« VorigeDoorgaan »
in general, that is, the publication of another's Writings without 'bis consent or privity: but yet I know very well, that those things which in the general are for the most part unlawful, may yet be so circumstantiated in a particular case, as that they may become not only lawful, but very commendable to be done in that case : and such a special case I take this to be. And tho I think my self account able to the Author chiefly, if not to him alone, for what I have done in this case, yet some account thereof I shall give to the Reader, so far at least as concernetb these Writings, or is necessary for him to be acquainted with.
When I first met with some of these Writings, and obtained the Percifal of them, I thought them well worth my pains to tļan. Seribe: which I did, partly for my own use; and partly, seeing tbein written in lcole and scatter'd Papers, to preserve them from that danger of perishing, from which I conceived the Author's larger and more compleat Works to be more safe and secure, rind having colle&ted a pretty considerable stock of them, I communicated some of them, as I saw occasion, to fome friends, come
of them Persons of good Judgment and Learning, who very . much commended the same: and scarce any that saw them, but
said'twas great pity but they should be Printed. But besides the Approbation of them by all to whom I did communicate them, I pers ceived that they had a real effe&t to the good and benefit of some who perused them: and this experience of the good effects which they produced by my Communication of them to a few Friends in private, did farther confirm my own opinion of them, that they must certainly do much good if published: and being made common, have the same good influences upon many which I found they had upon some of those few to whom they were communicated in private: But for the Manuscript Copies which I bad, they were not sufficient for all those fair opportunities of doing good with them which I saw even among my own Friends and Acquaintance. Whereupon I solicited the Author to publish them, or at least to give bis Consent to the Publication of them, but could not prevail with him for either, altho I know that no Motive or Ar. gument is more prevalent with him than that of Doing good. Bui when I perceived, as I thought, that the chief Reasons why he would neither publish them himself, nor give bis Consent to the Publication of them, were such as would be of no force against
W bereupan, consent to the Pullibo I know that of Doing good.be
the Publication of them without his privity or knowledge, I began to consider of doing that.
But before I resolved upon it, I sent two of the largest of them to a Person, whose Judgment I know the Author dosh much efteem, to have bis Opinion of them, not letting him know eitker who was the Author: or who sent them to him ; and having received his Opinion and Commendation of them, and tha: be judged them like to do much good, and such as muld be very fea. Jonable to be published, I began farıber to consider whether and how they might be published without either Wrong or Injury on the one side, or Offenee.on the other, to the Author. And for t'se former, I reckoned that his.Concern in it was ei. ther in respect of the Disposal of the Copy, wherein would be no great difficulty; or more especially in respect of the Writings to be published, if eit ber there should occur any thing therein not fit to be made publick; or if they were not so weli polished and perfe&ted as might be for his credit and reputation.
And although this might seem to be provided for in some fort by Concealing his Name (which truly I should much rather have made known, but that I knew I must then venture doubly to in. cur bis Displeasure ) yet I look'd upon this as but a weak and insufficient Provision, in as much as it is not unusual for Learned Men, even from the very style and genius of Writings, to discover the Writers; an Experiment whereof i had seen in a Person of Learning and Parts, to whom, upon occasion, lonce Shewed one of the Writings of this Author, but purposely concealed who the Author was, whom notwithstanding be foon discovered from the Writing it self, telling me he knew no Man that did think at that rate, but such a Person, who was the Author indeed. And the truth is, these Writings do not obscurely Speak their Author, being a most lively Representation of him, tbas is, of bis Mind and Soul, and of that Learning, Wisdom, Piety and Virtue, which is very eminent and conspicuous in bim; particularly that of the Great Audit, which I use to look upon as bis very Picture, wherein representing the Good Steward paling bis Account, it was impossible for him not to give a lively Ria presentation of himself; as every Character of a truly wife and vertuous Person must needs agree with him who is really fuch; and they who are eminently such, can hardly be unknown: and A 3
therefore it is not impossible that some, even from the consideration of the Work, may discover the Workman, besides many other occa; fon's of Discovery which may happen.
