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This, which conspired to distinguish you as an Example and Ornament to those of your own Order here, which in a singular manner qualified you for the sacred ministry, and rendered you equal to that eminent and difficult station in the Church, to which the Divine Providence and his Majesty's great Wisdom have been pleased to call you: In this, my Lord, I must beg leave to claim some share; and consequently in the Fruits which daily flow from thence; that firm and steady adherence to the Cause of Virtue, Loyalty, and Liberty, joined with the most easy, affable behaviour, and seasoned with the greatest kindness and civility; that charitable, and truly Christian Spirit
, which appeared to such advantage in your Lordship’s late Discourse upon a publick Occafion, and which will ever more and more display itself in the mild, prudent, and good Government of your Lordship’s Diocese. - Happy they who live under its more immediate influence, and are duly sensible that they do so!
That the same gracious Providence, which blessed your Lordship with these
various Talents, and which has hitherto given ample Success to the use of them, may long continue so very valuable a Life, and grant to you such a portion of health and vigour as may enable you to perfift in accomplishing the same great Ends, the Glory of God, the Good of his Church, and Benefit of all those committed to your Charge, is the hearty Prayer of,
Your Lordship's most obliged
and entirely devoted
CAMBRIDGE, 07.1. 1755.
THE following Discourses were originally part
of a larger Dehgn, tending to Mhew that Arts and Sciences, Natural and Revealed Religion, have upon the whole been progreffive, from the Creation of the World to the present Time ; as also that they have been suited to each other, as well as to the Circumstances of Mankind, during each eminent Period of this their Progresion. A Theory, which, when fairly represented, may be supposed to give some satisfaction to many persons, who being convinced of the Existence and Attributes of one supreme first Cause, yet are so unbappy as to entertain strong Prejudices against every kind of Revelation, chiefly on account of the Circumstances under which it seems to have been communicated; which they are unable to reconcile with the Course and Order of Divine Providence in all other reSpects; as well as to those, who are equally at a lofs in searching after any settled Order or Dengn in either of these Establishments : but yet, if they could once perswade themselves in general, that one of these proceeded in some sort of uniform Ratio, and Analogy with the other, and that both were in a State of regular Progression; would probably bave Patience to wait a while, in hopes of seeing their particular Objections gradually removed in each, by the same Rules.
Having formerly attempted to clear up fome of the chief Difficulties that occur in our Conceptions of the Deity and his Providence, in some Observations on ABp. King's EJay on the Origin of Evil; I bave fince had the pleasure of seeing those Principles adopted by a late celebrated Writer, and adorned with all the. Graces of Poetry: This is a Continuation of the same deßgn of justifying the ways of God to Man: But being destitute of some means that were necesary to complete it, I could only draw the Outlines, and was forced to content myself with venturing these abroad in the present Form, (though very sensible that it is not the most inviting to some Readers,) rather than be at the pains of throwing it into one close continued Treatise; especially as my small stock of Materials would scarcely have been sufficient to have given that its due proportions, and several things of a practical nature must have been retrenched, which this more
oned, that such an attempt of uniting speculative and practical things together, of frequently insisting on and inculcating the latter, and of delivering the whole in such a trite unfashionable way as may be termed the foolishness of preaching; must run no fmall risk with persons of a more refined and elegant taste, to which this has by no means been adapted.
The Notes are chiefly calculated for a Commons Place, or Index, to direčt tbe industrious Reader
to such Authors, more especially among the Moderns, as might furnish him with as just and proper Observations on each Head, as I could think myself capable of producing ; what Character soever some of them
the Learned. And indeed, provided the Notions were but good and seafonable, I have not been very solicitous under whose name, or in what place and manner they appeared. It must be confessed that even some of the lowest Class Sometimes have feveral useful things not elfewbere to be met with, though. few would think it worth their while to seek there for them; which tends (according to the observation of an eminent Writer*) to sew the Benefit of general reading: neither would it be quite fair to borrow any thing from fuch, without a due acknowledgment ; nor con we be understood to answer for any of them farther than the point reaches, for which they were exprefly cited or referred to. Where any thing seemed necesary to be added or supplyed, it will be found either introducing these, or intermixed among them, as occahon offered : and in pursuance of this bumble plan, the inserting all new Writers as they came forth, or fell in my way fince the first Impresion, must occafion most of those Alterations and Additions that bave bitberto been made, but which will bardly be continued.
* Note to Pope's El. on Crit. ver. 267.