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scholars since the Augustan age. He died in 1536. I need not state that in some cases, he appeared so indecisive in his religious creed, that he is both claimed and disavowed by Protestants and Catholics.
John Calvin wrote a commentary on all the prophets and evangelists. His part in the reformation is well known. In many respects his comments are allowed to be learned and judicious. He was a strenuous advocate for the doctrine of salvation by grace through fuith, and for what he justly calls decretum horribile, the horrible decree of sovereign, eternal, irrespective reprobation. This opinion, from the manner in which it has been defended by some, and opposed by others, has tended greatly to the disunion of many Christians, and produced every temper but brotherly kindness and charity. He died in 1564.
Mr. David MARTIN of Utrecht, not only translated the whole of the Old and New Testaments into French, but also wrote short notes on both, which contain much good sense, learning and piety. Amsterdam, 1707, 2 vols. folio.
Dr. Henry HAMMOND is celebrated over Europe as a very learned and judicious divine. He wrote an extensive comment on the Psalms, first published in 1659, and on the whole of the New Testament in 1653. In this latter work, he imagines he sees the Gnostics every where pointed at; and he uses them as a universal menstruum to dissolve all the difficulties in the text. If I might be allowed the distinction, I would say, that there is much theology, but little practical picty in his notes. He died in 1660.
Theodore Beza, not only published the Greek Testament, but wrote many excellent notes on it. The best edition of this work is that printed at Cambridge, folio, 1642.
Dr. Edward Wells published a very useful Testament in Greek and English, in several parcels, with notes, from 1709, to 1719; in which, l. The Greek text is amended according to the best and most ancient readings. 2. The common English translation rendered more agreeable to the original. 3. A paraphrase, explaining the difficult expressions, design of the sacred writer, &c. 4. Short annotations. This is a judicious, useful work.
Of merely critical comments on the Greek Testament, the most valuable is that of 'J. James WetsTEIN, 2 vols. folio, Amsterdam, 1751—2. Almost every peculiar form of speech in the sacred text, he has illustrated by quotations from the Jewish, Greek, and Roman_writers.
Mr. Hardy published a Greek Testament with a great variety of useful notes, chiefly extracted from Poole's Synopsis. The work is in 2 vols. 8 vo. Lond. 1778, and is a very useful companion to every biblical student. It has gone through two editions; and it must be acknowledged, that the Greek text in both is inexcusably incorrect.
Mr. HENRY AINSWORTH, a Scottish man, made a new translation of the Pentateuch, Psalms, and Canticles, which be illustrated with notes, fol. 1639. He was a good Hebrew scholar, and made great use of his rabbinical learning in his comment, especially on the five books of Moses.
Mr. J. Caryl's Exposition of the book of Job, in two immense vols. folio, 1676; another by Albert Schultens; and a third by Chappelow, on the same book, contain a vast deal of important matter, delivered, in general, in the dullest and most uninteresting form.
Mr. Matthew Poole, a Non-Conformist divine, has published a commentary on the Scriptures, in two vols. folio. The notes, which are mingled with the text, are short, but abound with good sense and sound judgment. He died in Holland, in 1679.
Dr. John Lightfoot was a profound scholar, a sound divine, and pious man. He brought all his immense learning to bear on the sacred volumes, and diffused light wherever he went. His Historical, Chronological, and Topographical Remarks on the Old Testament, and his Talmudical Exercitations on the New, are invaluable. His works were published in two large vols. fol, 1684. He died in 1675.
On the plan of Dr. Lightfoot's Hore Hebraice, or Talmudical Exercitations, a work was undertaken by Christian Schoettgenius, with the title Horæ Hebraicæ f. Talmudicæ in universum Norum Testamentum, quibus hore Jo. Lightfooti in Libris historicis supplentur, Epistola 4. Apocalypsis codem modo illustrantur, doc. Dresdlæ, 1733, two vols. 4to. This is a learned and useful work, and supplies and completes the work of Dr. Lightfoot. The Horæ Hebraicæ of Lightfoot extend no farther than the First Epistle to the Corinthians; the work of Schoettgen passes over the same ground as a supplement, without touching the things already produced in the English work; and then continues the work on the same plan to the end of the New Testament. It is both scarce and dear.
Mr. Richard Baxter published the New Testament with notes, 8vo. 1695. The notes are interspersed with the text, and are very short, but they contain much sound sense and piety.
Dr. Simon PATRICK, bishop of Ely, began a comment on the Old Testament, which was finished by Dr. Louth ; to which the New Testament, by Dr. Whilby, is generally added to complete the work. Dr. Whitby's work was first published in 1703, and often since, with many emendations. This
is a valuable collection, and is comprised in six vols. folio. Patrick and Lowth are always judicious and solid; and Whitby is learned, argumentative, and thoroughly orthodox. The best comment on the New Testament, taken in all points of view, is certainly that of Whitby. He is said to have embraced Socinianism previous to his death, which took place in 1726.