But as I thought this too weak and insufficient, so I could not but think it altogether needless and unworthy both the excel lent Author, and these his pious and excellent Meditations, to be made use of 10-that end; and should much rather bave abstained from publishing thein at all, than have relied upon such a shift, if I had thought that they had stood in any need thereof. But as it was only their real Worth, and Excellence, and Usefulness which moved me ia defire their Pseblication, so I was verily perfuaded, and as well assured as I could be in any Writings of my own, and that not upon my owun Opinion only, but upon the
Judgment of others also, that nothing liable to exception doth occur in them, or any thing considerable that is questionable which bath not other approved Authors who say the same: and the truth is, the Subject of them is such as is not like to afford much matter of that nature; these being Moral and Practical things, whereas they are for the most part matters of Speculation, and of cua rious (1 bad almost said presumptuous) and unnecessary, if not undeterminable Speculation, which make the great stirs, and are the matter and occasions of greatest Controversie, especially among them of the Reformed Religion.
And though these Writings never underwent the last Hand or Pencil of the Judicious Author, and therefore, in respect of that perfection which he could have given to them, are not altogether to compleat as otherwise they might have been, yet if we consider them in themselves, or with respect to the Writings which are daily published, even of learned Men, and published by the
Authors themselves, these will be found to be such as may not only very well pals in the Crowd, but such as are of no vulgar or common Strain. The Subjects of them indeed are commons Theams, but yet such as are of most weight and moment in the Life of Man, and of greatest Concernment, as in Nature those things which are of greatest Use and Concernment, are most common. But the matter of his Meditations upon these Subjects is not common : for as he is a man that thinks closely and deeply of things, not after a common rate, so his Writings, his most ex tempore Writings, have a certain Genius and Energy
file of Man yet feuch as e Subjects of
in them, much above the common rate of Writers. And though these are written ex tempore, and in such a manner as bath been said before, yet the matter of them is for the most part such, as he had before well digested, and, as a Scribe instructed to the Kingdom of Heaven, bad treasured up in his heart, and out of this good treasure of bis heart, and the abundance of it, be produceth these good things; things which he looked upon as of greatest concern, and most worth his serious Consideration, and had accordingly weighed and considered. And for the Style, it is suitable to the Matter, significant, perfpicuous, and manly; bis Words are Spirit and Life, and carry Evidence and Demonftration with them, moral and experimental Demonstration: Vox non ex ore, fed ex pectore emissa. And if we take these Writings altogether, and weigh them duly and candidly without any vain bumour of critical and pedantick Cenforiousness, we may therein no less observe the worth and excellence of their Author, especially considering in what manner they were written, than in bis more elaborate Works: and being written and published in this manner, they do more evidently demonstrate the reality of bis boneft, virtuous, and pious Principles, than had they been designed to be published, and been by himself; which perhaps may render them not less acceptable to fome Readers, not of the lower rank.
So that considering the Writings themselves, I could not think that there was any thing therein, whether of matter or form, which could render the Publication of them injurious or prejudicial to the Author in the least in any of the respects aforementionedo Tet notwithstanding, for the greater security, I thought it might be fit, and but just, to give this true and ingenuous ac. count both of the Occasion and Manner of his Writing, and of the Publication of them without his Privity and Knowledge, And this I conceived might be a just and sufficient means to lecure the Author against all Exceptions, as that which would wholly acquit him in the Judgment of all rea onable Men, and transfer the blame, if any should be, to my self, which yet was no more than what I must have resolucd to have undergone bad they been my own Writings which I had published.
It remained therefore only to consider how this might be done, As without Injary in other Respects, lo without Offence to the
worthy Author. And for this, two things did not a little ena
thor. His Candor I knew to be fuch, that I doubted not of a fair
made thus bold with this excellent Person, and my very good.
Idcabt not but the Reader will be very desirous to know who