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family, and to determine that their wants were to be consulted before his own to exhaust not only his pecuniary treasures, but (what was a much more painful sacrifice) to sell his library, the only alleviation of his solitary hours, for their support—these are instances of wonderful benevolence and zeal, that ought to be carefully recorded, even if the person who exhibited them had vo other claim to celebrity. But when to these we add Skelton's literary labours in the cause of Christian truth and holiness, we must acknowledge that he is entitled to all the renown, which the union of virtue and talent can bestow. Egit scribenda, legenda scripsit.
The Life of Skelton was written by Samuel Burdy, of Trinity College, Dublin, who, having enjoyed the friendship of our Author, was able to execute the task of Biographer, with the advantage of a considerable fund of accurate and interesting information. Of his materials he has made excellent use; but we cannot speak with much praise of his style. Awkward, and mean phraseology might have been overlooked ; but when we found indecent, and almost profane expressions, we considered it our duty to expunge them; although, in getting rid of these, we took care not in the least to injure the substance of the Life.
The Works of Skelton himself we have given as we found them, having scrupulously abstained from making any alteration whatever. It will be a great satisfaction to us (and we think a service to the public), if, by this Edition, or from any other circumstance, the Works of Skelton should become more generally known. All who have perased them,
are delighted with, and value them, most highly; but from the obscurity of his condition, and because the sphere of his labours was confined to the sister kingdom, he has not obtained, in England, that extensive perusal which he deserves. Of the number of our Theological writers we cannot justly coinplain : but many of them teach so drily and tediously, that they never persuade, and others write so vaguely that they never instruct. Skelton seems to have had in view all the excellences of a divine orator, whose scope should be to teach clearly, to convince strongly, and to persuade powerfully.* Closely conversant with the Scriptures, and deeply imbued with their spirit, he explains the truths of religion perspicuously, and without any compromise or reservation. He is too full of sense and argument to be shallow; and, at the same time, his manner is too lively to admit the intrusion of dulness. With a vehemence arising from a deep conviction of the truth of Christianity, and from the sincerity of his own practice, he exerts a power of persuasion which none can resist, unless they have closed and seared their hearts against all the tender and solemn motives of religion.
* Bishop Wilkins's Ecclesiastes.