Page images
PDF
EPUB

should be given not to mistake it for the storyb usually published with the Cimmerian Matron ; a story written with the freedom of the age of Charles the Second, by a Layman; as appears from the epistle prefixed to the Cimmerian Matron in which the writer refers to the use Taylor has made of it in the treatise already described.

: Of the same date is a Latin letter addressed by Taylor, to John Stearne, professor of physic and philosophy in the university of Dublin, which is prefixed to the professor's Oavatodones, and is dáted from his « delightful

recess at Portmore.” There also he accomplished the largest and most laborious of his works, the “ Ductor Dubitantium, or the Rule " of Conscience in all her general measures;

serving as a great instrument for the deter: * mination of cases of Conscience." To this great undertaking he alludes in the following abstract from a letter to Dr. Sheldon, who had given his advice on the subject.

D as bojosite od saidw i noidelamos ; “I am to thank you for the prudent and

o t midis ons nedota orain • Entitled “ The Ephesian and Cimmerian Matrons, « two notable examples of the Power of Love and Wit, « In the Savoy, 1668.”...... ..

[graphic]

n

“ friendly advice you were pleased to give “me in your letter, relating to my great un“ dertaking in cases of conscience. I have “ only finished the first part yet, the Præcog“ nita and the generals ; but in that and the “ remaining parts I will strictly observe your “ caution ". .

To this letter there is no date. The remaining part of it mentions the discharge of a bond, which Taylor had given to the Doctor ; and contains expressions of gratitude and attachment to him for constantly assisting his condition and promoting his interest...

· Though some writers abroad had engaged in this subject, and some at home; yet so many strange opinions had been broached, and false solutions given, that a work of this kind was a desideratum in divinity. It had long occupied the mind of Taylor; and he had now all the advantages of an uninterrupted and agreeable retirement to bring the work to completion ; which he effected, as he himself expresses it, “in his study in Portmore in Kilultagh, October the 5th, in the year 1659:

• MSS. donat. 4162, art. 19.";'

but the publication of it was delayed till the year following". It is dedicated to King Charles the Second ; who was restored before the work came out...

In the preface he states, that not many of the reformed religion were found who were qualified or had leisure to write books of cases of conscience. “Some of the Lutherans “ had indeed done something in this kind, “ which was well ;' Baldwin, Bidenbach, “ Dedekan, Konig, and the Abbreviator of « Gerard: some essays, also had been made " by others; Alsted, Ames, Perkins, and Hall “ the eloquent and reverend Bishop of Nor“ wich.” But yet there was great need of further labours in this department of theology. “ We could not be well supplied out of the “ Roman store-houses : for though there the “ staple was, and many excellent things were “ there exposed to view ; yet the merchants “ were found to be deceivers, and the wares “ too often falsified.” This he shews by , many instances which he draws into view ;

and exposes the many defects that existed in

It was published in June 1660, see Kennet's Reg. p. 193, in Lond.

mre.

moral theology, by subtle but false disputa. tion. « Beata cetas quce in vita hominum regenda, totam disputandi rationem posuit.Blessed are the times in which men learn to dispute well that they may live the better. And truly it were much to be wished that men would do so now; endeavouring to teach the ways of Godliness in sincerity, to shew to men the right paths of salvation ; to describe the right and plain measures of simplicity, christian charity, chastity, temperance, and justice; to unwind the intanglements of art, and to strip moral theology of all its visors; to detract all the falshoods and hypocrisies of crafty men; to confute all the false principles of evil teachers, who by uncertain and deceitful grounds teach men to walk confidently upon trap-doors and pit-falls, and preach doctrines so dangerous and false, that if their disciples would live according to the consequents of such doctrines, without doubt they must perish everlastingly. .

Taylor was conscious it was a great work which he undertook, and too heavy for one man's shoulders ; but (he argued) somebody must begin ; and yet no man ever would, if he were to be frighted with the consideration of any difficulty. He laid aside all consider: ation of himself, and with an entire confidence in God for help, he began this institution of moral theology, and established it upon such principles and instruments of probation as every man allows, and better than which we have none imparted to us. He affirms nothing but upon grounds of scripture, or universal tradition, or right reason discernable by every disinterested person, where the questions are of great concern, and can admit of these probations : where they cannot, he takes the next in value; the laws of wise commonwealths and the sayings of wise men, the results of fame and the proverbs of the ancients, the precedents of holy persons, and the great examples of saints.

He laid down for himself general measures to be as boundaries to the determination of doubts and the answer of questions; and by observing these, his error, if any happened, must be very innocent. For in hard and intricate questions he takes that which is plain and intelligible, and concerning which it would be easy to judge whether it be right or wrong. In odious things and matters of burden and envy, he adopts that part which is

« PreviousContinue »