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The Names of the Perfons are prefixed, each to his refpective Share of the Difcourfe; in Imitation of Cicero, and for the Reasons which be affigns. Quafi enim ipfos induxi loquentes: ne Inquam & Inquit fæpius interponerentur. Atque id eo feci, ut tanquam præfentibus coram haberi Sermo videretur *. This Method, He very justly intimates, is removed fartheft from the Narrative, and makes the nearest Approaches to Life and Reality. It quite fecretes the Author; and, by introducing the Perfons themselves, renders all that paffes entirely their own.-It prevents likewife the Repetition of thofe interlocutory Words, He faid, He replied. Which, unless the Speeches are very long, must frequently recur, and have no pleafing Effect upon the Ear. And if the Speeches are long, the Spirit of Converfation is loft. The Affociates 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 confefs the Deficiency. There is not, I am fenfible, that peculiar Air and diftinguishing Turn, which should mark and characterize each Speaker. This is what the Nature of finished Dialogue requires, and what the Author ap
plauds in fome very fuperior 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 fame Mould, and take the fame Form.-In the Diction alfo there must be fome Diverfity. Because, feveral of the Objections are propofed 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 Occafion for the Alfistance of fuch an Index, and the Man of Tafte will probably difcern them by the Singularity of the Style.
Some of the following Pieces, it must be acknowledged, are of the controverfial Kind. A Species of Writing, leaft fufceptible of the Graces, which embellish Compofition; or rather most deftitute of the Attractives, which engage Attention, and create Delight.—Yet I have fometimes thought, that it is not abfolutely impoffible, to make even the ftern Face of Controverfy wear a Smile; and to reap fome valuable Fruit, from the rugged Furrows of Difputation. Whether this is effected in the prefent Work, the Public must judge; that it has been attempted
tempted, the Author may be permitted to de
To foften the Afperities of Argument, Views of Nature are interfperfed. That, if the former fhould carry the Appearance of a rude entangled Forest, or of a frowning gloomy Recess, there may be fame agreeable Openings, and lightfome Avenues, to admit a Profpect of the Country: which is always arrayed in Charms, and never fails to please.
The Author confeffes a very peculiar Fondefs for the amiable Scenes of Creation. It is therefore not at all improbable, but his Excurfians on this Topic may be of the diffufive Kind, and bis Defcriptions fomewhat luxuriant. It is boped, however, that the benevolent Reader will indulge Him in this favourite Foible.-If any fhould feel the fame prevailing Paffion for the Beauties of Nature, 'tis poffible thefe Perfons may be inclined, not only to excufe, but to approve the Fault; and may take Part with the Lover, even in Oppofition to the Critic.
Farther to diverfify the Piece, Sketches of Philofophy are introduced. Eafy to be underfood, and calculated to entertain the Imagination, as well as to improve the Heart. More particularly, to display the wife and beneficent Defign of Providence, in the various Appearanes and numberless Productions of the material
World. Neither are thefe Remarks altogether foreign to the main Point. But, as far as the Wonders of Creation may comport with the Riches of Grace, fubferve the general End.
As to the Choice of my Subjects-Some People bave defired to fee an Invective, against the fafhionable and predominant Vices of the Age. This, I apprehend, would be like picking off the Leaves, or clipping away the Twigs, from fome over-grown and noxious Tree. Waving this tedious and ineffectual Toil, I would rather lay the Axe to the Root. Let the Knowledge and Love of CHRIST take place in the Heart, and not only a few of the Branches, but the whole Body of Sin will fall at once.
Some would have the Author infift upon the confcientious Obfervation of the Sabbath, inculcate the daily Worship of GOD in the Family, and urge a devout Attendance on the public Ordinances of Religion.-But when a Perfon is convinced of Sin, and made fenfible of Mifery; when be bas tafted the good Word of GOD *, and feen by Faith the LORD's CHRIST †, He will want no Solicitation or Incitement, to thefe Means of Grace, and Exercises of Godlinefs. He will have just the fame Difpofition to them all, as the hungry Appetite has to whole
* Heb. vi. 5.
+ Luke ii. 26.
fome Food, or the new-born Babe to the Milk of the Breaft.
Others may imagine, that I have neglected the Interests of Morality; because, bere is no profefed Attempt to delineate its Duties, or enforce its Practice.-Let these Persons remember, that Morality never makes fuch vigorous Shoots, never produces fuch generous Fruit, as when engrafted on evangelical Principles.-And if I do not crop the Pink, the Rofe, and the Carnation; if I do not gather the Peach, the Nectarine, and the Pine-apple; and put them into my Reader's Hand, for his immediate Enjoyment: I am endeavouring to fow the Seeds, and plant the Roots, in his Garden; which, if cherished by the favourable Influence of Heaven, will yield Him, not an occafional, but a conftant Supply of all.
1 Pet. ii. 2. This Comparison is, perhaps, the most exact and expreffive, that Words can form, or Fancy conceive. Babes covet nothing but the Milk of the Breaft. They are indifferent about all other Things. Give them Riches, give them Honours, give them whatever you please, without this rich, delicious, balmy Nutriment, they will not, they cannot be fatisfied.How finely does this illuftrate, and how forcibly inculcate, what our LORD ftiles, The fingle Eye, and The One Thing needful! Or, the falutary Doctrines, and de-. lightful Privileges of the Gofpel; together with that fupreme Value for them, and undivided Complacency in them, which are the diftinguishing Character of the Chriflian!