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THE

GREAT IMPORTANCE

OF

A RELIGIOUS LIFE

CONSIDERED;

TO WHICH ARE ADDED SOME

MORNING AND EVENING PRAYERS.

1666-1943

BY WILLIAM MELMOTH, Esq.

KING'S COUNSEL AND A BENCHER OF LINCOLN'S INN IN THE REIGNS OF GEORGE I.
AND GEORGE II.

A New Edition,

WITH A MEMOIR OF THE AUTHOR PREFIXED,

AND

FOUR APPENDICES:

I. MISCELLANEOUS NOTES.

II. REMARKABLE PERSONS BURIED IN THE CLOISTER UNDER LINCOLN'S INN CHAPEL.
III. SHORT NOTICES OF PRELATES AND EMINENT DIVINES WHO HAVE BEEN
PREACHERS TO THE SOCIETY OF LINCOLN'S INN.

IV. SERMONS PREACHED AT THE WARBURTONIAN LECTURE IN LINCOLN'S INN
CHAPEL WHICH HAVE BEEN PRINTED.

BY

CHARLES PURTON COOPER, ESQ.,

ONE OF HER MAJESTY'S COUNSEL AND A BENCHER OF LINCOLN'S INN.

LONDON:

PRINTED BY C. ROWORTH AND SONS,
BELL YARD, TEMPLE BAR.

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"PERHAPS few persons have deserved more of posterity than William Melmoth, Esquire, a Bencher of Lincoln's Inn and a celebrated pleader, who made his profession the means of doing mankind every service that religion could dictate. From the rich he received the reward of his skill of the widow, the fatherless, and him that had none to help him,' he would take nothing. Indeed, he passed a most useful and blameless life. His whole time was employed in doing good, or meditating it;' and how could it more appear than in the excellent work he composed, The Great Importance of a Religious Life, a work which had gone through many large editions, and of which 42,000 copies had been sold in the eighteen years preceding 1784, and still continues to sell. What must infidelity think of this? A genuine work of acknowledged worth, recommending religion, published by an author, who was so far from displaying himself as such, that it has been but lately known with certainty who wrote the Treatise, which still continues to have, as it well deserves, an extensive sale. How different is this from the tinsel wickedness we see sent forth by philosophizing infidels; their names are emblazoned, their praises inflated; new title-pages make new editions, with all the arts and tricks of their partizans; while religion shows its importance, by calling for the modest, nameless author's work, to conduct the Christian to his God. Go, infidel, and blush!"-The Rev. Mark Noble's Continuation of the Rev. J. Grainger's Biographical History of England from the Revolution to the End of the Reign of George I., vol. iii. p. 320.

"IT is a somewhat singular circumstance that the real author of that most admirable treatise The Great Importance of a Religious Life should for a long time have not

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been publicly known. It had been so commonly attributed to John Perceval, the first Earl of Egmont, particularly by Lord Orford, in his Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors, that in 1779, I without hesitation ascribed it to that nobleman in the Supplement to Swift, an error which, in 1782, was readily retracted. * Let Mr. Melmoth's name, therefore, be handed down to posterity with the honour it so eminently deserves." -Nichols's Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century, vol. iii. p. 38.

* App. A, note 1.

EDITOR'S PREFACE.

MELMOTH was born in 1666. More than half a century after his death, his accomplished son, the Author of the Letters on several Subjects, published under the assumed name "the late Sir Thomas Fitz Osborne, Bart.," and the Translator of Pliny's Letters, Cicero's Letters, &c., printed some particulars of his father under the title of Memoirs of a late eminent Advocate and Member of the Honorable Society of Lincoln's Inn. 1796. 8vo. pp.72. The Memoir accompanying the present edition of The great Importance of a Religious Life Considered is, with the exception of some few phrases and words, copied from those Memoirs. The brevity of the Memoir as here printed, when compared with the Memoirs of 1796, is occasioned principally, although not entirely, by the omission of the anonymous letter mentioned post, p. 17; the correspondence with the Rev. Mr. Norris, mentioned post, p. 21; and the anonymous letter to Archbishop

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