The purpose of the translators with their number, furniture, care, etc.

But it is high time to leave them, and to show in brief what we proposed to ourselves, and what course we held in this our perusal and survey of the Bible. Truly, good Christian reader, we never thought from the beginning, that we should need to make a new translation, nor yet to make of a bad one a good one (for then the imputation of Sixtus had been true in some sort, that our people had been fed with gall of dragons instead of wine, with whey instead of milk); but to make a good one better, or out of many good ones, one principal good one, not justly to be excepted against. That hath been our endeavor, that our mark. To that purpose, there were many chosen that were greater in other men's eyes than in their own, and that sought the truth rather than their own praise. Again, they came or were thought to come to the work, not exercendi causa (as one saith) but exercitati, that is, "learned, not to learn." For the chief overseer and εργοδιωκτης under his Majesty, to whom not only we, but also our whole church was much bound, knew by his wisdom, which thing also Nazianzen taught so long ago, that it is a preposterous order to teach first and to learn after, yea that to en piqw keramian manqanein, "to learn and practice together," is neither commendable for the workman, nor safe for the work [Ναζιανζεν εις ρν. επισκ παρουσ., Idem in Apologet.]. Therefore such were thought upon as could say modestly with St. Jerome, Et Hebreaeum sermonem ex parte didicimus, et in Latino pene ab ipsis incunabulis, etc., detriti sumus. — "Both we have learned the Hebrew tongue in part, and in the Latin we have been exercised almost from our very cradle." (St. Jerome maketh no mention of the Greek tongue, wherein yet he did excel, because he translated not the Old Testament out of Greek, but out of Hebrew.) And in what sort did these assemble? In the trust of their own knowledge, or of their sharpness of wit, or deepness of judgment, as it were in an arm of flesh? At no hand. They trusted in him that hath the key of David, opening and no man shutting; they prayed to the Lord, the Father of our Lord, to the effect that St. Augustine did: "O let thy Scriptures be my pure Scriptures be my pure delight; let me not be deceived in them, neither let me deceive by them" [S. Aug. lib. 11. Confess. cap. 2.]. In this confidence and with this devotion did they assemble together; not too many, lest one should trouble another, and yet many, lest many things haply might escape them. If you ask what they had before them, truly it was the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, the Greek of the New. These are the two golden pipes, or rather conduits, wherethrough the olive branches empty themselves into the gold. St. Augustine calleth them precedent, or original tongues [S. August. 3. de doctr. c. 3. etc.]; St. Jerome, fountains [S. Hieron. ad Suniam et Fretel.]. The same St. Jerome affirmeth, and Gratian hath not spared to put it into his decree, that "as the credit of the old books (he meaneth of the Old Testament) is to be tried by the Hebrew volumes, so of the New by the Greek tongue (he meaneth by the original Greek) [S. Hieron. ad Lucinium, Dist. 9 ut veterum.]. If truth be tried by these tongues, then whence should a translation be made, but out of them? These tongues therefore — the Scriptures, we say, in those tongues — we set before us to translate, being the tongues wherein God was pleased to speak to His church by His prophets and apostles. Neither did we run over the work with that posting haste that the Septuagint did, if that be true which is reported of them, that they finished it in seventy-two days [Joseph. Antiq. lib. 12.]; neither were we barred or hindered from going over it again, having once done it, like St. Jerome — if that be true which himself reporteth, that he could no sooner write anything but presently it was caught from him and published, and he could not have leave to mend it [S. Hieron. ad Pammac. pro libr. advers. Iovinian.] — ; neither, to be short, were we the first that fell in hand with translating the Scripture into English, and consequently destitute of former helps, as it is written of Origen, that he was the first [πρωτοπειροι] in a manner that put his hand to write commentaries upon the Scriptures, and therefore no marvel, if he overshot himself many times. None of these things; the work hath not been huddled up in seventy-two days, but hath cost the workmen, as light as it seemeth, the pains of twice seven times seventy-two days and more. Matters of such weight and consequence are to be speeded with maturity, for in a business of moment a man feareth not the blame of convenient slackness [φιλει γαρ οκνειν πραγμ' ανηρ πρασσων ηεγα, Sophoc. in Elect.]. Neither did we think much to consult the translators or commentators, Chaldee, Hebrew, Syrian, Greek or Latin — no, nor the Spanish, French, Italian, or Dutch. Neither did we disdain to revise that which we had done, and to bring back to the anvil that which we had hammered: but having and using as great helps as were needful, and fearing no reproach for slowness, nor coveting praise for expedition, we have at length, through the good hand of the Lord upon us, brought the work to that pass that you see.