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Swedish generals, when he gave them the honourable appellation of his masters in the art of war, I may, with great sincerity, pay my acute and ingenious adversary. I shall add a few things concerning the occasion and form of the following dissertation. Some of the principal topics here discussed were more briefly treated in a sermon preached before the Synod of Aberdeen, and are now made public at their desire. To the end, that an argument of so great importance might be more fully and freely canvassed than it could have been, with propriety, in a sermon, it was judged necessary to new-model the discourse, and to give it that form in which it now appears. The edition of Mr. Hume's Essays, to which I always refer in this work, is that printed at London, in duodecimo, 1750", intitled, Philosophical Essays concerning Human Uuderstanding. I have, since finishing this tract, seen a later edition, in which there are a few variations. None of them appeared to me so material as to give ground for altering the quotations and references here used. There is indeed one alteration, which candour required that I should mention: I have accordingly mentioned it in a note +. The arguments of the essayist I have endeavoured to refute by argument. Mere declamation I know no way of refuting but by analysing it; nor do I conceive how inconsistencies can be answered otherwise than by easoosing them. In such analysis and easposition, which, I own, I have attempted without ceremony or reserve, an air of ridicule is unavoidable: But this ridicule, I am well aware, if founded in misrepresentation, will at last rebound upon myself. It is possible, that, in some things, I have mistaken the author's meaning; I am conscious, that I have not, in any thing, designedly misrepresented it.
* As this advertisement was prefixed to the first edition of the Dissertation, I was not a little surprised to observe, that the French translator declared, in the first sentence of his Aris au Lecteur, that he did not know what edition of Mr. Hume's Essays I had used in this work. On proceeding, I discovered that my advertisement has not been translated by him, which makes me suspect, that, by some accident, it had been left out of the copy which he used. + Page 101.
CONTENTS OF SERMONS, &c.
Table containing a Summary of the particulars of Sermon
I HERE offer to the Public a new and improved edition of my Dissertation on Miracles, first printed in the year 1762, together with some other Tracts related to it, as supplying additional evidences of the truth of our Religion, displaying its amiable spirit, and manifesting its beneficial tendency, in respect, not only of individuals, but of communities and states.
The first of these is a Sermon on the Spirit of the Gospel, preached before the Synod of Aberdeen in 1771. The second, a Sermon preached before the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge in 1777; the scope of which is to show, that the success of the first publishers of the gospel is a proof of its truth. The third is a Sermon preached at the Assizes at Aberdeen, on the happy influence of Religion on Civil Society. The fourth also is a Sermon, on the Duty of Allegiance, preached at Aberdeen in 1776, on the Fast-day, on account of the Rebellion in America; and the fifth, an Address to the People of Scotland, on the alarms that had been raised in regard to Popery.
On the Dissertation itself I have made a few amendments, not very material I acknowledge, yet of some use for obviating objections and preventing mistakes. It has been observed by several, that Mr. Hume has, since the Dissertation first appeared in print, once and again republished the Essay to which it was intended as an answer; not only without taking the smallest notice that anything reasonable, or even specious, had been urged in opposition to his doctrine, but without making any alteration of any consequence on what he had advanced. I know but one exception, if it shall be thought of moment enough to be called an exception, from this remark. What, in former editions, had been thus expressed, as quoted in the Dissertation”, “Upon the whole, it appears that no testimony * . * Part I. Sect. l.