APPEARING before the Public as a translator of the Oracles of God, it would ill become me to deprecate the severity of criticism, when I most cordially desire the intelligent and learned of my brethren to point out my mistakes for correction, and, in love and in the spirit of meekness, to smite me friendly. Should, however, the shafts of malignity, and the weapons not of our warfare, be employed against this humble, yet well-meant, attempt to make the Scriptures better understood, I shall endeavour to pluck the honey-comb from the lion’s carcase, and be thankful for real information, in whatever mode it may be communicated.
Respecting highly, as I do, the translation of our Reformers, whose language has dignity, and whose soundness in the faith I hope, living and dying, to maintain, it must be acknowledged—that there are in our present version, obscurities which may be avoided—words become in the lapse of ages obsolete—expressions feeble and inexact—for which others more accurate and energetic may be substituted—and in some passages the sense embarrassed, and probably mistaken. To make therefore the Scriptures as intelligible as I can to men of common capacity, who are destitute of the knowledge of the Original, and sometimes perhaps to suggest a sense not unworthy the adoption of the judicious scholar, I have endeavoured to render every passage with the most literal exactness—to use the most forcible and clear expressions corresponding with the Original—not to omit a particle—preserving the participles—and following, as much as the genius of our tongue will permit, the exact order of the Greek words, persuaded that, thus placed, the sense often receives clearness and energy.
To transfuse the spirit of the Original into a Translation must be admitted to be very difficult in any language, peculiarly so where the matters treated of are so weighty, and the words so significant, and where holy men of God are speaking as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, without whose continual light and teaching I humbly conceive no man ever did or can understand and receive the things which are of the Spirit of God, so as to know them as he ought to know.
As the words of the Spirit contain one precise meaning, and to communicate his mind is the intention of Revelation, it must be our endeavour not to leave them equivocal, but to fix a clear and determinate idea to each, in exact conformity to the Original, that the true sense may be understood, which can be but one.
That I have endeavoured to obtain this knowledge it is no presumption to affirm. During forty years and upwards this blessed book of God hath been continually in my hands—never a day hath passed in which it hath not been matter of my meditation; I may venture to say I have read it over more than an hundred times, and many of the passages much oftener. I have consulted the works of the most godly and ingenious of the dead, and often conversed with some of the ablest and most experienced ministers of Christ among the living....