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a readiness to obey the known will of God, is such, that he never deserts a sincere person, the surest and best means to enlighten the nor suffers any one that shall live (even understanding to a belief of Christianity, according to these measures of sincerity) up That it is so, will appear upon a double to what he knows, to perish for want of any account.
knowledge necessary, and what is more, suffi1st, Upon the account of God's goodness, cient to save him. and the method of his dealing with the souls If any one should here say, Were there of men ; which is, to reward every degree of then none living up to these measures of sinsincere obedience to his will, with a farther cerity amongst the heathen ? and if there discovery of it. “I understand more than were, did the goodness of God afford such the ancients,” says David, (Psalm cxix. 100.) persons knowledge enough to save them ? But how did he attain to such an excellency My answer is according to that of Saint Paul, of understanding? Was it by longer study, “ I judge not those that are without the or a greater quickness and felicity of parts, church : they stand or fall to their own masthan was in those before him? No, he gives ter: I have nothing to say of them.
“ Secret the reason in the next words, it was “ because things belong to God :" it becomes us to be I keep thy statutes." He got the start of thankful to God, and charitable to men. them in point of obedience, and thereby out 2d, A pious and well-disposed will is the stript them at length in point of knowledge. readiest means to enlighten the understandAnd who in old time were the men of ex ing to a knowledge of the truth of Christraordinary revelations, but those who were tianity, upon the account of a natural effialso men of extraordinary piety? Who were ciency; forasmuch as a will so disposed will made privy to the secrets of Heaven, and the be sure to engage the mind in a severe search hidden will of the Almighty, but such as per into the great and concerning truths of reliformed his revealed will at an higher rate of gion. Nor will it only engage the mind in strictness than the rest of the world? They such a search ; but it will also accompany were the Enochs, the Abrahams, the Elijahs, that search with two dispositions, directly and the Daniels : such as the Scripture re tending to, and principally productive of, the markably testifies of, “ that they walked with discoveries of truth; namely, diligence and God.”
, walks impartiality another, is in a likelier way to know and understand his mind, than he that follows gence is the great harbinger of truth ; which him at a distance. Upon which account the rarely takes up in any mind till that has learned Jews still made this one of the ingre- gone before, and made room for it. It is a dients that went to constitute a prophet, that steady, constant, and pertinacious study, that he should be perfectus in moralibus, a person naturally leads the soul into the knowledge of exact morals, and unblameable in his life : of that, which at first seemed locked up from the gift of prophecy being a ray of such a it. For this keeps the understanding long light, as never darts itself upon a dunghill. in converse with an object; and long conAnd what I here observe occasionally of verse brings acquaintance. Frequent consiextraordinary revelation and prophecy, will, deration of a thing wears off the strangeness by analogy and due proportion, extend even of it; and shews it in its several lights, and to those communications of God's will, that various ways of appearance, to the view of are requisite to men's salvation. An honest the mind. hearty simplicity and proneness to do all that Truth is a great stronghold, barred and a man knows of God's will, is the ready, cer fortified by God and nature; and diligence is tain, and infallible way to know more of it. properly the understanding's laying siege to For I am sure it may be said of the practical it: so that, as in a kind of warfare, it must knowledge of religion, “ that to him that hath be perpetually upon the watch ; observing all shall be given, and he shall have more abun- the avenues and passes to it, and accordingly dantly."
