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The A UTHOR's

A PO L Ó G Y.

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F good and ill nature equally operated upon mankind, I might have saved myself the trouble of this

Apology; for it is manifeft, by the reception the following discourse hath met with, that those who approve it, are a great majority among the men of taste : yet there have been two or three treatises written expressly against it, besides many others that have flirted at it oc. casionally, without one syllable having been ever published in its defence, or even quotation to its advantage that I can remember, except by the polite author of a late discourfe between a Driji and a Socinian.

Therefore, fince the book seems calculated to live at least as long as our language and our taste admit no great alterations, I am content to convey some apology along with it.

The greatest part of that book was finished about thirteen years since, 1696; which is eight years before it was published. The author was then young, his invention at the height, and his reading fresh in his head. By the assistance of some thinking, and much conversation, he had endeavoured to ftrip himself of as many real prejudices as he could: I say, real ones; because, under the notion of prejudices, he knew to what dangerous heights some men have proceeded. Thus prepared, he thought the numerous and grofs corruptions in religion and learning might furnish matter for a fatire, that would be useful and diverting. He resolved to proceed in a manner, that should be altogether new ; the world having been already too long nauseated with endless repetitions upon every subject. The abuses in religion he proposed to set forth in the allegory of the coats, and

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the three brothers ; which was to make up the body of the discourse. Those in learning he chose to introduce by way of digressions. He was then a young gentleman much in the world, and wrote to the taste of those who were like himself: therefore, in order to allure them, he gave a liberty to his pen, which might not suit with maturer years, or graver characters; and which he could have easily corrected with a very few blots, had he been master of his papers for a year or two before their publication.

Not that he would have governed his judgment by the ill-placed cavils of the four, the envious, the stupid, and the tasteless; which he mentions with disdain. He acknowledges there are feveral youthful fallies, which, from the grave and the wise, may deserve a rebuke. But he defires to be answerable no farther than he is guilty ; and that his faults may not be multiplied by the ignorant, the unnatural, and unchari'able applications of those, who have neither candour to suppose good meanings, nor palate to distinguish true ones. After which he will forfeit his life, if any one opinion can be fairly deduced from that book, which is contrary to religion or morality.

Why should any clergyman of our church be angry to fee the follies of fanaticism and superstition exposed, tho' in the most ridiculous manner? since that is perhaps the most probable way to cure them, or at least to hinder them from farther spreading. Besides, tho' it was not intended for their perufal, it rallies nothing but what they preach against. It contains nothing to provoke them, by the least fcurrility upon their persons or their functions. It celebrates the church of England, as the most perfect of all others in discipline and doctrine ; it advances no opinion they reject, nor condemns any they receive. If the clergy's resentments lay upon their hands, in my humble opinion, they might have found more proper objects to employ them on. Nondum tibi defuit hoftis ; I mean those heavy, iHiterate fcriblers, prostitute in their reputations, vicious in their lives, and ruined in their fortunes; who, to the shame of good sense as well as piety, are greedily read, merely upon the strength of bold, false, impious assertions, mixed with

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unmannerly reflections upon the priesthood, and openly intended against all religion ; in short, full of such principles as are kindly received, because they are levelled to remove those terrors that religion tells men will be the consequence of immoral lives. Nothing like which is to be met with in this discourse, tho' some of them are pleafed fo freely to censure it. And I wish there were no other instance of what I have too frequently observed, that many

of that Reverend body are not always very nice in distinguishing between their enemies and their friends.

Had the author's intentions met with a more candid interpretation from fome, whom, out of respect, he forbears to name, he might have been encouraged to an examination of books written by some of thofe authors above described, whose errors, ignorance, dulness, and villany he thinks he could have detected and exposed in such a manner, that the persons who are moft

. conceived to be infected by them, would foon lay them aside, and be ashamed : but he has now given over those thoughts; fince the weightiest men * in the weightiest stations are pleased to think it a more dangerous point, to laugh at those corruptions in religion, which they themselves muft disapprove, than to endeavour pulling up those very foundations, wherein all Christians have agreed.

