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The text, in variance with the commonly received translation, he has ventured to correct in a few instances only, where fidelity seemed to require it : And in these cases even, he trusts he has obtruded no fanciful or conjectural alterations. But in the notes, he has freely inserted all emendations warranted by the criticisms of the learned ; so that the reader may judge for himself, as to the force or propriety of the proposed corrections.
He is aware, that some serious persons are opposed to all alterations in the commonly received translation of the sacred volume. But it should be considered, that there have been several translations of the Bible in the English language, which succeeded one ano. ther, as it was believed the latter were more correct than the former ones. The translation now in use in England and America, was introduced in 1612. The learning and fidelity of the translators cannot be too highly appreciated. But they were not inspired. And it will not be doubted, that the researches and criticisms of learned men, since their time, have thrown much light upon difficult passages of Scripture : nor will it be denied, ' that some terms in the common translation are now obsolete and unintelligible.
. The gospels and other books of divine reve, lation were originally written without any division into chapters and verses, as they now appear. They were, however, early formed into sections, for the purpose of being read in christian churches, as a part of the religious service. The division into chapters was in the thirteenth century; and is generally attributed to a Cardinal of the church of Rome, R. Stephens, who was a great biblical student, and superintended the printing of the Holy Scriptures, is said to have been the author of the division into verses, in 1551.-These di. visions are arbitrary, but generally judicious; and yet in some instances the sense and meaning of the sacred writers would more fully appear by a different arrangement.
The desire of avoiding a large work · had much influence in fixing upon the plan, of giving only the Gospels and the Acts of the APOSTLES. But in having the volume consist only of those parts of sacred history, it was also considered, that a connected and
complete relation would thus be furnished of · the Life and Doctrines of our Divine Redeemer ; of his Apostles, their labors and services ; and of the first establishment and prevalence of Christianity, (embracing a period
PREFACE." of about seventy years from the birth of
Christ,) which we derive from inspired wri. *ters. This, in fact, is the whole authentic * account, of which we know the church was... , ever possessed, of the Founder and first teachers of our holy religion. Their story ends with the Acts, written by St. Luke. The Epistles, which compose the residue of the sacred volume, are, indeed, highly im. portant, as they elucidate the doctrines of the Gospel, and furnish moral precepts and in-structions for individuals and societies. But they are not history."
It is not intended to suggest, that any por. tion of the sacred writings are unworthy our study and attention. "All Scripture, given, by inspiration, is profitable for, doctrine, for, reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness.” But it has been common.. to publish particular parts of Scripture in separate volumes. Thus, the writings of Moses have been published in a distinct form, without the other parts of the Bible. Thus, the Psalms, and the Prophets, the Four Gospels, and the Epistles of St. Paul, have respective. ' ly appeared in volumes by themselves, because the Editors had given greater attention to those particular books. The present vol
ume is offered to the public, upon the consideration, that it contains those books, which furnish the only true history of the origin and establishment of our holy religion.' And if . it shall excite more attention to the sacred. " Scriptures, “which testify of Jesus Christ," the Messiah, and “shew uinto us the way of salvation," the Editor will have attained the object he has in view, by hazarding its pub... lication.
The books of the sacred writers, who have given us the history of the doctrines and life ,' of Jesus Christ, we denominate the gospels,
as they convey "glad tidings" from heaven
long expected by the Hebrew nation, and by * whom great spiritual blessings were to be
dispensed, and important moral truths were to
The expectation of a divine messenger and teacher, about the time of our Savior's. birth, was not confined entirely to the Jews, though the predictions in their sacred books had produced among them a general and more thorough belief of the appearance of such a