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mend it to the unsophisticated minds of my country
With this view I have endeavoured to infuse into its pages the spirit in which they were writtenthat of honesty, sincerity, and unaffected philanthropy. To whatever other imputations the argument may be liable, I trust that it will not be thought open to the reproach of wilful perversion, cowardly concealment, a morbid affectation of humanity, or a studied display of moral and religious sentiment. I know that a fair and manly argument will find favour and free admission with fair and manly minds, and such are eminently those minds to which this treatise is principally addressed. With respect to my own, I have endeavoured to discipline it (though I trust from more exalted motives) upon the principle of Epictetus (in his Moral Essay upon the Book of Chrysippus,) who thought that the more capable he presumed himself to be of explaining his subject, the more he ought to be ashamed if what he ventured to teach others he did not take due care to practise as exactly himself. This is, after all, the only solid proof of a man's seriousness and sincerity: and I have ventured to cite it in this place, with a view to encourage those who may admit the truth of the reasoning to give the same evidence of the sincerity of their conviction. The principal satisfaction which the eventual success of my labours can afford will be found in that result.
I must be permitted to remark, in conclusion, that there is something peculiarly animating in the prospect presented to our view. Although public and individual happiness are made to rest upon the basis of otte uniform principle, certain in its effects, and liable to no mistake in the application ; success is not dependant upon an unattainable degree
of perfection, which lies beyond the bounds of hope or probability when applied to mankind in general, but will be sufficient to reward exertion far short of that extreme point, provided the course of the pursuit tend directly towards it, and wander into no devious tracks. Success, however, will be ample in proportion to the degree of approximation in which our exertions bring us to that point of complete attainment, which every rational man sets before him as the guide and end of his pursuit, whether his object be of a temporal or of a more exalted nature. Now it may be fairly asked, could the goodness of Providence offer more persuasive arguments, or more encouraging conditions than certain recompense for moderate exertions, and a further reward commensurate with any increase of them? That compendious argument for sloth and indifference, that the things of this world do not admit of perfection, and therefore that zeal in its improvement is only an exhibition of folly or a waste of labour, is here deprived of all its force; at least, it is stripped of its disguise, and its disgraceful motives are left naked and exposed. We perceive that it is only necessary to press forward firmly and courageously towards the mark, however distant; and to him that runneth will be awarded, a proportionate prize, in whatever part of the course he may ultimately be found. None will be entirely precluded, but those who are found out of the course.
These truths may be gathered from the suggestions of natural conscience as well as from the words of Scripture, of which the following proof, extracted from the writings of a heathen maralist, may well excite a Christian community to emulation :
“ We know that in this world perfection is not to
be attained; but it ought, notwithstanding, to be aimed at; because without keeping this unattainable perfection steadily in view, we cannot proceed far in what is to be attained ; and for this purpose, perhaps, Providence indulged to us such an idea.”
Page 30, line 2, dele comma after the word “pressure."
79, line 16, for similiar read similar.
word “ the."
C. Baldwin, Printer, New Bridge Street, London.
BY THE SAME AUTHOR,
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