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guage fhould in fome measure be fo too. Upon this occafion the oriental ftyle has a certain fublimity in it, which may be much eafier conceived than expreffed. And if, when we fpeak to kings in an heroick ftyle, we find thou has fomething very noble, grand, and refpectful, how much more fo when we addrefs ourselves to the King of kings!

7. In this version the tranflators had folely in view the thoughts of the facred penmen, without any regard to the particular explanations and applications of divines. Syftems of divinity are to go by the fcriptures, and not the fcriptures by them. To prove a doctrine by a text, which in its natural fente proves it not, or does not do it without a ftrained and forced interpretation, is to betray at once both the fcriptures and doctrine too. Divines, who go this way to work, expofe at the fame time the Christian religion in general, and their own principles in particular.

In each communion a man is obliged to adhere to the articles, therein established, but then every one ought to be left free to interpret the fcriptures, by the fame rules that are neceffary for explaining any other book whatfoever. Befides, when a doctrine is proved by feveral exprefs texts, or by one fuch, to endeavour to prove it by paffages quite foreign to the purpofe, is unfair dealing, a pious fraud very blame-worthy, or at leaft fhews fuch a ftrong prejudice and blind obftinacy, as can never make for the credit of any fect or party. Calvin was a truly orthodox divine. But he ingenuously difclaimed both the ancients and moderns, when in proof of certain mysteries they alledged texts, which in his opinion had no manner of relation with the matter in hand. However, the like liberty is not here taken, but without confuting any particular explanation, our authors have laid it down as a law, to reprefent the text just as it is, and to have every one at liberty to judge of the truths therein contained.

8. There are two forts of Hebraisms in the New Teftament. Some there are, which all the world understand, having been accuftomed to them; but there are others, which would be unintelligible, if not explained. The first of these are preferved, in order to give the Verfion the air of an original, which is effential to a good tranflation. The others have an [English] turn given them, and the Hebraifm is marked in the Comment. For inftance, as it is ufual in ali languages, as well as in Hebrew, to term the difciples or followers of any perfon, his children, this expreffion is retained, as the children of God, and the children of the devil. The Hebrews fay, to eat bread, when they would exprefs eating in general or making a meal. Now this Hebraifm cannot be rendered literally without ambiguity. Again, for the edge of the word, they fay the mouth of the fwordt, which is unintelligible in English. For a thing they fay, a word; for pofterity, they fay, feed; for a tree, they fay, wood; and make use of the word, to answer, in the beginning of a difcourfe, before any perfon has spoke. It is evident in thefe and the like cafes the Hebraism muft be dropt, and the author's meaning, not his expreffions, must be kept to. To give the Verfion a certain oriental turn,


* John xiii. 18.

† Luke xxi. 24.

natural to the New Testament, all the figures are carefully preferved, as far as perfpicuity and the purity of language will admit. There are feveral ellipfes, that is, words understood, which it was neceffary to fupply; and feveral enallages, or changes of tenfes and perfons which cannot be imitated without barbarijm, and leaving the fenfe obfcure, equivocal, and fometimes entirely wrong *. In fine, there are feveral allufions to words, which are very feldom capable of being tranflated from one language to another. This is done where the words in our language would bear it; for inftance, let the dead bury their dead, which is a fort of an enigmatical expreffion, the underftanding whereof depends on the taking the word dead in two different fenfes.

"To conclude, nothing has been omitted to keep up the character, genius, and ftyle of the facred penmen, as far as was confiftent with preferving their fenfe. If there are any fupplemental words, they are no more than the text neceffarily requires. They, for whom the facred writings were at firft defigned, supplied without any difficulty the words that were wanting, being used to that way of expreffion. But our laoguage will not admit of any of thefe ellipfes. All modern and affected expreffions are carefully avoided, and though the familiar and popular style of the Evangelifts is closely imitated, yet is it done without defcending to any mean or low expreffion. There is a nobleness in the fimplicity of the language of the facred authors, which diftinguishes them in an eminent manner from common writers, and no endeavours have been wanting to follow them in that particular.


The Notes were defigned for the following uses. 1. They fhew the difference between the [English] and Greek, to the end they, who understand the original, may the better judge of the faithfulness of the tranflation. 2. They ferve to clear up the literal fenfe, when any obfcurity occurs. 3. They defcribe the places, perfons, and ufages, fpoken of or alluded to, as well as explain the proverbial fayings, ways of expreffion, and the like, the knowledge whereof gives great light to the meaning of a paffage. For inftance, our Saviour prefers the whiteness of the lily before all the magnificence of Solomon's royal robes. Now the beauty and force of this comparison are much more confpicuous, when we are told, the robes of the eastern princes were white. 4. When a paffage may be rendered several ways, or is not understood in the fame manner by interpreters, the different fenfes are taken notice of in the Notes, and either that, which is thought the beft, is remarked, or the reader is left to judge for himfelf, when the cafe is doubtful. 5: The various readings, that make any alteration in the fenfe, are fet down. 6. Our authors candidly own, they know not the meaning of


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fome paffages, They lay nothing down for certain but what appears fo, and what they cannot rationally explain, they leave as they found it, doubtful and obfcure. It is impoffible, a work of fo great antiquity, hould be every where equally clear, fince we are deprived of many belps, which would have given great light into feveral difficult places. It is fufficient that every thing, relating to our faith and morals, is delivered with all imaginable plainnefs and perfpicuity.