Mr. Anthony Purver, one of the people called Quakers, translated the whole Bible into English, illustrated with critical notes, which was published at the expense of Dr. J. Fothergill
, in 1764, two vols. folio. The work has never been highly valued; and is much less literal, and much less simple, than the habits of the man, and those of the religious community to which he belonged, might authorize one to expect.
The Rev. William BURKITT, rector of Dedham, in Essex, has written a very useful commentary on the New Testament, which has often been republished. It is both pious and practical, but not distinguished either by depth of learning or judgment. The pious author died in 1703.
The Rev. Matthew Henry, a very eminent dissenting minister, is author of a very extensive commentary on the Old and New Testaments, five vols. folio, and one of the most popular works of the kind ever published. It is always orthodox, generally judicious, and truly pious and practical, and has contributed much to diffuse the knowledge of the Scriptures among the common people, for whose sakes it was chiefly written. A new edition of this work, by the Rev. J. Hughes, of Battersea, and the Rev. G. Burder, corrected from innumerable errors which have been accumulating with every edition, is now in the course of publication.
Dr. John Gill, an eminent divine of the Baptist persuasion, is author of a very diffuse commentary on the Old and New Testaments, in nine vols. folio. Dr. Gill's work is written always within sight of his particular creed. He was a very learned and good man; but has often spiritualized his text to absurdity; and encumbered it with the most rigid Calvinism and rabbinnical learning.
Dr. Philip DoDDRIDGE's Family Expositor, 4to. 1745, often republished, is (with the exception of his Paraphrase) a very judicious work. It has been long highly esteemed, and is worthy of all the credit it has among religious people.
To Dr. 2. Pearce, bishop of Rochester, we are indebted for an invaluable commentary and notes on the four Gospels, the Acts, and the First Epistle to the Corinthians, two vols. 41o. 1777. The deep learning and judgment displayed in these notes are really beyond all praise.
Dr. Campbell's work on the evangelists is well known, and universally prized. So is also Dr. MACKNIGHT'S translation of the epistles, with notes. Both these works abound in sound judgment, deep erudition, and a strong vein of correct critical acumen.
Mr. Locke and Dr. Benson are well known in the republic of letters: their respective works on different parts of the New Testament abound with judgment and learning.
The Rev. J. WESLEY published a Selection of Notes on the Old and New Testaments, in four vols. 4to. Bristol, 1765. The notes on the Old Testament are allowed, on all hands, to be meagre and unsatisfactory: this is owing to & circumstance with which few are acquainted. Mr. Pine, the printer, having set up and printed off several sheets in a lype much larger than was intended, it was found impossible to get the work within the prescribed limits of four volumes, without retrenching the notes, or cancelling what was already printed. The former measure was unfortunately adopted; and the work fell far short of the expectation of the public. This account I had from the excellent author himself. The Notes on the New Testament, which have gone through several editions, are of a widely different description; though short, they are always judicious, accurate, spiritual, terse, and impressive; and possess the happy
and rare property of leading the reader immediately to God and his own heart. A new edition of this work, with considerable additions, has been lately announced by the Rev. Joseph Benson, from whose learning, piety, and theological knowledge, much may be expected, if the confined limits of his plan (one vol. folio) do not prevent him from enriching the work with his own valuable criticisms and observations.
The late unfortunate Dr. William Dodd published a commentary on the Old and New Testaments, in three vols. folio, Lond. 1770. It is chiefly taken from the comment of Father Calmet, already described; but he has enriched his work by many valuable notes, which he extracted from the inedited papers of Lord Clarendon, Dr. Waterland, and Mr. Locke. He has also borrowed many important notes from Father Houbigant. This work, on the whole, is by far the best comment that has yet appeared in the English language.
A work, entitled An Illustration of the Sacred Writings, was published by Mr. Goadby, at Sherborne : it contains many judicious notes; has gone through several editions; and while it seems to be orthodox, is written entirely on the Arian hypothesis.
The Rev. Thomas COKE, LL. D. has lately published a commentary on the Old and New Testaments, in six vols. 410. This is, in the main, a reprint of the work of Dr. Dodd, with several retrenchments, and some unimportant additions. Though the major part of the notes and even the dissertations of Dr. Dodd, are here republished without the author's name; yet all the marginal readings and para}lel texts are entirely omitted. The absence of these would be inexcusable in any Bible beyond the size of a duodecimo. Of the importance of these see the following sheet of this preface.
Dr. Coke's edition is, in general, well printed, and has had a very extensive sale. The original work of Dodd was both scarce and dear, and therefore a new edition became necessary; and had the whole of the original work, with the marginal readings, parallel texts, &c. been preserved, Dr. Coke's publication would have been much more useful.
