A TREATISE OF Knowledge and Love COMPARED. In two Parts:

  • I. Of Falsly Pretended Knowledge.
  • II. Of True Saving Knowledge and Love.

I. Against Hasty Judging, and False Conceits of Knowledge, and for necessary Suspension. II. The Excellency of Divine Love, and the Happiness of being Known and Loved of God. Written as greatly needful to the Safety and PEACE of every Christian, and of the Church. The only certain way to escape false Religions, Heresies, Sects, and Malignant Prejudices, Persecutions and Sinful Wars: All caused by falsly pretended Knowledge, and hasty Judging, by Proud Ignorant men, who know not their Ignorance.

By RICHARD BAXTER; Who by God's blessing on long and hard Studies, hath learned to know that he knoweth but little, and to suspend his Judgment of Uncertainties, and to take Great, Necessary, Certain things, for the food of his Faith, and Comforts, and the Measure of his Church-Communion.

Prov. 14 16.

A wise man feareth and departeth from evil: But the FOOL RAGETH and is CONFIDENT.

2 Cor. 11.3.

But I fear lest by any means, as the Serpent beguiled EVE by his subtilty; so your minds should be CORRƲPTED from the SIMPLICITY which is in Christ.

1 Cor. 1.25.

The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. v. 20. Hath not God made f [...]oli [...]h the wisdom of this world? c. 2.6. We speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world.

2 Tim. 2.15.

Study to shew thy self approved to God; a workman that needed not be ashamed, rightly DIVIDING the word of Truth. 16. But shun profane and vain o [...]lings, for they will increase unto more ungodliness.

August. Enchirid. cap. 59.

(De Corporibus Angelorum) Cum ista queruntur▪ & a sicut potest quisque conjectat, non inutiliter exercentur ingenia si adhibeatur disceptantia moderata, & ab­sit error opinantium se scire quod nesciunt. Quod enim opes est ut hec & hujusmodi affirmen­tur, vel negentur, vel definiantur cum dis [...]rimine, quando sine crimine nesciuntur?

LONDON, Printed for Tho. Parkhurst at the Bible and Three Crowns, at the lower end of Cheapside, near Mercers Chapel. 1689.



YOur Name is not prefixed to this Treatise, ei­ther as accusing you of the Sin herein detect­ed, or as praising you for those Virtues, which good Men are more pleased to possess and exercise, than to have proclaimed, though they be as Light, that is [Page] hardly hid. But it is to vent and exercise that Gra­titude which loveth not the concealment of such Friendship and Kindness, as you and your Lady E­minently, and your Relatives and Hers, [the Chil­dren of the Lord Paget] have long obliged me by: And it is to Posterity that I record your Kindness, more than for this Age, to which it hath publickly notified it self, during my publick Accusations, Re­proaches, Sentences, Imprisonments, and before and since: Who knoweth you that knoweth not hereof? And it is to renew the record of that Love and Ho­nour which I owed to your deceased Father (former­ly, pthough too slenderly recorded,) to be the Heir and Imitater of whose Faith, Piety, Charity, Patience, Humility, Meekness, Impartiality, Sincerity and Per­severance, is as great an Honour and Blessing as I can wish you, next to the conformity to our highest pat­tern. And though he was averse to worldly Pomp and Grandeur, and desired that his Children should not affect it, yet God that will honour those that ho­nour him, hath advanced his Children, I believe partly for his sake: But I intreat you all (and some other of my Friends whom God hath raised as a Blessing to their Pious and Charitable Parents and themselves) to watch carefully lest the deceitful World and Flesh, do turn such Blessings into Golden [Page] Fetters, and to be sure to use them as they would find at last on their account.

And as you are a Member of the present House of Commons, I think the Subject of this Treatise is not unnecessary to your consideration and daily care: That when proof, and notorious, and sad Experi­ence telleth us what distractions have befaln Church and State, by Mens self-conceited, erroneous rush­ing upon sin and falshood, as if it were Certainly Good and True, and how little Posterity feareth and avoid­eth this confounding Vice, though History tell us that it hath been the Deluge that in all Ages hath drowned the peace and welfare of the World, you may be wary, and try before you venture, in doubt­ful cases, especially where the Sacred and Civil In­terest of this and many other Lands, doth probably lye on the determination? Do you think all that ven­tured upon the Actions and Changes, that have tost up and down both Churches and Kingdoms, by Di­visions, Persecutions and Wars, had not done bet­ter to suspend their Judgments, till they could have more certainly determined? Who should proceed more cautelously than Bishops? And where rather than in Councils? And in what rather than about Faith and Publick Government and Order? And had Bishops and [Page] Councils torn the Church, and Empires, and King­doms, as they have done by aspiring after Superiori­ty, and by contentious Writings, and condemning each other, and by contradictory and erroneous, and persecuting Canons, or by raising Wars and De­posing Princes, ever since 400, or 500, or 600 years after Christ, if not sooner, if they had known their ignorance, and suspended in such dangerous cases till they were sure?

I know you are none of them who dare pretend to a Certain Knowledge, that all those Oaths, Decla­rations, Covenants, Practices imposed by Laws and Canons on Ministers and People in this Land, in the Act of Uniformity, the Corporation Act, the Ves­try Act, the Militia Act, the five Mile Act of Ba­nishment, &c. are so Good and Lawful, as will justi­fie the Execution of them, and the silencing, eject­ing, ruining, and judging to lye from six Months to six in the common Jails till they die, 2000 as faith­ful Ministers of Christ as any Nation hath under Hea­ven, unless they forbear to Preach the Gospel to which they are vowed, or venture their Souls on that which they fear to be sins so great as they are loth to name: When Christ will sentence them to Everlast­ing punishment, who did not visit, feed, clothe him [Page] in the least of them, whom he calls his Brethren. Be­fore Men silence conditionally the whole Ministry of such a Kingdom, and actually 2000 such, while the wound­ing, dividing consequents may be so easily foreseen, and before men deliberately and resolutely continue and keep up such Battering Engines on pretence of U­niformity and Obedience to Men, and before they venture to own this to that Lord who hath made o­ther terms of Church Unity and Peace, it nearly concerneth them to think, and think on it a thousand times: A suspended judgment is here safer than prefidence and confident rage.

And also they that desire an Abolition of Episco­pacy, should a thousand times bethink them first what True and Primitive Episcopacy is, and whether the Episcopi Gregis, or eorum Praesides, or true Evange­lists, or Apostolical General Bishops, disarmed and duely chosen, be any injury to the Church? And whether the Jews had not been a National Christian Church under the Twelve Apostles and Seventy, if they had not rejected him that would have gathered them as the Hen gathereth her Chickens under her Wings.

They that cannot deny that Christ setled a Supe­rior Rank of Ministers, appointing them besides [Page] their Extraordinaries, the work of Gathering and Over-seeing many Churches, promising therein to be with them to the end of the World, and that only Matthias must make up the National number of such, though Justus had been with Christ as well as he, must be the Provers that this Rank and Imparity was reversed by him that did Institute it, if they affirm it: And not without proof charge Christ with seeming levity and mutability, as setling a Form of Ministry and Government, which he would have continue but one Age: Much less must they impose such an unproved affirmation as the terms of Church Con­cord.

Woe, woe, woe! how effectually hath Satan al­most undone the Christian World, by getting in naughty Ministers and Magistrates, where he could not utterly Extirpate Christianity by Arms? There­by making Rulers and Preachers the Captains of the malignant Enemies of seriousness in that Religion which they Profess and Preach themselves: And if in such Hypocrisie they Convert a Soul, they hate him as an Enemy for believing them: And thereby tempt Religious Men to mistake the Crime of the naughty Preacher, as the fault of the Office, and to oppose the Office for the Persons sake; and [Page] so Ministry and Christianity is despised by too many.

The shutting of their Church Doors, and con­demning to Scorn and Beggery, and Jails, those that were as wise and faithful as themselves (unless fearing heinous sin made them worse,) should have been by the Persecutors long and deeply thought on, twenty eight years ago▪ and ever since, by them that believe that Christ will judge them. And so should all Doctrines and Practices that tend to un­warrantable separations and divisions by others. Things of this moment should not be ventured on, nor Papists made both Lords and Executioners by our distracted Combates with each other, and the miserable Nation and undone Church, left to no better a remedy than a non putaremus, and to hear the worldly Tyrants, and the tempted Sufferers accusing each other, and disputing when the House is burnt who was in the fault.

I think he was most faulty that could most easily have helped it, and would not: But if Great and Rich Men will be the strength of the Factious, as they have most to lose, they may be the greatest losers.

[Page]All this hath been said, to tell you how nearly the Doctrine of this Book, for necessary Doubting and a humble Understanding, and for Christian Love, and against pretended Knowledge and rash Judging, doth concern the duty and safety of this Nation, Church and State.

My late Book of the English Nonconformity fully evinceth this, and more; but blinding Prejudice, Worldliness and Faction, give leave to few of the guilty to read it.

I rest your much obliged Servant, Rich. Baxter.



UPon the Review of this Book, writ­ten long ago, I find, 1. That it is a Subject as necessary now as e­ver, Experience telling us that the Dis­ease is so far from being Cured, that it is become our publick shame and danger, and if the wonderful Mercy of God prevent it not, is like to be the speedy confusion and ruine of the Land. 2. As to the manner of this writing, I find the effects of the fail­ing of my Memory, in the oft repeating of the same things, with little diversification: But I will not for that cast it away, consi­dering, [Page] 1. That perhaps oft repeating may make the matter the better remem­bered; and if it do the work intended, no matter though the Author be not applaud­ed. 2. And men may think justly that what is oft repeated dropt not from the Author inconsiderately, nor is taken by him to be small and useless; but is that digest­ed Truth which he would most inculcate. 3. And those who blame their weakness, who accuse the Church Liturgy of too much repetition, I suppose will not be much of­fended with it in our Writings, while the dulness and forgetfulness of many Readers maketh it needful.

Rich. Baxter.


The First Part. 1 Cor. 8.2, 3.
  • CHap. 1. The Text opened: What Philosophy Paul de­presseth, and why.
  • Ch. 2. What Wisdom and Esteem of it are not here condemned.
  • Ch. 3. What Pretended Knowledge is condemned, and what Learning or Philosophy it is which Paul disliked further open­ed; with thirty Reasons.
  • Ch. 4. What are the Certainties which must be known and held fast, and why, where Certainty is distinctly described.
  • Ch. 5. Of the various Degrees of Certainty.
  • Ch. 6. What are the unknown things or Uncertainties, which we must not pretend a certain Knowledge of, even Scripture Truths?
  • Ch. 7. The first Inference: The True Reason and Usefulness of the Christian simplicity, in differencing the Covenant and the Principles of Religion from the rest of the holy Scriptures.
  • Ch. 8. Infer. 2. Of the Use of Catechizing.
  • Ch. 9. Infer. 3. The true Preservative of puzzled Christians, from the Errours of false Teachers, who draw them to their several Parties.
  • [Page] Ch. 10. Infer. 4. What is the great Plague and Divider of the Christian World.
  • Ch. 11. The common discoveries of Mens proud, self-conceited understanding, and of pretended Knowledge.
  • Ch. 12. Of the mischievous effects of this proud pretence of more Knowledge than men have.
  • Ch. 13. The Commodities of a suspended Judgment and hum­ble understanding, which pretendeth to no more Knowledge or Certainty than it hath.
  • Ch. 14. The Aggravations of the Sin of Prefidence.
  • Ch. 15. Special Aggravations of it in Students and Pastors.
  • Ch. 16. Twenty clear proofs of the little Knowledge that is in the World, to move us to a due distrust of our understandings.
  • Ch. 17. Infer. 5. It is not the dishonour, but the praise of Christ and his Apostles, and the Gospel, that they speak in a plain style and manner, of the certain necessary things, with­out the Vanity of School Uncertainty, and unprofitable Notions.
  • Ch. 18. Infer. 6. The true and false ways of restoring the Churches, and healing our Divisions, hence opened and made plain.
  • Ch. 19. Of the causes of Prefidence or proud pretended Know­ledge, in order to the Cure.
  • Ch. 20. Objections Answered.
  • Ch. 21. Directions for the Cure.
The Second Part.
  • CHap. 1. Knowledge is a means to a higher End, accord­ing to which it is to be estimated.
  • Ch. 2. The End of Knowledge is to make us Lovers of God, and so to be known of him.
  • Ch. 3. Therefore Knowledge is to be sought, valued and used as it tendeth to our Love of God.
  • [Page] Ch. 4. Therefore they are the wisest and best knowing Men that Love God best; and not they that have much unholy Know­ledge.
  • Ch. 5. The first Inference: By what measures to estimate Know­ledge.
  • Ch. 6. The second Inference: To abate our censures and con­tempt of the less-learned Christians and Churches.
  • Ch. 7. The third Inference: How to judge of the Knowledge necessary to Church Communion.
  • Ch. 8. The fourth Inference: The aptness of the Teaching of Christ, to ingenerate the Love of God and Holiness.
  • Ch. 9. The fifth Inference: What great cause of thankfulness men have for the Constitution of the Christian Religion: And how unexcusable they are that will not learn so short and sweet, and safe a Lesson.
  • Ch. 10. The sixth Inference: How little reason ungodly men have to be proud of their Learning, or any of their Knowledge.
  • Ch. 11. The seventh Inference: Why the ungodly World hateth Holiness, and not Knowledge.
  • Ch. 12. The eighth Inference: What is the work of a faithful Preacher, and how it is to be done.
  • Ch. 13. The ninth Inference: Those that know God so far as to Love him truely, may have comfort, notwithstanding their re­maining ignorance.
  • Ch. 14. Questions and Objections Answered.
    • Qu. 1. If so much Knowledge will save Men as causeth them To Love God, may not Heathens be saved who know God to be good, and therefore may Love him?
    • Qu. 2. May not a Papist or Heretick Love God and be saved?
    • Qu. 3. At least you make Ignorant Persons happy that can but Love God, though they know not their Catechism?
    • Qu. 4. How are Infants saved that have neither Knowledge nor Love?
    • Qu. 5. If this hold true, Universities, and most humane Learn­ing should be cast out as the Turks and Moscovites do; and [Page] the Armenians, Abassines, Greeks, and Ignorant sort of Papists, are the wisest: Because multitudes of other Notions must needs divert mens thoughts from God.
  • Ch. 15. Use, Exhort. I. Deceive not your selves by over-va­luing an unholy sort of Knowledge, or common Gifts.
  • Ch. 16. Exhort. II. Love best those Christians that Love God best, and live in Love and Peace with others.
  • Ch. 17. Exhort. III▪ Pretend not your Knowledge against the Love of God or Man, or against the Interest of the Church and Souls.
  • Ch. 18. Exhort. IV. Bend all your Studies to a life of Increas­ed and Exercised Love. How the Love of God must be Ex­ercised and Increased: The benefit hereof.
  • Ch. 19. Exhort. V. Place your Comfort in Health and Sick­ness in Mutual Divine Love. 1. See that you Love God. How known. Doubts Answered.
  • Ch. 20.2. But let it be the chief part of your Comfort that you are known of God. What comfort this affordeth. What frame of Soul it bespeaketh in us in Life, and at our Death.


1 Cor. 8.2, 3.

And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. But if any man Love God, the same is known of Him.

Chap. I.

The Scope and Text opened; what Philosophy or worldly Wisdom Paul depresseth; and why.

THE Calamitous Divisions of the Churches of Christ,Had I been suppo­sed to have written this Book, to hide my sloth and ignorance, men would not have neglected my Metho­dus Theologie and Ca­tholick Theology thro' meer sloth, and saying, That it's too high and hard for them. and the Miscarriages and Contentions of too many particular Brethren, having been sad upon my thoughts above forty years, by this time without impu­tation of hastiness and rash judging, I may take leave to tell the World, what I have discovered to be the principal cause, which is falsly PRETENDED KNOWLEDGE, or IGNO­RANCE OF IGNORANCE, or a proud unhumbled under­standing, confident that it knoweth that which it knoweth not. And consequently what must be the cure (if our calamity be here cureable,) viz. To know as much as we can; but withal to know how little we know, and to take on us to know no more than we do know, nor to be certain of our uncertainties.

The Text which I have chosen to be the ground of my discourse, is so plain, notwithstanding some little diffi­culties, that did not the nature of the Disease resist the clearest Remedy, so many good people had never here of­ten read their sin described, as insensibly as if they read it not.

[Page 2]The Chapter hath so much difficulty, as will not stand with my intended brevity to open it: I refer you to Ex­positors for that, whether they were the Nicolaitans, or any other sort of Hereticks that the Apostle dealeth with, I de­termine not. It is plain that they were Licentious Pro­fessors of Christianity, who thought that it was the igno­rance of others that made them judge it unlawful to eat things offered to Idols; and that their own greater know­ledge set them above that scruple. A mixture of Platonick Philosophy with Christianity, made up most of the Primi­tive Hereticks, (and for want of a due digestion of each, too much corrupted many of the Greek Doctors of the Church.) The unlearned sort of Christians, were so much despised by some of the Philosophical Hereticks, that they were not thought worthy of their Communion; for as Jude saith, they separated themselves, being sensual, having not the Spirit, but more affected Philosophical fancies: which made Paul warn men to take heed lest any seduced them by vain Phi­losophy; not using the name of Philosophy, for that solid knowledge of Gods works which is desireable, but for the Systemes of vain Conceits and Precepts, which the Word was then used to signifie, as every Sect derived them from their Masters. And so the Apostle taketh knowledge in this Text; not for solid knowledge indeed, but for Gnosticism or Philosophical presumptions; such as even yet most Philoso­phers are guilty of, who take a multitude of Precepts, some useful, some useless, some true, and some false, and all but notionally or to little purpose, and joining these do call them Philosophy. And Paul tells them, that opinionative and notional knowledge (were it true, like the Devils Faith) is of no such excellency as to cause them to shelter their sins under the confidence and honour of it, and despise unlearn­ed conscionable Christians; for such knowledge by inflation oft destroyeth the Possessors, or becomes the Fuel of the De­vilish sin of Pride, when Love buildeth up our selves and [Page 3] others to Salvation. And to conceit that a man is wise be­cause of such knowledge, and so to over-value his own un­derstanding, is a certain sign that he is destitute of that knowledge in which true wisdom doth consist; and know­eth nothing with a wise and saving knowledge, as every thing should be known: And indeed a mans excellency is so far from lying in vain Philosophical Speculations, that the use of all true knowledge is but to bring us up to the Love of God, (as the highest felicity) to be approved and beloved by God: And those unlearned Christians that have the Spi­rit of Sanctification, without your vain Philosophy, have knowledge enough to bring them to this Love of God, which is a thing that passeth all your knowledge, or ra­ther to be known of God as his own, and loved by him: For our felicity lyeth in receiving from God, and in his lov­ing us more than in our loving him; but both set together, to love God, and so to be loved of him are the ultimate end and perfection of man; and all knowledge is to be estima­ted but as it tendeth to this.

This being the plain Paraphrase of the Text, I shall stay no longer on it, but thence deduce and handle these two Observations.

Doct. I. Falsly pretended knowledge is oft pernicious to the Possessor, and injurious to the Church. And, over-valu­ing ones own Opinions and Notions, is a certain mark of dangerous Ignorance.

II. A Man is so far truly wise, as he loveth God, and conse­quently is approved (or loved) by him, and as he loveth others to their Edification.

I. The first is but the same that Solomon thus expresseth, Prov. 26.12. Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him. And Paul elsewhere, Rom. 12.16. Be not wise in your own conceits: And Rom. 11.25. and Prov. 26.5, 16. For it is certain that we are all here in great darkness; and it's but little that the wisest [Page 4] know: And therefore he that thinks he knoweth much, is ignorant both of the things which he thinks he knoweth, and ignorant of his ignorance. Therefore 1 Cor. 3.18. Let no man deceive himself: If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this World, let him become a Fool, that he may be wise: To be wise in this World, is the same with that in the words following, The wisdom of this World is foolishness with God: And 1 Cor. 1.19, 20, 21, 22. It is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, &c. Where is the wise? where is the Scribe? where is the disputer of this World? Hath not God made fool­ish the wisdom of this World? For after that, in the wisdom of God, the World by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom &c. So Chap. 2.4, 5, 6, 7, 8. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words (or probable discourses) of mans wis­dom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God: Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect; yet not the wisdom of this World, nor of the Princes of this World that come to nought: But we speak that wisdom of God in a Mystery, even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the World unto our glory (even Christ the wisdom of God, chap. 1.24.) which none of the Princes of this World knew—.

In all this note, 1. That there is a wisdom which Paul placeth Christianity it self in: 2. That this is to know God in Christ objectively, and to be taught of God by Christ and his Spirit efficiently. 3. That there is a Wisdom which Paul comparatively vilifieth. 4. This is called the Wisdom of this world (or age.) 5. That most plainly he meaneth by it, that which then was called Learning and Philosophy; which the Greeks did value, and by which they judged of the Gospel; which comprehended the methods of all the Sects, Epicu­reans, Academicks, Peripateticks and Stoicks; but not their true Morals, but their Physicks, and Logick, and Metaphy­sicks; [Page 5] which Laertius and others tell us how variously they held. 6. That Paul doth not absolutely prohibit such stu­dies, nor yet despise any true knowledge. 7. But he vilifi­eth this Philosophy on these accounts. 1. Because it was the exercise of a poor, low, insufficient Light: They did but Grope after God in the dark, as Acts 17.27. 2. Because it was mostly taken up with inferiour things, of small con­cernment comparatively: As things corporeal are good in themselves, and when sanctified and made subservient to things spiritual; so the knowledge of Physicks is to be esteemed: But as things corporeal yet are objectively the snare and ruine of those that perish, and therefore the world to be renounced and crucified, as it is our temptation, an Enemy, or Competitor with Christ; just so it must be with Natural Philosophy. 3. Because it was greatly overvalued by the World, as if it had been the only Wisdom, when indeed, it is of it self but an indifferent thing, or fit but to make a by-recreation of, till it be made to serve to higher ends; even as Riches, Honour and Pleasure are overvalued by worldlings, as if they were the only felicity; when in them­selves they are but more indifferent things, and prove bene­ficial or hurtful as they are used. Therefore Paul was to take down the pernicious esteem of this kind of Philosophy, as Preachers now must take down mens esteem of worldly things, however they are the works and gifts of God. And as Christ would by his actual poverty and sufferings, and not by words only, take down the esteem of worldly wealth and pride; so Paul by neglecting and forbearing the use of Artificial Logick, Physicks and Metaphysicks, would depress their rate. 4. Because that there was abundance of falshood mixt with the truth which the Philosophers held; as their multitude of different Sects fully proves. 5. Because the Artificial, Organical part was made so operous, as that it drowned Real Learning instead of promoting it; and be­came but like a game at Chess, a devise rather to exercise [Page 6] vain proud wits by, than to find out useful truth. As to this day when Logick and Metaphysicks seem much cultivated and reformed, yet the variety of methods, the number of notions, the precariousness of much, the uncertainty of some things, the falshood of many, maketh them as fit for Boys to play with in the Schools, and to be a Wood into which a Sophister may run, to hide his Errours, as to be a means of detecting them. And therefore a knavish Cheater will oft bind you strictest to the pedantick part of the Rules of Disputation, that when he cannot defend his Mat­ter, he may quarrel with your Form and Artifice, and lose time by questioning you about Mood and Figure. 6. Be­cause by these operous diversions, the minds of men were so forestalled or taken up, as that they had not leisure to study great and necessary saving truth: And if men must be untaught in the Doctrines of Life, till they had first Learnt their Logick, Physicks and Metaphysicks, how few would have been saved? when at this day so many come from our Universities after several years study, raw smat­terers in these, and half-witted Scholars, whose Learning is fitter to trouble than to edifie: And if Scripture had been written in the terms and method of Aristotle, how few would have been the better for them? But great Good must be common.

And as Paul on all these accounts sets light by this Philo­sophy, so he calls it, the wisdom of this world. 1. Because this world was its chief object. 2. And the creatures were its only Light. 3. And it led but few to any higher than worldly ends. 4. And it was that which worldly men that were strangers to heavenly Light and Holiness, did then most magnify and use.

Yet as Christ when he said, how hard it was for a rich man to be saved, did not make Riches absolutely unlawful, nor to have no goodness nor usefulness at all, but teacheth men, if they are wise, not to overvalue them, and to be too [Page 7] eager for them; so is Paul to be interpreted about Philoso­phy, or the wisdom of this world. (For it is not only crafti­ness for worldly ends that he so calls.)

And as God when he denyeth his Servants Riches and worldly fulness, doth it not because he taketh it to be too good for them, but because it is not good enough, and there­fore he will give them better; even the Heavenly Riches, and Honour and Delights: Even so when Paul compara­tively vilifieth Philosophy, it is not as being really a wis­dom too high for Christians, but too low; Nor doth he de­press Reason, or extol Ignorance; but would lead men to the truest Learning, the highest Knowledge and Improvement of Reason, the only Wisdom, from trifling, Pedantick, un­profitable Notions, and Ludicrous loss of Time and Studies.

It is not therefore for want of wisdom that the Scripture is not written according to the Philosophers art. Though E­rasmus overvalued his Grammaticisms, it was not for want of Learning in Philosophy that he so much despised the Philosophical Schoolmen! (so that Speaking of the Bishop of London, who maligned Dr. Colet, and was a subtile Sco­tist he saith of such; [That he had known some of them whom he would not call Knaves, but he never knew one of them whom he could call a Christian.] Vid. Mr Smiths Life of Dr. Colet By Erasmus. A smart charge: I suppose he meant it of them, rather as Scotists, than as Bishops.

And therefore the Apostle aptly joyneth both together, 1 Cor. 1.26. Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called; Seeming to equal worldly Wealth and Greatness, with worldly wisdom or Philosophy, as to the interest of Religion and Salvation. And the foolish wits that think he spake against Learning because he had it not, may as truly say that he spake against worldly wealth and greatness because he had it not: For the Possessi­on, Use and Knowledge of worldly things, are near of Kin. But they knew not Paul so well as Festus, who thought him [Page 8] not unlearned, though he thought him mad. Nor was it the way of worldly wealth and greatness which he chose.

Doubtless neither Christ, nor Paul, did speak against any Real Knowledge, but 1. Against nominal, pretended Know­ledge, which was set up to divert men from Real Knowledge, and was full of Vanities and Falshoods. 2. And against the overvaluing of that Learning, which is of little use, in comparison of the Knowledge of Great, and Excellent, and Necessary things. For knowledge is valuable according to its Object and its use. The Knowledge of trifles for trivial ends, is it self a trifle. The Knowledge of things great and necessary for great and necessary ends, is the great and necessa­ry Knowledge. And therefore how unmeasureably must the knowledge of God and our eternal happiness, excel the Pe­dantick Philosophy of the Gentiles. However Christians may Sanctify and Ennoble this by making it a help to higher knowledge. And therefore the Platonists and the Stoicks were the noblest Philosophers; because the former studied the highest things, and the other the necessary means of felicity, amending of mens hearts and lives.

But in the present Text the thing which the Apostle repre­hendeth is, the esteeming of a mans self to be wiser than he is; and taking himself to be a wise man because of his trifling Philosophical knowledge.A Country-man having sent his Son to the University, when he came home askt him what he had learn­ed. He told him he had learnt Logick. He askt him what that Logick was, and what he could do with it: And it being Sup­per-time, and the poor people having but two Eggs for Supper, he told them that he could prove that those Eggs were three: This is one, saith he, and that is Two, and One and Two are three: The Father gave him the better, and told him that his art was useful; for he had thought himself to have gone without his Supper, but now, saith he, I will take one Egg, and your Mother the other, and take you the third. Such kind of Logick the World hath gloried in as learning. And he would have them know that till they knew nobler things than those, & were guid­ed by a nobler light, they were very fools.

I have lookt over Hutten, Vives, Erasmus, Scaliger, Salma­sius, Casaubone, and many other Critical Grammarians, and [Page 9] all Gruterus his Critical Volumes. I have read almost all the Physicks and Metaphysicks I could hear of. I have wasted much of my time among whole loads of Historians, Chrono­logers and Antiquaries: I despise none of their learning. All truth is useful; Mathematicks, which I have least of, I find a pretty manlike sport. But if I had no other kind of know­ledge than these, what were my understanding worth! what a dreaming dotard should I be? Yea had I also all the Codes and Pandects all Cujacius, Wesenbechius, and their tribe at my fingers ends; and all other Volumes of Civil, National and Canon Laws, with the rest in the Encyclopaedia, what a poppet play would my life be, if I had no more?

I have higher thoughts of the School-men, than Erasmus and our other Grammarians had: I much value the method and sobriety of Aquinas, the subtility of Scotus and Ockam the plainness of Durandus, the solidity of Ariminensis, the pro­fundity of Bradwardine, the excellent acuteness of many of their followers, of Aureolus, Capreolus, Bannes, Alvarez, Zu­mel, &c. Of Mayro, Lychetus, Trombeta, Faber, Meurisse, Ra­da, &c. Of Ruiz, Pennattus, Suarez, Vasquez, &c. Of Hurtado, of Albertinus, of Lud. à Dola, and many others. But how loth should I be to take such sawce for my food, and such recreations for my business? The jingling of too much and too false Philosophy among them oft drowns the noise of Aarons Bells. I feel my self much bet­ter in Herberts Temple: Or in a heavenly Treatise of faith and Love. And though I do not with Dr. Colet distast Au­gustine above the plainer Fathers, yet I am more taken with his Confessions, than with his Grammatical and Scholastick treatises. And tho' I know no man whose genius more ab­horreth Confusion instead of necessary distinction and method, yet I loath impertinent useless art, and pretended precepts and distinctions, which have not a foundation in the matter.

