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the last century, if the institutions have not been permitted actually to decay, at least the spirit of some of them has declined, and sufficient care has not been taken to extend and apply them to the altered circumstances of the country. If it be asked wherefore is this? I should be tempted to reply, because the cardinal principle was overlooked; because political sagacity was estranged from its legitimate companion sound piety; and the effect of moral and political institutions upon the people was referred not to the eternal principles asserted by God for the government of man, but to the degenerate passions of the parties concerned, and to the temporary and particular interests of the passing moment. Let the British youth compare the benefits conferred upon his country by Sir Robert Walpole, one of the most celebrated statesmen of the last century, with those which we inherit from the statesmen who flourished 150 years before him; let the principles and the character of each be investigated; and the decided opposition will scarcely be entirely ascribed to the different circumstances of the world at the two periods. For the variance is certainly to the full as great in principle as in practice. If these were some of the causes of partial and incipient decay, it is a much more agreeable, and not a less profitable task to trace the causes of the partial and incipient improvement which has marked the auspicious period of the present century. It would, I humbly conceive, be a symptom of blind prejudice to deny either that the moral and political character of the universal English people (if I may be allowed the term) has made a vigorous shoot in advance, or that the cause is to be found in the nourishment which has been betowed upon the root of the plant from the revived application of religious principle. These considerations are awfully instruc. tive to such of my countrymen as are now in a course of training to fill the important and responsible offices of the state. It would be an undertaking equally pleasant and profitable to follow the progress of the British commonwealth through the several stages of society, and to mark the instances of its partial deviation from, or courageous adherence to, sound principles, with the consequences arising from each. But the execution of such a task would evidently require a volume, to which indeed this which I have now brought to a close would be no unsuitable introduction. Whether I may myself presume to enter upon it must depend upon circumstances which it is impossible at the present moment to anticipate; for I possess no means of foreseeing to what extent the public may be pleased to sanction or condemn the present undertaking. If they determine to reject my principles, it would be useless to offer deductions from them until I have endeavoured to refute the arguments upon which the principles themselves may be rejected; failing in which, silence would be the part of wisdom. But I hope, in all humility, for a more favourable result. Conscious as I unfeignedly am of the many defects in its execution ; sensible as I must be that in so extensive and complicated an argument many insulated positions may be found, upon which misapprehension may lead to error, or wilful cavil to conclusions never intended to be drawn; still I cannot help entertaining a lurking expectation, that a con nected and candid perusal of the treatise will recom

mend it to the unsophisticated minds of my countrymen. With this view I have endeavoured to infuse into its pages the spirit in which they were written– that 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 one 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 moralist, 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.”

THE END.

ERRATA.

Page 30, line 2, dele comma after the word “pressure.” 79, line 16, for similiar read similar. 81, line 12, for divest read divert. o 98, last line, for prevert read pervert. 155, last line, for (Chap. vi.) read (Chap. iv.) 182, 7 lines from bottom, for propositions read proposition. 243, penult line, for are read is. 250, line 2, between the “any” and “excess” insert the word “extraordinary.” 256, line 8, dele originally. 264, line 2, between the words “between” and “distresses” insert the word “ the.” o 283, penult line, dele syllable “pro-”. 320, line 3 from bottom, dele comma after “production.” -** * 334, line 11, for he endeavours read they endeavour. 336, line 4, for particuliar read particular. 350, line 6, for excess read access. 390, line 19, dele comma after “distant.”

Ç. Baldwin, Printer, New Bridge Street, London. ------

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