Page images


in general, that is, the publication of another's Writings without bis confent or privity: but yet I know very well, that those things which in the general are for the most part unlawful, may yet be fo circumftantiated in a particular cafe, as that they may not only lawful, but very commendable to be done in that case: and fuch a special cafe I take this to be. And tho I think my felf accountable to the Author chiefly, if not to him alone, for what I have done in this cafe, yet fome account thereof I shall give to the Reader, fo far at least as concerneth these Writings, or is neceffary for him to be acquainted with.

When I first met with fome of thefe Writings, and obtained the Perufal of them, I thought them well worth my pains to tṛanfcribe: which I did, partly for my own use; and partly, seeing them written in loofe 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 fafe and secure, And having collected a pretty confiderable stock of them, I communicated fome of them, as I faw occafion, to fome friends, fome of them Perfons of good Judgment and Learning, who very much commended the fame: and scarce any that faw them, but faid 'twas great pity but they should be Printed. But befides the Approbation of them by all to whom I did communicate them, I perceived that they had a real effect to the good and benefit of fome who perufed 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 fame good influences upon many which I found they had upon fome of thofe few to whom they were communicated in private: But for the Manufcript Copies which I had, they were not fufficient for all thofe fair opportunities of doing good with them which I law even among my own Friends and Acquaintance. Whereupon I folicited the Author to publish them, or at least to give his Confent to the Publication of them, but could not prevail with him for either, altho 1 know that no Motive or Argument is more prevalent with him than that of Doing good. But when I perceived, as I thought, that the chief Reasons why be would neither publish them himself, nor give his Confent to the Publication of them, were fuch as would be of no force against


the Publication of them without his privity or knowledge, I began to confider of doing that.

But before I refolved upon it, I fent two of the largest of them to a Perfon, whofe Judgment I know the Author doth much efteem, to have bis Opinion of them, not letting him know either who was the Author, or who fent them to him; and having received his Opinion and Commendation of them, and that be judged them like to do much good, and fuch as would be very feaSonable to be published, I began farther to confider whether and how they might be published without either Wrong or Injury on the one fide, or Offence on the other, to the Author. And for the former, I reckoned that his Concern in it was either in refpect of the Difpofal of the Copy, wherein would be no great difficulty; or more especially in refpect of the Writings to be published, if either there should occur. any thing therein not fit to be made publick; or if they were not fo well polished and perfected as might be for his credit and reputation.

And although this might feem to be provided for in fome fort by Concealing his Name (which truly I should much rather have made known, but that I knew I must then venture doubly to incur his Difpleasure) yet I look'd upon this as but a weak and infufficient Provifion, in as much as it is not unusual for Learned Men, even from the very style and genius of Writings, to difcover the Writers; an Experiment whereof 1 had seen in a Perfon of Learning and Parts, to whom, upon occafion, lonce Shewed one of the Writings of this Author, but purposely concealed who the Author was, whom notwithstanding he foon difcovered from the Writing it felf, telling me he knew no Man that did think at that rate, but fuch a Perfon, who was the Author indeed. And the truth is, thefe Writings do not obfcurely speak their Author, being a most lively Reprefentation of him, that is, of his Mind and Soul, and of that Learning, Wisdom, Piety and Virtue, which is very eminent and confpicuous in kim; particularly that of the Great Audit, which I use to look upon as bis very Picture, wherein reprefenting the Good Steward paffing his Account, it was impoffible for him not to give a lively Reprefentation of himself; as every Character of a truly wife and vertuous Perfon must needs agree with him who is really fuck; and they who are eminently fuck, can hardly be unknown: and

A 3


therefore it is not impoffible that fome, even from the confideration of the Work, may difcover the Workman, befides many other occafons of Difcovery which may happen.

But as I thought this too weak and infufficient, fo I could not but think it altogether needlefs and unworthy both the excellent Author, and thefe his pious and excellent Meditations, to be made ufe of to-that end; and fhould much rather have abstained from publishing them at all, than have relied upon fuch 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 ta defire their Publication, fo 1 was verily perfuaded, and as well affured as 1 could be in any Writings of my own, and that not upon my own Opinion only, but upon the Fudgment of others also, that nothing liable to exception doth occur in them, or any thing confiderable that is questionable which bath not other approved Authors who fay the fame: and the truth is, the Subject of them is fuch as is not like to afford much matter of that nature; thefe being Moral and Practical things, whereas they are for the most part matters of Speculation, and of curious (I had almost said presumptuous) and unnecessary, if not undeterminable Speculation, which make the great tirs, and are the matter and occafions of greatest Controverfie, especially among them of the Reformed Religion.

And though thefe 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 fo compleat as otherwife they might have been, yet if we confider 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 fuch as may not only very well pals in the Crowd, but fuch as are of no vulgar or common Strain. The Subjects of them indeed are common Theams, but yet fuch 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 соттоп. But the matter of his Meditations upon thefe Subjects is not common: fer as he is a man that thinks closely and deeply of things, not after a common rate, fo his Writings, bis most ex tempore Writings, have a certain Genius and Energy

in them, much above the common rate of Writers. And though thefe are written ex tempore, and in fuch a manner as bath been faid before, yet the matter of them is for the most part fuch, as he had before well digefted, and, as a Scribe instructed to the Kingdom of Heaven, bad treasured up in his heart, and out of this good treasure of his heart, and the abundance of it, be produceth thefe good things, things which he looked upon as of greatest concern, and most worth his ferious Confideration, and had accordingly weighed and confidered. And for the Style, it is fuitable to the Matter, fignificant, 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 emiffa. And if we take these Writings altogether, and weigh them duly and candidly without any vain bumour of critical and pedantick Cenforioufness, we may therein no lefs obferve the worth and excellence of their Author, efpecially confidering in what manner they were written, than in his more elaborate Works: and being written and publifhed in this manner, they do more evidently demonftrate the reality of his honeft, virtuous, and pious Principles, than bad they been defigned to be published, and been by himself; which perhaps may render them not less acceptable to fome Readers, not of the lower rank.

[ocr errors]

So that confidering 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 aforementioned. Yet notwithstanding, for the greater fecurity, I thought it might be fit, and but just, to give this true and ingenuous account both of the Occafion 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 fufficient means to fecure the Author against all Exceptions, as that which would wholly acquit him in the Judgment of all reafonable Men, and transfer the blame, if any should be, to my felf, which yet was no more than what I must have refolved to have undergone bad they been my own Writings which I had published.

It remained therefore only to confider how this might be done, as without Injury in other Refpects, lo without Offence to the

A 4


[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »