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HE Reader will probably expet
fome Account of the ensuing Work; T
and, to gratify Him in this Par
ticular, will be a real Pleasure to the Author.
The Beauty and Excellency of the ScripturesThe Ruin and Depravity of human Nature - Its bappy Recovery, founded on the Atonement, and effected by the SPIRIT of CHRIST—These are some of the chief Points, vindicated, illustrated, and applied in the following Sheets.- -But the grand Article, that which makes the principal Figure, is the impUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS of our divine LORD; from whence arises our Yuftificaion before GOD, and our renewed Title to every
heavenly Blefing. An Article, which, though eminent for its Importance, seems to be little understood, and less regarded; if not much mistaken, and almost forgotten.
The Dignity and Importance of this great evangelical Doctrine-how worthy it is of the most attentive Confideration, and of universal Acceptance is binted in the fecond Dialogue. So that I need, in this Place, do nothing more, than give the Sense of a Passage from Witfius, which is there introduced in the Notes, -" The Do&trine
of Justification, says that excellent Author, Spreads itself through the whole System of Divinity. As this is either solidly established, or fun perficially touched; fully stated, or Nightly dif
missed; accordingly, the whole Structure of Re" ligion, either rises graceful and magnificent, fu
perior to Afault, and beyond the Power of Decay; or else it appears disproportionate and defeEtive, totters on its Foundation, and threatens an opprobrious Fall *
The Dehgn is executed in the Form of Dialogue, Those Parts only excepted, in which it was not easy to carry on a Conversation, and ashgn to each Person a proper Degree of Significancy. Here, to avoid the common Imputation, of bringing upon the
# See p. 70
Stage a Mute or a Shadow-one who fights without Weapons, and submits without a Conteft—the Scene shifts. Our Gentlemen separate; and, instead of converfing, enter upon an epistolary Correspondence.
The Dialogue Form seems, on many Considerations, a very eligible Way of Writing.--Hereby, the Author gives an Air both of Dignity and of Modesty to bis Sentiments. Of Dignity; by delivering them from the Mouths of Persons, in every respect superior to Himself. Of Modesty; because we no longer consider Him in the raised, but invidious Capacity of a Teacher. Instead of calling Us to his Feet, and dictating his Precepts, He gratifies our Curiosity. He turns back a Curtain, and admits Us to some remarkable Interviews, or interesting Conferences. We over-hear, by a kind of innocent or imaginary Stealth, the Debates which pass in the Recesses of Privacy ; which are carried on, with the most unreserved Freedom of Speech, and Openness of Heart.-A Circumstance, which will apologize for some Peculiarities, that might otherwise be inconsistent with Humility, or offenfive to Delicacy. Particularly, it may obviate the Disgust, which generally, and indeed deservedly, attends the frequent Intruson of that ambitious and ufurping little Monosyllable, I.
The Names of the Persons are prefixed, each to his respective Share of the Discourse; in Imitation of Cicero, and for the Reasons which he asigns. Quafi enim ipfos induxi loquentes : ne Inquam & Inquit fæpius interponerentur. Atque id eo feci, ut tanquam præfentibus coram haberi Sermo videretur * This Method, He very justly intimates, is removed farthest from the Narrative, and makes the nearest Approaches to Life and Reality. It quite secretes the Author; and, by introducing the Persons themsilves, renders all that passes intirely their own.--It prevents likewise the Repetition of those interlocutory Words, He said, He replied. Which, unless the Speeches are very long, must frequently recur, and have no plasing Effect upon the Ear. And if the Speeches are long, the Spirit of Conversation is loft. The Asociates are no longer talking ; but one of them, or the Author, is lecturing.
Though I have so much to say in Behalf of the Model, I have very little to say with regard to the Execution--unless it be to confess the Deficiency. There is not, I am sensible, that peculiar Air and distinguishing Turn, which Mould mark and characterize each Speaker. This is what the Nature of finished Dialogue requires, and what
the # De Amicitia,
the Author applauds in some very superior Writers. But, not having the Ability to copy it, He has not the Vanity to affect it.-Nevertheless, the attentive Reader will, all along, perceive a Difference in the Sentiment, if not in the Language. The Materials
vary, even when they run into the same Mould, and take the same Form.-In the Diction also there must be fome Diversity. Because, several of the Objections are proposed in the
very Words of one or two eminent Writers, who have appeared on the other Side of the Question. These are not particularized by the Mark of Quotation ; because, the Man of Reading will have no Occafion for the Asistance of such an Index, and the Man of Taste will probably discern them by the Singularity of the Style.
Some of the following Pieces, it must be acknowledged, are of the controversial Kind. A Species of Writing, least susceptible of the Graces, which embellish Composition ; or rather most destitute of the Attractives, which engage Attention, and create Delight.-Yet I have sometimes though“, that it is not absolutely imposible, to make even the stern Face of Controversy wear a Smile ; and to reap some valuable Fruit, from the rugged Furrows of Disputation. Whether this is effeted in