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duce instead the modern laconic period, by breaking up his diction into fragments of more attractive brilliancy, and greater convenience for ordinary capacities. Upon the whole, we cannot better sum up the general claims of this admirable Sacred Classic to the reader's esteem, than by adopting the description given of him by his contemporary, Fuller, that he was "our English Seneca, dexterous at controversy, not unhappy at comments, very good at characters, better in sermons, best of all in meditations and contemplations.” It is in the last, and, according to this testimony, his best character as an author, that Bishop Hall is introduced to the reader in the present volume.
yet remains the duty of the editor to add a few words, in regard to the following selection. In giving the preference, on this occasion, to the minor pieces of this admired writer, he had several reasons for his choice. The first and most obvious was their convenient length; a second was the greater novelty of most of these pieces for the general reader, the greater individual importance of the author's more elaborate treatises having diverted attention from his shorter “tractates," as he calls them; and these again were confirmed by the equal but more varied excellence of the latter, rendering them, when methodically arranged, even more likely to prove lastingly profitable. For the contents of the
volume have neither been thrown together at random, nor are they placed in what, but for higher considerations, would have been a very appropriate order, viz. that of the dates of their original publication. It is believed they will be found to accord with the natural succession of the sentiments and needs of the Christian, in such a manner that he may, at every step in their perusal, derive that assistance from them which he will require in the corresponding period of his course; while the whole together may be regarded as a manual of practical theology.
Thus, in “ Heaven on Earth" will be found set forth, with great power and brevity, the importance and the method of a religious life. In the “ Christian," the principles before adduced are fully exemplified in a characteristic pattern for imitation. We now rise by natural degrees to contemplate and pursue those pious thoughts and reflections, which accompany the Christian mind in its maturer growth; and these are supplied in the third tract, “The Devout Soul.” The “ Select Thoughts” lays open a wider sphere for the believer's walk and converse with God, in the midst of his duties in the world. Proceeding now to compositions of a loftier devotional character, we are taught to utter the praises of the Redeemer in the “Meditation on the Love of Christ,” which we may regard as a sacred Hymn, celebrating the redemption. Lastly,
the whole series is appropriately closed with some pathetic effusions of piety and love to God, suggested by the prospect of death and the assured hope of immortality, in “The Soul's Farewell to Earth.”
The numerous works of Bishop Hall appeared singly, at intervals, during a period of almost sixty years. The greater part of them were collected into three volumes folio, and published in his life-time, viz. Vol. I. in 1617, and again in 1624; Vol. II. in 1633; Vol. III. in 1634; a fourth volume, in 4to., entitled, “The Shaking of the Olive Tree,” was added after the author's death, in 1660, and a fifth, containing “Divers Treatises,” in folio, in 1662. The only modern edition was published in 1808, by the Rev. Josiab Pratt, B.D., in ten vols. 8vo. From this edition the present editor has, in great part, adopted the divisions into paragraphs, and occasionally some improvements upon the old copies in the arrangement of the sections; but the volume now before the reader has not been given to the public without a careful collation of all the known editions of the treatises it contains, and the use of the editor's best judgment in every department of his duty.
R. C. London, April 14th, 1834.