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long and diligently considered. Commentaries of all kinds have indeed been copiously produced ;- but there still remain multitudes to whom the labours of the learned are of little use, for whom expositions require an expositor. To those, indeed, who read the divine books without vain curiosity, or a desire to be wise beyond their powers, it will always be easy to discern the strait path, to find the words of everlasting life. But such is the condition of our nature, that we are always attempting what is difficult to perform ; he who reads the scripture to gain goodness, is desirous likewise to gain knowledge, and by his impatience of ignorance, falls into error.
This danger has appeared to the doctors of the Romish church, so much to be feared, and so difficult to be escaped, that they have snatched the bible out of the hands of the people, and confined the liberty of perusing it to those whom literature has previously qualified. By this expedient they have formed a kind of uniformity, 14 I am afraid too much like that of colours in the dark ; but they have certainly usurped a power which God has never given them, and precluded great numbers from - the highest spiritual consolation.
I know not whether this prohibition has not brought upon them an evil which they themselves have not discovered. It is granted, I believe, by the Romanists themselves, that the best commentaries on the bible have been the works of Protestants. I know not, indeed, whether, since the celebrated paraphrase of Erasmus, any scholar has appeared among them, whose works are much valued, even in his own communion. Why have been those who excel in every other kind of knowledge, to whom the world owes much of the increase of light which has shone upon these latter ages, failed, and failed only when they have attempted to explain the scriptures of God? Why, but because they are in the church less read and less examined, because they have another rule of deciding controversies, and instituting laws.
Of the bible some of the books are prophetical, some doctrinal and historical, as the gospels, of which we have in the subsequent pages attempted an illustration. The books of the evangelists contain an account of the life of our blessed Saviour, more particularly of the years of his ministry, interspersed with his precepts, doctrines, and predictions. Each of these histories contain facts and dictates related likewise in the rest, that the truth might be established by concurrence of testimony; and each has likewise facts and dictates which, the rest omit, to prove that they were wrote without communication.
These writers not affecting the exactness of chropologers, and relating various events of the same life, or the same events with various circumstances, have some difficulties to him who, without the help of many books, desires to collect a series of the acts and precepts of Jesus Christ ; fully to know his life, whose example was given for our imitation ; fully to understand his precepts, which it is sure destruction to disobey.
In this work, therefore, an attempt has been made, by the help of harmonists and expositors, to reduce the four gospels into one series of narration, to form a complete history out of the different narratives of the evangelists
by inserting every event in the order of time, and correcting every precept of life and doctrine, with the occasion on which it was delivered ; showing as far as history or the knowledge of ancient custom can inform us, the reason and propriety of every action ; and explaining, or endeavouring to explain, every precept and declaration in its true meaning.
Let it not be hastily concluded, that we intend to substitute this book for the gospels, or to obtrude our own expositions as the oracles of God. We recommend to the unlearned reader to consult us when he finds any difficulty, as men who have laboured not to deceive our selves, and who are without any temptation to deceive him ; but, as men, however, that, while they mean best may be mistaken. Let him be careful, therefore, to distinguish what we cite from the gospels, from what we offer as our own; he will find many difficulties removed ; and if some yet remain, let him remember that God is in heaven and we upon earth, that our thoughts are not God's thoughts, and that the great cure of doubt is an humble mind.
ANGELL'S STENOGRAPHY, or SHORTHAND Improved.
TO THE MOST NOBLE CHARLES, DUKE OF RICHMOND, LENNOX,
May it please your Grace, The improvement of arts and sciences has always been esteemed laudable ; and in proportion to their util. ity and advantage to mankind, they have generally gained the patronage of persons the most distinguished for birth, learning, and reputation in the world. This is an art undoubtedly of public utility, and which has been cultivated by persons of distinguished abilities, as will appear from its history. But as most of their systems have been defective, clogged with a multiplicity of rules, and perplexed by arbitrary, intricate, and impracticable schemes, I have endeavoured to rectify their defects, to adapt it to all capacities, and render it of general, lasting, and extensive benefit. How this is effected, the following plates will sufficiently explain, to which I have prefixed a suitable introduction, and a concise and impartial history of the origin and progressive improvement of this art. And as I have submitted the whole to the inspection of accurate judges, whose approbation I am honoured with, I most humbly crave leave to publish it to the world under your grace's patronage ; not merely' on account of your great dignity and high rank in life, though these receive a lustre from your grace's humanity, but also from a knowledge of your grace's disposition to encourage every useful art, and favour all true promoters of science. That your grace may long live the friend of learning, the guardian of liberty, and the patron of virtue, and then transmit your name with the highest honour and esteem to latest posterity, is the ardent wish of
Your grace's most humble, &c. *
* This is the dedication mentioned by Dr. Johnson himself in Boswell's Life, vol. ii. 226. I should not else have suspected what has so little of his manner.
BARETTi's DicTIONARY of the English and ITALIAN
LANGUAGES. 2 vols. 4to. 1760.
To his Excellency Don Felix, Marquis of ABREU and BER
TODANO, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary from his Catholic Majesty to the King of Great Britain.
- MY LORD,
That acuteness of penetration into characters and designs, and that nice discernment of human passions and practices which have raised you to your present height of station and dignity of employment, have long shown you that dedicatory addresses are written for the sake of the author more frequently than of the patron ; and though they profess only reverence and zeal, are commonly dictated by interest or vanity.
I shall therefore, not endeavour to conceal my motives, but confess that the Italian Dictionary is dedicated to your excellency, that I might gratify my vanity, by making it known, that in a country where I am a stranger, I have been able, without any external recommendation, to obtain the notice and countenance of a nobleman so eminent for knowledge and ability, that in his twenty third year he was sent as plenipotentiary to superintend, at Aix la Chapelle, the interests of a nation remarkable above all others for gravity and prudence ; and who at an age, when very few are admitted to public trust, transacts the most important affairs between two of the greatest monarchs of the world.
If I could attribute to my own merits the favours which your excellency every day confers upon me, I