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MOST REV. JAMES USSHER, D.D.,
LORD ARCHBISHOP OF ARMAGH, AND PRIMATE OF ALL IRELAND.
NOW FOR THE FIRST TIME COLLECTED,
WITH A LIFE OF THE AUTHOR,
AN ACCOUNT OF HIS WRITINGS,
CHARLES RICHARD ELRINGTON, D.D.,
LATE REGIUS PROFESSOR OF DIVINITY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF DUBLIN,
AND RECTOR OF ARMAGH,
IN SEVENTEEN VOLUMES.
HODGES, SMITH, AND CO.,
PUBLISHERS TO THE UNIVERSITY,
The unexpected death of Dr. Elrington, on the 18th of January, 1850, deprived the University of one of its brightest ornaments, and the Irish Church of its most learned theologian. His edition of Ussher's Works, upon which he had been labouring for upwards of twenty years, was unfortunately left by him unfinished, and the Provost and Senior Fellows of Trinity College committed to me the task of completing it. Dr. Elrington had completed the first thirteen volumes, with 400 pages of the fourteenth volume, the progress of which was then interrupted“; but he proceeded with the fifteenth and sixteenth volumes, and finished them before his death. My first duty was, therefore, to endeavour to ascertain the nature of the difficulty which had caused the interruption of the fourteenth volume, and to complete that volume as well as I
a The fifteenth volume was issued with the following notice :-" The publication of the fourteenth volume is unavoidably postponed.”
could, in accordance with the intentions of Dr. El. rington. Notwithstanding the intimacy with him which it was my privilege for many years to enjoy, he had never explained to me fully the reason which induced him to leave this volume unfinished, when he went on with the fifteenth and sixteenth. I believe now, that the great difficulty of deciphering the MS. destined to supply matter for the completion of the unfinished volume, was the principal cause why he suspended the printing. He had found it impossible, consistently with his other important avocations, to transcribe the MS. and prepare it for the press himself. He employed an amanuensis to make a transcript, but this turned out to be unsatisfactory.
There was also another cause of embarrassment, which Dr. Elrington felt more acutely, perhaps, than it was worth. He had intended the fourteenth volume to contain such remains as could be recovered of the Theological Lectures delivered by Ussher when Professor of Divinity in the University; and he had begun with the “Tractatus de Controversiis Pontificiis,” written against Bellarmine, and never before printed. He had also partly put into type what now stands second in the fourteenth volume, viz., the “Catholica Assertio Integritatis Fontium Hebraico
rum Veteris et Græcorum Novi Instrumenti," which formed the substance of the Theological Lectures, delivered in the year 1610. In addition to the embarrassments already alluded to, arising from the imperfect and confused state of the MS., Dr. Elrington now found that this second series of Lectures (in conformity with the chronological arrangement of the Works, which he had adopted) ought to have been placed before the “Tractatus de Controversiis Pontificiis ;” and that a third series', dated 1607, ought to have preceded both.
Having thus discovered, as I believe, the real cause of the suspension which took place in the printing of the fourteenth volume, and of the difficulty which had so embarrassed Dr. Elrington, my next care was to ascertain what materials existed for completing the volume in accordance with his design. The following allusions to the intended contents of volume xiv., which are to be found in the Life of Ussher, will enable us to understand what that design was. Having mentioned that, immediately after taking his first degree in Divinity (1607), Ussher was appointed Professor of Theology in the Unirersity, Dr. Elrington proceedso:
b Printed, vol, xiv., p. 383.
• Vol. i., p. 26.