Imágenes de páginas

Bible might be made, alleging that those which had been allowed in form er reigns were incorrect. According Jy, his Majesty formed the resolution of causing a new and more faithful translation to be made, and commissioned for that purpose fifty-four of the most learned men in the Universities and other places. At the same time, he required the bishops to inform themselves of all learned men within their several diocesses, who had acquired especial skill in the Hebrew and Greek tongues, and had taken pains in their private studies of the Scriptures, for the clearing up of obscurities either in the Hebrew or the Greek, or for the correction of any mistakes in the former English translations, and to charge them to communicate their observations to the persons employed, that so the intended translation might have the help and furtherance of all the principal learned men in the kingdom.

Before the work was begun, seven of the persons nominated for it either were dead or declined to engage in the task. The remaining forty-seven were ranged under six divisions, and several parcels of the Bible were assigned to them, according to the several places where they were to meet, confer, and consult together. Every one of the company was to translate the whole parcel; then they were each to compare their translations together, and when any company had finished their part, they were to communicate it to the other companies, that so nothing might pass without general consent. If any company, upon the review of the book so sent, doubted or differed upon any place, they were to note the place, and send back the reasons for their disagreement. If they happened to differ about the amendments, the difference was to be referred to a general committee, consisting of the chief persons of each company, at the end of the work. When any passage was found remarkably obscure, letters were to be directed by authority to any learned persons in the land for their judgment thereupon.

The names of the persons, and

places where they met, together with the portions of Scripture assigned to each company, were as follows:

1st. Dr. Lancelot Andrewes, first Fellow, then Master of Pembroke Hall, in Cambridge, at this time Dean of Westminster, afterwards Bishop of Ely, then of Winchester. 2d. Dr. John Overall, Fellow of Trinity College, Master of Catharine Hall, in Cambridge, at this time Dean of St. Paul's, afterwards Bishop, first of Coventry and Litchfield, then of Norwich. 3d. Dr. Adrian Saravia, a native of Artois, who cast himself upon the protection of the Church of England, and was preferred to Prebends of Canterbury and Westminster. 4th. Dr. Layfield, Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, Rector of St. Clement's Danes; as he was skilled in architecture, his judgment was much relied upon for the fabric of the tabernacle and temple. 5th. Dr. Clark, Fellow of Christ College, in Cambridge, Preacher in Canterbury. 6th. Dr. Leigh, Archdeacon of Middlesex, Rector of Allhallows, Barking. 7th. Dr. Burgley. 8th. Mr. King. 9th. Mr. Thomson 10th. Mr. Bedwell, sometime Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge, and Vicar of Tottenham. These ten met at Westminster, and to them were assigned the Pentateuch, and the history from Joshua to the first book of Chronicles exclusively.

2d. To meet at Cambridge, were chosen eight; namely, 1st. Mr. Lively, the King's Hebrew Reader in Cambridge. 2d. Mr. John Richardson, Fellow of Emanuel College, afterwards Doctor in Divinity, Master, first of Peterhouse, then of Trinity College. 3d. Mr. Chadderton, afterwards Doctor in Divinity, first Fellow of Christ College, then Master of Emanuel College. 4th. Mr. Dillingham, Fellow of Christ College. 5th. Mr Andrews, afterwards Doctor of Divinity, and Master of Jesus College. 6th. Mr. Harrison, Vice-master of Trinity College. 7th. Mr. Spalding, Fellow of St. John's, and Hebrew Reader in that College. 8th. Mr. Bing, Fellow of Peterhouse, and Hebrew Reader therein. To these were

allotted the books from the first of the Chronicles, with the rest of the history; and the Hagiographa, namely, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Canticles, Ecclesiastes.

3d. To meet at Oxford, were chosen seven; namely, 1st. Dr. John Harding, President of Magdalen College. 2d. Dr. John Reynolds, President of Corpus Christi College, who died soon after engaging in the work. 3d. Dr. Thomas Holland, Rector of Exeter College, and the King's Professor of Divinity. 4th. Dr. Richard Kilby, Rector of Lincoln College, and Hebrew Professor. 5th. Mr. Miles Smith, afterwards Doctor in Divinity, and Bishop of Gloucester. He wrote the Preface to the translation, and was one of the revisers of the whole work, when finished. 6th. Dr. Richard Brett, Rector of Quainton, in Buckinghamshire. 7th. Mr. Fair clowe. These had for their task the four greater Prophets, with the Lamentations, and the twelve lesser Prophets.