The Rev. T. SCOTT, rector of Aston Sanford, has recently published, and is now republishing, a commentary on the Old and New Testaments, in five vols. 4to. The author's aim seems to be, to speak plain truth to plain men; and for this purpose he has interspersed a multitude of practical observations all through the text, which cannot fail, from the spirit of sound piety which they breathe, of being very useful. I am informed that this work has been extensively circulated, and has already done much good.
The late Dr. Prieslley compiled a body of notes on the Old and New Testaments, in 3 vols. 8vo. published at Northumberland, in America, 1804:"though the Doctor keeps his own creed (unitarianism, continually in view, especially when considering those texts which other religious people adduce in favour of theirs, yet his work contains many invaluable notes and observations, especially on the philosophy, natural history, geography, and chronology of the Scriptures: and to these subjects, few men in Europe were better qualified to do justice.
In closing this part of the list, it would be unpardonable to omit a class of eminently learned men, who, by their labours on select parts of the Scriptures, have rendered the highest services both to religion and literature.
Campegias Vilringa, who wrote a learned and most excellent comment on the book of the prophet Isaiah, in 2 vols. folio; the best edition of which was printed in 1724. He died in 1722.
Dr. R. Lowth, Bishop of London, is author of an excellent work, entitled Isarah : a ncrc translation, with a preliminary Dissertation, and Notes critical, philological and explanatory; 4to. Lond. 1779, first edition. The preliminary dissertation contains a fund of rare and judicious criticism. The translation, formed by the assistance of the ancient versions, collated with the best MSS. of the Hebrew text, is clear, simple, and yet dignified. The concluding notes, which show a profound knowledge of Hebrew criticism, are always judicious, and generally useful.
The late archbishop of Armagh, Dr. Newcomb, has published a translation of the minor prophets with learned notes : it is a good work, but creeps slowly after its great predecessor. He has also published a translation of the New Testament, with notes : not much esteemed,
On the same plan, the Rev. Mr. Blaney translated and published the prophet Jeremiah with notes, 1784.
John ALBERT BEngel, is author of an edition of the New Testament, with various readings, and such a judicious division of it into paragraphs, as has never been equalled, and perhaps never can be excelled. He wrote a very learned comment on the Apocalypse, and short notes on the New Testament, which he entitled Gnomon Novi Testamenti, in quo ex nativa verborum vi, simplicitas, profunditas, concinnilus, salubritas sensâm Cælestium indicatur. In him were united two rare qualifications--the deepest piety, and the most extensive learning.
A commentary on the same plan, and with precisely the same title, was published by Phil. David Burkius, on the twelve minor prophets, 4to. Heilbronnæ, 1753, which was followed by his Gnomen Psalmorum, 2 vols. 4to. Stutgardiæ, 1760. These are, in many respects, valuable works, written in a pure strain of piety, but rather too much in a technical form. They are seldom to be met with in this country, and are generally high priced.
The late pious Bishop of Norwich, Dr. Horne, published the book -of Psalms with notes, which breathe a spirit of the purest and most exalted piety.
HERMAN VENEMA, is known only to me by a comment on Malachi, some dissertations on sacred subjects, correct editions of some of Vitringa's Theological Tracts, and a most excellent and extensive commentary on the Psalms, in 6 vols. 4to. printed Leovardiæ, 1762-7. Through its great scarcity, the work is little known in Great Britain. What was said by David of Goliah's sword, may be justly said of Venema's commentary on the book of Psalms: “There is none like it.".
IV. On the FOURTH CLASS, containing compilations and critical collections, a few words must suffice. Among the compilations may be ranked what are termed catena of the Greek and Latin fathers: these consist of a connected series of different writers on the same text. The work of Galfridus, or Walfridus Strabo, already described, is of this kind : it contains a catena, or connected series of the expositions of all the fathers and doctors prior to his time. A very valuable catena on the Octateuch, containing the comments of about fifty Greek fathers, has been published at Leipsic, 1792, in 2 vols. folio: it is all in Greek, and therefore of no use to common readers. The work of Venerable Bede, already noticed, is professedly of the same kind.
Father De la Haye, in what was called the Biblia Magna, 1643, 5 vols. folio, and afterward Biblia Marima, 1660, 19 vol. folio, besides a vast number of critical dissertations, prefaces, &c. inserted the whole notes of Nicholas de Lyra, Menochius, Gagneus, Estius, and the Jesuit Tirin.
Several minor compilations of this nature have been made by needy writers who, wishing to get a little money, have, without scruple or ceremony, borrowed from those whose reputation was well established with the public; and, by taking a little from one, and a little from another, pretended to give the marrow of all. These pretensions have been rarely justified: it often requires the genius of a voluminous writer to make a faithful abridgment of his work; but in most of these compilations, the love of money is much more evident than the capacity to do justice to the original author; or the ability to instruct and profit mankind. To what a vast number of these minor compilations has the excellent work of Mr. Matthew Henry given birth! every one of which, while professing to lop off his redundancies, and supply his deficiencies, falls, by a semi-diameter of the immense orb of literature and religion, short of the eminence of the author himself.