In a word, There is a Divine knowledge, which is part of mans felicity, as it promoteth Love and Union, and there [Page 10] is a solid Knowledge of Gods Word and Works, a valuable Grammatical knowledge, and a true Philosophy, which none but ignorant persons will despise. But the vain Philosophy and pretended Wisdom or Learning of the World, hath been and is, the cheat of Souls, and the hinderer of wisdom, and a troubler of the Church and World.

Chap. 2.

What wisdom and esteem of it, are not here con­demned.

THE order which I shall observe in handling the first Doctrine shall be this; I. I will tell you Negatively what wisdom, and esteem of our own wisdom, is not here con­demned. II. What it is that is here condemned. III. What are the certainties, which we must hold fast, and make our Religion of. IV. What degrees of these certainties there are. V. What are the uncertainties, which we must not pretend to be certain of; and the unknown things which we must not pretend to know. VI. What are the mischiefs of falsly-pretended knowledg. VII. What are the degrees or aggravations of this sin. VIII. What are the causes of it. IX. What are the remedies. X. What are the uses which we should make of this Doctrine.

I. What wisdom, and what esteem of our wisdom is not here condemned?

Ans. 1. Not any real useful knowledg at all, whilst every thing keepeth its proper place, and due esteem, (as is said.)

2. That which of it self primarily is of so small use, as that it falleth under the contempt of the Apostles, yet by accident, through the subtilty of Satan, and the viciousness of the World, may become to some men in some measure necessary. And here cometh in the calamity of Divines. Of how little use is it to me in it self to know what is written in many a hundred Books, which yet by accident, it much [Page 11] concerneth me to know? And if God restrain him not, the Devil hath us here at so great an advantage, that he can make our work almost endless, and hath almost done it al­ready; yea can at any time divert us from greatest Truth and Works, by making another at that time more necessary.

If he raise up Socinians, our task is increased; we must read their Books, that we may be able to confute them: so must we when he raiseth up Libertines, Familists, Seekers, Quakers, and such other Sects. If he stir up controversies in the Church, about Government, Worship, Ceremonies, Circumstances, Words, Methods, &c we must read so much as to understand all, that we may defend the truth against them. If Papists will lay the stress of all their con­troversies on Church History, and the words of Ancients, we must read and understand all, or they will triumph. If School-men will build their Theology on Aristotle, all men have not the wit with the Iberian Legate at the Florentine Council in Sagyrophilus, to cry against the Preacher, What have we to do with Aristotle? But if we cannot deal with them at their own weapons, they will triumph. If Cavillers will dis­pute only in mood and figure, we must be able there to over-top them, or they will insult. If the Plica, Pox, Scurvey or other new diseases do arise, the Physician must know them all, if he will cure them. And hence it is that we say, that a Lawyer must know the Law, and a Physician must know Physicks and Medicine, &c. But a Divine should know all things that are to be known: because the diseased world hath turned pretended knowledg into the great malady, which must be cured: but is the thing it self of any great worth? Is it any great honour to know the vanity of Philo­sophical Pedantry? And to be able to overdo such gamesters, any more than to beat one at a game at Chess, or for a Physician to know the Pox or Leprosie?

3. Yet indeed, as all things are sanctified to the holy, and pure to the pure, a wise man may and must make great use [Page 12] of common inferiour kinds of knowledge: especially the true Grammatical sense of Scripture words, the true pre­cepts of Logick, the certain parts of real Physicks and Pneumatology: For God is seen in his Works as in a Glass; and there to search after him and behold him, is a noble pleasant Work and Knowledg. And I would that no Is­raelite may have need to go down to the Philistines for in­struments of this sort.

4. It is not forbidden to any man to know that measure of wisdom which he truly hath; God bindeth us not to err, nor to call Light Darkness, or Truth Error, or to belie our selves, or deny his gifts. 1. It is desireable for a man absolutely to know as much as he can, preferring still the greatest things, and to know that he knoweth them, and not to be sceptical, and doubt of all. 2. It is a duty for a converted sinner comparatively to know that he is wiser than he was in his sinful state, and to give God thanks for it. 3. It is his duty who groweth in wisdom, and receiveth new acces­sions of Light, to know that he so groweth, and to give God thanks, and to welcome each useful truth with joy. 4. It is the duty of a good and wise man comparatively to know that he is not as foolish as the ungodly, nor to think that eve­ry wicked man, or ignorant person whom he should pity and instruct is already wiser than he; every Teacher is not to be so foolish as to think that all his flock are more judicious than himself. In a word, it is not a true estimate of the thing or of our selves, that is forbidden us; but a false: It is not belying our selves, nor ingratitude to God, nor a contra­diction (to know a thing, and not to know that I know it) nor an ignorance of our own minds, which is com­manded us under the pretence of humility; But it is a Proud conceit, that we know what we do not know that is condemned.

Chap. 3.

What pretended knowledge is condemned, and what Philosophy and Learning it is that Paul disliked.

II. MOre distinctly, 1. It is condemnable for any man to think himself Absolutely or Highly wise: because our knowledg here is so poor and dark and low, that compared with our Ignorance it is little; we know not what or how many or how great the things are which we do not know; but in general we may know that they are incomparably more and greater than what we do know; we know now but as Children, and Darkly, and in a Glass or Riddle, 1 Cor. 13.11, 12. In the sence that Christ faith, none is good but God, we may say that none is wise but God. For a man that must know (unless he be a very sot) that he knoweth no­thing perfectly in the World; that he knoweth but little of any Worm or Fly, or pile of Grass which he seeth, or of himself, his Soul or Body, or any Creature, for this man to assume the Title of a Wise man, is arrogant, unless comparatively understood, when he is ignorant of ten thou­sand fold more than he knoweth, and the predominant part denominateth. The old enquirers had so much modesty, as to arrogate no higher name than Philosophers.

2. It is very condemnable for any man to be proud of his understanding: while it is so low and poor and dark, and hath still so much matter to abase us. He knoweth not what a Dungeon poor mortals are in, nor what a darkened thing a sinful mind is, nor what a deplorable state we are in, so far from the Heavenly light, no nor what it is to be a man in Flesh, who findeth not much more cause of humilia­tion than of pride in his understanding, O how much a­do have I to keep up from utter despondency under the consciousness of so great ignorance, which no study no means, no time doth overcome. How long Lord shall this Dungeon be our dwelling? And how long shall our foolish Souls be loth to come into the Celestial light?

[Page 14]3. It is sinful folly to pretend to know things unrevealed and impossible to be known, Deut. 29.29. The secret things be­long unto the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us, and to our Children for ever, that we do them. Rom. 11.34. For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his Counsellor? And how many such compose the Theo­logy of some, and the Philosophy of more.

4. It is sinful folly to pretend to know that which is im­possible or unrevealed to him, though it be possible and revealed to others. For as the Eye, so the Understanding must have its necessary light, and due constitution and conditions of the object and of it self, or else it cannot understand.

5. It is sinful folly to pretend to certainty of knowledge, when either the thing is but probable, or at best, we have but doubtful opinions or conjectures of it, and no true cer­tainty.

6. It is sinful folly to pretend that we know or receive any thing by Divine Faith (or Revelation) when we have it but by Humane Faith, or probable conjecture from natural evi­dence. As soon as men are perswaded by a Sect, a Seducer, or a selfish Priest, to believe what he saith, abundance present­ly take such a perswasion for a part of their Religion, as if it were a Believing God.

7. It is sinful folly to take on us that we know what we know not at all, because we do but know that it is know­able, and that wise men know it, and as soon as we under­stand that it should be known, and that wise men conclude it to be true, therefore to pretend that we know it to be true.

8. And it is sinful folly to pretend that we truly know or apprehend the Thing or Matter, or incomplex object, meer­ly because we have got the bare words, and second notions of it, which are separable from the knowledge of the thing. All these are false and sinful pretences of knowledge, which men have not.

[Page 15]But because Paul so warneth us to take heed of vain Philosophy,M. Antomine l. 1. §. 17. Doth thank God that he made no greater progress in Rhetorick, Poetry, and such like Studies, which might have hindered him from better things, if he had perceived himself to have profited in them. And (in fine) quod cum Phi­losophandi cupiditas incessisset, no [...] in sophistam aliquem inci­delin, nec [...] e­volvendis, vel syllogismis re­solvendis, vel Mettorologicis dis [...]iendi [...] tem [...] des [...]s con­triverim. and Atheists, and Infidels deride him for speaking against the wisdom of the World, as if he spake against Learn­ing, because he had it not; and be­cause the Disease which he attempted to Cure remaineth among Schollars to this day, and instead of a Cure many contemn the Physician, and dislike Christ himself and the Gospel, as defective of the Learning which they overvalue, I will once again, and that more distinctly tell you some few of the faults of our common Learning, even now that it is cultivated and aug­mented in this Age, that you may see that Paul did not in­juriously accuse it, or Christ injuriously neglect it.

I. Natural Imperfection layeth the Foundation of our common calamity; in that it is so long before sense and reason grow up to a natural maturity, (through the unripe­ness of Organs, and want of Exercise) that Children are necessitated to learn words before things, and to make these words the means of their first knowledge of many of the things signified; so that most furnish themselves with a stock of names and words; before ever they get any true knowledge of the matter.

II. And then they are exceeding apt to think that this treasury of words and second notions is true wisdom, and to mistake it for the knowledge of the thing: Even as in Religion we find almost all Children and ignorant people, will learn to say by rote the Creed and Lords Prayer, and Commandments, and Catechism, and then think that they are not Ignorants, when it is long after before we can get them to understand the sense of the words which they can so readily speak, yea though they are plain English [Page 16] words, which they use for the most part in ordinary dis­course.

III. When Children come to School also their Masters teach them as their Parents did, or worse; I mean that they bestow almost all their pains to furnish them with words and second notions: And so do their Tutors too oft at the University: So that by that time they are grown to be Masters of a considerable stock of words, Grammatical, Logical, Metaphysical, &c. and can set these together in Propositions and Syllogisms, and have learnt Memoriter the Theorems or Axioms, and some distinctions which are in common use and reputation, they are ready to pass for Masters of the Arts, and to set up for themselves, and leave their Tutors, and to teach others the like sort and measure of Learning, which they have thus acquired. Like one that sets up his Trade as soon as he hath gotten a Shop full of Tools.

IV. And indeed the memories of young men are strong and serviceable so many years sooner than their judgments, that prudent Teachers think it meet to take that time to fur­nish them with words and organical notions, while they are unmeet to judge of things: Even as pious Parents must teach them the words of the Catechism, that when they grow riper, their judgments may work upon that which their Memories did before receive. And in this they are in the right upon two suppositions. 1. That distinguishing things obvious and easily understood from things remote, ab­struse and difficult, they would teach them those of the first sort with the words, though not the second: And while they make haste with them in the Languages they would not make too much haste with the Notions and Theorems of the Arts and Sciences. 2. That they still make them know that words as to matter are but as the dish to the meat, and all this while they are but preparing for wisdom and true Learning, and not getting or possessing it; and that [Page 17] unless they will equalize a Parrot, and a Philosopher, they must know how little they have attained, and must after Learn things, or not pretend to know any thing indeed. As Children learn first to speak and then learn what to speak of.

V. And the great mischief is, that multitudes of those notions which are taught us are false, not fitted to the Things, but expressing the conceptions of roving, uncertain, errone­ous, bewildred minds. Words are the instruments of Com­munication of thoughts. And when I hear a man speak I hear (perhaps) what he thinketh of things, but not always what they are. Our Universal notions are the result of our own comparing Things with things. And we are so wofully defective in such comparings that our Universal notions must needs be very defective, so that they abound with errour.

VI. And the penury and narrowness of words is a great im­pediment to the due expressing of those poor confused con­ceptions which we have; For a man can think more aptly and comprehensively than he can speak. And hence it cometh to pass that words and universal notions are become like Pictures or Hieroglyphicks, almost of arbitrary signification and use, as the speaker pleaseth. And (as a multitude of School-distinctions tell us) you can know little by the Gram­matical use or Etymology of the words, what the meaning of them is in a theorem or distinction, till the speaker tell it you by other words.

VII. And the conceptions of men being as various as their Countenances, the same words in the mouths of several men, have several significations. So that when Tutors read the same books to their Schollars, and teach them the same notions, it is not the same conceptions always that they thus communicate.

VIII. And when all is done, Recipitur ad modum recipientis. It's two to one but the Learner receiveth their notions with a conception somewhat different from them all. And when [Page 18] he thinks that he hath learnt what was taught him, and is of his Teachers mind, he is mistaken, and hath received ano­ther apprehension.

IX. And the narrowness of mans mind and thoughts is such, that usually there must go many partial conceptions, to one thing or Object really indivisible: So that few things, or nothing rather in the world, is known by us with one conception, nor with a simplicity of apprehensions answerable to the simplicity of the things: And hereby it cometh to pass that Inadequate conceptions make up a great part of our Learn­ing and knowledge. And (yet worse) our words being nar­rower than our Thoughts, we are fain to multiply words more than conceptions, so that we must have ten concepti­ons perhaps of one thing, and twenty words perhaps for those ten conceptions. And then we grow to imagine the things to be as various as our conceptions, yea and our words: And so Learning is become confused error, and the great and no­ble Actions of the Phantastical world, are a pitiful confused agitation of Phantasms, and (whether fortuitous or artifici­al) a congress of Atoms, sometimes digladiating, and some­times seeming by amicable embraces to compose some excel­lent piece of Art. And things seem to us to be multiplyed and ordered as our conceptions of them are. And the Scotists may yet write as many more Treatises de formalitatibus, be­fore men will understand indeed what a conceptus formalis with them is, and whether diverse formalities be diverse rea­lities, or only ejusdem conceptus inadequati. But thus Learn­ing is become like a poppet play, or the raising of the dust.

X. The Entia Rationis being thus exceeding numerous, are already confounded with objective Realities, and have com­pounded our common Systems of Logick, Metaphysicks, and too much of Physicks: So that Students must at first see through false Spectacles, and Learn by seducing notions, and receive abundance of false conceptions, as the way to Wisdom, and Shadows and Rubbish, must furnish their [Page 19] minds under the name of truth (though mixt with many real Verities.) For young men must have Teachers: They cannot begin at the foundation, and every one learn of him­self, as if none had ever learnt before him: He is like to make but a slow proficient, that maketh no use of the Stu­dies and Experience of any that ever learnt before him. And he that will learn of others, must receive their notions and words as the means of his information.

XI. And when they grow up to be capable of real wis­dom, O! what a labour is it, to cleanse out this rubbish, and to unlearn all the errors that we have learnt, so that it is much of the happiest Progress of extraordinary successful Studies, to find out our old mistakes, and set our concepti­ons in better order one by one: Perhaps in one year we find out and reform some two or three, and in another year one or two more, and so on. Even as when at my removal of my Library, my Servant sets up all my books, and I must take them half down again to set them in their right places.

XII. And the difficulty of the matter is our great Impedi­ment, when we come to study things. For, 1. Their Matter, 2. Their Composure, 3. Their Numbers, 4. Their Order and Relations, 5. And their Action and Operation, are much unknown to us.

XIII. 1. The substance of Spirits is so little known, as tempteth Sadduces to dream that there are none. The no­tion of a Spirit to some (through ignorance) is taken to be meerly negative, as if it signified no more, but [not corpo­real.] The notion of Immateriality is lubricous, and he that knoweth not the true bounds of the signification of Mate­ria, knoweth not what it is to be Immaterial. The purest Spirit is known only by many inadequate conceptions: One must answer the similitude of Matter, in fundamental substantiality: Another must be answerable to that of Forms of simple Elements; and another answerable to Acci­dents. [Page 20] And though nothing be so notorious of Spirits as their Operations, and from the Acts we know the Virtues or Powers, yet that these Virtues are not Accidents, but the ve­ry Essential Form, and that they are (in all Spirits) One in Three, and many other things concerning their Essentiality, are quite overlookt by the greater part of Philosophers; and those few that open it, do either with Campanella, lose it again in a wood of mistaken ill gathered consequences; or with Lullius, drown it in a multitude of irregular arbi­trary notions; or with Commenius, give us a little undigest­ed, with the mixture of crudities and mistakes; or with our Learned Dr. Glisson de vitâ Naturae, confound Spirits and Bodies, and make those Spirits which are the Vital constitutive principle of Compounds, to be but the inade­quate conception of Bodies, as if they were all simply and formally Vital of themselves, and for a Body to be inani­mate were a contradiction, or impossible. And they that treat more nobly of Spirits (as Mr. Got and many Platonists) do it so immethodically and confusedly, as greatly disadvan­tageth the Learner.

And yet to treat of Bodies without treating of the Spirits that animate or actuate them, is a lame, deluding, unedifying thing: As it is to treat of a Kingdom, an Army, a School, without mentioning a King, a Captain, or a Schoolmaster; or as to describe a Gun, without any mention of Gunpow­der or shooting: Or a Clock or Watch without the Poise or Spring, or Motion; or a Book or words without the sense; and so of a Man without a Soul or Reason, or a Brute without any Life or Sense. I mean when we speak of Compound Beings, and not meerly of Corporeity in the notion, as abstracted from all Vital moving principles.

XIV. 2. And what the true notion of Matter or Corpo­reity it self is, it is but darkly and uncertainly known, how confidently soever some decantate their moles or quantity, divisibility or discerptibility, and impenetrability: Whe­ther [Page 21] Fire be material, and divisible and impenetrable, and how far Fire and Spirits herein differ, and so Spirits and Bodies, and how far sensible must enter the definition of Corpus, is not easily known.

XV. 3. Nor do we well know the Nature of the simple Corporeal Elements; whether they agree only in materiali­ty, quantity, and divisibility, and impenetrability; and whether they differ only in magnitude, shape, sight and con­texture of parts; or by any essentiating Formal Virtues; or both; or (as Mr. Got thought) by a differencing proper spirit.

XVI. 4. How little of the Divine Artifice is known in the composition of mixt Bodies? (And we know of no ex­istent Simples in the world, that are not found only in Compositions.) All men confess that every Plant, every Worm, or Fly, every sensitive, yea every sensible Being, is so little known to us, as that the unknown part far ex­ceedeth the known.

XVII. 5. And we are not agreed of late of the number of the very Elements themselves; much less of Compounds; of which, while we know so few, that which we do know is the more defectively known; because (as in knowing of Letters and Syllables) the knowledge of one thing is need­ful to the true and useful knowledge of another.

XVIII. But the Order and Relations of things to one ano­ther is so wonderfully unsearchable, and innumerably va­rious, as quite surpasseth all humane understanding. Yea, though ORDER and Relation constitute all Morality, Po­licy, Literature, &c. so that it is as it were that World which humane Intellects converse in, and the business of all hu­mane Wills and Actions, yet few men know so much as what ORDER and RELATION is: Nay, nor whether it be Any thing or nothing: And though health and sickness, har­mony and discord, beauty and ugliness, virtue and vice, con­sist in it, and Heaven and Hell depend upon it, and Law and Judgment do make and determine it; yet is it not easie [Page 22] to know what it is by an Universal Notion; nor whether it be truly to be called Any thing at all. We doubt not but ORDER should be a most observable Predicament, in the Series of humane Notions or nominanda: But yet I doubt not much but that Gassendus who would make tempus and spatium two of his Predicaments, doth ascribe to them that Entity which they have not.

XIX. And though undoubtedly Action is a noble Predi­cament, and whatever the Cartesians say, requireth more causation than non agere doth; yea is it self the causation of the mutations in the World; yet men scarce know what to call it. Some say it is res: others it is but accidens rei; and others modus rei; some say, It is in passo: Some say it is in agente: Some say it is neither, but is agentis: Some say immanent acts are Qualities, as Scotus, &c.

XX. And which is yet worse, the very name, Accident, Mode and Quality, are but general unapt notions, not well understood by any that use them, nor suited meetly to the severals contained under them. And when we call a thing, (or nothing) a Quality, Accident or Mode, we are little the wiser, and know not well what we have said. Sure I am that they are exceedingly heterogenea which Aristotle compriz­eth in the very predicament of Quality. And Gassendus thought all Accidents may be as well called Qualities or Modes.

XXI. And which is yet worse, all humane language is so wofully Ambiguous, that there is scarce a word in the World that hath not many senses: and the learned world never came to agreement about the meaning of their com­mon words, so that ambiguity drowneth all in uncertain­ty and confusion.

XXII. And which is yet worse, the certain apprehension of Sense and Reason, is commonly by men called Learned, re­duced to, and tryed by, these dreaming ambiguous names and universal notions: and men are drawn to deny their [Page 23] certain knowledge, because they know not by what universal term to call it, e. g. I know as far as is useful to me, by seeing what Light is; but whether it be Substantia, Acci­dens, Modus, &c. or what to call it universally, few know! And no wonder, for their universal notions are their own works or Entia rationis, fabricated by the imperfect com­paring of things with things, by ignorant understandings; but the sensibility of objects & the sensitive faculty & the In­tellect, are the works of God. I know much better what Light is by seeing it, than I know what an Accident or a Quality is.

So I know by feeling what Heat is, I know what Motion or Action is, I know what pain and pleasure is, I know what love and hatred is, I know partly what it is to think, to know, to will, choose and refuse; but what is the right universal notion of these, what true definition to give of any one of them, the Learnedst man doth not well know; In­somuch, as I dare boldly say, that the vulgar ordinarily know all these better without definitions, than the most Learned man living can know them by definitions alone.

And here I will presume to step aside, to say as in the Ears of our over-doing Separatists, who can take none into Christian Communion, that cannot tell you how they were Converted, or at least give them a fair account of their understanding all the Articles of the Faith, in words that are adapted to the matter: I tell you 1. That the knowledge of Words, and second Notions and Definitions, is one thing, and the knowledge of Matters or Things is ano­ther. 2. And it is the knowledge of the Things, and not of the Words, that is primarily and absolutely necessary to Sal­vation. 3. And that many an illiterate, ill bred person un­derstand things long before they can utter their under­standings in any intelligible words. 4. And therefore if any man do but these two things. 1. By Yea or Nay do signi­fie to me, that he understandeth the Truth, when I put the matter of (nothing but the Baptismal Covenant) into my [Page 24] Questions; 2. And do manifest serious willingness accord­ingly, by avoiding evil, and using Gods means; I dare not, I will not refuse that person from the Communion of the Church; Though I would do as much as the rigidest cen­surer to bring such up to greater knowledge.

XXIII. And on the other side men are made to think that they know the things because they know the Names and De­finitions: And so that they are learned and Wise when they know little the more by all their learning. For to be able to talk over all the Critical Books and Lexicons and Gram­mars; all the Logical Notions and Definitions, is nothing but Organical Knowledge; Like the Shoemaker that hath a Shop full of Lasts, (and that most of them unmeet for any mans foot) but never made a Shoe by any of them. And false and confused and idle names and notions, fill the learned world with False, Confused and Vain Conceptions, which Common-Countrey people scape, so that it costeth many a man twenty years study, to be made more erroneous than he would have been, by following an honest trade of life.

XXIV. Nay our very Articles of Faith and Practice, which Salvation lyeth on, are commonly tryed by these arbitrary Organical notions; whole loads of School Volumes are wit­nesses of this. Though the School-men, where our Gramma­rians deride them as Barbarians, have often done well in fitting words to things, and making the Key meet for the Lock: Yet old terms and notions and axioms too often go for current, and over-rule disputes, when they are not un­derstood, nor are proper or univocal. What work doth A­ristotle make with Actus and Potentia, and the School-men af­ter him? What abundance of darkness do these two words contain in all their writings? And for want of other words to supply our needs, what abundance of distinctions of Actus and Potentiae are the Scotists and other Schoolmen fain to use? What abundance of disputes are kept up by the am­biguity of the word [Cause] while it is applyed to things [Page 25] so different, as Efficience, Constitution, and Finality? The like may be said of many more. And then when it cometh to a dispute of the Divine Nature, of the Soul, of the most weighty things, these confounding notions must over-rule the Case. We must not have an argument for the Souls Im­mortality, but what these notions check or vitiate; no nor scarce for an Attribute of God.

XXV. And it is so hard a thing to bring men to that self-denial and labour, as at Age throughly and impartially to revise their juvenile conceptions, and for them that learnt words before things, to proceed to learn things now as ap­pearing in their proper evidence, and to come back and can­cel all their old notions, which were not found, and to build up a new frame, that not one of a multitude is ever Master of so much virtue as to attempt it, and go through with it. Was it not labour enough to study so many years to know what others say? but they must now undo much of it, and begin a new and harder labour? who will do it?

XXVI. And indeed none but men of extraordinary Acu­teness and Love of truth, and Self-denial and Patience are fit to do it. For, 1. The Common dullards will fall into the ditch when they leave their Crutches. And will multiply Sects in Philosophy and Religion, while they are unable to see the truth in itself. And indeed this hath made the Protestant Churches, so liable to the derision and reproach of their ad­versaries. And how can it be avoided, while all men must pretend to know and judge, what indeed they are unable to understand?

2. Yea the half-witted men, that think themselves acute and wise, fall into the same Calamity.

3. And the proud will not endure to be thought to err, when they plague the world with error.

4. And the Impatient will not endure so long and diffi­cult studies.

5. And when all is done, as Seneca saith, they must be [Page 26] content with a very few approvers, and must bear the scorn of the ignorant-learned crowd. Who have no way to main­tain the reputation of their own Wisdom, Orthodoxness and Goodness, but by calling him Proud, or Self-conceited, or Er­roneous, that differeth from them by knowing more than they. And who but the truly self-denying can be at so much cost and labour for such reproach, when they foreknow that he that increaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow?

XXVII. By these means mens minds that should be taken up with God and his Service, are abused and vilified, and filled with the dust and smoak of vain, and false, and confused notions. And mans life is spent (as David saith) in a vain shew. And men dream waking with as great industry, as if they were about a serious work. Alas how pitifully is much of the learned world employed.

XXVIII. By this means also mens precious time is lost: And he that had time little enough to learn and do things necessary, for the common good, and his own salvation, doth waste half of it on he knoweth not what. And Satan that findeth him more ingenious than to play it away at Cards and Dice, or than to Drink and Revel it away, doth cast another bait before him, and get him learnedly to dream it away about unprofitable words and notions.

XXIX. And by this means the Practice of goodness is hindred in the world, yea and Holy Affections quenched. While these arbitrary Notions and Speculations, (being mans own) are his more pleasant game; And Studies and Pulpits must be thus employed, and heart and life thus stoln from God. Yea it's well if Godliness grow not to be taken by such dreamers, for a low, a dull and an unlearned thing; yea if they be not tempted by it to Infidelity, and to think (not only the zealous Ministers and Christians, but even) Christ and his Apostles to be unlearned men, below their estimation.

XXX. And by the same means the devilish sin of Pride [Page 27] will be kept up, even among the Learned, yea and the Preachers of Humility: For what is that in the world (al­most) that men are prouder of than that Learning which consisteth in such notions and words as are afore described? And the proudest man, I think, is the worst.

XXXI. And by this means the sacred Chairs and Pulpits will be possessed by such men, whose spirits are most contra­ry to a Crucified Christ, and to that Cross and Doctrine which they must preach. And when Christ's greatest Ene­mies are the Pastors of his Churches, all things will be or­dered and managed accordingly; and the faithful hated and abused accordingly. Though I must add, that it is not this Cause alone, but many more concurring to constitute a worldly wicked mind, which use to procure these effects.

XXXII. And by false and vain Learning Contentions are bred and propagated in the Churches. None are instruments so apt, and none have been so successful, as all Church Histo­ry recordeth and the Voluminous contentions of many such learned parties testify.

XXXIII. And this is an increasing malady, for new Books are yearly written, containing the said arbitrary notions of the several Authors. And whereas real and organical Learn­ing should be orderly and conjunctly propagated, and Things studied for themselves, and Words for Things, the systems of of Arts and Sciences grow more and more corrupted, our Logicks are too full of unapt notions, our Metaphysicks are a meer confused mixture of Pneumatology and Logick; and What part hath totally escaped?

XXXIV. And the number of such Books doth grow so great, that they become a great impediment and snare; and how many years precious time must be lost, to know what men say, and who saith amiss, or how they differ?

XXXV. And the great diversity of Writers and Sects in­creaseth the danger & trouble, especially in Physicks; by that time a man hath well studied the several sects, the Epicu­reans [Page 28] and Somatists, the Cartesians, with the by-parties, (Regius, Berigardus, &c.) the Platonists, the Peripateticks, the Hermeticks, Lullius, Patricius, Telesius, Campanella, White, Digby, Glisson, and other Novelists; and hath read the most learned improvers of the curranter sort of Philosophy, (Scheggius, Wendeline, Sennertus, Hoffman, Honorat▪ Faber, Got, &c.) how much of his life will be thus spent. And per­haps he will be as far to seek, in all points saving those com­mon evident certainties, which he might have learned more cheaply in a shorter time, than he was before he read them. And will wish that Antonine, Epictetus, or Plutarch had served instead of the greater part of them. And will perceive that Physicks are much fuller of uncertainties, and emptier of satisfying usefulness than Morality, and true Theology.

XXXVI. By such false methods and notions men are often led to utter Scepticism, and when they have found out their own errors, they are apt to suspect all the substance of Scien­ces to be error. And he speeds well that cometh but with Sanchez to a nihil scitur: And he better that cometh but with Cornel. Agrippa, to write Vanity and Vexation upon all the Sci­ences: for many come to Infidelity it self, and some to A­theism: And, as Dr. Tho. Jackson noteth, by such distrust of men and humane things, are tempted into a distrust or unbelief of Christ; or perhaps with Hobbs grow to cry down all Learning besides their own, which is worse than the worst that they decry.

XXXVII. And by all this Princes and States are tempted to hate Learning it self, and banish it as a pernicious thing: As the case of the Turkish, Muscovian, and some other Empires testifie.

