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by fair and logical consequence, I promise, I say, to submit to any censure your Lordship's self shall think fit to inflict. But if, on the other hand, you can produce no such proposition, I shall then expect so much from your Lordships's justice as to retract your accusation in the same public manner you have been pleased to advànce it.
I am, My LORD,
Most Obedient Servant,
SEVERAL OCCASIONAL REFLECTIONS:
IN ANSWER TO
The Rev. Dr. MIDDLETON,
Dr. RICHARD GREY,
Serving to explain and justify divers Passages, in
*« THE DIVINE LEGATION," Objected to by those Learned Writers.
To which is added, A GENERAL REVIEW of the ARGUMÉNT
of The Divine Legation, as far as is yet advanced: wherein is considered the Relation the several Parts bear to each other, and to the Whole.
Together with An APPENDIX, in answer to a late Pamphlet,
entitled, An Eramination of Mr. W—'s Second Proposition.
IN TWO PARTS-PART I.
Quid immerentes hospites vexas, Canis,
Ignavus adversum Lupos?
AMICA vis PaSTORIBUS,
Quæeunque præcedet Fera.
PREFACE to PART I.
Copus, and Bishop BULL; shewing, that a Future State of
Law and Religion of Moses. POSTSCRIPT.
REMARKS ON OCCASIONAL REFLECTIONS;
IN the Prefatory Discourse to the First Volume of the D. L. I spoke pretty largely of the use of ridicule, in religious subjects; as the abuse of it is amongst the fashionable arts of free-thinking: For which I have been just now called to account, without any ceremony, by the nameless Author of a Poem intiiled, The Pleasures of Imagination. For 'tis my fortune to be still concerned with those who either do go masked, or those who should. I am a plain man, and on my first appearance in this way, I told my name, and who I belonged to. After this, if men will rudely come upon me in disguise, they can have no reason to complain, that in my ignorance of their characters) I treat them all alike upon the same free footing they have put themselves.
This gentleman, a follower of Ld. S. and, as it should seem, one of those to whom that Preface was addressed ; certainly, one of those to whom I applied the words of Tully, non decet, non datum est; who affect wit and raillery on subjects not meet, and with talents unequal; this Gentleman, I say, in the 105th and 10th pages of his Poem, animadverts upon me in the following manner:
Since it is (says he) beyond all contradiction evident, that we have a natural sense or feeling of the ridiculous, and since so good a reason may be assigned to justify the Supreme Being for bestowing it; one cannot zeithout astonishment reflect on the conduct of those men who imagine it for the service of true religion to vilify and blacken it without distinction, and endeavour to persuade us that it is never applied but in a bad cause. The reason here given, to shew, that ridicule and buffoonry
may be properly employed on scrious and even sacred subjects, is admirable: it is, because we have a natural sense or feeling of the ridiculous, and because no sensation was given us in vain; which would serve just as well to excuse adultery or incest. For have we not as natural a sense or feeling of the voluptuous? And was it not given for as good purposes? But he will say, it has its proper objects. And does he think, I will not say the same of his sense of ridicule? For he stretch'd a point, when he told the reader: I vilified and blackend it without distinction. The thing I there opposed, was only, an extravagant disposition to unseasonable mirth* The abusive way of wit and raillery on sérious subjects f. With as little truth could he say, that I endeavoured to persuade the public that it is never applied but in a bad cause: For, in that very place, I apologized for an eminent writer who had applied it to a good one $.
But, in the next words, if he means by, is not, ought not to be, he gives me up all I want. Ridicule (says he) is not concerned with mere speculatire truth or falshood. Certainly. And, for that very reason, I would exclude it from those subjects. What need? He will say, For when was it so employed ? Hold a little. Was it not concerned with mere speculative truth, when his master ridiculed the subject of Mr. Locke's Essay of Human Understanding, in the manner inentioned in my Prefacef? Was it not so concerned too, when the same noble person ridiculed Revelation, in the merry Story of the travelling Gentlemen, who put a wrong bias on their reason in order to believe right ||?-Unless, by mere speculative truths, he means, truths of no use : and for all such, he has my free leave to treat them as he pleases. He has shewn, by his Poem, they are no improper subject for his talents.
He goes on, It is not in abstract propositions or thearems, but in actions and passions, good and evil
, beauty and deformity, that we find materials for it; and all these terms are relative, implying approbation or blame. The reason here given, why, not abstract propositions, &c.
• Div. Leg. Vol. I. Ded. p. 147, &c.
+ Ibid. p. 150. Ibid. p. 144 &
sey. Ibid. p. 164, Note (11). # Char. II. Vol. III, Misc. 2. C. 3. p. 99.