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I see my design not to omit any thing that you might think looks like an argument in yours, has made mine grow beyond the size of a letter.
But an answer to any one being very little different from a letter, I shall let it go under that title. I have in it also endeavoured to bring the scattered parts of your scheme into some method, under distinct heads; to give a fuller and more distinct view of them ; wherein, if any of the arguments, which give support to your hypothesis, have escaped me unawares, be pleased to show them me, and I shall either acknowledge their force, or endeavour to show their weakness.
I am, Sir,
PHILANTHROPOS. June 20, 1692.
TO L E RA TION*.
A FRESH revival of the controversy formerly between you and me is what I suppose nobody did expect from you aftertwelve years' silence. But reputation,a sufficient cause for a new war, as you give the world to understand, hath put a resolution into your heart, and arms into your hands, to make an example of me, to the shame and confusion of all those who could be so injurious to you, as to think you could quit the opinion you had appeared for in print, and agree with me in the matter of Toleration. It is visible how tender even men of the most settled calmness are in point of reputation, and it is allowed the most excusable part of human frailty; and therefore nobody can wonder to see a report thought injurious laboured against with might and main, and the assistance and cause of religion itself taken in and made use of to put a stop to it. But yet for all this there are sober men who are of opinion, that it better becomes a Christian temper, that disputes, especially of religion, should be waged purely for the sake of truth, and not for our own : self should have nothing to do in them. But since as we see it will crowd itself in, and be often the principal agent, your ingenuity in owning what has brought you upon the stage again, and set you on work, after the ease and quiet you resolutely maintained yourself in so many years, ought to be commended, in giving us a view of the discreet choice you have made of a method suited to your purpose, which you publish to the world in these words, p. 2: “ Being desirous to put a stop to a report so injurious, as well as groundless, as I look upon this to be, I think it will be no improper way of doing it, if I thus signify to you and the reader, that I find nothing more convincing in this your long letter than I did in your two former; giving withal a brief specimen of the answerableness of it: which I choose to do upon a few pages at the beginning, where you have placed your greatest strength, or at least so much of it as you think sufficient to put an end to this controversy.
* In answer to A Second Letter to the Author of the Three Letters for Toleration. From the Author of the Argument of the Letter concerning Toleration briefly considered and answered; and of the Defence of it. With a Pustscript, taking some Notice of Two Passages in The Rights of the Protestant Dissenters.
Here we have your declaration of war, of the grounds that moved you to it, and of your compendious way to assured victory; which I must own is very new and very remarkable. You choose a few pages out of the beginning of my Third Letter; in these, you say, “I have placed my greatest strength.” So that, what I have there said being baffled, it gives you a just triumph over my whole long Letter; and all the rest of it being but pitiful, weak, impertinent stuff, is by the overthrow of this forlorn hope fully confuted.
This is called answering by specimen. A new way, which the world owes to your invention; an evidence that whilst you said nothing you did not spare thinking. And indeed it was a noble thought, a stratagem which