All this I have said, not to dishonour true Learning, which I would promote with all my power; but to shew the Corruption and Vanity of that Philosophy and humane false Learning, which Paul and the Ancient Writers did [Page 29] decry; and why the Council of Carthage forbad the read­ing of the Gentiles Books, and reproached Apollinarius, and other Hereticks for their Gentile Learning.

Of the great uncertainty of our Physicks and Metaphy­sicks, almost all the chief Authors themselves make free confessions. See Suarez, Metaph. disp. 35. pag. 219, 221, 237. Fromondus de Anim. pag. 63. Gassendus often; and who not?

Pious Bonaventure hath written a Tract de Reductione Artium ad Theologiam; and another de non frequentandis quae­stionibus; Cornel. Agrippa de Vanitate Scientiarum, is well worth the reading beforehand to prevent mens loss of time.

Chap. 4.

III. What are the Certainties that must be known and held fast, and why?

IT is none of the Apostles meaning that men should be meer Scepticks: Nor am I seconding Sanchez his nihil scitur, unless you take Science for adequate Science, or in a transcendent notion, as it signifieth that which is proper to another World, and therefore may be denyed of this. He can neither play the part of a Christian or of a man, who doubts of all things, and is assuredly confident of nothing.

That our discourse of this may be orderly and edifying, it is of great use that I first help you rightly to understand what Certainty is. The word is ambiguous, and sometime is applied to the Object, and sometime to the Act and Agent. The former is called Objective Certainty; the latter Sub­jective Certainty.

The Objective is either Certainty of the Thing, or Cer­tainty of Evidence, by which the thing is discernible or per­ceptible to us. And this either Sensible Evidence, or Ratio­nal; and the latter is either self-evidence of principles, or de­rived Evidence of Consequences.

Subjective Certainty is also either considered in the Na­ture of it, or in the Degree: And as to the Nature it is ei­ther [Page 30] the Senses Certainty, or the Intellects; and this either of Incomplex Objects, or Complex: The first is either of sensed Objects, or purely Spiritual: The second of Principles, or of Conclusions. Of all these there are Certainty.

The Degrees are these: It being first supposed that no Humane apprehension here is absolutely perfect; and there­fore all our Certainties subjective are Imperfect: The word therefore signifieth not only a perfect apprehension; but it signifieth non falli, not to be deceived, and such an apprehen­sion of the evidence as giveth us a just resolving and quieting con­fidence. And so 1. The due Objects of sense, and 2. The immediate acts of the Soul it self, are Certain in the first and highest degree. I know certainly what I see clearly, so far as I see it: And I know certainly that I think, and know, and will. The next degree of Certainty is of Ratio­nal Principles, and the next of Consequents.

It's like in a Scheme you will easilier understand it.

CERTAINTY being an ambiguous word, is either,

  • I. Objective: which is,
    • I. Of Being of the Thing; which is nothing but Physical Verity.
    • II. Of Evidence; which makes things Perceptible; and it is Evidence,
      • 1. Sensible; viz.
        • 1. To the External Senses.
        • 2. To the Internal Senses.
      • 2. Intelligible,
        • 1. Of the Being of Things, viz.
          • 1. Quod sint,
          • 2. Quid sint,
          • 3. Qualia sint,
            • 1. Things sensed and imagined; as colours, light, heat, &c.
            • 2. The Acts of Intel­lection and Will.
        • 2. Of Complex Verity, which is,
          • 1. Of self-evident Principles.
          • 2. Derivative Evidence of Conclusions.
  • II. Subjective Certainty; by which I am certain of the Object; Considerable,
    • I. In its Nature; viz. Certain­ty,
      • 1. Of Sense,
        • 1. Of the Outward Senses, when they are not deceived.
        • 2. Of the Inward Sense and Imagination.
      • 2. Of the In­tellect; which is,
        • 1. Of Beings,
          • 1. Sensed and ima­gined,
          • 2. Of the Acts of the Soul.
            • 1. Quod sint.
            • 2. Quid sint.
            • 3. Qualia sint.
        • 2. Of the Com­plex Verities,
          • 1. Of self-evident Principles.
          • 2. Of Conclusions.
      • [Page 31](N. Qu. Whether there be not a third sort of Certainty both Objective and Subjective; viz. Goodness not-sensible, Certainly apprehended by the Intellectual Soul, not only sub ratione Veri, sed & Boni? and whether the Will by its Natural Gust have not a Complacential Perception of it as well as the Intellect? Vid. Pemble Vindic. Grot.)
      • II. In the Degrees of Certainty; which are in the order following.
        • 1. Sense perceiving the Object and it self, is the first perceiver; and here­of the surest.
        • 2. Imagination receiving from Sense, hath more requisites to its Cer­tainty.
        • 3. Intellection about things sensible, hath yet more requisites to its Certainty; viz. 1. That the Object be true; 2. The Evidence sen­sible; 3. That the Sense be sound, and the Medium and other Con­ditions of Sense be just; 4. That the Imagination be not corrupt, 5. That the Intellect it self be sound.
        • 4. But Intellection about It self and Volition hath the highest Certainty
        • 5. We are surer of the Quod than the Quid and Quale; as that we Think, than What and How.
        • 6. We are certainer of self-evident Principles than of the Consequences.
        • 7. Consequences have various degrees of Evidence and Certainty.

A few Propositions may further help your understand­ings.

I. All things in the world have their Certainty physical of Being; that is, it is a Certainty, or a Truth that this thing is.

II. The thing which is most commonly called Objective Certainty, is such a degree of Perceptibility or Evidence as may aptly satisfie the doubting Intellect.

III. Evidence is called Infallible; 1. When he that re­ceiveth it is never deceived; and so all Truth is Infallible Truth; for he is not deceived who believeth it: 2. Or when a man cannot err about it. And there is no such Evi­dence in the world, unless you suppose all things else agreeable.

IV. The Perception is called Infallible, 1. Either quia non falsa, because it is not deceived: And so every man is Infallible in every thing which he truly perceiveth: 2. Or because it Cannot or Will not err. And so Absolute Infallibi­lity is proper to God: But secundum quid, in certain cases upon certain Objects, with certain Conditions, all sound mens Senses and Intellects are Infallible.

[Page 32]V. Certainty of Evidence consisteth in such a Position of the thing evident, as maketh it an Object perceptible to the faculty perceiving; to which many Conditions are requi­red: As 1. That the Thing it self have such intrinsick qua­lifications, as make it fit to be an Object. 2. That it have the due extrinsick conditions concomitant.

1. To the Nature of an Object of perception it is necessa­ry. 1. That it be a thing which in its Nature is within the reach of the perceiving faculty: And not (as Spirits are to sense) so above us, or alien to us, as to be out of the Orb of our perception. 2. That they have a percepti­ble Quantity, Magnitude or Degree. 3. That, if it be an Incomplex term and object, and not an Universal of the highest notion, it be hoc aliquid, and have its proper Indi­viduation. 4. That it have some special distinct conformity to the distinct perceiving faculty. In sum, that it be Ens, Unum, Verum, Bonum, vel hisce contraria reductivè & per accidens cognita.

2. To the extrinsick Conditions, it is necessary, 1. That the Object have a due site or position. 2. And a due distance; neither too near, nor too far off. 3. And that it have a due medium, fitted to it and to the faculty. 4. And that it have a due abode or stay, and be not like a Bullet out of a Gun, imperceptible through the celerity of its motion.

VI. That the perception of sense be certain, it is necessa­ry, 1. That the Organ be sound, in such a measure as that no prevalent Distemper undispose it. 2. That it be not op­pressed by any disturbing adjunct. 3. That the sensitive Soul do operate on and by these Organs: For else its alie­nation will leave the Organ useless: As some intense medi­tations make us not hear the Clock. 4. That it be the due Sense and Organ which meeteth with the Object; as sounds with the Ear, light with the Eye, &c. besides the foresaid necessaries.

VII. Common Notitiae or Principles are not so called, be­cause [Page 33] men are born with the Actual Knowledge of them; But because they are truths, which mans mind is naturally so disposed to receive as that upon the first exercises of Sense and Reason, some of them are understood, without any other humane teacher.

VIII. Even self-evident Principles are not equal, but some of them are more, and some less evident. And therefore some sooner, and some later known. And some of them are more commonly known than others.

IX. The self evidence of these Principles ariseth from the very nature of the Intellect which inclineth to Truth, and the Nature of the Will which essentially inclineth to Good, and the Nature and Posture of the Objects, which are Truth and Goodness in the most evident position, compared together, or Conjunct; some call it Instinct.

X. It is not necessary to the certainty of a Principle, that it be commonly known of all or most. For Intellects have great Variety of Capacities, Excitation, Helps, Improvements, and even Principles have various degrees of evidence, and ap­pearances to men.

XI. Mans mind is so conscious of its own darkness and imperfections, that it is distrustful of its own Inferences un­less they be very Near and Clear. When by a long Series of Ergo's any thing is far fetcht, the mind is afraid there may be some unperceived error.

XII. He therefore that holdeth a true Principle as such, and at once a false inference which contradicteth it, is to be supposed to hold the principle first and fastest, and that if he saw the Contradiction he would let go the consequent, and not the principle.

XIII. He that denieth the certainty of Sense, Imagination, and Intellective perception of things sensed as such, doth make it impossible to have any certainty of Science or Faith about those same Objects but by miracle. And therefore the Pa­pists denying and renouncing all these (Sense, Imagination [Page 34] and Intellective perception,) when they say, that there is no Bread nor Wine in the Sacrament, do make their pretended contrary Faith impossible. For we are men before we are Christians, and we have Sense and Intellects, before we have faith. And as there is no Christianity but on supposition of humanity, so there is no Faith, but on supposition of sense and understanding. How know you that here is no Bread and Wine? Is it because Scripture or Councils say so? How know you that? By Hearing or Reading? But how know you that ever you did hear or read or see a Book or Man? By sense or no way! If sense be fallible here, why not there? You'l say that sense may be fallible in one case, and not in o­thers. I answer, either you prove it infallible from Nature, even by Sense and Intellective perception of and by sense, or else by supernatural Revelation. If only by this Revela­tion, how know you that Revelation? How know you that ever you heard, read or saw any thing which you call Re­velation. If by a former Revelation, I ask you the same que­stion in infinitum. But if you know the certainty of Sense by Sense and Intellective perception, then where there is the same evidence and perception, there is the same certainty. But here is as full Evidence and Perception as any other Object can have. 1. We see Bread and Wine. 2. We tast it. 3. We smell the Wine. 4. We hear it poured out. 5. We feel it. 6. We find the effects of it; It refresheth and nourisheth as other Bread and Wine. 7. It doth so by any other creature as well as by a man. 8. It corrupteth. 9. It becometh true flesh and blood in us, and a part of our bodies; Even in the worst: Yea part of the body of a Mouse or Dog. 10. It's pos­sible for a Mouse or Dog to live only upon consecrated Bread and Wine. Is his body then nothing but Christ. 11. In all this perception the Objects are not rare, but commonly exhibited in all ages; They have all the Conditions that other sensible evident objects have, as to site, magnitude, distance, medium. 12. And it is not one or two, but all men [Page 35] in the World of the soundest senses, who sense and perceive them to be Bread and Wine. So that here is as full evi­dence as the words which you read or hear can have to ascer­tain us.

Obj. But if God deny sense in this case and not in others, we must believe sense in others and not in this.

Ans. But again I ask you, How you know that God bid­deth or forbiddeth you any thing, if sense be not first to be be­lieved?

Obj. But is it not possible for sense to be deceived? Cannot God do it?

Ans. 1. It is possible for sense to be annihilated, and made no sense; and it is possible that the Faculty or Organ, or Medium, or Object, be depraved, or want its due condi­tions, and so to be deceived. But to retain all these due Conditions, and yet to be deceived is a Contradiction: For then it is not the same Thing: It is not that which we call now formally Sense and Intellect, or Sensation and Intelle­ction. And Contradictions are not things for Omnipoten­cy to be tryed about. God can make a man to be no Intel­lectual Creature: But thereby he maketh him no man: For to be a man, and not Intellectual, is a contradiction. And so it is to be men, and yet to have no Sense nor Intellect, that can truly perceive sensible Objects as before qualified: There­fore they unman all the World, on pretext of asserting the power of God.

2. But suppose that all Sense be fallible, and Intellection of things sensible, yet it is the first and only entrance of all things sensible into the mind or knowledge of man: And therefore we must take it as God hath given it us, for we can have no surer: No sensible thing is in the Intellect which was not first in the Sense: Whether my Eyes and Ears, and Taste be fallible or not, I am sure I have no other way to perceive their Objects; but by them I must take them and use them as they are. All the words and definitions in the [Page 36] World will not give any man without sensation, a true conception of a sensible Object.

3. Such absurd suppositions therefore are not to be put, [What if God should tell you by his Word, that all the senses of all men are deceived, in one thing, or in all things? would you not believe him?] It is not to be supposed that God will give us all our Senses and Intellective perception by them, to be our discerner of things sensible, and then bid us not be­lieve them, for they are false; unless he told us that all our perceptions are false, and our whole Life is but deceit. And I further answer, if God tell me so, it must be by some word or writing of Man or Angel, or Himself: And how should I know that word but by my sense?

But the great answer which seemeth to satisfie Bellarmine and the rest, is, that sense is no judge of Substances, but of Ac­cidents only; therefore it is not deceived.

But 1. It is false that sense perceiveth not substances: It is not only colour, quantity, figure, which I see, nor on­ly roughness and smoothness which I feel, nor only sweet­ness which I taste; but it is a coloured, extended, figured sub­stance which I see; a rough or smooth substance which I feel, and a sweet substance which I taste: And if the Accident were the only primary object, the Substance is the secondary and cer­tain. Else no one ever saw a Man, a Tree, a Bird, a Plant, the Earth, a Book, or any substance; but only the colour, quantity or figure of them! no man ever felt or touched a Body, but only the Accidents of it.

2. And I pray you tell me how Substances come to the understanding if they were never in the sense: Prove a Sub­stance without sensation as a medium if you can. Do you perceive any Substances Intellectually or not? If not, why pretend you that there are any? if yea, it must be either as Conclusions, or as Intellectual Principles, (which are both Logical complex Objects, and therefore not substances) or as the immediate immaterial objects of Intellection (which [Page 37] is only the Souls own acts) or what is by Analogy gather­ed from them; or else the objects of sense it self. It can be none of the former; therefore it must be the latter: And how can the understanding find that in sense which was ne­ver there?

If it be said that it is there but by Accidents; I answer, 1. That is false, though said by many: I do as immediate­ly touch substance as accidents, though not substance with­out the accidents. 2. Whether it be there by the mediati­on of the accidents, or immediately it self, we are sure that the understanding no otherwise receiveth it, than as the sense transmitteth it; we must know material substance as it is sensed, or not at all.

We see then what a pass this Roman Religion bringeth the World to. That they may be Christians, they must believe (and swear by the Trent Oath) that they are not men; and that they may have Faith, they must renounce their Senses, and that they may be sure Gods Word is true, (and the Churches decrees,) they must be sure that they are sure of nothing; and how then are they sure of that? And while they subvert all the order of Nature in the World, they pre­tend that God can do it, and therefore we are to believe that he doth it, meerly because these Doctors can call themselves the Church, and then can so expound the Scripture. When it is Gods setled order in Nature, that a Man as an Animal shall have Sense to perceive things sensible by, and as a Man shall have understanding to receive from the Imagination and Sense these objects, we must now suppose that God hath quite overturned the course of Nature, either by making sense no sense, or the object no object, or the medium no fit medium; and yet this is to be believed by Men that have nothing but the same senses to tell their understandings that it is written or spoken, or that there is a Man in the World.

Suppose we grant it to be no contradiction, and there­fore a thing that God can do, no man can question but that [Page 38] he must do it as a Miracle, by altering and overturning Na­tures course. And shall we fain, 1. Miracles to become or­dinary things, through all the Churches in the World, and every day in the week or every hour to be done? 2. And Miracles to be made a standing Church Ordinance? 3. And every one in the Church, even all the wicked, and every Mouse that eateth the Host, to be partaker of a Miracle? 4. Yea that every such Man and Mouse, may all the week long live on a continued Miracle, while Accidents without substance do nourish them and turn to Flesh and Blood? 5. And all this ordinary course of Miracles to be wrought at the will of every Priest, be he never so igno­rant or wicked a Man? 6. And yet the same words spoken by the holiest of the Protestant Pastors will not do the Mira­cle. 7. But if a Papist Priest should be unduely ordained, or forge his own orders, sobeit the Church think him truly or­dained, he can do the Miracle. All this must be believed.

And the Plague of all is, all men must be Burnt as Here­ticks, or exterminated, that cannot believe all this, and dis­believe their Senses. And yet worse, all temporal Lords must be dispossest of their Dominions, who will suffer any such to live therein, and not exterminate them.

An Epicure and a sensual Infidel who think man is but of the same species of Brutes, do but unman us, and leave us the Honour of being Animals or Brutes. But the Papists do not leave us this much, but must reduce us to a lower or­der, and teach us to deny our sense it self; and Torment and Kill them that will not do it.

And what is it that must perswade us to all this? Why meerly a Hoc est corpus meum, as expounded by the Councils of Laterane and Trent. And is not Davids [I am a Worm and no Man, Psal. 22.6.] as plain; yea and that in a Prophecy of Christ? Must we believe therefore that neither David nor Christ was a Man, but a Worm? Is not [I am the Vine, and ye are the Branches, Joh. 15.1, 2.] as plain? Must Sense [Page 39] be renounced and ordinary Miracles believed for such words as these?

And doth not Paul call it [Bread] after consecra­tion three times in the three next verses?1 Cor. 11. And is not he as good an expositor of Christs Words as the Coun­cil of Trent?

And when did God work Miracles which were meer ob­jects of belief against sense? Miracles were done as sensible things, thereby to confirm Faith, and that which no sense perceived was not taken for a Miracle.

To conclude, when the Apostle saith, that Flesh and Blood cannot enter into the Kingdom of God, (plainly speaking of them formally as now called, and not as they signify Sin,) and consequently that Christs Body is now in Heaven a Spiritual Body, and not formally Flesh and Blood, yet must the Bread and Wine be turned into his Flesh and Blood on Earth, when he hath none in Heaven?

And by their Doctrine no Baker nor Vintner is secured but that a Priest may come into his Shop or Celler and turn all the Bread and Wine in it, into Christs Body and Blood: yea the whole City or Garrison may thus be deprived of their Bread and Wine, if the Priest intend it: and yet it shall not be so in the Sacrament it self, if the Priest intend it not. But I have staid too long in this.

XIV. Next to the Act of Cogitation and Volition itself, and to the most certain Objects of Sence, there is nothing in all the World so Certain, that is, so Evident to the Intellect, as the Being of God: He being that to the Mind which the Sun is to the Eye, certainliest known, though little of him be known, and no Creature comprehend him.

XV. That God is True is part of our knowing him to be perfect, and to be God; and therefore is most certain.

XVI. That Man is made by God and for God; that we owe him all our Love, Obedience and Praise, that we have all from him, and should please him in the use of all, with [Page 40] many such like, are Notitiae Communes, Certain Verities, received by Nature, some as Principles, and some as such evident conclusions as are not to be doubted of.

XVII. That the Scripture is the Word of God, is a certain Truth, not sensible, nor a Natural Principle; but an Evident conclusion drawn from that Seal or Testimony of the Spirit, Antecedent, Concomitant, Impressed and Consequent; which I have oft opened in other Treatises.

XVIII. That the Scripture is True is a Certain Conclusi­on drawn from the two last mentioned premises, viz. That God is True (Verax) and that the Scripture is his Word.

XIX. Those Doctrines or sayings which are parts of Scrip­ture evidently perceived so to be by Sense and Intellective per­ception, are known to be True, by the same Certainty as the Scripture in general is known to be true.

XX. To conclude, then there are two sorts of Certain Verities in Theology. 1. Natural Principles with their cer­tain consequents. 2. Scripture in General, with all those assertions which are Certainly known to be its parts. And all the rest are to be numbred with uncertainties, except Pro­phetical certainty of Inspiration, which I pass by.

Chap. V.

Of the several Degrees of Certainty.

1. AS Certainty is taken for Truth of Being, it admitteth of no Degrees: All that is True, is equally True.

2. But Certainty of Evidence hath various degrees: none doubteth but there are various degrees of Evidence: all the doubt is whether any but the highest may be called Certainty.

And here let the Reader first remember that the question is but de nomine, of the name, and not the thing. And next, the Evidence is called Certain, because it is Certifying aptitu­dinally. It is apt to certify us.

3. And then the question will be devolved to subjective Certainty, whether it have various degrees. For if it have [Page 41] so, then the Evidence must be said to have so, because it is denominated respectively from the Apprehensive Certainty.

And here de re it must be taken as agreed, 1. That Cer­tainty is a certain Degree of apprehension. 2. That there are various degrees of apprehension. 3. That no Man on Earth hath a perfect Intellectual apprehension, at least, of things Moral and Spiritual. For his apprehension, may be still in­creased, and those in Heaven have perfecter than we.

4. That there are some degrees so low and doubtful, as are not fit to be called Certainty.

5. That even these lowest degrees with the greatest doubt­ing, are yet often True apprehensions: and whenever they are True they are Infallible, that is, not deceived: Therefore this Infallibility, which is but, not to be deceived, is indeed one sort of Certainty, which is so denominated Relatively from the natural Truth or Certainty of the object: But it is not this sort of Certainty which we enquire after.

6. Therefore it followeth that this subjective certainty, containeth this Infallible Truth of perception, and addeth a degree which consisteth in the satisfaction of the mind.

7. But if the mind should be never so confident and sa­tisfied of a falshood, this deserveth not the name of Certainty, because it includeth not Truth. For it is a Certain perception of Truth which we speak of; and Confident erring is not Certainty of the Truth.

8. As therefore the degrees of doubting are variously o­vercome, so there must needs be various degrees of Cer­tainty.

9. When doubting is so far overcome, as that the mind doth find rest and satisfaction in the Truth, it may be call­ed Certainty. But when doubting is either prevalent, and so troublesome as to leave us wavering, it is not called Cer­tainty.

10. It is not the forgetting or neglect of a difficulty or doubt, nor yet the wills rejecting it, which is properly called Cer­tainty. [Page 42] This quieteth the mind indeed, but not by the way of ascertaining Evidence. Therefore ignorant people that stumble upon a truth by chance with confidence, are not therefore Certain of it. And those that take it upon trust from a Priest or their Parents, or good peoples Opinion, are not therefore Certain of it. Nor they that say as some Papists, [Faith hath not evidence, but is a Voluntary reception of the Churches Testimony, and meritorious, because it hath not Evidence: Therefore though I see no cogent Evidence, I will be­lieve, because it is my duty.] Whether this mans Faith may be saving or no, I will not now dispute; but certainly it is no Certainty of apprehension. He is not Certain of what he so believeth. This is but to cast away the doubt or difficulty, and not at all by Certainty to overcome it. 11. When a man hath attained a satisfying degree of perception, he is ca­pable still of clearer perception. Even as when in the heat­ing of water, after all the sensible cold is gone, the water may grow hotter and hotter still. So after all sensible doubt­ing is gone, the perception may go clearer still. 12. But still the Objective Certainty is the same; that is, There is that Evidence in the object which is in suo genere sufficient to notifie the thing to a prepared mind. 13. But this suffi­ciency is a respective proportion; and therefore, as it respecteth mans mind in common, it supposeth that by due means and helps, and industry, the mind may be brought certainly to discern this Evidence. But if you denominate the sufficiency of the Evidence, from its respect to the present disposition of mens minds, so it is almost as various as mens minds are. For recipitur ad modum recipientis; and that is a certifying suf­ficient Evidence of truth, to one man, which to a thousand others, is not so much as an Evidence of probability. There­fore mediate and immediate sufficiency and certainty of Evi­dence, must be distinguished.

From all this I may infer, 1. That though God be the Original and End of all Verities, and is ever the First in ordi­ne [Page 43] essendi & efficiendi, and so à Jove principium, in methodo syntheticâ; yet he is not the primum notum, the first known, in ordine cognoscendi, nor the beginning in methodo inquisiti­vâ (though in such Analytical methods as begin at the ulti­mate end, he is also the first.) Though all truth and evidence be from God, yet two things are more evident to man than God is, and but two: viz. 1. The present evident objects of sense. 2. Our own internal Acts, of Intellective Cogitati­on and Volition. And these being supposed the Being of God is the third evident Certainty in the World.

2. If it be no disparagement to God himself, that he is less certainly known of us, than sensibles, and our Internal acts, (de esse) it is then no disparagement to the Scripture, and supernatural Truths, that they are less certainly known: Seeing they have not so clear evidence as the Being of God hath.

3. The certainty of Scripture Truths, is mixt of almost all other kinds of certainty conjunct. 1. By sense and In­tellective perception of things sensed, the Hearers and See­ers of Christ and his Apostles, knew the words and Mira­cles. 2. By the same sense we know what is written in the Bible, and in Church History concerning it, and the at­testing matters of Fact: And also what our Teachers say of it. 3. By certain Intellectual inference I know that this History of the words and fact is true. 4. By Intellection of a natural principle I know that God is true. 5. By inference I know that all his Word is true. 6. By sense I know (In­tellectually receiving it by sense) that this or that is written in the Bible, and part of that word. 7. By further infe­rence therefore I know that it is true. 8. By Intuitive know­ledge, I am certain that I have the Love of God, and Hea­venly desires, and a Love of holiness, and hatred of sin, &c. 9. By certain inference I know that this is the special work of the Spirit of Christ by his Gospel Doctrine. 10. By ex­perience I find the predictions of this Word fulfilled. 11. [Page 44] Lastly, By Inspiration the Prophets and Apostles knew it to be of God. And our certain Belief ariseth from divers of these, and not from any one alone.

5. There are two extreams here to be avoided, and both held by some not seeing how they contradict themselves.

I. Of them that say that Faith hath no Evidence, but the merit of it lyeth in that we believe without Evidence. Those that understand what they say, when they use these words, mean that Things evident to sense, as such, that is, Incomplex sensible objects are not the objects of Faith. We live by Faith and not by sight. God is not visible: Heaven and its Glo­ry, Angels and perfected Spirits are not visible. Future Events, Christs coming, the Resurrection, Judgment, are not yet visible: It doth not yet appear (that is, to sense) what we shall be. Our Life is hid (from our own and o­thers senses) with Christ in God. We see not Christ when we rejoice in him with joy unspeakable, and full of glory.1 Pet. 1.8. Heb. 11.1. Thus Faith is the evidence of things not seen, or evident to sight. But ignorant Persons have turned all to another sense; as if the objects of Faith had no ascertaining Intellectual Evidence. When as it is impossible for mans mind to understand and believe any thing to be true, without perceiving evidence of its truth; as it is for the Eye to see without Light. As Rich. Hooker saith in his Eccl. Pol. Let men say what they will, men can truly believe no further than they perceive Evi­dence. It is a natural Impossibility: For Evidence is no­thing but the perceptibility of the Truth: And can we per­ceive that which is not perceptible?

It's true that evidence from Divine Revelation is oft without any Evidence ex natura rei: But it may be never­theless a fuller and more satisfying evidence.

Some say there is Evidence of Credibility, but not of Cer­tainty. Not of natural Certainty indeed. But in Divine Reve­lations (though not in humane) evidence of Credibility, is [Page 45] Evidence of Certainty, because we are certain that God can­not lie.

And to say, I will believe, though without Evidence of Truth, is a contradiction or hypocritical self-deceit. For your will believeth not. And your understanding receiveth no Truth but upon evidence that it is Truth. It acteth of itself per modum naturae, necessarily further than it is sub imperio Voluntatis; And the will ruleth it not despotically; Nor at all quoad Specificationem, but only quoad exercitium. All therefore that your will can do (which maketh Faith a moral Virtue) is to be free from those vicious habits and acts in itself which may hinder faith, and to have those holy dispositions and acts in itself which may help the understanding to do its proper Office, (which is to believe evident truth on the testimony of the revealer, because his Testimony is sufficient Evidence. The true meaning of a good Christian, when he saith, I will believe, is, I am truly willing to believe, and a perverse will shall not hinder me, and I will not think of suggestions to the contrary. But the meaning of the formal hypocrite when he saith, I will believe, is, I will cast away all doubtful thoughts out of my mind, and I will be as careless as if I did believe, or I will believe the Priest or my Party, and call it a believing God. Evidence is an essentiating part of the In­tellects act. As there is no Act, without an Object, so there is no object sub formali ratione objecti, without evidence. Even as there is no sight but of an Illustrated object, that is, A visi­ble object.

II. The other extream (of some of the same men) is, that yet Faith is not true and certain if it have any doubtfulness with it. Strange! That these men cannot only see what is invisi­ble; Believe what is inevident as to its truth, that is, incredi­ble, but also believe past all doubting, and think that the weakest true believer doth so too! Certainly there are va­rious degrees of faith in the sincere. All have not the same strength! Christ rebuketh Peter in his fears, and his disci­ples [Page 46] all at other times, for their little faith: When Peters faith failed not, it staggered, which Abrahams did not:Rom. 4. Lord increase our Faith, and Lord, I believe, help my unbelief, were prayers approved by Christ. I will call a prevalent belief which can lay down Life and all this world for Christ and the hopes of Heaven, by the name of certainty (which hath various degrees.) But if they differ de nomine, and will call nothing certainty but the highest degree, they must needs yet grant that there is true saving faith that reacheth to no certainty in their sense. Yea no man on Earth then attaineth to such a certainty, because that every mans faith is imperfect.

To conclude. Though all Scripture in itself (that is in­deed the true Canon) be equally true, yet all is not equally certain to us, as not having equal evidence that it is Gods word. But of that in the next Chapter of the uncertainties.

