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opinion, and necessary to maintain their popular reputation, and avoid reproach; or because it is the way of men in power, and necessary to their preferment and greatness in the world; or because the truth is contrary to their fleshly lusts and pleasures, or contrary to their honour and worldly. interest, and would hazard their reputations or their lives. How loath is a sensual, ungodly man to believe, that “without holiness none shall see God,” and that he “ that is in Christ is a new creature, and that if any man have not the spirit of Christ, the same is none of his, and that if they live after the flesh they shall die." How loath is the ambitious minister to believe that the way of Christ's service lieth not in worldly pomp, or ease, or pleasures, but in taking up the cross and following Christ in self-denial, and in being as the servant of all, in the unwearied performance of careful oversight, and compassionate exhortations unto all the flock. Let a controversy be raised about any of these points, and the mind of lazy, ambitious men doth presently fall in with that part which gratifieth their fleshly lusts, and excuseth them from that toilsome way of duty which they already hate. The secret lusts and vices of a false, hypocritical heart, are the commonest and the most powerful arguments for error; and such men are glad, that great men or learned men will give so much ease to their consciences, and shelter to their re*putations, as to countenance, or make a controversy at least of that which their lusts desire to be true. Above all therefore see that you come not to inquire after truth with an unsanctified heart, and unmortified lusts, which are a bias to your minds, and make you warp from the truth which your inquire after; for if the carnal mind neither is, nor can be subject to the law of God, you may easily perceive that it will be loath to believe it; when in so doing they believe their own condemnation. An honest, sanctified heart is fittest to entertain the truth.
Direct. II. ' Seek after the truth, for the love of truth, and love it especially for its special use, as it formeth the heart and life to the image and will of God; and not for the fanciful delight of knowing; much less for carnal, worldly ends b.” No means are used at all as means, where the end is not first determined of. And to do the same thing materially to another end, is not indeed to do the same; for thereby it is made another thing. Your physician will come to you if you seek to him as a physician; but not if you send to him to mend your shoes. So if you seek knowledge for the true ends of knowledge, to fill your hearts with the love of God, and guide your lives in holiness and righteousness, God is engaged to help you in the search. But if you seek it only for to please your pride or fancy, no wonder if you miss of it; and it is no great matter whether you find it or not, for any good it is like to do you. Every truth of God is appointed to be his instrument, to do some holy work upon your heart: let the love of holiness be it that maketh you search after truth, and then you may expect that God should be your teacher.
b Socrates de ethice, et in officinis, et in publico quotidie philosophans, ea potius inquirenda hortabatur, quæ mores instruerent, et quorum usus nobis domi esset necessarius. Diog. Laert. in Socrat.
Direct. 111. “Seek after truth without too great or too small regard to the judgment of others : neither contemn them, nor be captivated to them. Use the help of the wise; but give not up your reason absolutely to any. Engage not yourselves in a party, so as to espouse their errors, or implicitly to believe whatever they say; for this breedeth in you a secret desire to please your party, and interesteth you in their dividing interest, and maketh you betray the truth to be accounted orthodox by those you value.
Direct. iv. “Take heed of pride, which will make you dote upon your own conceits, and cause you to slight the weightiest reasons that are brought by others, for your conviction. And if once you have espoused an error it will engage all your wit, and zeal, and diligence to maintain it: it will make you uncharitable and furious against all that cross you in your way; and so make you either persecutors (if you stand on the higher ground), or sect-leaders, or churchdividers, and turbulent and censorious, if you are on the lower ground. There is very great reason in Paul's advice for the choice of a bishop, “ Not a novice ; lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil d.”
c Non tam auctoritatis in disputando, quam rationis momenta quærenda sunt. Cic. Nat. D. 1.9. Obest plerumque iis, qui discere volunt, auctoritas eorum, qui se docere profitentur. Desinunt enim suum judicium adhibere: id habent ratum, quod ab eo, quem probant, judicatum vident. Ibid.
d 1 Tim. iii. 6.
It is no more wonder to see a proud man erroneous, and in the confidence of his own understanding, to rage against all that tell him he is mistaken, than to hear a drunken man boasting of his wit, to the increase of his shame... ..
