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I AM sensible that the first use which I ought to make of this preface, is to apologize for troubling the world again, so soon after submitting to its judgment my observations on The Primary Argument of the Iliad. The best apology which I can offer, is the assurance, that neither of these tracts has been newly or hastily taken into hand ; but, that they have lain by me for many years, and have been occasionally revised, extended, or curtailed, according as later materials have fallen in my way.
When Varro published his treatise upon Agriculture, he alleged ; annus octoge“ simus admonet me, ut sarcinas colligam
antequam proficiscar de vita.” No one
of common sense, will wait in the expectation of such a monitor. Short of the term of the vivacious Varro, every reflecting person will be sensible of a period, in which it is prudent to begin sarcinas colligere. This motive has induced me, to allow treatises, upon subjects so widely different, to follow each other so 'soon; and I request, that the same may be favourably received as a general apology, should the present tract not be the last thus adventurously put forward.
With respect to the argument of the present work, it is my wish, not to; anticipate it in a preface; but, to leave it to unfold itself to the reader in the perusal. I shall, therefore, only briefly and summarily state ; that the First and Second Parts consider, severally, the doctrines of the Mineral and the Mosaical Geologies, concerning the MODE of the first formations of this terrestrial globe ; and, that
the Third Part compares the doctrines of both Geologies, relative to the mode of the revolutions which this globe. has' undergone. The results of these investigations, will be found combined in the Conclusion, with which the treatise is terminated.
I have endeavoured, by keeping the argument simple and compressed, to avoid all superfluous dilatation and digression ; in which endeavour, I hope I shall be found to have succeeded. It was originally designed, and it has been solely prepared, with a view to such earnest and sincere inquirers, as may be anxi
to relieve their minds from perplexity, or to disengage them from error, concerning the important subjects of which it treats ; and to advance, in the prosecution of the truth respecting them, as far as its principles, actively pursued, are capable of conducting them. Such advance, is frustrated by the practice which, in similar discussions, has too frequently
prevailed'; of maintaining a constant skirmish with cavillers and sophists, whose policy it is to challenge a perpetual warfare on the road, in order that it might not be travelled to the end. By yielding to that stratagem, we contribute to the attainment of one great end of infidelity. Whereas, if we will only resolutely set forward, and pursue our progress under the safeguard of a sound and powerful principle, we may set all adversaries at defiance; and, by pressing on to the utmost extent to which that principle will lead us, we shall at length arrive at the term, from which it was the design of the adversary to preclude us. It is a weak system of tactics, which, in an enterprise of great moment, would stop to engage with every hovering band that attempts to harass the march; while, at the same time, there exists a consciousness of force, sufficient to accomplish the enterprise in spite of all opposition.
To those among the opponents who
cherish a general regard for truth, and many such there are, the manifestation of the Sacred Truth which we shall have gained in their despite, will operate with advantage ; and they themselves will thus become benefited by the resolution, with which their arms shall have been slighted, and their opposition disregarded. With respect to all other opponents; as we cannot entertain the hope of serving them by our success, so neither shall we suffer ourselves to be interrupted by their opposition:- obturatâ aure transibimus.