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The biographical notices, which stand at the head of each article, seldom extend farther than to the name and profession of the author, his age
and country. They will in most cases enable the reader to form some idea of his religious sentiments and circumstances, and of what may be expected from his writings. Short as they are, it has frequently been found more difficult to supply them than to furnish the longer account of the works which follow. Books often survive, when the history and even the names of their authors are irrecoverably lost.
As the Bibliotheca is necessarily and avowedly but a selection, it may be proper to mention the principles on which it has been made. The list of editions of the original Scriptures is comparatively limited ; and it would have been omitted entirely, but that the work would have been incomplete without it. It is therefore confined to the principal critical editions. To have attempted more, would have required an inconvenient enlargement of the plan, and led to the repetition of much that has been already published, and is generally accessible.
In the selection of foreign works, there will be found many of the most valuable of the early continental critics and commentators, and a considera
ble number of the more modern writers of Holland and Germany. In general, the merits of the former class, and the sentiments which mark the latter, are pointed out. It would have been easy to enlarge this list, especially of the older authors; but as utility, not curiosity or display, has been studied, many books have been omitted which are now only to be found in the cabinets of the curious, or reposing in the public receptacles of the lumber of past ages. Those who desire to follow out the inquiry, have only to procure the Bibliotheca Theologica Selecta of Walch,—a work full of valuable information respecting books in every department of theology which had appeared previously to its publication in 1765.
In British works, the author has endeavoured to make the list as complete as possible ; and it is expected that few works of real importance will be found to be omitted. General theology, systematic, practical, and polemical divinity, it must however be observed, are not included in the plan. Many more of the puritanical expositors could have been inserted; but there is so great a sameness in their manner and sentiments, that what is said of those who have been introduced will generally apply to the whole class. Several of the leading theological works in English, though not bearing directly
on the exposition of the Bible, have been inserted, on account of their importance; and a few of the standard works on ecclesiastical history are mentioned. Many books on the Socinian controversy are also introduced, as that debate involves so much that belongs to the criticism and interpretation of the Scriptures.
As Scotland, notwithstanding its religious character and advantages, has been thought not to have produced many works of a biblical nature, considerable pains have been taken to furnish an account of those productions, which in early or later times have proceeded from the pen of Scotsmen. For gratifying this partiality to his native country, the author hopes to be forgiven, though some of the works mentioned should not be deemed of great moment, and many of them be now scarcely ever to be met with. He chiefly regrets, that, after all the research he has been able to bestow, both his list and his notices will be found very scanty and imperfect.
As many lists of books in theology and sacred literature have been already published, it may be thought that the present work is not required. The author is, of course, of a different opinion ; and it will be easy, he persuades himself, to convince the reader, that whatever imperfections belong to his
performance, something of the kind was still a desideratum in British literature.
One of the first works published in this country, which treats partly of theological writers, is, A Treatise of Religion and Learning, and of Religious and Learned Men. By Edward Leigh. Lond. 1656, fol. This work is divided into six books; in the last four of which the author gives a large alphabetical catalogue of such persons “as were famous for zeal in the true religion or in learning." It contains brief notices of the writers of all
ages and classes; the titles of some of their works, and characters of many of them, mostly extracted from other authors. Considerable labour must have been bestowed on this treatise; but it embraces too much, and is consequently often incorrect, and generally unsatisfactory.
Bishop Wilkins's Ecclesiastes, or, a Discourse concerning the Gift of Preaching, as it falls under the rules of Art, which was first published about 1640,--contains a very considerable list of writers in theology, arranged under distinct heads. In general, however, the bishop gives merely the names of the authors; he seldom gives the title of the works ; and scarcely ever expresses an opinion on the subject or merits of the productions.
In 1663 was published, A Catalogue of our English writers on the Scriptures. Lond. small 8vo. This work goes over the books, chapters, and verses of the Bible in their regular order, and mentions the commentators or writers on each portion, the size of the works, and the dates of their publication. It was republished, with additions, in 1669. It appears to have been compiled with some diligence and care ; and, as an index to what had been published till the period of its appearance, is not without its use.
The work which, in its plan and object, most nearly resembles the present, is a Latin production of William Crowe, who designates himself, Sudovolgiensis, Ludimagister Croydoniensis. It is entitled, Elenchus Scriptorum in Sacram Scripturam, tam Graecorum quàm Latinorum, etc. Lond. 1672, 12mo. This volume, which is now very scarce, furnishes, first, a list of editions of the original Scriptures, and of a number of the ancient and modern versions. There is then an alphabetical list of writers on the Scriptures, which generally mentions the country, profession, and religion of the authors; with the time in which they flourished, the titles, dates, extent, and various editions of their works. It con. tains a very large enumeration of works in little room ; but the catalogue is foolishly arranged ac