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enemies of Christ; who said that those Books which we then had among us, and which were then received by and read in the churches, were not genuine and pure; but that, in many words and syllables and letters in them were read differently from what they were in the Hebrew originals.
The same circumstances also, (that is, many things being found, in that version which is ascribed to the SEVENTY, and which was commonly used in the Greek churches, to differ from the Hebrew originals,) urged on many others before Jerom, such as Aquila, Theodotion, and Origen to the same desire of publishing new versions. So that, at last, the versions of six translators were collected and read together; and it was called the
After the same manner also, in this our day, new versions have begun so to increase and multiply, within a few years, that it seems as if there never would be any end to them, but that we should at length have as many editions of the Bible, (which was the case also in those former times,) as there may rise up striplingteachers and novices of this cast, who shall persuade themselves that they have some great knowledge of the Hebrew tongue.
And thus it must be, that after them other interpreters will be sought for; because, we pay so much respect to the calumnious judgments of the Jews concerning our Bible. Whereas, they themselves so miserably lacerate and alter the Bible by their various and differing interpretations, their grammatical distinctions, and their punctuations, that, if we were to follow their interpretations, we should have no Bible at all that contained one sure and harmonizing text clearly expressed and understood. Because, each one of the Rabbins will have his interpretation received in preference to all others. But why should we have no pure Bible at all, you will ask?-Because they themselves are compelled to confess, that they in many places do not understand the meaning of their own words. So far is it from possibility that they should give a pure and harmonizing
exposition of the Bible, even with respect to the grammatical sense, (to say nothing about the spiritual sense, for of that they are altogether ignorant.)
Wherefore, I pay no regard whatever to their cavillings; nor do I consider their judgment of so much consequence, as to induce me, on that account only, to learn the Hebrew tongue. And I can give a sound reason for the principles on which I act. It is certain that we who are Christians are in possession of the true mind and sense of the Old Testament scriptures, and also of the doctrine of the New Testament: that is, we have the knowledge of Jesus Christ, who was promised in the prophetic scriptures, and was afterwards manifested, and brought with himself the true light and understanding of the scriptures: as he saith John v. 46., "Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me." And Luke xxiv. 45, "All things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me." And again, verse 45, "Then opened he their eyes that they might understand the scriptures."
Here is then the grand turning point: on this all depends: in this all centres. And, he that does not truly know or desire to know this our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ the Son of God, whom Christians preach, such an one is to be persuaded to abstain altogether from the books of the Holy Scriptures. For he cannot but run against them in every part, till at last he becomes blind and enfuriated, and rushes headlong; and that the more terribly, the more determinately he applies himself to the reading of those scriptures. And such an one may indeed be called a Jew, a Turk, or a Scythian; or, if he like, a Christian.-For, mark 'what it was that precipitated the Arians, the Manichees, the Pelagians, and other followers of heresies among us into errors and destruction? What was there wanting to them that is necessary unto the true reading of the scriptures? What can the whole tribe belonging to the Pope complain of as wanting to them? Have they not (I am not now speaking of the Old Testament,) have
they not, I say, a reading of the books of the New Testament sure, perspicuous, and clearer than the light? And, what is now wanting to the authors of new sects at this day? Have not these also the opportunity of reading the doctrine of the Gospel most surely and clearly delivered in the books of the New Testament? And yet, they fully manifest that they neither hold it nor understand any thing about it.-Are we then to suppose that a new version of the New Testament also, ever was, or is now, necessary, just to suit the fanatical caprice of the mad whims or dreams of some one brain or another that is driven to and fro by Satan? If this be the case, what end will there be to such new interpretations, or where will their number stop?
