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ANALOGY OF RELIGION,
LONGMAN & CO.; JAMES DUNCAN ; SIMPKIN & MARSHALL ;
AND RICHARD BAYNES; LONDON.
DR. JOSEPH Butler, a prelate of the most distinguished character and abilities, was born at Wantage, in Berkshire, in the year 1692. His father, Mr Thomas Butler, who was a substantial and reputable shopkeeper in that town, observing in his son Joseph* an excellent genius and inclination for learning, determined to educate him for the ministry, among the Protestant dissenters of the presbyterian denomination. For this purpose, after he had gone through a proper course of grammatical literature, at the free grammar-school of his native place, under the care of the Rev. Mr Philip Barton, a clergyman of the Church of England, he was sent to a dissenting academy, then kept at Gloucester, but which was soon afterwards removed to Tewkesbury. The
* He was the youngest of eight children.
principal tutor of this academy was Mr Jones, a man of uncommon abilities and knowledge, who had the honour of training up several scholars, who became of great eminence, both in the established church and among the dissenters. At Tewkesbury, Mr Butler made an extraordinary progress in the study of divinity; of which he gave a remarkable proof, in the letters addressed by him, while he resided at Tewkesbury, to Dr Samuel Clarke, laying before him the doubts that had arisen in his mind, concerning the conclusiveness of some arguments in the Doctor's demonstration of the being and attributes of God. The first of these letters was dated the 4th November 1713; and the sagacity and depth of thought displayed in it, immediately excited Dr Clarke's particular notice. This condescension encouraged Mr Butler to address the Doctor again upon the same subject, which likewise was answered by him ; and the correspondence being carried on in three other letters, the whole was annexed to the celebrated treatise before mentioned, and the collection has been retained in all the subsequent editions of that work. The management of this correspondence was entrusted by Mr Butler to his friend and fellow-pupil, Mr Secker, who, in order to conceal the affair, undertook to convey the letters to the post