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In compliance with the earnest solicitations of a few select friends, for whom I have the highest esteem, the ensuing discourse is, with diffidence and humility, submitted to the candour of the public. I am conscious of many defects in it, and wish they may not be found of such consequence as to prejudice the good cause which I desire above all things to promote. The subject is important, and it is hoped the author's aim in treating upon it will be deemed laudable. Those who know his circumstances may perhaps be disposed to make some kind allowances for the inaccuracies they may here meet with, and peruse these pages with christian sim
plicity, rather than the severity of criticism.
The intelligent reader will observe, that I have availed myself of many hints and observations of the most valuable and approved authors, which I thought pertinent and striking. I have sometimes forborn to mention the names of those authors, not that I might appropriate their labours, or usurp their honours; but that I might not crowd the pages of this diminutive performance by ostentatious quotations. I hope this general acknowledgement will be deemed a sufficient apology for the liberty I have taken in this behalf.
It is not to be expected that many things can be advanced on moral subjects entirely new. The finest and most beautiful thoughts concerning the government of our passions, and the regulation of our manners, have been carried away before our times; and little is left for us, but to glean after the ancients, and the most approved of the moderns.
I hope it will appear that it has been my endeavour throughout the whole to advance nothing on the subject but what is consonant with the sacred oracles, the infallible rule of faith and practice; and that my design is to promote the meekness, benevolence, peace and love, which are the brightest ornaments of the christian character.
Brearley-Hall, near Halifax,
Oct. 30, 1788.