The most important collection of biblical critics ever made, was that formed under the direction of Bishop Pearson, John Pearson, Anthony Scattergood, and Francis Gouldman, printed by Cornelius Bee, London, 1666, in 9 vots. folio, under the title of CRITICI SACRI intended as a companion for the Polyglott Bible, published by Bishop Walton, in 1657. This great work was republished at Amsterdam, with additions, in 12 vols. folio, in 1695. Two volumes, called Thesauri Dissertationum Elegantiorum, &c. were printed as a supplement to this work, at Frankfort, on the Maine, in 1701–2. Of this supplement it may be said, it is of less consequence and utility ihan is generally supposed, as the substance of several treatises in it is to be found in the preceding volumes. The work contains a vast variety of valuable materials for critics, chronologists, &c.
The principal critics on the Old Testament, contained in the foreign edition of this great collection, which is by far the most complete, are the following: Sebastian Munster, Paul Fagius, Francis Vatabhus, Claudius Badwellus, Sebas VOL. 1.-2
tian Castalio, Isidore Clarius, Lucas Brugensis, Andrew Masius, John Drusius, Sextinus Amama, Simeon de Muis, Philip Codurcus, Rodolph Baynus, Francis Forrerius, Edward Lively, David Hæschelius, Hugo Grotius, Christopher Cartwright, and John Price.
Besides the above, who are regular commentators on the Old Testament, there are various important dissertations and tracts on the principal subjects in the law and prophets, by the following critics : Joseph Scaliger, Lewis Capellus, Martin Helvicus, Alberic Gentilis, Moses bar Cepha, Christopher Helvicus, John Buteo, Matthew
Hostus, Francis Moncæus, Peter Pitheus, George Rittershusius, Michael Rothardus, Leo Allatius, Gasper Varrerius, William Schickardus, Augustin Justinianus, Bend. Arias Montanus, Bon. Corn. Bertramus, Peter Cunæus, Caspar Waser, and Edward Brerewoud.
On the New Testament the following commentators are included : Sebastian Munster, Laurentius Valla, James
Dissertations on the most important subjects in the New Testament, inserted here, were written by Lewis Capellus,
B. C. Bertram, Anton. Nebrissensis, Nicolas Fuller, Samuel Petit, John Gregory, Christ. Cartwright, John Cloppenburg, and Pd. Dan. Huet. Those marked in italics, are not included in the critics on the Old Testament. The Thesaurus Dissertationum Elegantiorum, published as a supplement to this work, by, Theod. Hasæus and Conrad Ikenius, in two volumes, folio, contains upwards of one hundred and fifty additional writers. Such a constellation of learned men can scarcely be equalled in any age or country.
Mr. Maithew Poole, whose English comment has been already noticed, conceiving that the CRITICI SACRI might be made more useful by being methodized; with immense labour, formed the work well known among divines, by the title of Synopsis Criticorum, a general view of the critics, viz. those in the nine volumes of the Crilici Sacri mentioned above. The printing of this work began in 1669, and was finished in 1674, 5 vols. folio. Here, the critics no longer occupy distinct places as they do in the Critici Sacri, but are all consolidated, one general comment being made out of the whole; the names of the writers being referred to by their initials in the margin. To the critics above named, Mr. Poole has added several others of equal note, and he refers also to the most important dersions both ancient and modern. The learned author spent ten years in compiling this work. In point of size, the work of Mr. Poole has many advantages over the Critici Sacri; but no man, who is acquainted with both works, will ever prefer the Synopsis to the original.
Perhaps no city in the world can boast of having produced, in so short a period, so many important works on the sacred writings as the city of London; works, which, for difficulty, utility, critical and typographical correctness, and expense, have never been excelled. These are, 1. The Polyglott, 6 vols. folio; begun in 1653, and finished in 1657. 2. The Critici Sacri, in 9 vols. folio, 1660. 3. Castell's Heptaglott Lexicon, compiled for the Polyglott Bible, 2 vols. folio, 1669. And 4. The Synopsis Criticorum, 5 vols. folio; begun in 1669, and finished in 1674. These works, printed in Hebreu, Chaldee, Samaritan, Syriac, Arabic, Ethiopic, Persian, Greek, and Latin, forming twenty-two vast volumes, folio, were begun and finished in the city of LONDON, by the industry and at the expense of a few English divines and noblemen, in the comparatively short compass of about twenty years! To complete its eminence in biblical literature, and to place itself at the head of all the cities in the universe, London has only to add a new and improrcd edition of its own POLYGLOTT.
