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THE editions heretofore published of the Dissertations, the one concerning the end for which God created the world ; and the other, on the Nature of Virtue, which has uniformly tern put with it ; but is placed in the second volume of this collection, have had prefixed to them the following Preface, chich, because it contains several just remarks, applicable as we it to the Treatise on Original Sin, as to the Dissertations, it is though! .prößer here to insert.
“ The author had designed these dissertations for the public view; and wrote them out as they now appiar: Though it is probable, that if his life had been spared, he would have revised them. and rendered them in some respects more complete. Some new sentiments, here and there, might probably have been added ; and some passages brightened with farther illustrations. This may be conjectured, from some brief hints, or sentiments minuted down, on loose papers, found in the manuscripts.
« But those sentiments concisely sketched out, which, it is thought, the author intended to enlarge, and digest into the body of the work....cannot be so amplified by any other hand, as to do justice to the author : It is therefore probably best that nothing of this kind should be attempted.
“ As these dissertations were more especially designed for the learned and inquisitive, it is expected that the judicious and candid will not be disposed to object that the manner in which these subjects are treated, is something above the level of common read. ers. For though a superficial way of discourse and loose harangues may well enough suit some 8 dbjects, and answer some val. uable purposes ; yet other subjects demand more closeness and accuracy. And if an author should neglect to do justice to a sub
ject, for fear thal the simpler sort should not fully understand him, he might expect to be deemed a trifler by the more intelli. ! gent.
u Our author had a rare talent 10 penetrate deep in search of truth; 10 take an extensive survey of a subject, and look through it into remote consequence8. Hence many theorems, that appear. ed hard and barren 16 others, were to him pleasant and fruitful fields, where his mind would expatiate with peculiar ease, profit and entertainment. Those studies, which to some were too fa. liguing to the mind, and wearing to the constitution, were to him
but a natural play of genius ; and which his mind, without labor, ::reggeled: freely anslo attoktaneously perform. A close and conclu. ::stue way of seasoning upon a controversial point was easy and naturpl tp hon. : : :
“Zhis ntay.serve, it is conceived, to account for his usual månner:ofiltexiting abstruse and controverted subjects, which some have thougʻlit has been too metaphysical. But the truth is, that his critical method of looking through the nature of his subject; his accuracy and precision in canvassing truth, comparing ideas, drawing consequences, pointing out and exposing absurdi. ties....naturally led him to reduce the evidence in favor of truth into the form of demonstration. Which doubtless, where it can be obtained, is the most eligible, and by far the most satisfying to great and noble minds. And though some readers may find the labor hard, to keep pace with the writer, in the advances he makes, where the ascent is arduous ; yet in general all was easy to him : Such was his peculiar lope and discernment of truth, and na: ural propensity to search after it. His own ideas were clear to him, where some readers have thought them obscure. Thus many things in the works of Newton and Locke, which appear either. quite unintelligible, or very obscure to the illiterate, were clear. and bright to those illustrious authors, and their learned readers,
The subjects here handled are sublime and important. The end which God had in view in creating the world, was doubtless worthy of him ; and consequently the most excellent and glorious possible. This, therefore, must be worthy to be known by all the intelligent creation, as excellent in itself, and worthy of their pur. suit. And as true virtue distinguishes the inhabitants of heaven
and all the happy candidates for that world of glory, from all others....there cannot surely be a more interesting subject.
“ The notions which some men entertain concerning God's end in creating the world, and concerning true virtue, in our late author's opinion, have a natural tendency to corrupt Christianity, and to destroy the gospel of our divine Redeemer. It was therefore, no doubt, in the exercise of a fi us concern for the honor and glory of God, and a tender respect to the best interests of his fellow men, that this devout and learned writer undertook the following work.
“ May the father of lights smile upon the pious and benevolent aims and labors of his servant, and crown them with his blessing!
EDITOR. July 12, 1765."