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was an observation of one of the wisest of men, " that the soul be without knowledge, it is not good.” Knowledge, in a great measure, forms the true dignity and happiness of man: It is that by which he holds an honourable rank in the scale of being, and by which he is rendered capable of adding to the felicity of his fellow-creatures. Every attempt, therefore, to enlarge its boundaries, and facilitate its acquisition, must be considered as worthy of our attention and regard. The present work is designed to promote these valuable and important ends.
The plan of conveying knowledge by dictionaries has been long established, and well received in the republic of letters. A dictionary, however, of a religious and ecclesiastical nature was still a desideratum in the religious world; for although we have had dictionaries which explained scripture terms, yet it is evident these could not embrace the history of the church since the sacred canon was concluded, nor explain the many terms which have been used; nor, indeed, point out the various sects and denominations which have subsisted since that tirne. I do not mean, by these remarks, to depreciate the valuable works above referred to : I am sensible of their excellencies, and I have no wish to undervalue them in order to exalt my own. This work, however, is of a different nature, as the reader will easily see, if he take the trouble to compare and examine.
There may, doubtless, be defects in this publication which may have escaped my attention : but whoever cansiders the various looks that must have been consulted; the discriminations that were necessary to be made; the patient investigation required ; and the toil of selecting, transcribing, and composing, must be convinced that it has been attended with no small difficulty. The advantages, however, which my own mind derived from the work, and the probability of its being useful to others, greatly encouraged me in its prosecution. Besides, to be active, to be useful, to do something for the good of mankind, I have always considered as the honour of an intelligent being. It is not the student wrapt up in metaphysical subtilties; it is not the
recluse living in perpetual solitude; it is not the miser who is continually amassing wealth, that can be considered as the greatest ornaments or the greatest blessings to human society :-it is rather the useful than the shining talent that is to be coveted.
Perhaps it may be said, the work is tinctured too much with my own sentiments, and that the theology is too antiquated to please a liberal, philosophizing, and refined age. In answer to this, I observe, that I could do no other, as an honest man, than communicate what I believed to be the truth. It is a false liberality to acquiesce with every man's opinion, to fall in with every man's scheme, to trifle with error, or imagine there is no difference between one sentiment and another; yet, notwithstanding this declaration, I trust the features of bigotry are not easily discernible in this work; and that, while I have endearoured to carry the torch of Truth in my hand, I have not forgotten to walk in the path of Candour.
It is almost needless here to say, that I have availed myself of all the writings of the best and most eminent authors I could obtain. Whatever has struck me as of importance in ecclesiastical history; whatever good and accurate in definition ; whatever just views of the passions of the human mind; whatever terms used in the religious world ; and whatever instructive and impressive in the systems of divinity and moral philosophy, I have endeavoured to incorporate in this work. And in order to prevent its being a dry detail of terms and of dates, I have given the substance of what has been generally advanced on each subject, and occasionally selected some of the most interesting and practical passages from our best and celebrated sermons. I trust, therefore, it will not only be of use to inform the mind, but impress the heart ; and thus promote the real good of the reader. The Critic, however may be disposed to be severe ; and it will, perhaps, be easy for him to observe imperfections. But be this as it may: I can assure him I feel myself happy in the idea that the work is not intended to serve a party, to encourage bigotry, or strengthen prejudice, but “for the service of Truth, by one who would be glad to attend and grace her triumphs; as her soldier, if he has had the honour to serve successfully under her banner; or as a captive tied to her chariotwheels, if he has, though undesignedly, committed any offence against her.” After all, however, what a learned author said of another work I say of this :-“ If it have merit it will go down to posterity ; if it have none, the sooner it dies and is forgot the better."
