Prolog to Genesis
Prolog to Genesis, Chapter 1

Page 1

W. T. To The Reader

When I had translated the New Testament, I added a pistle unto the latter end, in which I desired them that were learned to amend if ought were found amiss. But our malicious and wily hypocrites which are so stubborn and hard-hearted in their wicked abominations that it is not possible for them to amend anything at all (as we see by daily experience, when their both livings and doings are rebuked with the truth) say, some of them that it is impossible to translate the scripture into English, some that it is not lawful for the lay people to have it in their mother tongue, some, that it would make them all heretics, as it would no doubt from many things which they of long time have falsely taught, and that is the whole cause wherefore they forbid it, though they other cloaks pretend. And some or rather every one, say that it would make them rise against the king, whom they themselves (unto their damnation) never yet obeyed. And lest the temporal rulers should see their falsehood, if the scripture came to light, causeth them so to lie.

wot —First and third pers. sing. pres. of wit, to know.

wont —Custom; habit; practice.

than they found —then they founde (Orig.) —THEN, A variant form of than. This was very common until the 18th Century. p. 664. Dictionary of Early English, Joseph T. Shipley, 1955, Philosophical Library, Inc. New York, N.Y.

duns — A copy of the work of Duns Scotus; a textbook of scholastic theology or logic embodying his teaching. Teachings that involved hair-splitting. Dunce is the application of the name John Duns Scotus the “Subtle Doctor” who died in 1308 and whose work was attacked by reformers. The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition, Harry Badley, W.A. Craigins & C.T. Onions, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1989.

Lever: a comparative of lief that in a predicative use as a const. dative or with to = rather. The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition.

Wresting —To distort or twist the meaning.

And as for my translation in which they affirm unto the lay people (as I have heard say to be I wot not how many thousand heresies, so that it cannot be mended or correct, they have yet taken so great pain to examine it, & to compare it unto that they would fain have it and to their own imaginations and juggling terms, and to have somewhat to rail at, and under that cloak to blaspheme the truth, that they might with as little labour (as I suppose) have translated the most part of the Bible. For they which in times past were wont to look on no more scripture than they found in their duns or such like devilish doctrine, have yet now so narrowly looked on my translation, that there is not so much as one “i” therein if it lack a tittle over his head, but they have noted it, and number it unto the ignorant people for an heresy. Finally in this they be all agreed, to drive you from the knowledge of the scripture, & that ye shall not have the text thereof in the mother tongue, and to keep the world still in darkness, to the intent they might sit in the consciences of the people, through vain superstition and false doctrine, to satisfy their filthy lusts, their proud ambition, and insatiable covetousness, and to exalt their own honour above king & emperor, yea & above God himself.

A thousand books had they lever to be put forth against their abominable doings and doctrine, than that the scripture should come to light. For as long as they may keep that down, they will so darken the right way with the mist of their sophistry, and so tangle them that either rebuke or despise their abominations with arguments of philosophy & with worldly similitudes and apparent reasons of natural wisdom. And with wresting the scripture unto their own purpose clean contrary unto the process, order and meaning of the text, and so delude them in descanting upon it with allegories, and amass them expounding it in many senses before the unlearned lay people, (when it hath but one simple literal sense whose light the owls cannot abide) that though you feel in your heart and are sure how that all is false that they say, yet could you not solve their subtle riddles.

Which thing only moved me to translate the New Testament. Because I had perceived by experience, how that it was impossible to stablish the lay people in any truth, except the scripture were plainly laid before their eyes in their mother tongue, that they might see the process, order and meaning of the text: for else whatsoever truth is taught them, these enemies of all truth quench it again, partly with the smoke of their bottomless pit whereof you read Apocalypse .ix. that is, with apparent reasons of sophistry & traditions of their own making, founded without ground of scripture, and partly in juggling with the text, expounding it in such a sense as is impossible to gather of the text, if you see the process order and meaning thereof.

Portesses —A portable breviary in the mediæval church.

Missals —Prayer book pertaining to the mass.

Scacely read —Obsolete form of SCARCE, SCATCH. The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition.

Albertus de secretis mulierum —A Medieval book “The Secrets of Women.”

Pore —To read or study carefully.

linwod — the work of William Lindewood, Divinity Professor at Oxford and bishop of St. Davids (1446)

Gat —gate (Orig.) —Obsolete form referring to an ACT OF GOING.

mo — An early form of more. p. 433. Dictionary of Early English

Praetors —Latin “leader,” “chief”, as in Praetorian Guard.

