« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
executing these offices. Wherefore the knowledge of the state of the churches, and of the characters of the persons to whom the epistles were addressed, and of the erroneous doctrines which prevailed in the first age, must be of great use in studying the epistles. To give the reader some idea of these matters, the author has prefixed a preface to each epistle, in which, from the hints given in the epistle itself, and from particulars mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, and in the writings of the fathers, he hath endeavoured to settle the date of the epistle, and to explain the state of the churches, and the character of the persons to whom it was sent, together with the errors which it was written to correct.
In the new translation, the common division of the text into chapters and verses, is retained, because the scriptures have long been quoted according to that division. But, to remedy the inconveniences which that division hath occasioned, by breaking the text, sometimes even in the middle of a sentence, the author hath prefixed to each chapter what he hath termed a view and illustration. In these, the principal matters contained in the chapters are set forth at greater length than could be done in the commentary; the arguments used by the inspired writers for proving their positions, are distinguished, their relation to these positions is pointed out, and the conclusion drawn from them is shewn to be just. Also because St. Paul, in particular, hath omitted sometimes the major proposition of his argument, sometimes the minor, and often the conclusion itself, (See Gal. iii. 20.) the author, in his illustrations hath endeavoured to complete these unfinished reasonings. He hath also marked the apostle's digressions, mentioned the purposes for which they are introduced, and apprized the reader when he returns to his main subject. Lastly, in these views care hath been taken to shew how the apostle's reasonings may be applied, for defending the Jewish and Christian revelations against the cavils of infidels.
Opposite to the new translation, the author hath placed an interpretation, in which the translated words of the text are inserted, for the most part, without any alteration ; because, in general, they express the inspired writers' meaning with more energy than it is possible to do by any words of human invention. This interpretation the author has called a commentary, rather than a paraphrase, because it is commonly made, not by expressing the meaning of the text in other words, but by supplying the things that are necessary, for shewing the scope and connection of the reasoning, or by mentioning particulars which the apostles have omitted, because they were well known to the persons to whom they wrote; but which, at this distance of time, being unknown to ordinary readers, must be suggested to them. These additions, being properly short notes intermixed with the text, for the purpose of explanation, are all printed in Roman characters, that the reader may distinguish them from the text, which is printed in Italics.
As a translator of the scriptures, the author thought himself bound to give the true literal version of every passage, according to the best of his judgment, without regarding whether it favoured or opposed his own particular opinions, or any of the schemes of doctrine which have divided the christian worid. Yet, as an interpreter, he hath taken the liberty, in his commentary, to submit to his readers, though not always with the same assurance, what in his opinion is the meaning of the pasa sage. There are, indeed, some texts which he hath not ventured to explain, because, though all agree in the translation of them, their meaning hath been much disputed. But in the notes he hath shewn how the contending parties explain them, for supporting their particular tenets; and hath fairly represented the arguments by which they justify their own interpretations, without concealing any thing that seemed to be of importance on either side. And if, on some occasions, he hath leaned towards the interpretation of a disputed text, given by one of the parties, the reader must not conclude that he holds the opinion which that interpretation is advanced to support. For he will find that, in explaining other texts, he hath given interpretations which favour the contrary doctrine. In both cases, his only motive for approving these interpretations was, that he judged them the true meaning of the passages. The balancing of these seemingly opposite passages against each other, and the application of them, for the purpose of supporting a particular doctrine, or scheme of doctrine, not falling within the author's plan, he hath left it, for the most part, to theologians, with this opinion, that the only foundation on which the doctrines of revelation can be securely built, is the scriptures, understood in their plain grammatical meaning. And therefore, in all cases where opposite doctrines have been founded, not on one or two, but on a number of texts, according to their unconstrained meaning, the one class of texts ought not, by forced criticism, to be turned from their plain grammatical meaning, to make them accord with the scheme of doctrine built on the other class. For it will be found that these seemingly inconsistent texts speak of persons and things of whose existence we are not able to judge. So that the things said concerning them in the scriptures, which appear inconsistent, may all be true, though we are not able to reconcile them with each other. And as, in natural religion, there are facts discovered to us, by reason and experience, from which seemingly contradictory conclusions may be drawn, both of which we must believe, though we are not able to reconcile them, why may not the seemingly inconsistent facts made known in the scriptures be received as true, upon the testimony of God, though we cannot reconcile them with each other? Wherefore it is no objection to the plain grammatical interpretation of the scriptures that it gives them the appearance of inconsistency. If that appearance is in the scriptures themselves, why should it be concealed, either in the translation or in the interpretation? A translator or an interpreter of the sacred oracles will certainly shew not only greater honesty and candour, but will even come nearer to the truth when he suffers their real aspect to remain, than if, for the purpose of establishing particular doctrines, or for reducing every thing in revelation to the measure of human conceptions, he attends only to one class of texts, and, by forced criticisms, turns all the opposite texts from their plain grammatical meaning to artificial senses, which they do not admit, without much straining: a practice which hath been too much followed in interpreting the scriptures, not by one sect only, but by all the different sects of christians in their turn*.
