"THE MOST PROMINENT ENGLISH SPOKESMAN FOR RATIONAL THEOLOGY IN THE LATER 18TH CENTURY": FIRST EDITIONS OF THREE JOSEPH PRIESTLEY RELIGIOUS TRACTS, 1769
PRIESTLEY, Joseph. Considerations on Church-Authority; Occasioned by Dr. Balguy's Sermon, On that Subject… BOUND WITH: A View of the Principles and Conduct of the Protestant Dissenters, With Respect to the Civil and Ecclesiastical Constitution of England. BOUND WITH: A Serious Address to Matters of Families, With Forms of Family-Prayer. London: J. Johnson and J. Payne, 1769. Three volumes bound in one. Octavo, contemporary full speckled calf sympathetically rebacked in calf-gilt, red morocco spine label, raised bands, original endpapers retained. $2800.
First editions of three of Joseph Priestley's tracts on "rational theology," bound together in nicely rebacked contemporary calf covers.
"Hardly had the History of Electricity been published  when Priestley received an invitation to be minister to the dissenting congregation of Mill Hill Chapel in Leeds… The Mill Hill congregation was a liberal one and supported Priestley's move from Arianism to complete anti-Trinitarianism… And it was there that he began his long career in religious and polemical publication… Each of his religious publications elicited attacks and, to most of these attacks, Priestley published at least one answer. This was partly because he sincerely believed that controversy was the best avenue towards truth, but also, it is clear from his polemical works, because he enjoyed debate. He developed a style of patient condescension and irony which, from this provincial schoolmaster and dissenting minister, infuriated his opponents, usually university graduates. Although not conducive to convincing his opponents, his polemics were to make of Priestley the most prominent English spokesman for rational theology in the later 18th century" (ODNB). With two leaves of ads for works by Priestley, including the first English scholarly journal for speculative theology, the Theological Repository, published in three annual volumes (1769-71), to which Priestley contributed many articles. ESTC T141317; T6486; T143655. Owner signature; old library inkstamp to front pastedown.
Text quite clean, contemporary calf covers nicely rebacked and refurbished. An exceptionally good copy.