Prelates —A high-ranking ecclesiastic, as a bishop.

And even in the bishop of London’s house I intended to have done it. For when I was so turmoiled in the country where I was that I could no longer there dwell (the process whereof were to long here to rehearse) I this wise thought in myself, this I suffer because the priests of the country be unlearned, as God it knoweth there are a full ignorant sort which have seen no more Latin than that they read in their portesses and missals which yet many of them can scacely read, (except it be Albertus de secretis mulierum in which yet, though they be never so sorrily learned, they pore day and night and make notes therein and all to teach the midwives as they say, and linwod a book of constitutions to gather tithes, mortuaries, offerings, customs, and other pillage, which they call, not theirs, but God’s part and the duty of holy church, to discharge their consciences withal: for they are bound that they shall not diminish, but increase all thing unto the utmost of their powers) and therefor (because they are thus unlearned thought I) when they come together to the ale house, which is their preaching place, they affirm that my sayings are heresy. And besides that they add to of their own heads which I never spoke, as the manner is to prolong the tale too short the time withal, and accuse me secretly to the chancellor and other the bishop’s officers. And indeed, when I came before the chancellor, he threatened me grievously, and reviled me and rated me as though I had been a dog, and laid to my charge whereof there could be none accuser brought forth, (as their manner is not to bring forth the accuser) and yet all the priests of the country were that same day there. As I this thought the bishop of London came to my remembrance whom Erasmus (whose tongue makes of little gnats great elephants and lifts up above the stars whosoever gives him a little exhibition) praises exceedingly among others in his annotations on the New Testament for his great learning. Then thought I, if I might come to this man’s service, I were happy. And so I gat me to London, & through the acquaintance of my master came to Sir Harry Gilford the kings graces’ controller, and brought him an oration of Isocrates which I had translated out of Greek into English, and desired him to speak unto my Lord of London for me, which he also did as he shewed me, and willed me to write a pistle to my lord, and to go to him myself which I also did, and delivered my pistle to a servant of his own, one William Hebilthwayte, a man of mine old acquaintance. But God which knows what is within hypocrites, saw that I was beguiled, and that that counsel was not the next way unto my purpose. And therefor he gat me no favour in my lord’s sight. Whereupon my lord answered me, his house was full, he had mo then he could well find, and advised me to seek in London, where he said I could not lack a service, And so in London I abode almost an year, and marked the course of the world, and heard our praetors, I would say our preachers how they boasted themselves and their high authority, and beheld the pomp of our prelates and how busied they were as they yet are, to set peace and unity in the world (though it be not possible for them that walk in darkness to continue long in peace, for they cannot but either stumble or dash themselves at one thing or another that shall clean unquiet altogether) & saw things whereof I defer to speak at this time and understood at the last not only that there was no room in my Lord of London’s palace to translate the New Testament, but also that there was no place to do it in all England, as experience doth now openly declare.

Nimrothes —[From the name of Nimrod described in Gen. x. 8-9 as ‘a mighty one in the earth’ and ‘mighty hunter before the Lord’.] ... A tyrannical ruler; A tyrant. p. 426 vol. X. The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition.

Psalm .cxviii. —Psalm 119 in modern Bibles.

Under what manner therefor should I now submit this book to be corrected and amended of them, which can suffer nothing to be well? Or what protestation should I make in such a matter unto our prelates those stubborn Nimrothes which so mightily fight against God and resist his Holy Spirit, enforcing with all craft and subtlety to quench the light of the everlasting testament, promises, and appointment made between God & us: and heaping the fierce wrath of God upon all princes and rulers, mocking them with false feigned names of hypocrisy, and serving their lusts at all points, & dispensing with them even of the very laws of God, of which Christ himself testifies Matthew .v. that not so much as one tittle thereof may perish, or be broken. And of which the prophet saith Psalm .cxviii. You have commanded your laws to be kept meod, that is in Hebrew exceedingly, with all diligence, might & power, and have made them so mad with their juggling charms and crafty persuasions that they think it full satisfaction for all their wicked living, to torment such as tell them truth, & to burn the word of their soul’s health, & slay whosoever believe thereon.

Either made or —other made or (Orig.) —OTHER, Following an alternative clause with or: = EITHER. p. 983. vol. X. The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition.

Notwithstanding yet I submit this book and all others that I have either made or translated, or shall in time to come, (if it be God’s will that I shall further labour in his harvest) unto all them that submit themselves unto the word of God, to be corrected of them, yea and moreover to be disallowed & also burnt, if it seem worthy when they have examined it with the Hebrew, so that they first put forth of their own translating another that is more correct.