Chap. 6.

What are the unknown things, and uncertainties, which we must not pretend a certain knowledge of.

SOmewhat of this is said already, Cap. 3. But I am here to come to more particular instances of it. But because that an enumeration would be a great Volume of it self, I shall begin with the more general, that I may be excused in most of the rest; or mention only some particulars under them as we go.

I. A very great, if not the far greatest part of that part of Philosophy called Physicks, is uncertain (or certainly false) as it is delivered to us in any methodist that I have yet seen; whether Platonists, Peripateticks, Epicureans, (the Stoicks have little, but what Seneca gives us, and Barlaam Collect­eth, I know not whence, as making up their Ethicks, and what in three or four Ethical writers is also brought in on the by, and what Cicero reporteth of them) or in our Nove­lists, Patricius, Telesius, Campanella, Thomas White, Digby, [Page 47] Cartesius, Gassendus, &c. Except those whose modesty caus­eth them to say but little, and to avoid the uncertainties; or confess them to be uncertainties. To enumerate instances would be an unseasonable digression. Gassendus is large in his Confessions of uncertainties. I think not his Brother Hobs, and his second Spinosa worth the naming. Nor the Paracelsians and Helmontians as giving us a new Philosophy, but only as adding to the old. There needs no other testimony of uncertainty to a man that hath not studied the points him­self, than their lamentable difference, and confutation of each other, in so many, very many things; even in the great Principles of the Science.

Yet here no doubt, there are certainties, innumerable certainties, such as I have before described. We know something certainly of many things, even of all sensible objects. But we know nothing perfectly and comprehensively, not a worm, not a Leaf, not a Stone, or a Sand, not the Pen, Ink or Paper, which we write with; not the hand that writeth, nor the smallest particle of our bodies; not a hair or the least acci­dent. In every thing nearest us, or in the world, the uncer­tainties and incognita are far more than that which we cer­tainly know.

II. If I should enumerate to you the many uncertainties in our common Metaphysicks, (yea about the Being of the Science) and our common Logick, &c. It would seem un­suitable to a Theological discourse. And yet it would not be unuseful, among such Theologues as the Schoolmen, who re­solve more of their doubts by Aristotle than by the Holy Scriptures; doubtless, as Aristotles Predicaments are not fit­ted to the kinds of beings, so many of his distributions and orders, yea and precepts are arbitrary. And as he left room and reason for the dissent of such as Taurellus, Carpenter, Jac­chaeus, Gorlaeus, Ritschel, and abundance more, so have they also for mens dissent from them. Even Ramus hath more adversaries than followers. Gassendus goeth the right way, [Page 48] by suiting verba rebus, if he had hit righter on the nature of things themselves. Most novel Philosophers are fain to make new Grammars and new Logicks, for words and notions, to fit their new conceptions, as Campanella, and the Paracelsi­ans, Helmontians, (and if you will name the Behmenists, Rosicrucians, Weigelians, &c.) Lullius thought he made the most accurate Art of notions; and he did indeed attempt to fit words to things: but he hath mist of a true accomplish­ment of his design, for want of a true method of Physicks in his mind, to fit his words to. As Cornelius, Agrippa, See a book writ­ten long since this called the Samaritan of ex­cellent use, by Mr. Jones of Suf­folk. who is one of his chief commentators, yet freely confesseth in his lib. de Vanitate Sci­entiarum, which now I think of; I will say no more of this, but desire the Reader to peruse that laudable book, and with it to read San­chez his Nihil Scitur, to see uncertainty detected, so he will not be led by it too far into Scepticism. As also Mr. Glanviles Scepsis Scientifica.

As for the lamentable uncertainties in Medicine, the poor world payeth for it. Anatomy as being by ocular inspection hath had the best improvement; And yet what a multitude of uncertainties remain? Many thousands years have milli­ons yearly died of Feavers, and the medicating them is a great part of the Physicians work; and yet I know not that ever I knew the man, that certainly knew what a Feaver is. I crave the pardon of the Masters of this noble art for saying it; It is by dear experience that I have learnt how little Physicians know; having passed through the tryal of above thirty of them on my own Body long ago, meerly induced by a conceit that they knew more than they did, and most that I got was but the ruine of my own body, and this ad­vice to leave to others, [Highly value those few excellent men, who have quick and deep conjecturing apprehensions, great read­ing and greater Experience, and Sober, Careful, Deliberating minds, and had rather do too little than too much: But use them [Page 49] in a due conjunction with your own experience of your self: But for the rest, how Learned soever, whose heads are dull, or temper precipitant, or apprehensions hasty or superficial, or read­ing small, but especially that are young, or of small experience, love and honour them, but use them as little as you can, and that only as you will use an honest ignorant Divine, whom you will gladly hear upon the certain Catechistical Principles, but love not to hear him meddle with Contro­versies. So use these men in common easie cases, if neces­sary, and yet there the less the better, lest they hinder na­ture that would Cure the Disease. If you dislike my coun­sel, you may be shortly past blaming it; for though their successes have Tongues, their miscarriages are mostly silent in the Grave. O how much goeth to make an able Physi­cian? But enough of such instances.

III. But though Errors in Politicks the World payeth yet much dearer for, I must not be too bold in talking here. But I will confess that here the uncertainties are almost all in the Applicatory part, and through the incapacity of the minds of men: For the truth is the main Principles of Po­licy are part of the Divine Law, and of true Morality, and in themselves are plain, and of a satisfying Certainty, could you but get mens heads and hearts into a fitness duely to con­sider and receive them.

IV. But to come nearer to our own profession, there is much uncertainty in those Theological Conclusions, which are built on such premises, where any one of these Physical, Metaphysical or Logical Uncertainties are a part; yea, though it be couched in the narrowest room, even in one ambigu­ous term of Art, and scarce discerned by any but accurate observers. With great pomp and confidence many proceed to their Ergo's, when the detection of the fraud not only of an uncertain Medium, but of one ambiguous syllable, will marr all. And the conclusion can be no stronger or furer, than the more weak and doubtful of the premises.

[Page 50]V. When the Subject is of small and abstruse parts, far from the Principles and Fundamentals of the Matter, usually the Conclusions are uncertain. Nature in all matters be­ginneth with some few great and master parts, like the great boughs or limbs of the Tree, or the great Trunks and Ma­ster Vessels in our bodies; and from thence spring branches, which are innumerable and small: And it is so in all Sciences, and in Theology it self. The great Essential and Chief Inte­gral parts, are few, and easily discerned: But two grand Impe­diments hinder us from a Certain knowledge in the rest: one is the great Number of Particles, where the understand­ing is lost, and, as they say, seeketh a Needle in a bottle of Hay, or a leaf in a Wood; and the other is the Littleness of the thing, which maketh it undiscernible to any but ac­curate and studious minds. And therefore how much soever men that trade in little things, may boast of the sublimity of them, and their own subtilty, their perceptions usually are accompanied with uncertainty; though in some cases an uncertain knowledge, known to be so, is better than none.

VI. Yea, though the Matters themselves may be more bulky, yet if in knowing and proving them, we must go through a great number of Syllogisms and Inferences, usually the conclusion is very uncertain to us, whatever it may be to an extraordinary accurate and prepared mind: For 1. We shall be still jealous (or may be) lest in so many terms and mediums some one of them should be fallacious and insufficient, and weaken all. And we are so conscious of our own weakness, and liableness to forget, oversee or be mistaken, that we shall or may still fear lest we have mist it, and be overseen in something, in so long a course and series of arguings.

VII. Those parts of History which depend meerly on the credit of Mens Wisdom and Honesty, and so are meerly of Hu­mane Faith, must needs be uncertain. For the conclusion [Page 51] can be no surer than the premises, All men as such are liars, that is, untrusty, or such as possibly may deceive. 1. They may be deceived themselves. 2. And they may deceive others where they are not themselves deceived. Every man hath some Passion, some Ignorance, some Error, some Sel­fish interest and some Vice. This age, if we never had known other instance, is so sad a proof of this, that tears are fitter than words to express it, most confident reporters to­tally differ about the most notorious matters of Fact. I must not name them, but I pity strangers and posterity. If it come especially to the characterizing of others, how or­dinarily do men speak as they are affected? And they are affected as self-interest and passion leadeth them, with Cochlaeus, Bolseck, and such others, what villains were Luther, Zwin­glius, Calvin, &c. with their faithfullest acquaintance; what Good and Holy men (saving Luthers animosity?) If the In­quisitors Torment Protestants, or Burn them, is it not ne­cessary that they call them by such odious names as may justify their fact? If they banish and silence faithful, holy, able, Ministers, they must accuse them of some villanies which may make them seem worthy of the punishment, and un­worthy to Preach the Gospel of Christ! what different characters did Constantius and Valens and their party on one side, and Athanasius and the Orthodox on the other side, give of one another? What different characters were given of Chrysostom? How differently do Hunnerichus and Genseri­cus on one side, and Victor Uticensis and other Historians on the other side, describe the Bishops and Christians of Africk, that then suffered? They were Traytors and Rebels, and Rogues, and Enemies to the King, and Hereticks to Hunne­richus: But to others, they are Holy blameless Men, and those were Tyrants and Hereticks that Persecuted them. What difference between the Histories of the orthodox, and that of Philostorgius, and Sondius? What different Characters do Eusebius and Eunapius give of Constantine? and Eunapius [Page 52] and Hilary, &c. give of Julian? What different Characters are given of Hildebrand on one side, and of the Emperours Henrys on the other side, by the many Historians who follow­ed the several parts? How false must a great number of the Historians on one side be? I know that this doth not make all Humane Faith and History useless. It hath its degree of credibility answerable to its use. And a wise man may much conjecture whom to believe. 1. A Man that (like Thuanus) sheweth modesty and impartiality, even towards Dissenters. 2. A man that had no notable interest to byas him. 3. A man that manifesteth otherways true honesty and conscience. 4. Supposing that he was himself upon the place, and a competent Witness.

But there is little or no Credit to be given, 1. To a factious, furious railer. 2. To one that was a flatterer of Great Men, or depended on them for preferment, or lived in fear of speaking the truth, or that speaketh for the inter­est of his Riches and Honour in the World; or for his en­gaged personal reputation, or that hath espoused the inte­rest of a sect or faction. 3. There is little credit to be given to any Knave and Wicked Man. He that dare be Drunk, and Swear and Curse, and be a Fornicator or covetous Worldling, dare Lie for his own Ends. 4. Nor to the ho­nestest man that taketh things by rumours, hear-say and un­certain reports, and knoweth not the things themselves.

But how shall strangers and posterity know when they read a History, whether the Writer was an honest Man or a Knave? A man of credit, or an impudent Liar? Both may be equal in confident asserting, and in the plausibility of the narrative. Meer humane belief therefore must be un­certain.

From whence we see the pitiful case of the subjects of the King of Rome (for so I must rather call him than a Bi­shop.) Why doth a Lay-man believe Transubstantiation, or any other Article of their Faith? Because the Church faith [Page 53] it is Gods Word. What is the Church that saith so? It is a faction of the Popes, perhaps at Laterane, or forty of his Prelates at the Conventicle of Trent. How doth he know that these men do not lie? Because God promised that Pe­ters Faith should not fail, and the Gates of Hell should not prevail against the Church; and the Spirit should lead the Apostles into all truth. But how shall he know that this Scripture is Gods Word? And also that it was not a total failing, rather than a failing in some degree that Peter was by that promise freed from? Or that the Spirit was pro­mised to these Prelates which was promised to the Apostles? Why, because these Prelates say so! And how know they that they say true? Why, from Scripture, as before.

But let all the rest go. How knoweth the Lay-man that ever the Church made such a decree? That ever the Bishops of that Council were lawfully called? That they truely re­presented all Christs Church on Earth? That this or that Doctrine is the decree of a Council, or the sence of the Church indeed? Why, because the Priest tells him so. But how knoweth he that this Priest saith true, or a few more that the man speaketh with: there I leave you: I can answer no further; but must leave the credit of Scripture, Council and each particular Doctrine, on the credit of that poor single Priest, or the few that are his companions. The Lay-man knoweth it no otherwise.

Q. But is not the Scripture it self then, shaken by this, see­ing the History of the Canon and incorruption of the Books, &c. dependeth on the word of Man?

Ans. No. 1. I have elsewhere fully shewed how the Spi­rit hath sealed the substance of the Gospel. 2. And even the matters of fact are not of meer humane Faith. For meer hu­mane Faith depends on the meer honesty of the reporter: but this Historical Faith dependeth partly on Gods attesta­tion, and partly on Natural proofs. 1. God did by Miracles attest the reports of the Apostles and first Churches, 2. The [Page 54] consent of all History since, that these are the same writings which the Apostles wrote, hath a Natural Evidence above bare humane Faith. For I have elsewhere shewed, that there is a concurrence of humane report or a consent of histo­ry, which amounteth to a true Natural Evidence, the Will having its Nature and some necessary acts, and nothing but necessary ascertaining causes, could cause such concurrence. Such Evidence we have that K. James, Q. Elizabeth, Q. Mary, lived in England: that our Statute books contain the true Laws, which those Kings and Parliaments made whom they are ascribed to. For they could not possibly rule the Land, and over-rule all mens interests, and be plead­ed at the Bar, &c. without contradiction and detection of the fraud, if they were forgeries: (though it's possible that some words in a Statute Book may be misprinted. There is in this a Physical Certainty in the consent of men, and it depends not as humane Faith, upon the honesty of the reporter; but Knaves and Liars, have so consented, whose interests and occasions are cross, and so is it in the case of the history of the Scripture Books: which were read in all the Churches through the World, every Lords day, and contenders of various opinions took their Salvation to be concerned in them.

VIII. Those things must needs be uncertain to any man, as to a particular Faith or Knowledge, which are more in number than he may possibly have a distinct understanding of; or can examine their Evidence whether they be cer­tain or not. For instance the Roman Faith containeth all the Doctrinal decrees, and their Religion also all the Pra­ctical decrees of all the approved General Councils, (that is, of so much as pleased the Pope, such power hath he to make his own Religion.) But these General Councils (ad­ded to all the Bible, with all the Apocrypha) are so large, that it is not possible for most men to know what is in them. So that if the question be whether this or that Doctrine be [Page 55] the Word of God, and the proof of the affirmative is, be­cause it is decreed by a General Council, this must be un­certain to almost all men, who cannot tell whether it be so decreed or no: Few Priests themselves knowing all that is in all those Councils: So that if they knew that all that is in the Councils is Gods Word; they know never the more whether this or that Doctrine (e. g. the immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, &c.) be the Word of God. And if a Heathen knew that all that is in the Bible is the Word of God, and knew not a word what is in it, would this make him a Christian or Saint him?

You may object, that most Protestants also know not all that is in the Scripture. Ans. True; nor any one. And therefore Protestants say not that all that is in the Scripture is necessary to be known to Salvation, but they take their Religion to have essential parts, and integral parts and acci­dents. And so they know how far each is necessary. But the Papists deride this distinction, and because all truths are equally true, they would make men believe that all are e­qually Fundamental or Essential to Christianity: But this is only when they dispute against us; at other times they say otherwise themselves, when some other interest leads to it, and so cureth this impudency.

It were worthy the enquiry whether a Papist take all the Bible to be Gods Word, and de fide, or only so much of it as is contained particularly in the decrees of Councils? If the latter, then none of the Scripture was de fide, or to be particularly believed for above 300 years, before the Council of Nice. If the former, then is it as necessary to Salvation to know how old Henoch was, as to know that Jesus Christ is our Saviour?

IX. Those things must needs be uncertain which depend upon such a number of various circumstances as cannot be certainly known themselves. For instance, the common rule by which the Papist Doctors do determine what parti­cular [Page 56] Knowledge and Faith are necessary to Salvation, is that so many truths are necessary as are sufficiently propounded to that person to be known and believed. But no man living, learned nor unlearned, can tell what is necessary to the sufficiency of this proposal. Whether it be sufficient, if he be told it in his Childhood only, and at what Age? Or if he be told it but once, or twice, or thrice, or how oft? whe­ther by a Parent or Layman that can not tell him what is in the Councils? or by a Priest that never read the Coun­cils? and whether the variety of natural capacities, bodily temperaments, education and course of Life before, do not make as great variety of proportions to be necessary to the sufficiency of this Proposal? And what mortal man can tru­ly take the measure of them? And how then can any man be Certain what those points are which are necessary for him to believe?

X. Those things are uncertain which depend upon an uncertain Author or Authority. For instance, the Roman faith dependeth on the exposition of the Scriptures by the consent of the Fathers, and on the Tradition of the Church, and the decrees of an authorized Council. And here is in all this, little but uncertainties.

1. It is utterly uncertain who are to be taken for Fathers, and who not. Whether Origen, Tatianus, Arnobius, Lactanti­us, Tertullian, and many such, be Fathers or not. Whether such a man as Theophilus Alexandrinus, or Chrysostom was the Father, when they condemned each other. Whether such as are justly suspected of Heresy, (as Eusebius) or such as the Ro­manists have cast suspicions on (as Lucifer Calaritanus called a Heretick, Socrates, Sozomens falsly called Novatians, Hilary, Arelatensis Condemned by the Pope Leo, and Claud. Turo­vens. Rupertus Tuitiens. and such others.) When the ancients renounced each others Communion, (as Martin did by I­thacius and Idacius and their Synod,) when they describe one another as stark Knaves, as Socrates doth Theophil. Alex­andrin. [Page 57] and Sulpitius Severus doth Ithacius, which of them were the Fathers.

2. How shall we know certainly which are the true un­corrupted writings of these Fathers among so many forgeries and spurious Scripts?

3. How shall it be known what exposition the Fathers con­sented on, when not one of a multitude, and but few in all have commented on any considerable parts of the Scripture, and those few so much often differ?

4. When in the Doctrine of the Trinity it self Petavius largely proveth that most of the writers of the three first Centuries after the Apostles were unsound, and others con­fess the same about the Millennium, the corporeity of Angels and of the Soul, and divers other things; doth their consent bind us to believe them? If not, how shall we know in what to believe their consent, according to this Rule?

2. And as to the Church, they are utterly disagreed among themselves, what that Church is which hath this authority.

1. Whether the Pope alone. 2. Or the Pope with a Pro­vincial Council. 3. Or the Pope with a General Council. 4. Or a General Council without the Pope. 5. Or the uni­versality of Pastors. 6. Or the universality of the people with them.

3. And for a Council. 1. There is no certainty what number of Bishops, and what consent of the Comprovincial Clergy is necessary to make them the true representatives of any Church. 2. And more uncertain in what Council the Bishops had such consent. 3. And uncertain whether the Popes approbation be necessary. (The great Councils of Constance and Basil determining the contrary.) 4. And uncertain which were truly approved. 5. And most cer­tain that there never was any General Council in the world (unless you will call the Apostles a General Council) but only General Councils of the Clergy of one Empire (with now and then a stragling Neighbour,) even as we [Page 58] have General Assemblies and Convocations in this Kingdom: And who can be certain of that faith which dependeth upon all, or any of these uncertainties?

XI. That must needs be an uncertainty which dependeth on the unknown thoughts of another man. For instance, with the Papists the Priests intention, which is the secret of his heart, is necessary to the being of Baptism, and Transub­stantiation. And so no man can be certain whether he or any other man be baptized or not. Nor whether it be Bread or Christs Body which he eateth. We confess that it is necessa­ry to the being of a Sacrament, that the Minister do seem or profess to intend it as a Sacrament; But if the reality of his intent be necessary to the being of it, no man can be certain that ever he had a Sacrament.

XII. It is a hard thing to be certain on either side, in those controversies which have multitudes, and in a manner equal strength, of Learned, Judicious, Well-studyed, Godly, Impartial men for each part. I deny not but one clear-headed man, may be certain of that which a multitude are uncertain of, and oppose him in. But it must not be ordinary men, but some rare illuminated person, that must get above a pro­bability, unto a Certainty, of that which such a company as aforesaid are of a contrary mind in.

XIII. There is great uncertainty in matters of private im­pulse. When a man hath nothing to prove a thing to be Gods will, but an inward perswasion or impulse in his own Breast, let it never so vehemently incline him to think it true, it's hard to be sure of it. For we know not how far Satan or our own distempered Phantasies may go. And most by far that pretend to this, do prove deceived. That which must be certain, must be somewhat equal to Prophetical Inspi­ration. Which indeed is its own Evidence: But what that is, no man can formally conceive but he that hath had it. Therefore we are bid to Try the Spirits.

[Page 59]XIV. It is a hard thing to gather certainties of Doctrinal conclusion from Gods Providences alone. Providential changes have their great use, as they are the fulfilling or execution of the word. But they that will take them instead of the Scripture, do usually run into such mistakes, as are rectifyed to their cost, by some contrary work of Providence ere long. These times have fully taught us this.

XV. It is hard to gather Doctrinal certainties from Godly mens Experiences alone. Even our Experimental Philoso­phers and Physicians find, that an experiment that hits oft­times, quite misseth afterwards on other Subjects, and they know not why. A course of effects may oft come from un­known causes. And it's no rare thing for the common Pre­judices, Selfconceitedness, or corruption of the weaker and greater number of good people, which needeth great repen­tance and a cure, to be mistaken, for the Communis Sensus Fidelium, the Inclination and Experience of the Godly. Espe­cially when consent or the honour of their Leaders or Them­selves hath engaged them in it. In my time, the common sense of the strictest sort was against long hair, and taking Tobacco and other such things, which now their common practice is for. In one Countrey the common consent of the strictest party is for Arminianism. In another they are zea­lously against it. In Poland where the Socinians are for sit­ting at the Sacrament, the Godly are generally against it. In other places they are for it. In Poland and Bohemia where they had holy, humble, perswading Bishops, the generality of the Godly were for that Episcopacy, as were all the ancient Churches, even the Novatians: But in other places it is o­therwise. So that it's hard to be certain of Truth or Error, Good or Evil, by the meer Consent, Opinion or Experience of any.

XVI. But the last and great instance is, that in the holy Scriptures themselves, there is a great inequality in point of Certainty, yea many parts of them have great uncertainty; Even these that follow.

[Page 60]I. Many hundred Texts are uncertain through various Readings in several Copies of the Original. I will not mul­tiply them on Capellus his opinion. Though Claud. Saravius (Who got the Book Printed) and other worthy men ap­prove it. I had rather there were fewer Varieties, and there­fore had rather think there are fewer. But these that can­not be denied must not be denied: Nor do I think it fit, to gather the discrepancies of every odd Copy and call them Various readings. [...]ut it is past denial that the world hath no one ancient Copy which must be the Rule or Test of all the rest, and that very many Copies are of such equal credit, as that no man living can say that this, and not that where they differ hath the very words of the Holy-Ghost; And that e­ven in the New Testament alone the differences or various Readings, of which no man is able to say which is the right, are so great a number as I am not willing to give every rea­der an account of; Even those that are gathered by Stepha­nus and Junius and Brugensis, and Beza, if you leave out all the rest in the appendix to the Polyglot Bible. In all or most of which we are utterly uncertain which Reading is Gods Word.

II. There are many hundred words in the Scriptures that are ambiguous, signifying more things than one; and the con­text in a multitude of places determineth not the proper sense; so that you may with equal Authority translate them either thus or thus: The Margin of your Bibles giveth you no small number of them. It must needs here be uncertain which of them is the Word of God.

III. There are many hundred Texts of Scripture, where the Phrase is General, and may be applyed to more particu­lars than one: In some places the several particulars must be taken as included in the General. (And where there is no necessity, a General Phrase should not be expounded as if it were particular.) But in a multitude of Texts the General is put for the particular, and must be interpreted, but of one [Page 61] sort, and yet the context giveth us no certain determination which particular is meant. This is one of the commonest uncertainties in all the Scriptures. Here it is Gods will that we be uncertain.

IV. In very many passages of the History of Christ, the E­vangelists set both Words and Deeds in Various Orders, one sets this first, and another sets another first. (As in the order of Christs three Temptations, Mat. 4. and Luk. 4. And many such like.) Though it is apparent that Luke doth less observe the order than the rest, yet in many of these cases it is apparent that it was Gods will to notifie to us the Matter only, and not the Order. And that it must needs be uncertain to us, which was first said or done, and which was last.

The same is to be said of the time and place of some speeches of Christ recorded by them.

V. Many of Christs Speeches are re­corded by the Evangelists in various words.It is most probable that Christ and the A­postles then spake in the Chaldee called Hebrew, and so that the four Gospels are but tran­slations of Christs words, and so not the the words, but the sence was Christs: And what wonder then if the translating Evan­gelists use divers words? Even the Lords Prayer it self, Mat. 6. and Luk. 11. Besides that Matthew hath the doxology which Luke hath not (which Grotius and many others think came out of the Greek Liturgy into the Text.) And even in Christs Sermon in the Mount, and in his last Commission to his disci­ples, Mat. 28.18, 19, 20. and Mar. 16. Now in some of these cases (as of the Lords Prayer) it is uncertain whether Christ spake it once or twice: (Though the former is more likely.) In most of them, it is plain that it was the Will of Gods Spirit to give us the true sense of Christs sayings in various words, and not all the very words themselves: For the Evangelists that differ do neither of them speak falsly, and therefore meant not to recite all the very words: If you say that one giveth us the true words and another the true sense, we shall [Page 62] never be certain that this is so, nor which that one is. So that in such cases no man can possibly tell which of them were the very words of Christ.

VI. There are many Texts of the Old Testament recited in the New, where it is uncertain whether that which the Penman intended was an Exposition or Proof of what he said, or only an Allusion to the Phrase of Speech, as if he should say, [I may use such words to express my mind or the matter by.] As Matth. 2.23. He shall be called a Nazarene. So v. 16, 17. Rom. 10.6, 7, 8, 18. and others. I know the Excellent Junius in his Parallels hath said much, and more than any other that I know, to prove them all, or almost all to be expository and probatory Citations: But withal con­fessing that the generality of Ancient and Modern Exposi­tors think otherwise, he thereby sheweth a great uncertain­ty; when he himself saith not that he is Certain of it; and few others thought it probable.

VII. There are many Texts cited in the New Testament out of the Septuagint, where it differeth from the Hebrew: Wherein it is utterly uncertain to us, whether Christ and his Apostles intended to justifie absolutely the translation which they use, or only to make use of it as that which then was known and used for the sake of the sense which it con­tained. If they absolutely justifie it, they seem to condemn the Hebrew, so far as it differeth. If not, why do they use it, and never blame it? It seemeth that Christ would here­by tell us, that the sense is the Gold, and the words but as the Purse; and we need not be over-curious about them, so we have the sence. As if I should use the vulgar Latine, or the Rhemists Translation with the Papist, because he will receive no other.

VIII. There are many Aenigmatical and obscure expressions, which a few Learned men only can probably conjecture at, & few or none be certain of the full sense. If any certainly un­derstand much of the Prophecies in Daniel and the Revelati­ons, [Page 63] it must needs be very few: When Calvin durst not meddle with the latter: And though most of the famous Commentators on the Revelations are such as have peculi­arly made it their Study, and set their minds upon it above all other things, and rejoiced in conceit that they had found out the true sense which others had overseen, (as men do that seek the Philosophers Stone) yet how few of all these are there that agree? And if ten be of nine minds, eight of them at least are mistaken. Franc. du Jon, the Lord Napier, Brightman, Dent, Mede, and my godly Friend Mr. Stephens yet living, (since dead,) with many others, have studied it thus with extraordinary diligence, but with different suc­cesses: And Lyra with other old ones turn all quite ano­ther way. And then come Grotius and Dr. Hammond and contradict both sides, and make it all (saving a few Verses) to have been fulfilled many Ages since. And can the un­learned, or the unstudied part of Ministers then, with any modesty pretend a certainty, where so many and such men differ?

I know it is said, Blessed is he that readeth, Rev. 1.3. and they that hear the words of this Prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: But that proveth no more than 1. That some of it (as ch. 1, 2, 3.) is plain and commonly intelligible. 2. That it is a desirable thing to understand the rest; and worthy mens endeavour in due time and rank; and he that can attain to certainty may be glad of it.

I pass by the darkness of many Types and Prophecies of Christ in the Old Testament, and how little the Jews or the Apostles themselves, till after Christs Resurrection, un­derstood them. With very many other obscurities, which yet are not written in vain, nay, which make up the true perfection of the whole.

IX. There are very many proverbial Speeches in the Scrip­ture, which are not to be understood as the words properly [Page 64] signifie, but as the sense of those Proverbs then was among the Jews. But disuse hath so totally obliterated the know­ledge of the sense of many of them, that no man living can certainly understand them.

X. There are many Texts which have words adapted to the Places, the Animals, the Utensils, the Customs, the Coins, the Measures, the Vegetables, &c. of that place and time, which are some hard, and some impossible now to be cer­tainly understood: And therefore such as Bochart, Salma­sius, Casaubone, Scaliger, &c. have done well to add new Light to our conjectures; but leaving great uncertainty still.

XI. Because the Jewish Law is by Paul plainly said to be ceased or done away, it remaineth very difficult to be cer­tain of abundance of passages in the Old Testament, how far they are obligatory to us? For when they now bind no otherwise than as the continued Law of nature, or as re­assumed by Christ into his special Law, where the latter is not found, in the former there is often insuperable difficul­ty. For most lyeth upon the proof of a parity of Reason, which puts us upon trying cases hardly tryed, unless we knew more of the reason of all those Laws. (As about Vows and Dispensations, Num. 30. about prohibited de­grees of Marriage, and such like; which makes Divines so much differ about the obligation of the Judicials, (of which see Junius vol. 1. p. 1861, &c. de Polit. Mos. observ.) and about Usury, Priesthood, Magistrates power in Reli­gion, and many such.

