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We are indebted for all our miferies to our dif trust of that guide, which Providence thought fufficient for our condition, our own natural reafon, which rejecting both in human and divine things, we have given our necks to the yoke of political and theological flavery. We have renounced the prerogative of man, and it is no wonder that we should be treated like beafts. But our mifery is much greater than theirs, as the crime we commit in rejecting the lawful dominion of our reafon is greater than any which they can commit. If after all, you should confefs all these things, yet plead the neceffity of political inftitutions, weak and wicked as they are, I can argue with equal, perhaps fuperiour force concerning the neceffity of artificial religion; and every step you advance in your argument, you add a strength to mine. So that if we are refolved to fubmit our reafon and our liberty to civil ufurpation, we have nothing to do but to conform as quietly as we can to the vulgar notions which are connected with this, and take up the theology of the vulgar as well as their politicks. But if we think this neceffity rather imaginary than real, we fhould renounce their dreams of fociety, together with their vifions of religion, and vindicate ourselves into perfect liberty.

You are, my Lord, but juft entering into the world; I am going out of it. I have played long enough

enough to be heartily tired of the drama. Whether I have acted my part in it well or ill, pofterity will judge with more candour than I, or than the prefent age, with our prefent paffions, can poffibly pretend to. For my part, I quit it without a figh, and submit to the fovereign order without murmuring. The nearer we approach to the goal of life, the better we begin to understand the true value of our existence, and the real weight of our opinions. We set out much in love with both; but we leave much behind us as we advance. We

first throw away the tales along with the rattles of our nurses; those of the priest keep their hold a little longer; thofe of our governours the longest of all. But the paffions which prop thefe opinions are withdrawn one after another; and the cool light of reafon at the setting of our life, fhews us what a falfe fplendour played upon these objects during our more fanguine seasons. Happy, my Lord, if inftructed by my experience, and even by my errours, you come early to make fuch an esti- mate of things, as may give freedom and eafe to your life. I am happy that fuch an estimate promifes me comfort at my death.

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PREFACE.

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HAVE endeavoured to make this edition fomething more full and fatisfactory than the first. I have fought with the utmost care, and read with equal attention, every thing which has appeared in publick against my opinions; I have taken advantage of the candid liberty of my friends; and if by these means I have been better enabled to discover the imperfections of the work, the indulgence it has received, imperfect as it was, fur• nished me with a new motive to fpare no reason. able pains for its improvement. Though I have not found fufficient reafon, or what appeared to me fufficient, for making any material change in my theory, I have found neceffary in many places to explain, illuftrate, and enforce it. I have prefixed an introductory difcourfe concerning Taste : it is a matter curious in itself; and it leads naturally enough to the principal inquiry. This, with the other explanations, has made the work confiderably larger; and by increasing its bulk has, I am afraid, added to its faults; fo that, notwithstanding all my attention, it may ftand in need of a yet greater share of indulgence than it required at its first appearance.

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