 

Prolog to Genesis, Chapter 2

A prolog shewing the use of the scripture

Though a man had a precious jewel and a rich, yet if he wist not the value thereof nor wherefore it served, he were neither the better nor richer of a straw. Even so though we read the scripture & babel of it never so much, yet if we know not the use of it, and wherefore it was given, and what is therein to be sought, it profiteth us nothing at all. It is not enough therefor to read and talk of it only, but we must also desire God day and night instantly to open our eyes, and to make us understand and feel wherefore the scripture was given, that we may apply the medicine of the scripture, every man to his own sores, unless then we intend to be idle disputers, and brawlers about vain words, ever gnawing upon the bitter bark without and never attaining unto the sweet pith within, and persecuting one another for defending of lewd imaginations and fantasies of our own invention.

Touchstone —twichstone (Orig.) — A stone formerly used to test the purity of gold or silver

Ensamples — A pattern or model; a guiding example. [arcaic and poetical.] p. 1942. vol. III. The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia, William D. Whitney, Editor-in-Chief, published by The Century Co., New York, 1899.

Paul, in the third of the second epistle to Timothy says, that the scripture is good to teach (for that ought men to teach & not dreams of their own making, as the pope does) & also to improve, for the scripture is the touchstone that tries all doctrines, and by that we know the false from the true. And in the sixth to the Ephesians he calls it the sword of the Spirit, by cause it kills hypocrites, and utters and improves their false inventions. And in the fifteenth to the Romans he says all that are written, are written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scripture might have hope. That is, the ensamples that are in the scripture comfort us in all our tribulations, and make us to put our trust in God, and patiently to abide his leisure.

And in the tenth of the first to the Corinthians he brings in examples of the scripture to fear us and to bridle the flesh, that we cast not the yoke of the law of God from off our necks, and fall to lusting and doing of evil.

So now the scripture is a light and shews us the true way, both what to do, and what to hope. And a defense from all error, and a comfort in adversity that we despair not, and fears us in prosperity that we sin not. Seek therefor in the scripture as you read it first the law, what God commands us to do. And secondarily the promises, which God promises us again, namely in Christ Jesus our Lord. Then seek ensamples, first of comfort, how God purges all them that submit themselves to walk in his ways, in the purgatory of tribulation, delivering them yet at the latter end, and never suffering any of them to perish, that cleave fast to his promises.

And finally, note the ensamples which are written to fear the flesh that we sin not. That is, how God suffers the ungodly and wicked sinners that resist God and refuse to follow him, to continue in their wickedness, ever waxing worse and worse until their sin be so sore increased and so abominable, that if they should longer endure they would corrupt the very elect. But for the elect’s sake God sends them preachers. Nevertheless they harden their hearts against the truth, and God destroys them utterly and begins the world anew.

Clarkesclark, -ly, etc., obsolete form of CLERK, etc.

This comfort shall you ever more find in the plain text and literal sense. Neither is there any story so homely, so rude, yea or so vile (as it seems outward) wherein is not exceeding great comfort. And when some which seem to themselves great clarkes say: they wot not what more profit is in many gists of the scripture if they be read without an allegory, than in a tale of Robin Hood, say you: that they were written for our consolation and comfort, that we despair not, if such like happen unto us. We be not holier than Noah, though he were once drunk. Neither better beloved then Jacob, though his own son defiled his bed. We be not holier than Lot, though his daughters through ignorance deceived him, nor peradventure holier than David, though he broke wedlock and upon the same committed abominable murder. All those men have witness of the scripture that they pleased God and were good men both before that those things chanced them and also after. Nevertheless such things happened them for our ensample: not that we should counterfeit their evil, but if while we fight with ourselves enforcing to walk in the law of God (as they did) we yet fall likewise, that we despair not, but come again to the laws of God and take better hold.

Stues — Obsolete variant of STEW p. 982 vol. XVI. The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition.
stew — A brothel. (Developed from sense of 3. —a heated room used for hot air or vapour baths: hence, a hot bath), on account of public hot-air bath-houses for immoral purposes. In plural (chiefly collectively: sometimes a quarter occupied by houses of ill-fame). p. 663. The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition.

