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THE true Character of Monsieur DRELINCOURT, the Author of
these excellent Meditations, we find published by Dr. Bayle, in his
great “ Historical Dictionary,” &c. as followeth : CHA
HARLES DRELINCOURT, minister of the church of
Paris, was born the 10th of July, at Sedan, where his father was admitted to an honourable office, being Secretary to Henry Robert de la Mark, Duke of Bouillon and Sovereign Prince of Sedan; afterwards he was advanced to be Secretary to the ehief Council of that city. His son Charles was put to study ethics and divinity in that University, but was sent to Saumur, to complete his philosophy under Mr. Duncan. He was or." dained minister in June, 1618, and began the exercise of his function near Langres, continuing there until he was called to the church of Paris in March, 1620. He was married in the year 1625, to an only child of a rich merchant of Paris, called Monsieur Balduck, who had newly embraced the Protestant religion. Providence blessed him and his wife with a numerous issue, he having had sixteen children by her; and gave no less saccess to his ministry. His sermons were very powerful : but his chief talent was in comforting the sick, and performing all other necessary offices of a careful pastor. He was very faithful and zealous, in respect of his own congregation and others; his judgment being always desired in matters of moment. We cannot sufficiently commend the services he hath rendered to the church of God by the many writings he hath published, whether we examine his books of devotion, or of controversy. There is so much piety contained in the former, and so many excellent texts of scripture explained in the latter, that many religious persons both have, and daily do, find seasonable consolation. That which he hath written against the church of Rome, hath wonderfully strengthened the Protestant professors : for by the arguments that he brings, the ignorant and unlearned have been able to confound the Monks and Priests, and to maintain the principles of their religion against the subtilest missionaries; so that his writings have caused him to be esteemed the Scourge of the Roman Disputants. Nevertheless, as he was beloved of the contrary party, so he was highly esteemed by the greatest Lords of the reformed religion, as the Duke de la Force, the mareschals
of Chatillon, De Gastion, and Turenne, and by the Lady De la Tremouille, &c. He had also great respect paid him by the frequent visits of ambassadors from several foreign Princes and States. He was a person who expressed a particular esteem and veneration for the church of England, as appears by his Letters to Dr. Durell. He died the 3d of November, 1666, in such an excellent and devout disposition of nind, as may be expected in a person who was animated with an holy zeal, and had, with an unwearied diligence, consecrated all his study and labours to the glory of God, and the service of his church. He was more frequent in prayer towards the conclusion of his life : and when he was private and alone, he never heard the clock strike, but he fell upon his kness in prayer to God.
This is the approved character published of our eminent divine. After a long experience and practice amongst departing souls, and in the houses of mourning, at the request of some of his congregation, who mightily approved of the proper and seasonable arguments that he made use of to fortify dying persons against the apprehensions of death, suitable to the conditions and temper, he published his Book of Consolations. About twenty editions have been printed in France, and one at Avignon, in the Pope's dominions, with a suppression of the reverend author's name. How many impressions have been published in Holland, Germany, and elsewhere, I cannot determine. We find it translated into several languages, but was not in our mother tongue, until, at the request of the author's son, late Dean of Armagh in Ireland, I translated it into English. What reception it hath met with amongst us, let this twenty-sixth impression declare. I shall therefore judge it needless, after so many public testimonies of an universal approbation, amongst Christians of all professions, to speak any thing in commendation of this Defence against the Fears of Death. How serviceable it may be to divines in funeral sermons, in visiting the sick, the poor, and afflicted, and how proper to be left as legacies to surviving friends, at funerals, I leave others to judge, who shall sincerely desire to promote the salvation of souls.
And now I cannot but take some notice here of the high esteem and commendation that a late Apparition, too well attested to be slighted, hath given of this book. An exact account of it you have in the printed relation hereunto prefixed. To reject all narratives of this kind as fictitious, argues, in my judgment, as great an error, weakness, and prejudice, as to be. lieve all that is reported of apparitions. This comes to us clothed with all the appearance and circumstances of truth, that may reasonably be expected in this case. So that none but an unbelieving Sadducee, or a profane Atheist, will offer to question the reality. To confirm the possibility and truth of some apparitions, none can deny, that by this means our good God hath conveyed and confirmed to us several of the mysteries of our holy religion ; as, the conception, birth, incarnation, re. surrection, and glorious ascension, of our great Messiah, by the apparition of angels. And how often those heavenly spirits were formerly visible in human shapes for the advantage, infor. mation, and safeguard, of the pious, the word of God sufficiently declares. Now, as we live in such an incredulous age, that will not believe God and his divine oracles, though attested by the working of miracles, concerning the future state of the righteous and wicked, but requires a new testimony and evi. dence, as the return of souls from the dead, to witness the happiness of heaven, the torments of hell, and the immortality of the soul ; who knows, but to render men more inexcusable, God may condescend that a departed soul, or its good angel in its stead, may appear to declare these infallible and undoubted truths to an unbelieving world? But we find by experience, as in this case, that this kind of evidence is far more liable to exceptions, to be contradicted and rejected, as uncertain and fabulous, and sooner than the sacred methods that our wise God hath taken to persuade men to the divine doctrines of our salvation:as Abraham declares in the parable of the rich glutton condemned to the flames of hell, if they will not believe Moses and the prophets ; we may with more reason add, if they will not believe Christ and his apostles, and so many wonderful miracles attesting God's omnipotency and revelations from above, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.
I must here acquaint my reader, that whereas in the former impressions of this book some errata have escaped, whereby the author's sense and meaning may not be so clearly expressed as in the original ; and whereas also, upon some subjects, our reve
rend rend author distates the reader by too frequent repetitions in his prayers, containing matters and arguments of the foregoing chapters; these and such trivial objections have caused several persons to find fault, not only with the translation, but even with the book itself. To remedy, therefore, any thing of this nature, and to prevent all complaints of this kind, and that so excellent and useful a Treatise may appear in our own proper and natural language, not differing in any thing material from the French copy; but suited, as much as conveniently it may be, to the nicer palates of our present age; I have in this edition taken the pains to compare this Translation with a book printed at Berlin, the court of the King of Prussia, 1698. I have been in this more exact, and have altered some words and phrases, expressing more plainly the author's meaning, and in terms more agreeable with our present familiar way of speaking. Be. sides, in this edition of Berlin, I have met with two or three passages which are not in the former French impressions, and which I judged not convenient to be omitted. Some of the prayers that seemed too prolis, I have abbreviated, comprehending only the principal matters. And that nothing may be wanted in this edition, that might more contribute to the reader's satisfaction, I have here rendered in English the last remarkable passages of this pious and excellent minister of Christ, never before printed in our own tongue, as we find them at the end of the forementioned book; that ye may here at once, as in a mirror, see the behaviour, religious speeches, faith, patience, and resignation to the will of God, of our reverend divine at his decease, reduced into practice, accord. ing to the excellent advices and consolations that he recom. mends to us, to arm ourselves against the apprehensions and approaches of death.
I have no more to add : But I beseech our merciful and heavenly Father to grant us all the grace, the like faith, and christian resolution, that we may not fear death, nor its consequences, but may be always ready prepared and provided to embrace it with joy and submission to the pleasure of God, and the decrees of heaven, whenever our almighty Creator and Re. deemer sball think fit to summon us, and to take us to himself.