They who do not give their assent to the sentiments of others, seem to themselves, and wish to seem to others, to be, in this, under the influence of sound judgment; but sometimes, ignorance of the sentiments of others is the cause of this, which, nevertheless, they by no means acknowledge. I have not hitherto been able to agree, in the full persuasion of my mind, with the views of some learned men, both of our own and of former ages, concerning the decrees of predestination and of reprobation.
Consciousness of my own lack of talents does not permit me to ascribe the cause of this disagreement to sound judgment: that I should ascribe it to ignorance is hardly allowed by my own opinion, which seems to me to be based on an adequate knowledge of their sentiments. On this account I have been till this time in doubt; fearing to assent to an opinion of another, without a full persuasion in my own mind; and not daring to affirm that which I consider more true, but not in accordance with the sentiments of most learned men. I have, therefore, thought it necessary for the tranquillity of my mind, to confer with learned men concerning that decree, that I might try whether their erudite labours might be able to remove my doubt and ignorance, and produce in my mind knowledge and certainty. I have already done this with some of my brethren; and with others, whose opinions have authority, but thus far, (to confess the truth,) with a result useless, or even injurious to me. I thought that I must have recourse to you, who, partly from your published works, and partly from the statements of others, I know to be a person such that I may, without fear, be permitted to hope from you some certain result.