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This, which confpired to distinguish you as an Example and Ornament to thofe of your own Order here, which in a fingular manner qualified you for the facred ministry, and rendered you equal to that eminent and difficult ftation in the Church, to which the Divine Providence and his Majefty's great Wisdom have been pleased to call you: In this, my Lord, I must beg leave to claim fome fhare; and consequently in the Fruits which daily flow from thence; that firm and fteady adherence to the Caufe of Virtue, Loyalty, and Liberty, joined with the most easy, affable behaviour, and feasoned with the greatest kindness and civility; that charitable, and truly Christian Spirit, which appeared to fuch advantage in your Lordfhip's late Difcourfe upon a publick Occafion, and which will ever more and more difplay itself in the mild, prudent, and good Government of your Lordship's Diocese. Happy they who live under its more immediate influence, and are duly fenfible that they do fo!
That the fame gracious Providence, which bleffed your Lordship with these A 4
various Talents, and which has hitherto given ample Success to the use of them, may long continue so very valuable a Life, and grant to you such a portion of health and vigour as may enable you to perfift in accomplishing the fame great Ends, the Glory of God, the Good of his Church, and Benefit of all those committed to your Charge, is the hearty Prayer of,
'HE following Difcourfes were originally part of a larger Defign, tending to fhew that Arts and Sciences, Natural and Revealed Religion, have upon the whole been progreffive, from the Creation of the World to the prefent Time; as alfo that they have been fuited to each other, as well as to the Circumftances of Mankind, during each eminent Period of this their Progreffion. A Theory, which, when fairly reprefented, may be fuppofed to give Some fatisfaction to many perfons, who being convinced of the Existence and Attributes of one fupreme firft Caufe, yet are so unhappy as to entertain ftrong Prejudices against every kind of Revelation, chiefly on account of the Circumstances under which it feems to have been communicated; which they are unable to reconcile with the Course and Order of Divine Providence in all other reSpects; as well as to thofe, who are equally at a lofs in fearching after any fettled Order or Defign in either of these Establishments: but yet, if they could once perfwade themselves in general, that one of these proceeded in fome fort of uniform Ratio, and Analogy with the other, and that both were in a State of regular Progreffion; would probably have Patience to wait a while, in hopes of feeing their particular Objections gradually removed in each, by the fame Rules.
Having formerly attempted to clear up some of the chief Difficulties that occur in our Conceptions of the Deity and his Providence, in fome Obfervations on ABp. King's Essay on the Origin of Evil; I have fince had the pleasure of feeing those Principles adopted by a late celebrated Writer, and adorned with all the Graces of Poetry: This is a Continuation of the fame defign of justifying the ways of God to Man: But being deftitute of fome means that were necessary to complete it, I could only draw the Outlines, and was forced to content myself with venturing these abroad in the present Form, (though very fenfible that it is not the most inviting to fome Readers,) rather than be at the pains of throwing it into one clofe continued Treatife; efpecially as my fmall flock of Materials would Scarcely have been fufficient to have given that its due proportions, and feveral things of a practical nature must have been retrenched, which this more popular Form admits. Though it is freely owned that fuch an attempt of uniting Speculative and practical things together, of frequently infifting on and inculcating the latter, and of delivering the whole in fuch a trite unfashionable way as may be termed the foolishness of preaching; must run no fmall risk with perfons of a more refined and elegant tafte, to which this has by no means been adapted.
The Notes are chiefly calculated for a CommonPlace, or Index, to direct the induftrious Reader
to fuch Authors, more efpecially among the Moderns, as might furnish him with as just and proper Obfervations on each Head, as I could think myfelf capable of producing; what Character foever Some of them may bear among the Learned. And indeed, provided the Notions were but good and feafonable, I have not been very folicitous under whofe name, or in what place and manner they appeared. It must be confeffed that even fome of the lowest Clafs Sometimes have feveral useful things not elsewhere to be met with, though few would think it worth their while to feek there for them; which tends (according to the observation of an eminent Writer*) to fhew the Benefit of general reading: neither would it be quite fair to borrow any thing from fuch, without a due acknowledgment; nor can we be underfood to answer for any of them farther than the point reaches, for which they were exprefly cited or referred to. Where any thing feemed necessary to be added or fupplyed, it will be found either introducing thefe, or intermixed among them, as occafion offered: and in pursuance of this bumble plan, the inferting all new Writers as they came forth, or fell in my way fince the firft Impreffion, muft occafion most of thofe Alterations and Additions that have hitherto been made, but which will hardly be continued
*Note to Pope's Eff. on Crit. ver. 267.