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subscribe to, or against the opinions of Freewill, or Reprobation, or Predetermination, or such like, a humble man should say, these are things above my understanding; I cannot reach to know what Freewill is, nor whether all causes natural and free be predetermined by Divine premotion, &c. I can say neither it is so, nor it is not; they are above my reach; would they silence and cast out such an humble person, and forbid him to preach the Gospel of Christ? Perhaps they would but there are not so many hardened to such inhumanity, as there are men that would deal sharply with one that is as confident as they are on the other side. And those few that were thus silenced, would have the more peace, that they had procured it not hy self-conceited singularities; and the silencers of them would be the more ashamed before all sober persons that shall hear it. Other instances I pass by.


VII. The Aggravation of this Sin of Prefidence.

THOUGH there be so much evil in this sin of Presumption, as I have noted, yet it is not in all alike culpable or unhappy, but differeth in both respects, as I shall tell you.

I. For culpability is worst in these sorts and cases following:

1. It is a great sin in those who have least reason to think highly of their own understandings, and greatest reason to distrust themselves: As, 1. In those that are young and unexperienced, and must be miraculously wise, if they are wiser than old experienced persons ('cæteris paribus'). 2. In the unlearned or half-learned, who have had but little time or helps for study, or at least have made but little use of them. 3. In duller wits, and persons that in other matters are known to be no wiser than others. 4. In those that take up their prefidence upon the slightest grounds, as bare surmises and reports from others that were uncertain. 5. In those that have been oft deceived already, and should by their sad experience have been brought to humble self-suspicion.

2. And it is an aggravated sin in those whose place and

condition obligeth them to learn from others. As for the wife to be self-conceited of all her apprehensions against her husband, unless he be a fool: For the servant to set his wit against his master, where he should obey him: For children to think that their wits are brighter than their parents or masters; and apprentices and learners to think that they know more than their teachers: And for the ignorant people to censure over-hastily the doctrine and practice of their pastors, as if they were wiser than they: perhaps they are: But it must be some rare person who is fit to be a teacher himself, or the teacher some sot that hath intruded into the office; or else it must be a wonder: for God usually giveth men knowledge according to the time, and means, and pains that they have had to get it, and not by miraculous infusions without means. Doth not the Apostle expressly tell you this, Heb. v. 11, 12, "When for the time you ought to have been teachers, &c." Men should be wise according to the time and means of wisdom which they have had.

3. It is the greater crime when men will seem wisest in other men's matters and concernments. When the subject will know best what belongeth to a king or governor; and the people will know best how the pastor should teach them, and when he faileth, and whom he should recerve into the Church, or exclude; when the servant will know best his master's duty, and every man his neighbour's, and least his


4. It is the greater crime when men will be the judges of their own understandings, and think highly of them in cases where they should be tried by others. As if an empyric, or woman do think that they know better how to cure a disease than the ablest physicians; why do they not offer themselves to the trial, and before them make good their skill by reason? If an inexperienced young student think himself able to be a physician, he is not to be the judge, but must be tried and judged by physicians: If a self-conceited professor, or a young student think himself fit for the ministry, he must not presently contrive how to get in, and how to shift off examination, but freely offer himself to be tried by able, godly ministers, and then by the ordainers, who are to judge. But when such persons can think themselves sufficient if no body else do, or if but a few ignorant persons do, they are

unfit to judge, this proves their pride and presumption to be a great and heinous sin.

5. And it is yet more heinously aggravated, when to keep up the reputation of their own understandings, they use to depress and vilify the wiser, even those whom they never knew: As he that affecteth to be a preacher, and dare not pass the examination, hath no way to hide his shame, but 1. By crying down the learning which he wanteth, as a human, carnal thing: and, 2. By reproaching those that should judge of him, and ordain him, as poor carnal persons, who understand not the things of the Spirit as he doth, and as proud, self-seeking men, that will approve of none but those that flatter them, and are of their way. Some such there may be; but surely all are not such. Why do you not desire the judgment of the wisest and most impatial men, but take up with the applause of unlearned persons that are of your own. mind and way, and magnify you for humouring them?

So you shall hear empyrics and she-physicians, vilify doctors of physic, as men that have less knowledge than they, and are so proud, and covetous, and dishonest, that there is no trusting them. When pretended knowledge must have so base a cloak, it is the greater sin.

