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Assoc. AcAD. DIJoN, HoNorARY MEMBER of THE LITERARY AND PHILosophical
“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”
“Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh
THE history of the work now presented to the public may be given in very few words. It originated in a series of conversations which I had about five years ago with a friend much younger than myself, who had a considerable acquaintance with almost all except religious subjects. He expressed much surprise that a person of my habits and pursuits in other respects should adopt the religious notions I had long entertained, or indeed be solicitous about any religious opinions whatever; and I endeavoured to assign the reasons which led me to embrace them, and to consider such topics as of the first importance. After a short time we were so far separated as to have much fewer opportunities of personal intercourse: and I in consequence became induced to carry on the momentous inquiry we had previously commenced, by letter. Pursuant to this intention, all the letters in the first volume were actually written: they were read in manuscript by my friend; and, as I have reason to believe, were not unproductive of benefit. Having proceeded thus far, a growing particularity of inquiry was produced on the one side, and a gradual extension of plan on the other: and thus, after many interruptions, and in the midst of numerous avocations of a very different kind, the work has become what it now is.
I had not however proceeded half way in the execution of my plan before it occurred to me, that what I first intended for private use might be beneficial to others in circumstances analogous to those of my friend; and I recollected that whatever I might publish on the subject