With a View to Assist
With Clearer and More Explicit Views of the
Mind of the Spirit
Scriptures of Truth
By T. Haweis, L.L. B.
Rector of All-Saints, Aldwinckle, Northamptonshire; and chaplain to the late Countess of Huntingdon.
Printed for T. Chapman,
No. 151, Fleet-Street.
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 he understood, which can be but one.
That 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. I have at two different times of my life translated and transcribed the whole of the New Testament, and considered every word, and phrase, and passage, with attention: indeed the leading object and employment of my whole life hath been to discover and communicate to mankind the truth as it is in Jesus; and every day have I bowed my knees to the Divine Interpreter, who giveth wisdom and understanding to the simple, that he would lighten my darkness, and shine into my heart, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, as it is manifested in the face of Jesus Christ.
I recommend to my readers to tread in the same path, looking up to the Fountain of wisdom and knowledge. I am not ashamed to own my conviction, that an unlearned person thus seriously attentive to the Scriptures, and crying to God for the spirit of' wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, will he led into all saving truth; and gain greater and clearer discoveries of the mind of the Spirit in the Scriptures than any mere natural man, however ingenious and learned. A Word, a phrase, an allusion, may indeed exercise critical acumen, and afford a display for erudition; but the scope and tendency of the Sacred Oracles, the doctrines therein revealed, the principles inculcated, and the practice enjoined, never were, and never will be truly known, but by those who are taught of God.
As the division of the Scripture into verses interrupts the subject, and often embarrasses the sense, I have preferred paragraphs, placing the verses of. the old Version in the margin, for the sake of reference and comparison; and though I have admitted the same division of chapters, in a few instances they might be more judiciously arranged: Matt. ii. I. belongs to the former chapter, as also Acts, viii. I. Coloss. iv. I.
I have only now to commend this labour of love to the divine benediction. The Translation itself, and the necessary attentive consideration of every passage, hath not, I trust, been without instruction to myself, and some sweet savour of the truth: so far I have already my reward. It will be highly enhanced if God my Saviour deigns to make this service acceptable and profitable to his people, and the means of communicating clearer and more explicit views of his revealed will to the poor and unlearned of the flock. To them I have long dedicated my life and my labours, believing that of such is the kingdom of heaven.
Every attempt to make the Scriptures more read, and better understood, must be acknowledged laudable. Should the present effort fail to answer this end, it may yet provoke men of more wisdom and spiritual gifts, to produce a translation more exact, and suited to general' edification. Then I shall be content to be forgotten.