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specimens, I have not felt much solicitude. I am, however, far from saying that these may not also have their use, and be, in expressing some things, luckier than versions which are, on the whole, superior.
As to the language, particularly of the version itself, simplicity, propriety, and perspicuity, are the principal qualities at which I have aimed. I have endeavoured to keep equally clear of the frippery of Arias, and the finery of Castalio. If I have hazarded, on any occasion, incurring the censure of the
generality of readers, on account of the diction, I am certain it is in those places where, from a desire of conveying neither more nor less than the exact thought of the author, I have ventured to change some expressions to which our ears have been long accustomed. But on this point I mean to say nothing further in this place. The reasons on which I have proceeded, in such alterations, are fully explained in the preliminary discourses, which I consider as so necessary to the vindication of many things in the translation, that I do not wish the judicious reader, if, in any degree, acquainted with the original, to read the Version, till he has given these Dissertations a very attentive and serious perusal.
As I have never yet seen a translation of the Bible, or of any part of it, into any language I am acquainted with, which I did not think might be, in several places, altered for the better ; I am not vain enough to imagine, that the Version here presented to the Public will, by any class of readers, be accounted faultless. Part of this work has long lain by me in manuscript; for I may justly say of it what Augustin, if I remember right, says of one of his treatises, Juvenis inchoavi, senex edidi. Now, in that part I have been making corrections, or at least alterations, every year; and I have no reason to doubt that, if it were to lie longer by me, I should still be altering and correcting. As I am not an implicit follower of any man, because I think no man can plead an exemption from either faults in practice, or errors in opi. nion; I am, at the same time, far from arrogating to myself a merit which I refuse to acknowledge in others. It is not difficult to make me distrust my own judgment, and impartially re-examine my own reasoning. I say impartially, because I am conscious that I have often, in this manner, revised what I had advanced, when I found it was objected to by a person of discernment; and, in consequence of the revisal, I have been convinced of my mistake. I will venture to promise, therefore, that I shall give all due attention to any criticisms or remarks, candid or uncandid, which shall be made on any part of this work. Criticisms made in an uncandid manner may, as to the matter of them, be well founded, and, on that account, deserve attention. But if there appear neither
. reason in the matter of the criticism, nor candour in the manner of producing it, the most prudent part in an author is to let it pass without notice.
If the language of the translation, in the third volume, shall be thought not unsuitable, and suffieiently perspicuous, I have, in what concerns the expression, attained my principal object. The rest, I imagine, will be intelligible enough to those who are conversant in questions of Christian antiquities and criticism. Sensible of the disadvantages, in point of style, which my northern situation lays me under, I have availed myself of every opportunity of better information, in regard to all those terms and phrases, in the Version, of which I was doubtful. I feel myself under particular obligations, on this account, to one Gentleman, my valuable friend and colleague, Dr. Beattie, who, though similarly situated with myself, has, with greater success, studied the genius and idiom of our language; and of whom it is no more than justice to add, that the acknowledged purity of his own diction, is the least of his many qualifications as an author. But if, notwithstanding all the care I have taken, I shall be found, in many places, to need the indulgence of the English reader, it will not much surprise me. One who often revises and alters, will sometimes alter for the worse : and, in changing, one has not always at hand a friend to consult with. The apology which Irenæus, bishop of Lyons in Gaul, in the second century, makes for his language, in a book he published in defence of religion, appears to me so candid, so modest, so sensible, at the same time so apposite to my own case, that I cannot avoid transcribing and adopting it : “ Non autem exquires a nobis qui apud Celtas com“moramur, et in barbarum sermonem plerumque
que ornamentum verborum, neque suadelam quam « nescimus; sed simpliciter et vere et idiotice, ea
quæ tibi cum dilectione scripta sunt, cum dilec« tione percipies ; et ipse augeas ea penes te, ut “magis idoneus quam nos, quasi semen et initia ac- .
cipiens a nobis ; et in latitudine sensus tui, in mul“ tum fructificabis ea, quæ in paucis a nobis dicta
sunt ; et potenter asseres iis qui tecum sunt, ea quæ invalide a nobis relata sunt "." "
Need I, in so late and so enlightened an age, subjoin an apology for the design itself, of giving a new translation of any part of scripture ? Yet there are some knowing and ingenious men, who seem to be alarmed at the mention of translation, as if such an attempt would
foundation of the Christian edifice, and put the faith of the people in the most imminent danger of being buried in its ruins. This is no new apprehension. The same alarm was taken so early as the fourth century, when Jerom was employed in preparing a new translation of the Bible into Latin ; or, at least, in making such alterations and corrections on the old Italic, as the original, and the best Latin manuscripts, should appear to warrant. The people in general exclaimed ; and even the learned were far from applauding an attempt which, in their judgment, was so bold and so dangerous. I do not allude to the abuse thrown out by Ruffinus, because he was then at variance with Jerom on another account ; but even men, who
13 Adversus Hæreses, lib. i. Prefatio.
considered as the lights of the age, were not without their fears. Augustin, in particular, who admired the profound erudition of Jerom, and had a high esteem of his talents, yet dreaded much, that the consequence of such an undertaking would prove prejudicial to the authority of Scripture ; and did not he. sitate to express his disapprobation in very strong
That interpreter, however, persevered, in spite of the greatest discouragements, the dissuasion of friends, the invectives of enemies, and the unfa. vourable impressions which, by their means, were made upon the people. The version was made and published : and those hideous bugbears of fatal consequences, which had been so much descanted on, were no more heard of.
Luckily, no attempt was made to establish the new version, by public authority. Though Damasus, then bishop of Rome, was known to favour it,
, the attempt to obtrude it
the people, would probably have awaked such a persecution against it, as would have stifled it in the birth. On the contrary, its success was left entirely, as it ought to be, to the efficiency of its own merit. In consequence of this, the prejudice very soon subsided : many of those who were at first declared enemies of the undertaking, were entirely reconciled to it. Augustin, himself, came to be convinced that it was guiltless of those horrors which his warm imagination had foreboded. Nay, he did not scruple to recur to it for aid, in explaining the Scriptures. The version, thus quietly introduced about the end of the fourth, or