FOSTER'S DISCOURSES ON… NATURAL RELIGION AND SOCIAL VIRTUE, 1749-52 FIRST EDITION—THE MACCLESFIELD COPY
FOSTER, James. Discourses on All the Principal Branches of Natural Religion and Social Virtue. London: Printed for the Author: and sold by Mr. Noon, et al., 1749-52. Two volumes. Quarto, contemporary full speckled calf, gilt-decorated spines, raised bands, red morocco spine labels. $500.
First edition of an important work by the popular 18th-century nonconformist cleric. An excellent copy in contemporary calf-gilt from the esteemed Macclesfield collection.
Foster became embroiled in the philosophical and theological controversies of his day after the publication of his first book in 1731, The Usefulness, Truth, and Excellency of the Christian Religion. His Discourses includes chapters on education, the duties of wives and children, the relationship between masters and servants, civil government, etc. "Foster received the degree of DD from the Marischal College, Aberdeen, in December 1748. He is said to have declined many offers of preferment in the Irish church from Bishop Rundle… Foster's Discourses on All the Principal Branches of Natural Religion and Social Virtue attracted 2000 subscribers, an indication of his great contemporary reputation… It was as a preacher that Foster achieved his greatest fame, as indicated in Pope's familiar lines: 'Let modest Foster, if he will, excel/ Ten Metropolitans in preaching well'… Foster's elevation of reason and the claims of private judgement was matched by a conviction that salvation depended on practical morality and benevolence rather than on doctrinal consensus" (ODNB). Without the engraved frontispiece portrait, not present in all copies. From the renowned Macclesfield collection, with the South Library bookplates and small embossed stamps on the first two leaves of each volume.
Interiors clean, a few corners gently bumped. A superb copy in contemporary calf-gilt with excellent provenance.