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With this exception, the editor is not aware of any genuine edition, since the third, which was published in 1712; improved by the author's final corrections,* and the addition of a sermon, preached by himself, on the death of his honoured mother.
A new and valuable, but abridged republication, appeared in 1765, under the superintendence of the Rev. Job Orton. The copy which he used on that occasion, t with the alterations, in his own hand, being in the possession of Mr. Stedman, through his kindness, an opportunity was afforded to the present editor, of noticing the great extent of the variations. It was dedicated,--" To the Descendants and other Relations of Mr. Philip Henry;" and, in the opinion there expressed, most readers will concur. “I esteem it,” says Mr. Orton,
one of the chief excellencies of this book, that it is, as the author hints in his Preface, the history of a person, who manifested such an eminence of piety, prudence, humility, zeal, and moderation, as would have adorned the highest station, and is scarcely to be equalled. He is, therefore, a suitable, and bright example to persons of every rank, as well as an admirable model for the ministers of the gospel.” I
Of the second edition of the original work, a reimpression has lately been given by a dignitary of the
* 1711-12, January 22. I began to read over my father's Life, to correct it for the press. Rev. Matthew Henry's Diary. Orig. MS.
+ The first edition, 1698.
Dedication, pp. iv. v. See Mr. Griffin's Sermon on “ The Decline of Religion," oct. 1812, p. 68. Mr. Henry's Life is there urgently recommended to ministers.
Printed in 1699.
Established Church, * Dr. Wordsworth; who, in his Preface, has observed, that, “ if he could any where have found nonconformity united with more christian graces than in Philip Henry,” the example should have obtained its station in the work.
Various other editions, both Scotch and English, more or less inaccurate, might be enumerated, but the supply can furnish no reason for withholding one more correct, and enlarged.
A minute detail of the sources whence the new materials have been derived, has been deemed unnecessary. Nor has it been thought expedient to distinguish, in every instance, the particular nature of the manuscript resorted to.
The diary, in compliance with well-established custom, is uniformly pointed out. A few, but immaterial alterations have been made; such as occasional abridgments, and transpositions, and the completion of, here and there, a sentence. Sometimes obsolete words or phrases have been changed, or expunged.
In general,—“to prevent any repellent effect, it was thought advisable to adopt the modern orthography.” In two instances, the one a letter from Lady Puleston, the other from Mrs. Henry, the original spelling has been retained.
Being favoured with nearly the whole of the Life, in Mr. Matthew Henry's hand-writing, † the editor has, by
See Ecclesiastical Biography; or, Lives of Eminent Men connected with the History of Religion in England, by Christopher Wordsworth, M. A. Dean and Rector of Bocking, (now D. D. and Master of Trinity College, Cambridge,) in 6 vols. oct. 1810.
+ Ju the possession of Mr. Witton.
The following notice of the undertaking, iu a letter to the Rev. F. Tallents, shows the author's anxious desire of accuracy :
collating, been enabled to make such comparisons, and additions, as to insure uniform accuracy.
As to the general plan, much difficulty was felt; but, to have made alterations, or to have done otherwise than reprint, would have been to destroy the charm which will ever attend the volume, as a memorial of strict fidelity and filial affection; as distinguished, also, by an enviable simplicity, and a naïveté * of expression, in perfect unison with the subject.
Objections may arise to such large additions to the
Chester, November 21, 1696. “If this find you, as I trust it will, somewhat revived, let it also acquaint you, that I am over-persuaded myself to put together what materials we have of my dear father's life, wherein I shall, as well as I can, pursue the directions you gave me; when it is done, (and it is not yet begun,) I shall submit it to your censure, and desire you to put a short preface before it. I purpose, in a chapter by itself, to give some very short accounts of his friends, and brethren in the ministry, that went to heaven before him, having materials for it out of his own diary; only, I do not remember that I met with any thing there concerning Mr. Hildersham, of Feltou, who yet, I know, was his great friend. When you are at leisure, I shall be glad to have from you two or three lines concerning him, particnlarly his age, and the time of his death ; and, whether he ordered this to be his epitaph, (as I think I have heard,)— Here lyes S. H. Minister of Welsh Felton,'till August 24, 1662.” Matthew Henry. Orig. MS. British Museum, fol. No. 4275. Plut. 111. E. Bibl. Birch.