We read since the time of Christ’s death of virgins that have been brought unto the common stues, and there defiled, and of martyrs that have been bound and whores have abused their bodies. Why? The judgments of God are bottomless. Such things chanced partly for ensamples, partly God through sin heals sin. Pride can nether be healed nor yet appear but through such horrible deeds. Peradventure they were of the pope’s sect and rejoiced fleshly, thinking that heaven came by deeds and not by Christ, and that the outward deed justified them & made them holy and not the inward spirit received by faith and the consent of the heart unto the law of God.

As you read therefor think that every syllable pertains to your own self, and suck out the pith of the scripture, and arm yourself against all assaults. First note with strong faith the power of God in creating all of naught. Then mark the grievous fall of Adam and of us all in him, through the light regarding of the commandment of God. In the fourth chapter God turns him unto Abel and then to his offering, but not to Cain and his offering. Where you see that though the deeds of the evil appear outwardly as glorious as the deeds of the good: yet in the sight of God which looks on the heart, the deed is good because of the man, and not the man good because of his deed. In the sixth God sends Noah to preach to the wicked and gives them space to repent: they wax hard-hearted, God brings them to naught. And yet saves Noah: even by the same water by which he destroyed them. Mark also what followed the pride of the building of the tower of Babel.

Ear and sow —ere and sowe (Orig.) — To cultivate with a plow; plow; till. “A rough valley which is neither eared nor sown. Deut. xxi.4. (see page 1990). p. 1816. The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia.

Consider how God sends forth Abraham out of his own country into a strange land full of wicked people, and gave him but a bare promise with him that he would bless him and defend him. Abraham believed: and that word saved and delivered him in all perils: so that we see, how that man’s life is not maintained by bread only (as Christ says) but much rather by believing the promises of God. Behold how soberly and how circumspectly both Abraham and also Isaac behave themselves among the infidels. Abraham buys that which might have been given him for naught, to cut off occasions. Isaac when his wells which he had digged were taken from him, gives room and resists not. Moreover they ear and sow and feed their cattle, and make confederations, and take perpetual truce, and do all outward things: Even as they do which have no faith, for God hath not made us to be idle in this world. Every man must work godly and truly to the utmost of the power that God hath given him: and yet not trust therein: but in God’s word or promise: and God will work with us and bring that we do to good effect. And then when our power will extend no further, God’s promises will work all alone.

How many things also resisted the promises of God to Jacob? And yet Jacob conjures God with his own promises saying? O God of my father Abraham: and God of my father Isaac, O Lord which said unto me return unto thine own country, and unto the place where you were born and I will do you good. I am not worthy of the least of those mercies, nor of that truth which you have done to your servant I went out but with a staff, and come home with two droves, deliver me out of the hands of my brother Esau, for I fear him greatly &c. And God delivered him, and will likewise all that call unto his promises with a repenting heart, were they never so great sinners. Mark also the weak infirmities of the man. He loves one wife more than another, one son more than another. And see how God purges him. Esau threatens him: Laban beguiles him. The beloved wife is long barren: his daughter is ravished: his wife is defiled, and that of his own son. Rachel dies, Joseph is taken away, yea and as he supposed rent of wild beasts. And yet how glorious was his end? Note the weakness of his children, yea and the sin of them, and how God through their own wickedness saved them. These ensamples teach us that a man is not at perfect the first day he begins to live well. They that be strong therefor must suffer with the weak, and help to keep them in unity & peace one with another until they be stronger.

tached — To fasten, lay hold of (15th to 17th Century, arrest). Replaced in this sense by attack. p. 652. Dictionary of Early English.

Note what the brethren said when they were tached in Egypt, we have verily sinned (said they) against our brother in that we saw the anguish of his soul when he besought us, and would not hear him: and therefor is this tribulation come upon us. By which ensample you see, how that conscience of evil doings finds men out at the last. But namely in tribulation and adversity: there temptation and also desperation: yea and the very pains of hell find us out: there the soul feels the fierce wrath of God and wishes mountains to fall on her and to hide her (if it were possible) from the angry face of God.

Mark also how great evils follow of how little an occasion. Dinah goes but forth alone to see the daughters of the country, and how great mischief and trouble followed? Jacob loved but one son more than another, and how grievous murder followed in their hearts? These are ensamples for our learning to teach us to walk warily and circumspectly in the world of weak people, that we give no man occasions of evil.

Finally, see what God promised Joseph in his dreams. Those promises accompanied him always, and went down with him even into the deep dungeon, And brought him up again, And never forsook him till all that was promised was fulfilled. These are ensamples written for our learning (as Paul says) to teach us to trust in God in the strong fire of tribulation and purgatory of our flesh. And that they which submit themselves to follow God should note and mark such things, for their learning and comfort, is the fruit of the scripture and cause why it was written: And with such a purpose to read it, is the way to everlasting life, and to those joyful blessings that are promised unto all nations in the seed of Abraham, which seed is Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom be honour and praise forever and unto God our Father through him.

