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But the letter-writer should have considered, if this was his design, that in this very book I affirm more than once or twice, that the doctrine of redemption is the foundation, and of the very essence of Christianity. He should have known that all or most of those true Christian doctrines mentioned above are contained in the doctrine of redemption.
There are, and those esteemed sincere Christians too, who would have taken the names of infidel and heretic for favours at the hand of the letter-writer. But I am of a different humour. These titles have no charms for me. I have lived some time in the world; and, blessed be God, withoui giving or taking offence. This time has been spent in my parish church (for I am a country clergyman, and reside constantly on my Cure) in the service of my neighbour, in my study, and in the offices of filial piety,
“ With lenient Arts t'extend a Mother's breath, “ Make Languor smile, and smooth the bed of death,
Explore the thought, explain the asking eye,
And keep awhile one Parent from the sky. Excess of zeal in such as the letter-writer, and defect of religion in others of better breeding, so efface these feel. ings of nature, that I could hardly have known how to have told them, had I not both the example, and the fine words too, of one of the politest men of the age to keep me in countenance. The time spent in my study has been employed in confirming my own faith against the erroneous opinions the letter-writer has raked together, and then, in planning a Work to confirm my brethren. All the reward I ever had, or ever expect to have here, is the testimony of a good conscience within doors, and a good name without. The first no man can take from me; the other, this letter-writer, in the most unchristian manner, has attempted to invade.
-But I heartily forgive him: and instead of putting uncharitable constructions on his secret intentions, will believe, though I know no more of him than by his letter, that he is sincere, and only unhappily agitated by a furious zeal for the cause of God and Religion; instead of thinking he ought to be hindered from any farther advancement in the Church. If the want of that be the cause of his spleen and virulency, I heartily wish it may be speedily removed : nay, that the letter he has wrote against me may contribute towards it. Instead of using any warm endeavours to lessen his credit, which he professes in so many words to be his purpose against me, I wish him all increase of reputation and honour: and instead of insulting him with the words he seems to apply to me. I pray for the forgiveness and conversion of all bad men, I will assure him, that I pray for him as a brother.
I have only one word more to add : I have presumed to appeal to the Public, in a matter indeed that little concerus it, yet perhaps of some moment in the consequence and example. But whatever necessity I now found myself under of not submitting to so false a charge, the Public need not be under apprehensions that I shall ever give them a second trouble of the same kind. It must be some strange provocation indeed that can make me repeat it. For if I can forgive injuries of this kind, it is sure no hard task to despise them. In a word, I have made my defence against these calumnies now once for all; and my enemies must pardon me, if I decline to be drawn in, into a controversy of this nature; or to be drawn off from the subject I have commenced in defence of Revelation. And, by the grace of God, no unchristian treatment shall ever make me languid or remiss in vindicating the truth of the Christian cause. Whether I am a weak defender of Christianity must be submitted to the judgment of the Public. But I am persuaded that that Public will suspend all severity of judgment till they see the whole performance: and then, I hope, those who now think I have advanced a paradox that cannot be supported, will be of another opinion. But if it should not be my good fortune to make out my point to their satisfaction, yet I should hope they will pass a more equitable construction on the attempt than the letter-writer has thought fit to do; and make all favourable allowances for the newness and difficulty of the subject, and the many incidental points touched upon, which will, I hope, be thought by all persons of equity, candor, and good learning, to have their use. In the mean time, I can say
with great truth, and, I hope I may do it with modesty, that what I offer to the Public concerning The Divine Legation of Moses is not a hasty sudden thought, and what has appeared flattering to me upon its first appearance only; as such things often strike, which, upon review, give no satisfaction. But this has been long the subject of my thoughts; often laid by, and then again, at proper intervals, resumed, reviewed, and turned on all sides. What then I have been in no haste to approve after carefully weighing and examining every part, I shall hope the equitable Reader will be in no haste to condemn or suspect while he has seen only one.
CRITICAL AND PHILOSOPHICAL
ESSAY ON MAN:
In which is contained a Vindication of the said ESSAY
from the Misrepresentations of
MR. DE RESNEL, the French Translator;
Mr. De CROUSAZ,
in the Academy of Lausanno
Vide quam iniqui sunt divinorum munerum æstimatores
etiam quidam PROFESSI SAPIENTIAM.Sen.