makes its approaches. Sometimes it think's I dare not, I confess, join in that bold | it gains a point; and presently again, it finds assertion of some, that facienti quod in se est, itself baffled and beaten off: yet still it renews Deus nec debet, nec potest denegare gratiam, the onset, attacks the difficulty afresh, plants which, indeed, is no less than a direct con this reasoning, and that argument, this contradiction in the very terms; for if Deus debet, sequence, and that distinction, like so many then id quod debetur non est gratia ; there intellectual batteries, till at length it forces a being a perfect inconsistency between that way and passage into the obstinate enclosed which is of debt, and that which is of free gift. truth, that so long withstood and defied all And, therefore, leaving the non debet and the its assaults. non potest to those that can bind and loose The Jesuits have a saying common amongst the Almighty at their pleasure, so much, I them, touching the institution of youth, in think, we may pronounce safely in this mat which their chief strength and talent lies) ter, that the goodness and mercy of God is that vexatio dat intellectum. As when the
mind casts and turns itself restlessly from one for a man to admit a reason against the thing thing to another, strains this power of the he loves, or to confess the force of an argument soul to apprehend, that to judge, another to against an interest. divide, a fourth to remember; thus tracing In this case, he prevaricates with his own out the nice and scarce observable difference understanding, and cannot seriously and sinof some things, and the real agreement of cerely set his mind to consider the strength, to others, till at length it brings all the ends of poise the weight, and to discern the evidence a long and various hypothesis together ; sces of the clearest and best argumentations, where how one part coheres with and depends upon they would conclude against the darling of his another; and so clears off all the appearing desires. For still that beloved thing possesses, contrarieties and contradictions that seemed and even engrosses him, and like a coloured to lie cross and uncouth, and to make the glass before his eyes casts its own colour and whole unintelligible. This is the laborious tincture upon all the images and ideas of and vexatious inquest that the soul must things that pass from the fancy to the undermake after science. For truth, like a stately standing; and so absolutely does it sway that, dame, will not be seen, nor shew herself at that if a strange irresistible evidence of some the first visit, nor match with the under- unacceptable truth should chance to surprise standing upon an ordinary courtship or and force reason to assent to the premises, address. Long and tedious attendances must affection would yet step in at last, and make be given, and the hardest fatigues endured it quit the conclusion. and digested ; nor did ever the most pregnant Úpon which account, Socinus and his folwit in the world bring forth any thing great, lowers state the reason of a man's believing lasting, and considerable, without some pain or embracing Christianity upon the natural and travail, some pangs and throes before the goodness or virtuous disposition of his mind, delivery.
which they sometimes call naturalis probitas. Now all this, that I have said, is to shew and sometimes animus in virtutem pronus. For, the force of diligence in the investigation of say they, the whole doctrine of Christianity truth, and particularly of the noblest of all teaches nothing but what is perfectly suitable truths, which is that of religion. But then, to, and coincident witlı, the ruling principles, as diligence is the great discoverer of truth, that a virtuous and well inclined man is acted so is the will the great spring of diligence. by, and with the main interest that he proFor no man can heartily search after that poses to himself. So that as soon as ever it is which he is not very desirous to find. Dili- | declared to such an one, he presently closes gence is to the understanding, as the whet- in, accepts, and complies with it, as a prestone to the razor; but the will is the hand pared soil eagerly takes in and firmly retains that must apply one to the other.
such seed or plants as particularly agree with What makes many men so strangely im- it. merse themselves, some in chemical, and With ordinary minds, such as much the some in mathematical inquiries, but because greatest part of the world are, it is the suitthey strangely love the things they labour in? ableness, not the evidence of a truth, that Their intent study gives them skill and pro- makes it to be assented to. And it is seldom ficiency, and their particular affection to these that any thing practically convinces a man, kinds of knowledge puts them upon such that does not please him first. If you would study. Accordingly, let there be but the be sure of him, you must inform and gratify, same propensity and bent of will to religion, him too. But now, impartiality strips the and there will be the same sedulity and mind of prejudice and passion, keeps it right indefatigable industry in men's inquiry and even from the bias of interest and desire, into it. And then, in the natural course of and so presents it like a rasa tabula, equally things, the consequent of a sedulous seeking disposed to the reception of all truth. So is finding, and the fruit of inquiry is infor- that the soul lies prepared, and open to entermation.
