Imágenes de páginas

the resurreStion and ascension of the blessed Jesus. The doSlrine of one God, and a judgment to come, may receive much light and strength from natural reason: and whatever establishes a revealed truth, will be so far from diminishing, that it will increase the ^/r/z/f and efficacy of it. All the caution I think fit to give here is, that we be sure that the ground be plain and firm, on which we build the belief of an illuminating truth. Philosophy, in many cases is clear and convictive: St. Paul himself amongst the Gentiles frequently appeals to reason. But too often we call our fancy philosophy; and obtrude upon the world, the wild and undigested theories of a warm and confident imagination, for new discoveries. What strange fluff was GnoJlick philosophy once? What did it produce but the corruption of the Christian faith % And what can be expected from myslick, euthnfiaslick philosophy or divinity in any age, any man may guess, without any deep penetration. Nor do I doubt but that all judicious and experienced men, do as much despise and nauseate the blendures and mixtures of pretended philosophy with our faith and morals, as the world generally does the subtihies and perplexities of the schools. For my part, I can't endure to have my religion lean upon the rotten props of precarious notions. I admire, I love the elevations nations and enlargements of foul: but I can have no value for unaccountable amusements or rambles dt fancy. An itch of novelty or curiosity has a tincture in it of our original corruption. I ever suspect: as* opinion that carries an air of novelty in it; and does always prefer a vulgar truth before refined error. They are vulgar truths^ which like vulgar blessings, are of most use, and truejl worth: and surely our Saviour thought so, when he thanked his Father, *&** & J&a/ bid these things from the wse and prudent, and revealed them unto babes. An^f when he himself taught the people with sower and authority, and not as the scribis^ he did advance no subtil theories, but bright' and dazling, useful and conviaive truths. This minds rne of another property of nominating knowledge.

2. This knowledge must not be obscure and confused, but distinct and clear. Whete the images of things are flight, faint, and" vanishing, they move men but very weafc* ly, and affect them but very coldly; especially in such matters as are not subject to our senses. And this I persuade my self is one chief reason why those glorious and wonderful objecls, God, a judgment to come, heaven, and hell, do strike us so feebly, and operate so little. We have generally no> lively, distinct, and clear conception of them* It being otherwise impossible, that things

m their own nature dreadful and amazing, should excite in us no fear; or that thingsin their own nature infinitely amiable, should inkindle in us no passion, no desire. The notions we have of spiritual and mviJible things arc dim, dusky, and imperfect: our thoughts pals over them so sightly, t&at they scarce retain any print or tracts of them. Now this fort of knowledge will never do the work. These drowsy notices of things will never ferment and raise our paffions for heaven high enough to confront and combat those we have for Macworld. From hence we may give a fair account, what the use is of prophetick retirement, and prophetick eloquence: what is the purpose of all those schemes and trapes which occur in inspired writings: and why the best of men have ever so much amcted solitude and retreats, from the noise and the hurry of the world. Serious, frequent, and devout contemplation is necessary to form in our minds, clear, distinct, and sprightly notions: and to communicate these well to the world, they must be expressed in moving language, in living tropes-and figures. Ah 1 did we but consider this, we should sure allot more time to th&Jludy of divine truths; and we Ihould not think, that to discover them throughly, it were enough to let our thoughts glance upon them. But we should survey

and and ponder them with all the exactness and diligence that were necessary to make lasting and distinct impresfons upon us. Could we know by intuition, doubtless wonderful objeSls would raise very extraordinary pafJions in us. But this we cannot, let us come as near it as we can: only let us avoid forming absurd and fal/e notions of things, whilst we endeavour after dstinSi and clear ones. Spiritual things do not answer corporeal, like face to face in a glass: and therefore, tho1 to give some fight to things that are above us, we may find out all the resemblances of them we can in those things we are acquainted with here below; yet we must still remember, that the one do vastly exceed the other, and that we cannot thus get a just adequate notion of them.

3. This knowledge must not lie in the understanding, crude and undigested; but it must be throughly concocled and turned into nourishment, blood, and spirits. We must know the true value and use of every principle, of evecy truth; and be able readily to apply them. For what doe-, it signify, how important truths are in themselves, if they are not so to me? What does it avail that they are impregnated with life and power, if I feel not any such influence? Of what use is the knowledge of gospel-promises to me, if I reap no comfort from them?

Or Or the knowledge of gospel-threats, if they are unable to curb and restrain my passions? And so is it with other truths: what will it avail me that I know, the life of man confists not in the multitude of the things which he psjefjes, if notwithstanding I cannot content my self with a competency f That righteousness is the chief good, and the richest treasure of the foul of man; if notwithstanding I seek this world, and the things of it, with a more early and passionate concern? Thatyfoz and pain are the most confderable, if not only, evils of man; if notwithstanding I be cast down and broken under every adverfity? And thus I might go on, and shew you, that the knowledge which is not digested into nourishment is, if not a burden, of no benefit to us. 'Tis plain, that h to me nothing worth, which I make no use of. We must then follow the advice of Solomon, and never quit the search and meditation of truth, till we grow intimate and familiar with it; and so have it al ways ready for a guide'and guard for our support and strength, and for our delight and pleasure. We must Æ/W it about our heart, as lie speaks, and tie it as an ornament about our neck. Then, when we go forth it shall lead us, when we seep it so all keep us, and when we awake it shall talk with us .for the commandment is a lamp, and the law is light, and reproofs of'instruction are the way cf life, Prow

« AnteriorContinuar »