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WRITTEN FIRST A. D. 1793-4;
BEING A NARRATIVE OF THE
LIFE AND OPINIONS OF THE WRITER,
UNTIL THE PERIOD OF HIS CONVERSION TO THE FAITH OF
WHICH TOOK PLACE IN THE COURSE OF The Developments
OF AN ESSAY, WRITTEN BY THE Deist,
TO PROVE THAT
PURE DEISM WAS THE ONLY TRUE RELIGION.
* No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or
« puttetle it under a bed; but setteth it on a candlestick, that they
“ which enter in may see the light."-LUKE, viii. 16.
“ done for my soul.-Psalm Ixvi.
In lieu of a formal Preface of my own composition, I venture to prefix to the following pages, an extract from a letter to the Author, written by the Rev. John Newton, late Rector of St. Mary's Woolnoth, on the subject of this Narrative. For after writing several Prefaces, it appeared to me, that the above-mentioned extract contained, in few words, nearly all that was necessary for the Reader's information; and that the opinion of a second person respecting my work, would have more weight than my own.
I shall only just observe here, that my first Preface (written when I was as it were red hot with zeal and faith, without judgment) was a burst of enthusiasm *; containing, perhaps, some striking and useful observations, but in general hardly intelligible to any one except myself, and what would be thought rank and mystical fanaticism. This piece was successively weeded and moderated by different criticisms, until it perhaps contained nothing offensive except the insipidity of tedious common place, as many might probably have thought it.
* In a common and general sense, not meaning a bad
This residuum, as uninteresting, and perhaps repulsive, I at last burnt; and finding upon the whole, that I could not hope to please more than a very few of my Readers, on any terms, I began to think that it would be better to have no Preface. But when I recollected Mr. Newton's Letter on the same subject, it struck me that an extract from it would 'form the best Preface which I could prefix to the work.' Probably some persons may say, we are already overwhelmed with these Narratives; why publish it at all? I reply, that after keeping it near thirty years in my trunk, I am now induced to publish it, by the earnest solicitation of some pious friends.
· It appears necessary, in self-defence, to inform my candid Reader, that when I first wrote this Narrative, I was, perhaps, one of the most romantic simpletons in existence. I had it în my most deliberate purpose, to exhibit my whole soul for public inspection, like an anatomical subject, pro bono publico, as a warning to sinners, and also as a valuable study for spiritual anatomists. At the same time, I intended to remain incognito, if possible, without defeating the object of publication. For I was a bachelor, a soldier, and an enthusiast; I therefore committed to paper everything
that I knew or thought of myself, both good and bad, in thought and word, as well as in deed ; that the whole naked truth might appear, for the information of my moral and spiritual dissectors, and ultimately for the glory of God, in the confirmation of the truth of the Gospel. :
One half, to say the least, of these exposures of myself, has been expunged by the advice of the Rev. Mr. Newton, who anxiously desired to revise, and curtail with his own hand, and then publish the corrected Narrative. But at that time my prejudices were too inveterate, and my. attachment to some parts which he desired to cut off too parental, to allow me to consent to his proposed operations, which I thought too severe, too concise!
At present I find that there is scarcely a part in the whole, which does not displease some one or other of even those who wish to see the MSS. in print. If, therefore, I would please the whole, I must expunge the whole; and consequently I resolve to let it go as it now stands. Yet, I hope that I do really desire to “please my neighbour for his good to edifica“ tion."- 1 Cor. xv.
Extract from Mr. Newton's Letter to the
Author. “I have now read your book twice, with “ some attention: the greater part of it with