AMEN

 

 

The First Boke of Moses
called
GENISIS

W. T. To the Reader

WHEN I had translated the newe testament, I added a pistle vnto the latter ende, In which I desyred them that were learned to amend if ought were found amysse. But oure malicious and wylye hypocrytes which are so stubburne and hard herted in their weked abhominacions that it is not possible for them to amend any thinge atall (as we see by dayly experience, when their both lyvinges and doinges are rebuked with the trouth) saye, some of them that it is impossible to translate the scripture in to English, some that it is not lawfull for the laye people to haue it in their mother tonge, some, that it wold make them all heretykes, as it wold no doute from many thinges which they of longe tyme haue falsly taught, and that is the whole cause wherfore they forbyd it, though they other clokes pretende. And some or rather every one, saye that it wold make them ryse ageynst the kinge, whom they them selves (vnto their damnatyon) never yet obeyed. And leste the temporall rulars shuld see their falsehod, if the scripture cam to light, causeth them so to lye.

And as for my translation in which they afferme vnto the laye people (as I haue hearde saye to be I wotte not how many thousande heresyes, so that it can not be mended or correcte, they have yet taken so greate payne to examyne it, & to compare it vnto that they wold fayne haue it and to their awne imaginations and iugglinge termes, and to haue some what to rayle at, and vnder that cloke to blaspheme the treuth, that they myght with as litle laboure (as I suppose) haue translated the moste parte of the bible. For they which in tymes paste were wont to loke on no more scripture then they founde in their duns or soch like develysh doctryne, haue yet now so narowlye loked on my translatyon, that there is not so moch as one I therin if it lacke a tytle over his hed, but they haue noted it, and nombre it vnto the ignorant people for an heresy. Finallye in this they be all agreed, to dryve you from the knowlege of the scripture, & that ye shall not haue the texte therof in the mother tonge, and to kepe the world styll in darkenesse, to thentent they might sitt in the consciences of the people, thorow vayne superstition and false doctrine, to satisfy their fylthy lustes, their proude ambition, and vnsatiable covetuousnes, and to exalte their awne honoure aboue kinge & emperoure, yee & aboue god him silfe

A thousand bokes had they lever to be put forth agenste their abhominable doynges and doctrine, then that the scripture shulde come to light. For as longe as they maye kepe that doune, they will so darken the ryght way with the miste of their sophistrye, and so tangle them that ether rebuke or despyse their abhominations with argumentes of philosophye & with wordly symylitudes and apparent reasons of naturall wisdom. And with wrestinge the scripture unto their awne purpose clene contrarye unto the processe, order and meaninge of the texte, and so delude them in descantynge vppon it with alligoryes, and amase them expoundinge it in manye senses before the vnlerned laye people, (when it hath but one symple litterall sense whose light the owles can not abyde) that though thou feale in thyne harte and arte sure how that all is false that they saye, yet coudeste thou not solve their sotle rydles.

Which thinge onlye moved me to translate the new testament. Because I had perceaved by experyence, how that it was impossible to stablysh the laye people in any truth, excepte the scripture were playnly layde before their eyes in their mother tonge, that they might se the process, ordre and meaninge of the texte: for els what so ever truth is taught them, these ennymyes of all truth qwench it ageyne, partly with the smoke of their bottomless pytte wherof thou readest apocalipsis .ix. that is, with apparent reasons of sophistrye & traditions of their awne makynge, founded with out ground of scripture, and partely in iugglinge with the texte, expoundinge it in soch a sense as is impossible to gether of the texte, if thou see the processe ordre and meaninge theof.

