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THE Works of Jeremy Taylor, THE SHAKSPEARE OF DIVINES,' have long been admired for comprehensiveness of thought, eloquence of expression, beauty of imagery, and fervour of devotional feeling. They, indeed, claim the very first place in the libraries of all who hold in reverence the great principles of Christian Piety and Religious Freedom; who love our language in its purest and richest melody; and who value that essential spirit of elevated poetry which so eminently distinguishes them. But the voluminous and expensive form in which they have hitherto been published-the oldest editions being in six volumes, folio, and the latest, that of Bishop Heber, (1822) in fifteen volumes, octavo-renders them inaccessible to numbers who are well qualified to appreciate their merits. The publishers, therefore, deem no apology necessary for introducing into "The Christian's Family Library" a volume selected from these Works, so that the humblest reader may be enabled to enjoy their many beauties, and be edified by their impressive eloquence. For the manner in which the Selection is executed, the Publishers would only refer to the name of the gentleman, by whom the volume is compiled, as a sufficient guarantee for its excellence.
The learning, genius, and piety, the zeal, toleration, and humility, and the eminently Christian spirit of this great and excellent prelate, have been so often extolled, that it may almost seem a matter of supererogation to introduce any testimonies here; but lest there should be any whose attention has not yet been directed towards his writings, a few quotations from the works of distinguished critics may here be given.
"This great prelate," says the Bishop of Dromore (in a funeral sermon,) “had the good humour of a gentleman, the eloquence of an orator, the fancy of a poet, the acuteness of a schoolman, the profoundness of a philosopher, the wisdom of a counsellor, the sagacity of a prophet, the reason of an angel, and the piety of a saint: he had devotion enough for a cloister, learning enough for a university, and wit enough for a college of virtuosi: and had his parts
and endowments been parcelled out among his poor clergy that he left behind him, it would, perhaps, have made one of the best dioceses in the world."
"Few have equalled Bishop Taylor," says Dr Parr in his Letter to Milner, "in variety of learning, in fertility of imagination, in vigour of thinking, in rectitude of intention, and holiness of life. His controversial writings, fraught as they are with guileless ardour, with peerless eloquence, and with the richest stores of knowledge, historical, classical, scholastic, and theological, may be considered as irrefragable proofs of his pure, affectionate, and dutiful attachment to the Reformed Church of England."
"Taylor and Barrow," says Bishop Hurd, "were incomparably the greatest preachers and divines of their age. But my predilection is for Taylor. He has all the abundance and solidity of the other, with a ray of lightning of his own, which, if he did not derive it from Demosthenes and Tully, has at least as generous and noble an original."
"Often has my mind," says Bishop Warburton, "hung with fondness and admiration over the crowded, yet clear and luminous galaxies of imagery diffused through the works of Bishop Taylor."
"It can hardly be doubted," says Bishop Middleton of Calcutta, in his sermons, "that our more extensive acquaintance with the Scriptures, with the history of other and better times, and with the writings of such men as Jeremy Taylor, will enable us to distinguish the everlasting truths of the Gospel from the errors of a fleeting enthusiasm."
"We will venture to assert," says a writer in the Edinburgh Review (No. 36) "that there is in any one of the prose folios of Jeremy Taylor more fine fancy and original imagery, more brilliant conceptions, and glowing expressions-more new figures, and new applications of old figures-more, in short, of the body and the soul of poetry, than in all the odes and the epics that have since been produced in Europe."
"When the name of Jeremy Taylor," says Mr Hazlitt, "is no longer remembered with reverence, genius will have become a mockery, and virtue an empty shade."
"Now they do it," says the apostle, writing to the Corinthians, "to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible." 1 Cor. ix. 25. But who are they? and what is it that they do? The persons alluded to are those who engaged as combatants in the games of ancient Greece. These celebrated games, which consisted in the competition of the candidates for fame before a vast assemblage from every corner of the land, in exercises of bodily strength, and swiftness, and skill, and prowess, were held at different places of the Greek confederation, at different intervals of time. Among the most celebrated of them all, were those which took place every four years in the immediate neighbourhood of Corinth, and, from the isthmus on which that city is situated, bore the name of the Isthmian games; and hence we perceive with what propriety and beauty the apostle, writing to the Corinthians, borrows his illustrations, in the passage we have quoted, from the circumstances of the gymnastic contests for which their vicinity was famous; and how readily they would comprehend the allusion it contains, to the long course of labour and of self-denial by which the champions were wont to prepare themselves for competition and for triumph. For this end the apostle tells us they were "temperate in all things,”—they exerted an habitual self-command; they kept in check every desire, they denied themselves every indulgence, they abstained from every employment, they rejected every luxury, which might tend to enervate their vigour, or clog their agility, or tame their fiery courage. They observed a stated regimen; they trained themselves by laborious exercise; they used a thousand painful and distasteful arts to brace their sinews, and sharpen their perceptions, and mature their skill; they kept their bodies under, and brought them into subjection; they parted with their very freedom for a time, and resigned themselves as slaves to the direction and control of some master of athletic arts, under whose iron discipline they had many things to do, and many to endure,-to become patient of cold and heat, and hunger and thirst, and watching and painfulness, and weariness, and all but intolerable hardships. To a training thus toilsome and intense, the Corinthians knew that the children of the noblest commonwealths of Greece, the kings and princes of her hundred colonies, were wont to submit themselves without repining or regret, with all the entireness and alacrity of voluntary choice. Nor did their labours terminate here. All this was but prelude