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DIALOGUE I. Character of the speakers-On improving con-
DIALOGUE II. Walk through the gardens-The beautiful frame
DIALOGUE III. Walk through a meadow-Doctrine of Christ's
DIALOGUE IV. Park and romantic mount-Christ's death far-
DIALOGUE V. Elegant arbour in the flower-garden-]mputa-
DIALOGUE VI. Gallery of pictures-Library and its furniture
DIALOGUE VII. Hay-making-Pleasures of nature freely en-
DIALOGUE VIII. Duelling-Animadversions on the practice
DIALOGUE IX. Curious summer-house-No relaxation of the
DIALOGUE X. Theron's last effort to demolish the evangelical
DIALOGUE XI. Ruins of Babylon-Fine passage from Mr
DIALOGUE XII. Extremely hot day—A solemn shady bower
DIALOGUE XIII. Walk upon the terrace-Depravity of human
The reader will probably expect some account of the ensuing work; and to gratify him in this particular will be a real pleasure to the author.
The beauty and excellency of the Scriptures ;the ruin and depravity of human nature;-its happy recovery, founded on the atonement, and effected by the Spirit of Christ;—these are some of the chief points, vindicated, illustrated, and applied in the following sheets. But the grand article, that which makes the principal figure, is the IMPUTED RIGIITEOUSNESS of our divine Lord; from whence arises our justification before God, and our title to every heavenly blessing; an article which, though eminent for its importance, seems to be little understood, and less regarded; if not much mistaken, and almost forgotten.
The importance of this great evangelical doctrine, -how worthy it is of the most attentive consideration, and of universal acceptance,-is hinted in the second dialogue; so that I need, in this place, do nothing more than give the sense of a passage from Witsius, which is there introduced in a note. 66 The doctrine of justification,” says that excellent author, “ spreads itself through the whole system of divinity. As this is either solidly: established or superficially touched, fully stated or slightly dismissed; accordingly, the whole structure of religion either rises graceful and magnificent, superior to assault and beyond the power of decay, or else it appears disproportionate and defective, totters on its foundation, and threatens an opprobrious fall."
The design is executed in the form of dialogue; those parts only excepted in which it was not easy
to carry on a conversation, and assign to each person a proper degree of significancy. Here, to avoid the common imputation of bringing upon the stage a mute or a shadow,-one who fights without weapons, and submits without a contest,—the scene shifts. Our gentlemen separate, and, instead of conversing, enter upon an epistolary correspondence.
The dialogue form seems, on many considerations, a very eligible way of writing. Hereby the author gives an air both of dignity and of modesty to his sentiments. Of dignity; by delivering them from the mouths of persons in every respect superior to himself. Of modesty; because we no longer consider him in the raised, but invidious, capacity of a teacher. Instead of calling
us to his feet, and dictating his precepts, he gratifies our curiosity. He turps back a curtain, and admits us to some remarkable interviews, or interesting conferences. We overhear, by a kind of innocent or imaginary stealth, the debates which pass in the recesses of privacy, which are carried on with the most unreserved freedom of speech, and openness of heart; a circumstance which will apologize for some peculiarities that might otherwise be inconsistent with humility, or offensive to delicacy. Particularly it may
obviate the disgust which generally, and indeed deservedly, attends the frequent intrusion of that ambitious and usurping monosyllable, I.
The names of the persons are prefixed, each to his respective share of the discourse, in imitation of Cicero, and for the reasons which he assigns: “Quasi enim ipsos induxi loquentes: ne inquam et inquit sæpius interponerentur. Atque id eo feci, ut tanquam præsentibus coram haberi sermo videretur.” *
This method, he very justly intimates, is removed farthest from the narrative, and makes the nearest approaches to life and reality. It quite secretes the author, and, by introducing the persons themselves, renders all ibat passes entirely their own. It prevents likewise
* De Amicitia.
the repetition of those interlocutory words-he said, he replied; which, unless the speeches are very long, must frequently recur, and have no pleasing effect upon the ear.
And if the speeches are long, the spirit of conversation is lost. The associates are no longer talking ; but one of them, or the author, is lecturing:
Though I have so much to say in behalf of the model, I bave very little to say with regard to the execution, unless it be to confess the deficiency. There is not, I am sensible, that peculiar air and distinguishing turn which should mark and characterize each speaker. This is what the nature of finished dialogue requires, and what the author applauds in some very superior writers. But not having the ability to copy it, he has not the vanity to affect it. Nevertheless, the attentive reader will, all along, perceive a difference in the sentiment, if not in the language. The materials vary, even when they run into the same mould, and take the same form. In the diction also there must be some diversity ; because several of the objections are proposed in the very words of one or two eminent writers who have appeared on the other side of the question. These are not particularized by the mark of quotation; because the man of reading will have no occasion for the assistance of such an index, and the man of taste will probably discern them by the singularity of the style.
Some of the following pieces, it must be acknowledged, are of the controversial kind : a species of writing least susceptible of the graces which embellish composition; or rather, most destitute of the attractives which engage attention and create delight. Yet I have sometimes thought, that it is not absolutely impossible to make even the stern face of controversy wear a smile, and to reap some valuable fruit from the rugged furrows of disputation. Whether this is effected in the present work, the public must judge; that it has been attempted, the author may be permitted to declare.