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By JOSEPH PRIESTLEY, L.L.D. F.R.S..
LET NOT HIM THAT GIRDETH ON HIS HARNESS BOAST
1 KINGS, XX. 11.
P R E F A CE.
| MY design in writing the History of the
Corruptions of Christianity, it will eafily be perceived, was to compose a work proper for the use of all christians, learn: ed and unlearned, and indeed chiefly the latter. Also, having an extensive object before me, I did not give' much more attention to one part of the scheme than to another. On these accounts I avoided all unnecessary quotations from oria ginal writers in the languages in which they wrote, especially in Greek, which I had great difficulty in getting printed; but gave
some passages that were of particular value, and in Latin, and distinctly refere ed to as many others as I had actually made use of myself; making a point of referring to none, at first or second hand, of which I faw any reason to doubt.
It has happened that hitherto the first article in my work, viz. The History of
opinions concerning Cbriff, has attracted the more particular notice of critics, which has led me to study this subject more than I should otherwise have done; and I think it will probably engage my attention some time longer. Indeed, as the question is of particular importance, I think it right, to take every method in my power to invite and promote the fullest discussion of it. With this view, I replied to fome remarks of a writer in the Monthly Review, which, though not in the least affecting my principal argument, gave me an opportunity to add some new illustrations.
Dr. Horsley's Charge to his clergy has afforded me another opportunity of re-examining the subject; and the result, which is now before the reader, has been, as I think, a farther illustration and a stronger confirmation of my original position, viz. that the belief that Christ was a mere man, naturally possessed of no other powers than other men have, but a distinguished messenger of God, and the chief instrument
in his hands for the good of men, was the original faith of the christian church, confisting both of Jews and Gentiles.
This controversy, I hope, will continue, either with Dr. Horsley, or some other person. Nothing, however, shall be wanting on my part to keep it up, so long as any new light fhall appear to be thrown upon the question in debate; and after this I intend to compose an entire work on this subject only; stating, in as clear a light as I shall be able, the evidence of the above important truth (for such I cannot help considering it) as it Thall then appear to me, with all the proper authorities in the original languages, and leave it to make whatever impression it may on the minds of others, having then done my duty with respect to it.
In the mean time, I am by no means sanguine in my expectations from the effect of the most forcible arguments, on the minds of those who are at present
à 2 indisposed