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SOME PASSAGES IN A DISCOURSE
COMMUNION WITH GOD,
THE EXCEPTIONS OF WILLIAM SHERLOCK,
RECTOR OF ST. GEORGE, BOTOLPH LANE.
SOME PASSAGES IN A DISCOURSE
COMMUNION WITH GOD.
It is now near twenty years, since I wrote and published a discourse concerning communion with God. Of what use and advantage it hath been to any, as to their furtherance in the design aimed at therein, is left unto them to judge, by whom it hath been perused with any candid diligence. And I do know that multitudes of persons fearing God, and desiring to walk before him in sincerity, and ready, if occasion require, to give testimony unto the benefit which they have received thereby; as I can also at any time produce the testimonies of learned and holy persons, it may be as any I know living, both in England and out of it, who owning the truth contained in it, have highly avowed its usefulness, and are ready yet so to do. With all other persons, so far as ever I heard, it passed at the rate of a tolerable acceptation with discourses of the same kind and nature. And however any thing or passage in it might not possibly suit the apprehensions of some; yet, being wholly practical, designed for popular edification, without any direct engagement into things controversial, I looked for no opposition unto it or exception against it; but that it would at least be suffered to pass at that rate of allowance, which is universally granted unto that sort of writings both of ancient and modern authors. Accordingly it so fell out and continued for many years, until some persons began to judge it their interest, and to make it their business, to cavil at my writings, and to load my person with reproaches. With what little success as to their avowed designs, they have laboured therein ; how openly their endeavours are sunk into contempt with all sorts of persons pretending unto the least sobriety or modesty ; I suppose they are not themselves altogether insensible. Among the things which this sort of men sought to make an advantage of against me, I found that two or three of them began to reflect on that discourse, though it appeared they had not satisfied themselves what as yet to fix upon, their nibbling cavils being exceedingly ridiculous.
But yet from those intimations of some men's good-will towards it, sufficient to provoke the industry of such as either needed their assistance, or valued their favour, I was in expectation that one or other would possess that province, and attempt the whole discourse or some parts of it. Nor was I dissatisfied in my apprehensions of that design. For being earnestly solicited to suffer it to be reprinted, I was very willing to see what either could or would be objected against it before it received another impression. For whereas it was written now near twenty years ago, when there was the deepest peace in the minds of all men about the things treated of therein, and when I had no apprehension of any dissent from the principal design, scope, and parts of it by any called Christians in the world, the Socinians only excepted (whom I had therein no regard unto), I thought it highly probable, that some things might have been so expressed as to render a review and amendment to them more. than ordinarily necessary. And I reckoned it not improbable, but that from one malevolent adversary I might receive a more instructive information of such escapes of diligence, than I could do in so long a time from all the more impartial readers of it; for as unto the substance of the doctrine declared in it, I was sufficiently secure not only of its truth, but that it would immoveably endure the rudest assaults of such oppositions as I did expect. I was therefore very well satisfied, when I heard of the publishing of this treatise of Mr. Sherlock's, which, as I was informed, and since have found true, was principally intended against myself and that discourse, that is, that book, because I was the author of it, which will at last prove to be its only guilt and crime. For I thought I should be at once now satisfied, both what it was which was so long contriving against it whereof I could give no conjecture, as also be directed unto any such mistakes as, , might have befallen me in matter or manner of expression, which I would or might rectify, before the book received