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in case of indisposition and imprudence. Men may be unqualified for hearing truths; as I Cor. iii, 3. where there is envying, strife, and division. He is a conceited fool that cannot enjoy his own thoughts ; and keep them from fuch as are not capable to receive them. This was the notion of the philosophers, who distinguished between the truths that were fit to be communicated to those without, and to those that were prepared. They would not cast their pearls before swine.
But, Thirdly, Serious and confiderate persons luch as are real, and sincere in their religion, do not greatly differ ; to wit, not in those things wherein the honour of God, or the safety of mens souls are concerned ; (for, these are the substantial things in religion :) neither do they see that that follows which one that doth diffent from them, doth infer to the prejudice of either. Yea, they are so far from admitting any such consequence ; that they will much rather renounce their opinion, than hold any thing that is either prejudicial to God's honour, or the safety of mens fouls. This I dare undertake is really true of all that are sincere and hearty in their profession of religion. And therefore to these there is due, patience, and charity. I am much of his mind that did thus apologize for those that did diffent, tho’ they were in an error, “ They do not err in their affection to God, religi" on, and goodness ; though perhaps they are mis66 taken in their choice.". But, then, 'tis far better for men to have some mistakes in their way, than to be devoid of religion. 'Tis better for men to be in some miftakes about religion, than wholly to ne
glect it. These very things argue that the persons are awake ; and are in search after truth, even there, where they have not attained to it.
Fourthly, Whatever private apprehensions are in other matters ; wise and good men do observe the measures of peace and order, in foro externo. For, they go by this rule, that peace and good-will among men, is of greater consequence than any private apprehensi.
Therefore, wife and good men do so moderate themselves, that they will observe the rules of peace and order.Zeal in defence of truth : conscience in observation thereof, are high titles; things of great name ; but greatest mischief follows, when passion and interest are so cloathed. The priests and Pharifees were our Saviour's accusers': the Zealots were the destruction of the city and temple, as Josephus gives account : the Jesuits, denominated from Jesus, are the incendiaries of the world. The more of our fancy there is in that we take up for our religion, the more warm we are in defence of it. We love our own creatures, and doat on our own notions. Who hath reason on his fide, satisfies himself that the best is done that can be done, when reason is shewn : he trufts to it, fits down, expecting that reason should prevail.
Fifthly, We are all, whether we dissent or agree, one with another, in fome matters, agreed about this; that we all ought to be guided by scripture. Now scripture is clear, full, and perspicuous, in all matters of life; and absolutely determining in all matters of necessary belief. But, in other things ; we being removed above fixteen hundred years from the apostles,
and, since in the intermediate ages, many things have been agitated by the several parties, and disputed pro and con, and yet not agreed about ; and since it doth hardly appear, what was the apostles judgment in those controverted matters ; since they are what we cannot certainly determine by their writings; and no application to be made to any perion inspired since that time in the succession of
if we do err in these matters, it is much less than if we had lived in their times. They that are settled in the great matters.of life and faith, will out-wear mistakes in lesser matters : or, if they do not, I dare undertake from the warrant of scripture, that if they hold the head, Christ Jefus, fuch mittakes shall not hurt them. For this, fee Phil. iii. 15.
Therefore I do resolve, that by that time we have made due allowance for the different tempers of men, for the different make of mens parts, for mistakes occasioned from company and converse, as also for those that have been occafioned from our education, and for conceits rooted in men, and become natural to them, because they have so long thought after this or that manner;: we shall in the end find little reason for anger and displeasure towards one another upon this account. The different make of mens parts is such, that ab origine without any affectation, contrivance, or design (which are the things that make men culpable) foundation is laid of disagreeing apprehensions. For some mens apprehensions cannot poffibly hit, in any thing : they are, as it were, cast in different moulds : and they can no more help this, than they can make their faces to be alike. We may
look at this, as an effect of the various wisdom of the creator. 'Tis no more faulty, than that one star differeth from another, in glory : since the wisdom of God appears in the several diffimilitudes and diversities that are in the world : different makes, shapes, constitutions, as to the body ; different senses, imaginations, choices, satisfactions, as to the mind; varieties and diversities above us, and beneath us. I say it again ; that by that time we have made a just allowance for our different tempers and constitutions, which are not subject to our choice ; for our different makes, whereupon such variety of apprehenfions depend ; fince there are men of such different makes, that in nothing they think alike (or, at least they do not express themselves alike, where they mean the same thing ;) by that time we have made allowance for the error and mistake of our own age, and the
that have been before us; when we shall have made allowance for the general fuppofitions which oft take place ; for pre-conceived opinions from education, company and converse ; for conceits rooted in men, and become natural to them, because they have long thought fo ; by that time we have made a just allowance for all these considerations, and abatement proportionable ; we shall find little reason for anger and displeasure with one another, upon occasion of these differences.
I add, further ; that since religion is a bond of union, and lays an obligation upon us to God, and to one another ; it ought not to be a ground of any difference or displeasure : and, religion is in an unnatural use, if it doth disunite. Neither are we qualified
to pursue truth, or to find it out, unless our minds be discharged of all ill-will, anger, and displeasure. For, envy, ill-will, strife, and contention, are as prejudicial as any other inordinate affection whatsoever. Sublime knowledge cannot dwell in an unquiet fpirit.
'Tis wholly an unchristian temper that is given to strife and contention, as might be shewn by several scriptures, 1 Cor. i. 10. I beseech you by the Lord Jesus Christ, (see what an obligation is here ! And for what is it ! Namely this) that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, &c. So 1 Cor. iii. 3. the apostle tells them that they were carnal, because there was among them envyings strife and divisions. Nothing doth more unqualify a man for divine and heavenly knowledge, than this temper. So Jam. iii. 13. 14. &c. If men value themselves by their opinions, and different apprehensions from others; and so far arrogate to themselves, as to reprobate other men for not entertaining their opinions; there must of necessity be high provocations; great exasperations. Whereas, if men da calmly propose, with a submission of their sense to an impartial examination ; then, the things that are offered will be taken into consideration : and men may be either better inform’d, or else they will be further confirm’d in what they thought before, if they find that other persons grounds are inferior to theirs. Upon which account it is true kindness, to impart what one finds cause to believe, and what the grounds are of such persuasion ; leaving the party to judge, as he finds cause. Yea, I account it the greatest kindness