He thinks it no fair proceeding, that any perfon should offer determinately to fix a name upon the author of this discourse, who hath all along concealed himself from most of his nearest friends : yet several have gone a farther step, and pronounced another book t to have been the work of the same hand with this ; which the author directly affirms to be a thorough mistake, he having yet never so much as read that discourse : a plain infance how little truth there often is in general furmises, or in conjectures drawn from a similitude of style, or way of thinking

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Allading to Dr. Sharp the Archbishop of York's reprefeptation of the Author.

+ Letter of enthufiasm, supposed to have been written by Col. Hunter: see Swift's letter to him, in the last of these volumes.

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Had the author written a book to expose the abuses in law, or in phyfic, he believes the learned professors in either faculty would have been so far from resenting it; as to have given him thanks for his pains; especially if he had made an honourable refervation for the true practice of either science. But religion, they tell us, ought not to be ridiculed ; and they tell us truth : yet surely the corruptions in it may; for we are taught by the tritest maxim in the world, that religion being the best of things, its corruptions are likely to be the worst.

There is one thing which the judicious reader cannot but have observed, that some of those passages in this dis. course, which appear moft liable to objection, are what they call parodies, where the author personates the style and manner of other writers whom he has a mind to expose. I fall produce one instance ; it is in the 29th page. Dryden, L'Eitrange, and some others I shall not name, are here levelled at ; who, having spent their lives in faction and apoftafies, and all manner of vice, pretended to be sufferers for loyalty and religion. So Dryden tells us in one of his prefaces of his merits and sufferings; thanks God that he podeljes his soul in patience. In other places he talks at the same rate; and L'Estrange often uses the like style : and, I believe the reader may find more perfons to give that paffage an application. But this is enough to direct those who may have overlooked the author's intention.

There are three or four other passages, which prejudiced or ignorant readers have drawn by great force to hint at ill meanings ; as if they glanced at some tenets in religion. In answer to all which, the author folemnly protests he is entirely innocent, and never had it once in his thoughts, that any thing he said would in the least be capable of such interpretations ; which he will engage to deduce full as fairly from the most innocent book in the world. And it will be obvious to every reader, that this was not any part of his fcheme or design ; the abuses he notes, being such as all Church-of-England men agree in: nor was it

proper for his subject to meddle with other points, than fach as have been perpetually controverted since the Reformation,

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To instance only in that passage about the three wooden machines mentioned in the introduction. In the original manuscript, there was a description of a fourth, which those who had the papers in their power, blotted out, as having something in it of fatire ; that, I suppose, they thought was too particular ; and therefore they were forced to change it to the number three ; from whence, fome have endeavoured to squeeze out a dangerous meaning, that was never thought on. And indeed the conceit was half spoiled by changing the numbers; that of four being much more cabalistic, and therefore better ex. posing the pretended virtue of numbers ; a fuperftition there intended to be ridiculed.

ANOTHER thing to be obferved, is, that there generally runs an irony through the thread of the whole book'; which the men of taste will observe and distinguish, and which will render some objections that have been made, very weak and insignificant.

This Apology being chiefly intended for the satisfaction of future readers, it may be thought unneceffary to take any notice of fuch treatises as have been written against the ensuing discourse ; which are already funk into waste paper and oblivion, after the ufual fate of common answerers to books which are allowed to have any merit. They are indeed like annuals that grow about a young tree, and seem to vie with it for a fummer, but fall and die with the leaves in autumn, and are never heard of any more. When Dr. Eachard writ his book about the contempt of the clergy, numbers of those answerers immediately started up, whose memory if he had not kept alive by his replies, it would now be utterly unknown that he were ever answered at all. There is indeed an exception, when any great genius thinks it worth his while to expose a foolis piece. So we still read Marvel's answer to Parker * with pleasure, tho' the book it answers be funk

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* Parker, afterwards Bishop of Oxford, wrote many treatises against the Dissenters, with infolence and contempt, says Burnet, that enraged them beyond measure ; for which he was chastised by Andrew Marvel, Under Secretary to Milton, in a little book called the Rehearsal transposed.

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