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ROBERT NELSON, Efq. the pious Au
thor of this excellent Book, was born the 22d of June, 1656, being the Son of Mr. John Nelson, a confiderable Turkey Merchant of London, and Delicia his Wife, Sister to Gabriel Roberts, a Turkey Merchant also of the fame City. His Father dying when he was young, he was left to the Care of his Mother, and her Brother Sir Gabriel, who being made his Guardian, was very careful of the Education of this his Nephew, who was indeed beloved by every one, being a most beautiful Youth, and of fine natural Parts. He was for fome Time at St. Paul's School, in London; but the principal Part of his Education was under a private Tutor in his Mother's House, from whence he went to Trinity College, in Cambridge, where he was entered Fellow-Commoner. He married the Lady Theophila Lucy, Relict of Sir Kingsman Lucy, and Daughter of John, late Earl of Berkeley. His Lady enjoyed but an ill State of Health; for the Recovery of it he paffed over with her into France, and went to Aix la Chapelle, where he continued fome Time, and afterwards proceeded on his Travels through France, Italy, and Germany. Never was any Englishman known to be more careffed in all the foreign Courts which he visited, as the many Letters written to him from Princes, Minifters of State, and Perfons of Distinction, do abundantly teftify. Nor was he lefs efteemed in England, his Acquaintance being generally among fuch as were moft remarkable for Piety and Learning, of whom the good Mr. Kettlewell was one; I here particularly mention him, because to him we owe Mr. Nelfon's firft engaging in this useful Work: Which, whofoever reads, will find it no fmall Addition to the Pleasure and Advantage he fhall reap by it, to confider that it is the Work of a fine Gentleman, and A 2
one who never entered into holy Orders; because this will fhew what Injuftice those Men do to our most Holy Religion, who reprefent it as a morofe, narrow-fpirited Inftitution, fit only to be practifed by Hermits and Reclufes. Mr. Nelfon's other Qualifications, of a comely Perfonage, a genteel Deportment, and a fair Fortune, were fo far from being inconfiftent with that genuine Spirit of Piety which always fhewed itfelf in him, that they were no fmall Ornaments to it: Thofe external Endowments of Nature and Fortune served to fet off, and make his Virtue the more amiable and captivating; as his Virtue made those, which are by themselves unworthy to be esteemed, appear as real Accomplishments.
His Corpfe was depofited in the New Burying Ground in Lamb's Conduit Fields, then firft confecrated on that Occafion. A fquare Monument was afterwards erected over him, containing, on the four Sides of it, the following Infcription, drawn up by George Smalridge, Lord Bishop of Briftol.
H. S. E.
Patre ortus Johanne Cive Londinenfi,
Ex Societate Mercatorum cum Turcis commercium
Gabrielis Roberts Equitis aurati, ex eadem
Per novem annos fuperftes plurimum defideravit.
Quas partim in Schola Paulina,
In omni ferè Literarum genere verfatus,
Inter Clericos enituit Laicus. Peragratâ femel atque iterum Europâ, Poftquam diverfas Civitatum Et Religionum formas exploraverat, Nullam Reipulicæ adminiftrandæ rationem Monarchiæ domi conftituæ præpofuit, Cæteras omnes Ecclefias Anglicanæ longe pofthabuit Hanc ipfi femper caram Beneficiis auxit,
Filius ipfius obfequentiffimus,
Et propugnator imprimis ftrenuus.
Nulla erat bonorum Virorum communitas,
Aut ad Pauperum liberos, fumptu Locupletiorum
Aut ad augendam utilitatem publicam
Hifce ftudiis & temporis & opum
Dum id fibi negotii unicè dedit, Deo ut placeret,
Severam interim Chriftianæ Religionis
Suaviffima morum facilitate ita temperavit,
Dum folennia recurrent Fefta & Jejunia,
Comitem pariter & adjutorem.
Cum nobilibus & locupletibus mifcet colloquia ;
Multa pietate & eruditione refertis
I THINK myself so far obliged, by that Refpect that is ufually paid to the candid and charitable Reader, as to acquaint him, before he engages, with what he may expect from the following Treatife: The Defignwhereof is an Attempt to rescue the Festivals and Fafts of the Church of England, not only from the Prejudices of those who have not yet reconciled themselves to Her Conftitution: but chiefly from the Contempt and Neglect of fuch as profefs themselves Her obedient Members, who own Her Authority in indifferent Things, and who, upon all Occafions, praife and extol the Piety and Usefulness of fuch Infitutions. And farther, humbly to offer fuch Aid and Affiftance to well-difpofed Minds, that they may be enabled to improve all these holy Seasons, to the Advantage of their Im- H.b.iv.g. mortal Souls, and to the fecuring that Eternal Reft that remains to the People of God.
In order to this Purpofe, I have, in the Preliminary Inftructions, endeavoured to clear the Obfervations of the Festivals and Fafts from thofe Objections they were most expofed to; and have made it my Business to fet them in fuch a Light, as may beft difcover their A 4