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despair that the gentleman who has the custody
of it may by some means be prevailed upon to resign it up to me; so proposing to publish it upon the same paper and print with this, and with the the number of pages continued, in order to complete the volume, I thought it most convenient to prefix the title of the whole to what the Reader is now presented with. If what remains cannot be procured, then let this Advertisement stand as an apology for the impropriety of the titlepage, and serve to inform posterity that the Author had taken the pains to complete this great work, however unjustly the world is deprived of the sight of part of it. I found it was the general opinion of our learned men, that the attempts which some have already made upon this subject have not wholly superseded all farther endeavours upon it; and therefore made no doubt that this new essay would be kindly received, especially when known to be writ by an Author of so great eminence for his profound learning and piety, and unquestionable zeal for the Established Church. But because some pretended to make a question whether the publishing of it would be for the honour of the Author, and the common benefit, the best way I had to satisfy
them, was to print such a part of it by way of .
specimen, as the world might from thence be able to form a judgment of the whole work. For this reason I published some of the first Articles by themselves, and was presently confirmed in my former opinion how well it was like to be received,
both by the great impatience I every where found for the rest, and by the high recommendations given of it by the generality of learned men, as well with respect to the plain, modest, sincere, and impartial manner in which it is writ, as for the happy application of the Author's great learning and universal reading in it. Whether the Author had put his finishing hand to this work, I cannot pretend to determine: no doubt, however, but the edition of it would have been more correct and perfect had he lived to overlook it himself. But his deferring to publish it himself is unreasonably suggested by some as an argument against the worth of it, considering especially the Author's great modesty, for which he was no less eminent than his piety and learning. Besides, if this were an argument, it would equally affect his other posthumous works I have published, which notwithstanding have met with an universal approbation. As to what the same persons farther object, that this was one of the Author's juvenile works, and therefore not fit for public view, I must confess I have no certain information what time he did write it. But I am much mistaken if the Author's known prudence and modesty would suffer him to undertake a work of so great importance, and so critical a nature, before he was arrived to a good maturity of years and judgment; and I leave the learned Reader to judge whether it is probable that so profound a knowledge of holy Scriptures, fathers, councils, ecclesiastical and rabbinical
writers, and Oriental languages, as is every where discovered in this work, could be attained before the Author was pretty well advanced in years. But granting that he did finish it in his youth, it must so much the more redound to his immortal honour, as it will speak him no less than a prodigy of parts and learning. At least, among competent judges, it will never be the worse received upon this score. We know that the late learned Bishop of Worcester's ‘Origines Sacrae' has not been the less esteemed, though published by the author when he was but four-and-twenty years of age. By the specimens that have been already published of this work, I do not find that it has met with any opposition, but by such as are the known enemies of our Church ; the doctrines of which are here, as I am well informed, so sincerely explained and excellently confirmed. Notwithstanding they will find it hard to meet with any thing in this work that can justly provoke them, but many to cure them of their prejudices, and reconcile them. There is a peculiar strain of piety, seriousness, and charity, that runs through all this Author's compositions, which cannot fail to affect those whom even his reasons cannot convince. Nor has this been without its good effects upon many people's minds already; insomuch, that we can upon good grounds say, that the opportune publishing of the writings of this great Prelate has put no small stop to that torrent of profaneness and infidelity so much complained of. And therefore any attempts to lessen their value, can never be thought to be made for the service of religion; especially when the only objection that the most malicious have been able to find out against them, is in respect to some pretended defects in the style and manner of expression. For granting that he may in some few places, even of this book, abound in turns and antitheses, this is known by the learned to be so much the style of many of the primitive fathers, that his close imitating of them in piety and orthodoxy will easily excuse his imitating them in this also. But, in short, the Bishop had higher views than to please those who look no deeper than into the style of an author: his business was to inform the judgment, and not to please the fancy; and he writ for those who read with a sincere disposition to be informed, and not for those who have been always known to endeavour to destroy the credit of every thing that tends to promote piety. How much soever it may have been the interest and concern of some to hinder the publishing of this work, I am very confident the learned world, who have seen the First Article, would have been very sorry to have lost the opportunity of perusing the rest. His other writings, which have rendered his name famous over all Europe, have caused every composition of his to be earnestly desired. It scarce would have been believed that this work, which is rather of greater, certainly not of less importance, than any of his other writings, and upon which he has visibly bestowed so much pains, was not worthy of public view. To have suppressed it, would have rather been an injury to his memory than otherwise; and would have been taken, as if so great and pious a man had to no purpose employed, so great a part of his time, of which no person was known to be a better husband. Though I have endeavoured as much as I could to render the edition of this book correct, yet, through the hurry of the press, occasioned by the great impatience for it, I am sensible some errors, and those not merely literal, have passed uncorrected. I desire the candid Reader to lay these to the charge of the Printer, and by no means to the Author; and when the rest of the work comes forth, I promise that the most considerable of them shall be taken notice of by way of errata".