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and benevolent, and very solicitous to disseminate opinions which they think would promote the happiness of mankind. The orthodox and pious (though most excellent persons) are frequently supine, and far less on the alert in guarding their opinions from the assaults of enemies. They take little or no care to prevent their descendants from forming intimacies, and ofttimes matrimonial connexions, with very partial believers in revealed truth, possibly without consciousness (for want of due inquiry) that they are doing so; for if they chance to witness the attendance of young persons at the church established in these realms, though these may have imbibed principles most opposite to its doctrines, (particularly when self-interest favours such connexions,) they easily satisfy themselves that all is right, and with the full consent of Christian parents, these marriages are solemnized. Hence it is, that infidelity has so lamentably spread for the last fifty years within the compass of the Author's knowledge, into numberless families, who, but for this negligence, had retained belief in revelation. The full assurance of this fact powerfully combats the objections which have so long withheld this work from the public eye, by propounding an additional and very strong
inducement for its publication; namely, an humble hope that it may sometimes supply the means of enabling young persons to give an answer to those who ask them a reason of the hope that is in them.
That eminent writer, Dr. Johnson, remarks, that the evidences to the truth of the Christian religion are very strong, but that the doctrines therein contained are contrary to reason. Happy will it be should the contents of the following pages tend to remove this impediment to the reception of them. It was not originally intended to affix any preface to this work, as the conclusions recorded in the first volume are merely preparatory to those that will be found in the second and third, and which were designed to gradually lead the readers to receive the assertions set forth in the gospel, from what appears to the Author rational argument. But on due consideration, and the advice of a friend, it has been deemed best to state the reasons which occasioned the subsequent research.
It is often urged as an objection to the inspection of books of the nature of the following, that they raise doubts which they do not solve: it is trusted no such objection will be found in this work.
The deductions and conclusions whereof it is composed, are almost all extracted from the book of nature, which may perhaps (at least, at some future period) be allowed to be the best and clearest expositor of the Book of God.
The writer entertains some fear that the chain of argument contained in this manuscript may be thought too frequently interrupted by miscellaneous digressions. This arises from the materials whereof it is composed having been written at various times, and on various occasions, as the considerations specified occurred to the Author's mind; or were continually suggested by the opinions broached by unbelievers in the truth of the Scriptures. But all the considerations stated in these digressions centre in one point, the eliciting of truth, and will be ultimately found contributing to the illustration of that consistent harmony which pervades scriptural declaration---an object essentially involved in the main design. Whoever has been in the continual way of hearing the cavils of philosophic unbelievers, would be convinced that they can alone be answered by a far more extensive and philosophic survey of the sacred volume than pious and orthodox Christians have, generally speaking, ever engaged in.
The Poem of the Ascension, which will be found in the second volume, is particularly recommended to the notice of Musical Composers. It having been purposely written for the subject of an Oratorio.
ERRATA, VOL. I.
Page 72, line 26, for virtuous read victorious.
there will, throughout this work, (except on points where it would be not only assuming, but even impossible, to add arguments to the many excellent ones already adduced,) be submitted, in as few words as possible, the reasons on which they are grounded.