XII. There are abundance of Texts which only open the substance of the matter in hand to us, and say nothing a­bout abundance of difficulties of the manner, and many cir­cumstances, (as the manner of the Divine influx, and the Spirits operation on the Soul, &c.) And here all that which is unrevealed must needs be unknown.

[Page 65]XIII. There are many Precepts which were local, personal, particular, It is very hard to be sure what the Apostles setled as an Universal perpetual Law, in Church matters, and what they setled only as suited to that time and place by the common rule of doing all to Edification: I will have Mercy and not Sacrifice being a standing Rule, it's hard to plead their use of any Rites a­gainst common good: Per­haps more is mutable than most think. and so temporary, and bind not universally all Persons, at all times afterwards: Such as the Rechabites Precepts from their Father, and such as the Love Feasts, the Kiss of Love, Womens Veil and long Hair, Mens being uncovered, &c. Now it is very hard to know in all instances whether the Precepts were thus tem­porary or universal and durable: which makes Divines differ about the A­nointing of the Sick, the Office of Deacons and Deaco­nesses, the Power of Bishops, and Extent of their Diocesses, the Eating things strangled, and Blood, (against which Chr. Beckman in his Exercit. hath abundance of shrewd Ar­guments, though few are of his mind.) In these cases few reach a Certainty, and none so full a Certainty as in plainer things.

XIV. It is very hard to be Certain when, and how far Examples of holy men in Scripture bind us: Though I have elsewhere proved that wherever the Apostles practice was the Execution of their Commission for setling Church Or­ders, in which Christ promised them the help of his Spirit, their Practice was obligatory. Yet in many instances the obligation of Examples is very doubtful: Which occasion­eth the Controversies about imitating John Baptist's Life in the Wilderness, and Anna, and about Lent, and about Bap­tizing by dipping over Head, and about the Lords Supper, whether it should be Administred to a Family, or at Even­ing only, or after Supper, or Sitting, or in a private House, &c. And about washing Feet, and many Church Orders and Affairs.

XV. There are many things in Scripture that are spoken but once or twice, and that but as on the by, and not very [Page 66] plainly: And we cannot be so Certain of any Doctrine founded on these, as on passages frequently and plainly written.

XVI. There are so many seeming differences in Scripture, especially about Numbers, as that if they be reconcileable, few or none in the World have yet found out the way. If we mention them not our selves, such paultry Fellows will do it, as Bened. Spinosa in his Tractatus Theolog. Polit. I will not cite any, but desire the Learned Reader to consider well of what that Learned and Godly man,Without approving all that is in it, I may wish the Reader to peruse Father Simon's second Book now newly Printed in London. Ludov. Capellus saith in his Critic. Sacr. l. c. 10. and l. 6. c. 7, 8. (I own not his supposition of a better Hebrew Copy used by the Sept.) I think an impartial considerer of his instances will confess, that as God never promised all or any of the Scribes or Printers of the Bible any infallible Spirit, that they should never write or print a word falsly, and as it is certain by the various Lections that many such there have been in many and most Books; so there is no one Scribe that had a promise above the rest, nor any one Hebrew or Greek Copy which any man is sure is absolutely free from such miswritings. For how should we be sure of that one above all the rest? And I wish the Learned Reader to consider Bibliander's Preface to his Hebr. Grammar, and Casaubone's Exercit. 1. § 28. and Pellicanus his Preface to his Coment. on the Bible. Hie­rom on Mic. 5.2. is too gross, de Matth. 2. Quod Testimo­nium nec Haebraico nec 70 Interpretibus convenire, &c. Let him read the rest that will, which is harsher; he that will not confess miswritings of numbers, and some names and words heretofore, as well as some misprintings now, doth but by his pretended Certainty tempt men to question the rest for the sake of that, and injureth the Sacred Word.

XVII. We have not the same degree of Certainty of the Canonicalness or Divineness of every Book of Scripture: [Page 67] Though they are all Gods Word, they have not all the same Evidence that they are so. The New Testament had a fuller Attestation from Heaven for its Evidence to man, than most of the Old had. And of the New Testament, it was long before many Churches received the Epist. to the He­brews, the second of Peter, Jude, Revel. &c. Even in Eu­sebius days, in his Praepar. Evangel. he sheweth that they were not received by all. And of the Old Testament, Mo­ses, and the Psalms and Prophets have fuller Attestation than the rest. And indeed, as it is probable that the Chro­nicles were written in or after Ezra's time at soonest, so they do in so many places differ in numbers from the Book of Kings, where all would agree with the rest of the Histo­ry, if those numbers were but reduced to those in the Kings, that if any man should doubt of the Divine Authori­ty of that Book, that thereby he may be the less tempted to question any others, I should not think his Error incon­sistent with Salvation. Put but that man to prove what he saith, who asserteth that we have equal Evidence of the Di­vinity of the Chronicles, Canticles, Esther, as we have of Mo­ses, the Prophets, the Psalms, and the New Testament, and you shall quickly find that he did but pretend an equal degree of Certainty which indeed he had not. The Papists pretend that they are as certain of the Divinity of the Apo­crypha, as we are of the rest: But they do but pretend a Cer­tainty, for Interest and Custom sake.

XVIII. Though it be to be held that Certainly the Holy Writers had no falshoods in Doctrine or History, but delive­red us the Truth alone, yet no one of them delivereth us all the Truth, no not of many particular Histories, and Spee­ches of Christ which they mention: And therefore we must set them altogether for the understanding of them: (As in the instance of Christs appearing and the Angels Speeches after his Resurrection.) And when all's done we have not all that Christ said and did, but all that was necessary to [Page 68] our Faith and Salvation. For as Paul citeth Christ, saying, It is more honourable to give, than to receive, so John tells us that the World could not contain the Books that should be written, we must take heed therefore how far we go with Negatives, of such unmentioned things.

XIX. Though all that the Holy Writers have recorded is true, (and no falshood in the Scripture but what is from the error of Scribes and Translators) yet we are not certain that the Writers had not human infirmites in the Phrase, Me­thod and Manner of expression. It is apparent that their style, yea their Gifts were various, as Paul oft openeth them, 1 Cor. 12. &c. Therefore Paul rather than Barnabas was the Chief Speaker. And Apollo was more eloquent than others: Hence some were of Paul and some of Apollo and some of Ce­phas: And Paul is put to vindicate his ministerial abilities to the Corinthians. Therefore though weaker mens gifts put no sinful imperfection into the Scriptures, yet a humane natural imperfection of style, and order might be more in some than others. It is certain that they were not all perfect in Knowledge and Holiness. And how far every Sermon which they Preached was free from all that Imperfection (any more than Peters carriage, Gal. 2.) we are uncertain. And how far their Writings had a promise of being free from Natural modal imperfections more than their Preachings, we know not fully. And yet God turned this weakness of theirs to the confirmation of our Faith; shewing us that Heavenly power, and not human wisdom and ability did his work. As Davids sling in conquering Goliath shewed Gods power. And out of the mouths of Babes doth God ordain strength, and the weak things of the World are used to con­found the strong.

XX. Lastly, though all be certainly true which they have recorded, yet we have not the same degree of Certainty, that no Writer erred through lapse of memory in some less ma­terial passage, as we have that they infallibly delivered us the [Page 69] Gospel. But this I have said so much of already in a small Book called More Reasons for the Christian Religion, that I must now refer you thither for the rest.

Q. But if there be so many things either uncertain or less-cer­tain▪ what is it that we are or may be fully certain of?

Ans. 1. What you are or are not certain of your self, you should know if you know your self without my telling you.

2. I deny not but you may come to a Certainty of all those things which are never so difficult, that have any ascertain­ing evidence; if you live long enough, & study hard enough, and have an extraordinary measure of Divine illumination: I do not measure others by my self: You may know that which I know not. God may bless your studies more, as being better men and fitter for his blessing: he may give you extraordinary Inspirations, or Revelations if he please. But I am thankful for my low degree, and confess my igno­rance.

3. But I have told you before what Certainties we have. 1. We are certain of things sensible. 2. And of our Elicite and Imperate acts. 3. And of Natural principles. 4. And of clear inferences thence. 5. And of the Truth of all the Certain holy Scriptures which are Evidently the Word of God 6. And par­ticularly therein of the plain Historical parts. 7. And of all that which is the main design and scope of the Text in any Book or Chapter. 8. And of all that which is purposely and often re­peated, and not only obscurely once spoken on the by. 9. Therefore we may be Certain of all that is necessary to Salvation: of every Article of the Creed; of every Petition in the Lords Prayer, and every necessary common duty: We may be Certain of the Truth and Sense of all the Covenant of Grace concerning the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, his Relation to us, and our Relation and Duty to him, and of the benefits of the Covenant; of the necessity and nature of Faith, Repentance, Hope, Love, Obedience, Patience, &c. It's tedious to recite all, in a word, all that is of common [Page 70] necessity, and all (how small soever) which is plainly re­vealed and expressed. 10. And you may be certain of the fulfilling of much of this Holy Word already by sufficient History and Experience.

Chap. 7.

Inference 1. The true Reason and usefulness of the Christian Simplicity, in differencing the Covenant, and Principles of Religion from the rest of the holy Scriptures.

IT hath ever been the use of the Church of God, to Cate­chise men before they were Baptized; and therein to teach them the true meaning of the Baptismal Covenant, by opening to them the Creed, the Lords Prayer, and the Decalogue: And when they understood this Covenant they were admitted (upon consent) by Bap­tism into the Church,As Antonine saith,) in greater darkness) li. 2. § 5. [ [...], &c.] Vides quam pauca sint, quae siquis tenuerit, prosperam ac divinam propemodum vitam degere detur: Siquidem & Dii ipsi nihil amplius exigent ab eo, qui ista observaverit. and accounted Christians and members of Christ, without staying to teach them any other part of the Bible, no not so much as the Sacrament of the Lords Supper. (Though indeed the opening of Baptism was the opening of the Life of that. Be­cause it is the same Covenant which is Solemnized in both.

By doing thus the Church notoriously declared that they took not all the Scripture to be equally necessary to be under­stood; but that the Govenant of Grace, and the Catechism ex­plaining it, is the Gospel it self, that is, the Essence of it, and of the Christian Religion, and that all the rest of the Scriptures contain but partly the Integrals, and partly the Ac­cidents of that Religion. He is the wisest man that knoweth Most and Best; and every man should know as much of the Scriptures as he can: But if you knew all the rest, without this (the Covenant of Grace, and its explication) it would not make you Christians or save you. But if you know this (truly) without all the rest, it will.

[Page 71]The whole Scripture is of great use and benefit to the Church. It is like the body of a man; which hath its Head, and Heart, and Stomach, &c. And hath also Fingers, and Toes, and flesh; yea Nails and Hair. And yet the Brain and Heart it self fare the better for the rest, and would not be so well Seated separate from them: Though a man may be a man that loseth even a Leg or Arm. So is it here. But it is the Covenant that is our Christianity and the duly Bap­tized are Christians, whatever else they do not under­stand. These are the things that all must know, and daily live upon.

The Creed is but the Exposition of the three Articles of the Baptismal Covenant. [I believe in God, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.] Though the Jews that had been bred up to a preparing knowledge, were quickly baptized by the Apostles upon their Conversion, Acts 2. Yet no man can imagine that either the Apostles or other Ministers did use to admit the Ignorant Gentiles into the Covenant of God, without opening the meaning of it to them; or Baptize them as Christians without teaching them what Christiani­ty is. Therefore Reason and the whole Churches subsequent Custom assure us that the Apostles used to expound the three great Articles to their Catechumens; And thence it is called, The Apostles Creed.

Marcus Bishop of Ephesus told them in the Florentine Coun­cil (as you may see Sgyropilus) that we have none of the Apostles Creed: And Vossius de Symbolis (besides many others) hath many Arguments to prove that this so called was not for­mally made by the Apostles. Bishop Usher hath opened the changes that have been in it. Sandford and Parker have largely (de Descensu) shewed how it came in as an Exposi­tion of the Baptismal Articles. Others stifly maintain that the Apostles made it. But the case seemeth plain. The Apostles used to call the Baptized to the profession of the same Articles (which Paul hath in 1. Cor. 15.1, 2, 3, &c.) [Page 72] and varied not the matter. All this was but more particu­larly to profess Faith in God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Two or three further Expository Articles are put into the Creed since: Otherwise it is the same which the Apostles used; not in the very syllables, or forms of words; but in the same sense, and the words indeed being left free, but seldom much altered, because of the danger of altering the matter. Of all the Antientest Writers, not one repeateth the Creed in the same words that we have it; nor any two of them in the same with one another. Irenaeus once, Ter­tullian twice hath it, all in various words, but the same sense. That of Marcellus in Epiphanius cometh nearest ours called the Apostles, and is almost it. Afterward in Ruffinus and others we have more of it. Yet no doubt but the Western Churches (at least) used it with little variation still. The Nicene Creed is called by some Antients the Apostles Creed too. And both were so; for both are the same in sense and substance: For it is not the very words that are truly fathered on the Apostles.

About 30 [...] years a go Mr.Ashwel having published a Book for the Necessity and Honour of the Creed, I wrote in the Postscript to my Reformed Pastor, Ed. 2. a Corrective of some▪ passages, in which he seemeth to say too much for it, or at least to depress the Scripture too much in compari­son of it. But long experience now telleth me, that I have more need to acquaint men with the Reasons and Necessity of the Creed: Seeing I find a great part of ignorant Religi­ous people much to slight the use of it, and say, It is not Scripture, but the work of man: Especially taking offence at the harsh translati [...]n of that Article, [He descended into Hell.] which from the beginning it's like was not in. It is the Kernel of the Scripture; and it is that for which the rest of the Scripture is given us, even to afford us sufficient help to understand and consent to the Covenant of Grace, that our Belief, our Desires, and our Practice may be con­formed [Page 73] principally to these Summaries. It is not every Child or Woman that could have gathered the Essential Articles by themselves out of the whole Scripture, if it had not been done to their hands: Nor that could have rightly methodized the Rule of our desires, or gathered the just heads of natural duty, if Christ had not done the first in the Lords Prayer, and God the second in the Decalogue.

Obj. But I believe these only, because the Matter of the Creed, and the words also of the other two are in the Scripture, and not on any other Authority.

Ans. If you speak of the Authority of the Author, which giveth them their truth, it is neither Scripture nor Traditi­on, but God, for whose Authority we must believe both Scripture and them.

But if you speak of the Authority of the Deliverers, and the Evidence of the Delivery, be it known to you, 1. That the Creed, Lords Prayer, Decalogue, and the Baptismal Covenant have been delivered down to the Church from the Apostles by a distinct Tradition, besides the Scripture Tradition. Even to all the Christians one by one that were Baptized, and admitted to the Lords Table, and to every particular Church. So that there was not a Christian or Church that was not even Constituted by them.

2. Be it known to you, that the Church was long in pos­session of them, before it had the Scriptures of the New Testament. It's supposed to be about eight years after Christ's Ascension before Matthew wrote the first Book of the New Testament, and near the year of our Lord one hundred, before the Revelation was written. And do you think that there were no Christians or Churches all that while? Or that there was no Baptism? Or no Profession of the Christian Faith in distinct Articles? No Knowledge of the Lords Prayer and Commandements? No Gospel daily preach­ed and practised? What did the Church-assemblies think you, do all those years? No doubt, those that had Inspiration used [Page 74] it by extraordinary gifts: But that was not all. Those that had not did preach the Substance of the Christian Religion contained in these forms, and did Pray and Praise God, and celebrate the Lords Supper, provoking one another to Love and to good works.

3. Be it known to you that these three Summaries come to us with fuller Evidence of Certain Tradition from God, than the rest of the Holy Scriptures. Though they are equal­ly true, they are not equally Evident to us. And this I thus prove. 1. The Body of the Scriptures were delivered but one way; but the Covenant, Creed, Lords Prayer and Decalogue, are delivered two ways. They are in the Scripture, and so have all the Evidence of Tradition which the Scriptures have. And they were besides that delivered to the memories of all Christians. If you say that the Creed is not in the Scrip­ture, or that the Scripture is not altered as it is; I answer, 1. That it is in the Scripture as to the matter signified in as plain words, even of the same signification. 2. There is no alteration made, but a small addition, which is no dispa­ragement to it, because the ancient substance of it is still known, and the additions are not new made things, but taken out of Scripture. And if yet any Heretick should deny that God is Wise and Good, and Just and Merciful, it were no dishonour to the Creed nor weakening of its certainty to have these attributes yet added to it.

2. These Summaries, as is said, were far ancienter than the rest of the New Testament, as written and known, and used long before them.

3. These Summaries being in every Christians mind and memory were faster held, than the rest of the Scriptures. Therefore Parents could and did teach them more to their Children. You never read that the Catechizers of the people did teach them all the Bible, nor equally ask them who Ja­red, or Mehaleel or Lamech was, as they did who Christ was. Nor put every History into the Catechism, but only the Historical Articles of the Creed.

[Page 75]4. Therefore it was far easier to preserve the purity of these Summaries, than of the whole Body of the Scriptures: For that which is in every mans memory, cannot be altered without a multitude of reprovers: Which makes the Greeks since Photius keep such a stir about [Filioque,] as to think that the Latines have changed Religion, and deserved to be separated from, for changing that word. But no wonder that many hundred various Readings are crept into the Bible, and whole Verses and Histories (as that of the Adulterous Woman,) are out in some that are in others. For it is harder to keep such a Volume uncorrupt than a few words. Though writing as such is a surer way than memory, and the whole Bible could never have been preserved by memory. Yet a few words might, especially when they had those words in writings also.

5. Add to this, that the Catechistical Summaries afore­said, were more frequently repeated to the people, at least every Lords day. Whereas in the reading of the Scriptures, one passage will be read but seldom, perhaps once or twice in a year. And so a corruption not so easily ob­served.

6. And if among an hundred Copies: of the Scripture ten or twenty only should by the Carelesness of the Scribes be corrupted, all the rest who saw not these Copies would not know it, and so they might fall into the hands of Posterity, when many of the sounder might be lost.

7. And Lastly, The danger of depravation had no end. For in every age the Scripture must be written over anew, for every Church and person that would use it. And who that knoweth what writing is, could expect that one Copy could be written without errors, and that the second should not add to the errors of the 1st, as Printers now do, who print by faulty Copies. And though this danger is much less since Printing came up, that is but lately. And the mischiefs of [Page 76] Wars and Heretical Tyrants burning the truest Copies, hath been some disadvantage to us.

Obj. Thus you seem to weaken the Certain incorruption of the Scriptures.

Ans. No such thing: I do but tell you the case truly as it is. The wonderful Providence of God, and care of Christi­ans hath so preserved them, that there is nothing corrupted which should make one Article of faith the more doubtful. I assert no more depravation in them than all confess; but only tell you how it came to pass, and tell you the greater certainty that we have of the Essentials of Religion than of the rest. And whereas every man of brains confesseth that ma­ny hundred words in Scripture (by Variety of Copies) are uncertain, I only say, that: it is not so in the Essentials. And I do not wonder that Virgil, Ovid, Horace, Cicero, &c. Have not suffered such depravations. For, 1. It is not so easy for a Scribes error to pass unseen in oratione ligata as in oratione soluta, in verse as in prose. 2. And Cicero with the rest was almost only in the hands of Learned men; whereas the Scriptures were in the hands of all the Vulgar, Women and Children. 3. And the Copies of these Authors were com­paratively but few: Whereas every one almost got Copies of the Scripture that was able. And it's liker that some depra­vation should be found among ten thousand Copies than a­mong a hundred.

So that I have proved to you that the Creed, Lords Prayer, Commandments and Covenant of Baptism are not to be believed only because they are in the Scripture, but also because they have been delivered to us by Tradition, and so we have them from two hands as it were, or ways of Con­veyance, and the rest of the Scriptures but by one, for the most part.

I will say yet more, because it is true, and needful. If any live among Papists, that keep the Scripture from the people, or among the poor Greeks, Armenians or Abassines where [Page 77] the people neither have Bibles commonly, nor can read, or if any among us that cannot read, know not what is in the Bible; yea if through the fault of the Priest, any should be kept from knowing that ever there was a Bible in the world: Yet if those persons by Tradition receive the baptismal Co­venant, the Creed, Lords Prayer, and Commandments as Gods Word, and truly believe, and Love and Practice them, those persons shall be saved. For they have Christs promise for it. And the very Covenant itself is the Gift of Christ and Life to consenters. Whereas he that knoweth all the Scripture can be saved only by consenting to and performing this same Covenant. But having greater helps to understand it, and so to Believe it and Consent, he hath a great advantage of them that have not the Scripture; And so the Scripture is an unspeak­able mercy to the Church. And it is so far from being too little without the supplement of the Papists Traditions and Councils, as that the hundredth part of it as to the bulk of words, is not absolutely it self of necessity to Salva­tion.

Yet I say more; If a man that hath the Scripture should doubt of some Books of it, whether they be the Word of God) as of Ruth, Judges, Joshua, Chronicles, &c.) Yea if he doubted of all the Old Testament, and much of the New; yet if he believe so much as containeth all the Covenant of Grace, and the foresaid Summaries, though he sin, and lose much of his helps, yet he may and will be saved, if he sin­cerely receive but this much. The reason is before given. Though no man can believe any thing truly who believeth not all that he knoweth to be Gods Word, yet a man may doubt whether one thing be Gods Word, who doubteth not of another, by several occasions.

And here you see the Reason why a particular or expli­cite Belief of all the Scripture it self, was never required of all that are baptized, nor of all or any man that entered in­to the Ministry. For the wisest Doctor in the world doth [Page 78] not attain so high. For no man hath a particular explicite Belief of that which he doth not understand. For it is the matter or sence that we believe: and we must first know what that sence is before we can believe it to be true. And no man in the World understandeth all the Scripture.

Yea more, it is too much to require as necessary to his Mi­nistry, a subscription in General that he implicitely believeth all that is in that Bible which you shall shew him. For 1. Ma­ny faults may be in the Translation, if it be a Translation. 2. Many errors may be in the Copy, as aforesaid.

Nay such a subscription should not, as absolutely necessa­ry, be required of him as to all the real Word of God. For if the man by error should doubt whether Job or the Chronicles or Esther were Canonical, and none of the rest, I would not be he that should therefore forbid him to Preach Christs Gospel. I am sure the ancient Church im­posed no such terms on their Pastors, when part of the new Testament was so long doubted of; and when some were chosen Bishops before they were Baptized; and when Syne­sius was chosen a Bishop before he believed the Resurrection. I would not have silenced Luther, Althamer or others that questioned the Epistle of James.

What then shall we say of the Roman insolence, which thinketh not all the Scripture big enough, but Ministers must also subscribe to many additions of their own, yea and swear to Traditions and the Expositions of the Fathers, and take whole Volumes of Councils for their Religion? No won­der if such men do tear the Churches of Christ in pieces.

1. By this time I hope you see to what use Baptism and the Summaries of Religion are. 2. And of how great use Catechizing is. 3. And that Christianity hath its essential parts. 4. And how plain and simple a thing true Christiani­ty is which constituteth the Church of Christ; And how few things as to knowledge are necessary to make a man a Christian, or to Salvation. Multitudes of opinions have [Page 79] been the means of turning Pastors and People from the holy and diligent improvement of these few truths in our practice, where we have much to do which might take up all our minds and time.

Chap. VIII.

Inference 2. Of the use of Catechizing.

THough it be spoken to in what is said, I would have you more distinctly here note the use of Catechizing. 1. It collecteth those few things out of many, which the Ignorant could not themselves collect. 2. It collecteth those necessary things, which all must know and believe that will be saved. 3. It containeth those Great practical things, which we have daily use for, and must still live upon; which are as Bread and Drink for our food. Other things may be well added; the more the better, which God hath revealed. But our Life and our comfort and our Hope is in these. 4. And it giveth us the true method or order of holy truths: which is a great advantage to understand them. Not but that the things themselves have the same orderly respect to one another in the Scripture, but they are not de­livered in the same order of words.

Therefore 1. Catechisms should be very skilfully and care­fully made. The true fundamental Catechism is nothing else but the Baptismal Sacramental Covenant, the Creed, the Lords Prayer and the Commandments, the Summaries of our Belief, Desires and Practice. And our secondary Cate­chism must be nothing else, but the plain expositions of these: the first is a Divine Catechism: the second is a Ministerial Ex­pository Catechism. And here 1. O that Ministers would be wiser at last, than to put their superfluities, their contro­versies, and private opinions into their Catechisms? and would fit them to the true end, and not to the interest of their several sects. But the Roman-Trent Catechism (and many more of theirs) must needs be defiled with their trash, and every sect else must put their singularities into their Ca­techisms; [Page 80] so hard is it for the aged decrepit body of the diseased Church (for want of a better concoction of the common essentials of Christianity) to be free from these heaps of inconcocted crudities, and excrementitious super­fluities, and the many maladies bred thereby.

I deny not but a useful controversie may be opened by way of Question and Answer. But pretend it not then to be what it is not,Rom. 14.1. Milk for Babes. Him that is weak in the Faith receive, but not to doubtful dis­putations. The Servant of the Lord must be apt to teach, but must not strive.

2. And it is not commonly believed, how great skill is needful to make a Catechism, that the method may be true, and that it may neither be too long for the memory, nor too short for the understanding, for my part, it is the hardest work save one (which is the full methodizing and explaining the whole body of Divinity) that ever I put my hand to; And when all's done, I cannot satisfy my self in it.

Since this I have published a Book called the Catechi­zing of Housholds.II. Why is not Catechizing more used, both by Pastors and Parents? I mean not the bare words unexplained without the sence, nor the sence in a meer rambling way without a form of words. But the words explained. O how much fruit would poor Souls and all the Church receive, by the faith­ful performance of this work, would God but cure the pro­phaneness and sloth of unfaithful Pastors and Parents which should do it. But I have said so much of this in my Reform­ed Pastor, that I may well forbear more here.

Chap. IX.

Inference 3. The true Preservative of puzled Chri­stians, from the Errours of false Teachers, who vehemently sollicite them to their several parties.

IT is the common out-cry of the World. How shall we know which side to be on? And who is in the right among so [Page 81] many who all with confidence pretend to be in the right?

Ans. Your Preservative is obvious and easie: but men usually bestow more labour and cost for Error and Hell, than for Truth and Heaven. Pretend not to Faith or knowledge before you have it, and you are the more safe. SUSPEND your judgments till you have true evidence to establish them. 1. It is only Christians that I am now instructing: and if you are Christians you have already received the Essentials of Christianity even the Baptismal Covenant, the Creed, the Lords Prayer and Decalogue. And I need not tell you that moreover you must receive all those Truths in Nature, and Scripture which are so plain that all these dissenting sects of Christians are agreed in them. And when you have all these, and faithfully love and practice them, you are sure to be saved, if you do not afterward receive some contrary Doctrine which destroyeth them. Mark then which is the safe Religion. As sure as the Gospel is true, he that is meet for Baptism before God, is meet for pardon of sin, and he that truely consenteth to the Baptismal Covenant, and so doth dedicate himself to God, is made a Member of Christ, and is justified, and an Heir of Heaven. Your Church Catechism saith truly of all such, that in Baptism each one is made, a Member of Christ, a Child of God, and an Heir of Heaven. So that as sure as the Gospel is true, every true Baptized Christi­an whose Love and Life doth answer that Faith, shall cer­tainly be saved.

Ask all parties, and few of them but impudent designers can deny this. Well then, the Baptismal Covenant expoun­ded in the Creed, Lords Prayer and Commandments is your Christian Religion. As a Christian you may and shall be saved: that a True Christian is saved all confess. But whe­ther a Papist be saved is questioned by the Protestants; and so is the Salvation of many other sects by others. You are safe then if you take in nothing to endanger you. And is it not wisdom then to take heed how you go further, and [Page 82] on what grounds, lest you over-run your safe Religion.

Obj. But then I must not be a Protestant: For the Papists say that they cannot be saved.

Ans. A Protestant is either one that holdeth to the ancient simple Christianity without the Papists manifold additions: Or one that positively also renounceth and opposeth those additi­ons. In the first sense, a Protestant and a meer Christian is all one; and so to say that a Protestant cannot be saved is to say that a Christian as such cannot be saved. If it be the meer name of a Protestant that the Papist accounteth dam­nable, tell him that you will not stick with him for the name: You are contented with the old name of Christian alone.

But Protestantism in the second sense is not your Religi­on, but the Defensative of your Religion; as flying from the Plague is not my Humanity or Life, but a means to preserve it. And so Protestants are of many sizes: Some oppose some points, and some others, some more, some less, which the Papists have brought in: And yet they are not of so many Religions.

But whoever condemneth you, if Christ save you, he doth but condemn himself as uncharitable. Christianity is certainly a State of Salvation; but whether Popery be, or whether the Greek Opinions be, or whether this or that difference and singularity stand with Salvation, is the doubt. Cast not your self then needlesly into doubt and danger.

Obj. But then you will have us be still but Infants, and to learn no more than our Catechisms, and not to learn and believe all that God hath revealed in his Word.

Ans. No such matter. This is the sum of what I advise you to.

1. Hold fast to your simple Christianity as the Certain terms of Salvation.

2. Receive nothing that is against it.

3. Learn as much more as ever you can.

[Page 83]4. But take not mens words, nor their plausible talk for Certifying Evidence: And do not think if you believe a Priest, that this is believing God, nor if his Reasons seem plausible to you, and you are of his Opinion, that this is Divine Knowledge. If you do incline to one mans Opinion more than another, tell him that you incline to his Opinion, but tell him that you take not this for Divine Knowledge or any part of your Religion. If you will needs believe one side rather than another, about Church History, or the matters of their Parties Interest, tell them, I believe you as fallible men; but this is none of my Divine Faith or Religion. To learn to know, is to learn Scientifical Evidence, and not to learn what is another mans Opinions; nor whether they are probable or not; much less to read a Councils Decrees, or the Propositions of a disputing Systeme, and then for the mens sake, to say, This is Orthodox: Nor yet because it hath a taking aspect. To learn of a Priest to believe God is one thing; and to believe him, or his party, Church or Coun­cil is another thing. Learn to know as much as you can; and especially to know what God hath revealed to be be­lieved: And learn to believe God as much as you can: And believe all your Teachers and all other men, as far as they are credible in that case, with such a humane belief as fallible men may justly require. And where Contenders do consent, suspect them the less. But where they give one another the Lie in matters of Fact, try both their Evi­dences of credibility before you trust them▪ and then trust them not beyond that Evidence.

