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Having, in the second edition of the Apostolic Fathers, so far improved the translation I before published of them, as to render it almost a new work; it will be necessary for me to give some account of the changes that have been made in it, and what advantages I have had for the making of them.
The Epistles of St. Clement had been so correctly set forth from the Alexandrian manuscript, by the learned Mr. Patrick Young, that having no other copy to recur to, there are no considerable alterations to be expected in the present edition of them. And yet even in these, I have not only carefully reviewed my translation, and compared it with the original Greek, and corrected whatever I thought to be less exact in it; but by help of a new, and more accurate collation of Mr. Young's copy, with that venerable manuscript from which it was taken, I have amended some places in the text itself, which had hitherto escaped all the editors of these Epistles. For this I was beholden to the friendly assistance of the very learned, and pious, Dr. Grabe; to whose ready help these Apostolic rathers owe a great part of that exactness, with which, I presum.. they will appear in this edition of them.
The Epistles of St. Ignatius having been lately published at Oxford, by our Reverend Dr. Smith, not only with much greater correctness in the text than ever they were before, but with the advantage of his own, and Bishop Pearson's observations upon the difficult places of them; it cannot be thought, but that I must have very much improved my translation of those Epistles, from the learned labours of two such eminent masters of
antiquity; and who had taken such great care, not only to restore those venerable pieces to their primitive purity, but to render them clear, and intelligible, to the meanest capacities. One of those Epistles had never been set forth, from any good manuscript in its original Greek, when I published my first edition of them. This, together with the martyrdom of that blessed Saint, has since been printed by Monsieur Ruinard at Paris, and from thence by Dr. Grabe at Oxford. I have compared my translation of both with their copy; and not only corrected it where it disagreed with that, but have noted in the margin, the chief variations of this last edition, from those which had been published by Archbishop Usher, and Isaac Vossius before.
Of the epistle and martyrdom of St. Polycarp, and the epistle of St. Barnabas, I have little to say more than that I have revised the translation of them, with all the care I could, and rendered them much more correct (especially the epistle of Barnabas,) than it was before. But as for the books of Hermas, I may without vanity affirm that they are not only more exact in the translation than they were before, but that the very books themselves will be found in greater purity in this, than in any other edition of them that has ever yet been published. The old Latin version has been entirely collated with an ancient manuscript of it in the Lambeth library; and from thence amended in more places than could well have been imagined. And that very version itself has been farther improved from a multitude of new fragments of the original Greek, never before observed ; and for the most part taken out of the late magnificent edition of the works of St. Athanasius ; though that picé is none of his, but the work of the younger Athanasius patriarch of the same church, who lived about the 7th century.[See Tom. ii. p. 251. doctrin. ad Antioch Ducem.] Both these advantages I do likewise owe to the same learned person (Dr. Grabe) I before mentioned, who not only purposely collated the one for me, but readily communicated to me the extracts he had made for his own use out of the other.
Having said thus much concerning the several pieces themselves here set forth, and the translation of them, I shall not trouble the reader with any long account of my own introductory discourses, in which I have added some things and corrected others. I hope as it now stands, it may be of some use to those who have not any better opportunities of being acquainted with these matters, and convince them of the just regard that is due to the treatises which follow them, upon this double account, both that they were (for the most part) truly written by those whose names they bear; and that those writers lived so near the Apostolic times, that it cannot be doubted, but that they do indeed represent to us the doctrine, government and discipline of the Church as they received it from the Apostles ; the Apostles from Christ, and that blessed Spirit, who directed them both in what they taught, and in what they ordained.
1. Had I designed the following collection either for the benefit or perusal of the learned world, I should have found it necessary to say but very little by way of introduction to it: the editors of the several treatises here put together, having already observed so much upon each of them, that it would I believe be difficult to discover, indeed I am sure it would be very needless to trouble the reader with any more.
2. But as it would be ridiculous for me to pretend to have designed a translation for those who are able with much more profit and satisfaction to go to the originals; so, being now 10 address myself to those especially who want that ability, I suppose it may not be amiss before I lead them to the discourses themselves, to give them some account both of the authors of the several pieces I have here collected ; and of the tracts themselves; and of that collection that is now the first time made of them in our own tongue. Though as to the first of these, I shall say the less, by reason of that excellent account that has been already given of the most of them by our pious and learned Dr. Cave: whose lives of the Apostles and Primitive Fathers, with his other admirable discourse of Primitive Christianity, I could heartily wish were in the hands of all the inore judicious part of our English readers.
3. Nor may such an account, as I now propose to give of the following pieces, be altogether useless to even the learned themselves; who wanting either the opportunity of collecting the