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ing parties, were inserted in several numbers for that year, and afterwards published in a pamphlet entitled “The Contest.” The prizes appear to have been adjudged upon this occasion by a number of individuals selected by the editor. In the following year the person fixed upon as the poetical arbitrator was Dr. Watts; and he accordingly, though with some hesitation, undertook the office of literary judge. The subject proposed was astronomy, upon which four poems were written. In a letter to Mr. Cave Dr. Watts adjudged the prize with so much candour and good-nature, that the poets, though proverbially a sensitive race, cheerfully acquiesced in his decision. This task was afterwards performed by Dr. Johnson, who remarks in a letter to the publisher—"as to the prize poems, a backwardness to determine their degrees of merit is not peculiar to me. You may if you please still have what I can say; but I shall engage with little spirit in an affair, which I shall hardly end to my own satisfaction, and certainly not to the satisfaction of the parties concerned."


“Becket-house, Feb. 4, 1731. “ Rev. Sir,

- At last I have received the kind present* you so long since ordered me. I have read it over, and looked over some parts of it again; I shall lay it in my nursery, hall, and parlour, and keep it in my study. I think it a book that will be very instructive and entertaining to people of all ages and conditions. You know I am very much for the whole bible’s being looked through, and not one part of it only, or even the New Testament alone in prejudice of the rest. I think you have done very good service in giving us the apocryphal history, as a part of the account of God's transac

• The View of the whole Scripture History.

tions with his people. But, after saying this, I must own to you I could have wished you had made your sections, especially at the beginning, not barely as historical ones, but with a view to the different dispensations of God to mankind (I mean in that part of the book before the law), though still preserving the order of the Bible. The breaks that arise from that consideration, are what are most likely to lead us into the true knowledge of the Bible. Without them the history of the Bible will be little more than the amusement of other histories. I am, Sir,

“Your very faithful humble servant,



“Whitehall, April 30, 1731. “Good Sir,

“I was solicitous to know the writer of a book which came to me with an anonymous letter, because I was very much pleased with the performance. The reasonings are clear and strong; and the manner of writing serious and truly Christian. You judge very right of what I mean by the insufficiency of reason to be a guide in religion; and it is strange, how the person who has written against my Second Letter,t should understand me in any other sense, when he knew I was writing against those who assert such a sufficiency of reason as renders revelation needless; and when I had guarded against all misconstructions, by distinguishing between reason in a state of innocence and in a state of corruption; and took the estimate of what it can do, from what in fact it has done.

“Since you are resolved that the author of the 'Strength and Weakness of Human Reason' shall continue unknown, I will

dmund Gibson, D.D.

+ Second Pastoral Letter.

punctually comply with your direction in that particular, till you shall think fit to discharge me from the obligation you have laid me under. But, in my own private judgment, I cannot think the reasons you mention for your continuing unknown of weight enough to hinder the doing justice to yourself.

“I am, Sir,

“ Your assured friend and servant,



“May 17, 1731. “Sir,

“I am afraid you will think me very ungrateful for the favour you have done me in sending me your excellent book;* for such I may justly call it, since I never read any thing written with more piety, or founded upon juster principles. If you design one for Mrs. Rowe, be so good as to send it to me, and I will convey it to her as soon as I get to Marlborough, which I hope to do next week. I should not have been silent thus long, but I have been of late a perfect nurse; for the old servant who bred me up, and whom I now look on as a mother, was so ill about a fortnight since that she was given over for many days together; and, however it might sound to the fashionable part of the world, I dare own to you, that it was a great affliction to me, and hindered me from doing every thing but trying to contribute what lay in my power (by my care and prayers) to her recovery. As soon as she grew a little better my Lord fell into a severe fit of the gout, and is not yet able to set his feet to the ground, and I can

Probably the “Humble Attempt,” &c.

seldom be long enough out of his room to write a letter: this I hope will plead my excuse, since, whatever I may appear to be, you may be assured I am in reality with the sincerest esteem,

“Your most obliged friend

"and faithful servant,



“May, 1731. “Reverend Sir,

“I very willingly comply with the request of my good friend, Mr. Hawtyn, in writing to you by him, as it gives me an opportunity of introducing to your knowledge a person very much esteemed by us in these parts, on account of his genius, learning, piety, and conduct, and, at the same time, of paying my respects to Dr. Watts; with what sincere reverence and affection I do it, I hope, Sir, I need not tell you at large. I cannot but think, that whenever I have been so happy as to see and converse with you, my countenance must have discovered the inward pleasure that was diffusing itself over my mind on such an occasion. I am deeply sensible of the favour which you have done me in joining with some other friends in recommending me as a tutor at your board. I do not impose upon myself, mny conscience witnesses for me in the sight of God, that the hopes of usefulness, rather than the prospects of any worldly advantages, have engaged me to undertake the work. And I persuade myself that

your prayers are sometimes concurring with mine, that the great Author of knowledge and of grace may impart to me all that furniture of both kinds which such a station re

quires, and may succeed my attempts for the edification of his church and the glory of our common Lord. Till heaven is enriched by your removal thither, I hope, Sir, to find in you a counsellor and a friend, if God should continue my life; and I cannot but admire the goodness of Providence in honouring me with the friendship of such a person. I can truly say, your name was in the number of those which were dearest to me long before I ever saw you. Yet since I have known you, I cannot but find something of a more tender pleasure in the thought of your successful various services in the advancement of the best of causes, that of real, vital, practical Christianity. What happened under my observation a few days ago, gave me joy with regard to you, which is yet so warm in my mind that I hope, Sir, you will pardon my relating the occasion of it. On Wednesday last I was preaching in a barn to a pretty large assembly of plain country people, at a village a few miles off. After a sermon from Heb. vi. 12, we sung one of your hymns (which, if I remember right, was the cxl. of the second book); and in that part of the worship I had the satisfaction to observe tears in the eyes of several of the auditory, and after the service was over some of them told me that they were not able to sing, so deeply were their minds affected with it, and the clerk, in particular, told me he could hardly utter the words of it. These were most of them poor people who work for their living. On the mention of your name, I found they had read several of your books with great delight, and that your Hymns and Psalms were almost their daily entertainment. And when one of the company said, • What if Dr. Watts should come down to Northampton ? another replied with a remarkable warmth, “The very sight of him would be like an ordinance to me.' I mention the thing just as it was, and am persuaded it is but a familiar natural specimen of what often occurs amongst a multitude of Christians who never saw your face. Nor do I, by any means, intend it as a compliment to a genius capable of en

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