But still difference your Divine Faith and Religion from your Opinion and Humane Faith. And let men sollicite you never so long; take not on you to know or believe till you do; that is, not beyond the Evidence. I do but perswade you against Presumption and Hypocrisie. Shall I say, SUS­PEND TILL YOU HAVE TRUE EVIDENCE, and you are safe? why if you do not, you will know never the [Page 84] more, nor have ever the more Divine Faith: For I can mean no more than SUSPEND YOUR PRESUMPTI­ONS, and do not foolishly or hypocritically take on you to know what you do not, or to have a Faith which you have not. If you can know truly, do it with fidelity, and be true to the Truth, whoever offer it, or whatever it cost you. But suspend your Profession or hasty Opinions and Conceits of what you know not.

Obj. But every side almost tells me that I am damned if I do not believe as they do?

Ans. 1. By that you may see that they are all deceived at least save one (which ever it be) while they differ, and yet condemn each other. 2. Thereby they do but give you the greater cause to suspect them. For by this shall all men know Christs Disciples, if they love one another. Right Christians are not many Masters, as knowing that themselves shall have the greater condemnation else; for in many things we offend all. And the wisdom which hath envy and strife is not from above, but from beneath, and is earthly, sensual and devilish, introducing confusion and every evil work, Jam. 3.1, 15, 16. Christs Disciples judge not, lest they be judged.

3. By this you may see that unless you can be of all mens minds, you must be damned by the Censures of many. And if you can bear it from all the Sects save one, why not from that one also?

4. But I pray you ask these damning Sectaries, Is it be­lieving your Word, and being of your Opinion that will save me? Or must I also know by scientifical Evidence that you say true, and that God himself hath said what you say? If he say that believing him and his party (though he call it the Church) is enough to save you, you have then less reason to believe him: For unless he can undertake himself to save you, he cannot undertake that believing him shall save you? If he say, God hath promised to save you if you believe me, believe that when he hath proved it to you.

[Page 85]But if it be Knowledge and Divine Faith which he saith must save you, it is not your believing his Word or Opini­on that will help you to that. I would tell such a man, Help me to Knowledge and Faith, by Cogent or Certifying Evi­dence, and I will learn, and thank you with all my Heart. But till I have it, it is but mocking my self and you to say that I have it.

Obj. But the Papists herein differ from all other Sects: For they will say, That if I believe the Church concerning Divine Revelations, and take all for Divine Revelation which the Church saith is so, and so believe it, then I have a Divine Faith.

Ans. 1. And is this to you a Certifying Evidence that in­deed God revealed it, because their Church saith so? If their Church agree with Greeks, Armenians, Syrians, Copties, A­bassines, Protestants, and all other Christian Churches, then it will be no part of the contest in question; and it is a stronger Foundation of the two, to believe it, because all say it, than because they say it. But if they differ from the rest, know their proof that their Church can tell Gods mind, and not the rest of the Christian World. And that about a third part of the Christians in the World have such a pro­mise, which all the rest have not. 2. And how doth their Church know that it is Gods Word? Is it by any certifying E­vidence, or by Prophetical Inspiration? If by Evidence, let it be produced? Is it not revealed to others as well as to them? Must not we have a Faith of the same kind as the Church hath? If so, we must believe by the same Evidence as that Church believeth. And what is that? It is not their own words: Doth a Pope believe himself only? or a Coun­cil believe themselves only? Or hath God said, You shall be saved if you will believe your selves, and believe that I have said all that you say I have said? Where is there such a pro­mise? But if Pope and Council be not saved for believing themselves, how shall I know that I shall be saved for be­lieving [Page 86] them, and that one kind of Faith saveth me, and ano­ther them.

I ask it of each particular Bishop in that Council, Is he saved for believing himself or the rest? If no man be saved for believing himself, why should another be saved for be­lieving him? And the Faith of the Council is but the Faith of the Individual Members set together.

Obj. But they are saved for believing themselves as consen­ters, and not singly.

Ans. All Consenters know nothing, as Consenters, but what they know as Individuals. And what is the Evidence by which they know, and are brought to consent? Must not that Evidence convince us also?

Obj. But the present Church are saved for believing not them­selves but the former Church.

Ans. Then so must we: It is not the present Church then that I must believe by a saving Faith: But why then was the last Age saved, and so the former? and so on to the first? Is any thing more evident than that all men must be saved for Believing God? And that his Word must be known to be his Word, by the same Evidence by one man and another? And that Evidence I have proved in several Treatises to be another kind of thing, than the Decree of a Pope and his Council.

But if it be not Evidence, but Prophetical Inspiration and Revelation by which the Council or Church knoweth Gods Word, I will believe them when by Miracles or otherwise they prove themselves to be true Prophets; till then, I shall take them for Phanaticks, and hear them as I do the Qua­kers.

Should I here stay to bid you ask them, as before, How you shall be sure that their Council was truly General, and more Authentick and Infallible than the second at Ephe­sus, or that at Ariminum, or that at Constance and Basil, &c. And whether the more General Dissent of all the other [Page 87] Christians from them be not of as great Authority as they that are the smaller part? and how you shall be sure of that? And also how but on the word of a Priest you can know all that the Church hath determined? with abun­dance such Questions, of the Meaning of each Council, the ambiguity of words, the Errour of Printers, the forgery of Publishers, &c. I should help you to see, that saying as a Priest saith, Is not Knowing the thing, nor Believing God.

Stop therefore till you have Evidence: Follow no Party as a Party in the dark: Or if probability incline you more to them than to others, call not this Certainty, Religion, Divine Faith. Thus your Faith will be Faith indeed, Fathering Errours on God, and saying that he saith what he never said, and forbade or commanded what he doth not, is the most direct breach of the third Commandment. To father lies on God, is the taking of his Name in vain. and you will escape all that would corrupt and frustrate it. The business is great. God requireth you to refuse no Light: But withal he chargeth you to believe no falshood, nor put darkness for light: Much less to father mens Lies, or Errours, or Con­ceits on God, and to lay your Salvation on it, that they are all God's Word. How dreadful a thing is this if it prove false! Is it not blaspheming God?

No man in his wits then but a partial designer can look that you should make haste, or go any further than you have assuring or convincing Evidence: If you Know that any Sect doth Err, you need no Preservative: If you do not, tell them, I am ignorant of this matter, I will learn as fast as I can; not neglecting greater matters; and I will be neither for you, nor against you, further than I can know.

And as to the former Objection, of being still Infants, I further answer, that as feigned knowledge is no knowledge; so Manhood consisteth not in being of many uncertain Opi­nions, no not so much in knowing many little controverted things, as in getting a clearer, more affecting powerful practical Knowledge and belief of our Christianity, and the great and [Page 88] sure things which we know already; and in Love and Obedience practising of them. He is the strongest Christian who loveth God best, and hath most Holiness; and he knoweth God better than any others do.

By this much you may see that the world is full of coun­terfeit Faith, and Knowledge, and Religion; even fancy and belief of men, and their own Opinions, which go under these names. One turneth an Anabaptist, and another a Separa­tist, and another an Antinomian, and another a Pelagian, and another a Papist, when if you try them you shall find that they neither understand what they turn to, nor what they are against: They do but turn to his side who hath the best advantage to perswade them, either by insinuating in­to their affections, or by plausible reasonings; they talk for one Doctrine, and against another, when they understand neither; much less discern true Evidence of their truth. And as for the Papists, what wonder is it, when their Reli­gion is to believe as the Church believeth? And what the Church believeth, they know not perhaps but by believing a Priest: And then though they know not what the Church believeth, some say they are Catholicks, and others that this Implicite Faith is that in the virtue of which all the Expli­cite must proceed. And if God may but be allowed to be equal herein with their Church, and so that all should be saved who Implicitely believe that all that he saith is true, though they know not what he saith at all, then I think few Infidels would perish, that believe there is a God.

Reader I advise thee therefore as thou lovest thy Soul, 1. Not to neglect or delay any true knowledge that thou canst attain. 2. But not to be rash and hasty in judging. 3. Nor to take shews and mens opinions, or any thing below a certi­fying or notifying Evidence of Truth, to make up thy Chri­stian Faith and Knowledge. 4. And till thou see such Cer­tain Evidence, suspend, and tell them that sollicite thee that thou understandest not the matter, and that thou art [Page 89] neither for them nor against them; but wilt yield as soon as Truth doth certainly appear to thee.

If an Anabaptist perswade thee, yield to him as soon as thou art sure that God would not have Believers Children now to be Infant-Members of his Church, as well as they were before Christs coming; and that the Infants of believ­ing Jews were cut off from their Church State; and that there is any way besides Baptism appointed by Christ, for the solemn initiating of Church-Members with the rest which in my Treat. of Baptism I have produced.

If thou art sollicited to renounce Communion with other Churches of Christ as unlawful, either because they use the Common Prayer and Ceremonies, or because that Ministers are faulty (if tolerable) or the People undisciplined, before thou venture thy Soul upon an uncharitable and dividing principle, make sure first that Christ hath Commanded it. Try whether thou art sure that Christ sinned by Communi­cating ordinarily with the Jewish Church and Synagogues, when the corruption of Priests, People and worship was so much worse than ours? Or whether that be now a sin to us, which (in the General) Christ did then. And whether Pauls compliance, and his precept, Rom. 14. and 15. was an error; And Peters separation, Gal. 2. was not rather to be blamed. With much more the like. Are you sure that notwithstanding all this, God would have you avoid Com­munion with the Churches that in such Forms and Orders differ from you?

So if a Papist sollicite you, yield to him as soon as you are Certain that the Church is the body or Church of the Pope, and that none are Christians that are not subject to him, and that therefore three or two parts of all the Christian world are unchristened; and that when the Roman Empe­ror made Patriarchs in his own dominion only, and there only called General Councils, all the world must now take such as the Churches Heads, and must be their Subjects: [Page 90] When you can be sure that all the senses of all the sound men in the world, are by a constant Miracle deceived, in taking the consecrated Bread and Wine, to be Bread and Wine in­deed, and that it is none: And that the Bread only without the Cup must be used, though Christs Command be equal for both: when you are Certain, truly Certain of these and many other such things, then turn Papist. If you do it sooner, you betray your Souls by Pretending to know and believe Gods word, when you do but believe and imbody with a faction.

Chap. X.

Inference 4. What is the Great Plague and Di­vider of the Christian World.

FALSELY PRETENDED KNOWLEDGE and FAITH, are the great Plague and Dividers of the Christian world.

I. As to the Number of Articles, and Opinions, and Precepts, what abundance of things go with many for Certain Truth of which no mortal man hath certainty! And abundance which some few rare wits may know, must go for Evident certainties to all. It is not only our Philosophy books, nor only our Philosophical Schoolmens Books, which are guilty of this. There is some modesty in their Videtur's: And in­deed, if they would not pretend to certainty, but profess only to write for the sport and exercise of wit, without condemning those that differ from them, a man might fetch many a pleasant vagari, if not in an over subtile Cajetane (who so oft feigneth notions and distinctions) yet in a Scotus, Ockam, Ariminensis, with abundance of their disciples, and in Thomas and many of his learned followers. But their Succes­sors can hardly forbear hereticating one another. How ma­ny such a wound hath poor Durandus suffered? From many for his doctrine of concurse; And by others for his pretty device to save the credit of our senses in Transubstantiation, [Page 91] (that there is still the Matter of Bread, but not the Form, as being informed by the Soul of Christ, as digested bread in us is turned to flesh.) Which saith Bellarmine is an Heresy, but Durandus no Heretick, because he was ready to be taught of the Church.

But no where do these Stinging Hornets so swarm as in the Councils and the Canon Law: So that saith the Preface to the Reformatio Legum Ecclesiast. Edw. 6. (John Fox.) In quo ipso jure, neque ullum modum tenet illius impudentia, quin Leges Legibus, decreta decretis, aciis insuper decretalia, aliis alia, atque item alia accumulet, nec ullum pene statuit cumulandi finem, donec tandem suis Clementinis, Sixtinis, Intra & Extra­vagantibus, Constitutionibus Provincialibus & Synodalibus, Pa­leis, Glossulis, Sententiis, Capitulis, Summariis Rescriptis, Bre­viculis, Casibus longis & brevibus, ac infinitis Rhapsodiis adeo orbem confarcinavit, ut Atlas mons quo sustineri coelum dicitur, huic si imponeretur oneri, vix ferendo sufficeret. Which made these two Kings, (H. 8. and Edw. 6.) Appoint that Com­pendium of Ecclesiastical Laws as their own, K. H. first abolishing the Popes Laws (whatever some say to the con­trary) his words being. [Hajus Potestatem huic cum divino munere sublatam esse manifestum est, ut quid superesset, quo non plane fractam illius Vim esse constaret, Leges omnes, decreta atque instituta, quae ab authore Episcopo Romano profecta sunt Prorsus abroganda censuimus.]

Is it possible that all the Clergy and Nobles of the Roman Kingdom, can be so Ignorant of their own and other mens Ig­norance, as to take all the Decrees of the huge Volumes of their Councils for Certain Truths? Either they were certain in their Evidence of Truth, before they decreed them, or not: If they were so, 1. How came the debates in the Councils about them to be so hard, and so many to be dissenters as in many of them there were. I know where Arrians or other Hereticks make up much of the Council, it is no wonder: But are the Certainties of Faith so uncertain to Catholick [Page 92] Bishops, that a great part of them know not Certain Truths till the majority of Votes have told them they are certain. Have the poor Dissenting-Bishops in Council nothing of cer­tainty on which their own and all the poor peoples Faith and Salvation must depend, but only this, that they are over-voted? As if the dissenters in the Council of Trent should say, We thought beforehand the contrary had been true; But now the Italian Bishops being so numerous as to over-vote us, we will lay our own and all mens Salvation on it, that we were deceived, though we have no other reason to think so. O noble Faith and Certainty! It's possible one or two or three poor silly Prelates may turn the Scales and make up a majority, though as Learned men as Jansenius, Cusanus or Gerson were on the other side. And if the Jansenists Articles were Con­demned, or Cusanus his Antipapal Doctrine, lib. de Concor­dia, or Gersons for the Supremacy of Councils and de Aufe­ribilitate Papae, they must presently believe that they were cer­tainly deceived.

But what's become then of the contrary evidence which appeared before to these dissenters? As suppose it were in the Council of Basil about the Immaculate conception of Mary, or the Question whether the Authority of the Pope or Council be greatest, decided there, and at Constance, and whereof at Trent the Emperor and the French were of one opinion, and the Pope of another: Was it evidently true before, which is made false after by a Majority of Votes?

2. And if all these Decreed things were Evident Truths be­fore the said Decrees, why have we not those Antecedent Evidences presented to us, to convince us?

2. But if they were not Evident Truths before, what made those Prelates conclude them for Truths? Did they know them to be such without Evidence? This is grosser than a presumptuous mans believing that he shall be saved because he believeth it; or their Doctrine that teach men to believe the thing is true (that Christ died for them) that [Page 93] thereby they may make it true; As if the object must come af­ter the act. For then these Prelates do decree that to be true, which before was false (for ex-natura rei, one party had evidence of its falshood) that so they might make it true, by decreeing that it is so▪

A man might Lawfully have believed his own and other mens senses, that Bread is Bread, till the Council at Lateran sub Innoc. 3. decreed Transubstantiation. And O what a change did that Council make! All Christ's Miracles were not comparable to it, if its Decrees be true. From that day to this, we must renounce sense, and yet believe; we must believe that by constant Miracles all Christians senses are de­ceived: And so that this is the difference between Christi­ans, and Infidels, and Heathens, that our Religion deceiveth all mens senses (even Heathens and all, if they see our Sa­crament,) and their Religion deceiveth no mans senses, saith the grave Author of the History of the Trent Council (Ed. Engl. p. 473.) [A better Mystery was never found, than to use Religion to make men insensible.]

And what is the Omnipotent Power that doth this? such a Convention as that of Trent, while with our Worcester Pate, and Olaus Magnus, they made up a great while two and forty things called Bishops: And after such a pack of beard­less Boys, and ignorant Fellows, created by, and enslaved to the Pope, as Dudithius Quinqueccles. one of the Council de­scribeth to the Emperour; and which Bishop Jewel in his Letter to Seign. Scipio saith, he took for no Council, called by no just Authority, &c. where were neither the Patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, or Antioch, nor Abassines, nor Graecians, Armenians, Persians, Egyptians, Moors, Syrians, In­dians, nor Muscovites, nor Protestants, pag. 143, 144. For, saith he after, pag. 489. [Now-a-days (merciful God!) the in­tent or scope of Councils is not to discover truth, or to confute falshood: For these latter Ages, this hath been the only en­deavour of the Popes to establish the Roman Tyranny; to set [Page 94] Wars on foot, to set Christian Princes together by the Ears, to raise Money—to be cast into some few Bellies for Gluttony and Lust: And this hath been the only cause or course of Councils for some Ages last past.] So here.

And can the Vote of a few such Fellows oblige all the World to renounce all their senses, who were never obli­ged to it before?

And all this consisteth in PRETENDED FAITH and KNOWLEDGE, when men must take on them to know what they do not know, and make Decrees and Canons, and Doctrines suited to their conjectures, or rather to their carnal Interests, and then most injuriously Father them on God, on Christ and the Apostles.

II. And as the number of Forgeries and Inventions detecteth this publick Plague, so doth the number of Persons that are guilty of it. How many such superfluities the And yet saith Zaga-Zabo in Damnian a Go [...]s pag. 226. Nec Patriarcha nec Episcopi nostri, per se, nec in Conciliis putant aut opi­nantur ul [...]as leges se condere posse, quibus ad mortale peccatum obligari quis posset. And pag. 231. Indig­num est peregrinos Christianos tam a­criter & hostiliter reprehendi ut ego de hac re (de delectu ciborum) & de aliis, quae minimè ad fidem veram spectabant, reprehensus fui; sed mul­to Consultius, fuerit, hujusmodi Chris­tianos homines sive Graecos, sive Ar­menos, sive Aethiopes; sive ex quavis Septem Christianarum Ecclesiarum in Charitate & Christi amplexibus sustinere, & eos sine contumeliis per­mittere, inter alios fratres Christia­nos vivere ac versari; quoniam om­nes filii baptismi sumus, & de vera fide unanimiter sentimus. Nec est causa cur tam acriter de caeremoniis disceptetur nisi ut unusquisque suas observet, sine odio & insectatione aliorum, nec commerciis Ecclesiae ob id excludendus est, &c. Learn of a ceremonious Abassine. Abassines (in their oft Baptizings, and other trifles,) and the Armenians, Syrians, Geor­gians, Jacobites, Maronites, the Rus­sians, &c. Are guilty of, the de­scribers of their Rites and Religion tell us. Some would have the State of the Church in Gregory, [...]sts days to be the model of our Reformation (that Pope whom Authors usually call the last of the good ones, and the first of the bad ones:) But is there either Necessity or Certainty in all the superfluities which the Churches then had, and which that Great Prelates Writings themselves con­tain? Or were there not abun­dance of such things then used as things Indifferent (of which see [Page 95] Socrates and Sozomene in the Chapters of Easter,) and must all their Indifferents be now made necessary to the Churches Concord and Communion? and all their uncertainties be­come certainties to us? some will have the present Greek Church to be the Standard: But alas, poor men, how ma­ny of these uncertainties, crudities and superfluities are che­rished among them by the unavoidable Ignorance which is caused by their oppressions? To say no more of Rome, O that the Reformed Churches themselves had been more in­nocent? But how few of them unite on the terms of simple Christianity and Certainties? Had not Luther after all his Zeal for Reformation, retained some of this Leven, he could better have endured the dissent of Zuinglius, Carolostadius and Oecolampadius about the Sacrament. And if his Fol­lowers had not kept up the same superfluities, they had ne­ver so torn the Churches by their Animosities, nor resisted and wearied peaceable Melanchthon, nor frustrated so many Conventions and Treaties for Concord, as they have done. Bucer had not been so censured; agreement had not been made so impossible: All Dury's Travels had not been so uneffectual. Schlusserburgius had not found so many Here­sies to fill up his Catalogue with; nor Calovius so much matter for his virulent Pen; nor so many equalled Calvi­nism with Turcism; nor had Calixtus had such scornful Satyrs written against him; nor the great Peace-makers, Lud. Crocius, Bergii, Martinius, Camero, Amyraldus, Testar­dus, Capellus, Placaeus, Davenant, Ward, Hall, and now Le Blank, had so little acceptance and success. Had it not been for this spreading Plague, (the over-valuing of our own understandings, and the accounting our crude conceits for certain­ties) all these Church Wars had been prevented or soon ended: All those excellent endeavours for peace had been more successful, and we had all been One.

Had it not been for this, neither Arminians nor Antiar­minians had ever so bitterly contended, nor so sharply cen­sured [Page 96] one another, nor written so many confident con­demning Volumes against each other, which in wise mens Eyes do more condemn the authors; and SELF-CONCEIT, or PRETENDED KNOWLEDGE, should have been the title of them all: How far I am able to prove that almost all their bitter and zealous contentions are about Uncertainties, and Words, the Reader may perceive in my Preface to the Grotian Religion, and if God will, I shall fuller manifest to the World. Since done in Catho­lick Theology. The Synod of Dort had not had so great a work of it, nor the Breme and Brittain Divines so difficult a task, to bring and hold them to that moderation of expressions which very laudably they have done: (one of the noblest success­ful attempts for peace, though little noted, which these ages have made.)

In a word, almost all the contentions of Divines, the sects and factions, the unreconciled fewds, the differences in re­ligion which have been the Harvest of the Devil and his E­missaries in the World, have come from Pretended Know­ledge and taking Uncertainties for Certain Truths.

I will not meddle with the particular Impositions of Prin­ces and Prelates; not so much as with the German Interim: Nor the Oaths which in some place they take to their Sy­nodical Decrees: much less will I meddle at all with any Impositions, Oaths, Subscriptions Declarations, or usages of the Kingdom where I live. As the Law forbiddeth me to contradict them, so I do not at all here examine or touch them, but wholly pass them by: which I tell the Reader once for all, that he may know how to interpret all that I say. Nor is it the error of Rulers that I primarily detect, but of humane corrupted Nature, and all sorts of men: Though where such an Errour prevaileth, alas, it is of far sadder consequence in a Publick person, a Magistrate, or a Pastor, that presumeth to the hurt of Publick Societies, than of a private man, who erreth almost to himself alone.

[Page 97]I profess to thee, Reader, that (next to God's so much deserting so Great a part of this world) there is nothing under the Sun, of all the affairs of mankind, that hath so taken up my thoughts with mixtures of indignation, won­der, pity and sollicitude for a cure, as this one vice; A PROUD or UNHUMBLED UNDERSTANDING by which men live in PRETENDED KNOWLEDGE and FAITH, to the deceit of themselves and others, the bitter censuring and persecuting of Dissenters, yea of their Modest Suspending Brethren, tear Churches and Kingdoms, and will give no Peace, nor Hopes of Peace to themselves, their Neighbours, or the World! Lord! Is there no Remedy, no Hope from Thee, though there be none from Man?

1. Among Divines themselves, that should not only have Knowledge enough to know their own Ignorance, but to Guide the People of God into the ways of Truth, and Love, and Peace; O how lamentably doth this vice prevail! To avoid all offence, I will not here at all touch on the case of any that are supposed to have a hand in any of the suffer­ings of me, and others of my mind; or of any that in Points of Conformity differ from me: Remember that I meddle not with them at all: But even those that do no way differ among themselves as Sect and Sect, or at least, that all pre­tend to Principles of Forbearance, Gentleness and Peace, yet are wofully sick of this disease.

And yet that I may wrong none, I will premise this pub­lick Declaration to the World, that in the Countrey where I lived, God in great mercy cast my lot among a company of so humble, peaceable, faithful Ministers (and People) as free from this Vice as any that ever I knew in the world; who, as they kept up full Concord among themselves, with­out the least disagreement that I remember, and kept out Sects and Heresies from the People; so their converse was the joy of my life, and the remembrance of it will be sweet to me while I live; and especially the great success of our [Page 98] labours, and the quiet and concord of our several Flocks, which was promoted by the Pastors humility and concord. Though we kept up constant Disputations, none of them ever turned to spleen, or displeasure, or discord among us.

And I add, in thankfulness to God, that I am now ac­quainted with many Ministers in and about London, of grea­test note, and labour, and patience, and Success, who are of the same Spirit, Humble and Peaceable, and no confident troublers of the Churches with their Censoriousness, and high esteem of their own opinions: Who trade only in the sim­ple Truths of Christianity, and love a Christian as a Christi­an, and joyn not with Back-biters nor factious self-conceited men, but study only to win Souls to Christ, and to live ac­cording to the Doctrine which they preach: And both the former and these, have these ten Now it is above 22 years that they have been ejected 1684. years since they were ejected, continued their hu­mility and peaceableness, fearing God and honouring the King.

And I further add that those Private Christians with whom I most converse are many of them of the same Strain, suspecting their own understandings, and speaking evil of no man so forwardly as of themselves.

So that in these Ministers and people of my most intimate acquaintance, experience convinceth me, that this grand disease of corrupted nature is cureable, and that God hath a people in the world, that have learnt of Christ to be meek and lowly,James 3.17. who have the wisdom from above, which is first pure, and then peaceable, gentle, easy to be intreated full of mercy and good fruits, and the fruit of mercy is sown in peace of these peace-makers. I see in them a true Conformity to Christ, and a grand difference between them and the furious fiery pretenders to more wis­dom; And the two sorts of Wisemen and Wisdom excellently described by James, Chap. 3. I have seen in two sorts of Re­ligious people among us, most lively exemplified be­fore [Page 99] our Eyes. God hath a people that truly honour him in the world.

But O that they were more! And O that they were more perfect! Alas what a number are there that are other­wise?

Even among Divines this Plague is most pernicious, as be­ing of most publick influence. Take him that never had a natural acuteness of wit, nor is capable of judging of difficult points, if he be but of long standing and grey hairs, and can preach well to the people, and have studied long, he is not only confident of his fitness to judge of that which he never understood,Yea now it is also young ignorant Novices that are sick of the same feaverish temeri­ty. but his Reputation of wisdom must be kept up among the people by his Su­percilious talking against what he understand­eth not: Yea if he be one that never mace­rated his flesh with the difficult and long stu­dies of the matter, without which hard points will never be well digested and distinctly understood, yet if he be a Doctor, and have lived long in a reputation for wisdom, his Ignorant flashy Conjectures, and hasty superfi­cial apprehensions, must needs go for the more excellent Knowledge: And if you put him to make good any of his Contradictions to the truth, his Magisterial contempt, or his uncivil wrath and unmannerly interruptions of you in your talk must go for reason: And if he cannot resist the strength of your evidence, he cannot bear the hearing of it, but like a scold rather than a Scholar, taketh your words out of your mouth before you come to the end: As if he said, Hold your tongue and hear me who am wiser: I came to Teach, and not to Hear. If you tell him how uncivil it is not patiently to hear you to the end, he thinks you wrong him, and are too bold to pretend to a liberty to speak without interruption; Or he will tell you that you are too long; he cannot remember all at once. If you reply that the sense of the forepart of a Speech usually depends much on the latter part; [Page 100] and he cannot have your sence till he have all; and that he must not answer, before he understandeth you; and that if his memory fail he should take notes, and that to have un­interrupted turns of speaking is necessary in the order of all sober conferences, without which they will be but noise and strife; he will let you know that he came not to hear or keep any Laws of Order or Civility, but to have a com­bat with you for the reputation of wisdom or Orthodoxness And what he wants in Reason and Evidence, he will make up in ignorant Confidence and Reviling, and call you by some ill Name or other, that shall go for a Confutation.

But yet this is not the usual way: It is too great a hazard to the reputation of their wisdom to cast it on a dispute. The common way is never to speak to the Person himself, but if any one cross their conceits, or become the object of their envy, they backbite him among those that reverence their wisdom, and when they are sure that he is far enough out of hearing, they tell their credulous Followers, O such a man holdeth unsound or dangerous Opinions! Take heed how you hear him, or read his writings, [this or that He­resie they savour of:] when the poor man knoweth not what he talketh of. And if any one have the wit to say to him, [Sir, he is neither so sottish, nor so proud, as to be uncapable of instruction; if you are so much wiser than he, why do you not teach him?] He will excuse his omission and his commission to­gether with a further calumny, and say, These erroneous per­sons will hear no reason: It is in vain. If he be asked [Sir, did you ever try?] it's like he must confess that he did not; un­less some magisterial rebuke once went for Evidence of truth. If the hearers (which is rare) have so much Christian wit and honesty, as to say, [Sir, Ministers above all men must be no back-biters, nor unjust: you know it is unlawful for us to judge another man, till we hear him speak for himself: If you would have us know whether he or you be in the right, let us hear you both together:] His answer would be like Cardinal Turnon at [Page 101] the conference at Poisie, and as the Papists ordinarily is, [It is dangerous letting Hereticks speak to the People, and it agreeth not with our zeal for God to hear such odious things uttered a­gainst the Truth.

