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The following letters were written by my late Brother, in answer to a piece which was first sent him from the Rev. Mr John Wesley, by way of private letter, containing some remarks which that gentleman had made on reading Theron and Aspasio. When my brother had read it over, he thought it best to be silent, as it contained nothing which could materially affect his judgment in regard to the work it censured. For this reason, as well as for peace sake, he laid it by him unanswered. Mr Wesley then published a pamphlet, which he entitled, A Preservative against Unsettled Notions in Religion; in which he printed the above-mentioned letter. This my brother looked
upon as a summons to the bar of the public, and upon this occasion, in a letter to a friend, dated June 23. 1758, writes as follows:
“ MY DEAR FRIEND,— I little thought, when I put Mr Wesley's manuscript into your hand, that I should see it in print so soon. I took very little notice of it, and let it lie by me several months, without giving it an attentive consideration.* It seemed to me so palpably weak, dealing only in positive assertions and positive denials, that I could not imagine he would adventure it into the world, without great alterations. But it is now come abroad, just as you received it, in a two shilling pamphlet, entitled, A Preservative against Unsettled Notions in Religion. Of this pamphlet, what he has wrote against me makes only a small part. Now, then, the question is, whether i
* Afterwards he read it again, and gave it, what he calls in the beginning of the first letter, " a careful perusal.”
shall attempt to answer it? Give me your opinion, as you have given me your assistance; and may the Faiher of mercies give you an increase of knowledge and utterance, of peace and joy in the Holy Ghost."
Between this and the October following, my brother began the letters contained in this volume, of which he thus speaks in another letter to his friend, dated October 24. 1758.
66 MY DEAR FRIEND,—Let me repeat my thanks for the trouble you have taken, and for the assistance you have given me in relation to my controversy with Mr Wesley. He is so unfair in his quotations, and so magisterial in his manner, that I find it no small difficulty to preserve the decency of the gentleman, and the meekness of the Christian, in my intended answer. May our divine Master aid me in both these instances, or else not suffer me to write at all."
When in the December following I was sent for to Weston, in the very last period of my brother's long illness, I asked him (the evening before he died) 66 what he would have done with the letters to Mr Wesley; whether he would have them published after his death? He answered, “By no means, because he had only transcribed about half of them fair for the press; but as the corrections and alterations of the latter part were mostly in short-hand, it would be difficult to understand them, especially as some of the short-hand was entirely his own, and others could not make it out; therefore, he said, as it is not a finished piece, I desire you will think no more about it.”
As these were his last orders concerning these letters I thought it right to obey them, and therefore I withstood the repeated solicitations of many of his friends who wanted to have them printed; alleging the service they might be of to allay the groundless prejudices which the Preservative might occasion in the minds of many against my brother's other writings, as well as the utility of them in general, as they contain so masterly a defence of the truth as it is in Jesus."