Direct. v. · Take heed of slothfulness and impatience in searching after truth, and think not to find it in difficult cases, without both hard and patient studies, and ripeness of understanding to enable you therein : and suspect all opinions which are the offspring of idleness and ease, whatever Divine illumination they may pretend ;' (except as you take them from others upon trust (in a slothful way) who attained them by diligent studies). For God that hath cal- led men to labour, doth use to give his blessing to the laborious. And he that hath said by his Spirit, “ Meditate upon these things : give thyself wholly to them, that thy profiting may appear to all e," doth accordingly cause those men to profit, who seek it in this laborious way of his appointment: and he that hath said, “ The desire of the slothful killeth him," doth not use to bless the slothful with his teachings. He that will say to him in judgment, “ Thou wicked and slothful servant,” will not encourage the slothfulness which he condemneth. “My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; so that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding ; yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures ; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God: for the Lord giveth wisdom f.” Mark here to whom God giveth wisdom : all the godly are taught of God: but mark here how it is that he teacheth them. Not while they scorn at studies and universities, and look that their knowledge should cost them nothing, or that the Spirit should be instead of serious studies, or that their understandings should discern what is true or false at the first appearance; but while they think no pains or patience too great to learn the truth in the school of Christ. .
Direct. vi. “Keep out passion from your disputes, and in the management of all your controversies in religion.' For though passion be useful both antecedently to the ree 1 Tim. iv. 15.
f Prov. ii. 1-6.
solution of the will, and consequently to the effectual execution of its resolutions, yet it is commonly a very great seducer of the understanding, and strangely blindeth and perverteth the judgment 8 : so that a passionate man is-seldom so far from the truth, as when he is most confident he is defending it. When passion hath done boiling, and the heart is cooled, and leaveth the judgment to do its work without any clamour or disturbance, it is strange to see how things will appear to you, to be quite of another tendency and reason, than in your passion you esteemed them.
Direct. vii. ' Keep up a sense of the evil and danger of both extremes; and be not so wholly intent upon the avoiding of one extreme, as to be fearless of the other.' The narrow minds of unexperienced men are hardly brought to look on both sides them, and to be duly sensible of the danger of both extremes; but while they are taken up only with the hating and opposing one sort of errors, they forget those on the other side. And usually the sin or error which we observe not, is more dangerous to us than that which we do observe, (if the wind of temptation set that way.)
Direct. viii. · When you detect any ancient error or corruption, inquire into its original; and see whether reformation consist not rather in a restitution of the primitive state, than in an extirpation of the whole. Even in Popery itself there are many errors and ill customs, which are but the corruption of some weighty truth, and the degenerating of some duty of God's appointment; and to reduce all, in such cases, to the primitive verity, is the way of wise and true reformation ; and not to throw away that which is God's, because it is fallen into the dirt of human depravation. But in cases where all is bad, there all inust be rejected.
Direct. ix. ' Pretend not to truth and orthodoxness against Christian love and peace: and so follow truth, as that you lose not love and peace by it; (as much as in you lieth live peaceably with all men).' Charity is the end of truth : and it is a mad use of means, to use them against the end. Make sure of the sincerity of your charity, and
& Quæ duæ virtutes in disputatore primæ sunt, eas ambas in Hubero deprehendi, patientiam adversarium prolixe sua explicantem audiendi, et lenitatem etiam aspere dicta perferendi, inq. Scultetus post. disp. Curric. p. 33.
hold it fast; and then no error that you hold will be destructive to you: but if you know more than others, and use your knowledge to the weakening of your love, you are but · (as our first parents,) deceived and destroyed by a desire of fleshly, ineffectual knowledge. Such“ knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth h.” To contend for truth, to the loss of love, in yourselves, and the destruction of it among others, is but to choke yourselves with excellent food, and to imitate that orthodox, catholic physician, that gloried that he killed his patients' secundem artem,' by the most accurate method, and excellent rules of art that men could die by.
· Direct. x. * Pretend no truth against the power and practice of godliness. For this also is its proper end; if it be not truth that is according to godliness, it is no truth worthy our seeking or contending for. And if it be contrary to godliness in itself, it is no truth at all; therefore if it be used against godliness, it is used contrary to the ends of truth. Those men that suppress or hinder the means of knowledge, and holiness, and concord, and edification, under pretence of securing, defending, or propagating the orthodox belief, will find one day, that God will give them as little thanks for their blind, preposterous zeal for truth, as a tender father would do to a physician, that killed his children, because they distasted or spit out his medicines. It is usually a pitiful defence of truth that is made by the enemies of godliness.
More near and particular Directions against Error.
Direct. I. · Begin at the greatest, most evident, certain and necessary truths, and so proceed orderly to the knowledge of the less, by the help of these. As you climb by the body of the tree unto the branches. If you begin at those truths, which spring out of greater common truths, and know not the premises, while you plead for the conclusion, you abuse your reason, and lose the truth and your labour both: for there is no way to the branches but by ascending from the stock. The principles well laid, must be your help to all your following knowledge. Direct, 11. · The two first things which you are to learn
bi Cor. viii. 1.