As there will be an occafion to mention the Prefaces to each book of the New Testament, in the Introduction, the reader is referred thither, in order to avoid repetition.






The previous knowledge of feveral things is neceffary to the understanding the scrip




OD having been pleased to make use of the ministry of men, in revealing to us his will, and tranfmitting to pofterity the divine oracles; a general knowledge, at leaft, of feveral previous articles, is abfolutely neceffary for a right understanding the holy Scriptures. We must know, for inftance, the time and country the facred penmen lived in; their language and character; the religion, manners, customs, and ufages of the people with whom they converfed; and many other particulars taken notice of hereafter.

Though there be this material difference between the facred writings, and all others, of what character foever, that the first having been infpired by the Spirit of God, their authority is divine, and confequently infallible, beyond all contradiction, as well as beyond all parallel and comparison; yet in explaining both facred and profane authors, the fame rules of common fenfe must be obferved: we must have recourse to study and meditation, we must call in the help of history, chronology, geography, and languages; in a word, of what the learned term criticifm, or the art of judging of authors and their works, and of arriving at the true sense of them. This method is abfolutely neceffary for the understanding both the Old and New Teflament; but then there is this difference between them, that the New having fucceeded the Old, and been, as it were, the accomplishment of it, the facred writers of the former have borrowed


the language of the latter, have perpetually alluded to it, and applied the predictions to the events of their own times, in imitation of their Divine Mafter; who always referred back to that Source. So that in order rightly to understand and explain the New Teftament, one ought to be well read in the Old, and have a true notion of the state of things in the days of the Evangelifts and Apofiles.

These are the reafons that have induced us to compofe this Difcourfe, as an Introduction to the Reading of the New Teftament. It is indeed true, that all things neceffary to falvation are clearly and plainly revealed, and therefore fuch perfons as have neither the leifure nor opportunity of improving themselves in fuch parts of learning as are before mentioned, have yet this comfort and fatisfaction, that they may cafily find and difcover all faving Truths without much study and application; as, on the other hand, they are entirely without excufe, if they neglect to fearch the fcriptures on pretence of ignorance or inability. However, it must be owned, when we come to a clofe and thorough examination of the holy feriptures, we fhall, unless furnished with the knowledge of the particulars above-mentioned, be continually liable to miftakes, imagine we understand what we have no notion of, or, at best, but a very imperfect one, and find ourselves puzzled and put to a stand at every turn. For want of thefe helps, the fcriptures are frequently ill understood, and ill explained. Some put abftracted and metaphyfical fenfes on paffages that contain plain and fimple truths, and expreffed in common terms. Others having learnt a fyftem of divinity, inftead of explaining fcripture by fcripture, by confidering the context and parallel places, wreft the word of God to their pre-conceived opinions. Others again, having regard only to the modern languages, cuftoms, and manners, cannot but mistake the meaning of the infpired writers, for want (if I may fo fay) of conveying themselves back to the time when, and country where, the facred penmen wrote. Hence it comes to pafs, that the holy fcriptures, and the chriftian religion, are fo disfigured, as hardly now to be known in the Schools and feminaries of learning; where the heads of young ftudents are filled with a thousand chimerical notions, entirely unheard of by the Evangelifts. In order to remedy these inconveniences, we shall endeavour to give a general knowledge of what is neceffary for the more profitable reading of the holy feriptures, especially the New Teftament.

The Gofpel was

I. As God defigned, and had accordingly revealed it to the world by his prophets, (a) that the gofpel to be preached to fhould be preached to the Jews firft; fo was it natural, the Jews first, and even neceffary for JESUS CHRIST to chufe at first and by Jews. Difciples or Apofiles out of the Jewish Nation and Religion. It was moreover requifite that they fhould be mean and illiterate perfons, not only for the greater manifeftation of God's glory, but becaufe of that fpirit of pride and incredulity, which reigned among the rich and powerful, and rendered the precepts of the gofpel odious in their eyes, as they were inconfiftent with their prejudices and paffions. But though the Apoftles were mean and illiterate, it must not from thence be concluded, that they



(2) Isa. ii. John iv. Acts xiii, 46.

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