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“The Holy Living” and “The Holy DYING,” of BISHOP JEREMY Taylor, have been for nearly two centuries a source of daily comfort and improvement to many exemplary members of the Church of England. During that long period these works have passed through very numerous editions ; and amongst the thousands of copies, which have thus been given to the world, it is rare to find one of older date, which does not bear upon it the marks of daily use. With such proofs of the esteem in which these works of the Right Reverend Author have been held, it might be supposed, that in the progress of time the public voice had approved their whole contents, and
any attempt at an abridgment of them would prove an unwelcome labour. And yet I have reason to believe, that there are many pious Christians, who are well aware of the general value and utility of these works, but who are prevented by their disap
proval of certain parts of them from recommending them to others. Those who are well acquainted with the “ Holy Living and Dying” will readily understand, that I allude to the author's constant practice of illustrating Christian duties, by examples taken from ecclesiastical, and even from profane history; a practice sanctioned indeed by the taste of the seventeenth century, though somewhat at variance with our present feelings. To this it must be added, that the phraseology of the devotional parts has not been found throughout suited to every taste and temperament ; and that in some places rules of conduct are laid down for persons in certain states of life, concerning which it must be confessed, that though fenced round with a hedge of caution by the Author himself, they are scarcely fitted for the indiscriminate perusal of young persons. I have, therefore, endeavoured in the present edition to adapt these works to general use, by omitting, with scarcely any exception, all the stories from heathen and ancient authors, together with the numerous quotations from Greek and Latin and other writers, with which these works in their original state abound; whilst, for the sake of the young, parts are left out of some chapters, which speak of duties and temptations not belonging to their state and age.
I am well aware, that I have had a delicate, as well as difficult task, to accomplish. Some persons may think, that I have not omitted enough : others, that I might have retained more. The rule which I laid down for my guidance was this; to omit nothing, which I did not think the author himself might be supposed willing to strike out, were he now alive to adapt his works to the taste of this age, and to our more refined, though not more innocent, feelings. Whilst therefore I have in many places expunged words or phrases, which seemed likely to offend fastidious readers, it will be found that I have left the peculiarities of the learned writer's diction, as well as of his doctrines, untouched : indeed, to have acted otherwise would have been to exhibit an unfaithful portraiture of his style and sentiments.
But, though, in the present edition, the “Holy Living and Dying” may have lost in some degree its antiquated character, it is not on that account less desirable, that the reader should be acquainted both with the condition of our Church, and also with the peculiar circumstances of the author, at the period when these works were published. If no other benefit result to the reader from such information, he will at least be led to admire the wonderful providence of God, which brings good out of evil, and which has, in former ages, often caused the troubles of the Church, to contribute to her instruction in succeeding generations.
The “Holy Living" was first published in 1650. In the Dedication to the Earl of Carbery, which is prefixed to it, the learned author describes, in most forcible language, the depths of calamity in which the Church was at that time overwhelmed. He speaks of “the ministers of religion being unable to unite to. stop the inundation :” of “the solemn assemblies of the Church of England being so scattered, that men thought her religion lost :” of “his brethren in persecution :” and of “the case being so with our Church, that we are reduced to that religion which no man can forbid ; which we can keep in the midst of a persecution ; by which the martyrs, in the days of our fathers, went to heaven; that, by which we can be servants of God, and receive the Spirit of Christ, and make use of his comforts, and live in his love and in charity with all men.”
This description was written a year or more after the murder of King Charles the First; but the sufferings of the Church, to which allusion is thus made, were not the result, but the prelude to that dreadful crime. They had commenced seven years at least before the King's death, with the imprisonment of twelve of the Bishops, and the subsequent expulsion of the Prelates from the House of Lords; then followed, in 1643, the Ordinance for taking the Solemn League and Covenant, and the ejection of such clergymen from their livings as the Parliament pronounced unfit for the pastoral charge ; and at the end of another two years, in the month of August, 1645, came forth the Ordinance for call