Page images

temper, but we have too much rested in fuppofition not examining the principles of education, tho' never so certainly grounded. Now here, I say, as the moralists are wont to speak, there are in fome difpofitions a great easiness to the practice of some virtues ; but it is not virtue in that man, in whom it is merely a natural temper and disposition ; some are very much inclin’d to modesty, and others are very fair and good-natured ; others find more difficulty from their natural temper; for it doth not amount to a compleatness of virtue, unless it be the fruit and effect of confideration. Neither doth that which is our natural disposition amount to the full notion of vice, unless there be gross self-neglect. I say here, a man may chance, through the benefit of his education, to be well instructed, and acquainted with all truth ; but truly he is not commendable for it, unless he himself hath considered, weighed and examined, and searched the scriptures, and hath brought it to the test; the true dictates of reason in necessary matters, and the revelation of scripture, in matters of faith. Then it is divine knowledge in him, when he doth receive it and admit it upon the particular evidence and assurance of truth ; not only because it is the religion of his country or common profeffion, or because he receives it as a principle of education. If a man hath not taken this pains, if he be not thus grounded in his religion, he is very shallow and unsettled in his religion ; and it is a great question whether he will hold out : this therefore will abate, if so be we are not thus intelligent, and if we have not attained to these perfections in the matters of our reli

[merged small][ocr errors]

grown in

grace and


gion, and have too much estranged ourselves from that which is the proper and natural employment of mind and understanding : principles that have a peculiar dedication to God.

3. It is less effectual than it should be : that we have not walked up to our knowledge as we ought, but have in some degree held truch in unrighteousness, which in a high degree is the practice of the worst of men, and of persons self-condemned. That we have in some measure received the grace of God, in vain ; for it is so far in vain, as it is less eff:etual than it might be. That we have not so employed our talents, as to make gain for our master's advantage ; that we bave not fo abounded in the work of the Lord : that we have not fo in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour ; that we have not crucified the flesh with the affections and lufts, Gal. v. 24. That we have not been so throughly renewed in the spirit of our minds, Eph. iv. 23. Now these allays are to be put in, and these abate our triumphing in ourselves, our glorying in ourselves. We

may have comfort, heart's ease, content in this knowledge, but we have rather cause to magnify the grace and goodness of God, than to glory in ourselves ; because we are so much beholden, and because this knowledge hath not been so perfect as it might be, nor so effectual as it should be. But to proceed : we are not to glory in our own wisdom for two reasons. The wise man bids us cease from our own wisdom, do not depend upon it, be not self-confident, do not think yourself sufficient ; for two reasons. 1. A man is not to center in himself. 2. A man is to be fen


T 3

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

fible that as his being is precarious and dependent, fo also is all his furniture, all his endowments, all his acquisitions and all his superstructures. A man is not to center in himself; and a man is to know that all his requisite accomplishments and endowments and acquisitions, as well as his being ; he is beholden for them : his being is arbitrary, dependent and precarious; fo is all that is built upon it. Now these two I will make appear by these three things. 1. It is incompatible to a creature to terminate in himself: for this is a certain rule ; that which is not original to itself, cannot be final to itself. Now no creature is original to itself, therefore it must not terminate its actions finally in itself : now if a creature might terminate in himself, he might leave God out, and it would not be his fault to be without God in the world. 2. There is no pretence for it, in a fallen and degenerate creature. For there every thing is worse than it was, and far worse than it should be ; for innocence is loft, and guiltiness contracted, and there is impotence instead of strength, there is a foundation laid of unnatural disposition and inclination ; a man hath himself to seek, is at a loss ; so that here is the greatest enquiry that ever was in the world, and it is not resolved but by the direction of scripture, how came evil into the world; since God is good ? This is not resolved without the light and direction of scripture; who will fhew us any good ? and what is truth so much is man (having abused himself) at a loss. Therefore men, as we are beings in a worse condition than we were, having our knowledge leffened, our strength abated, having guilt to our con


sciences, having marred and spoiled our natures by ill use, custom and practice; therefore there is no reason, why we should terminate in ourselves; therefore we are not to applaud and glory in ourselves. 3. There is reason why it should not be so. Take us with all advantages, what we have, it is but in measure and degree ; so that here is a cause of motion, and occasion of desire and an endeavour after farther perfection, and not cause of rest and satisfaction, and sitting down with full content and acquiescence : the perfections and accomplishments we have, are but in measure and degree ; and we know that in nature every thing moves to its own perfections, and all things are in motion till they come to their center, or attain the height of that perfection, of which they are capable ; so that what we have, is but as a stock to trade withal, and put us in motion, to enlarge our desires; but it is not so much as that we may fit down satisfied and acquiesce in it: for this is a true rule in religion ; an excellency that is not in its fulness, as it is, so it is not ; it is, because it is so in kind ; it is not, because it is defective in degree : and if there be any defect, there is a privation in part; and a privation

doth reproach and challenge, as well as having in part doth adorn. So that it is a remembrance, wherein we are defective ; and to engage us to search and enquire after further endeavour ; so it may excite us to industry, and make us look abroad.

in part



Men have nothing to glory of, but Reli


JER, ix. 24. Let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth.

and knoweth me.


E have a good rule for interpretation of scriptures, that words that denote sense and ap

prehension, they are always to be understood in an effectual way, so as to carry along with them suitable affections and effects that are consequent upon them. I do not reckon it to be knowledge, unless men stand affected towards things according as the nature of things known do require. If they be things lovely, our knowledge is attended with complacence and delight and desire after them; and then our knowledge is pursued by endeavours suitable and proportionable. Wherefore to know and understand God according to this explication, is to have fense and apprehenfion, such notions in man's mind, as recommend God to us, and recommend him to us as lovely. And knowledge is pursued by all its consequent effects, diligence to please him, readiness to serve him, activity in executing all his commands. This you may also observe in scripture, that scripture doth frequently put one act instead of all those acts


« PreviousContinue »