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Upon the first news of the publication of your book, I used all diligence with speed to procure it; and came with such a mind to the reading of it, as St. Austin, before he was a settled catholic, brought to his conference with Faustus, the Manichee. For, as he thought, that if any thing more than ordinary might be said in defence of the Manichean doctrine, Faustus was the man from whom it was to be expected: so my persuasion concerning you was,-Si pergama dextra defendi possunt, certe hac defensa videbo. For I conceived that, among the champions of the Roman church, the English in reason must be the best, or equal to the best, as being by most expert masters trained up purposely for this war, and perpetually practised in it. Among the English I saw the Jesuits would yield the first place to none; and men so wise in their generation as the Jesuits were, if they had any Achilles among them, I presumed, would make choice of him for this service. And, besides, I had good assurance, that in the framing of this building, though you were the only architect, yet you wanted not the assistance of many diligent hands to bring you in choice materials towards it; nor of many careful and watchful eyes to correct the errors of your work, if any should chance to escape you. Great reason therefore had I to expect great matters from you, and that your book should have in it the spirit and elixir of all that can be said in defence of your church and doctrine; and to assure myself that, if my resolution not to believe it, were not built upon the rock of evident grounds and reasons, but only upon some sandy and deceitful appearances, now the wind and storm and floods were coming, which would undoubtedly overthrow it.
2. Neither truly were you more willing to effect such an alteration in me, than I was to have it effected: for my desire is to go the right way to eternal happiness. But whether this way lie on the right hand, or the left, or straight forward; whether it be by following a living guide, or by seeking my direction in a book, or by hearkening to the secret whisper of some private spirit, to me it is indifferent. And he that is otherwise affected, and hath not a traveller's indifference, which Epictetus requires in all that would find the truth, but much desires, in respect of his ease, or pleasure, or profit, or advancement, or satisfaction of friends, or any human consideration, that one way should be true - rather than another; it is odds but he will take his desire that it should be so, for an as
surance that it is so. But I, for my part, unless I deceive myself, was, and still am so affected, as I have made profession, not willing, I confess, to take any thing upon trust, and to believe it without asking myself why? no, nor able to command myself (were I never so willing) to follow, like a sheep, every shepherd that should take upon him to guide me; or every flock, that should chance to go before me: but most apt and most willing to be led by reason to any way, or from it, and always submitting all other reasons to this oneGod hath said so, therefore it is true. Nor yet was I so unreasonable, as to expect mathematical demonstrations from you in matters plainly incapable of them, such as are to be believed, and, if we speak properly, cannot be known; such therefore I expected not. For, as he is an unreasonable master, who requires a stronger assent to his conclusions than his arguments deserve; so I conceive him a froward and undisciplined scholar, who desires stronger arguments for a conclusion than the matter will bear. But, had you represented to my understanding such reasons of your doctrine, as, being weighed in an even balance, held by an even hand, with those on the other side, would have turned the scale, and have made your religion more credible than the contrary; certainly I should have despised the shame of one more alteration, and with both mine arms, and with all my heart, most readily have embraced it: such was my expectation from you, and such my preparation, which I brought with me to the reading of your book.
3. Would you know now what the event was, what effect was wrought in me, by the perusal
and consideration of it? To deal truly and ingenuously with you, I fell somewhat in my good opinion, both of your sufficiency and sincerity; but was exceedingly confirmed in my ill opinion of the cause maintained by you. I found every where snares that might entrap, and colours that might deceive, the simple; but nothing that might persuade, and very little that might move an understanding man, and one that can discern between discourse and sophistry: in short, I was verily persuaded, that I plainly saw and could make it appear to all dispassionate and unprejudicate judges, that a vein of sophistry and calumny did run clean through it from the beginning to the end. And letting some friends understand so much, I suffered myself to be persuaded by them, that it would not be either unproper for me, or unacceptable to God, nor peradventure altogether unserviceable to his church, nor justly offensive to you (if you indeed were a lover of truth, and not a maintainer of a faction) if setting aside the second part, which was in a manner wholly employed in particular disputes, repetitions and references, and in wranglings with Dr. Potter about the sense of some supernumerary quotations, and whereon the main question no way depends; I would make a fair and ingenuous answer to the first, wherein the substance of the present controversy is confessedly contained; and which, if it were clearly answered, no man would desire any other answer to the second. This therefore I undertook with a full resolution to be an adversary to your errors, but a friend and servant to your person: and so much the more a friend to your person, by how much
the severer and more rigid adversary I was to your errors.
4. In this work my conscience bears me witness, that I have, according to your advice, “proceeded always with this consideration, that I am to give a most strict account of every line, and word, that passeth under my pen;" and therefore have been precisely careful, for the matter of my book, to defend truth only, and only by truth: and then scrupulously fearful of scandalizing you or any man with the manner of handling it. From this rule, sure I am, I have not willingly swerved in either part of it; and, that I might not do it ignorantly, I have not only myself examined mine own work (perhaps with more severity than I have done your's, as conceiving it a base and unchristian thing to go about to satisfy others with what I myself am not fully satisfied); but have also made it pass the fiery trial of the exact censures of many understanding judges, always heartily wishing, that you yourself had been of the quorum. But they who did undergo this burthen, as they wanted not a sufficiency to discover any heterodox doctrine, so I am sure, they have been very careful to let nothing slip dissonant from truth, or from the authorized doctrine of the church of England : and therefore, whatsoever causeless and groundless jealousy any man may entertain concerning my person, yet my book, I presume, in reason and common equity, should be free from them; wherein I hope, that little or nothing hath escaped so many eyes, which being weighed in the balance of the sanctuary, will be found too light: and in this hope I am much confirmed, by your strange carriage of yourself in this whole business.