A THEOLOGICAL DICTIONARY.
a Syriac word, signify-llinto a state of holy freedom, might ing Father. It is more particu-Iconsequently address God as their larly used in the Syriac, Coptic, and Father. Ethiopic churches, as a title given ABBESS, the superior of an abto the bishops. The bishops them- bey or convent of nuns. The abbess selves bestowed the title Abba more has the same rights and authority eminently on the bishop of Alex-lover her nuns that the abbots reandria, which occasioned the people gular have over their monks. The to give him the title of Baba, or sex, indeed, does not allow her to Papa; that is, Grandfather: a title perform the spiritual functions anwhich he bore before the bishop of nexed to the priesthood, whereRome. It is a Jewish title of with the abbot is usually invested; honour given to certain Rabbins but there are instances of some abcalled Tanaites : it is also used by besses who have a right, or rather some writers of the middle age a privilege, to commission a priest for the superior of a monastery. to act for them. They have even Saint Mark and Saint Paul use thisla kind of episcopal jurisdiction, word in their Greek, Mark xiv, 36. Jas well as some abbots who are Rom viii, 15. Gal iv, 6, because lexempted from the visitation of it was then commonly known in their diocesan. the synagogues and the primitive ABBEY, a monastery, governassemblies of the christians. It is led by a superior under the title of thought by Selden, Witsius, Dod-Abbot or Abbess. Monasteries dridge, and others, that Saint Paul were at first nothing more than realluded to a law among the Jewsligious houses, whither persons rewhich forbade servants or slaves tired from the bustle of the world to call their master Abba, or Fa- to spend their time in solitude and ther; and that the apostle meant|devotion; but they soon degeneratto convey the idea that those who led from their original institution, believed in Christ were no longer and procured large privileges, slaves to sin; but, being brought exemptions, and riches. They VOL. I.
prevailed greatly in Britain before|| were laymen, and subject to the the reformation, particularly in bishop and ordinary pastors. England ; and as they increased Their monasteries being remote in riches, so the state became from cities, and built in the farthest poor, for the lands which these solitudes, they had no share in regulars possessed could never fecclesiastical affairs; but, there revert to the lords who gave them.being among them several persons These places where wholly abolish- of learning, they were called out ed by Henry VIII. He first ap- of their deserts by the bishops, pointed visitors to inspect into the land fixed in the suburbs of the cilives of the monks and nuns, which ties; and at length in the cities were found in some places very| themselves. From that time they disorderly ; upon which the ab- degenerated, and, learning to be bots, perceiving their dissolution ambitious, aspired to be indepenunavoidable, were induced to re-dent of the bishops, which occasign their houses to the king, who sioned some severe laws to be by that means became invested made against them.
At length, with the abbey lands: these were|| however, the abbots carried their afterwards granted to different point, and obtained the title of persons, whose descendants enjoy lord, with other badges of the them at this day: they were then episcopate, particularly the mivalued at 2,853,000l. per annum ; tre. Hence arose new distincan immense sum in those days.—tions among them. Those were Though the suppression of these termed mitred abbots who were houses, considered in a religious privileged to wear the mitre and and political light, was a great be-exercise episcopal authority withnefit to the nation, yet it must in their respective precincts, bebe owned, that at the time they|ing exempted from the jurisdicflourished, they were not entirely |tion of the bishop. Others were useless. Abbeys were then the called crosiered abbots, from their repositories as well as the semina-bearing the crosier, or pastoral ries of learning: many valuable staff. Others were styled æcumebooks and national records have nical or universal abbots, in imibeen preserved in their libraries ; station of the patriarch of Constanthe only places wherein they could||cinople ; while others were termhave been safely lodged in thosted cardinal abbots, from their suturbulent times. Indeed, the his-/periority over all other abbots. torians of this country are chiefly At present, in the Roman cathobeholden to the monks for thilic countries, the chief distincknowledge they have of former Lions are those of regular and national events. Thus a kind Pro-||commendatory. The former take vidence overruled even the insti- the vow and wear the habit of tutions of superstition for good. their order; whereas the latter See MONASTERY.
are seculars, though they are oABBOT, the chief ruler of a bliged by their bulls to take orders monastery or abbey. At first they when of proper age.