And even in the bisshope of londons house I entended to have done it. For when I was so turmoyled in the contre where I was that I coude no lenger there dwell (the processe wherof were to longe here to reherce) I this wyse thought in my silfe, this I suffre because the prestes of the contre be vnlerned, as god it knoweth there are a full ignorant sorte which haue sene no more latyn then that they read in their portesses and missales which yet many of them can scacely read, (excepte it be Albertus de secretis mulierun in which yet, though they be never so soryly lerned, they pore day and night and make notes therin and all to teach the mydwyves as they say, and linwod a boke of constitutions to gether tithes, mortuaryes, offeringes, customs, and other pillage, which they calle, not theirs, but godes parte and the deuty of holye chirch, to discharge their consciences with all: for they are bound that they shall not dimynysh, but encreace all thinge vnto the vttmost of their powers) and therfore (because they are thus vnlerned thought I) when they come to gedder to the ale house, which is their preachinge place, they afferme that my sainges are heresy. And besydes that they adde to of thir awne heddes which I never spake, as the maner is to prolonge the tale to shorte the tyme with all, and accuse me secretly to the chauncelare and other the bishopes officers, And in deade, when I cam before the chauncelare, he thretened me grevously, and revyled me and rated me as though I had bene a dogge, and layd to my charge wherof there coude be none accuser brought forth, (as their maner is not to bringe forth the accuser) and yet all the prestes of the contre were that same daye there. As I this thought the bishope of london came to my remembrance whom Erasmus (whose tonge maketh of litle gnattes greate elephantes and lifteth upp aboue the starres whosoever geveth him a litle exhibition) prayseth excedingly amonge other in his annotatyons on the new testament for his great learninge. Then thought I, if I might come to this mannes service, I were happye. And so I gate me to london, & thorow the accoyntaunce of my master came to sir harry gilford the kinges graces countroller, and brought him an oration of Isocrates which I had translated out of greke in to English, and desyred him to speake vnto my lorde of london for me, which he also did as he shewed me, and willed me to write a pistle to my lorde, and to goo to him my silf which I also did, and delivered my pistle to a servaunt of his awne, one wyllyam hebilthwayte, a man of myne old accoyntaunce. But god which knoweth what is within hypocrites, sawe that I was begyled, and that that councell was not the nexte way vnto my purpose. And therfore he gate me no favoure in my lordes sight ¶ Wheruppon my lorde answered me, his house was full, he had mo then he he coude well finde, and advised me to seke in london, wher he sayd I coude not lacke a service, And so in london I abode almoste an yere, and marked the course of the worlde, and herde oure pratars, I wold say oure preachers how they bosted them selves and their hye authorite, and beheld the pompe of oure prelates and how besyed they were as they yet are, to set peace and vnite in the worlde (though it be not possible for them that walke in darkenesse to continue longe in peace, for they can not but ether stomble or dash them selves at one thinge or a nother that shall cleane vnquyet all togedder) & sawe thinges wherof I deferre to speake at this tyme and understode at the laste not only that there was no rowme in my lorde of londons palace to translate the new testament, but also that there was no place to do it in all englonde, as experience doth now openly declare.

Vnder what maner therfore shuld I now submitte this boke to be corrected and amended of them, which can suffer nothinge to be well? Or what protestacyon shuld I make in soch a matter vnto oure prelates those stubburne Nimrothes which so mightely fight agenste god and resiste his holy spirite, enforceynge with all crafte and sotelte to qwench the light of the everlastinge testament, promyses, and apoyntemente made betwene god & vs: and heapinge the firce wrath of god vppon all princes and rulars, mockinge them with false fayned names of hypocrysye, and servinge their lustes at all poyntes, & dispensinge with them even of the very lawes of god, of which Christe him silf testifieth Mathew v. that not so moch as one tittle therof maye perish, or be broken. And of which the prophete sayth Psalme .cxviii. Thou haste commaunded thy lawes to be kepte meod, that is in hebrew excedingly, with all diligence, might & power, and haue made them so mad with their iugglinge charmes and crafty persuasions that they thinke it full satisfaction for all their weked lyvinge, to torment soch as tell them trouth, & to borne the worde of their soules helth, & sle whosoever beleve theron.

Not withstondinge yet I submytte this boke and all other that I haue other made or translated, or shall in tyme to come, (if it be goddes will that I shall further laboure in his hervest) unto all them that submytte them selves vnto the worde of god, to be corrected of them, yee and moreover to be disalowed & also burnte, if it seme worthy when they have examyned it wyth the hebrue, so that they first put forth of their awne translatinge a nother that is more correcte.

