« ElőzőTovább »
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 congra. tulate 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 longʻafter, 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 honor. 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 honorable 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 humor, of great candor 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 sermon. 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 cadences 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 be. come 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 Exlektikoi, 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 and ingenuous minds, that are willing to hear, and ready to obey according to their light; that it is impossible a pure, humbled, resigned, godlike soul should be kept out of heaven, whatever mistakes it might be subject to in this state of mortality; that the design of heaven is not to fill men's heads, and feed their curiosities, but to better their hearts, and mend their lives. Such considerations as these made him impartial in his disquisitions, and gave a due allowance to the reasons of his adversary, and contended for truth, and not for victory.
“And now you will easily believe that an ordinary diligence would be able to make great improvements upon such a stock of parts and endowments. But to these advantages of nature, and excellency of his spirit, he added an indefatigable industry, and God gave a plentiful benediction ; for there were very few kinds of learning but he was a great master in them. He was a rare humanist, and hugely versed in all the polite parts of learning : and had thoroughly concocted all the ancient moralişts, Greek
and Roman, poets and orators; and was not unacquainted with the refined wits of the later ages, whether French or Italian.
“But he had not only the accomplishments of a gentleman, but so universal were his parts, that they were proportioned to everything; and though his spirit and humor were made up of smoothness and gentleness, yet he could bear with the harshness and roughness of the schools, and was not unseen in their subtle. ties and spinosities, and upon occasion could make them serve his purpose.
“His skill was great, both in the civil and canon law, and casuistical divinity; and he was a rare conductor of souls, and knew how to counsel and to advise ; to solve difficulties, and determine cases, and quiet consciences. He understood what the several parties in Christendom have to say for themselves, and could plead their cause to better advantage than any advocate of their tribe ; and when he had done, he could confute them too ; and show, that better arguments than ever they could produce for themselves, would afford no sufficient ground for their fond opinions.
“ It would be too great a task to pursue his accomplishments through the various kinds of literature; I shall content myself to add only his great acquaintance with the fathers and ecclesiasti. cal writers, and the doctors of the first and purest ages both of the Greek and Latin church; which he has made use of against the Romanists, to vindicate the church of England from the challenge of innovation, and prove her to be truly ancient, catholic, and apostolical.
“But religion and virtue is the crown of all other accomplishments; and it was the glory of this great man, to be thought a Christian, and whatever you added to it, he looked upon as a term of diminution; and yet he was a zealous son of the church of England; but that was because he judged her (and with great reason) a church the most purely Christian of any in the world. In his younger years he met with some assaults from popery; and the high pretensions of their religious orders were very accommodate to his devotional temper: but he was always so much master of himself, that he would never be governed by thing but reason, and the evidence of truth, which engaged him in the study of those controversies; and to how good purpose, the world is by this time a sufficient witness.
“He was a person of great humility; and, notwithstanding his stupendous parts, and learning, and eminency of place, he had nothing in him of pride and humor, but was courteous and affable,
and of easy access, and would lend a ready ear to the complaints, yea to the impertinencies, of the meanest persons.
His humility was coupled with an extraordinary piety; and I believe, he spent the greatest part of his time in heaven; his solemn hours of prayer took up a considerable portion of his life; and, we are not to doubt, but he had learned of St. Paul to pray continually; and that occasional ejaculations, and frequent aspirations and emigrations of his soul after God, made up the best part of his devotions. But he was not only a good man God-ward, but he was come to the top of St. Peter's gradation, and to all his other virtues added a large and diffusive charity ; and whoever compares his plentiful incomes with the inconsiderable estate he left at his death, will be easily convinced that charity was steward for a great proportion of his revenue. But the hungry that he fed, and the naked that he clothed, and the distressed that he supplied, and the fatherless that he provided for; the poor children that he put to apprentice, and brought up at school, and maintained at the university, will now sound a trumpet to that charity which he dispersed with his right hand, but would not suffer his left hand to have any knowledge of it."
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION.
The motives by which I was induced to publish these Selections are explained in the annexed Preface to the first edition of this work. It was prepared in the retirement of the University, as a relaxation from severe studies, and to cherish the taste and genius that blessed the sweet charities of private life by which I was then surrounded.
But pleasures are like poppies spread,
This second edition is published with the ardent hope that it may, in some sort, contribute to teach affliction how to direct its sorrows, and to turn its grief into virtues and advantages: that it may speak peace
“when our eyelids are loosed with sickness, and our bread is dipped in tears, and all the daughters of music are brought low;" that, from the labors of these philosophers, prosperity may remember that “a man is what he knows; that of created beings the most excellent are those who are intelligent,
and who steadily employ their gift of reason for the glory of the Creator and the relief of man's estate.'
PREFACE TO THE THIRD EDITION.*
The first edition of these Selections was published in the year 1805 ; the second in 1807. They have been for some years out of print ;—but my engagements during the last twenty years have been so incessant, that, with every anxiety to assist in extend. ing to others the blessings with which the works of these holy men abound, I have only occasionally, and not without difficulty, been able to appropriate a few moments to this labor of love. I trust that it will not have been in vain. “ The delivery of knowledge is as of fair bodies of trees; if you mean to use the shoot, as the builder doth, it is no matter for the roots; but if you mean it to grow, as the planter doth, look you well that the slip has part of the root.”+ I please myself with thinking that some of these Selections cannot but give immediate delight: and often, in my solitary walks through this noble city, more quiet to me than the retirement of academic bowers, I shall indulge the hope that this volume may, perchance, be opened by some young man who, at his entrance into life, is meditating upon
that suavissima vita indies sentire se fieri meliorem.” May this little spark of holy fire direct him to the place where the star appears, and point to the very house where the babe lies. In the works of these ancient writers, which as so many lights shine before us, he will find what is better than rubies and gold, yea, than fine gold. He will learn not to be misled by the transient pleasures of life; but to seek for permanent happiness, where it can alone be found, in knowledge, in piety, and in charity.
* Published in 1829.
† Lord Bacon.