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THE editions heretofore published of the Dissertations, the one concerning the end for which God created the world; and the other, on the Nature of Virtue, which has uniformly been put with it; but is placed in the second volume of this collection, have had prefixed to them the following Preface, which, because it contains several just remarks, applicable as well to the Treatise on Original Sin, as to the Dissertations, it is thought proper here to insert.
"The author had designed these dissertations for the public view; and wrote them out as they now appar: Though it is probable, that if his life had been spared, he would have revised them, and rendered them in some respects more complete. Some new sentiments, here and there, might probably have been added; and some passages brightened with farther illustrations. This may be conjectured, from some brief hints, or sentiments minuted down, on loose papers, found in the manuscripts.
"But those sentiments concisely sketched out, which, it is thought, the author intended to enlarge, and digest into the body of the work....cannot be so amplified by any other hand, as to do justice to the author: It is therefore probably best that nothing of this kind should be attempted.
"As these dissertations were more especially designed for the learned and inquisitive, it is expected that the judicious and candid will not be disposed to object that the manner in which these subjects are treated, is something above the level of common readers. For though a superficial way of discourse and loose harangues may well enough suit some 8 ibjects, and answer some valuable purposes; yet other subjects demand more closeness and accuracy. And if an author should neglect to do justice to a sub