The Merits of the Authorized Version
Remarks by J. C. Philpot, M.A.,
Editor of the "Gospel Standard Magazine," 1849-69
"The more a man's heart is alive unto God, the more will he read his Bible; nor can there be a surer sign of a sickly state of soul than distaste to the Word of God…But we made a remark also on the grace and wisdom bestowed upon our translators to give us such a faithful and noble, clear and beautiful, yet simple and plain version. The blessing which has rested upon our English Bible in the thousands of souls who by it have been quickened and fed, liberated, sanctified, and saved, eternity alone can unfold. But much of this, under the blessing of God, has been due to the plain, simple, yet strong and expressive language which our translators were led to adopt. They were deeply penetrated with a reverence for the Word of God, and therefore they felt themselves bound by a holy constraint to discharge their trust in the most faithful possible way. Under that divine constraint they were led to give us a translation unequalled for faithfulness to the original, and yet at the same time clothed in the purest and simplest English. How suitable is all this to the simplest understanding, and how in this way the most precious truths of God are brought down to the plainest and most uncultivated mind.
"No one can read, with an enlightened eye, the discourses of our blessed Lord without seeing what a divine simplicity ran through all His words; and our translators were favoured with heavenly wisdom to translate these words of the Lord into language as simple as that in which they first fell from His lips. What can exceed the simplicity and yet the beauty and blessedness of such declarations as these?--"I am the bread of life"; "I am the door"; "I am the way, the truth, and the life"; "I lay down my life for the sheep"; "I am the vine"; "God is love"; "By grace are ye saved". Even where the words are not monosyllabic, they are of the simplest kind, and as such are adapted to the capacity of every child of God, in whatever rank of life he may be.
"The blessedness of having not only such a Bible, but possessing such a translation of it can never be sufficiently valued. If the Scriptures had been written in a style of language which required a refined education and a cultivated mind to understand, how could they have been adapted to the poor of the flock? Or had our translators wrapped up the simple language of the original in high flown expressions, how it would have set the Word of truth beyond the grasp of the poor of the flock! But now, as soon as the Blessed Spirit is pleased to communicate light and life to the soul, the Bible is open to the simplest man to read and to understand; and as the Lord by His Spirit is pleased to raise up faith in his heart to believe His testimony, he can not only understand what he thus reads without the necessity of a worldly education, but, under the unction of His grace, can also feel its power and blessedness in his own soul.
"But apart from the blessing which it has been thus made to the family of God, our English Bible has been a national treasure. It has much interwoven itself with our national character, has set up a pure standard of religion and morality, and is daily influencing thousands of hearts to actions of goodness and benevolence, as well as exercising a widely spread power in upholding good and condemning evil. This natural effect of the Bible, as distinct from its spiritual effect, is sometimes too much overlooked or undervalued, but is not less real and substantial. It is something akin to the effect produced on a congregation where truth is preached, or in a family where its heads are partakers of the grace of God. In a congregation many are influenced by the truth, who are not regenerated by it; in a family the children are often affected by the parents' example and admonitions, who are not reached by their grace. So, apart from its sanctifying influence upon the vessels of mercy, the Bible has exercised an amazing amount of good on society at large; and in this way it has been made a great national blessing.
"But it is because the language of our Bible is such pure, simple, unaffected, idiomatic, intelligible English, that it has become so thoroughly English a book, and has interwoven itself with our very laws and language…"
--Selected from Volume II of "Reviews by the late J. C. Philpot, M.A."
P. O. Box 752
Buchanan, Georgia 30113