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HE Reader will probably expect
Some Account of the ensuing Work; and, to gratify Him in this Particular, will be a real Pleasure to
The Beauty and Excellency of the Scriptures— The Ruin and Depravity of human Nature—Its happy Recovery, founded on the Atonement, and effected by the SPIRIT of CHRIST-Thefe are fome of the chief Points, vindicated, illuftrated, 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 arifes our Juftificaion before GOD, and our renewed Title to every
heavenly Blefing. An Article, which, though eminent for its Importance, feems to be little underflood, and lefs regarded; if not much mistaken, and almost forgotten.
The Dignity and Importance of this great evangelical Doctrine-how worthy it is of the moft attentive Confideration, and of univerfal Acceptance is hinted in the fecond Dialogue. So that I need, in this Place, do nothing more, than give the Senfe of a Paffage from Witfius, which is there introduced in the Notes." The Doctrine of fuftification, fays that excellent Author, Spreads itself through the whole Syftem of Divinity. As this is either folidly eftablished, or fuperficially touched; fully ftated, or flightly dif miffed; accordingly, the whole Structure of Religion, either rifes graceful and magnificent, fuperior to Affault, and beyond the Power of Decay; or else it appears disproportionate and defective, totters on its Foundation, and threatens “ an opprobrious Fall *”
The Defign is executed in the Form of Dialogue. Thofe Parts only excepted, in which it was not eafy to carry on a Conversation, and affign to each Perfon 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 fubmits without a Contest-the Scene fhifts. Our Gentlemen feparate; and, inftead of converfing, enter upon an epiftolary Correfpondence.
The Dialogue Form feems, on many Confiderations, a very eligible Way of Writing.-Hereby, the Author gives an Air both of Dignity and of Modefty to his Sentiments. Of Dignity; by delivering them from the Mouths of Perfons, in every respect fuperior to Himfelf. Of Modesty ; because We no longer confider Him in the raised, but invidious Capacity of a Teacher. Instead of calling Us to his Feet, and dictating his Precepts, He gratifies our Curiofity. He turns back a Curtain, and admits Us to fome remarkable Interviews, or interefting Conferences. We over-bear, by a kind of innocent or imaginary Stealth, the Debates which pafs in the Recesses of Privacy; which are carried on, with the most unreferved Freedom of Speech, and Openness of Heart.—A Circumftance, which will apologize for fome Peculiarities, that might otherwise be inconfiftent with Humility, or offenfive to Delicacy. Particularly, it may obviate the Difguft, which generally, and indeed defervedly, attends the frequent Intrufion of that ambitious and ufurping little Monofyllable, I. The
The Names of the Perfons are prefixed, each to his refpective Share of the Difcourfe; in Imitation of Cicero, and for the Reafons which he affigns. 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 fecretes the Author; and, by introducing the Perfons themselves, renders all that paffes intirely their own.-It prevents likewife the Repetition of thofe interlocutory Words, He faid, He replied. Which, unless the Speeches are very long, must frequently recur, and have no pleafing Effect upon the Ear. And if the Speeches are long, the Spirit of Converfation is loft. The Affociates are no longer talking; but one of them, or the Author, is lecturing.
Though I have fo much to fay in Behalf of the Model, I have very little to fay with regard to the Execution unless it be to confess the Deficiency. There is not, I am fenfible, that peculiar Air and diftinguishing Turn, which should mark and characterize each Speaker. This is what the Nature of finished Dialogue requires, and what
* De Amicitia.
the Author applauds in fome very fuperior 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 fame Mould, and take the fame Form.-In the Diction also there must be fome Diverfity. Because, Several of the Objections are propofed in the very Words of one or two eminent Writers, who have appeared on the other Side of the Question. Thefe are not particularized by the Mark of Quotation; becaufe, the Man of Reading will have no Occafion for the Affiftance of fuch an Index, and the Man of Taste will probably difcern them by the Singularity of the Style.
Some of the following Pieces, it must be acknowledged, are of the controverfial Kind. A Species of Writing, least fufceptible of the Graces, which embellish Compofition; or rather most deftitute of the Attractives, which engage Attention, and create Delight.-Yet I have fometimes thought, that it is not abfolutely impoffible, to make even the stern Face of Controverfy wear a Smile; and to reap fome valuable Fruit, from the rugged Furrows of Difputation. Whether this is effected in the