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To my much Honoured
JOSEPH LANGTON, Efq;
IS a Maxim of Prudence given by fome of the Nicer Defcribers of the Bounds of Gratitude, That it ought to be temper'd between a total Neglect and a full and juft Requital. To ftrike off all Scores is, they fay, as uncivil as to discharge none, and every whit as difingenuous not to fuffer, as ŋot to acknowledge an Obligation.
Now, Sir, 'tis one of the proper Happineffes of my little Fortune to be neceffarily caft upon this Measure. I am got too far in your Accounts to be able to requite to the full fome part of them I muft ever leave uncrof fed as a ftanding Hold upon me; and tho my Gratitude it felf be never so strong and pregnant, yet the most forward Instance of it can rife no higher than an Acknowledgment.
And as this is the utmost I can do, fo of doing this too I have fo few Capacities and Opportunities, that I am the less willing to let go any that offer themselves; which indeed has given a speedier Iffue to my Deliberation,
beration, whether I ought to Address these Discourses to your Patronage or no, which perhaps without the Formality of a Dedication, would of right belong to you, as falling within your District, and as being the Fruits of that Retirement which by your Free Bounty I enjoy.
As an Acknowledgment therefore of this your other constant Favours, I presume to put these Difcourfes into your Hands, which I hope will be able to do both You and Me that Juftice, as to convince the World, that as you proceeded by generous and uncorrupt Measures in difpofing of this Publick Truft, fo you was not altogether mistaken in your Choice, when you thought fit to Oblige
Here commend to thy ferious Perufal a Set of I Select Difcourfes upon the Beatitudes, which were at first undertaken, and are now publish'd for the Publick Benefit of all well-difpofed Chriftians. The Subjects themselves are as Great and Noble as any perhaps that occur in all Practical Divinity, being the Prime and Capital Aphorifms of our Saviour's excellent Sermon upon the Mount, and containing the Fundamental Principles of all Chrift's Practical Inftructions, and of a true Chriftian Temper and Life.
Here we may fee (what the Philofopher fo much defired) the true Living Idea of Vertue and Goodness; nay more, what 'tis to be a Chriftian, an Interiour Chriftian, a Chriftian indeed. And I heartily wish that those whofe Orthodoxy is chiefly employed ingiving out Marks and Signs of Converfion and Saintship; wherein their end feems rather to be the diftinction of a Party, than any real Promotion of Godliness; would choose ruther to drefs their Interiour by this Glafs, and afterwards try it by this Measure. For here they will find that Real Christianity confifts in Pover ty of Spirit, Humility, Self-denyal, Mortification, Meekness, Mercifulness, Purity of Heart,
Peaceableness, and fuch like inward Difpofitions of Soul, and not in a few outward Formalities, Sighs and Groans, Looks and Poftures, Words and Phrafes, and fuch other affected Badges of a fond Diftinction.
And as the Subjects themselves are Great and Noble, fo I hope thefe Difcourfes will be found in fome measure to rife up to their Dignity. I am fure there has been no care wanting on my part to make them worthy of their Subjects, to which I have endeavoured to do the utmost Justice. But however I may fail of that, yet I hope the Reader will not be altogether disappointed of his Expectat tions, or repent of his Labour; but will find here fufficient Entertainment both for his Speculation, and for his Devotion.
It may perhaps be a Surprize to fome to see me appear again fo foon in publick. To this, if there needs any Apology, that which I fhall offer is, That if thefe Difcourfes be not worthy of publick View, then 'tis not fit they should ever be fent abroad; but if they be, I cannot understand how they can be published too foon. The Truth is, confidering the fbortnefs and uncertainty of Life, I have been lately very much of Opinion, That a Man can ne ver live too faft, (the Heathen will tell you Never faft enough) nor make too much hafte to da good; especially when a Man's Sphere is fuck, that bebas but Few ways and Opportunities of doing it; which by Experience I am well convinc'd to be mmy Cafe.