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THE following publication arose out of a suggestion made to me a considerable time ago, that a work of such a description, as is professed in the title page, composed, not in dialogue after the manner of Mr. Nelson's “ Companion to the Festivals,” but in narrative, and in a style more suited to the literary taste of the present day, would be acceptable and useful to the publick. I approved of the suggestion, but was prevented by other engagements from adopting it. After the lapse however of several years, finding the want still unsupplied, and feeling myself sufficiently at leisure from official duties, I turned my attention more seriously to the subject, and the result is now offered to publick acceptance.
In the BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICES I have endeavoured to give a familiar, compendious, and, so far as circumstances would permit, an authentick account of those holy persons, whom it pleased the divine Providence to employ as bis instruments for the first preaching of Christianity to the world, and whom our national Church judges worthy of an annual commemoration. All the information, which the early writers of the Church furnish
this subject, is to be found in Dr. Cave's “Lives of the Apostles,” from which Mr. Nelson derived the materials for the historical part of bis
Companion to the Festivals ;" and still more fully in Dr. Lardner's Works, especially his “ Supplement to the second part of the Credibility of the Gospel history; containing a history of the Apostles and Evangelists, writers of the New Testament."
But neither of these works is in the hands, or for the use, of the general reader. Mr. Nelson observed with respect to Dr. Cave, that his “ criticisms of the history of the Apostles are more proper to enter tain the curiosity of the learned, than the devotion of well-disposed minds ;” and be accordingly omitted them from his own compilation. A similar observation applies in a still greater degree to the very laborious, learned, and critical collections of Dr. Lardner. These publications therefore appeared by no means to supersede such a work as the present, the object of which, like that of Mr. Nelson, is rather to answer the inquiries, and to encourage the devotion, of the ordinary reader, than to satisfy the deeper views of the theological proficient; but they at the same time were judged capable of supplying an invaluable fund of materials, out of which such a work as the present might be constructed.
In the construction of my work Dr. Cave's and Dr. Lardner's volumes have been of course continually before me. Besides this general acknowledgment of my obligation to them, particular references will frequently be found in the ensuing pages :
for I have for the most part mentioned the author, when any thing was taken which appeared to require special reference ; particularly where citations were made of early writers, quoted through the medium of Dr. Cave or Dr. Lardner. I might indeed have easily given references to the original authors themselves : but I did not wish to burden my page with such references unnecessarily, or to make an ostentatious display of them: conceiving that they would be of little or no use to the kind of readers, for whom my work is principally designed ; and that, if in
any an opportunity of consulting the original document should be desired, it would be supplied through the channel to wbich reference is given. Use likewise has been occasionally made of other authors, principally ritualists and scriptural commentators; and they are generally referred to at the time. It may however have occurred now and then, that assistance has been derived and not acknowledged on the particular occasion.
In putting together my materials I have endeavoured to discriminate between such accounts, as appeared well authenticated or probable, and such as appeared to rest on a false or uncertain foundation. Of the former I have spoken with more confidence: of the latter doubtfully or transiently; or have perhaps passed them by in silence.
It will be observed, possibly to the inconvenience of the Reader, that these BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICES differ from each other in extent; a necessary consequence of the comparatively copious information, which the sacred writings and ecclesiastical history furnish concerning some of the Apostles, and the very scanty mention which they make of others. Whatever convenience might be the result of submitting the notices of St. John, St. Paul, and St. Peter on the one hand, and those of St. Matthias and St. Simon on the other, to the Procrustean operation of reducing or extending them to the same