In a word, There are more that have the Spirit of a Pope in the World than one, even among them that cry out against Popery; and that would fain be taken for the Dictators of the World, whom none must dissent from, much less contradict. And there are more Idolaters than Hea­thens, who would have their Ignorant understandings to be instead of God, the uncontrolled director of all about them.

But if these men have not any confidence in their self-suf­ficiency, if they can but embody in a society of their minds, or gather into a Synod, he must needs go for a proud and arrogant Schismatick at least, that will set any Reason and Evidence of Truth, against their Magisterial Ignorance, when it is the Major Vote.

The very Truth is, The great Benefactor of the World hath not been pleased to dispense his Benefits Equally, but with marvellous disparity: As he is the God of Nature, he hath been pleased to give a natural capacity for judiciousness and acuteness in difficult speculations but to few. And as he is the Lord of all, he hath not given men equal educa­cation, nor advantages for such extraordinary knowledge: Nor have all that have leisure and capacity, self denyal and patience enough for so long and difficult studies: But the Devil and our selves have given to all men Pride enough to desire to be thought to be wiser and better than we are: And he that cannot be equal with the wisest and best would be thought to be so: And while all men must needs seem wise, while few are so indeed, you may easily see what must thence follow.

2. And it is not Divines only, but all ranks of people, who are sick of this disease. The most unlearned ignorant peo­ple, the silliest Women, if they will not for shame say [Page 102] that they are wiser than their Teachers in the general, yet when it cometh to particular cases, they take themselves to be always in the right; and O how confident are they of it! And who more peremptory and bold in their judgments than those that least know what they say? It is hard to meet with a person above eighteen or twenty years of age, that is not notably tainted with this malady.

And it is not only these great mischiefs in matters of Re­ligion which spring from self-conceitedness, but even in our common converse, it is the cause of disorder, ruin and de­struction: For it is the common vice of blinded nature, and it is rare to meet with one that is not notably guilty of it: When they are past the state of professed Learners.

1. It is ordinary for self-conceited Persons to ruine their own Estates, and Healths, and Lives. When they are rash­ly making ill Bargains, or undertaking things which they understand not, they rush on till they find their error too late, and their Poverty, Prisons or ruined Families, must declare their sin. For they have not humility enough to seek Counsel in time, nor to take it when it is offered them. What great numbers have I heard begging relief from o­thers, under the confession of this sin?

And far more, even the most of Men and Women, over­throw their Health, and lose their Lives by it. Experi­ence doth not suffice to teach them, what is hurtful to their Bodies; and as they know not, so you cannot convince them that they know not. Most Persons by the excess in quantity of food, do suffocate Nature, and lay the Foundation of fu­ture Maladies. And most of the Diseases that kill men un­timely are but the effects of former Gluttony or Excess. But as long as they feel not any present hurt, no man can per­swade them but their fulness is for their Health, as well as for their Pleasure. They will laugh perhaps at those that tell them what they do, and what Diseases they are prepa­ring for: Let Physicians (if they be so honest) tell them, [Page 103][It is the perfection of the nutritive Juices, the Blood and nervous Oyl, which are the causes of Health in man: Perfect Concoction causeth that perfection: Nature can­not perfectly concoct too much, or that which is of too hard digestion: While you feel no harm, your Blood groweth dis-spirited, and being but half concocted, and half Blood, doth perform its Office accordingly by the halves; till crudities are heaped up, and obstructions fix­ed, and a Dunghil of Excrements, or the dis-spirited hu­mours are ready to take in any Disease, which a small oc­casion offereth; either Agues, Feavers, Coughs, Con­sumptions, Pleurisies, Dropsies, Colicks and Windiness, Head-achs, Convulsions, &c. or till the Inflammations or other Tumors of the inward Parts, or the torment of the Stone in Reins or Bladder, do sharply tell men what they have been doing. A clean Body and perfect Concoction, which are procured by Temperance and bodily Labours, which suscitate the Spirits, and purifie the Blood, are the proper means which God in the course of nature hath appointed, for a long and healthful Life.]’

This is all true, and the reason is evident, and yet this talk will be but despised and derided by the most; and they will say, ‘[I have so long eaten what I loved, and lived by no such rules as these, and I have found no harm by it.]’ Yea if Excess have brought Diseases on them, if Abstinence do but make them more to feel them; they will rather im­pute their illness to the Remedy, than to the proper cause. And so they do about the quality as well as the quantity: Self-conceitedness maketh men uncureable. Many a one have I known that daily lived in that fulness which I saw would shortly quench the Vital Spirits; and fain I would have saved their Lives; but I was not able to make them willing: Had I seen another assault them, I could have done somewhat for them, but when I foresaw their death, I could not save them from themselves. They still said, they [Page 104] found their measures of eating and drinking (between Meals) refresh them, and they were the worse, if they for­bore it, and they would not believe me against both Appe­tite, Reason and Experience: And thus have I seen abun­dance of my acquaintance wilfully hasten to the Grave: And all long of an unhumbled, self-conceited understanding, which would not be brought to suspect it self, and know its error.

2. And O how often have I seen the dearest Friends thus kill their Friends; even Mothers kill their dearest Children, and too oft their Husbands, Kindred, Servants and Neigh­bours by their self-conceit and confidence in their ignorance and error? Alas what abundance empty their own Houses, gratifie covetous Landlords, that set their Lands by Lives, and bring their dearest Relations to untimely ends, and a wise man knoweth not how to hinder them! How oft and oft have I heard ignorant Women confidently perswade e­ven their own Children to eat as long as they have an Ap­petite, and so they have vitiated their Blood and Humours in their Childhood, that their Lives have been either soon ended, or ever after miserable by Diseases! How oft have I heard them perswade sick or weak diseased Persons, to eat, eat, eat, and take what they have a mind to, when unless they would Poyson them, or cut their Throats, they could scarce more certainly dispatch them? How oft have these good Women been perswading my self, that eating and drinking more would make me better, and that it is Abstinence that causeth all my illness, (when Excess in my Childhood caused it;) as if every wise Woman that doth but know me, knew better what is good for me, than my self after threescore years experience, or than all the Phy­sicians in the City? And had I obeyed them, how many years ago had I been dead?

How ordinary is it for such self-conceited Women to ob­trude their skill and Medicines on their sick Neighbours, [Page 105] with the greatest confidence, when they know not what they do? yea upon their Husbands and their Children? One can scarce come about sick Persons, but one Woman or other is perswading them to take that, or do that which is like to kill them: Many and many when they have brought their Children to the Grave, have nothing to say but [I thought this or that had been best for them.]

But you'l say, [They do it in love; they meant no harm.] I answer, so false Teachers deceive Souls in Love. But are you content your selves to be kill'd by Love? If I must be kill'd, I had rather an Enemy did it than a Friend, I would not have such have the guilt or grief. Love will not save mens lives if you give them that which tends to kill them.

But you'l say, [We can be no wiser than we are: If we do the best we can, what can we do more?

I answer, I would have you not think your selves wiser than you are: I would write over this word five hundred times if that would cure you. About matters of Diet and Medi­cines, and Health, this is it that I would have you do to save you from killing your selves and your Relations. 1. Pre­tend not to know upon the report of such as your selves, or in matters that are difficult and beyond your skill; or where you have not had long consideration and experience. Meddle with no Medicining, but what in common easy cases the common judgment of Physicians and common Experi­ence have taught you.

2. If you have not Money to pay Physicians and Apothe­caries, tell them so, and desire them to give you their coun­sel freely, and take not on you to know more than they that have studied and practised it all their (riper part of their) lives.

3. Suspect your understandings, and consider how much there may be unknown to you, in the secresie and variety of Diseases, difference of temperatures, and the like, which [Page 104] [...] [Page 105] [...] [Page 106] may make that hurtful which you conceit is good. There­fore do nothing rashly and in self-conceited confidence, but upon the best advice ask the Physician whether your Medi­cines and Rules are safe.

4. And be sure that you do rather too little than too much: What abundance are there, especially in the small Pox and Feavers, that would have scaped, if Women (yea and Physicians) would have let them alone, that die be­cause that Nature had not leave to cure them, being di­sturbed by mistaken Usages or Medicines. Diseases are so various and secret, and Remedies so uncertain, that the wisest man alive that hath studied and practised it almost all his riper days (were it an hundred years) must confess that Physick is a hard, a dark, uncertain work, and ordi­nary cases (much more extraordinary) have somewhat in them which doth surpass his skill: And how then come so many Medicining Women to know more than they?

But you'l say, [We see that many miscarry by Physicians, and they speed worst that use them most.]

I answer. But would they not yet speed worse if they used you as much? If they are too ignorant, how come you to be wiser? If you are, teach them your Skill.

But I must add, that even Physicians guilt of the sin which I am reproving doth cost many a hundred persons their lives, as well as yours. Even too many Physicians who have need of many daies enquiry and observations truly to discover a disease, do kill men by rash and hasty judging (I talk not of the Cheating sort that take on them to know all by the Urine alone, but of honester and wiser men.) It is most cer­tain that old Celsus saith, that a Physitian is not able faith­fully to do his Office, for very many Patients: A few will take up all his time. But they that gape most after money, must venture upon a short sight, and a few words, and pre­sently resolve before they know, and write down their di­rections while they are ignorant of one half, which if they [Page 107] knew, would change their Counsels! And such is mans body and its diseases, that the oversight or ignorance of one thing among twenty is like enough to be the patients death. And how wise, expedient and vigilant must he be that will com­mit no such killing oversight?

And as too many medicine a man whom they know not, and an unknown disease, for want of just deliberation; so too many venture upon uncertain and untryed medicines, or rashly give that to one in another case, which hath pro­fited others. In a word, even rash Physicians have cause to fear lest by prefidence and hasty judging, more should die by their mistakes than do by murderers, that I say not by Souldiers in the world: And lest their dearest friends should speed worse by them, than by their greatest Ene­mies. For as Seamen and Souldiers do boldly follow the trade, when they find that in several Voyages and Battels they have escaped; but yet most or very ma­ny of them are drowned or killed at the last; So he that is tampering over-much with medicines, may scape well and boast of the Success a while: But at last one blood-let­ting, one Vomit, one Purge or other medicine may miscar­ry by a small mistake or accident, and he is gone. And there are some persons so Civil, that if a rash or unexperienced Physician be their Kinsman, Friend, or Neighbour, they will not go to an abler man, lest they be accounted unfriendly, and disoblige him; And if such scape long with their lives, they may thank Gods mercy and not their own wisdom. Souldiers kill enemies, and unskilful rash Physicians kill their friends.

But you'l say; They do their best, and they can do no more. I answer as before, 1. Let them not think that they know what they do not know; but sufficiently suspect their own understandings. 2. Let them not go beyond their know­ledge: How little of our kind of Physick did the old Phy­sicians (Hypocrates, Galius, Celsus, &c.) give? Do not too [Page 108] much. 3. Venture not rashly without full search, delibera­tion, Counsel and Experience. O how many die by hasty judging, and rash mistakes! Physicians must pardon my free speaking or endure it: for I conceive it necessary: It hath not been the least part of the Calamity of my Life to see my Friends and other worthy persons killed by the Ignorance or Hastiness of Physicians: I greatly reverence and honour those few that are men. 1. Of clear searching judicious heads, 2. Of great reading, especially of other mens Experiences, 3. Of great and long Experience of their own, 4. Of present Sagacity and ready memory to use their own experiments, 5. Of Conscience and cautelousness to suspect and know be­fore they hastily Judge and Practice. I would I could say that such are not too few. But I must say to the people, as you love your lives take heed of all the rest: A high-way Robber you may avoid or resist with greater probability of safety, than such men: How few are they that are kill'd by Thieves or in Duels, in comparison of those that are kill'd by Physicians, especially confident young men that account themselves wits, and think they have hit on such Philoso­phical principles as will better secure both their Practice and Reputation than old Physicians Doctrine and Experien­ces could do? Confident young men of unhumbled under­standings presently trust their undigested thoughts, and rashly use their poor short experiments, and trust to their new conceptions of the Reasons of all Operations; and then they take all others for meer Empyricks in comparison of them: And when all is done, their pretended Reason for want of full Experience and Judgment to improve it, doth but enable them to talk and boast, and not to heal; and when they have kill'd men, they can justify it, and prove that they did it Rationally, or rather that it was something else, and not their error that was the cause. They are wits and men of rare inventions, and therefore are not such fools as to confess the Fact. How oft have I seen men of great worth, [Page 109] such as few in an age arise too who having a high esteem of an injudicious unexperienced Physician, have sealed their erroneous kindness with their blood? How oft have I seen worthy persons destroyed by a pernicious medicine clear contrary to what the nature of the disease required, who without a Physician might have done well? Such sorrows just now upon me make me the more plain and copious in the Case. And yet alas I see no hope of amendment proba­ble! For, 1. Many hundred Ministers being forbidden to Preach the Gospel and cast out of all their livelyhood, for not Promising, Asserting, Swearing and doing all that is re­quired of them, many of these think that necessity alloweth them to turn Physicians, which they venture on upon seven years study when Seven, and Seven, and Seven, is not enough, though advantaged by the help of other mens ex­periments. 2. And others rush on Practice in their youth, partly because they have not yet knowledge enough to dis­cern uncertainties and difficulties in the Art, or to see what is further necessary to be known. And partly, because they think that seeing Skill must be got by experience, use must help them to that experience, and all men must have a be­ginning. 3. And when they do their best, they say, God requireth no more. 4. And they hope if they kill one, they cure many.

But O that they had the Sobriety to consider, 1. That the Physician is but One man; And will his maintenance or livelyhood excuse him for killing many? 2. That even one mans Life is more precious than one mans maintenance, or fuller supply: Is it not honester to beg your bread? 3. That killing men by virtue of your trade without danger to you doth but hinder your Repentance, but not so much exte­nuate your sin as many think: Which is aggravated in that you kill your friends that trust you, and not Enemies that oppose you or avoid you. 4. Your experience must not be got by killing men, but by accompanying experi­enced [Page 110] Physicians till you are fit to practice: And if you cannot stay so long for want of maintenance, beg rather than kill men, or betake you to some other trade.

But if you be too Proud or Confident to take such Coun­sel, I still advise all that love their lives, that they choose not a Physician under fourty years old at least, and if it may be, not under sixty, unless it be for some little disease or re­medy, which hath no danger, and where they can do no harm, if they do no good: Old men may be ignorant, but Young men must needs be so, for want of experience, though some few rare persons are sooner ripe than others.

And whereas they say that they Cure more than they Kill; I wish that I had reason to believe them: I suppose that if more of their patients did not live than die, they would soon lose their practice: But it's like the far greatest part of those that live, would have lived without them, and per­haps have been sooner and easier cured, if nature had not by them been disturbed.

And what calling is there in which hasty judging and con­ceits of more knowledge than men have, doth not make great confusion and disappointment? If a Fool that rageth and is confident be a Pilot; woe to the poor Seamen and Passengers in the Ship.

If such a one be Commander in an Army, his own and other mens Blood or Captivity, must cure his confidence and stay his rage. For such will learn at no cheaper a rate.

How oft hear we such Workmen, Carpenters, Masons, &c. raging confident that their way is right, and their work well done, till the ruin of it confute and shame them?

If this disease take hold of Governours, who will not stay to hear all parties, and know the Truth, but take up reports on trust, from those that please or flatter them, or judge presently before impartial tryal, and hearing all, woe [Page 111] to the land that is so governed. The wisest and the best man must have due information, and time, patience and consideration to receive it, or else he may do as David be­tween Mephibosheth and Ziba, and cannot be just.

What an odious thing is a partial, blind, rash, hasty and impatient judge, that cannot hear, think and know before he judgeth? Such the old Christians had to do with among their Persecutors, who knew not what they held or what they were, and yet could judge them, and cruelly execute them. And such were Tacitus and other old Historians that from common prejudice spake words of contempt or reproach of them. The Christians were glad when they had a Tra­jan, an Antonine, an Alexander Severus, &c. to speak to, that had Reason and Sobriety, to hear their cause. A­mong the Papists, the old Reformers and Martyrs took him for a very commendable judge or Magistrate, that would but allow them a Patient hearing, and give them leave to speak for themselves. Truth and Godliness have so much evi­dence, and such a testimony for themselves in the Conscience of Mankind, as that the Devil could never get them so o­diously thought of and so hardly used in the World, but on­ly by keeping them unknown, which is much by expelling and silencing their defenders, (who speed well sometime if an Obadiah hide them by fifties in a Cave,) and by tempt­ing their Judges to hear but some superficial narrative of their cause, and to have but a glimpse of the outside as in transitu, [and to see only the back-parts of it, yea but the clothing; which is commonly such as are made by its Ene­mies; Good men and causes are too oft brought to them, and set out by them, as Christ with his Scarlet Robe, his Reed and Crown of Thorns, and then they say, Behold the man; and when they have cryed out, [Blasphemy, and an Enemy to Caesar] they write over his cross in scorn; The King of the Jews. Cain had not Patience to hear his own Brother▪ and weigh the Case, no not after that God had admonished [Page 112] him: But he must first hate and murder, and afterward consi­der why, when it is too late. Judas must know his Masters Innocency, and what he had done, in despair to hang him­self. And so wise Achitophel cometh to his end. If David would have pondred his usage of Uriah as much in time as he did when Nathan had awakened his reason, O what had he prevented: If Paul had weighed before, the case of Christians, as he did when Christ did stop his rage, he had not incur­red the guilt of Persecution and the Martyrs Blood: But he tells us that he was exceedingly mad against them: And it is madness indeed to venture on Cruelty and Persecution, and not stay first to understand the cause, and consider why, and what is like to be the end.

How ordinarily in the world are the excellentest men on Earth, for Wisdom and Holiness (such as Ignatius, Cyprian, and the rest of the Antient Martyrs; and such as Athanasius, Chrysostom, &c.) reviled, and used as if they were the basest Rogues on Earth, laid in Jails, banished, silenced, murdered, and all this by men that know not what they are, and have no true understanding of their cause? Men of whom the world was not worthy, wandred up and down, in Dens, and Caves, and suffered joyfully the spoiling of their goods, yea and death it self, Heb. 11. from men that Judged before they knew? Many a Great Man and Judge that hath condemned Christ's Ministers as Hereticks, false Teachers, unworthy to preach the Gospel, have been such as understand not their Baptism, Creed or Catechism, and have need of many years teaching to make them know tru­ly but those Principles that every Child should know. There needs no great learning, wisdom, sobriety or honesty to teach them to cry out, [You are a Rogue, a Seducer, a Heretick, a Schismatick, disobedient, seditious; or, Away with such a fel­low from the Earth; it is not fit that he should live, Act. 22.22. and 21.26. Or, Away with him, Crucifie him, give us Barabbas: or to say, We have found this man a pestilent fellow, a mover of [Page 113] Sedition, a Leader of a Sect, that teacheth contrary to the De­crees of Caesar, &c.] But patience till the Cause were fully tryed, and all things heard and equally weighed, would prevent most of this.

I know that ignorance and weakness of Judgment is the common calamity of mankind, and there is no hope of cu­ring us by unity in high degrees of knowledge. And though Teachers are, and must be a great stay to ignorant Lear­ners; yet alas! how can they tell which are the wisest Teachers, and whom to chuse? When all pretend to Wis­dom, and no man can judge of that which he neither hath nor knoweth; and even the Roman Sect who pretend most to Infallibility, have so exceeded all men in their Errour, as to make it a part of Religion, necessary to our possessions, communion, dominion, and salvation, to maintain the fals­hood of God's Natural Revelations to the senses of all sound men in the world. How shall one that would learn Philoso­phy know in this Age, what Sect to follow, or what Guide to chuse? Hence is our Calamity, and the Remedy will be but imperfect till the time of perfection come.

But yet we are not remediless 1,. If men would but well lay in, hold fast, love, and faithfully improve the few necessa­ry Essential Principles. 2. If they would make them a Rule in trying what is built upon them; and receive nothing that certainly contradicteth them. 3. If they would stay, think and try, till their thoughts are well digested, and all is heard, before they take in doubtful things. 4. If they will carry themselves as humble Learners to those whose wisdom is conspicuous by its proper light, especially the concordant Pastors of the Churches. 5. And if they will not quarrel with Truth for every difficulty which they understand not, but humbly, as Learners, suspect their own wit, till their Teachers have helpt them in a leisurely and faithful tryal; by such means the mischief of Errour and Rashness might be much avoided.

[Page 114]In common matters necessity and undeniable experience doth somewhat rebuke and restrain this vice. If Children should set their wits against their Parents, or Scholars pre­sently dispute it with their Masters, Nature and the Rod would rebuke their pride and folly. If they that never used a Trade, should presently take themselves to be as wise as the longest practicers, who would be Apprentices? And if an unskilful Musician, Painter, Poet, or other such like, shall be confident that he is as good at his work as any, standers by will not easily cherish his folly, as being not blinded by his self-love. A good workman shall have most praise and practice. Buyers will convince the ignorant boasters by for­saking such mens shops: As it is with self-conceited igno­rant Writers, who are restrained by the people, who will not buy and read their Books. And usually Good and Bad Judges, Magistrates, Lawyers, Souldiers, Pilots, Artificers, are discerned by most that are capable of judging; because, 1. These are matters where the common sense and expe­rience of mankind doth render them somewhat capable of judging, and save them from deceit. 2. And here is not usually such deep and long Plots and endeavours to de­ceive as in matters of Speculation, and specially Religion and Policy there is. 3. And the Devil is not so concerned and industrious to deceive men in matters of so low impor­tance. 4. And if one be deceived, many are ready to rectifie him. 5. And Mens Interest here is better understood in bodily matters, and they are not so willing to be deceived. A poor man can easily discern between a charitable man, and an uncharitable; between a merciful and an oppressing Land­lord: We discern between diligent and slothful Servants; but in matters that are above our reach, which we must take on trust, and know not whom to trust, the difficulty is greater: Where the Errour and Haste of either party will breed mischief, but much more of both: If the Phy­sician, or other Undertaker be Confident in his Errour, and [Page 115] precipitant, he will impose ruine on mens health, as I have said: And if the Patient be self-conceited and rash in his choice, he is like to suffer for it: But when both Physician and Patient are so, what hope of escape? And especially when through the great imperfection of mans understanding, not one of a multitude is clear and skilful in things that are beyond the reach of sense: And if one man, after great ex­perience, come to be wiser than the rest, the hearer know­eth it not, and he must cast out his Notions among as many assailing Warriours, as there are ignorant self-conceited hearers present (and that is usually as there are persons:) And when every one hath poured out his confidence against it, and perhaps reproached the Author as erroneous, because he will know more than they, and will not reverence their known mistakes, alas! how shall the person that we would instruct (be it for Health or Soul) be able to know which of all these to trust as wisest?

But the saddest work is that forementioned, in Churches, Kingdoms, Families and Souls. I must expect that open­ing the Crime will exasperate the Guilty: But what re­medy? 1. Should I largely open what work this maketh in Families, I have too much matter for the complaint. If the Wife differ from the Husband, she seemeth always in the right: If the Servant differ from the Master, and the Child from the Parent (if a little past infancy) they are always in the right. What is the Contention in Families, (and in all the World) but who shall have his way and will? If they are of several Parties in Religion, or if any be against Religion it self, if they be foolish, erroneous, or live in any sin, that can without utter impudence be de­fended, still they are able to make it good: And, except Children at School, or others that professedly go to be taught, whom can we meet with so ignorant or mistaken, that will not still think when even Superiours differ from them, and reprove them, that they are in the right.

[Page 116]2. And what mischiefs doth it cause in Churches? When the Papal Tyrannical part are so confident that they are in the right, that when they silence Preachers, and Imprison and burn Christians, they think it not their duty so much as to hear what they have to say for themselves. Or if they hear a few words, they have not the patience to hear all, or im­partially to try the cause: But they are so full of themselves and over wise, that it must seem without any more ado a crime to dissent from them, or contradict them. And thus proud self-conceitedness smiteth the Shepherds, scattereth the flocks, and will allow the Church of Christ no Unity or Peace. And the popular croud are usually or oft as self-con­ceited in their way; And if they never so unreasonably op­pose their Teachers, how hard is it to make them know or once suspect that they are mistaken? O what mutinies in Christs Armies, what Schisms, what Confusions, what Scan­dals, what persecutions in the Church, what false accusations, what groundless censures, do proud self-conceited understand­ings cause?

But scarce any where is it more lamentably seen than among injudicious, unexperienced Ministers. What work is made in the Christian world, by Sect against Sect, and Par­ty against Party, in cases of controversy, by most mens bold and confident judging of what they never truly studied, tried or understood? Papists against Protestants, Protestants against Papists, Lutherans (or Arminians) and Calvi­nists, &c. usually charge one another by bare hear-say, or by a few sentences or scraps Collected out of their writings by their adversaries, contrary to the very Scope of the whole discourse or context. And men cannot have leisure to peruse the books and to know before they judge. And then they think that seeing their Reverend Doctors have so reported their adversaries before them, it is arrogance or injury to think that they knew not what they said, or else belied them. And on such supposition the false judging doth go on. [Page 117] Of all the Pulpits that oft trouble the people with Invectives against this side or that, especially in the Controversies of Predestination, Grace and Free-will, how few do we hear that know what they talk against?

Yea those young or unstudied men, who might easily be conscious how little they know, are ready to oppose and con­temn the most ancient studied Divines; When if ever they would be wise men, they should continue Scholars to such even while they are teachers of the people.

I will not presume to open the Calamities of the World, for want of Rulers true knowing their Subjects case, but judging hastily by the reports of Adversaries: But that Rebellions ordinarily hence arise I may boldly say: When Subjects that know not the reasons of their Rulers actions, are so over wise as to make themselves Judges of that which concerneth them not: And how few be they that think not themselves wiser than all their Guides and Gover­nours?

And Lastly, by this sin it is that the wisdom of the wisest is as lost to the world: For let a man know never so much more than others, after the longest, hardest studies, the self-conceitedness of the ignorant riseth up against it, or maketh them uncapable of receiving it, so that he can do lit­tle good to others.

I conclude again that this is the Plague and misery of mankind and the cause of all Sin and Shame and Ruines, that Ignorant unhumbled understandings will be still judging rashly be­fore they have throughly tried the case, and will not suspend till they are capable of Judging, nor be convinced that they know not what they know not, but be confident in their first or ungrounded apprehensions.

Chap. 11.

The Signs and Common discoveries of a proud self-conceited understanding, and of pretended knowledge.

BY such effects as these the most of men, do shew their guilt, of overvaluing their own appprehen­sions.

1. When they will be confident of things that are quite above their understandings, or else which they never throughly studied; some are confident of that which no man knoweth; And most are confident of that which I think they are unlike to be certain of themselves, without miracu­lous inspiration, which they give us no reason to believe that they have. Things that cannot ordinarily be known, 1. Without the preparation of many other Sciences, 2. Or without reading many books, 3. Or without reading or hearing what is said against it. 4. Or at least without long and serious studies we have abundance that will talk most peremptorily of them, upon the trust of their teachers or party, without any of this necessary means of Know­ledge.

2. The hastiness of mens conclusions discovereth this Pre­sumption and Self-conceit. When at the first hearing or read­ing, or after a few thoughts they are as confident, as if they had grown old in studies; the best understandings must have a long time to discern the Evidence of things difficult, and a longer time to try that Evidence by comparing it with what is brought against it: and yet a longer time to digest truths into that Order and Clearness of Apprehension, which is necessary to distinct and solid Knowledge, when without all this ado▪ most at the first lay hold of that which cometh in their way: And there they stick, at least till a more esteem­ed teacher or party tell them somewhat that is contrary to it. It is but few of our first apprehensions that are sound, and need not reformation; but none that are well di­gested, [Page 119] and need not much consideration to perfect them.

3. Is it not a plain discovery of a presumptuous under­standing, when men will confidently conclude of things which their own tongues are forced to confess that they do not understand? I mean not only so as to give an accurate definition of them, but really not to know what it is that they talk of. Many a zealous Anabaptist I have known, that knoweth not what Baptism is. And many a one that hath disputed confidently for or against Free-will, that knew not at all what Free-will is. And many a one that hath disputed about the Lords Supper, and Separated from almost all Churches for want of sufficient strictness in it, and espe­cially for giving it to the ignorant, who upon examination have not known the true Nature of a Sacrament, nor of the Sacred Covenant which it sealeth. Many a one forsaketh most Churches as no Churches, that they may be of a right constituted Church, who know not what a Church is. What abundance will talk against an Arminian, a Calvinist, a Pre­latist, a Presbyterian, an Independent, that really know not what any of them are? Like a Gentleman the other day that after long talk of the Presbyterians, being urged to tell what a Presbyterian was, could tell no more but that he was one that is not so merry and sociable as other men, but stricter against sports or taking a Cup. And if I should tell you how few that can judge the controversies about Predestination, do know what they talk of, it were easy to e­vince it.

4. May I not discern their Prefidence, when men that hold contraries, five men of five inconsistent opinions, are yet every one confident that his own is right? When at best it is but one▪ that can be right. When six men confidently expound a text in the Revelation six ways. When five men are so confident of five several ways of Church Government, that they embody themselves into several Policies or parties [Page 120] to enjoy them. Is not here Self-conceitedness in all (at least) save one?

5. When men themselves by turning from opinion to o­pinion, shall confess their former opinion was false; and yet made a Religion of it while they held it; was not this a pre­sumptuous understanding? When a man shall be one year of one Sect, and another of another, and yet always confident that he is in the right.

