p. 562 Chapter II.—An Appeal to the Church and to his Hearers to pardon and correct the Errors of His Speech.
Hear then, thou master 3370 of the ship, possessor of virgin purity, and thou Church, the cherisher of tender and inexperienced age, guardian of truth and gentleness, through whose perennial fountain the stream 3371 of salvation flows! Be ye also indulgent, my hearers, who worship God sincerely, and are, therefore, the objects of his care: attending, not to the language, but to the truth of what is said; not to him who speaks, but rather to the pious zeal which hallows his discourse! For what will be the use of words when the real purpose of the speaker remains unknown? It may be, indeed, that I essay great things; the love of God which animates my soul, a love which overpowers natural reserve, is my plea for the bold attempt. On you, then, I call, who are best instructed in the mysteries of God, to aid me with your counsel, to follow me with your thoughts, and correct whatever shall savor of error in my words, expecting no display of perfect knowledge, but graciously accepting the sincerity of my endeavor. And may the Spirit of the Father and the Son accord his mighty aid, while I utter the words which he shall suggest to speech or thought. 3372 For if any one, whether in the practice of eloquence, or any other art, expects to produce a finished work without the help of God, both the author and his efforts will be found alike imperfect; while he has no cause to fear, no room for discouragement, 3373 who has once been blessed with the inspiration of Heaven. Wherefore asking your indulgence for the length of this preface, let us attempt the theme in its utmost scope. 3374
Valesius, followed by 1709 and substantially by Bag., omitting πρός, renders “enter upon the head and principal matter of our design.” Hein. retains πρός, and like Molz. renders “proceed, as well as I may, to my theme.” He means rather that having Gods help he will not fear to “essay great things.”