4th. For the Prayer of Manasseh and the rest of the Apocrypha, seven were appointed at Cambridge. 1st. Dr. Duport, Prebendary of Ely, and Master of Jesus College. 2d. Dr. Brainthwaite, first Fellow of Emanuel, then Master of Gonvil and Caius College. 3d. Dr. Radcliffe, Fellow of Trinity College. 4th. Mr. Ward, of Emanuel, afterwards Doctor in Divinity, Master of Sidney College, and Margaret Professor. 5th. Mr. Downs, Fellow of St. John's College, and Greek Professor 6th. Mr. Boyse, Fellow of St. John's College, Prebendary of Ely, and Rector of Boxworth, in Cambridgeshire. 7th. Mr. Ward, Fellow of King's College, afterwards Doctor in Divinity, Prebendary of Chichester, and Rector of Bishop Waltham in Hampshire.

5th. For the New Testament, the four Gospels, the Acts, and Revelations, were assigned to eight at Oxford; namely, 1st. Dr. Thomas Ravis, Dean of Christ Church, afterwards Bishop of London. 2d. Dr. George Abbot, Master of University College, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury. 3d. Dr. Eedes. 4th. Mr. Tomson,

afterwards Bishop of Gloucester. 5th. Mr. Savil. 6th. Dr. Perin, Canon of Christ Church. 7th. Dr. Ravens. 8th. Mr. Harmer.

6th. The Epistles of St. Paul, and the other Canonical Epistles, were assigned to seven at Westminster; namely, 1st. Dr. William Barlow, of Trinity Hall, in Cambridge, Dean of Chester, afterwards Bishop of Lincoln. 2d. Dr. Hutchenson. 3d. Dr. Spenser. 4th. Mr. Fenton. 5th. Mr. Rabbet. 6th. Mr. Sanderson. 7th. Mr. Dakins.

The work was begun in the spring of 1607, and prosecuted with all due care and deliberation. It was about three years before it was finished. Two persons selected from the Cambridge translators, two from those at Oxford, and two from those at Westminster, then met at Stationers' Hall, and read over and corrected the whole. After long expectation and great desire of the nation, this translation came forth, in the year 1611, the divines employed having taken the greatest pains in conducting the work, not only examining translations with the original, which was absolutely necessary, but also comparing together all the existing translations in the Italian, Spanish, French, and other languages.

This is the translation of the Holy Scriptures now in common use amongst us; and since that time there has been no authorized version of any part of the sacred volume. The excellency of it is such as might be expected from the judicious care with which it was conducted, and the joint labours of the many distinguished men employed upon it. It is, says Gray, a most wonderful and incomparable work, equally remarkable for the general fidelity of its construction, and the magnificent simplicity of its language.


Happy has our English nation been, since God has given us learned translators, to express in our mother tongue the heavenly mysteries of his holy Word, delivered to his Church in the Hebrew and Greek languages; who, although they may have been deceived and mistaken, as men, in some mat

ters of no importance to salvation, yet have faithfully delivered the whole substance of the heavenly doctrine, contained in the Holy Scriptures, without any heretical translations, or wilful corruptions. With what reverence, joy, and gladness, then, ought we to receive this blessing! Let us read the Scriptures with a modest, humble, and teachable disposition, with a willingness to embrace all truths which are plainly delivered there, how contrary soever to our own opinions and prejudices, and in matters of difficulty readily hearken to the judgment of our teachers, and those that are set over us in the Lord; and check every presumptuous thought or reasoning which exalts itself against any of those mysterious truths there in revealed. If we thus search after the truth in the love of it, we shall not miss of finding that knowledge, which will make us wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus." Bp. Tomline, Stackhouse, Johnson's History of English Translations of the Bible.

