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your lordship, I hope, will pardon me if I do not turn over your Defence of the Trinity and your first letter, to see whether you have any such proofs, which you yourself seem so much to doubt or think so meanly of, that
you do not so much as point out the places where they are to be found; though we have in this very page so eminent an example, that you are not sparing of your pains in this kind, where you have the least thought that it might serve your lordship to the meanest purpose.
But though you produced no words or principles of mine to prove this a supposition of mine, yet in your next words here your lordship produces a reason why you yourself supposed it. For you say, “you could not imagine that I could place certainty in the agreement or disagreement of ideas, and not suppose those ideas to be clear and distinct:" so that at last the satisfaction you give me, why my book was brought into a controversy wherein it was not concerned is, that your lordship imagined I supposed in it, what I did not suppose in it. And here I crave leave to ask, whether the reader may not well suppose that you had a great mind to bring my book into that controversy, when the only handle you could find for it was an imagination of a supposition to be in it, which in truth was not there?
Your lordship adds, “ that I finding myself joined in such company which I did not desire to be seen in, I rather chose to distinguish myself from them, by denying clear and distinct ideas to be necessary to certainty."
If it might be permitted to another to guess at your thoughts, as well as you
as well as you do at mine, he perhaps would turn it thus ; that your lordship finding no readier way, as you thought, to set a mark upon my book, than by bringing several passages of it into a controversy concerning the Trinity, wherein they had nothing to do; and speaking of them under the name of “ those” and " them,” as if your adversaries in that dispute had made use of those passages against the Trinity, when no one opposer of the doctrine of the Trinity, that I
know, or that you have produced, ever made use of any one of them, you thought fit to jumble my book with other people's opinions after a new way, never used by any other writer that I ever heard of. If any one will consider what your lordship has said for my satisfaction (wherein you have, as I humbly conceive I have shown, produced nothing but imaginations of imaginations, and suppositions of suppositions) he will, I conclude, without straining of his thoughts, be carried to this conjecture.
But conjectures apart, your lordship says, “ that I finding myself joined in such company which I did not desire to be seen in, I rather chose to distinguish myself:” if keeping to my book be called distinguishing myself. You say, “ I rather chose :” rather than what, my lord, I beseech you? Your learned
of writing, I find, is every where beyond my capacity; and unless I will guess at your meaning (which is not very safe) beyond what I can certainly understand by your words, I often know not what to answer to. It is certain you mean here, that I preferred “ distinguishing myself from them I found myself joined with” to something; but to what, you do not say. If you mean to owning that for my notion of certainty, which is not my notion of certainty, this is true; I did and shall always rather choose to distinguish myself from any of them, than own that for my notion which is not my notion : if you mean that I preferred“ my distinguishing myself from them, to my being joined with them;" you make me choose, where there neither is nor can be any choice. For what is wholly out of one's power, leaves no room for choice; and I think I should be laughed at, if I should say, “I rather choose to distinguish myself from the papists, than that it should rain.” For it is no more in my choice not to be joined, as your lordship has been pleased to join me, with the unknown “they” and “them,” than it is in my power that it should not rain.
It is like you will say here again, this is a nice criticism; I grant, my lord, it is about words and expressions : but since I cannot know your meaning but
by your words and expressions, if this defect in my understanding very frequently overtake me in your writings to and concerning me, it is troublesome, I confess; but what must I do? Must I play at blind-man'sbuff! Catch at what I do not see ? Answer to I know not what; to no meaning, i. e. to nothing? Or must I presume to know your meaning, when I do not?
For example, suppose I should presume it to be your meaning here, that I found myself joined in company, by your lordship, with the author of Christianity not mysterious, by your lordship's imputing the same notions of certainty to us both; that I did not desire to be seen in his company, i. e. to be thought to be of his opinion in other things; and therefore “I chose rather to distinguish myself from him, by denying clear and distinct ideas to be necessary to certainty, than to be so joined with him :" if I should presume this to be the sense of these your words here, and that by the doubtful signification of the expressions of being joined in company and seen in company, used equivocally, your lordship should mean, that because I was said to be of his opinion in one thing, I was to be thought to be of his opinion in all things, and therefore disowned to be of his opinion in that, wherein I was of his opinion, because I would not be thought of his opinion all through: would not your lordship be displeased with me for supposing you to have such a meaning as this; and ask me again,“ whether I could think you a man of so little sense to talk thus ?” And yet, my lord, this is the best I can make of these words, which seem to me rather to discover a secret in your way of dealing with me, than any thing in me that I am ashamed of.
