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cannot but promise my self, Tou will taste the sweet Refreshments they bring, if these Meditations shall be allowed the Privilege of bearing you Company in your most melancholy Retirements.
My Dehgn in Publishing this Book, as it now appears, was to recommend, and render it serviceable to all Christian Readers in general. But among Them there is not Any, in contributing to whose Benefit and Satisfaction I should esteem my Labours more fuccessfully answered, than to Tours. Who have by So many Instances of Goodness obliged me to be with all possible Sincerity and Respect,
T HE Reputation of this Little Book,
with which the Reader is here presented; - seems abundantly established, by the great Pains taken to communicate it to Mankind, in most Languages of the Christian World. But since the English Version hitherto in use, was in fome Places grown obfelete, and in many fell short of that Life and Spirit requisite for such Devotional Tracts, it was thought expedient to recommend it by a' Style 'more modern, and a little better fuited to Subjects of this Nature.
In this Attempt the Latin of Castellio is chiefly followed ; He hath taken fome liberty in places peculiarly relating to the Romish Superstitions. And the present Tranflator hath rrot only trodden in his Steps thus far ; but, in the Chapters whichi concern a Monkish Life particularly, hath endeavoured fo to express himself for the most part, as that such Meditations might be accommodaged to the Circumstances of any Pious Christian,
A 3 : who
who declines the Pleasures and Business, and other Interruptions of the World, and sequesters himself to the Exercise of Devotion and severer Virtues.
This was thought most agreeable to the great Design he had in view, That of rendring these Reflections of general Use to the World. For which reason also, he hath not been nicely close in many of the Flights usual with these Contemplative and Mystical Divines. Thinking it better, either to give those Rapturous Passages another Turn; or, by Additions and Illustrations of his own, to bring them down to the common Condition of Human Life, and fit them for the Mouths of every Sincere Practical Christian.
In order to preserve the Zeal and Spirit of the Author, it was found necessary, sometimes to abridge, and at others to enlarge a Thought, and carry it a little higher. All which the Reader hath this Warning of, to prevent any Objections which might otherwise be raised against the Faithfulness of an Undertaking ; Intended not so much to acquaint Englishmen what Kempis thought , as to convey those Thoughts with some degree of that Sprightliness and Affectionate Warmth which the Original Composer at first felt from them.
And because the Reader will perhaps expect some Account of Him, here follows in brief the Substance of what Rosweid hath delivered concerning him.
“ This Thomas was called à Kempis from a little *“ Village of that Name, in the Diocese of Cologne, “where he was born in the Year of our Lord 1 308. “His Parentage and Fortune were mean; AtThir“ teen Years old he began his Studies, and about “ Nineteen betook himself to a Monastery of Aw“gustin Monks ; About Five and twenty he took “ the Habit of that House and Order. There he “ continued for the space of Seventy Years, par“ ticularly eminent for his Piety, Humility, dili“ gent Study of the Holy Scriptures, Austerity of “ Life, moving Eloquence in Discourse, and ex“traordinary Zeal in Prayer. For his Person, He “ was of middle Stature of a strong brown Com“ plexion, a lively piercing Eye ; and a Sight so " good, that tho he laboured much under other “ Infirmities of old Age, yet he was never redu. I “ ced to the use of Spectacles. He died July 25. “1471. in the Ninety second Year of his Age.
As to the Dispute, whether this Book were of his Composition, I am content to submit to common Fame, and leave him in quiet possession, not seeing of what consequence it can be, to call his Title in question, or examine into the Merits of other Pretenders.