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HIGHER CLASSES IN THIS COUNTRY:
IN A SERIES OF LETTERS
WILLIAM WILBERFORCE, ESQ.
HIS PRACTICAL VIEW OF THE PREVAILING RELIGIOUS SYSTEM
BY ONE OF THE ARRAIGNED.
"Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth
Say not unto thy brother "Raca," lest he answer, "Thou fool," and thus thou be
PRINTED FOR C. J. G. & F. RIVINGTON,
ST. PAUL'S CHURCH-YARD,
AND WATERLOO-PLACE, PALL-MALL.
THE ADMIRERS OF MR. WILBERFORCE'S PRACTICAL
READER, if such I have the luck to find, willing, steadily, and without prejudice to accompany me through a critical examination of Mr. Wilberforce's book, I would warn you not to expect to find in me an adverse partisan, seeking indiscriminately to overturn each and every opinion of the author, much less, that I am about to offer a vindication of crimes which may be tolerated by, or laxities which may have crept into, general society. I wish, on the contrary, with all my heart, that we could all become as pious, and as good practical Christians as Mr. Wilberforce himself; but my design is to show, that in order to become so, it is by no means necessary to condemn your ordi
nary clergy, to declare indiscriminate war against the usages of society, or to adopt any of what may really be called the peculiar opinions of Mr. Wilberforce's school. To the unsuspicious or incautious reader, his is certainly an imposing book; to a young reader, with any constitutional tendency to enthusiasm, a dangerous one; but be it my task to shew that "all is not gold that glitters."
I profess to seek but the truth, and my success in this controversy ought mainly to depend upon the real and intrinsic fairness of any argument I may attempt. If I endeavour to fix any unfair interpretation upon any thing Mr. Wilberforce has advanced, or to defend my cause against any of his attacks by special pleading, or meddle with sophistry in the slightest degree, let me be condemned. But if any thing in these Letters should, in your opinion, savour of these offences, respite your judgment of me, until you have compared it carefully with the book I am reviewing. It is all I ask, to stand or fall I have endeavoured to explain
honestly and fairly what I imagine to be the opinions of the mass of society, upon the topics alluded to by Mr. Wilberforce, and whenever I have had reason to suspect my own opinions of being peculiar, I have carefully abstained from obtruding them. these Letters I propose to afford you a fair view of what are the real differences between Mr. Wilberforce's opinions and ours, and I think they will prove but trifling, when divested of that mass of assumption and extraneous matter with which he has encumbered the subject.
It has been a great object with me to get this Vindication into the smallest possible compass; I am sorry I have not succeeded better; but the peculiar style adopted by Mr. Wilberforce has obliged me to repetition and prolixity. His usual method being, to commence by an assertion either untrue in itself, or founded upon false grounds, to build a false hypothesis upon this, then to preach it for several pages; next to make, with apparent liberality, a total concession of the only point really in question: and after this, to