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PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.
ENGAGED in the completion of a laborious digest of a small section of the Laws of England, I have passed some of my hours of recreation amidst the works of a few favourite authors, to which, from my residence in the University, I have had easy access. From these works this Selection is made. It is published partly with the conviction that every lesson of such teachers of truth has a tendency to meliorate our general taste, and our taste for moral beauty; but chiefly with the hope that I may induce some of my contemporaries, not accustomed to this train of reading, to extend their resear to these repositories of science. I please myself with thinking that this little volume will contain “ the slip for use, and part of the root for growth.”
I subjoin in this preface an extract containing some account of Bishop Taylor, from the sermon preached at his funeral by his successor, George Rust, bishop of Dromore :
“ He was born at Cambridge, and brought up in the free-school there, and was ripe for the university before custom would allow of his admittance; but by that time he was thirteen years old, he was entered into Caius College ; and as soon as he was graduate, he was chosen fellow.
“ He was a man long before he was of age; and knew little more of the state of childhood than its innocency and pleasantness. From the university, by that time he was master of arts, he removed to London, and became public lecturer in the church of St. Paul's; where he preached to the admiration and astonishment of his auditory ; and by his florid and youthful beauty, and sweet and pleasant air, and sublime and raised discourses, he made his hearers take him for some young angel, newly descended from the visions of glory. The fame of this new star, that outshone all the rest of the firmament, quickly came to the notice of the great archbishop (Laud] of Canterbury, who would needs have him preach before him; which he performed not less to his wonder than satisfaction. His discourse was beyond exception and beyond imitation : yet the wise prelate thought him too young ; but the great youth humbly begged his grace to pardon that fault, and promised, if he lived, he would mend it. However, the grand patron of learning and ingenuity thought it for the advantage of the world, that such mighty parts should be afforded better opportunities of study and improvement, than a course of constant preaching would allow of; and to that purpose
he placed him in his own college of All Souls in Oxford ; where love and admiration still waited upon him: which, so long as there is any spark of ingenuity in the breasts of men, must needs be the inseparable attendants of so extraordinary a worth and sweetness. He had not been long here, before my lord of Canterbury bestowed upon him the rectory of Uphingham in Rutlandshire, and soon after preferred him to be chaplain to king Charles the Martyr, of blessed and immortal memory.
“This great man had no sooner launched into the world, but a fearful tempest arose, and a barbarous and unnatural war disturbed a long and uninterrupted peace and tranquillity, and brought all things into disorder and confusion; but his religion taught him to be loyal, and engaged him on his prince's side, whose cause and quarrel he always owned and maintained with a great courage and constancy; till at last, he and his little fortune were shipwreck'd in that great hurricane that overturned both church and state. This fatal storm cast him ashore in a private corner of the world, and a tender providence shrouded him under her wings, and the prophet was fed in the wilderness; and his great worthiness procured him friends, that supplied him with bread and necessaries. In this solitude he began to write those excellent discourses, which are enough of themselves to furnish a library, and will be famous to all succeeding generations for their greatness of wit, and profoundness of judgment, and richness of fancy, and clearness of expression, and copiousness of invention, and general usefulness to all the purposes of a Christian : and by these he soon got a great reputation among all persons of judgment and indifferency, and his name will grow greater still, as the world grows better and wiser.
“ When he had spent some years in this retirement, it pleased God to visit his family with sickness, and to take to himself the dear pledges of his favour, three sons of great hopes and expectations, within the space of two or three months: and though he had learned a quiet submission unto the divine will, yet the affliction touched him so sensibly, that it made him desirous to leave the country; and going to London, he there met my lord Conway, a person of great honour and generosity; who making him a kind proffer, the good man embraced it, and that brought him over into Ireland, and settled him at Portmore, a place made for study and contemplation, which he therefore dearly loved; and here he wrote his Cases of Conscience, a book that is able alone to give its author immortality;
“ By this time the wheel of providence brought about the king's happy restoration, and there began a new world, and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, and out of a confused chaos brought forth beauty and order, and all the three nations were inspired with a new life, and became drunk with an excess of joy! Among the rest, this loyal subject went over to congratulate the prince and people's happiness, and bear a part in the universal triumph.
“ It was not long ere his sacred majesty began the settlement of the church, and the great doctor Jeremy Taylor was resolved upon for the bishoprick of Down and Connor; and, not long after, Dromore was added to it: and it was but reasonable that the king and church should consider their champion, and reward the pains and sufferings he underwent in the defence of their cause and honour. With what care and faithfulness he discharged his office, we are all his witnesses; what good rules and directions he gave his clergy, and how he taught us the practice of them by his own example. Upon his coming over bishop, he was made a privy-counsellor; and the University of Dublin gave him their testimony, by recommending him for their vice-chancellor; which honourable office he kept to his dying day.
“ Nature had befriended him much in his constitution, for he was a person of a most sweet and obliging humour, of great candour and ingenuity; and there was so much of salt and fineness of wit, and prettiness of address in his familiar discourses as made his conversation have all
the pleasantness of a comedy, and all the usefulness of a
His soul was made up of harmony; and he never spake but he charmed his hearer, not only with the clearness of his reason, but all his words, and his very tone and cadencies were strangely musical.
But, that which did most of all captivate and enravish, was the gaiety and richness of his fancy: for he had much in him of that natural enthusiasm that inspires all great poets and orators; and there was a generous ferment in his blood and spirits, that set his fancy bravely to work, and made it swell, and teem, and become pregnant to such degrees of luxuriancy, as nothing but the greatness of his wit and judgment could have kept it within due bounds and measures.
“ And indeed it was a rare mixture, and a single instance, hardly to be found in an age: for the great trier of wits has told us, that there is a peculiar and several complexion required for wit, and judgment, and fancy; and yet you might have found all these in this great personage, in their eminency and perfection. But that which made his wit and judgment so considerable, was the largeness and freedom of his spirit, for truth is plain and easy to a mind disentangled from superstition and prejudice; he was one of the ExlektiKOT, a sort of brave philosophers that Laërtius speaks of, that did not addict themselves to any particular sect, but ingeniously sought for Truth among all the wrangling schools; and they found her miserably torn and rent to pieces, and parcelled into rags, by the several contending parties, and so disfigured and misshapen, that it was hard to know her; but they made a shift to gather up her scattered limbs, which, as soon as they came together, by a strange sympathy and connaturalness, presently united into a lovely and beautiful body. This was the spirit of this great man: he weighed men's reasons, and not their names, and was not scared with the ugly visors men usually put upon persons they hate, and opinions they dislike; not affrighted with the anathemas and execrations of an infallible chair, which he looked upon only as bugbears to terrify weak and childish minds. He considered that it is not likely any one party should wholly engross truth to themselves; that obedience is the only way to true knowledge; that God always, and only, teaches docible