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For though by some crooked and sinister arts, you have got my answer into your hands, now a year since and upwards, as I have been assured by some that profess to know it, and those of your own party; though you could not want every day fair": opportunities of sending to me, and acquainting me with any exceptions, which you conceived might be justly taken to it, or any part of it (than which nothing could have been more welcome to me); yet hitherto you have not been pleased to acquaint me with any one: nay more, though you have been, at sundry times, and by several ways, intreated and solicited, nay pressed and importuned by me, to join with me in a private discussion of the controversy between us, before the publication of my Answer (because I was extremely unwilling to publish any thing which had not passed all manner of trials; as desiring, not that I, or my side, but that truth, might overcome on which side soever it was), though I have protested to you, and set it under my hand (which protestation by God's help I would have made good), if you, or any other, who would undertake your cause, would give me a fair meeting, and choose out of
your whole book any one argument whereof you was most confident, and by which you would be content the rest should be judged of, and make it appear, that I had not, or could not, answer it, that I would desist from the work which I had undertaken, and answer none at all: though by all the arts which possibly I could devise, I have provoked you to such a trial; and, in particular, by assuring you, that if you refused it, the world should be informed of your tergiversation : notwithstanding all this, you have perpetually and
obstinately declined it; which, to my understanding, is a very evident sign, that there is not any truth in your cause, nor (which is impossible there should be) strength in your arguments: especially considering what our Saviour hath told us, " Every one that doth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved; but he that doth truth, cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest that they are wrought in God.”
5. In the meanwhile, though you despaired of compassing your desire this honest way; yet you have not omitted to tempt me, by base and unworthy considerations, to desert the cause which I had undertaken ; letting me understand from you, by an acquaintance common to us both, how that “in case my work should come to light, my inconstancy in religion (so you miscall my constancy in following that way to heaven, which for the present seems to me to be the most probable) should be to my great shame painted to the life ; that my own writings should be produced against myself; that I should be urged to answer my own Motives against Protestantism; and that such things should be published to the world touching my belief (for my painter I must expect should have great skill in perspective) of the doctrine of the Trinity, the Deity of our Saviour, and all supernatural verities, as should endanger all my benefices, present and future: that this warning was given me not out of fear of what I could say, (for that catholicks, if they might wish any.ill would beg the publication of my book, for respects obvious enough); but out of a mere charitable desire of my good and reputation : and that all this was said upon a supposition that I was answering or had a mind to answer Charity Maintained ; if not, no harm was done." To which courteous premonition, as I remember, I desired the gentleman, who dealt between us, to return this answer, or to this effect:- that I believed the doctrine of the Trinity, the Deity of our Saviour, and all other supernatural verities revealed in Scripture, as truly and as heartily as yourself, or any man; and therefore herein your charity was very much mistaken ; but, much more, and more uncharitably, in conceiving me to be a man that was to be wrought upon with these terribiles visu forme, those carnal and base fears which you presented to me; which were very proper motives for the devil and his instruments to tempt poor-spirited men out of the way of conscience and honesty, but very
incongruous, either for teachers of truth, to make use of, or for lovers of truth (in which company I had been long agon matriculated) to hearken to with any regard. But if you were indeed desirous, that I should not answer Charity Maintained, one way there was, and but one, whereby you might obtain your desire; and that was, by letting me: know when and where I might attend you; and by a fair conference, to be written down on both sides, convincing mine understanding (who was resolved not to be a recusant if I were convicted) that any one part of it, any one argument in it, which was of moment and consequence, and whereon the cause depends, was indeed unanswer-, able. This was the effect of my answer, which I am well assured was delivered: but reply from you I received none but this, that you would have no conference with me but in print: and soon
after finding me of proof against all these batteries, and thereby (I fear) very much enraged, you took up the resolution of the furious goddess in the poet, madded with the unsuccessfulness of her malice,
Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo ! 6. For certainly, those indign contumelies, that mass of portcntous and execrable calumnies, wherewith in your pamphlet of Directions to N. N. you
have loaded not only my person in particular, but all the learned and moderate divines of the church of England, and all protestants in general; nay, all wise men of all religions but your own, could not proceed from any other fountain. .
7. To begin with the last: you stick not, in the beginning of your first chapter, to fasten the imputation of atheism and irreligion upon all wise and gallant men that are not of your own religion. In which uncharitable and unchristian judgment, void of all colour or shadow of probability, I know yet by experience, that very many of the bigots of your faction are partakers with you. God forbid I should think the like of you! Yet, if I should say, that in your religion there want not some temptations unto, and some principles of irreligion and atheism, I am sure I could make my assertion much more probable than you have done, or can make, this horrible imputation.
8. For to pass by, first, that which experience justifies, that where and when your religion hath most absolutely commanded, there and then atheism hath most abounded. To say nothing, secondly, of your notorious and confessed forging of so many false miracles, and so many lying legends,
which is not unlikely to make suspicious men to question the truth of all; nor to object to you, thirdly, the abundance of your weak and silly ceremonies, and ridiculous observances in your religion; which, in all probability, cannot but beget secret contempt and scorn of it in wise and considering men; and, consequently, atheism and impiety, if they have this persuasion settled in them (which is too rife among you, and which you account a piece of wisdom and gallantry), that if they bé not of your religion, they were as good be of none at all: nor to trouble you, fourthly, with this, that a great part of your doctrine especially in the points contested, makes apparently for the temporal ends of the teachers of it; which yet, I fear, is a great scandal to many beaur esprits among you: only I should desire you to consider attentively, when you conclude so often from the differences of protestants, that they have no certainty of any part of their religion, no not of those points wherein they agree; whether you do not that, which so magisterially you direct me not to do, that is, proceed “a destructive way, and object arguments against your adversaries, which tend to the overthrow of all religion ?" And whether, as you argue thus, “protestants differ in many things, therefore they have no certainty of any thing :" an atheist or sceptic may not conclude as well; Christians and the professors of all religions differ in many things, therefore they have no 'certainty in any thing. Again, I shall desire you to tell me ingenuously, whether it be not too probable, that your portentous doctrine of transubstantiation, joined with your forementioned persuasion of, “no papists no Christians," hath brought a great many others, as well as himself, to Averroes'