tain it, and prepossessed with nothing that (2.) A pious and well-disposed will gives can oppose or thrust it out. For where dili. not only diligence, but also impartiality to gence opens the door of the understanding, the understanding, in its search into religion, and impartiality keeps it, truth is sure to find which is as absolutely necessary to give success both an entrance and a welcome too. to our inquiries into truth, as the former; it And thus I have done with the fourth and being scarce possible for that man to hit the last general thing proposed, and proved by mark, whose eye is still glancing upon some- argument, that a pious and well disposed thing beside it. Partiality is properly the mind, attended with a readiness to obey the understanding's judging according to the known will of God, is the surest and best inclination of the will and affections, and not means to enlighten the understanding to a according to the exact truth of things, or the belief of Christianity. merits of the cause before it. Affection is Now, from the foregoing particulars, by way still a briber of the judgment; and it is hard | of use we may collect these two things, –
1. The true cause of that atheism, that can have no interest to be served either by scepticism and cavilling at religion, that we atheism or infidelity. see and have cause to lament in too many in For which cause, could we but prevail with these days. It is not from any thing weak the greatest debauchees amongst us to change or wanting in our religion, to support, and their lives, we should find it no very hard enable it to look the strongest arguments, matter to change their judgments. For, notand the severest and most controlling reason, withstanding all their talk of reason and in the face : but men are atheistical, because philosophy, which (God knows) they are they are first vicious, and question the truth deplorably strangers to, and those unanswerof Christianity, because they hate the prac-able doubts and difficulties, which, over their tice. And, therefore, that they may seem to cups or their coffee, they pretend to have have some pretence and colour to sin on against Christianity, persuade but the covetfreely, and to surrender up themselves wholly ous man not to deify his money, the proud to their sensuality, without any imputation man not to adore himself, the lascivious man upon their judgment, and to quit their morals, to throw off his lewd amours, the intempewithout any discredit to their intellectuals, rate man to abandon his revels, and so for they fly to several stale, trite, pitiful objec- any other vice that is apt to abuse and pertions and cavils, some against religion in gene- vert the mind of man, and I dare undertake, ral, and some against Christianity in particu- that all their giant-like objections against lar, and some against the very first principles Christian religion shall presently vanish and of morality, to give them some poor credit quit the field. For he that is a good man, is and countenance in the pursuit of their brutish three-quarters of his way towards the being a courses.
good Christian, wheresoever he lives, or whatFew practical errors in the world are em soever he is called. braced upon the stock of conviction, but in 2. In the next place, we learn from hence clination : for though, indeed, the judgment the most effectual way and means of profimay err upon the account of weakness, yet ciency and growth in the knowledge of the where there is one error that enters in at this great and profound truths of religion, and door, ten are let into it through the will — how to make us all not only good Christians, that, for the most part, being set upon those but also expert divines. It is a knowledge, things, which truth is a direct obstacle to that men are not so much to study, as to live the enjoyment of; and where both cannot themselves into; a knowledge that passes be had, a man will be sure to buy his enjoy into the head through the heart. I have ment, though he pays down truth for the heard of some, that in their latter years, purchase. For in this case, the farther from through the feebleness of their limbs, have truth, the farther from trouble, since truth been forced to study upon their knees : and I shews such an one what he is unwilling to think it might well become the youngest and see, and tells him what he hates to hear. They the strongest to do so too. Let them daily are the same beams that shine and enlighten, and incessantly pray to God for his grace ; and are apt to scorch too; and it is impossible and if God gives grace, they may be sure that for a man engaged in any wicked way, to knowledge will not stay long behind, since have a clear understanding of it, and a quiet it is the same spirit and principle that purimind in it together.
fies the heart, and clarifies the understanding, But these sons of Epicurus, both for volup- Let all their inquiries into the deep and tuousness and irreligion also, (as it is hard to mysterious points of theology be begun and support the former without the latter, these, carried on with fervent petitions to God; I say, rest not here; but (if you will take that he would dispose their minds to direct them at their word) they must also pass for all their skill and knowledge to the promotion the only wits of the age, though greater of a good life, both in themselves and others ; arguments, I am sure, may be produced that he would use all their noblest speculaagainst this, than any they can allege against tions, and most refined notions, only as inthe most improbable article of Christianity, struments, to move and set a-work the great But heretofore the rate and standard of wit principles of actions, the will and the affecwas very different from what it is nowadays. tions; that he would convince them of the No man was then accounted a wit for speak- infinite vanity and uselessness of all that ing such things as deserved to have the tongue learning, that makes not the possessor of it a cut out that spake them; nor did any man better man; that he would keep them from pass for a philosopher, or a man of depth, for those sins that may grieve and provoke his talking atheistically; or a man of parts, for Holy Spirit (the fountain of all true light employing them against that God that gave and knowledge) to withdraw from them, them. For then the world was generally and so seal them up under darkness, blindbetter inclined ; virtue was in so much repu- ness, and stupidity of mind. For where the tation, as to be pretended to at least ; and heart is bent upon, and held under the power virtue, whether in a Christian or in an infidel, of, any vicious course, though Christ him
self should take the contrary virtue for his practice, are those sons of light, that shall doctrine, and do a miracle before such an outgrow all their doubts and ignorances, that one's eyes, for its application, yet he would shall ride upon these clouds, and triumph not practically gain his assent, but the result over their present imperfections, till persyaof all would end in a non persuadebis etiamsi sion pass into knowledge, and knowledge persuaseris. Few consider what a degree of advance into assurance, and all come at length sottishness and confirmed ignorance men may to be completed in the beatific vision, and a sin themselves into.
