Letters concerning the love of God between the author of the Proposal to the ladies and Mr. John Norris, wherein his late discourse, shewing that it ought to be intire and exclusive of all other loves, is further cleared and justified
Norris, John, 1657-1711., Astell, Mary, 1668-1731.

LETTER 1. To Mr. Norris.


THough some morose Gen∣tlemen wou'd perhaps re∣mit me to the Distaff or the Kitchin, or at least to the Glass and the Needle, the proper Em∣ployments as they fancy of a Wo∣mans Life; yet expecting better Page  2 things from the more Equitable and ingenious Mr. Norris, who is not so narrow-Soul'd as to confine Learning to his own Sex, or to envy it in ours, I presume to beg his Attention a little to the Imper∣tinencies of a Womans Pen. And indeed Sir, there is some reason why I, though a Stranger, should Address to you for the Resolution of my Doubts and Information of my Judgment, since you have in∣creased my Natural Thirst for Truth, and set me up for a Virtuso. For though I can't pretend to a Multitude of Books, Variety of Languages, the Advantages of Aca∣demical Education, or any Helps but what my own Curiosity afford; yet, Thinking is a Stock that no Rational Creature can want, if they know but how to use it; and this, as you have taught me, with Pu∣rity Page  3 and Prayer, (which I wish were as much practis'd as they are easie to practise) is the way and method to true Knowledge. But setting Preface and Apology aside, the occasion of giving you this trouble is this:

Reading the other day the Third Volume of your excellent Dis∣courses, as I do every thing you Write with great Pleasure and no less Advantage; yet taking the li∣berty that I use with other Books, (and yours or no bodies will bear it) to raise all the Objections that ever I can, and to make them undergo the severest Test my Thoughts can put 'em to before they pass for currant, a difficulty arose which without your assistance I know not how to solve.

Methinks there is all the reason in the World to conclude, That Page  4 GOD is the only efficient Cause of all our Sensations; and you have made it as clear as the Day; and it is equally clear from the Letter of the Commandment, That GOD is not only the Principal, but the sole Object of our Love: But the reason you assign for it, namely, Because he is the only efficient Cause of our Pleasure, seems not equally clear. For if we must Love nothing but what is Lovely, and nothing is Lovely but what is our Good, and nothing is our Good but what does us Good, and nothing does us Good but what causes Pleasure in us; may we not by the same way of arguing say, That that which Causes Pain in us does not do us Good, (for nothing you say does us Good but what Causes Pleasure) and therefore can't be our Good, and if not our Good then not Page  5 Lovely, and consequently not the proper, much less the only Object of our Love? Again, if the Au∣thor of our Pleasure be upon that account the only Object of our Love, then by the same reason the Author of our Pain can't be the Object of our Love; and if both these Sensations be produced by the same Cause, then that Cause is at once the Object of our Love, and of our Aversion; for it is as natu∣ral to avoid and fly from Pain, as it is to follow and pursue Plea∣sure?

So that if these Principles, viz. That GOD is the Efficient Cause of our Sensations, (Pain as well as Pleasure) and that he is the only Object of our Love, be firm and true, as I believe they are; it will then follow, either that the being the Cause of our Pleasure is not Page  6 the true and proper Reason why that Cause should be the Object of our Love, (for the Author of our Pain has as good a Title to our Love as the Author of our Plea∣sure;) Or else, if nothing be the Object of our Love but what does us Good, then something else does us Good besides what causes Plea∣sure? Or to speak more properly, the Cause of all our Sensations, Pain as well as Pleasure being the only Object of our Love, and no∣thing being Lovely but what does us Good, consequently, that which Causes Pain does us Good as well as that which Causes Pleasure; and therefore it can't be true, That no∣thing does us Good but what Causes Pleasure.

Perhaps I have express'd my self but crudely, yet I am persuaded I've said enough for one of your Page  7 Quickness to find out either the strength or weakness of this Ob∣jection. I shall not therefore trou∣ble you any further, but to beg Pardon for this, and to wish you all imaginable Happiness, (if it be not absurd to wish Felicity to one who already possesses a Virtu∣ous, Large and Contemplative Soul, and a quiet convenient Retirement, which is indeed all the Happiness that can be had on this side Hea∣ven) and to subscribe my self

Honoured Sir,

Your great Admirer and most humble Servant.

London, St. Matthew's day, 1693.