« PreviousContinue »
he says of himself is, that he is an " obscure* ;** One, I suppose, he means, that is in the dark, and thinks it proper to continue so, that he may take advantage from thence to attack the reputation of others, without hazarding his own., There may be somewhat of wisdom, perhaps ; but sure there is little of goodness, or fairness, in this conduct. Several fuch obfcurë perfon's aš there we håve had 'of late, who lravé infulted men of great abilities and worth, and taken pleasure to pelt them, from their coverts, with little objećtions. The ill fuccefs of their attempts hath justified their prudence in concealing themfelves.
Whoever my unknown correfpondent be, lie preffes hard for an anfwer †, and is fo earnteft in thất point, that he would, I perceive, be not a little disappointed, if he should mifs of it. NameJess authors have no right to make such demands. However, the importance of the argument itfelf, the serious air with which he hath treated of it, and the solemn profeffion he makes of being acted Þy “ro other principle but a concern for trutht," foon determined me to comply with his exhortátions. And what follows, therefore, was drawn up not long after his letter appeared ; though the publication of it hath been delayed by fome arcidents, with an account of which it is not necessary to trouble the reader. sifter am, I shall be looked upon, perhaps, as writing rather too foon, than too late ; and as paying too great a regard to an attempt, which was to far fighted, that the worthy dean of Conterbury, not long afterwards, preached the doctrine, there oppor
* Lai p. 4. f Let. p. 5. 44, 45. Ibid.
dd, before her majesty, and printed it by her order . And in truth there never was a charge traintained with such a fhew of gravity and ear. neftnes, which had a fighter foundation to fupport it. However, it may be of some ust, carefully to examine what this writer bath taid, in order, by a remarkable instance, to thew how Hittle credit is due to accusations of this kind, when they come from suspected (that is, from nameless) pents; and how artfully the mask of religion muy sometimes be put on, to cover deligns which cannot be decently owned.
That part of my fermon to which the letterwriter hath confined his reflections, contains the explication of an argument, which I suppose enployed by the apostle, in the text, for the proof of a future state. And I had reason therefore to hope, that what I offered on this head, would be favourably received, and candidly interpreted, by all fuch as did in good earnest believe such a state, And yet, to my suprize, I have found one, who would be thought seriously to entertain this belief, endeavouring all he can to weaken an argument (and indeed the chief argument drawn from reafon alone) by which it is upheld. I might have expected this treatment indeed from the pen of fome libertine, or disguised unbeliever; it being an ufual piece of art, with that sort of men, to undermine the authority of fundamental truths, by pretending to thew, how weak and improper the proofs 'are, which their affertors employ in the defence of them. But I did not, and could
• See his fermon at St James's, Nov. z. 1906. on Matth, si. 11. p. 11, 12, 13.
not expect fuch usage from a writer, who every
Besides, discourses on such occasions, as that
When my argument of great importance is
who himfelf needed this excuse as seldom as any man.
In particular, what I offered on that occafion towards the proof of a future state, deserved to be the less rigorously examined, because it was only by way of introduction to some practical points, which I chiefly designed to infift on. I had not room in a few pages, at the entrance of a short discourse, to conhder all things on all fides *, to balance the several advantages and disadvantages that attend the pleasures of men and beasts good men and bad. I pretended not fully to state te much less demonstrate, the truth contained in the text, as I am falfly represented I to have done. Those are words which I never once used; nor would the task itself have been proper at such á time, and before such an auditory. My declared intention was only to explain the apostle's argument ll, to enlarge on it *, to shew, by several instances, the undouhted truth of it t, to open and apply it I; and this, by such considerations chiefly as were in some measure applicable to the perfon then to be interred. For whoever gives himself the trouble of reviewing that mean discourse, will Ind, that, as it confifts of three parts, a specula. five point of doctrine, fome pračtical reflections, and an account of the person deceased; fo the two former of these points are handled with a regard to the latter; the practical reflections being all of them such as are suited to the character of the person, which follows; and the preceding doctrine
Let. p. 23. ^ p. 23' } p. 22, 23, 40, 51. P. 2. S. p., 11. † S. p. 3. Ibid.
being illustrated in such a manner, and by fucla instances, as naturally lead both to the one and to. the other : that part of the doctrine I particularly mean, which is professedly built on the letter of the text *, and the express authority of the ar post'e.
It is no wonder, if, in an argument handled thus briefly, and with such views as these, every thing Thould not be said, which may be thought requifite to clear it. That, as it was no part of my intention, fo neither was it neceffary, proper, or possible, on that occalion to be done: and therefore, for omislions of this kind, I need make no excuse. As to the other parts of the charge, which, if true, would really blemish wbat I have written; I shall, as I promised, reply to them wery difti ictly and fully.
The acculation of my doctrine turns, I find, sapon three heads; That it is altogetheis new, ut terly foreign from the intention of the apostle, "on whose words I build it, “and false in itself.” A very heavy charge! nor is the first part of it to be peglected. For in matters of morality and religion, wbich are every one's concern, and which have, therefore, been often and thoroughly examined, new doctrines or arguments are deserved ly suspected. And when one, who is by bis function, a preacher of virtue, doth, by alyancing fuch ner doctrines or arguments, so make concef fions to the cause of vice ** (as I am faid to have done) he is doubly criminal. Let us foe, there. fore, whai Thave laid down in that Sermon, how
Ser. p. 4.
Let. p. 13.