6. And it is the more heinous sin when they venture to do heinous mischief by it: As a Papist, a Quaker, or a Separatist will in his confidence, be a perverter of others, and a condemner of the just, and a defamer of those that are against him, and a troubler of the church and the world. He that in his self-conceitedness dare resist the wisest, and his teachers and rulers, and set countries on fire, is wickedly presumptuous.

So in the practice of physic, when people will be selfconceited, when the lives of others lie upon it: and a silly fellow or woman will venture to let blood, to give this or that, who know neither the disease nor proper cure.

: 7. It is therefore a heinous sin in rulers, who must judge for the life and death of others, or for the peace or misery of thousands about them. I mean pastors, and commanders in armies and navies, and other governors on whom the public welfare of the church, or army or navy, or country doth depend. O how wise should that person be, whose errors may cost thousands so dear as their destruction! Or if their

understandings be not extraordinary, how cautious should they be in judging; upon hearing the wisest, and hearing dissenters, and not only flatterers or consenters: and hearing men of several minds, and hearing all witnesses and evidence, and hearing every man speak for himself: and after all considering thoroughly of it: especially of laws and wars, and impositions in religion, where thousands of consciences, say what you can, will expect satisfaction. When a woman called to Antigonus to hear her cause, and to do her justice, he told her that he could not have leisure; she answered, you should not have while to be king then: whereupon he heard her, and did her right. Had it been to an inferior judge, she had spoken reason.

8. Lastly, pretended certainty is the greater sin when it is falsely fathered on God. But the Pope and Council dare pretend, that God hath promised them infallibility, and God hath certified them that the consecrated bread is no bread, and that our senses are all deceived; and God hath made the Pope the universal ruler of the world or church, and made him and his council the only judges, by which all men must know what is the word of God. So, when fanatics will pretend, that by revelation, visions, or inspirations of the Spirit, God hath assured them that this or that is the meaning of a text which they understand not, or the truth in such or such a controversy. Alas! among two many well-meaning persons, God is pretended for a multitude of sinful errors; and they that preach false doctrine will do it, as the old prophet spake to the young, as from the Lord: and they that rail at godliness, and they that censure, backbite, cast out or persecute their brethren, will do it as Rabshakeh ; "Hath not God sent me," &c. Men will not make any snares for the church, or their brethren's consciences, but in the name of God: They will not divide the church, nor cast out in fants, nor refuse communion with their brethren, but in the name of God. One man saith, God forbiddeth him all book-prayers, or all imposed forms of prayer:' And another saith, God forbiddeth him all but such.' And all belie God, and add this heinous abuse of his holy word and name unto their sin.

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Some special Aggravations more of this Sin, in Students, and Pastors, which should deter them from pretended Knowledge or Prefidence.

To such, I will suppose, that to name the evils may suffice, on my part, without sharp amplifications. Though I have spoken to you first in what is said, I will briefly add,

1. That this sin will make slothful students. Few study hard, who are quickly confident of their first conceptions. 2. While you study, it keepeth out knowledge: you are too full of yourselves, to receive easily from others.

3. It is the common parent of error and heresy. Ignorance is the mother, and Pride the father of them all and prefidence and pretended knowledge, is but proud ignorance in another name.

4. What a life of precious time will you waste in following the erroneous thoughts of your bewildered minds.

5. As food altereth the temperament of the body while it nourisheth, so the very temperament of your minds, and wills, and affections, will become vain, and frothy, and shadowy, or malignant and perverse, according to the quality of your error.

6. It is the common parent of superstition: it defileth God's worship with human inventions, with duties and sins of our own making. All such men's dreams will seem to them to be the laws of God.

7. It will entail a corrupt education of youth upon us, and consequently a corrupt degenerate kind of learning, and so a degenerate ministry on the churches. When youths are possessed with abundance of uncertainties, under the name of learning and religion, it will grow the custom to teach, and talk, and live accordingly: do I say, it will do? If the schoolmen's error in this, deserve but half as much as Faber, Valla, Hutten, Erasmus, charge upon them; you should hear and take warning: not to avoid the most accurate knowledge by the hardest studies, but to avoid pretending that you know what you do not.

8. And you will make vain strife and contention about vanity, your very trade and business, when you come abroad

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