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is, that it is at least a pardonable ambition; in which I fhall certainly 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 soon discover to proceed from the same vanity I before suspected myself to be guilty of. An_d the world will judge, that I speak it' rather to do myself honour than^oa. 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 style of dedications) in order to do honour to my own, and at once oppress your modesty and expose my vanity, I shall put an end to it, without so much as attempting to describe a character, b which which I fhall, however, always aim to imitate.
But that you may continue to adorn that public and useful station you are in, and long live a patron and pattern of solid and disinterested virtue; and that your many charitable offices and good works on earth may meet with a large and late reward in heaven, is the hearty prayer of,
Your much obliged,
and very humble servant,
Dorking, Jan. 31.7 J. MASON.
•T'HE subject of the ensuing Treatise is .*, of great importance; and yet I do not remember to have seen it cultivated with that exactness, perspicuity, and force, with which many other moral and theological themes have been managed. And indeed it is but rarely that we sind it particularly and fully recommended to us, in a set and regular discourse, either from the pulpit or the press. This consideration, together with a full persuasion of its great and extensive usefulness, hath put me upon an endeavour, in this manner, to render it more familiar to the minds of Christians.
Mr. Baxter indeed has a treatise proJe/fedly upon this subject, entitled. The Jvfifckicf of Self-Ignorance, and the Benefit of Self-Acquaintance: and I freely acknowledge some helps I received from him: but he hath handled it (according to his manner) in so lax and diffuse a way, introducing so manything^bto it that arc b 2 foreign foreign from it, omitting others that properly belong to it, and fkimming over some with a too supersicial notice, that I own I found myself much disappointed in what I expected from him, and was convinced that there wanted something more correct, nervous, and methodical, to be written on this subject.
I am far from having the vanity to think that this, which I now offer to the public, is entirely free from those faults which I have remarked in that pious and excellent author, and am 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 impofsible 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 near assinity to it, as I sear I have done, (Part. I. Chap. XIV.) concerning the knowledge, guard, and government of the thoughts.
But there is a great difserence between a short, occasional, and useful digression, and a wide rambling from the subject by following the irtpulse of a luxuriant fancy.
A A judicious taste can hardly excuse the latter, though it may be content the author should gather a sew flowers out of the common road, provided he soon returns into it again.
"Which brings to my mind another thing which, 1 am sure, I have great reason to crave the reader's patience and pardon for (the best end I know of prefaces), and that is, the free use I have made ot some of the ancient Heathen 'writers in my marginal quotations, which I own looks like an ostentation of reading, which I always abhorred. But it was conversing with those authors that sirst turned my thoughts to this subject. And the good sense I met with in most os their aphorisms and sentiments, gave me an esteem for them; which made it dissicult for me to resist the temptations of transcribing several of them, which I thought pertinent to the matter in hand. But after all, I am ashamed to see what an old-fashioned sigure they make in the margin. However, if the reader thinks they will too much interrupt the course of the subject, he may entirely omit them: though by that means he will perhaps lose the benesit of some of the sinest sentiments in the book.
J remember a modern writer I have very b 3 lately