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HE Author of these Writings is a Person of great T Learning, great Judgment, and Wisdom, and of
great Virtue and Piety. He bath written divers learr ed and compleat Works upon other Subjects; but for these Writings bere published, they were written, as were also many others of the like nature, ex tempore, and upon this occasion; 'It bath been bis custom for many years, every Lord's-day in the Afternoon, after Evening Sermon between that and Supper time) to employ his Thoughts upon several Subjects of Di
vine Contemplations: and as things came into his Thoughts, so * be put them into Writing: which be did for these two Reasons, '1. That he might the more fix his Thoughts, and keep them from diversion and wandring. 2. That i bey might remain, and not be lost by forgetfulness or other interventions.
And as this was the occasion and manner of his writing thim, so this, doubtless, was all that he intended in them, unless moreover to communicate them to bis Children or some particular Friends in private upon occasion: but for publishing them; certainly be had not the least thoughts of any such thing; much less bath be revised them for that purpose; nor so much as read over some of them since he wrote them; or indeed so much as finished some of them. Nay So far was be from any thoughts of publishing them, that when he was importuned but to give his consent to the Publication of them, be could not be prevailed with to do it. And therefore that they are now published, the Rearler must know that they are published not only in their native and primogen nial fimplicity, but without so much as the Author's priviry to it.
And thus much I thought my self obliged, even in justice to the Author, to acquaint the Reader with, on: ingenuously to acknowledge, arid take upon my self the fault, if any ibing less perfect and compleat, or any wise liable to exceprion, fall appear in these Papers, seeing they were neither written with
any intention to be published, nor revised by the Author, nor are puban lilled with his Knowledge.
But this again on the other side obligeth me to render some account of my doing herein. I confoss
, I approx. not ihe thing in general, that is, tbe publication of another's Writings without bis consent or privity: but yet I know very well, that those things which in the general are for the most part unlawful, may, yet be Jo circumstantiated in a particular case, as that they may become not only.lawful, but very commendable to be done in that case : and such a special case I take this to be. And tho I think my self accountable to the Author chiefly, if not to him alone, for what I have done in this case, yet some account thereof ihall give to the Reader, fo far at least as concernetb these Writings, or is necessary for him to be acquainted with.
When I first met with some of these Writings, and obtained the Perrisal of them, I thought them well worth my pains to tȚan. feribe: which I did, partly for my own use; and partly, seeing t bein written in lcole
' 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 safe and secure, sind having collected a pretty considerable stock of them, I communicated
some of them, as I saw occasion, to some friends, come of them Persons of good Judgment and Learning, who very much commended ihe same : and scarce any that saw them, but said'twas great pity but they should be Printed. But besides 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 some who perused them; and this experience of the good effects wbich 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 como mon, have the same good influences upon many which I found they bad upon some of thofe few to whom they were communicated in private: But fir the Manuscript Copies which I bad, they were not sufficient for all those fair opportunities of doing good with them which I saw even among my own Friends and Acquaintance. Whereupen I solicited the Author to publish them, or at least to give bis Consent 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. Bui when I perceived, as I thought, that the chief Reasons wby Be would neither publish them himself, nor give bis Consent to the Publication of them, were such as would be of no force against
the Publication of them without his privity or knowledge, I began to consider of doing that.
But before I resolved upon it, I sent two of the largest of them to a Person, whose Judgment I know the Author dosh much esteem, to have bis Opinion of them, not letting him know eitber who was the Author; or wbo sent them to bim; and having received his Opinion and Commendation of them, and that he judged them like to do much good, and such as wiuld be very seasonable to be published, I began farther to consider whether and how they might be publihed without either Wrong or Injury on the one side, or Offence on the other, to the Author. And for the former, I reckoned that his.Concern in it was ei. ther in respect of the Disposal of the Copy, wherein would be no great difficulty; or more especially in respect 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 so weli polished and perfe&ted as might be for his credit and reputation.
And altbough this might seem to be provided for in some fort by Concealing his Name (which truly I should much rather have made known, but that I knew I must tben venture doubly to in. cur bis Displeasure ) yet I look'd upon this as but a weak and insufficieni Provision, in as much as it is not unusual for Learned Men, even from the very style and genius of Writings, to discover the Writers; an Experiment whereof i bad seen in a Person of Learning and Parts, to whom, upon occasion, 1 once Shewed one of the Writings of this Author, but purposely concealed who the Author was, whom notwithstanding be foon discovered from the Writing it self, telling me he knew no Man ibat did think at that rate, but such a person, who was the Author indeed. And the truth is, these Writings do not obscurely speak their Author, being a most lively Representation of him, that is, of bis Mind and Soul, and of that Learning, W'isdom, Piety and Virtue, which is very eminent and conspicuous in bimi par.. ticularly that of the Great Audit, which I use to look upon as his very Picture, wherein representing the Good Steward palling bis Account, it was impossible for bim not to give a lively Rio presentation of himself; as every Character of a truly wise and vertuous Person must needs agree with him who is really fuch ; and they who are eminently such, can hardly be unknown: ani
therefore it is not imposible that some, even from the consideration of the Work, may discover the Workman, besides many other occa; tons of Discovery which may happen.
But as I thought this too weak and insufficient, so I could not but think it altogether needless and unworthy both the excellent Author, and these his pious and excellent Meditations, to be made use of 10-ųhat end; and should much rather have abstained from publishing thein at all, than have relied upon such 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 ia desire their Publication, so I was verily perswaded, and as well assured as I could be in any Writings of my own, and that not upon my own Opinion only, but upon the Judgment of others also, that nothing liable to exception dotb occur in them, or any thing confiderable that is questionable which bath not other approved Authors who say the same: and the truth is, the Subject of them is such as is not like to afford much matter of that nature; these being Moral and Practical things, whereas they are for the most part matters of Speculation, and of curious (1 bad almost said presumptuous) and unnecessary, if not undeterminable Speculation, which make the great stirs, and are the matter and occasions of greatest Controversie, especially among them of the Reformed Religion.
And though these Writings never underwent the last Hand or Pencil of the Judicious Autbor, and therefore, in respect of that perfection which he could bave given to them, are not altogether fo compleat as otherwise they might have been, yet if we consider them in themselves, or with respect to the Writings wbich are daily publijhed, even of learned Men, and published by the Authors themselves, these will be found to be such as may not only very well pass in the Crowd, but such as are of no vulgar or common Strain. The Subjects of them indeed are common Theams, but yet such as are of most weight and moment in the Life of Man, and of greatest Concernment, as in Nature these things which are of greatest Use and Concernment, are most common. But the inatter of his Meditations upon these Subjects is not cominon: fir as he is a man that thinks closely and deeply of things, not after a common rate, so bis Writings, bis moši ex tempore IIritings, have a certain Genius and Energy