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And to the same effect we say, that we are so far from condemning any of the labors of those who have gone before us in this work, either in this land, or beyond sea. Either in King Henry’s time; or King Edward’s (if there were any translation, or correction of a translation, in his time); or Queen Elizabeth’s, of ever renowned memory, that we acknowledge them to have been raised up of God for the building and furnishing of His Church and that they deserve to be held by us and of future generations in everlasting remembrance. The judgment of Aristotle is worthy and well known: "If Timothy had not been, we had not had much sweet music; But if Phrynis (Timothy’s master) had not been, we had not had Timothy." Therefore blessed be those, and most honored be their name, who break the ice, and begin that which helps to the saving of souls. Now what can be more useful to this end, than to deliver God’s book to God’s people in a language which they understand? Since of a hidden treasure, and of a fountain that is sealed, there is no profit, as Ptolemy Philadelphus wrote to the Rabbis or masters of the Jews, as witnesses Epiphanius. Augustine put it thus, "A man had rather be with his dog than with a stranger (whose language is strange unto him)." Yet for all that, as nothing is begun and perfected at the same time, and the latter thoughts are thought to be the wiser. So, if we building upon the foundation of those who went before us, and being helped by their labors, do endeavor to make that better which they left so good; no man, we are sure, has cause to dislike us. Even they, we persuade ourselves, if they were alive, would thank us. The complaining is misplaced as was that of the men of Ephriam of old as is shown in the following illustrations. The men of Ephraim said to him [Gideon], "Why have you treated us thus, that you did not call us, when you went to fight with the Midianites?" And they reproved him sharply. And he said to them, "What have I done now in comparison to you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the gleaning of Abiezer [Gideon was a descendant of Abiezer - JDG 8:2]? God has delivered into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb: and what was I able to do in comparison to you?" Then their anger was moderated toward him, when he had said that [JDG 8:1-3]. Joash the king of Israel did not satisfy himself till he had struck the ground three times; and yet he offended the Prophet for stopping then [2KI 13:18, 19]. Aquila, of whom we spoke before, translated the Bible as carefully and as skillfully as he could; and yet he thought good to go over it again, and then it got the praise from the Jews to be called ‘accurately done,’ as Jerome witnessed. How many books of profane learning have been gone over again and again, by the same translators, or by others? Of one and the same book of Aristotle’s Ethics there are extant not so many as six or seven different translations. Now if this cost may be bestowed upon the plant miraculously prepared by God for Jonah, which affords us a little shade, and which to day flourishes, but tomorrow is cut down; what may we bestow, no, what ought we bestow, upon that vine, that fruit whereof makes glad the conscience of man, and abides forever? And this is the Word of God, which we translate. The Lord said, What is the chaff to the wheat? If a glass toy be of value to us, how ought we to value the true pearl? Therefore let no man’s eye be evil, because his Majesty’s is good. Neither let any be grieved, that we have a Prince who seeks the increase of the spiritual wealth of Israel. Let the Sanballats and Tobiahs do so, who therefore do bear their just reproof, but let us rather bless God from the ground of our heart for working this religious care in Him to have the translations of the Bible maturely considered and examined. For by this means it comes to pass, that whatever is sound already, (and all is sound for substance in one or other of our editions, and the worst of ours is far better than their best Latin Vulgate) the same will shine as gold more brightly, being rubbed and polished. Also, if any thing is left out, or added to, or does not agree with the original, the same may be corrected, and the truth set in its place. What can the King command to be done, that will bring him more true honor than this? Wherein could those who have been set at this work approve their duty to the King, yes, their obedience to God, and love to his saints, more, than by yielding their service, and all that is within them, for the supplying of this work? But besides all this, the Puritans were the principal motivators for it, and therefore ought least to quarrel about it. For the very historical truth is, that upon the persistent demands of the Puritans at his Majesty’s coming to this crown, the conference at Hampton Court having been appointed for hearing their complaints, when by force of reason they were refused on all other grounds, they had recourse at last to this ground, that they could not with good conscience subscribe to the Communion book, 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 poor and empty reason, yet even hereupon did his Majesty begin to think of the good that might follow by a new translation, and soon after gave order for this translation which is now presented to you. This much was allowed to satisfy our exacting brethren.

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This Page Last Updated: 06/25/05 A. Allison Lewis