The Spanish Preface
By him who is nicknamed Friar MARINO
With no small care and anxiety, I had been continually revolving in my thoughts, how it could be that the Hebrew Nation should so long maintain itself in the Jewish Belief, with only that Book called the Bible; it being a thing of that obscurity that is not only impossible to be understood by the Ignorant, but even such as are well read in Scriptures cannot comprehend it without extreme Difficulty? On this Subject it has run in my Mind, that what has maintained the Peoples of Israel in their Law is their having had commentators who have written distinctly on every Canon in like manner as the old Philosophers have declared of their predecessors; & as the Misbelievers of these Days have Glosses not only on the Bible, but also on the Decree of their Popes, with Summaries of their Confessors & of their Ceremonies: And so, in my Opinion, the Hebrew People must have had Commentaries upon the whole Scripture; & what did the more confirm me in this sentiment was my reflecting, that these were all rejected by their Sages & Doctors. As I was seriously [discussing?] this Matter within myself, I firmly resumed the Belief, either that these Glosses of their Bible had perished amidst the many Calamities which the Hebrew Nation has undergone, or had been [secreted?] by [H...?] [malice?].
Being herein fully confirmed, [&] having a certain employ relating to the Definition of Papal [Cau??] as also a Post in the Inquisition Court, it chanced that, one day, a Gentleman of the family URFINI came to seek me, bringing with him four very ancient Books, written in Latin, saying, "They were of the Old Prophets, & that "being repugnant to the Christian Law, he deemed them Heretical, & in Truth good for nothing at all; so that he delivered them up into my custody, to do with them what I should judge proper." I inquired of him, how, by what Means they came to his Hands?" To this he answered, "That he found them in his Library, among Books of his Fore-Fathers, & could give me no farther account." And hereupon he went away.
I, then, being somewhat at Leisure, not having much to do at my Office, sat down to examine those Books which I at first imagined were Bibles, but found them to be four Glosses on the Scripture, viz. on the Prophets Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel & Joel. These, as I had met with them unexpectedly, so my Heart received them most joyfully.
But to express how very different they are from those of our Days, it suffices to say, "That they were penned by Prophets: Which having seen & considered, there arose in me another Thought with Relation to the Writings of the Apostles, who were twelve in Number, & dispersed themselves into twelve different Parts of the World, to preach after the Departure of Jesus; & I deemed it wholly impossible, that only Four should have written Gospels. When calling to Mind, that Jerom (whom the Christians call Saint) in translating the Gospels says, "That from among so many sorts of Gospels, he had translated four into Latin, the which seemed to him better to agree together than the others."
This thought made me suspect the same to be true... ...reflecting that the whole Quantity was reduced to those Four only, & those selected by the Judgement of one Man only. While my Head was busy with this, it came to my Rememberance , how great a Discord there had been between Paul & Barnabas, which augmented my suspician of the Truth of those Gospels which Jerom translated? When, after many Reflections, I was verily of Opinion, that it could not possibly be, that the Apostles, their Disciples, or the Virgin, should have failed writing any exposition upon the Gospel. Giving intense credit to this Thought of mine & having continued fixed therein for about a year, it fell out, that a Lady of the Colonna Family (whose Husband died not long before, leaving her two sons, both Minors) on taking an Inventory of all her goods, in a Chest of her husband's found Three Books. She thereupon ordered one of her Sons to read Part of them to her; & finding that they exclaimed against Paul, she instantly tied them up in a Linen Bag, & very privately brought them to me, intreating me to keep the Matter secret, that the Defunct might not be taken out of his Grave and burned. This I promised her, received the Books, & she went her Way.
On examining them, I found, that one treated of the Virgin, & was written by Ignatius: Another was a Work of Zozimus, a Disciple of the Apostles: The third was written by Ireneus, the Disciple of Ignatius, who, & with no small Reason on his side, wrote against Paul, & for his Authority cited the Gospel of Barnabas.
Imagine now with yourself, Dear Brother, the ardent Desire I must have to meet with this Gospel. But it so pleased the Merciful God, that I contracted a very intimate Friendship with MONTALTO, otherwise Pope Sixtus V, insomuch that we were frequently, all alone, shut up together, discoursing of [p...?] Affairs. It chanced, one Day, that as we were alone in his Library, he was siezed with a great drowsiness, & fell fast asleep. To pass away the idle times, I thought I would read a while; when going to take down a Book & having opened that which came first to Hand, I found it to be the same which my Heart so much longed for & desired, I mean, this Gospel of Barnabas!
Most joyfully I concealed it in my sleeve; & the Pope awaking presently after, I took leave of him, carrying off with me this Celestial Treasure; the which having perused and read over & over, during the Term of two years, I finally determined on professing the Real Faith; & also for the Benefit of the Faithful, to copy out the same in order to its Publication, as being sure and certain of its being True Angelic Scripture & Doctrines, where is clearly [announced] God's Sacred Messenger, & his Quality so plainly demonstrated that it cannot possibly be more evident. For which Reason, Dear Brother, read over this Book; & for the Benefits & Advantages [issuing?] therefrom give Praises to the Almighty to whom all Honour & Praises are due: and pray to Him for one, a Sinner.
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