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without meaning that in various small matters there is no possible room for objection—that in them the principal discrepancies of this kind are removed... After the state of the case has been thus made known, it would be no credit to the Age, or the Country, to revert to a Text so imperfect, in this view, as that of 1611.
It ought to be borne in mind, that the extreme minuteness of the points which have, in many instances, been attended to, in the Text of 1611, is a sort of pledge that the weightier matters have not been overlooked; but it has been shewn, beyond all contradiction, how. completely the reader of that Text would be misled, if he were to believe that such is the fact...When the Gentlemen of the Sub-Committee state it as their opinion, that the Italics in our modern editions have a tendency to "unsettle the confidence of people in the Text of Scripture"-I cannot but recollect the sentiments of the Translators themselves on a similar subject the renderings which, in addition to those of the Text, they thought proper to give in the margin. Let me request the reader's attention to the " reasons moving the Translators to set diversity of senses in the margin, where there is great probability for each.”
"Some peradventure would have no variety of senses to be set in the margin, lest the authority of the Scriptures for deciding of controversies, by that shew of uncertainty, should somewhat, be shaken. But we hold their judgement not to be sound in this point. For though Whatsoever things are necessary, are manifest, as S. Chrysostome saith, and as S. Augustine, In those things that are plainly set down in the Scriptures, all such matters are found that concern Faith, Hope and Charity. Yet for all that it cannot be dissembled, that partly to exercise and whet our wits, partly to wean the curious from
loathing of them for their every where plainness, partly also to stir up our devotion to crave the assistance of God's Spirit by prayer, and lastly, that we might be forward to seek aid of our brethren by conference, and never scorn those that be not in all respects so complete as they should be, being to seek in many things ourselves, it hath pleased God in his divine providence, here and there to scatter words and sentences of that difficulty and doubtfulness, not in doctrinal points that concern salvation, (for in such it hath been vouched that the Scriptures are plain) but in matters of less moment, that fearfulness would better beseem us than confidence; and if we will resolve, to resolve upon modesty with Saint Augustine (though not in this same case altogether, yet upon the same ground) Melius est dubitare de occultis, quam litigare de incertis, it is better to make doubt of those things which are secret, than to strive about those things which are uncertain. There be many words in the Scriptures, which be never found there but once, (having neither brother nor neighbour, as the Hebrews speak) so that we cannot be holpen by conference of places. Again, there be many rare names of certain birds, beasts and precious stones, &c. concerning which the Hebrews themselves are so divided among themselves for judgement, that they may seem to have defined this or that, rather because they would say something, than because they were sure of that which they said, as Saint Hierome somewhere saith of the Septuagint. Now in such a case, doth not a margin do well to admonish the reader to seek further, and not to conclude or dogmatize upon this or that peremptorily? For as it is a fault of incredulity, to doubt of those things that are evident: so to determine of those things as the spirit of God hath left (even in the judgement of the judicious) questionable, can be no less than presumption. Therefore as S. Augustine saith, that variety of Translations is profitable for the finding out of the sense of the Scriptures: so diversity of signification and sense in the margin, where the text is not so clear, must needs do good, yea, is necessary, as we are persuaded. We know that Sixtus Quintus expressly forbiddeth that any variety of readings, of their Vulgar Edition, should be put in the margin (which though it be not altogether the same thing to that we have in hand, yet it looketh that way) but we think he hath not all of
his own side his favourers, for this conceit. They that are wise had rather have their judgements at liberty in differences of readings, than to be captivated to one, when it may be the other. If they were sure that their High Priest had all laws shut up in his breast, as Paul the second bragged, and that he were as free from error by special privilege, as the Dictators of Rome were made by law inviolable, it were another matter: then his word were an Oracle, his opinion a decision. But the eyes of the world are now open, God be thanked, and have been a great while: they find that he is subject to the same affections and infirmities that others be, that his skin is penetrable, and therefore so much as he proveth, not as much as he claimeth, they grant and embrace."
I will not do so much injustice to the reader's taste, as to apologize for the length of the preceding extract from the Translators' Preface to the Bible.* If it should be read (as I trust it will) a second time, with a mental reference to the subject of the Italics-(for, to use the Translators' language, though it be not altogether the same thing to that we have in hand, yet it looketh that way")—no doubt can be entertained as to the judgment which would be passed by those great men, on the matter now under discussion. "We know," say the Translators, "that Sixtus Quintus expressly forbiddeth that any variety of readings of their Vulgar Edition, should be put in the margin ;" and We know, in these our days, that certain Dissenters attributing to the Translators something like an exemption from error, which they would have scorned to appropriate to themselves" expressly forbid" the introduction of
* Dr Symonds, however the late Professor of Modern History in this University-calls the Preface "pedantic and uncouth." Concerning some of this Gentleman's opinions, I shall soon have occasion to offer a few remarks.
any Italics, not sanctioned by the Text of 1611. But, to adopt once more the words of the Translators, we trust that "the eyes of the world are now open."
After the statement of the case which has now been given to the world, I will not believe, till the fact is undeniable, that either a Committee, or a Sub-Committee, or even an Individual, will be rash enough to contend for the authority of the Text of 1611, with regard to Italics. But it is quite impossible to say to what extent human perverseness will be carried ;and if notwithstanding the information which has been afforded, attempts should still be made to get rid of the additional Italics, I trust that the Universities will be protected, in this matter, by the united voice of all who have the cause of Religion really at heart.
Residents in the Universities have been censured for their adherence to whatever is sanctioned by authority for their resistance to improvement, because it savours of innovation. It must at least be acknowledged that in the days of Dr Blayney and his Associates, the tendency to acquiesce, in what had been going on for many years, was overcome. For no assignable reason, but that of carrying into effect the obvious intentions of the Translators, and so furnishing the public with what they laboured to make a correct and useful work— a Bible was sent forth, which long maintained a high character in the world. Had the Text of 1611 been retained to the present time, I can easily imagine what censures would have been cast upon the Universities, for printing a Text, in which the Italics so imperfectly fulfilled the purpose for which they were designed.
Instances would, I have no doubt, have been accumulated upon instances, to demonstrate the impropriety of taking a Text, so abounding in inconsistencies, as the Standard for the Bibles now published; and the Universities would have been overwhelmed with reproaches, as the enemies of every thing that can conduce to the advancement of real knowledge. They would have been accused of a long-continued attempt to substitute "the words which man's wisdom teacheth" for the words of Inspired Truth. Such, I am well convinced, would have been the language of the day; and the defence of the Universities, under such circumstances, would not have been a very satisfactory undertaking.
It is quite certain, as I have already said, that Dr Blayney's edition of the Bible, which forms the basis of the editions now published by the Universities, long maintained a high character in the world. In proof of this point, I might appeal to the recorded sentiments of many eminent persons, belonging to the Established Church; but as an appeal of that kind would probably be deemed insufficient on the present occasion, I will here transcribe the opinion of a very able, learned and respectable Dissenting Minister—Dr Edward Williams-who was for many years the Theological Tutor in an Academy for the education of young students for the Ministry. In a little book designed for the information of his pupils, Dr Williams gives the following character of Dr Blayney's edition :-" For accuracy of printing, the Oxford edition of 1769, superintended by Dr Blayney, Regius Professor of Hebrew, at Oxford, is much esteemed. The valued correctness extends not merely to the text, but also to the contents