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CONTAINING A BRIEF ACCOUNT OF HIS LIFE AND DEATH.
FOURTH EDITION CORRECTED AND REVISED.
HENRY GRIFFIN WILLIAMS, B.D.
MEMBER OF THE ROYAL ASIATIC SOCIETY OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND,
Edited for the Syndics of the University Press
̓Αποθανὼν ἔτι λαλεῖται.—Heb. xi. 4.
AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS.
101. h. 103.
THE present edition of the Select Discourses of John Smith is based on the first edition, published in 1660, compared with the last, published in 1821. During the interval between these dates only one other complete edition made its appearance (1673). The Preface by Dr John Worthington, to whose care the Author's papers were committed after his death, contains all the requisite information respecting the preparation of them for the Press. Notwithstanding the learning and industry bestowed by him upon the task, the first edition of the Discourses abounds in errors, and of these scarcely one had been corrected by subsequent editors. The Discourse on Prophecy, the most learned of all, and that by which the Author is best known, was translated into Latin, and prefixed by Le Clerc to his Commentary on the Prophets, all the errors of the original, which are neither few nor trifling, still remaining.
In the present edition, the references have been carefully examined, and, in several instances, assigned to the right authors in place of others to whom they had been incorrectly attributed. The labour involved in such corrections has been considerable, and the Editor is largely indebted to his brother, James B. S. Williams, Esq., M.A.,
for extensive research and acute investigation in tracing out and correcting numerous quotations.
For the short account of the Author, the parish Register of Achurch, and the documents preserved in Emmanuel College and Queens' College have been examined, and have supplied the means of correcting and enlarging the former very brief memoir, while Patrick's Autobiography has furnished additional interesting facts.
PRESTON RECTORY, SUFFOLK,
MEMOIR OF THE AUTHOR.
THE materials for the Life of John Smith, the Author
of the Select Discourses, are few and scanty. While ample testimony is borne by his contemporaries to the high tone of his character, and while his published works bear the stamp of the mind of the philosopher, the learning of the divine, and the piety of the saint, the events by which his brief life was diversified are little known. His writings themselves fail, in any degree, to supply the deficiency. Conjecture alone can aid us in determining the steps by which the son of the humble Northamptonshire farmer became the valued friend of Cudworth and Patrick, the light and ornament of his generation, and the teacher of succeeding ages.
John Smith was the son of John and Catharine Smith, and was born at Achurch, a small village near Oundle, in Northamptonshire, not later than the early part of the year 1616. His parents were advanced in life at the time of his birth', and his mother died during his infancy. His father was a small farmer residing at
1 Patrick's Funeral Sermon. 2 The above facts, relating to the birth and parentage of John Smith, rest upon the following extracts from the Parish Register of Achurch.
Burials. April 4th, 1616, Katharine Smith, the wife of John Smith.' Christenings. Feb. 15th, 1617. John Smith, son of John Smith.'
If these names refer to our Author and his parents, and there can be no reasonable
doubt that they do so, John Smith was somewhat older at the time of his death than Patrick states. But Patrick is inconsistent with himself on this point in his autobiography, and his funeral sermon. In an extremely brief memoir of our Author by Lord Hailes, his birth is erroneously stated to have taken place in 1618. Kennet (Reg. and Chronicle, p. 127) states that his father's name was John Smith.