To the above list might be added, those who have illustrated the sacred writings by passages drawn from Josephus and the Greek and Roman classics ; among which the following are worthy of particular regard : Jo. Tobiæ KREBELX Observationes in Nov. Testam. è Flar. Josepho, 8vo. Lips. 1754. Geo. Dav. KYPKE Observationes in Novi Fæderis Libros, ex auctoribus, potissimum Græcis, &c. 2 vols. 8vo. Vratislaviæ, 1755. Georgii RAPHELII Annotationes in Sacram Scripturam, &c. Lugd. 1747, 2 vols. 8vo. Krebs throws much light on different facts and forms of speech in the New Testament, by his quotations from Josephus. Kypke does the same, by an appeal to the Greek writers in general. And Raphelius gives historical elucidations of the Old, and philological observations on the New Testament, drawn particularly from Xenophon, Polybius, Arrian, and Herodotus.
To these might be added several excellent names who have rendered considerable services to sacred literature and criticism by their learned labours : Sir Norton Knatchbull's Observations, Hallett's Critical Notes, Borcyer's Conjectures, Leigh's Annotations, &c. &c. to whom may be added those who have illustrated innumerable passages, obscure and difficult, in Lexicons and Dictionaries for the Hebrew Bible and Greek Testameni, Buxtorf, Cocceius, Mintert, Pasor, Schoettgenius, Stockius, Krebs, Calmet, Michaelis, Edward Leigh, Schulz, Dr. Taylor, Shleusner, and Parkhurst ; a particular account of which would far exceed the limits of this preface.
Having said thus much on commentaries in general, it may be necessary to give some account of that now offered to the public, the reasons on which it has been undertaken, and the manner in which it has been compiled.
The work which is now offered to the public has long occupied a considerable share of my attention and studies. Indeed I may sày, that to understand the Sacred Writings, and to illustrate them, has been the principal object of the last thirty years of my life. Perhaps a short history of the rise and progress of the present work may not be unacceptable to the reader. At an early age I took for my motto, Prov. xviii. 1. Through desire, a man, haring separated himself, seeketh and intermedă leth with all wisdom. Being convinced that the Bible was the source whence all the principles of true wisdom, wherever found in the world, had been derived, my desire to comprehend adequately, its great design, and to penetrate the meaning of all its parts, led me to separate myself from every pursuit that did not lead at least indirectly to the accomplishment of this end; and while seeking and intermeddling with different branches of human knowledge, I put each study under contribution to the object of my pursuit; endeavouring to make every thing subservient to the information of my own mind, that, as far as Divine Providence might think proper to employ me, I might be the better qualified to instruct others. At first, I read and studied, scarcely committing any thing to paper, having my own edification alone in view, as I could not then hope that any thing I wrote could be of sufficient importance to engage the attention or promote the welfare of the public. But as I proceeded, I thought it best to note down the result of my studies, especially as far as they related to the Septuagint, which about the year 1785 I began to read regularly, in order to acquaint myself more fully with the phraseology of the New Testament; as I found that this truly venerable version was that to which the evangelists and apostles appear to have had constant recourse, and from which in general they make their quotations. The study of this version served more to illuminate and expand my mind, than all the theological works I had ever consulted. I had proceeded but a short way in it, before I was convinced that the prejudices against it were utterly unfounded ; and that it was of incalculable advantage toward a proper understanding of the literal sense of Scripiure. About nine years after this, my health having been greatly impaired by the severity of my labours, and fearing that I should soon be obliged to relinquish my public employment; I formed the purpose of writing short notes on the New Testament, collating the common printed text with all the MSS. and collections from MSS. to which I could have access. Scarcely had I projected this work, when I was convinced that another was previously necessary, viz. a careful perusal of the original text. I began this work; and soon found that it was perfectly possible to read, and not understand. Under
this conviction I sat down, determined to translate the whole, before I attempted any comment, that I might have the Sacred text the more deeply impressed on my memory.
"I accordingly began my translation ; collating the original text with all the ancient and with several of the modern rersions ; carefully weighing the value of the most important various readings found in those versions, as well as those which I was able to collect from the most authentic copies of the Greek text. A worse state of health ensuing, I was obliged to remit almost all application to study, and the work was thrown aside for nearly two years :-Having
returned to it when a state of comparative convalescence took place, I found I had not gone through the whole of my preliminary work. The New Testament I plainly saw was a comment on the Old; and to understand such a comment, I knew, it was absolutely necessary to be well acquainted with the original text. I then formed the plan of reading, consecutively, a portion of the Hebrew Bible daily. Accordingly, I began to read the Old Testornent, noting down on the different books, chapters, and verses, such things as appeared to me of most importance; intending the work as an outline for one on a more extensive scale, should it please God to spare my life, and give me health and leisure to complete it. In this preliminary work I spent a little more than one year and fico months ; in which time I translated every sentence, Hebrew and Chaldee, in the Old Testament. In such a work, it would be absurd to pretend that I had not met with many difficulties. I was attempting to illustrate the most ancient and most learned book in the universe, replete with allusions to arts that are lost,-io nations that are extinct,—to customs that are no longer observed, and abounding in modes of speech and turns of phraseology, which can only be traced out through the medium of the cognate Asiatic languages. On these accounts I was often much perplexed; but I could not proceed till I had done the utmost in my power to make every thing plain. The frequent occurrence of such difficulties led me closely to examine and compare all the original texts and versions, as they stand in the Polyglott; and from these, especially the Samaritan, Chaldee Targums, Septuagint, and Vulgate, I derived the most assistance ; though all the rest contributed their quota in cases of difficulty.
