, opening our wits that wee may understand his word, enlarging our hearts, yea correcting our affections, that we may love it above gold and silver, yea that we may love it to the end. Ye are brought unto fountaines of living water which yee digged not; doe not cast earth into them with the Philistines, neither preferre broken pits before them with the wicked Jewes. Others have laboured, and you may enter into their labours; O receive not so great things in vaine, O despise not so great salvation! Be not like swine to treade under foote so precious things, neither yet like dogs to teare and abuse holy things. Say not to our Saviour 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, love not darknesse more then light; if foode, if clothing be offered, goe not naked, starve not your selves. Remember the advise of Nazianzene, It is a grievous 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 inviting them, shal feele Gods will taking vengeance of them. It is a fearefull thing to fall into the hands of the living God; but a blessed thing it is, and will bring us to everlasting blessednes in the end, when God speaketh unto us, to hearken; when he setteth his word before us, to reade it; when hee stretcheth out his hand and calleth, to answere, Here am I; here wee are to doe thy will, O God. The Lord worke a care and conscience in us to know him and serve him, that we may be acknowledged of him at the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with the holy Ghost, be all prayse and thankesgiving. Amen.