The division of the Holy Scriptures into chapters and verses, as we now have them, is not of very ancient date. About the year of our Lord 1240, Hugo de Sancto Caro, commonly called Cardinal Hugo, making an index or concordance to the Latin Bible, found it necessary to divide it into the parts which we call chapters; and further divided each chapter into sections, by placing the letters of the alphabet at certain distances in the margin. The subdivision into verses came afterwards from the Jews; for, about the year 1430, Rabbi Nathan, an eminent Jew, publishing a concordance to the Hebrew Bible, adopted the division into chapters made by Cardinal Hugo, and divided the chapters by affixing numeral letters in the margin. About one hundred years after this, Vatablus, a Frenchman, and eminent Hebrew scholar, taking his pattern from him, published a Latin Bible with chapters and verses, numbered with figures; and this example has been followed in all subsequent editions, in all languages, published in the western parts of Christendom.

The present division of the New Testament into verses was made by Robert Stephens, an eminent printer at Paris, who introduced it into his edition of 1551. Dean Prideaux.

[The Excellence of the Bible, with Directions for Reading it.]

The Bible comprehends, in the grandest and most magnificent order, the various dispensations of God to mankind from the forming of this earth to the consummation of all things. It begins with the ground work of natural religion, the creation of the uni、 verse by one holy and good and wise Being; relating distinctly how all those parts of it, to which the heathens paid divine worship, were in truth the work of God's hands. It proceeds to the origin of the Patriarchal, Jewish, and Christian religion, the introduction of sin by the fall of our first parents, of which we experience the wretched effects. It goes on to that amazing punishment of sin, the universal deluge, proved to be as certain as it was wonderful, by the remaining traces of it throughout the globe. It then recites the second peopling of the world, the relapse of mankind into wickedness, the choice of one family and people to preserve the knowledge of God, and to be as a light shining in a dark place, for the benefit of all about them that would turn their and feet to the way of peace. It lays before us the laws given to this people; it recounts their history chiefly with regard to their moral and religious behaviour, and dwells on the character and actions of their most remarkable persons. It supplies us with admirable patterns of genuine piety in the Psalms, most virtuous instructions for the prudent conduct of life in the book of Proverbs, for bearing afflictions in that of Job, for thinking justly of wealth, honour, pleasure, science, in Ecclesiastes. Then, in the Prophetical books, it gives us, together with the sublimest and worthiest ideas of God, and our duties towards him, the most affecting denunciations of that private and public misery and ruin which will ever attend sin, whether cloaked by superstition or displayed


in profaneness. And, along with all these things, it unfolds a series of predictions, reaching from the beginning of the Old Testament to the end; and growing, from obscure and general, continually clearer and more determinate, concerning the appearance of a Divine Person on earth, for the recovery of fallen man, and for the revival and propagation of true religion throughout the world. The books of the New Testament open to us the execution of this great design. The Gospels record his supernatural birth, his unspotted and exemplary life, his astonishing and gracious miracles, his pure and benevolent doctrine, his dying for our offences, and rising again for our justification; his mission of fit persons endued with the gifts of the Holy Spirit to teach all nations, his own ascension into heaven, and sitting at the right hand of God, till he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. The Acts of the Apostles represent the wonderful success of their preaching, and the original foundation of the Catholic Church. The Epistles contain their admirable directions to clergy and laity; and the Revelation concludes with foretelling the state of Christianity, primitive, degenerate, and reformed, to the last ages. A grander, a more comprehensive, and more useful scheme of instruction than this, cannot possibly be conceived.

In reading the Holy Scriptures, our business is to apply to those parts first, and to dwell on them most, which have the closest connexion with our future happiness. As right practice is the end of faith, the practical passages of Scripture ought certainly to have our principal regard, ever comprehending those which express the obligations of Christian piety and moral self-government, as well as justice and mercy. We shall indeed do well, besides occasionally reading particular chapters, to peruse both Testaments in their order: only it will be advisable to go oftenest through the New, as exhibiting more fully what we are to believe and to do, and without such a mixture, as there is in the Old, of things belonging solely to the former dispensation, But the regu

larity of this course ought not to hinder us from selecting chiefly, and perusing most frequently, those parts of both, which place before us, in the most influencing manner, the common doctrines and common duties of our holy profession. Still, even in respect to these parts of Scripture, and much more, therefore, of other parts, it is requisite that we proceed with some judgment and care; that we make use of the same rules for understanding our Bibles, which we do for understanding other books, and such also as the peculiar nature of this book points out; that we never interpret any text in a sense contrary to the dictates of reason, or to other texts more clear or more numerous, or to the visible