Almost as soon as this work was finished, I began my comment on the four Gospels; and notwithstanding the preparations already made, and my indefatigable application, early and late, to the work, I did not reach the end of the fourth evangelist
, till eighteen months after its commencement. Previously to this, I had purposed to commit what I had already done to the press ; but when I had all my arrangements made, a specimen actually set up and printed, and advertisements circulated ; a sudden rise in the price of paper, which I fondly hoped would not be of long continuance, prevented my proceeding. When this hope vanished, another work on the Scriptures, by a friend, was extensively announced : as I could not bear the thought of even the most distant appearance of opposition to any man, I gave place, being determined not to attempt to divide the attention of the public mind, nor hinder the general spread of a work which, for aught I then knew, might
supersede the necessity of mine. That work has been for some time completed, and the numerous subscribers supplied with their copies. My plan however is untouched; and still finding, from the call of many judicious friends, and especially of my brethren in the ministry, who have long been acquainted with my undertaking and its progress, that the religious public would gladly receive a work on the plan which I had previously announced ; I have, after much hesitation, made up my mind, and in the name of God, with a simple desire to add my mite to the treasury, having recommenced the revisal and improvement of my papers, now present them to the public ; heartily glad that Divine Providence has so ordered it, that the publication has been hitherto delayed; as the years which have elapsed since my first intention of printing, have afforded me a more ample opportunity to reconsider and correct what I had before done, and to make many improvements.
Should I be questioned as to my specific object in bringing this work before the religious world, at a time when works of a similar nature abound; I would simply answer, I wish to do a little good also, and contribute my quota to enable men the better to understand the records of their salvation. That I am in hostility to no work of this kind, the preceding pages will prove; and I have deferred my own, as long as in prudence I can. My tide is turned ; life is fast ebbing out, and what I do in this way, I must do noro, or relinquish the design for ever. This I would most gladly do; but I have been too long and too deeply pledged to the public, to permit me to indulge my own feelings in this respect. Others are doing much to elucidate the Scriptures; I wish them all, God's speed. I also will show my opinion of these Divine Records, and do a little in the same way. I wish to assist my fellow-labourers in the vineyard, to lead men to Him, who is the fountain of all excellence, goodness, truth, and happiness, -to magnify his Law and make it honourable, -to show the wonderful provision made in his Gospel for the recovery and salvation of a sinful world, to prove that God's great design is to make his creatures happy; and that such a salvation as it becomes God to give, and such as man needs to receive, is within the grasp of every human soul. He who carefully and conscientiously receives the truths of Divine Revelation, not merely as a creed, but in reference to his practice, cannot fail being an ornament to civil and religious society. It is my endeavour therefore to set these truths fairly and fully before the eyes of those who may be inclined to consult my work. I do not say that the principles contained in my creed, and which I certainly have not studied to conceal, are all essentially necessary to every man's salvation ; and I should be sorry to unchristianize any person, who may think he has scriptural evidence for a faith in several respects different from mine ; I am sure that all sincere Christians are agreed on what are called the essential truths of Divine Revelation ; and I feel no reluctance to acknowledge, that men, eminent for wisdom, learning, piety, and usefulness, have differed among themselves and from me, in many points which I deem of great importance. While God bears with and does us good, we may readily bear with each other.
of the copy of the sacred text used for this work, it may be necessary to say a few words. It is stated in the title, that the text " is taken from the most correct copies of the present authorized translation.” As several use this term, who do not know its meaning, for their sakes I shall explain it. A resolution was formed, in consequence of a request made by Dr. Reynolds to King James I. in the conference held at Hampton-Court, 1603, that a new translation, or rather a revision of what was called the Bishop's Bible, printed in 1568, should be made. Fifty-four translatora, divided into six companies, were appointed for the accomplishment of this important work. Seven of these appear to have died before the work commenced, as only forty-seven are found in Fuller's list. The names of the persons, the places where employed, and the proportion of work allotted to each company, and the rules laid down by King James for their direction, I give from Mr. Fuller's Church History, book x. p. 44, &c.
Before I insert this account, it may be necessary to state Dr. Reynolds's request in the Hampton-Court conference, and King James's answer.