Aprologe
shewinge the vse of the scripture

THOUGH a man had a precious iuell and a rich, yet if he wiste not the value therof nor wherfore it served, he were nother the better nor rycher of a straw. Even so though we read the scripture & bable of it never so moch, yet if we know not the use of it, and wherfore it was geven, and what is therin to be sought, it profiteth vs nothinge at all. It is not ynough therfore to read and talke of it only, but we must also desyre god daye and night instantly to open oure eyes, and to make vs vnderstond and feale wherfore the scripture was geuen, that we maye applye the medicyne of the scripture, every man to his awne sores, inlesse then we entend to be ydle disputers, and braulers aboute vayne wordes, ever gnawenge vppon the bitter barcke with out and never attayninge unto the swete pith with in, and persequutinge one an other for defendinge of lewde imaginacions and phantasyes of oure awne invencyon

Paule, in the thyrde of the seconde epistle to Tymothe sayth, that the scripture is good to teache (for that ought men to teach & not dreames of their awne makinge, as the pope doth) & also to improve, for the scripture is the twichstone that tryeth all doctrynes, and by that we know the false from the true. And in the .vi. to the ephesians he calleth it the swerd of the spirite, by cause it killeth hyppocrites, and vttereth and improveth their false inventyons. And in the .xv. to the Romayns he sayth all that are wryten, are wryten for oure learninge, that we thorow pacyence and comforte of the scripture myght have hope. That is, the ensamples that are in the scripture comforte vs in all oure tribulacyons, and make vs to put oure truste in god, and pacyently to abyde his leysure.

And in the .x. of the firste to the Corinthyans he bringeth in examples of the scripture to feare vs and to bridle the fleshe, that we caste not the yoke of the lawe of god from of oure neckes, and fall to lustynge and doinge of evill.

So now the scripture is a light and sheweth vs the true waye, both what to do, and what to hope. And a defence from all erroure, and a comforte in adversyte that we despayre not. and feareth vs in prosperyte that we synne not Seke therfore in the scripture as thou readest it first the law, what god commaundeth vs to doo. And secundarylye the promyses, which god promyseth us ageyne, namely in Christe Iesu oure lorde. Then seke ensamples, firste of comforte, how god purgeth all them that submitte them selves to walke in his wayes, in the purgatorye of tribulatyon, delyveringe them yet at the latter ende, and never soferinge any of them to perysh, that cleave faste to his promyses.

And fynallye, note the ensamples which are writen to feare the flesh that we synne not. That is, how god suffereth the vngodlye and weked synners that resiste god and refuse to folow him, to contynue in their wekedness, ever waxinge worse and worse vntyll their synne be so sore encreased and so abhomynable, that if they shuld longer endure they wold corrupte the very electe. But for the electes sake god sendeth them preachers. Neverthelesse they harden their hartes agenste the truth, and god destroyeth them vtterlye and begynneth the world a new.

This comforte shalt thou evermore finde in the playne texte and literall sense. Nether is there any storye so homely, so rude, yee or so vyle (as it semeth ourwarde) wherin is not exceadinge greate comforte. And when some which seme to them selves great clarkes saye: they wott not what moare profite is in many gestes of the scripture if they be read with out an allegorye, then in a tale of robenhode, saye thou: that they were wryten for oure consolacyon and comforte, that we despayre not, if soch like happen vnto vs. We be not holyer then Noe, though he were once dronke. Nether better beloved then Iacob, though his awne sonne defyled his bedde. We be not holyer than lot, though his doughters thorow ignorance deceaved him, nor peradventure holyer then David, though he brake wedlocke and uppon the same commytted abhomynable murther. All those men have witnesse of the scripture that they pleased god and ware good men both before that those thinges chaunsed them and also after. Neverthe lesse soch thinges happened them for oure ensample: not that we shuld contrafayte their evill, but if whyle we fight with oure selves enforsynge to walke in the law of god (as they did) we yet fall likewise, that we despayre not, but come agayne to the lawes of god and take better holde

We read sens the tyme of Christes deeth of virgins that have bene brought vnto the comen stues, and there defyled, and of martyrs that haue bene bounde and hores haue abvsed their bodyes. Why? The iudgementes of god are bottomlesse. Soch thinges chaunced partely for ensamples, partely God thorow synne healeth synne Pryde can nether be healed nor yet appere but thorow soch horrible deades. Paraduenture they were of the popes secte and reioysed fleshly, thinkinge that heaven came by deades and not by Christ, and that the outwarde dead iustyfyed them & made them holy and not the inward spirite receaved by faythe and the consent of the harte vnto the law of god.

