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The present work represents Christianity in a philosophical point of view, which cannot but deeply impress every mind disposed to meditation.
In this sceptical and paradoxical age, an ostentatious display of erudition--every alluring and fascinating grace of style-every specious argument, calculated to misguide the unwary-have been employed to undermine our holy religion. It must therefore be a source of infinite satisfaction, to those who sincerely search after truth, to see the man of genius, the man of learning and deep reflection, stand forth to comb at and repel those ungenerous attacks on the happiness of society in general, and of every individual impressed with the sublime doctrine and comfortable truths contained in Divine revelation.
A respectable Prelate of our church* first traced out to me (by the most weighty arguments, and in the most persuasive language) the road which leads to truth. A serious and close perusal of the following Inquiries, confirmed my belief in Chris
* The Bishop of Chester. A sermon of his, which I acci. denta heard at Bath, and afterwards the perusal of his printed discourses, produced the effect above mentioned.
tianity; and it will afford me the most heart-felt pleasure, if others should derive the same advantage from them.
A translation of this nature was no easy task to me; and, I fear, frequent Gallicisms, and inaccuracies of style, will occur. My chief endeuvours were to adhere strictly to the text,* except in those particular instances where I have apologized, and assigned my reasons for deviating
* The volume which I present to the public, was detached from the Philos. Palingenesis, and printed separately, in 1770.In the last edition of Mr. Bonnet's Works, the Inquiries into Christianity are contained in his Philos. Palingenesis, and form the 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st parts; to these I have added a. part of the 17th, which Mr. B. has intitled Introduction to the Inquiries. The preface was in the first edition, 1770, and has been suppressed in the last complete edition.
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IT was one great object of my attention, in these Inquiries, not to admit as essential, whatever might be reasonably objected to in sound philosophy. I therefore set out from those facts alone which are the best attested, and from these I have only drawn the most direct and immediate conclusions. I have not spoken of demonstration, but of probability only. I have not supposed any one to be an unbeliever; the words incredulous, and incredulity, are not even mentioned in my book. The objections of various kinds, which I have discussed, have arisen from the nature of my subject, and I have raised these objections against myself. I have carefully avoided controversy ; desirous that these Inquiries might be read and approved by all Christian societies. I have been also very cautious not to treat of doctrines ;--far be it from me to offend any particular sect ;-but I have enlarged somewhat on the beauty and excellence of the Christian doctrines.
I have not equally enlarged upon every proof; but I have pointed them out, and have principally applied myself to those which the Miracles. furnish.
The readers to whom I chiefly address myself, are those, whose doubts proceed from an honest heart; who have endeavoured to remove and settle those doubts, and to solve objections, but have not succeeded in their endeavours. I could not, neither ought I, to address myself to those whose understandings are perverted by the depravity of their hearts.
Among the many arguments which I have produced, there are some which I cannot claim as my own; a subject which, for these eighteen. centuries, has been treated by the greatest and most learned men, did not admit of much no. velty. My chief aim has been to discover a compendious, a more certain and more philosophical method to compass the great design I had. in view.
I have endeavoured to link my propositions so closely to each other, as to leave no chasm between them; and herein, perhaps the nature of