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TO THE READER.
GIVE diligence, reader, I exhort thee, that thou come with a pure mind, and, as the scripture saith, with a single eye, unto the words of health and of eternal life; by the which, if we repent and believe them, we are born anew, created afresh, and enjoy the fruits of the blood of Christ: which blood crieth not for vengeance, as the blood of Abel, but hath purchased life, love, favor, blessing, and whatsoever is promised in the scriptures to them that believe and obey God; and standeth between us and wrath, vengeance, curse, and whatsoever the scripture threateneth against the unbelievers and disobedient, which resist and consent not in their hearts to the law of God, that it is right, holy, just, and ought so to be. Mark the plain and manifest places of the scriptures, and in doubtful places see thou add no interpretations contrary to them; but (as Paul saith) let all be conformable and agreeing to the faith. Note the difference of the law and of the gospel. The one asketh and requireth, the other pardoneth and forgiveth. The one threateneth, the other promiseth all good things to them that set their trust in Christ only. The gospel signifieth glad tidings, and is nothing but the promises of good things, All is not gospel that is written in the gospel-book: for if the law were away, thou couldest not know what the gospel meant; even as thou couldest not see pardon and grace, except the law rebuked thee, and declared unto thee thy sin, misdeed, and trespass. Repent and believe the gospel, as saith Christ in the first of Mark.
Apply alway the law to thy deeds, whether thou find lust in thine heart to the law-ward; and so shalt thou no doubt repent, and feel in thyself a certain sorrow, pain, and grief to thine heart, because thou canst not with full lust do the deeds of the law. Apply the gospel, that is to say the promises, unto the deserving of Christ, and to the mercy of God and his truth, and so shalt thou not despair; but shalt feel God as a kind and merciful father. And his Spirit shall dwell in thee, and shall be strong in thee, and the promises shall be given thee at the last, (though not by and by, lest thou shouldest forget thyself and be negligent,) and all threatenings shall be forgiven thee for Christís bloodís sake, to whom commit thyself altogether, without respect either of thy good deeds, or of thy bad.
Them that are learned christianly I beseech, forasmuch as I am sure, and my conscience beareth me record, that of a pure intent, singly and faithfully, I have interpreted it, as far forth as God gave me the gift of knowledge and understanding, that the rudeness of the work now at the first time offend them not; but that they consider how that I had no man to counterfeit, neither was helped with English of any that had interpreted the same or such like thing in the scripture beforetime. Moreover, even very necessity, and cumbrance (God is record) above strength, which I will not rehearse, lest we should seem to boast ourselves, caused that many things are lacking which necessarily are required. Count it as a thing not having his full shape, but as it were born before his time, even as a thing begun rather than finished. In time to come (if God have appointed us thereunto) we will give it his full shape, and put out, if ought be added superfluously, and add to, if ought be overseen through negligence; and will enforce to bring to compendiousness that which is now translated at the length, and to give light where it is required, and to seek in certain places more proper English, and with a table to expound the words which are not commonly used, and shew how the scripture useth many words which are otherwise understood of the common people, and to help with a declaration where one tongue taketh not another; and will endeavor ourselves, as it were, to seethe it better, and to make it more apt for the weak stomachs; desiring them that are learned, and able, to remember their duty, and to help them thereunto, and to bestow unto the edifying of Christís body, which is the congregation of them that believe, those gifts which they have received of God for the same purpose.
The grace that cometh of Christ be with them that love him. Amen.