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But points of practical difficulty in the conduct of social life were the only things mentioned in the application for advice. The author was requested to enforce the social duties of Christianity, to shew that the spirit of our holy religion requires no gloomy austerity, justifies no captious exceptions to the conduct of others, permits no unkind neglect of relations and friends, no slight or defiance of parental authority. It was his object to convince the individual whom he addressed, that her views of Christian duty were mistaken; not that they were too exalted or too strict, but that they were uncharitable, and therefore unscriptural. No views can be too exalted, no zeal too fervent, no obedience too strict, in a matter where the soul's salvation is at stake, and where the will of Almighty God is graciously revealed for the instruction of man.
Let not then the worldly minded reader imagine that these pages are designed to justify his indifference, or to palliate the lukewarmness of his faith. They were written for the advancement of true piety in a' mind which was earnestly seeking for the truth; and they are made public in the hope that they may be useful to others who are in the same situation. They may be thought perhaps to be directed against a class of professing Christians who separate themselves from the general society of the world. But they are directed against principles, not against persons; and it is trusted that individuals of that class will not object to having their principles inquired into, and tried by God's word; so it be done in fairness and good temper. Their principles may be objected to, esteemed erroneous,
and most carefully avoided, by one, who though no convert from their doctrines, is yet anxious to say to them, in the spirit of St. Augustine's address to the Manichæans!, “Let them rail “ bitterly against you who know not with what “ labour truth is discovered, how hard it is “ to avoid error; let them rail bitterly against you
who know not how rare, how difficult it is to overpower the imaginations of the flesh, " and to acquire in their stead the tranquillity " of a devout state of mind; let them rail bit“ terly against you, who know not by what a 56 toilsome
of the inner man " must be healed, for it to behold its proper “ light, the Sun of Righteousness ;' let them “ rail bitterly against you who know not by “ what sighs and groanings that study must be “ accompanied, which should lead to any degree “ whatsoever of the knowledge of God; lastly, “ let them rail bitterly against you who have
never themselves been deluded by an error “ like that which they perceive in you. For “ myself, I can in no wise rail against you; but
1 “ Illi sæviant in vos qui nesciunt quo cum labore verum “ inveniatur, et quam difficillime caveantur errores. Illi in
vos sæviant qui nesciunt quam rarum et arduum sit carnalia “ phantasmata piæ mentis serenitate superare. Illi in vos “ sæviant qui nesciunt quanta difficultate sanetur oculus in“ terioris hominis, ut possit intueri solem suum.
Illi in vos “ sæviant, qui nesciunt quantis gemitibus et suspiriis fiat ut “ ex quantulacunque parte possit intelligi Deus. Postremo • illi in vos sæviant qui nullo tali errore decepti sunt, quali “ vos deceptos vident. Ego autem sævire in vos omnino non
possum, quos sicut me ipsum illo tempore, ita nunc debeo “ sustinere, et tanta patientia vobiscum agere, quanta mecum
egerunt proximi mei, cum in vestro dogmate rabiosus et cæcus errarem."
or rather must I now bear with you as once of “ old with myself, and now treat you with the
same mildness and patience which, in the days 66 of my own blind and frantic wanderings into “ the very same opinions, I experienced from
Oxford, Jan. 3, 1825.
TO THE THIRD EDITION.
AFTER an interval of nine years and the sale of two editions of this little book, the writer has felt it a duty to revise in it many careless and juvenile expressions. And he trusts that with these alterations it may both be useful for the purpose originally designed, and more helpful than before towards an end so much to be desired as the cordial union and intimate agreement of what used to be two parties in the Church. Had he been now applied to in a like case, he would have thought it right to insist at length on the chief doctrines of the Gospel, and to argue the duty of loving man from the great love of God in our redemption through Christ. But it does not seem desirable so long after the occasion to alter the whole construction of a book, which is republished chiefly with a view to the correction of faults in the former editions.