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Hodgson 7-5.39 3861 6 V.
THE following Letters were begun in France, in the year 1789, and were continued from that country, from Italy, from Germany, and from England, through the years 1790 and 1791. Their principal object was, to expose the fallacy of the atheistical philosophy, and to shew how little support its advocates could derive, either from physics, when well understood, or from metaphysics, when cleared of extravagancy. In the prosecution of this design, the Author has been led into a wide field of a 3
observation in various branches of science: and he has often availed himself of the privilege of epistolary correspondence, to make excursions beyond what would have been admissible in a systematic work.
It has been said, that it is the indispensable duty of a Writer, either so to represent new things, as that they may appear familiar; or so to represent familiar things, as that they may appear new. The Author of the present work having few pretensions to the credit of discovery, or invention, will be satisfied if he shall be found to have placed, in an interesting light, facts and truths already well known. His aim is, merely to bring into an abridgement the scattered laws and ordinances of philosophy, and to hazard an humble
commentary commentary, wherever it appears necessary.
If, in the progress of this discussion, the Writer has been led, through the medium of physics, to ascend to higher contemplations, he has studiously avoided all scholastic subtilty; and while he has made a confident appeal to the understanding of his readers, he has endeavoured, with no small degree of solicitude, to engage their generous affections as advocates on the side of religion.
That the purpose of these Letters might not be defeated through any want of ability in the Writer, and that his argument might not suffer through any deficiency of materials, recourse has been had to every aua 4 .
thority which has come within his reach: for, science being only a continual accumulation of knowledge from the contributions of individuals, the Author has consulted Writers of all classes with diligence, and he is willing to hope, without prejudice or partiality. He has freely borrowed where it was necessary; and, in short, has taken every step that was in his power to come at truth. It will, he trusts, be seen, that he has forborne the assumption of any credit, which in any respect appertained to another. Even in language, he has been so far from wishing to dress up that which he has borrowed from others in newer or more appropriate termsthat he has almost uniformly adhered to his text. Various expressions, and even whole sentences, especially