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As to the Differtation on Heb. xii. 22—25. now first published, it is believed that there will be discovered in it the same critical fagacity, and the fame accurate knowledge of scripture, which so peculiarly characterize the other writings of this Author.
P R E F A CE;
İNTRODUCTION to the following
ABSTRACTS and ESSAYS.
Obody who has read history with any
attention, but must have observed,
that there have been certain dispositions which have reigned in certain periods of the world; owing perhaps to some great genius, in whom that disposition has been first kindled and shone, and by whom it has been communicated to others; till at length it has spread so far as to become the prevailing humour of the age.
Nor is there any one, who has but cürsótily examined our own times in particular, but must have taken notice, that a very inquisitive turn has prevailed in them, espeVol. I.
cially in Philosophy, and in Natural and Revealed Religion; and that likewise a happy temper has grown up along with it, of bearing with one another in the result of our enquirics.
As these are in themselves some of the best disyositions that can have place in mankind (the one being the seed-plot of all truth and virtue, and the other that which, like warmth and moisture, cherishes them wherever they spring); and being both of them the only promising symptoms (I mean, of a moral nature), among a great many threatening afpearances, that a curious observer will find among us; there is no man, who has been blefled by God with having had any share in exciting or advancing this happy temper, but has found rcafon for the highest satisfaction in his own breast, as well as for the greatest thankfulness to God, the Author of every good and perfect gift, on that account; and that, notwithstanding all the neglects, the disappointments, and the ill usage, which he may have met with at any time, for his attempts or success this way, from the ful, the stupid, the lazy, and the corrupt part of mankind.
Such treatment is what must be generally expected from the great and the powerful,
who have their views too much fixed on power, wealth, and honours, to take them off, in order to pursue truth or virtue. Instead of looking after these spiritual possessions themselves, they are generally afraid, left the pursuits that are made after them by others Thould disturb them in their daily acquisitions of another kind; and therefore seldom fail to raise a cry of danger to fome thing or another that really is, or that is thought to be; valuable, by the stupid, the lazy, and the corrupt; the constant tools and confederates of the mighty, and who are at the same time the sworn enemics of all enquiries; hating to be disturbed in their sentiments, especially in those that tend to their worldly ease and advantage. Thus the men of power generally keep the most jealous eye on these honest and diligent enquirers, and worry them by the others; apprehending a speedy discovery of their own secret ways of corruption from their penetration and integrity, and perhaps some trouble and opposition of one kind or other by that means; were it no more than their making it appear to the world, that sometimes when the powerful are doing what are, or are thought to be, high acts of justice, or even endeavouring to procure some confiderable advantage to the public, it is but as a necessary part of their private scheme, beyond which they seldom run the risk, or give thema