Strained criticisms, for the purpose of establishing particular doctrines, the reader will find in Beza's notes on Rom. i. 4. spiritum sanctitatis,-and on ver. 17.-and on Rom. iii. 31.-But parti. cularly on Rom. iv. 3, where, to prevent us from thinking that faith is counted to believers for, righteousness, Beza affirms, that the phrase, Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness, is an bypallage, for righteousness was counted to Abraham eny fnith; and strongly contends, that that righteousness, was the righteousness of Christ; contrary to all the rules of grammar, and to the plain sense both of Moses and Paul's words, which declare as expressly as it is possible for words to declare, that the thing counted to Abraham was his believing God. See also his notes on Rom. ix. throughout.
The following passages Beza hath mis-translated, from his 100 great attachment to his own opinions. Acts, xiv. 23. (XXIPOTOPNCAYTES de autoes a geobuteg&s) cumque ipsi per suffra. gia creassent per singulas ecclesias presbyteros. According to this translation, Paul and Barnabas ordained persons elders, whom the churches chose by their suffrages. But as the worl xxigeTONNO ANTES must be construed, not with the chanches, but with Paul and Barnabas, if it be translated, per suffragia creassent, it will imply, that the elders were made by the suffrages, not of the churches, but of Paul and Barnabas ; which is absurt. The common translation of the passage is more just ; for XugotoVELY signifies, to nminate or appoint simply: see Acts x. 41..Rom. ii. 7. tous Mev, xa se ironovan spy8 ag entry decay xolo Touny nad dogada
It remains, that some account be now given of the matters contained in the notes. In the first place, then, when the author introduces the interpretations of former commentators, he come monly mentions in the notes the proofs by which they support their interpretation; hoping they may be of use, even to the learned, by bringing things to their remembrance which otherwise, perhaps, they might not have recollected.
In the second place, as the christian revelation is founded on the Jewish, and is the completion of it, the apostles, in explaining the doctrines of the gospel, have not only used the language of the Jewish scriptures, but have frequently quoted or alluded to particular passages in them. Wherefore, that ordinary readers may understand the scripture phraseology, which, in many particulars, is very different from the language of the European nations, and discern the propriety of the apostle's reasoning, the author, in his notes, hath explained the peculiarities of that phraseology,
9117 317899: lis quidem qui secundum patientem expectationem, quærunt boni operis glori. em, etc. Here, by translating vojovny, patientem eapectationem, and by se parating it from 5878 ayats, and joining egg 8 ega tr with dogav, contrary to all rules, Beza has represented believers as seeking the glory, honour und immortality of a good work. This forced con. struction and absurd translation, he has adopted, not to remove any difficulty, but to prevent, as it would seem, his readers from supposing that perseverance in good works, is necessary to the obtaining of glory, honour, and immortality.-Rom. v. 16. το μεν γαρ κριμα εξ ενώ : Nam reatus quidem est ex una offensa : For the guilt indeed is of one offence, to condemnation. Bę this translation, Beza makes the apostle affirm, that all Adam's posterity are actually guilty of his first transgression; and, on that account, are liable to eternal death. But that doctrine is not taught in this passage; for I know no text in which xepared signifies (reatus) guilt.-Rom. viti. 4. (iva to damalwuse To Your : ut jus illud legis compleatur in nobis.) That that right of the law, namely, to perfect obedience, might be fulfilled in us. By this translation Beza meant to establish his favourite doctrine, that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to believers in such a manner, that all which the law required from them, is fulfilled in them; so that they become thereby perfectly righteous. Rom. xi. 32. Txs wartas, omnes illos; and in his note he says elcctus videlicet, de quibus disseruit.