Wherefore, if I were allowed to have my choice, either of retaining the intrepretation and sentiments of Augustine and other pure writers like him, (which would be retaining the mind of the apostles), and being without that in which he was deficient, (for he sometimes erred from the meaning of certain Hebrew letters and words); or, of abiding by the sure and clear interpretations of the Jews, as they would call them, (but which they themselves are compelled to confess, do not agree in all things), without the understanding of Augustine, and such other of the ancient commentators; it is easy to judge which I should choose.-I would bid an eternal farewell to the Jews, and send them, together with their interpretations and points to letters, to that place to which they ought to be consigned. And I know I should remain on the side of eternal life. For although Augustine (for example), did not understand the word KIKAION, Jonah iv. 6, which he rendered 'cucumber;' and again, although he did not know that the Hebrew words, Haggai ii. 7, signified "the desire (HEMDA) of all nations shall come, and rendered the passage thus, not very wide of the meaning, "The desired of all nations shall come;" yet, by these trifling errors his faith was neither overthrown nor in peril; for that still held fast hold of the true anchor of his salvation; that is, of him who is "the way, the truth, and the life," concerning
whom all the prophets prophesied, and to whom, as it is said Acts x. 43, "they all gave witness."
Whereas, the Jews, because they do not receive Christ, are never able to arrive at the knowledge of Moses and the prophets, nor to an understanding of their meaning: that is, what the true doctrine of faith is, what the law requires, and what the examples and historical events recorded in the scriptures teach. And yet they have the whole scripture, and it is sounded forth in their synagogues every day. But thus Isaiah prophesied of them, chap. xliv. 18; that it should be with them as if a book were put into the hands of one who could not read; who, although he should see the figures of the letters, and, as the Germans say in a proverb, should see the furrows of the black corn-field ploughed upon the white surface,' yet would not know what these letters or sentences meant, nor what they expressed, and would pass over them without the least mental understanding. Whereas one that knew how to read and was in the habit of reading quickly, would catch the sense of the scriptures by just turning over the leaves, and perhaps while doing something else at the same time; nor would he be at all prevented from getting at the sense, even if a few letters or words should escape him here and there; and such an one would receive the whole contents of a great portion of the scripture, while the other was finding out the meaning of one word or syllable. So also, one that is an excellent singer, will run over all the notes of the tune, which are written down in the same way as letters; before another, who is unacquainted with the musical characters, will find out the meaning of those first characters, of the tune which are placed at the beginning, and which are as it were the directions and guides to the whole tune, and are therefore called keys.
See how the case stands with Nicholas Lyranus, a pious man, a good Hebraist, and a faithful interpreter.What an excellent work does he undertake when he refutes the corruptions of the Jews in the Books of the New Testament? But on the other hand, how frigid, how futile is that same man, while he follows his Rabbi Solomon?
How little does he say to the purpose, though he has before him the pure Hebrew text, without any ambiguity? And yet, he is by far the most faithful and pure interpreter, and far before all the antient and modern Hebraists, who are so devoted to the Rabbins, and who so studiously follow them. In a word, it is by no means a useful service to the church to introduce among her books the labours, the interpretations, and the opinions of the Rabbins and judaizing grammarians. All these things stick too closely to the scriptures already, without our introducing them by labour and study. For a superstitious regard to the letters and the text that are received by the Jews, and a dependence on their auhorities and examples, soon bring on a darkness; and at length, the true sense and understanding of the scriptures concerning Christ are lost, and judaizing imaginations creep upon us unawares when they ought And this I have observed has been the case with all interpreters, no one, not even myself, excepted.
But, in a word, if we do not in our expositions direct all our labour and study to make the text of the Scripture, as far as it is possible to be done, agree with the sentiments of the apostolic writers as recorded in the New Testament, against all the corruptions of Rabbins, it would be far better for us to let alone the study of Hebrew altogether, and to abide simply by that version of the Bible which has hitherto been received and used, (which has now nearly all been explained and illustrated by the books of the New Testament,) than so to multiply new versions on account of a few places where the Hebrew text is different, or where the true meaning of certain words cannot be ascertained; for by all these versions, nothing is produced but a distraction of the memory of those who read all the varieties and differences of renderings, and a hinderance of study; and after all, the passage is in many places left more obscure than it was before.
In order therefore to excite attention, after the example of others, I have taken upon me to give an Exposition of "the last words of David." This however