Page images

essential duties and interest, has some title, though from the pen of an obscure citizen, to a degree of public indulgence.

Should there be any reader who shall feel himself disappointed, by finding nothing that is not already familiar to his reflections in the ensuing strictures, he will be pleased to remember, that many readers may not be equally furnished with himself; that every man is not in a like habit and train of thinking; and that it is incident even to the greatest minds to lose sight of the end in attending to the means, especially when these happen to be such as are suited fully to strike the imagination, and interest the passions, which is frequently the case of political subjects and discussions. The debates of senates, the councils of princes, the arrangements of war and peace, are matters of so great a sound, and carry in their front such a show of consequence, that few are able so far to resist the im


pression, as to regard them with a steady reference to their proper use, namely, the advancement of the real virtue and happiness of mankind; which is the only just end of all human purposes and endeavours. To recal and attach the attention to this great object; to explain its connection with civil polity, and of both with religion; again, to state the reasons there are for contentment under any moderate government, and to enforce a due regard and submission to the actual government under which we live; and, lastly, (seeing the effects of political wisdom, in its greatest efforts, and operating in the most favourable circumstances, are very limited and uncertain) to point out independent sources of enjoyment under all governments, and in all situations, is the design of the present work; which, if moderately executed, can hardly fail to yield some profit both to the political and the christian reader.


Should we suppose some statesman (as we may suppose any thing that is not impossible) sufficiently inclined and at leisure to cast an eye on the following pages; though they would probably add nothing to his stock of political science, they might suggest to him a train of reflections in which he was far more interested, and which before might seldom have engaged his attention. From the transient and varying regulations. of municipal law, and of the law of nations, he might be led to eternal and immutable morality; and from the feebleness and imperfection of human government, to the perfection and potency of the di


Should the reader be of a more religious character, he may learn from the perusal of this volume, while he seeks the kingdom of God, to pay a due regard to the ordinances of men; and while he prepares himself for the society of angels and of the spirits of the

just, to be studious of the peace and welfare of the society of which he is now a member. Thus may the secular politician learn to be a better christian, and the christian to be a better subject than he was before. To contribute in any measure to these happy effects; to convince, though it were but a single individual among his countrymen, of the special obligation he is under both to be a good subject and a good christian; as it is the most earnest wish of the author, so he has endeavoured, in order to gain his end, to place his country in the fairest light that truth will admit. And if there be any reflections in the ensuing work which may seem to cast a shade over the present state of our public affairs, either civil or religious, and to raise ominous conjecture respecting our future destiny, this, it is hoped, will neither be made an objection to the work itself, nor to the design with which it was written; but that it will

rather excite the reader to use his utmost endeavours to avert the omen, and to employ every measure in his power, that may tend both to secure and advance the general welfare.

In excuse for the number and length of the quotations may be alleged the opinion of some competent judges, who have thought, that every book should contain as few bare references as possible to other books; since these might either not be found at hand, or, if at hand, might, by the very act of turning to them, unseasonably divert the reader's attention. It is to obviate these inconveniences (which the writer himself has often experienced) and not merely to swell the volume, that, instead of a bare reference, the passage itself is commonly produced; and it is hoped that such readers as find this precaution unnecessary, will pardon it in favour of others who are less provided.

« PreviousContinue »