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FOR THE UNITARIAN SOCIETY ; AND SOLD BY R.
EATON, 187, High HOLBORN.
Too large a circuit' may seem to have been taken in this work, and some things introduced appear foreign and unsuitable, if it be not considered, that the design hath not been barely to offer a vindication of the motives, conduct, and sentiments of a private person upon the subject of it, however important to him.
The aim has been higher, whether attained or no-to promote that charity, without which a faith that can remove mountains ( 1 Cor. xii. 2,) is nothing ; and to excite some to piety, virtue and integrity : in which it will be accounted far happier to have succeeded, than in making the largest number of proselytes to any opinions.
A sentiment not unlike to this, has often been read with pleasure, in that fine writer, teacher
and example of virtue and true religion, Lactantius; a confessor for the truth in the worst (the Diocletian) times, and unchanged, humble and moderate in the most flourishing, when made tutor to Crispus, the Emperor Constantine's son. He thus concludes one of his first christian writings:
“ But if life be an object of desire to a wise man, truly I could wish to live for no other end, but to do something worthy of life; and which may enable the reader, not to be more learned and eloquent, to which I can form but little pretensions, but to be a good man, which is the chief thing of all. And this, if I can but accomplish, I shall think I have lived long enough, and fulfilled my duty as a man, if by any labours of mine, some few may be delivered from error, and directed in their road to heaven."*
* Quod si vita est optanda sapienti, profecto nullam aliam ob causam vivere optaverim, quam ut aliquid efficiam quod vita dignum sit; et quod utilitatem legentibus, etsi non ad eloquentiam, quia tenuis in nobis facundiæ rivus est, ad vivendum tamen afferat, quod est maxime' necessarium. Quo perfecto, satis me vixisse arbitrabor, et officium hominis implêsse, si labor meus aliquos homines ab erroribus liberatos, ad iter coeleste direxerit.
LACTANTIUS--de Opificio Dei, p. 496.
(To the Fourth Edition),
TO THE READER.
IN this fourth edition a few illustrations have been added, and some alteration made in the interpretation formerly given of one or two places of Scripture.
Such alterations, I am persuaded, will be so far from being considered as marks of weakness and inconstancy, that they will rather be commended by all ingenuous persons. For the book of Revelation, as well as that of Nature, contains many passages which have not yet been sufficiently explored and unfolded; and our long imbibed and obstinate prejudices always leave something to be discovered and corrected by future industry and a more candid inquiry.
But the writer has found no reason of change whatsoever, respecting the chief object of the work, and cause of relinquishing his benefice and