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The Right Reverend Father in God, Herbert, Lord Bishop of Llandaff.
... x <><” My Lord, In the unauthorized liberty I am taking by submitting, in this public manner, my opinions to your Lordship, I am anxious not to be supposed to claim that the following work has passed the ordeal of your Lordship's criticism; being too sensible of the value of that opinion, as a passport to public attention, to be, in any way, a party to the delusion.
Your Lordship's character as a scholar stands too high to be injured by any thing I can do. Should the present attempt be judged weak and futile, thus far associating it with your Lordship's name will but recall to mind the solid ground on which you have established the character of the first theological critic of the present day.
It is as such that I court your Lordship's attention to my work; and being, above all things, desirous to know the truth, the knowledge of my errors is a benefit I may hope to attain from that union of amenity and condescension with the most highly cultivated abilities, which I know your Lordship to possess.
I have the honour to be
Your Lordship's respectful Servant,
London, October 8, 1817.
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The Writer of the following pages is too anxious for success in his main object to be indifferent to the favour of his readers; and would disarm criticism where he most fears it, by the humility of his pretensions. The graces of composition will not be looked for from one who shall announce himself to have been, from a very early age, employed in “learning and labouring truly to get his own living in a state of life” incompatible with minute attention to the more polished refinements of language. For the style of his work, therefore, he trusts that a severe account will not be exacted: but although he may plead want of leisure and cultivation to procure indulgence on this head, he disclaims any plea for favour in regard to the subject matter. His best abilities have been employed to bring to the test of scripture the motions that have suggested themselves to his mind; and the result is such entire and undoubting conviction, that he courts the most rigid scrutiny, which he will consider as the co-operation of a friend that must tend either to detect error, or to confirm the truth. To any who may mentally disbelieve or doubt the doctrine here combated, and yet wish to retain it as an advantageous delusion, he suggests that, as Christians, they are the disciples of a God of truth, and begs them to recollect who is the father of lies: and in viewing the doctrine practically, he entreats them to consider, that if it be not truly a part of Christianity, yet is preached as such, and declared to be necessary to be believed, before mankind can have an interest in that system: how great an obstacle is raised to their wishing Christianity to be true, who must first believe, contrary to their natural feelings, and their experience of God's goodness, that to be a revelation from Him, which appears to them to represent Him as malignant, vindictive, and inexorable ! This obstacle, if founded in misapprehension, all must rejoice to see removed ; and all must exult in the dispersion of those heavy portentous clouds that have shed a gloom over the closing hours of millions of Christians. It may be right to say a few words on the origin of the present work. It happened, in the village in which the author lives, that on successive Sundays two clergymen preached on