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RIGHT HON. AND RIGHT REV.
WILLIAM, LORD BISHOP OF LONDON,
&c. &c. &c.
Your Lordship will not, I am persuaded, reject a tribute of sincere reverence and dutiful esteem, offered to the Prelate in
whose Diocese I have chiefly exercised my
ministry, although it be a very humble offering. I have not, indeed, permission to
affix to the volumes, which I now take the
liberty of inscribing and presenting to your Lordship, a name, which, if I were authorized to use it, would assuredly impart to them a much higher sanction than they deserve ;-yet do me the honour to accept
VERY little modesty is to be attributed to an Author, who can present himself before the public without feeling, that, whatever may be his supposed talents for the elucidation of the subject on which he has been induced to write, he has still great occasion for diffidence with regard to the resalt. Very little wisdom is to be ascribed to him, who is not sensible of the risk he runs in laying himself open to the scrutiny of every one that may choose to sit in judgment on him,—who sees not the hazard of making known the extent of his ability to those who are perhaps better qualified than himself to perform the work which he has undertaken, and are prepared to decide on the merit or demerit of his performance according to a standard of excellence of which he may have no conception, or to which he has fruitlessly endeavoured to attain. But there is a conviction excited in the bosom of the Christian who has to
treat of sacred matters, which is infinitely more powerful than any ordinary emotion of humility and diffidence,--one which cannot but produce sincere self-abasement, and entire reliance for the success of his best efforts on the blessing of God alone.
He who writes on common topics, has at stake his character for literary attainment or scientific research, -he has to dread the lash of criticism, which may justly, perhaps, inflict a severe punishe ment for ignorance, or for folly and presumption in attempting to teach to others that with which he himself is ill-acquainted, he has to apprehend the mortification of observing, that his volumes mildew on the shelf, unheeded or thrown aside by those for whose improvement they were designed. Such retribution as this will always be regarded
a probable lot by every Author who does not think too highly of himself; for so long as he is aware of his own fallibility, and is willing to admit, that he may be wrong in his estimate of the comparative value of the object to which his studies are directed, he cannot but perceive the probability, at least, of his meeting with censure for want of discrimination, and of altogether losing the time and trouble he has bestowed upon his work.