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acquitted by the public, were I to desert a cause, which, however unequal to the undertaking, I am professionally bound to support.
Fully impressed with this idea, I throw myself on the indulgence of the Reader; in the hope that the intention of the author will compensate for the defects of his performance. It may be proper, however, to observe, on the subject of the following sheets, that it is not elegance of composition, so much as a correct and perspicuous statement of facts accompanied with correspondent reasoning, that is to be looked for in them; and that their merit (if they may pretend to any) consists in this, that the matter contained in them is calculated to convey useful information to every well-disposed mind. "It is enough for me (if I may speak in the language of pious Bishop Taylor) to be an under-builder in the house of God; and I glory in the employment; I labour in the foundations; and therefore the work needs no apology for being plain, so it be strong and well laid." Should the learned reader think, as it is probable he may, that the subject, in some parts, wants compression; the unlearned one, for whose advantage I chiefly write, 'may feel himself indebted to its dilated form for that more particular information, which it was designed to leave on his mind: a consideration which weighs heavier in my scale of estimation, than any degree of credit that might otherwise have accrued to myself. The honours which wit and learning may deservedly acquire, from their exer tion on their appropriate subjects, I shall never envy; satisfied, should I be counted worthy to be
numbered among those writers, who, in a cause
The subject here committed to the public is certainly of the most important kind; particularly so in the present day. In handling it, should I so far have succeeded, as by leaving conviction on any reader's mind, to make him a more regular, confirmed, and consistent member of the Church, than he otherwise might have been; I shall thank God, for having thought fit to make me, unworthy as I am, the instrument of doing some good, at a time when, confessedly, much good is wanted to be done. The most valuable return the reader can make, for the hours that have been dedicated to his service, will be his earnest prayer to God, that the writer of the book before him, after having endeavoured to guide others into the good and right way, may not himself be found in the number of those who are lost.
Bath, March 26, 1804.
To controvert the opinions or doctrines of any sect or party, or even to declare a man's own opinions, if they differ from those of such sectarists or partisans, without censure, is what no author must expect: for, whilst man continues in his present state of imperfection, a diversity of opinions must occasionally give rise to disputes and divisions. These, as the beginning of evils, ought to be avoided, so far as may be consistent with a proper regard for truth; because they tend, more or less, to the breach of that charity which is a principal characteristic of the Christian. On this account, to make use of the remark of a judicious writer," an author should avoid, as much as he can, replies and rejoinders; the usual consequences
of which are, loss of time and loss of temper;" considering that a controversy with his own passions is the most profitable one in which a Christian can be engaged.
These considerations might have justified me in my first purpose to return no answer to the letters that have been addressed to me, on the subject of my late publication, did I not reflect that such seeming inattention might be deemed inconsistent with the respect which I really feel for your character and station in life. But as time is precious, and, with all my zeal to be useful in my generation, feeling conscious of having abused too large a portion of it; I am concerned, where there is so much real work to be done in the Christian world, to find myself engaged in an useless undertaking. For, upon reading over your letters, I see nothing new upon the subjects attempted to be maintained in them; nothing to which a full and complete answer has not, in my judgment, been repeatedly given. And if what has heretofore been written, with such clearness of argument, upon the particular tenets of your creed, have not brought conviction to your mind; I must possess far more confidence in myself than I really do, to imagine that any thing I shall say, will be able to produce that effect.
It was the observation, I think, of the excellent Joseph Mede, "that some opinions are in some sort fatal to some men, and therefore I can, (says he) with much patience endure a man to be contraryminded, and have no inclination to contend with him. There is more goes to persuasion, than