design and drift of the whole passage; that we always keep in view what goes before and what follows after; for the connexion is often very strong, where it is not extremely obvious; that we suppose not every verse to be a separate sentence of itself, nor every chapter to have a separate subject that begins and ends with it, for these divisions are entirely human, and sometimes not discreetly made; also that we apply the sayings of the holy penmen, only to the things of which they are treating, not to others which perhaps were far from their thoughts, unless a just argument can be drawn from the former to the latter. should also be careful to take both single words, and phrases comprehending several, not always in the meaning which they bear in our daily conversation, but in such, as other places of Scripture require or permit; understanding them literally where we can, but figuratively where we must. Again, we should make such abatements from strong expressions, such restrictions and exceptions to general expressions, and such allowances for the whole manner of speaking, as we perceive the nature of the thing, together with the usage and custom of the sacred writers, demands. Without such equity as this, a large proportion of the compositions which appear in the world would be made to abound with absurdities; and, if the Bible needs it more than later books of

nearer countries, it also deserves it infinitely better, and it would be both perverse and impious to refuse it. These easy cautions will enable persons of almost the lowest capacity and improvements, who either can read Scripture, or have the means of hearing it read, to acquire so competent a knowledge of what is most needful to be known, as will fully justify the Psalmist's encomium, that "the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple."

Even the learned do not act with humility and prudence, and much less do the unlearned, if in reading the Holy Scriptures they rely wholly on their own judgment unassisted. For God hath made the help of others extremely necessary to our understanding of his word, as well as his works. Men of great abilities and attainments, by trusting to themselves, have involved themselves in error: and men of no other advantages than a teachable disposition, have arrived at a most beneficial acquaintance with religious truths. For God "hides things from the wise and prudent" in their own opinion, which he "reveals unto babes:" "resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble." Nor let it be imagined, that such must therefore depend altogether in every thing on the authority of their spiritual guides. For as in matters of science, or common business, what a man doth not see of himself, he may have shown to him by others, and then may see it as truly and fully as if it had been his own original discovery: so in matters of revelation, one who would otherwise have made small progress, or, it may be, committed great mistakes, yet having the main articles of it methodically explained to him, in discourses on his Catechism, and occasionally inculcated in sermons, or in answer to the questions which he asks in private, may, by comparing what he is thus taught, with what he reads in his Bible, come by degrees, not to believe implicitly, but to discern evidently, the genuine sense of its fundamental doctrines and precepts. In which case, his faith rests no longer on the word of man, but on that of God, whether we can answer all the speciVOL. III.

ous objections against it or not: which few people can do in any thing that they believe of any kind. We should, therefore, conscientiously take all fit opportunities of learning instruction from those who are set apart to give it, For the priest's lips are appointed to keep knowledge, and the people to seek the law at his mouth; not with a blind submission to whatever he shall affirm, but with so much regard at least, as in other professions the more ignorant pay to the more skilful. Nor are we confined to respect only the sentiments of the particular teachers whom we statedly attend, but we ought to have much greater deference for the general persuasion of Christ's Church, particularly our own branch of it, and a proportionable one for that of every knowing and good person; always entertaining some distrust of ourselves when we differ from these. The exercise of our best judgment, and a modest attention to that of others, are the joint means which our Maker hath instituted for the understanding of his will, natural and revealed. They who use them uprightly, and they alone, inay hope for pardon of their ignorance and errors. And, were any one to continue so ignorant to the last, as to believe the truths contained in Holy Writ, only because those about him told him they were such; yet might he have the happiness of acquiring, even by the means of this most implicit faith, dispositions of piety and virtue unattainable otherwise, and sufficient to qualify him for eternal happiness.

It is to be acknowledged that many passages in the Bible are abstruse, and not easy to be understood. Yet we are not to omit reading the abstruser texts, which have any appearance of relating to us; but should follow the example of the blessed Virgin, who understood not several of our Saviour's sayings, yet kept them all in her heart. Were we only to learn humility thus, it would be enough; but we shall come by degrees to apprehend far more than we expected, if we diligently compare spiritual things with spiritual, darker expressions with clearer, that are like or opposite to them; for contraries il lustrate one another. But, with what


« AnteriorContinuar »