full fruition of those joys, which God has in This was the case of the Pharisees. And reserve for them, whom by his grace he shall no doubt but this very consideration also prepare for glory. gives us the true reason and full explication To which God, infinitely wise, holy, and of that notable and strange passage of Scrip- just, be rendered and ascribed, as is most due, ture, (Luke xvi. last verse,) “ That if men all praise, might, majesty, and dominion, will not hear Moses and the prophets, nei- both now and for evermore. Amen. ther will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” That is, where a strong inveterate love of sin has made any doctrine or proposition wholly unsuitable to the heart, no argument or demonstration, no, nor miracle whatsoever, shall be able to bring the heart cordially to close with, and receive it.
SERMON VII. Whereas, on the contrary, if the heart be piously disposed, the patural goodness of any GOD'S PECULIAR REGARD TO PLACES doctrine is enough to vouch for the truth of it: for the suitableness of it will endear it to
SET APART FOR DIVINE WORSHIP. the will, and by endearing it to the will, will naturally slide it into the assent also. For in PREACHED AT THE CONSECRATION OF A CHAPEL, 1667 morals, as well as in metaphysics, there is nothing really good, but has a truth commensurate to its goodness. The truths of Christ crucified are the Chris
PREFACE. tian's philosophy, and a good life is the Christian's logic - that great instrumental AFTER the happy expiration of those times introductive art that must guide the mind which had reformed so many churches to the into the former. And where a long course of ground, and in which men used to express piety, and close communion with God, has their honour to God, and their allegiance to parged the heart, and rectified the will, and their prince the same way, demolishing the made all things ready for the reception of palaces of the one, and the temples of the God's Spirit, knowledge will break in upon other; it is now our glory and felicity, that such a soul, like the sun shining in his full | God has changed men's tempers with the might, with such a victorious light, that times, and made a spirit of building succeed nothing shall be able to resist it.
a spirit of pulling down : hy a miraculous If now at length some should object here, revolution, reducing many from the head that from what has been delivered, it will of a triumphant rebellion to their old condifollow, that the most pious men are still the tion of masons, smiths, and carpenters, that most knowing, which yet seems contrary to in this capacity they might repair what, as common experience and observation, I an colonels and captains, they had ruined and swer, that as to all things directly conducing, defaced. and necessary to salvation, there is no doubt But still it is strange to see any ecclesiastibut they are so; as the meanest common cal pile, not by ecclesiastical cost and influence soldier, that has fought often in an army, has rising above ground; especially in an age, in a truer and better knowledge of war, than he which men's mouths are open against the that has read and writ whole volumes of it, church, but their hands shut towards it; an but never was in any battle.
age in which, respecting the generality of Practical sciences are not to be learned butin men, we might as soon expect stones to be the way of action. It is experience that must made bread, as to be made churches. give knowledge in the Christian profession, But the more epidemical and prevailing this as well as in all others. And the knowledge evil is, the more honourable are those who drawn from experience is quite of another stand and shine as exceptions from the comkind from that which flows from speculation mon practice; and may such places, built for or discourse. It is not the opinion, but the the divine worship, derive an honour and a
path of the just,” that the wisest of men blessing upon the head of the builders, as tells us, "shines more and more unto a per- great and lasting, as the curse and infamy fect day.” The obedient, and the men of that never fails to rest upon the sacrilegious
violators of them; and a greater, I am sure I building of the temple! David, though a need not, I cannot wish.