---Titus ii. 11. Illua it autem gratia Dei salutifera (191) quibusvis hominibus. Here all men, are converted into some men, lest, from the just grammatical translation, any argument should be drawn in favour of universal redemption. See also his translation of 1 Tim. ii. 1, 2, 4. ; 2 Pet. iii. 3.-Heb. x. 38. Justus autem ex fide vivit. Sad si quis se subduxerit, non est gratum animæ meæ. In this passage, by adding the word quis, any one, which is not in the text, and by mis-translating the clause, 8x eud extra tuxon us auta, Beza hath hidden from his readers that God supposes a just man may draw back, and thereby lose his favour, lest, from that supposition, an argument might be drawn against the perseverance of the saints.
Examples of strained criticism might be produced from Calvin, Grotius, Hammond, Linborch. Locke, Taylor, and other famed commentators. But tbe above are all quoted from Beza, be. cause most of the calvinist divines since his time, who have translated and interpreted the apostolical epistles, and, among the rest, our English translators, have followed bim too implicitly. For example, by copying Beza as he copied the vulgate, our translators have rendered their version in the following passages unintelligible: 2 Cor. iv. 3. It is hid to them that are lost. 4. In tham the gol of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not. But what idea can any reader form of Satan's blinding the minds of them who believe not, in other persons who are lost?--2 Cor. V. 2. Desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven. 4. Not for that we would be unclutheil, but clothed upon. But to be clothed 1spon with a house, is a jumble ot metaphors, which no ordinary reader can understand. See also Rom. i. 17. 1 Cor. vii. 36. Heb. is. 15.
and hath transcribed the passages of the old testament at full length, of which a few words only are quoted, or which are alluded to indirectly, that the reader, who is supposed, by the apostles, to be well acquainted with the scriptures, having the whole passage under his eye, may be sensible of the justness of the reasoning.- In the third place, As the manners, opinions, proverbs, and remarkable sayings, not only of the Jewish prophets and wise men, but of the sages of other ancient nations, are mentioned or alluded to by the sacred writers, these also are explained in the notes; that what is only a proverb, or an allusion to some known fact, or saying, may not be interpreted as a doctrine, or prediction, contrary to the intention of the sacred writers. Examples of this kind of allusion are, Mat. ii. 45. X. 39.; Luke xxiii. 31.- In the fourth place, as often as an uncommon interpretation is given of any passage, the author, in the notes, hath endeavoured to support it, by its agreement with the context, and with the apostles design in writing; by parallel passages; by criticisms on the language, especially those contained in Essay IV.; by the established rules of interpretation ; by arguments drawn from common sense; and sometimes by the opinion of former commentators, both ancient and modern, whose judgment is justly respected by the learned. In many instances, however, for the sake of brevity, neither the translation, nor the interpretation, though uncommon, is supported by any particular proof: because it was supposed, that, to the learned, both would clearly appear from the original itself; and to the unlearned, from their giving a better sense of the passages than that found in the common versions and paraphrases.In the fifth place, instead of entering into theological controversies, the author, judging it more for the readers profit, hath in the notes, shewn how the important sentiments contained in the word of God may be improved for forming men's tempers and mannners.-Lastly, In the notes, the author hath displayed the beauties and some of the finest passages, by remarks on the sentiments and language.
All the different parts of the author's plan, above described, being necessary to the right explanation of the apostolical epistles, the due execution of them hath swelled this work to a great bulk. Yet no one who knows how many volumes have been written by critics and commentators, for elucidating a single Greek and Latin classic, can be offended with the size of this performance. For, however profitable the right interpreta