* It was not till after the above paragraph was written, that the editor noticed, in the History of Dissenters, by Messrs. Bogue and Bennett, vol. 2, p. 295, a like statement. The Rev. Master of Trinity College has adopted a different phraseology. He says of the work in question,“ It abounds somewhat too largely in certain quaintnesses of expression introduced into religious snbjects, and affected by the puritanical divines." Eccl. Biog. v. 6, p. 109, ut supra. If it be here intended to insinuate that qnaintness of expression was peculiar to the puritans, a query at once presents itself as to Bishops Latimer, and Andrews, and Fell, the Poet Herbert, and other eminent episcopalians. See Post. p. 437.
Were they puritanical divines ? And was Sir Edward Coke of the same fraternity ? Mr. Justice Blackstone says.—The great oracle was not a little infected with quaintness.” Comment. v. 1. Introd. 9. 3, p. 71 ; 15th ed. The truth is, that, in those times, to adopt a remark made by Mr. Nichols in his Preface to the improved edition of Fuller's Worthies of England,—“ Quaintness was the characteristick of almost every writer of eminence.”
original volume, and it may be feared that the editor, through partiality, or for other reasons, has been led to introduce passages too unimportant for publicity. He hopes, however, to stand acquitted, at all events, by those who regard his end, and that, on perusal, the book will display somewhat of watchful caution for the avoidance of such an error. He does not expect, indeed, that all will approve, either the plan adopted, or the selections furnished. It would be difficult, perhaps impossible, to arrange, or extract from, a mass of theological effusions, like Mr. Henry's, so as to give universal satisfaction. Nothing is made publick, it is hoped, which can justly be deemed offensive to a discriminating judgment, inconsistent with a due regard * to the venerated writer, or prejudicial to the interests of that charity for which he was so deservedly famed. To suppress
what appeared fitted more fully to develop Mr. Henry's character, was deemed improper. And, more especially so, as it was considered, that, to give prominence to his sentiments on a variety of topicks, would render more exemplary, and more instructive, his moderation and candour; virtues which, drawn into exercise by difference of judgment, impart gracefulness to the determinations of a well-regulated mind, give weight to argument, and attraction to christianity.
Excerpts of a nature so devout, and so practical as those, ordinarily introduced, appear, it is thought, with advantage in connexion with the events of their writer's life. They illustrate and enforce each other. Letters, particularly when fraught with evangelick sentiment,
* See Mr. Scott's Commentary, Deut. xxxiv. Practical Observations,
and adapted for general utility, are usually much esteemed, and, for biographical purposes, are invaluable.
“ Epistolæ vitam ipsam hominis repræsentant.”
Letters, therefore, constitute a large proportion of the additions. For the sake of more convenient arrangement, these, with some other enlargements, have been interwoven with the original text, but, for easier distinction, are separated by brackets.
Many of the papers, thus exhibited, being scattered when the Life was originally written, were, probably, unknown to Mr. Henry's biographer. Various causes, too, which might, at that time, have rendered omissions prudent, have now ceased to exist. We are, happily, removed to a distance from the irritations peculiar to i that afflicted æra;-a kindly feeling of brotherly love, between christians of different parties, has gradually been diffused;—the rights of conscience are more widely recognized, and better understood, and an agreement to differ is acknowledged practically, as well as in theory, to suit human affairs better than the prejudices of ignorance, the penalties of legislative enactments, or the dogmas of assumed infallibility.
The work, abounding with allusions, required references to other compositions, and, frequently, extracts from them. The reader will perceive, that an effort has been made to supply illustrations, wherever practicable, from manuscripts hitherto unpublished; and, that brevity has been studied throughout.
See Post. p. 462.