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Nobody's notions, I think, are the better or truer, for ill manners joined with them; and I conclude your lordship, who so well knows the different cast of men's heads, and of the opinions that possess them, will not think it ill manners in any one, if his notions differ from your lordship’s, that he owns that difference, and explains the grounds of it as well as he can. I have always thought, that truth and knowledge, by the ill and over-eager management of controversies, lose a great deal of the advantages they might receive, from the variety of conceptions there is in men's understandings. Could the heats, and passion, and ill language be left out of them, they would afford great improvements to those who could separate them from byinterests and personal prejudices. These I look upon your lordship to be altogether above.

It is not for me, who have so mean a talent in it myself, to prescribe to any one how he should write ; for when I have said all I can, he, it is like, will follow his own method, and perhaps cannot help it. Much less would it be good manners in me, to offer any thing that way to a person of your lordship's high rank, above me, in parts and learning, as well as place and dignity. But yet your lordship will excuse it to my short-sightedness, if I wish sometimes that your lordship would have been pleased, in this debate, to have kept every one's part separate to himself; that what I am concerned in might not have been so mingled with the opinions of others, which are no tenets of mine, nor, as I think, does what I have written any way relate to; but that I and every one might have seen whom your lordship’s arguments bore upon, and what interest he had in the controversy, and how far. At least, my lord, give me leave to wish, that your lordship had shown what connexion any thing I have said about ideas, and particularly about the idea of substance, about the possibility that God, if he pleased, might endue some systems of matter with a power of thinking; or what I have said to prove a God, &c. has with any objections, that are made by others, against the doctrine of the Trinity, or against mysteries : for many passages concerning ideas, substances, the possibility of God's bestowing thoughts on some systems of matter, and the proof of a God, &c. your lordship has quoted out of my book, in a chapter wherein your lordship professes to answer “ objections against the Trinity, in point of reason.” Had I been able to discover in these passages of my book, quoted by your lordship, what tendency your lordship had observed in them to any such objections, I should perhaps have troubled your lordship with less impertinent answers. But the uncertainty I was very often in, to what purpose your lordship brought them, may have made my explications of myself less apposite, than what your lordship might have expected. If your lordship had showed me any thing in my book, that contained or implied any opposition in it to any thing revealed in holy writ concerning the Trinity, or any other doctrine contained in the Bible, I should have been thereby obliged to your lordship for freeing me from that mistake, and for affording me an opportunity to own to the world that obligation, by publicly retracting my error. For I know not any thing more disingenuous, than not publicly to own a conviction one has received concerning any thing erroneous in what one has printed; nor can there, I think, be a greater offence against mankind, than to propagate a falsehood whereof one is convinced, especially in a matter wherein men are highly concerned not to be misled.

The holy scripture is to me, and always will be, the constant guide of my assent; and I shall always hearken to it, as containing infallible truth, relating to things of the highest concernment. And I wish I could say, there were no mysteries in it: I acknowledge there are to me, and I fear always will be. But where I want the evidence of things, there yet is ground enough for me to believe, because God has said it: and I shall presently condemn and quit any opinion of mine, as soon as I am shown that it is contrary to any revelation in the holy scripture. But I must confess to your lordship, that I do not perceive any such contrariety in any thing in my Essay of Human Understanding.

Oates, Jan. 7, 1696-7.






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MY LORD, Your lordship having done my letter the honour to think it worth your reply, I think myself bound in good manners publicly to acknowledge the favour, and to give your lordship an account of the effect it has had upon me, and the grounds upon which I yet differ from you in those points, wherein I am still under the mortification of not being able to bring my sentiments wholly to agree with your lordship’s. And this I the more readily do, because it seems to me, that that wherein the great difference now lies between us, is founded only on your fears; which I conclude, upon a sedate review, your lordship will either part with, or else give me other reasons, besides your apprehensions, to convince me of mistakes in my book, which your lordship thinks may be of consequence even in matters of religion.

Your lordship makes my letter to consist of two parts; my complaint to your lordship, and my vindication of myself. You begin with my complaint; one part whereof was, that I was brought into a controversy, wherein I had never meddled, nor knew how I came to be concerned in. To this your lordship is pleased to promise me satisfaction.

Since your lordship has condescended so far, as to be at the pains to give me and others satisfaction in this matter, I crave leave to second your design herein, and to premise a remark or two for the clearer understanding the nature of my complaint, which is the only way to satisfaction in it.

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