For I am not, nor ever shall be ashamed to own any opinion I have, because another man holds the same; and so far as that brings me into his company, I shall not be troubled to be seen in it. But I shall never think that that entitles me to any other of his opinions, or makes me of his company in any other sense, how much soever that be the design : for your lordship has used no small art and pains to make me of his and the Unitarians' company in all that they say, only because
that author has ten lines in the beginning of his book, which agrees with something I have said in mine; from whence we become companions, so universally united in opinion, that they must be entitled to all that I say, and I to all that they say.
My lord, when I writ my book, I could not design “ to distinguish myself from the gentlemen of the new way of reasoning," who were not then in being, nor are, that I see, yet: since I find nothing produced out of the Unitarians, nor the author of Christianity not mysterious, to show, that they make clear and distinct ideas necessary to certainty. And all that I have done since, has been to show, that you had no reason to join my book with men (let them be what “they” or “those” you please) who founded certainty only upon clear and distinct ideas, when my book did not found it only upon clear and distinct ideas. And I cannot tell why the appealing to my book now, should be called “a choosing rather to distinguish myself.”
My reader must pardon me here for this uncouth phrase of joining my book with men. lordship ordered the matter (pardon me, if I say in your new way of writing) so it was, if your own word may be taken in the case : for, to give me satisfaction, you insist upon this, that you did not join me with those gentlemen in their opinions, but tell me they used my notions to other purposes than I intended them;" and so there was no need for me “to distinguish myself from them,” when your lordship had done it for me as you plead all along : though you are pleased to tell me, that I was joined with them, and that “ I found myself joined in such company, as I did not desire to be seen in."
My lord, I could find myself joined in no company upon this occasion, but what you joined me in. And therefore I beg leave to ask your lordship, did you join me in company with those, in whose company, you here say, “I do not desire to be seen ?" If
you own that
you did, how must I understand that passage where you say, that “ you must do that right to the ingenious author of the Essay of Human Understanding, from whence
For as your
these notions were borrowed, to serve other purposes than he intended them;" which you repeat again as matter of satisfaction to me, and as a proof of the care you took not to be misunderstood ? If you did join me with them, what is become of all the satisfaction in the point, which your lordship has been at so much pains about? And if you did not join me with them, you could not think I found myself joined with them, or chose to distinguish myself from men I was never joined with: for my book was innocent of what made them gentlemen of the new way of reasoning.
There seems to me something very delicate in this matter. I should be supposed joined to them, and
your lordship should not be supposed to have joined me to them, upon so slight or no occasion; and yet all this comes solely from your lordship. How to do this to your satisfaction, I confess myself to be too dull: and therefore I have been at the pains to examine how far I have this obligation to your lordship, and how far you would be pleased to own it, that the world might understand your lordship’s, to me, incomprehensible way of writing on this occasion.
For if you had a mind, by a new and dexterous way, becoming the learning and caution of a great man, to bring me into such company, which you think “ I did not desire to be seen in;" I thought such a pattern, set by such a hand as your lordship’s, ought not to be lost by being passed over too slightly. Besides, I hope, that you will not take it amiss, that I was willing to see what obligation I had to your lordship in the favour you designed me. But I crave leave to assure your lordship, I shall never be ashamed to own any opinion I have, because another man (of whom perhaps your lordship or others have no very good thoughts) is of it, nor be unwilling to be so far seen in his company : though I shall always think I have a right to demand, and shall desire to be satisfied, why any one makes to himself, or takes an occasion from thence, in a manner that savours not too much of charity, to extend this society to those opinions of that man, with which I have nothing to do; that the world may see the justice and