Dr. Reynolds. May your majesty be pleased that the Bible be new translated : such as are extant not answering the original." (Here he gave a few examples.)
Bishop of London. "If every man's humour might be followed, there would be no end of translating.”. The King. "I profess I could never yet see a Bible well translated in English; but I think, that of all, that of Geneva is the worst. I wish some special pains were taken for an uniform translation, which should be done by the best learned in both universities ; then reviewed by the bishops ; presented to the pricy council ; lastly, ratified by royal authority, to be read in the whole church, and no other.”
The bishop of London in this, as in every other case, opposed Dr. Reynolds, till he saw that the project pleased the king, and that he appeared determined to have it executed. In consequence of this resolution, the following learned and judicious men were chosen for the execution of this work. WESTMINSTER.
was much relied on for the fabric of the Tabernacle and 10.
Temple The Pentateuch: the story from Joshua, to the First Book of
Dr. Leigh, Archdeacon of Middlesex, Parson of All-ballows, the Chronicles exclusively.
Barking. Dr. Andrews, Fellow and Master of Pembroke Hall, in Cam.
Mr. King. bridge; then Dean of Westminster, after Bishop of Win.
Mr. TH npson. Dr. Overall, Fellow of Trinity Coll. Master of Kath. Hall, in
Mr. Bedwell, of Cambridge, and (I think) of St. John's, Vicar
of Tottenham, nigh London. Cambridge ; then Dean of St. Paul's, after Bishop of Nor. wich.
CAMBRIDGE. Dr. Saravia. Dr. Clarke, Fellow of Christ Coll. in Cambridge, Preacher in From the First of the Chronicles, with the rest of the story Canterbury.
and the Hagiographa, viz. Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Dr. Laifield, Fellow of Trin. in Cambridge, Parson of St. Cle.
Canticles, Ecclesiastes. meat Danes. Being skilled in architecture, his judgment | Master Edward Lively.
Mr. Richardson, Fellow of Emman, after D. D. Master, first | Dr. Spencer. of Peter-house, then of Trin. Coll.
Mr. Fenton. Mr. Chaderton, after D. D. Fellow, first of Christ Coll. then Mr. Rabbet. Master of Emmanuel.
Mr. Sanderson. Mr. Dillingham, Fellow of Christ Coll. beneficed at in Mr. Pakins.
Bedfordshire, where he died a single and a wealthy man. Now, for the better ordering of their proceedings, his Ma. Mr. Andrews, after D. D. brother to the Bishop of Winches. jesty recommended the following rules, by them io be most ter, and Master of Jesus Coll.
carefully observed. Mr. Harrison, the Rev. Vice-Master of Trinity Coll.
1. The ordinary Bible read in the church, commonly called the Mr. Spalding, Fellow of St. John's, in Cambridge, and He. Bishop's Bible, to be followed, and as little altered as the brew Professor therein.
original will permit. Mr. Bing, Fellow of Peter-house, in Cambridge, and Hebrew 2. The names of the prophets, and the holy writers, with the Professor therein.
other names in the text, to be retained as near as may be, OXFORD.
accordingly as they are vulgarly used. 7.
3. The old ecclesiastical words to be kept, viz. as the word The four greater Prophets, with the Lamentations, and the (church) not to be translated congregation, &c. twelve lesser Prophets.
4. When any word hath diyers significations, that to be kept Dr. Harding, President of Magdalen Coll.
which hath been most commonly used by the most eminent Dr. Reynolds, President of Corpus Christi Coll.
fathers, being agreeable to the propriety of the place, and Dr. Holland, Rector of Exeter Coll, and King's Professor. the analogy of faith. Dr. Kilby, Rector of Lincoln Coll. and Regius Professor. 5. The division of the chapters to be altered either not at all, Master Smith, after D. D. and Bishop of Gloucester. He or as little as may be, if necessity so require.
made the learned and religious Preface to the Translation. 6. No marginal notes at all to be affixed, but only for the exMr. Brett, of a worshipful family, beneficed at Quainton in planation of the Hebrew or Greek words, which cannot, Buckinghamshire.
without some circumlocution, so briefly and fitly be expressMr. Fairclowe.
ed in the text. CAMBRIDGE.
7. Such quotations of places to be marginally set down, as
shall serve for the fit reference of one scripture to another. 7.
8. Every particular man of each company to take the same The Prayer of Manasseh, and the rest of the Apocrypha.
chapter, or chapters; and having translated or amended Dr. Duport, Prebend of_Ely, and Master of Jesus Coll. Dr. Brainthwait, first, Fellow of Emmanuel, then Master of
them severally by himself, when he thinks good, all to meet
together, confer what they have done, and agree for their Gonvil and Caius Coll.
part what shall stand. Dr. Radclyffe, one of the Senior Fellows of Trin. Coll. Master Ward, Emman. after D. D. Master of Sidney Coll. 9. As any one company hath despatched any one book in this and Margaret Professor.
manner, they shall send it to the rest, to be considered of Mr. Downs, Fellow of St. John's Coll. and Greek Professor.
seriously and judiciously; for his majesty is very careful on Mr. Boyse, Fellow of St. John's Coll. Prebend of Ely, Parson
this point. of Boxworth, in Cambridgeshire.
10. If any one company, upon the review of the book so sent, Mr. Ward, Regal, after D. D. Prebend of Chichester, Rector of
shall doubt, or differ upon any places, to send them word Bishop Wallhain in Hampshire.
thereof, note the places, and therewithal send their reasons :
to which, if they consent not, the difference to be compoundOXFORD
ed at the general meeting, which is to be of the chief persons 8.
of each company, at the end of the work. The four Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, Apocalypse.
11. When any place of special obscurity is doubted of, Jetters Dr. Ravis, Dean of Christ church, afterward Bishop of Lon.
to be directed by authority, to send to any learned in the don.
land, for his judgment in such a place. Dr. Abbot, Master of University Coll. afterward Archbp. of 12. Letters to be sent from every bishop to the rest of his Canterbury
clergy, admonishing them of this translation in hand; and Dr. Eedes.
to move and charge as many as, being skilful in the tongues, Mr. Thompson.
have taken pains in that kind, to send his particular obser? Mr. Savill.
vations to the company, either at Westminster, Cambridge, Dr. Peryn.
or Oxford. Dr. Ravens.
13. The directors in each company to be the deans of WestMr. Harmer.
minster and Chester for that place; and the king's profesWESTMINSTER.
sors in Hebrew and Greek in each university. 7.
Tindal's, The Epistles of St. Paul, and the Canonical Epistles.
14. These translations to be used, when Matthews', Dr. Barlowe, of Trinity Hall, in Cambridge, Dean of Chester, they agree better with the text than Coverdale's, after Bishop of London.
the Bishop's Bible itself, viz.
Whitchurch, Dr. Hutchenson.
Besides the said directions before-mentioned, three or four of the most ancient and grave divines in either of the universities, not employed in translating, to be assigned by the vice-chancellor upon conference with the rest of the heads, to be overseers of the translations, as well Hebrew as Greek, for the better observation of the fourth rule above specified.
" And now, after long expectation and great desire," says Mr. Fuller, "came forth the new translation of the Bible (most beautifully printed) by a select and competent number of divines appointed for that purpose; not being too many, lest one should trouble another; and yet many, lest many things might haply escape them. Who neither coveting praise for expedition, nor fearing reproach for slackness (seeing in a business of moment, none deserve blame for convenient slowness) had expended almost three years in the work, not only examining the channels by the fountain, translations with the original, which was absolutely necessary, but also comparing channels with channels, which was abundantly useful in the Spanish, Italian, French and Dutch (German) languages. These, with Jacob, rolled away the stone from the mouth of the well of life: so that now, even Rachel's weak women may freely come both to drink themselves, and water the flocks of their families at the same.”
“Leave we then those worthy men now all gathered to their fathers, and gone to God, however they were requited on earth, well rewarded in heaven for their worthy work. Of whom, as also of that gracious king that employed them, we may say, Wherosoever the Bible shall be preached or read in the whole world, there shall also this that they have done be told in memorial of them."
The character of James the first has been greatly underrated. In the Hampton-Court Conference he certainly showed a clear and ready comprehension of every subject brought before him; extensive reading, and a remarkably sound judgment. For the best translation into any language, we are indebted under God to king James, who was called á hypocrite by those who had no religion; and a pedant by persons who had not half his learning. Both piety and justice require, that while we are thankful to God for the gift of his word, we should revere the memory of the man who was the instrument of conveying the water of life, through a channel by which its purity has been 80 wonderfully preserved.
Those who have compared most of the European translations with the original, have not scrupled to say, that the English translation of the Bible, made under the direction of King James the first, is the most accurate and faithful of the whole. Nor is this its only praise; the translators have seized the very spirit and soul of the original, and expressed this almost every where, with pathos and energy. Besides, our translators have not only made a standard translation ; but they have made their translation the standard of our language: the English tongue in their day was not equal to such a work—"but God enabled them to stand as upon Mount Sinai,” to use the expresBion of a learned friend, "and crane up their country's language to the dignity of the originals, so that after the lapse of 200 years, the English Bible is, with very few exceptions, the standard of the purity and excellence of the English tongue. The original, from which it was taken, is, alone, superior to the Bible translated by the authority of King James.” This is an opinion, in which my heart, my judgment, and my conscience coincide.
* It is not unknown that, at the Hampton-Court Conference, several alterations were proposed by Dr. Reynolds and his Associates to be made in the liturgy then' in common use, as well as in the Bible. These however were in general objected 10 by the king, and only a few changes made, which shall be mentioned below. While on this part of the subject, ii may