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HONOURABLE AND RIGHT REVEREND
LORD BISHOP OF DURHAM.
THE following work was undertaken at your Lordship’s recommendation, and, amongst other motives, for the purpose of making the most acceptable return that I could, for a great and important benefit conferred upon me.
It may be unnecessary, yet not perhaps quite impertinent, to state to your Lordship, and to the reader, the several inducements that have led me once more to the press. The favour of my first and ever-honoured Patron had put me in possession of so liberal a provision in the Church, as abundantly to satisfy my wants, and much to exceed my pretensions. Your Lordship's munificence, in conjunction with that of some other excellent Prelates, who regarded my services with the par.
tiality with which your Lordship was pleased to consider them, hath since placed me in ecclesiastical situations, more than adequate to every object of reasonable ambition. In the mean time, a weak, and, of late, a painful state of health, deprived me of the power of discharging the duties of my station in a manner at all suitable, either to my sense of those duties, or to my most anxious wishes concerning them. My inability for the public functions of my profession, amongst other consequences, left me much at leisure. That leisure was not to be lost. It was only in my study that I could repair my deficiencies in the church; it was only through the press that I could speak. These circumstances entitled your Lordship in particular to call upon me for the only species of exertion of which I was capable, and disposed me without hesitation to obey the call in the best manner that I could. In the choice of a subject, I had no place left for doubt: in saying which, I do not so much refer, either to the supreme importance of the subject, or to any scepticism concerning it with which the present times are charged, as I do to its connexion with the subjects treated of in my former publications. The following discussion alone was wanted to make up my works into a system : in which works, such as they are, the public have now before them, the evidences of Natural Religion, the
evidences of Revealed Religion, and an account of the duties that result from both. It is of small importance that they have been written in an order the very reverse of that in which they ought to be read. I commend, therefore, the present volume to your Lordship's protection, not only as, in all probability, my last labour, but as the completion of a regular and comprehensive design.
Hitherto, my Lord, I have been speaking of myself, and not of my Patron. Your Lordship wants not the testimony of a Dedication; nor any testimony from me: I consult therefore the impulse of my own mind alone when I declare, that in no respect has my intercourse with your Lordship been more gratifying to me, than in the opportunities which it has afforded me, of observing your earnest, active, and unwearied solicitude, for the advancement of substantial Christianity; a solicitude, nevertheless, accompanied with that candour of mind, which suffers no subordinate differences of opinion, when there is a coincidence in the main intention and object, to produce any alienation of esteem, or diminution of favour. It is fortunate for a country, and honourable to its government, when qualities and dispositions like these are placed in high and influencing stations. Such is the sincere judgement which I have formed of your Lordship's character and of its public