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THE love of happiness is a passion predominant in the human breast, and for the enjoyment of which individuals of every description are anxiously concerned.
To say in what this happiness consists, or how it may certainly be had, is an invidious task: because men of different tastes, dispositions, and capacities, not only view the subject in different lights, but adopt opposite means to obtain it. There can, however, it is presumed, be little risk of censure to him who shall assert, That whatever has a natural tendency to irradiate the mind, to regulate the affections, and to meliorate the conduct, must be friendly to happiness.
Such is the wisdom, and such the goodness of the great Parent of the universe, that he has provided sources of pleasure exactly suited to the compound nature of man. But it is the indelible opprobrium of our species, that those enjoyments which are merely sensual, and of which, in subserviency to higher ends, we might lawfully partake, engross too frequently the whole of our attention; while those of a refined and
exquisite nature, and in which felicity might be more reasonably expected, are entirely neglected or forgotten. This is the effect of a vitiated taste which has precipitated thousands into inextricable difficulties, and into which it had nearly hurried my fair correspondent, of whom some account will be found in the following Introduction, and to whom the Letters subjoined are addressed.
To him who is conscious of danger and anxious for help, deliverance must be acceptable. This was once the situation of the amiable Lavinia. Her importunate entreaties could not be heard with indifferenceshe was directed to the REFUGE where protection was known to be certain; and where she not only found security, but the rest and the happiness she wanted.
To this impression of the Refuge, some additions have been made, which, though not extensive, may perhaps be thought deserving of regard. The whole work has indeed been attentively examined; and, if compared with the former edition, will be found, in many places, to have undergone alterations intended to give precision to thought, and energy to truth. The author is, however, far from imagining that the labour of revision will preclude the use of criticism. Perfection is not attainable by man. But if what
has been done, shall have any tendency to promote purity of sentiment, or rectitude of conduct: to honour the gospel of God, or to facilitate the happiness of man, the time devoted to this purpose will not have been spent in vain.