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an assurance that the person to whom it is made, fo thoroughly understandeth the practical part of this subject, that he will be inclined to excuse whatever defects
may occur in the management of it.
In this science my own preficiency is poor, that I dare not be confident I am not wrong in the views, with which I defire this small tract may appear under your patronage. That it may have a refuge from the petulance of censure, an encouragement in the publication, and, at the same time, that I may have an opportunity of testifying my grateful sense of many past favours, my open and avowed ends herein. But still, whether an ambition to be known to the world under the advantage of your friendship be not the secret and true motive, I cannot be certain,
However, if in this point I mistaken, there is another in which I think I cannot; namely, that it is a pardonable ambition; in which I shall cer
tainly stand acquitted by every one who knows your character, the delicacy of your taste in the choice of friends, and the real honour it does to those you are pleased to admit into that number.
But even this, SIR, your penetration will foon discover to proceed from the same vanity whereof I before sufpected myself to be guilty. And the world
will judge, that I speak it rather to do myself honour than you. However I am beforehand with them in the observation. And that I may not be tempted, in this address, to enhance your character (according to the usual stile of dedications) in order to do hoto my own, and at
once oppress your modesty and expose my vanity, I shall conclude without so much as tempting to describe a Character, which I shall always endeavour to imitate.
But that you may continue to adorn that public and useful station yottare in, and long live a patron and example of real and disinterested virtue ; and that
many charitable offices and good works on earth, may meet with a large, tho' late, reward in heaven, is the zealous Prayer of,
Your much obliged, and
very humble Servant,
Dorking, Jan. 31,
P R E F
HE subject of the ensuing trea
tise is of great importance ; and yet I do not remember to have
seen it cultivated with that precision, perspicuity and force, with which many other moral and theological themes have been executed. It is but rarely we find it professedly and fully recommended to us, in any regular discourse, either from the pulpit or the press. This consideration, together with a full persuasion of its great and extensive usefulness, hath excited the present attempt, to render it more familiar to the minds of Christians.
Mr. Baxter indeed has a treatise upon this subject, intitled, The Mischief of Selfignorance, and the Benefit of Self-acquaintance, from which I candidly acknowledge to have received fome affistance. But he hath treated it in such a vague method by introducing many foreign things into it, omitting others that properly belong to it, and skimming over some with too superficial a notice, that I was greatly disappointed in the per
formance ; and was convinced that some. thing more correct, nervous and methodical was wanting on this subject.
I am far from having the vanity to conclude that what I now offer to the public, is entirely free from those faults, which I have remarked in that pious and excellent author ; andam sensible, that if I do not fall under a much heavier censure myself, it must be owing to the great candour of my reader ; which he will be convinced I have some title to, if he but duly consider the nature and extent of the subject. For it is almost impossible to let the thoughts run freely upon so copious and comprehensive a theme, in order to do justice to it, without taking too large a scope in some particulars that have a close connection with it; as I fear I have done (Part I. Chap. XIV.) concerning the knowledge, guard and government of the thoughts.
But there is a great difference between a short, occasional and useful digreffion, and a wide rambling from the subject, by following the impulse of a luxuriant fancy. A judicious taste can hardly excuse the latter; tho' it may allow an author to gather a few flowers out of the common road, provided he foon returns into it again.
This brings to my mind another thing, for which I must crave the reader's indulrence, viz. the free use I have made of