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AND THE OTHER MEMBERS OF THE CON-
GREGATION OF PROTESTANT DISSENTERS

OF THE NEW MEETING AT BIRMINGHAM

MY CHRISTIAN FRIENDS,

REMOVÈD as have long been

from you, and to a distant part of the world, the idea of our happy connexion, which sublifted more than ten years, is always present with me, and the refle&ion upon it affords me peculiar satisfaction. My feparation from you by ruffian violence, which received too much countenance from the general spirit of the times, and to appearance, froin the government that should have pro. tected us, is a subject of great regret; tho', together with all other evils that are permitted to take place

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in the unsearchable ways of providence, we can. not doubt but that it will ultimately appear to have been productive of good.

To the will of the greatest and best of Beings it clearly behoves us to submit without repining: and our enemies, tho' on account of the unworthy motives by which they were actuated, they are by no means excusable, yet being considered as the instruments in bis hands, should be regarded with pity rather than resentment. By this time too,

it may be presumed that the most inveterate of them are convinced of the unreasonableness of their con. duct, and truly repent of it, which will intitle them to the forgiveness of every christian.

It has been impossible for me not to take an interest in every thing that has befallen

you

fince my removal, and I rejoiced in your uncommonly flourishing state presently after your suff rings, through your noble fortitude, and the peculiarly ardent and valuable services of my fucceffors in the ministry; and I have lamented some circunstances of an unfavourable nature, with respect to which your sentiments have not been unanimous, tho' they have terminated without any serious inconvenience. Dillentions in christian churches, are, no doubt, greatly to be lamented, but they give occafion to the exercise of many christian virtues, especially those of meekness, forbearance, and

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mutual candour, in which I am confident you. will not be deficient.

• It was while I was with you that I first under. took the business of expounding the scriptures from the pulpit, and began with this view to compose the Notes of which the following publication confits; and therefore it is to you, and to fbew my grateful remembrance of our happy connexion, * that I take the liberty to dedicate them. Had it not been for the ready concurrence of the society, and the a&tive co-operation of Mr. Russell, and the other leading members of the congregation, who concurred with overy proposal that I made, neither this course of exposition, nor the system of catechetical leatures to the young people, with the appointment of elders to allitt me in it, or the establiment of your congregational library, could have been carried into execution. this means all my schemes for improving the dil. cipline, and promoting the edification, of the foci. ety had the advantage of the fairelt trial; and being found, in some good measure, to answer the valuble ends proposed by them, they have been adopted by other societies in different parts of the kingdom.

Happy will it be for the christian world in general when all christian societies shall adopt whatever promises to tend to their edification, and a 3

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But by

vie with each other which shall set the best example to the rest ; not from a spirit of ambition, or vain glory, but simply to provoke to love and to good works; each shepherd (as christian ministers are usually termed) feeding, according to the language of our Saviour, the lambs, as well as the sheep of their respective flocks, till the chief shepherd shall appear, when he will distinguish by his favour those who shall have distinguished themselves as his servants during his absence from us. As I have no expectation of seeing you any more in this life, may we fo conduct ourselves in our separation from each other as to secure a happy meeting in another. Į subscribe myself,

Your former pallor,

and at all times,

your christian friend,

JOSEPH PRIESTLEY.

The

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