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Of the following
To all sorts of Readers.
The Book that is here presented ye, is a Translation from the Italian Copy, Printed at Venice in 1685. The first Man that got it, with difficulty, out of the Authour’s hands, and then had it Printed at Rome in 1675, with all the solemnity of approbations, was Fryer John of St. Mary, who styles himself Provincial; and he speaks very fine things of it, and he had so heartily read it over, that the impression which it made in his Mind, gave him the exact cue and knack of that sort of Language which the Author uses, when he throws himself headlong into darkness and obscurity: And when this Man had recommended the Book to the sincere Reader, after his way; the next that appears to give a Grace to it, is no less a Man, than the Most Illustrious and most Reverend Lord, the Archbishop of Rhegium, who tells us how many great Offices in the Church he had pass’d through; he says in his Approbation of the Book, that ‘tis a hard matter to make a judgement of it, without some experience of the things contained in it: And that how high soever the secret of it be above all humane Discourse, yet they are not only not contrary to the right dictates of Reason, but altogether conformable to it: Which is as fitting a Preface to some things in the Book, as any man in the World could have made with the Study of Seven Years: First, to say that these sovereign Secrets, which the Book treats of, are above all human Discourse; and then in the very next words, to say they are conformable altogether to the dictates of Reason: as if the dictates of Reason and human Discourse had entered into a Combination never to come to a right understanding of one another. He that would be further satisfied of the fitness of this Archbishop’s Character to the Book, will be gratified, by reading patiently some things of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Chapters of the Third Book: But ‘tis enough, that this great Man speaks well of his Countryman Molinos’s Doctrine, that ‘tis according to the judgment of the holy Fathers, and the usual way of Mystical Divines, he says again, that the Author of this Book, does not speak his own Capricios, but follows the footsteps of the Ancients, and builds upon their Principles, and spiritual Foundations, that he reduces ‘em to a right and clear Method, bringing forth (says he) out of his Treasures, things new and old; And for the Stile of the Book, he allows it to be clear, easie, plain, and full in such crabbed hard and lofty Subject; adding withal, that the Man doth not decline Proofs of Scripture, Doctrines of the Fathers, Decrees of Councils, nor the Principles of Morality, and therefore he judges it to be a useful Piece, and very worth to be Printed: and what can be said more to set any Book off.
Next to the Archbishop’s Approbation, in comes that of Fryer Francis-Mary, Minister General of the whole Franciscan Order, given from his Convent of Ara Cœli, who speaks mighty kindly and favourably of the Book, & recommends it to the Press.
Then appears the Approbation of Fryer Dominic of the most holy Trinity, Qualifier and Counsellour of the holy Office of Malta, and of the Inquisition of Rome, Rector of the College of Missionaries, at St. Pancrace, and he blesses himself as he sits in judgement upon it, and gives his sense & liking, as formally as the rest.
After this comes a famous Jesuite, another Qualifier of the Roman Inquisition, and he takes it to be a Book of singular esteem and use, and recommends it to others with as much cordial kindness, as he fancied he had received good by it.
And next to him a great Capucine, that could not forbear (either for the credit of the Book, or himself) to tell the World, that he had been no less than four several times, Provincial of Andaluzia, and was at present Definitor General of all his Order; and expresses himself much taken with the Book, and as a good proof of so being, discourses upon it in that Mystical Way, and would by no means have it kept from being Published.
All this is Roman Approbation which signifies but little to a Book, that must be Printed in Venice; and therefore the Reformers of the University of Padua, who License Books receiving a Certificate from their Secretary, that the Book had nothing in it against Princes, or good Manners, gave leave to a Stationer of Venice to Print it again there, in 1676, upon the Authority of which License it came out once more, in 1685; which was the Copy, that this Translation goes by. So that this Book, it seems, has been sufficiently dispersed in the World, by all these Impressions: And who can say any thing more for it, than such men as these, that have Read and Censur’d it so Candidly, and Kindly? If what has since happened to the Author and his Reputation, do make his Vouchers wish that they had not been so free of their Courtesie, let them look to that: But whil’st the poor Man is so harassed in Rome, it would become the Mercy of this religious Nation, to hear him speak his Mind by an Interpreter: What has stung the Court of Rome may be partly guessed at by this Book: Till we know further of the Author, there is no more to be said of him than that sometimes he lights upon shrew’d Truths, and very excellent Thoughts, as well as mere Trash and Foppery. Do but pardon him his rich Vein of Enthusiasm and Gibberish, and give him leave now and then to speak further than you can see or apprehend, and you will find things enough to make you think and attend to what he says: But withal let me tell you, that tis a Blessing to you to live in a Country, where the Ministers of Religion do not use to put Tricks up on your Understanding nor lead you blindly you know not whither. And so I rest.
In Molinos’s Style,
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