As thou readeste therfore thinke that every sillable pertayneth to thyne awne silf, and sucke out the pithe of the scripture, and arm thy silf ageynst all assaultes. Firste note with stronge faith the power of god in creatinge all of nought Then make the grevous fall of Adam and of vs all in him, thorow the lightregardinge of the commaundement of god. In the .iiii. Chapitre god turneth him vnto Abel and then to his offeringe, but not to Cain and his offeringe. Where thou seest that though the deades of the evel apere outwardly as gloryous as the deades of the good: yet in the sight of god which loketh on the harte, the deade is good because of the man, and not the man good because of his deade. In the .vi. God sendeth Noe to preach to the weked and geveth them space to repent: they wax hard herted, God bringeth them to nought And yet saveth Noe: even by the same water by which he destroyed them. Marke also what folowed the pryde of the buyldinge of the toure of Babel

Consydre how God sendeth forth Abraham out of his awne countre in to a strange lande full of weked people, and gave him but a bare promesse with him that he wold blesse him and defende him. Abraham beleved: and that worde saued and delyuered him in all parelles: so that we se, how that mannes life is not mayntayned by bred onlye (as Christe sayeth) but moch rather by belevinge the promyses of god. Behold how soberly and how circumspectly both Abraham and also Isaac behaue them selves amonge the infideles. Abraham byeth that which might have ben geven him for nought, to cutte of occasions. Isaac when his welles which he had digged were taken from him, geveth rowme and resisteth not. More over they ere and sowe and fede their catell, and make confederacyons, and take perpetuall truce, and do all outward thinges: Even as they do which have no faith, for god hath not made vs to be ydle in this world. Every man must worke godly and truly to the vttmoste of the power that god hath geven him: and yet not truste therin: but in goddes worde or promesse: and god will worke with vs and bringe that we do to good effecte. And then when oure power will extend no further, goddes promesses wyll worke all alone

How many thinges also resisted the promesses of god to Iacob? And yet Iacob coniureth god with his awne promesses sayenge? O god of my father Abraham: and god of my father Isaac, O Lorde which saydeste vnto me returne vnto thyne awne contre, and vnto the place were thou waste borne and I wil do the good I am not worthy of the leste of those mercyes, nor of that trouth which thou haste done to thy seruant I went out but with a staffe, and come home with .ii. droves, delyver me out of the handes of my brother Esau, for I feare him greatly &c. And god delyvered him, and will likewyse all that call unto his promesses with a repentinge herte, were they never so great synners. Marke also the weake infirmites of the man He loveth one wife more than a nother, one sonne more than a nother. And se how god purgeth him. Esau threteneth him: Laban begyleth him. The beloued wife is longe baren: his doughter is ravyshed: his wife is defyled, and that of his awne sonne. Rahel dieth, Ioseph is taken a way, yee and as he supposed rent of wild beastes And yet how gloryous was hys ende? Note the wekenesse of his Children, yee and the synne of them, and how god thorow their awne wekednes saved them. These ensamples teach vs that a man is not attonce parfecte the firste daye he beginneth to lyve wel They that be stronge therfore muste suffre with the weake, and helpe to kepe them in vnite & peace one with a nother vntill they bestronger

Note what the brothren sayde when they were tached in Egipte, we haue verelye synned (sayde they) ageynste oure brother in that we sawe the anguysh of his soule when he besought vs, and wold not heare him: and therfore is this tribulation come vppon vs. By which ensample thou seiste, how that conscience of evyll doenges findeth men out at the laste. But namely in tribulacyon and adversyte: there temptacyon and also desperacyon: yee and the verye paynes of hell find vs out: there the soule feleth the ferse wrath of god and wyssheth mountaynes to falle on her and to hyde her (yf it were possible) from the angrye face of god.

Marke also how greate evelles folow of how litle an occasion Dinah goeth but forth alone to se the doughters of the contre, and how greate myscheve and troble folowed? Iacob loved but one sonne more then a nother, and how grevous murther folowed in their hartes? These are ensamples for oure learninge to teach us to walke warely and circumspectlye in the worlde of weake people, that we geve no man occasions of evyll

Finally, se what god promysed Ioseph in his dreames. Those promesses accompanyed him all ways, and went doune wyth him even in to the depe dongeon, And brought him vppe agayne, And never for soke him till all that was promysed was fulfilled. These are ensamples wryten for oure learninge (as paule sayth) to teach vs to truste in god in the stronge fyre of tribulation and purgatorye of oure flesh. And that they which submytte them selves to folow god shuld note and marke soch thinges, for theyr lerninge and comforte, is the frute of the scripture and cause why it was wryten: And with soch a purpose to read it, is the waye to everlastynge life, and to those ioyfull blyssinges that are promysed vnto all nacyons in the seade of Abraham, which seade is Iesus Christe oure lorde, to whom be honoure and prayse for ever and unto god oure father thorow him.

AMEN