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In presuming to lay before your Majesty's subjects, in their vernacular tongue, this incomparable Exposition of a most interesting portion of the Word of God, to whom could the individual who has ventured on the hardy task, under all the considerations connected with it, crave permission to dedicate this Edition, but to your Majesty, whom the Providence of God has placed as a NursingFather over the Church of which he is an unworthy Minister.
Should your Majesty, and your Royal Consort, deign to give any countenance to the performance of one, who rests all his claim thereto on the unrivalled merits and the unspeakable utility of his Author, and who would not permit himself to aspire to it on any lower grounds, your Majesty may, by such condescension, be instrumental in promoting the welfare of the Church; for your countenance will commend to the attention of many, a work singularly adapted to impress upon the judgment those principles, which will be influential, where reason is under any due subjection to an humble desire to receive and obey the truth : thus will be ensured the practice of those duties which we all owe to God, to our Country, to Religion, and to each other.
That Peace, Prosperity, and Happiness may attend your Majesty's reign, and bless you and her Majesty the Queen, for years to come, is the earnest desire and prayer of,
Your Majesty's most unworthy,
But devotedly faithful,
THE TRANSLATOR. BIRMINGHAM, May 1, 1831.
HAVING been urged about three years ago, by a very dear Friend, who well understood the value of Bishop Davenant's Exposition, to undertake a Translation of it, with the view of rendering its excellence of more public use, I then declined, on the score of other pressing engagements and occupations. But, a short time afterwards, taking down the volume, during the agitation of Roman Catholic affairs, in order to ascertain the Bishop's opinion on a certain point, I was struck with the frequent bearing of his remarks, not more on the tenets and practices of the Romanists, than upon many specious errors which have crept into the Protestant communities, and some of which are, unhappily, in our own day, producing effects equally injurious to the integrity of doctrinal truth, to the efficiency of the ministerial office, and to the preservation of Christian unity. Hence, it appeared to me that a re-publication of this Exposition, in the vernacular language, would prove of utility to many of the Clergy, and to the Church at large. In the hope of rendering a profoundly argumentative work on Divinity more useful to general Readers, and observing the number of Fathers
and Schoolmen constantly cited in it, many of whose names are now almost forgotten in the Church, I resolved to give short biographical sketches of each as they should occur. Finding, moreover, that no. Memoir worthy of Davenant had been written, and that various misrepresentations had gone abroad respecting him and his opinions, I also came to the resolution of announcing in my Prospectus, a Menoir of the Bishop. Little did I then think what a task I was imposing upon myself: for the difficulty of getting at the truth amidst the various conflicting accounts given of antient authors, according to the party views, prejudices, or bigotry of their biographers, while it magnified the importance of eliciting the truth, induced considerable toil and expensive exertion.
As respects our Author himself, when collecting materials for some suitable account of him, it became requisite to search the lives and writings of his contemporaries, and wade through the histories of their time ; and I soon discovered, that, however neglected in the present age, he enjoyed, in his own, a reputation among the first : and, anxious to do justice to his merits—an anxiety augmented by the efforts of some modern opponents of him, and of his faith, to revive and propagate old misrepresentations, in order to disparage the value of his works,-my investigation and research were redoubled.
In the course of such efforts, another important circumstance arose. It became expedient to take a survey of the proceedings, and to examine the various opinions respecting the Synod of Dort, at which he was one of the
English deputies of no inferior consideration. When the mist in which a great portion of the proceedings of that extraordinary Council are involved, and the mis-statements that have been published of them, and which have been revived and iterated under the sanction of great names, are recollected, it will be perceived that no light difficulty was to be surmounted in this department of my undertaking.
These investigations, which could only be encountered amidst arduous Clerical duties and other employments, if duly borne in mind, will convince 'my friends that I have not been forgetful of my pledge, nor remiss in my efforts to redeem it to the best of my ability; and this will prove, it is hoped, a sufficient apology for the delay of publication; a delay that has been painfully increased by severe domestic afflictions and bereavements, and by an unexpected change of situation. Such unavoidable impediments will, however, be found to have produced advantage to those numerous friends who have honoured me with their names as Subscribers to my undertaking, and encouraged me from time to time by procuring more; for the period that has elapsed, by protracting the date of carrying my volumes through the press, afforded me opportunity to extend my reading and inquiries, and has brought me into an acquaintance with several better informed individuals, to whom I was before unknown, and am now greatly indebted for much valuable intelligence and aid. To them I would here take occasion most gratefully to tender my best and sincerest acknowledgments; and to the Clergy and public
at large I would humbly, as it respects myself, but earnestly, as it respects my Author, commend my performance, trusting that it will not altogether prove unsatisfactory or without benefit to either.
As to my Translation, it is not for me to speak further than to state, what seems due to myself, that fidelity has been my great object; and to this I have sacrificed style, rather than, by giving a more engaging turn to a sentence lay myself open to the charge, from any quarter, of having put a gloss upon the sense of the original.
Nothing further is requisite than to state, that in my limited space for the Life, it was necessary to use compression; and that much more might have been added in various parts. As some mis-statements may be corrected, some misapprehensions obviated, and much prejudice against those who hold the views of Bishop Davenant be removed, by the addition of documents and incidents in connexion with the facts adduced in the Memoir; it is my purpose, if God permit, and it should hereafter be deemed desirable, to revise, and take a more extended survey of the Bishop's life and writings, the period in which he flourished, and the sphere in which he moved. In the mean time, any communication of facts, records, or sentiments, from any individual qualified to impart what might be regarded new and important, will be thankfully accepted, and employed in a manner, which, it is presumed, will not be otherwise than grateful.
J. A. Birmingham, May 1, 1831.