man of most intimate converse and acquainNow the foundation of what I shall discourse, tance with God, and one who bore a kingly apon the present subject and occasion, shall pre-eminence over others, no less in point of be laid in that place in
piety than of majesty, after he had made such
rich, such vast, and almost incredible provision PSALM lxxxvii. 2."God hath loved the gates of Sion, more
of materials for the building of tbe temple; than all the dwellings of Jacob."
yet because he had dipt his hands in blood,
though but the blood of God's enemies, had The comparison here exhibited between the glory of that work took out of them, and the love God bore to Sion, the great place of was not permitted to lay a stone in that his solemn worship, and that which he boru sacred pile; but the whole work was entirely to the other dwellings of Israel, imports, as all reserved for Solomon, a prince adorned with other comparisons do in the superior parts of those parts of mind, and exalted by such a them, two things, — difference and pre-emi concurrence of all prosperous events, to make nence; and accordingly I cannot more commo him glorious and magnificent, as if God had diously and naturally contrive the prosecution made it his business to build a Solomon, that of these words, than by casting the sense of Solomon might build him a house. To them into these two propositions,
which, had not God bore a very different I. That God bears a different respect to respect from what he bore to all other places, places set apart and consecrated to his worship, why might not David have been permitted to from what he bears to all other places designed build God a temple, as well as to rear himself to the uses of common life.
a palace? Why might not he, who was so II. That God prefers the worship paid him pious as to design, be also so prosperous as to in such places, above that which is offered finish it? God must needs have set a more him in other places whatsoever.
than ordinary esteem upon that which David, I. As to the former of these, this difference the man after his own heart, the darling of of respect, borne by God to such places, from heaven, and the most flaming example of a what he bears to others, may be evinced these vigorous love to God that ever was, was not three several ways,
thought fit to have a hand in it. 1. By those eminent interposals of Provi And to proceed, when, after a long tract of dence, both for the erecting and preserving of time, the sins of Israel had even unconsecrated such places.
and profaned that sacred edifice, and thereby 2. By those notable judgments shewn by robbed it of its only defence, the palladium of God upon the violators of them.
God's presence, so that the Assyrians laid it 3. Lastly, by declaring the ground and even with the ground; yet after that a long reason, why God shews such a different respect captivity and affliction had made the Jews fit to those places, from what he manifests to again for so great a privilege, as a public place others. Of all which in their order.
to worship God in, how did God put it into the 1. First of all then, those eminent inter- heart, even of a heathen prince, to promote posals of the divine Providence for the erect the building of a second temple! How was ing and preserving such places, will be one the work undertook and carried on amidst all pregnant and strong argument to prove the the unlikelihoods and discouraging circumdifference of God's respect to them, and to stances imaginable ! the builders holding others of common use.
the sword in one hand, to defend the trowel That Providence that universally casts its working with the other ; yet finished and eye over all the parts of the creation, is yet completed it was, under the conduct and propleased more particularly to fasten it upon tection of a peculiar providence, that made some. God made all the world that he might the instruments of that great design prevalent be worshipped in some parts of the world; and victorious, and all those mountains of and therefore, in the first and most early times opposition to become plains before Zorobabel. of the church, what care did he manifest to And lastly, when Herod the great, whose have such places erected to his honour! Jacob magnificence served him instead of piety to he admonished by a vision, as by a messenger prompt him to an action, if not in him relifrom heaven, to build him an altar; and then, gious, yet heroic at least, thought fit to pull what awe did Jacob express to it! How down that temple, and to build one much dreadful,” says he, “is this place! for surely more glorious, and fit for the Saviour of the it is no other than the house of God.” What world to appear and preach in, Josephus, in particular inspirations were there upon his 15th book of the Jewish Antiquities, and Aholiab to fit him to work about the sanc the 14th chapter, says, that during all the tuary! The Spirit of God was the surveyor, time of its building, there fell not so much as director, and manager of the whole business. shower to interrupt the work, but the rain But above all, how exact and (as we may say still fell by night, that it might not retard the with reverence) how nice was God about the business of the day. If this were so, I am not