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what its contents are.
not so judge this book.
But the learned Samuel shall
He shall read it through
to its "FINIS" ere he shall be able to pass an impartial judgment upon it.
I shall not beat a drum, or sound a brazen trumpet, as the showman doth in the fair, and shouting to the gaping crowd to "step inside, for the descriptions on the canvas without, are nothing to the glorious living wonders within," and then the exhibition to close with few praises and many curses, because what is within, does not correspond with the dauby colourings on the canvas without. So in this chapter, I shall not raise thy expectations with fair promises concerning the contents of the book, either with noise of drum, or brazen trumpet, or daub of canvas; but very quietly, and humbly, and most deferentially, request thee, whether a layman, or "holy and reverend" be thy name, to walk in and judge for thyself.
Who it is that thus addresses thee, is no concern of thine. Mind thine own business, which is, I presume, to search for truth, if haply, light be given to thee, which shall enable thee to find it. Light
may, or may not, be shed across thy path, as thou art journeying on. However, if thou be sincere in thy work, thou wilt feel thankful that my name is concealed from thee. Men are biassed by names and appearances. If I tell thee that royal blood is flowing through my veins, though it were as blue as watered milk, all I have to say, would be to thee, as if an angel from heaven had whispered it in thine ears, tho' it were but
aye; but if I tell thee that I have no place whereon to lay my head, though I preach a veritable gospel from heaven, thou wouldst, unless the grace of God prevent thee, sooner stone or crucify me, than believe. Therefore, I desire thee
to think more of what is written than of the writer. Have faith in thy reading, and then the truth will be dearer to thy soul when not associated with him who utters it, for music is sometimes sweetest when the player is not seen.
Therefore, to Baptists of every sort, and to Primitive Methodists, and to Wesleyan and all other Methodists, to Roman Catholics and Protestants, to Quakers and Universalists and Shakers, to Moravians
and Plymouth Brethren, to Unitarians and Theists, to Atheists and Free Christians, to Latter Day Saints and Bible Christians, and to all sectarians whom it may concern, and whom the cap of this book may fit, I dedicate this book, and as God Almighty alone knows into what company it may find its way, like a father who is anxious about the welfare of a child whom his soul dearly loveth, so I pray, that when thou, my indulgent reader, art familiar with its pages, thou wilt practise its virtues, and deal justly with its vices which, I hope thou wilt learn to forgive and forget, and avoid.
WRITING for all religious sectarians I presume that thou art one, and that thou lovest thy sect, and also art a devoted admirer of the name which it bears. I need not tell thee, that love is blind unless guided by the greatest discretion, and I venture to add, that thou hast modesty enough in thy nature to admit, that thou dost not possess that amount of discretion which secures infallibility to the decisions of thy mind. Thy sectarian position may be owing to thy fathers before thee, who, have handed down, and thou hast inherited, their tradition, names and usages. Thou art too near thy sect and its associations, to see thyself in thy truest relation to the things which stand about thee. Thou may'st be blind therefore, to the faults and virtues of thy sectarian position. I desire therefore to conduct thee somewhat out of the reach of those influences which, have imperceptibly influenced both thee and thy fathers, it may be, for
generations past, into a sphere in which thou wilt see how possible it is to consider the past, not as an absolutely evil one, but one which, might be very much improved to thine own personal advantage, and also to the state in which thou livest.
Thy sectarian name is one which the age can now
very well without, and I desire at once to tell thee that one of the motives in writing this book is to persuade thee to gradually decline the sectarian name which now attaches to thee. I know that in thy name, and above it, and behind it, and over all of it, thou dost see all that we conceive of heaven, and . peace, and light, and truth, and that I am trespassing
on holy ground and disturbing the peace of thy contented soul. Thy reasons for retaining thy name, no doubt, are strong and many, and have very great weight with thee, and should have, thou thinkest, every consideration and treated with the profoundest respect. So say I my brother; yet notwithstanding all this, I presume to request thee to meet me in the next chapter, in which thy reasons shall be considered with respect, candour, and charity.