6. When men that are known to be ignorant in other parts of Religion, shall yet in some one opinion which they have espoused, seem to themselves much wiser than their Teachers and make nothing of the Judgments of those that have studied it many a year, is not this a presuming mind? Take the ablest Divine that ever you knew living, suppose him to be Jewel, Andrews, Usher, Davenant, Calvin, Chamier, Camero, Armesius, Gataker, &c. Let him be one that all Learn­ed men admire, whose Judgment is sent for from several Kingdoms; who hath spent a long life in hard and very successful studies, every Boy and Silly Woman every igno­rant vicious clown, that differeth from him in any point, shall slight all the wisdom of this man, as if in comparison of himself he were a fool. Let it come but to the point of Anabaptistry, Separation, Antinomianism yea the grossest opinions of the Quakers, and what senseless fellow or wench is not much wiser than all these Divines? And they will pity him as a poor carnal ignorant person, which hath not the teaching of God which they have. Yea let him but seek to draw a sensualist from his Voluptuousness, this poor sot doth presently take himself to be the wiser man, and can prove all his Gaming, his Idleness, his Wantonness, his precious time wasted in Plays and long Feastings, his Gluttony, his Tip­ling, his Prodigal wastefullness to be all lawful things, what­ever the Learned Pastor say.

But why do not such men suspect their understandings, and consider with themselves, what likelihood is there that [Page 121] men as holy as I, that have studied it all their days, should not be wiser than I that never searcht as they have done? Doth not God say, he that seeketh shall find; and wisdom must be laboriously searched for, as a hidden treasure? and doth not God use to give his blessing on supposition of mens Faithful endeavours?

7. Is it not palpable Pride when a few men, no wiser nor better than others, can easily believe that all the rest of the Christian World, the most Learned, Godly and concor­dant Christians, are all deceived ignorant Souls, and they and their few adherents only are in the right, in some doubtful controversies, wherein they have no advantage above others, either for capacity or grace? I know that when the World is drowned in wickedness, we must not imitate them, be they never so many, nor follow a multitude to do evil; and I know that the Certain Truth of the Gospel must be held fast though most of the World be Infidels: And that when the Arrians were the most, they were not therefore the rightest; And that even among Christians, Carnal Interests use to breed and keep up such corruptions, as must not for the number of the vicious be approved. But when those that truely fear God, and seek the Truth and Faithfully serve him, as self-denyingly as any others, shall agree in any part of Holy Doctrine or Worship, for a few among them to rise up in a conceit of their own understandings, and separate from them as they separate from the World, and this upon less study than many of the rest have used, to find out the Truth; I am sure none but a Proud person will do this, without great jealousie of his own understanding, and great fear of erring, and without long and serious search and delibera­tion at the least.

8. Is it not Pride of understanding, when we see men confident upon inconsiderable Reasons: when they bring nothing that should move a man of any competent under­standing, and yet they build as boldly on this Sand, as if they built upon a Rock.

[Page 122]9. And when they slight the strongest and clearest argu­ments of another: And in their prefidence disdain them, before they understand them, as not worthy of considera­tion, and as silly things.

10. When they obtrude all their Conceits magisterially upon others; and expect that all men presently be of their mind and say as they do: when they value men just as they agree with or disagree from their opinion, and all are dear to them that hold with them, and all are slighted that think they err. When a man that without chewing presently swalloweth their conceits, is taken for a sounder man than he that will take nothing as sure till Evidence prove it to him: Is not this notorious Pride of understanding? And O how common is this imposing Pride, even in them that cry out against it and condemn it? They that will vilify one party as Imposing all their own conceptions, even in words and forms and ceremonies, on the Churches of Christ, will yet themselves be rigid Imposers; No man shall be of their Communion, nor judged meet for the Holy Sacrament, who cometh not to their opinions in many of their singularities; Nay worse, that will not abstain from communion with other Churches; whom their presump­tion separateth from.

11. And do not those people most value their own un­derstandings, who choose Teachers to please them, and not to Teach them, and hear them as Judges or censurers, and not as Learners? How ordinary is this? If they be to choose a Pastor, they will rather have the most injudicious man who thinks as they think, than the wisest man that is able to teach them better. If they hear any thing which agreeth not with their former conceits, they go away magisterially, censuring the Preacher; He taught unsound Doctrine, dan­gerous things; And neither understand him, nor endea­vour to Learn. I have seldom Preached in strange con­gregations, nor seldom written on any subject, but among [Page 123] many Learners, some such hearers and readers I have had that neither have understanding enough to Teach, nor hu­mility enough to know it, and to Learn: but they go a­way prating among their Companions of what they never understood; and if it fall out that I know of it, and answer them, they have nothing to say; But a putarem, or non-pu­tarem: I thought you had meant thus or thus (contrary to what I spoke) or I noted not this or that word (which the sence depended on.) Do but say as they would have you, and you are an excellent man! But if you tell them more than they knew, if it detect any error or ignorance which they had before, they condemn your teaching, instead of learning of you. Poor Souls! If you are wise enough already, what need you a Teacher? If you are not, why will you not learn? If you were wiser than He, why did you choose or take him for your Teacher? If you are not, why will you not learn of him?

12. The deep and cruel censures which they pass against Dissenters, doth shew their self-conceitedness. None more censorious than raw unexperienced persons, not only Igno­rant Preachers, but Women and Boys. How readily and boldly without any fear of God doth one seek to make his Brother odious as a Schismatick and a Fanatick, and worse than words can describe him; and another to reproach o­thers as Antichristian and Carnal, whom he never under­stood? Nothing but Pride could make men so ready and bold and fearless in their most foolish censures.

13. And it further sheweth their proud presumption, when they dare do all this upon bare rumors and hear-say, and ungrounded suspicions. Were they not proud and presump­tuous, they would think, Alas, my understanding is not so clear and sure, nor my Charity so safe and strong, as that I should in reason venture to condemn my Brother, upon uncertain rumors, and so slight reports? Have I heard him speak for himself? Or is it Charity or common Justice [Page 124] to condemn a man unheard? What though they are godly men that report it? So was David that committed Adulte­ry and Murder, and hastily received a Lie against Mephibo­sheth; and perhaps many of those Corinthians, against whose false censures, Paul was put so largely to vindicate himself.

14. Yea, when they dare proceed to vend these false re­ports and censures upon hear-say, to the destruction of the Charity of those that hear them. And so entangle them all in sin: As if it were not enough to quench their own Love to their Brother by false Surmises, but they must quench as many others also as they can.

15. Yea, when they dare venture so far as to unchurch many Churches, yea, most in the World, and degrade most Ministers, if not unchristen most Christians, or at least them­selves withdraw from the Communion of such Churches, and all for something which they never understood; about a Doctrine, a Form, a Circumstance, where self-opinion or self-interest draweth them to all this bold adventure.

To say nothing of Condemnations of whole Churches and Countreys, the tyrannical, proud Impositions, the cruel Persecutions, which the Papal Faction hath been guilty of by this Vice, judge now whether it be not too common a case to be guilty of an unhumbled understanding, and of pre­tended knowledge?

Obj. If it be so, is it not best do as the Papists, and keep men from reading the Scriptures, or medling with divine things which they cannot master, any further than to believe what the Church believeth.

Ans. 1. It is best no doubt, to teach men to know the difference between Teachers and Learners, and to keep in a humble learning state, and in that state to grow as much in knowledge as they can: But not to cast away knowledge, for fear of over-valuing it, nor renounce their reason, for fear of errour. No more than to put out their Eyes for fear of mistaking by them, or chusing madness lest they abuse [Page 125] their wits: Else we might wish to be Brutes, because abu­sed Reason is the cause of all the errours and mischiefs in the World.

2. The Popish Clergy who give this counsel for the blinding of the vulgar, are worse themselves, and by their proud Contendings, Censures and Cruelties, shew more self-conceitedness than the vulgar do.

3. The truth is, the cause is the common frailty of man, and the common pravity of corrupted nature, and it is to be found in Persons of all Ranks, Religions and Conditions; of which more after in due place.

Chap. 12.

Of the mischievous effects of this proud pretence of more knowledge than men have.

IF the mischiefs of this sin had not been very great, I had not chosen this subject to treat of.

1. It is no small mischief to involve mens Souls in the guilt of all the sins, which I named in the last Chapter, as the discovery of this Vice. Sure all those disorders, cen­sures, slanders, and presumptions, should not seem small in the Eyes of any man that feareth God, and loveth holiness, and hateth sin.

2. Pretended knowledge wasteth men some time in getting it, and much more in abusing it: All the time that you study for it, preach for it, talk for it, write for it, is sin­fully lost and cast away.

3. It kindleth a corrupt and sinful Zeal; such as James describeth, Jam. 3.1, 15. which is envious and striving, and is but Earthly, Sensual and Devilish: A Zeal against Love, and against good Works, and against the Interest of our Brother, and against the Peace and Concord of the Church; a hurting, burning, devouring, excommunicating, perse­cuting Zeal. And a Feaver in the Body is not so pernicious as such a sinful Zeal in the Soul. Such a Zeal the Jews had [Page 126] as Paul bears them witness, Rom. 11.1. Such a Zeal, alas, is so common among persecuting Papists on one side, and censorious Sectaries and Separatists on the other, that we must all bear the sad effects of it. And self-conceited know­ledge is the fuel of this Zeal, as James 3. fully manifest­eth.

4. This pretended knowledge is the fixing of false Opinions in the minds of men, by which the truth is most power­fully kept out. A Child will not wrangle against his Teacher, and therefore will learn; but these over-wise Fools do presently set their wits against what you say, to keep out knowledge. You must beat down the Garrison of his pride, before you come within hearing to instruct him: He is hardlier untaught the errours which he hath received, than an unprejudiced man is taught to understand most ex­cellent truths.

5. By this the gifts of the most wise and excellent Teach­ers are half lost: It is full Bottles that are cast into these Seas of knowledge, which have no room for more, but come out as they went in: If an Augustine, or an Aquinas, or Scotus were among them, yea, a Peter or Paul, what can he put into these Persons that are full of their own con­ceits already? Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a Fool than of him.

6. Yea, they are usually the perverters of the Souls of others: Before they can come to themselves, and know that they were mistaken, what pains have they taken to make others of their own erroneous minds, whom they are not able afterward to undeceive again?

7. It is a vice that blemisheth many excellent qualifica­tions: To hear of a man that valueth his own Judgment but according to its worth, and pretendeth to know but so much as he knoweth indeed, is no shame to him; though knowledge is a thing fitter to be Used than Boasted of: But if a man know never so much, and can never so well ex­press [Page 127] it, if he think that he is wiser than he is, and excel­leth others more than indeed he doth, and over-valueth that knowledge which he hath, it is a shame which his greatest parts cannot excuse or hide.

8. It exposeth a man to base and shameful mutability. He that will be hasty and confident in his apprehensions, is so oft mistaken, that he must as oft change his mind, and recant, or do much worse. I know that it cannot be ex­pected that any man should have as sound apprehensions in his youth, as in his age, and that the wisest should not have need of mutations for the better, and retractations of some youthful Errours; and he that changeth not, and re­tracteth nothing, it seems is in his childish Ignorance and Errour still: but when natural frailty exposeth us all to much of this disgrace, we should not expose our selves to so much more. A hasty judger, or prefident man must be a very Weathercock, or be defiled with a Leprosie of Errour. Whereas if men would but be humble and modest, and self-suspicious and suspend their presumption, and not take on them to know before they know indeed, how safely might they walk, and how seldom would they need to change their minds, or either stick in the sink of Errour, or make many shameful Retractations?

9. Prefidence and false judging engageth a man in a very life of sin. For when falshood goeth for truth with him, it will infect his affections, and pollute his conversation, and all that he doth in the obedience and prosecution of that Errour will be sin. Yea the greatest sin that he can but think no sin, may be committed; as was the Persecution of Christ and Christians, by the Jews, and Paul, and others like them; and the Papists bloodiness for their Religion throughout Christendom.

10. It disturbeth the Peace of all Societies: This is the vice that disquieteth Families: Every one is wisest in his own Eyes: The Servant thinketh his own way better than [Page 128] his Masters: What are all the contentions between Hus­band and Wife, or any in the Family, but that in all their differences, every one thinketh himself to be in the right? His own Opinion is right, his own Words and Ways are right; and when every one is wise and just, and every one is in the right, the effects are such as if no one were wise or in the right.

And in Civil Societies, Seditions, Rebellions Oppressions, Tyranny, and all Confusions come from this, that men pretend to be sure of what they are not. Rulers take up with false reports from idle malicious whisperers and accusers against their inferiours, and have not the Justice and Pa­tience to suspend their Judgments, till they have searcht out the matter, and fully heard men speak for themselves. Subjects make themselves Judges of the secrets of [...]overn­ment, and of the Councils and Actions of their Rulers, of which they have no certain notice, but venture to conclude upon deceitful suspicions. And the Contentions and Fa­ctions amongst Nobles and other Subjects, come from misunderstandings, through hasty and ungrounded judgings.

But the wofullest effects are in the Churches; where, alas, whilst every Pastor will be wiser than another, and the People wiser than all their Pastors, and every Sect and Party much wiser than all that differ from them, their divisions, their separations, their alienations and bitter censurings of each other, their obtruding their own Opinions, and Rules and [...]eremonies upon each other, their bitter envyings, strife and persecutions of each other, do make sober stan­ders-by to ask, as Paul, Is there not a wise man among you? O happy the World, happy Kingdoms, but most happy the Churches of Christ, if we could possibly bring men but to know their Ignorance! If the Pastors themselves were not prefident and presumptuous over-valuers of their own apprehen­sions! And if the People knew how little they know! But now alas, men rage against each other in their dreams, and [Page 129] few of them have the grace to awake before death, and find to repentance, that they were themselves in errour.

Hear me, with that remnant of meekness and humility which thou hast left, thou confident, bitter, censorious man! Why must that man needs be taken for a Heretick, a Schis­matick, a refractory, stubborn, self-willed person, an Anti­christian, carnal, formal man, who is not of thy Opinion in point of a Controversie, of a Form, of an Order, of a Cir­cumstance, or Subscription, or such like? It's possible it may be so! And its possible thou maist be more so thy self. But hast thou so patiently heard all that he hath to say, and so clearly discerned the truth on thy own side, and that this truth is made so evident to him as that nothing but wilful obstinacy can resist it, as will warrant all thy censure and contempt? Or is it not an over-valuing of thy own under­standing, which makes thee so easily condemn all as un­sufferable that differ from it? Hath not pride made thy sil­ly wit to be as an Idol, to which all must bow down on pain of the heat of thy displeasure? Do not some of those men whom thou so Magisterially condemnest, study as hard and as impartially as thy self? Do they not pray as hard for Gods assistance? Have they not the same Books, and as good Teachers? Do they not live as well, and shew as much tenderness of Conscience, and fear of erring and sinning as thy self? why then art thou so hasty in condemning them that are as fair for the reputation of wisdom as thou art?

But suppose them mistaken; hast thou tryed that they are unwilling to be instructed? It may be you have wrangled with them by disputes, which have but engaged each other to defend his own Opinion: But call them to thee in Love, and tell them, you are ignorant, and I am wise: I will teach you what you know not, and open to them all the Evi­dence which causeth your own confident apprehensions: Wish them to study it, and hear patiently what they have to say; and I am perswaded that many or most sober men [Page 130] that differ from you, will not refuse thus to become as your Scholars, so far as to consider all that you have to offer to convince them, and thankfully receive as much of the truth as they can discern.

But, alas, no men rage so much against others as errone­ous and blind, as the blind and erroneous; and no men so furiously brand others with the marks of Obstinacy, Facti­ousness and Schism, as the Obstinate, Factious and Schismati­cal. The prouder the Obtruder of his own conceits is, the more he condemneth all Dissenters as proud, for presuming to differ from such as he? and all for want of a humble mind.

11. Moreover it is this pretended knowledge which is the cause of all our false Reformations. Men are so over-wise, that they presently see a Beam in their Brothers Eye, which is but a Mote; and they magnifie all the imperfections of others, Pastors and Churches, into Mountains of iniquity: Every mis-expression or disorder, or inconvenient phrase in a Prayer, or a Sermon, or a Book, is an odious, damn­ing, intolerable evil. O! say such, what Idolaters are they that use a Form of Prayer, which God did not command? What large Consciences have they that can join with a Pa­rish Church? that can communicate Kneeling, and among bad men, or those whose Conversion is not tryed? What abundance of intolerable evils do such men find in the Words and Forms, and Orders, and Circumstances of other mens Worship, which God mercifully accepteth through Christ, taking all these but for such pardonable imperfections as he mercifully beareth with in all. And then the Reformation must be presently answerable to the apprehension of the e­vil.

Yea, sometimes the very injudicious sort of zealous peo­ple make the cry of the greatness of this or that corruption, how Antichristian and intolerable it is? And then the Re­formation must satisfie this vulgar errour, and answer the cry and expectation of the people.

[Page 131]I would here give instances of abundance of mis-reform­ings, which all need a Reformation, both in Doctrine, Dis­cipline and Worship, but that I reserve it for another Trea­tise if I live to finish it, and can get it printed, called Over­doing is Undoing.

12. Lastly, This Vice of pretended certainty and know­ledge, hath set up several false terms of Christian Unity and Peace, and by them hath done more to hinder the Churches Peace and Unity, than most devices ever did, which Satan ever contrived to that end: by this Church-tearing Vice, abundance of falshoods, and abundance of things uncertain, and abundance of things unnecessary, have been made so necessary to the Union and Communion of the Churches and their Members, as that thereby the Christian World hath been grinded to powder by the names and false pre­tences of Unity and Peace. Just as if a wise Statesman would advise his Majesty, that none may be his Subjects that are not of one Age, one Stature, one Complexion, and one Disposition, that so he might have Subjects more perfectly concordant, than all the Princes on Earth besides: and so might be the most Glorious Defender of Unity and Peace! But how must this be done? Why, command them all to be of your mind? But that prevaileth not, and yet it is undone? Why then they are obstinate, self-will'd Persons. Well, but yet it is undone! Why lay Fines and Penalties upon them? Well, but yet it is undone: All the Hypocrites that had no Religion, are of the Religion which is uppermost; and the rest are uncured. Why require more Bricks of them, and let them have no Straw, and tell them that their Religion is their idleness, stubbornness and pride, and let your little Finger be heavier than your Fathers Loins! But hearken, young Counsellors! Jerobo­am will have the advantage of all this, and still the sore will be unhealed. Why then Banish them, and Hang them that obey not, till there be none left that are not of one mind. [Page 132] But Sir, I pray you, who shall do it? and who shall that one man be that shall be left to be all the Kingdom? You are not such a Fool as to be ignorant, that no two men will agree in all things, nor be perfectly of the same complexi­on: If there must be One King and but One Subject, I pray you, who shall that one Subject be? I hope not he that counselleth it; Ne (que) enim Lex justior ulla est, quàm necis ar­tifices arte perire suâ. But hark you Sir, shall that one Man have a Wife or not? If not, the Kingdom will die with him? if yea, I dare prognosticate he and his Wife will not be in all things of a mind. If they be, take me for a mistaken man.

By this Vice of pretended knowledge and certainty, it is, that the Papacy hath been made the Center of the Unity of the Universal Church. Unity we must have, God for­bid else: There is no maintaining Christianity without it. But the POPE must be PRINCIPIUM UNITATIS: And will all Christians certainly Unite in the Pope? Well, and Patriarchs must be the Pillars of Unity: But was it so to the Unity of the first Churches? Or is it certain that all Christians will Unite in Patriarchs? But further all the Mass of Gregory the too great, and all the Legends in his Dialogues, or at least all the Doctrines and Ceremonies which he received, and the form of Government in his time, must be made necessary to Church Union: Say you so? But it was not all necessary in the Apostles times, nor in Cyprian's times, no nor in Gregory's own times; much of those things being used arbitrarily: And what was made necessary by Canons of General Councils in the Empire, (mark it) was never thereby made necessary in all the rest of the Churches. And are you sure that meer Christians will take all these for certain truths? Why, if they will not, Burn and Banish them. This is, as Tertullian saith, soli­tudinem facere & pacem vocare. But hark Sir, this way hath been tryed too long in vain: Millions of Albigenses and [Page 133] Waldenses are said by Historians to be kill'd in France, Sa­voy, Italy, Germany, &c. The French Massacre killed about Forty or Thirty Thousand: The Irish Massacre in that little Island killed about Two Hundred Thousand. But were they not stronger after all these cruelties than before? Alas, Sir, all your labour is lost, and your party is taken for a Blood-thirsty Generation, and humane Nature which ab­horreth the Blood-thirsty, ever after breedeth Enemies to your way. This is the effect of false Principles, and terms of Unity and Peace, contrived by proud self-conceited men, that think the World should take their Dictates for a Su­pream Law, and obey them as the Directive Deities of Mankind.

If all this be not enough to tell you what proud pretended certainty is, read over the Histories of the Ages past, and you shall find it written in Ink, in Tears, in blood, in Mu­tations, in Subversions of the Empires and Kingdoms of the World, in the most odious and doleful Contentions of Pre­lates, Lacerations of Churches, and Desolations of the Earth. And yet have we not experience enough to teach us?

Chap. XIII.

The Commodities of a suspended judgment, and hum­ble understanding, which pretendeth to no more Knowledge or Certainty than it hath.

THE commodities of an humble mind, which pretend­eth not to be Certain till he is Certain, you may ga­ther by contraries from the twelve forementioned mischiefs of prefidence; which to avoid prolixity, I leave to your col­lection.

Moreover I add, 1. Such a humble suspended mind doth not cheat it self with seeming to have a knowledge, a Divine Faith, a Religion when it hath none. It doth not live on air and dreams, nor feed on shadows, nor is puft up with a [Page 134] tympanite of vain conceits, instead of true substantial wis­dom.

2. He is not prepossessed against the Truth, but hath room for Knowledge, and having the teachableness of a Child, he shall receive instruction, and grow in true Knowledge, when the proud and inflated wits, being full of nothing, are sent empty away.

3. He entangleth not himself in a seeming necessity of mak­ing good all that he hath once received and entertained: He hath not so many Bastards of his own Brain to maintain, as the prefident hasty judgers have: which saveth him much sinful study and strife.

4. He is not liable to so much shame of mutability: He that fixeth not, till he feel firm ground, nor buildeth till he feel a Rock, need not pull down, and repent so oft as rash pre­sumers.

5. Unless the World be Bedlam mad in proud obtrudings of their own Conceits, methinks such a wary humble man, should offend but few, and better keep both his own, and the Churches peace than others. Can Persecutors for shame Hang and Burn men for meer Ignorance, who are willing to learn, and will thankfully from any man receive informa­tion? What if in Queen Marys days the poor Men and Wo­men had told my Lords of Winchester and London, [We are not persons of so good understandings as to know what a spiritual body is, as Paul describeth it, 1 Cor. 15. And seeing most say that the Sun it self is a body, and not a spirit; and late Philosophers say, that Light is a substance, or body, which yet from the Sun in a moment diffuseth it self through all the surface of the Earth and Air, we know not how far locality, limitations, extension, impenetrability, divisibility, &c. belong to the body of Christ, and consequently how far it may be really present; we can say nothing, but that we know not. Would my good Lord Bishops have burnt them for [I know not?] Perhaps they would have said, You must believe the Church. But which is [Page 135] the Church, my Lord? Why, it is the Pope and a General Council. But alas, my Lord, I have never seen or heard ei­ther Pope or Council: Why, but we have, and you must believe us: Must we believe you, my Lords, to be Infallible? or only as we do other men that may deceive and be deceived? Is any Infallible besides the Pope and his Council? Truly, my Lords, we are ignorant people, and we know not what the Pope and Councils have said; and we are uncertain whether you report them truly, and uncertain whether they are Fallible or not; but we are willing to hear any thing which may make us wiser. Would their Lordships have burnt such modest persons?

Suppose in a Church where men are put to profess or subscribe to, or against the Opinions of Free-will, or Repro­bation, or Predetermination, or such like, a humble man should say, These are things above my understanding; I cannot reach to know what Free-will 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 procured it not by 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.

Chap. 14.

The Aggravations of this sin of Prefidence.

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

[Page 136]I. For culpability it 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 (caeteris 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-con [...]eited of all her apprehensions against her Husband (unless he be a fool:) For the Servant to set his wit against his Masters; where he should obey him. For Children to think that their wits are righter 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 expresly tell you this, Heb. 5.11, 12. When for the Time you ought to have been Teachers, &c. Men should be wise according to Time and Means of Wisdom, which they have had.

[Page 137]3. It is the greater crime when men will seem wisest in other mens 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 receive into the Church or exclude. When the Servant will know best his Masters duty, and every man his Neighbours, and least his own.

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 tryed by others. As if an Empy­rick, 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 Tryal, and before them make good their Skill by reason? If an unexperienced young student think himself able to be a Physician, he is not to be Judge, but must be Tryed 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, that 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 humane 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 [Page 138] those that flatter them, and are of their way. Some such there may be: But sure all are not such. Why do you not desire the Judgment of the wisest most impartial 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 Empyricks and She-Physicians vilify Doctors of Physick, 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 heinouser 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 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 Physick, when people will be self-conceited, when the Lives of others lie upon it, and a silly Fellow or Woman will venture to purge, 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 Governours on whom the publick welfare of the Church, or Army, or Navy, or Coun­trey doth depend. O how wise should that person be, whose errours may cost thousands, so dear as their destruction! Or if their understandings be not extraordinary how cautelous 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 [Page 139] Evidence, and hearing every man speak for himself: and after all considering throughly of it: Specially of Laws and Wars, and Impositions in Religion, where thousands of Con­science, say what you can, will expect Satisfaction. When a Woman called to Antigonus to hear her cause and 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 falsly 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 Fana­ticks 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 too 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 Brethrens Consciences, but in the name of God: They will not divide the Church, nor cast out Infants, 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 bely God, and add this heinous abuse of his holy word and name unto their sin.

Chap. 15.

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 you slothful students. Few study hard who are quickly confident of their first concep­tions.

2. While you do study, it keepeth out Knowledge: You are too full of your selves to receive easily from others.

3. It is the Common Parent of Errour 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 bewildred minds.

5. As food altereth the temperament of the body which 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 Errour.

6. It is the common Parent of Superstition: It defileth God's Worship with Humane Inventions, with duties and sins of our own making: All such mens 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 [Page 141] do? If the Schoolmens Errour 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 in the world. They that make Uncertainties or Errours to be their studies and honourable Learning, must keep up the honour of it by Living as they Learnt, and talking vainly for the vanities of their minds.

9. And you are like hereby to become the chiefest In­struments of Satan, to trouble the Church either with He­resies, Schisms or Persecutions.

10. And truly it should much turn your hearts against it, to know that it is a continual habit or exercise of Pride. And Pride (the Devil's sin) is one of the most heinous and odious to God. If you hate any sin, you should hate Pride. And it is one of the worst sorts of Pride too. As Nature hath three Principles, active Power, Intellect and Will, and Man three Excellencies, Greatness, Wisdom and Goodness; so Pride hath these three Great Objects: Men are proud that they are Greater, or Wiser, or Better than others: That is, They think themselves Greater, or Wiser, or Better than they are, and they would have others think so too. As for Pride of Beauty, or Clothing, or such like corporeal things and appurtenances, it is the Vice of Children, and the more shallow and foolish sort of Women. But Greater things make up a Greater sort of Pride. O what a number of all Ranks and Ages do live in this great sin of Pride of Wisdom, or an Over-valued Understanding, who never feel or lament it!

11. Moreover your Prefidence prepareth you for Scepti­cism, or doubting of the most certain necessary Truths: Like some of our Sectaries, who have been falsly▪ confident of so many Religions, till at last they doubt of all Religion. He [Page 142] that finds that he was deceived while he was an Anabap­tist, and deceived when he was a Separatist, and deceived while he was an Antinomian or Libertine, and deceived when he was a Quaker, is prepared to think also that he was deceived when he was a Christian, and when he be­lieved the Immortality of the Soul, and the Life to come. When you have found your Understandings oft deceive you, you will grow so distrustful of them, as hardly ever to believe them when it is most necessary. He that often lyeth, will hardly be believed when he speaketh truth. And all this cometh from believing your first and slight appre­hensions too easily and too soon, and so filling up your minds with lyes, which when they are discovered, make the Truth to be suspected. Like some fanciful, lustful Youths, who hastily grow fond of some unsuitable unlovely person, and when they know them, cannot so much as allow them the conjugal affection which they are bound to.

12. Lastly, Consider what a shame it is to your Under­standings, and how it contradicteth your pretence of Know­ledge. For, how little knoweth that man who knoweth not his own Ignorance? How can it be thought that you are like to know great matters at a distance, the profundities, sublimities and subtilties of Sciences, who know not yet how little you know?

Chap. 16.

Proofs of the Little Knowledge that is in the world, to move us to a due distrust of our understandings.

IF you think this sin of a Proud Understanding, and Pre­tended Knowledge, doth need for the cure a fuller disco­very of its vanity, I know not how to do it more convin­cingly, than by shewing you How little True Knowledge is in the world, and consequently that all Mankind have cause to think meanly of their Understandings.

I. The great Imperfection of all the Sciences, is a plain dis­covery [Page 143] of it: When Mankind hath had above 5000 years already to have grown to more perfection; yet how much is still dark, and controverted? and how much unknown in comparison of what we know? But above all, though no­thing is perfectly known which is not methodically known; yet how few have a true methodical knowledge? He that seeth but some parcels of Truth, or seeth them but confusedly, or in a false method, not agreeable to the things, doth know but little, because he knoweth not the place, and or­der, and respects of Truths to one another, and consequently neither their composition, harmony, strength or use. Like a Philosopher that knew nothing but Elements, and not mixt bodies, or animate beings: Or like an Anatomist that is but an Atomist, and can say no more of the body of a man, but that it is made up of Atoms, or at most, can only enumerate the similar parts: Or like a man that knoweth no more of his Clock and Watch, but as the pieces of it lie on a heap, or at best, setteth some one part out of its place, which dis­ableth the whole Engine: Or like one that knoweth the Chess-men only as they are in the Bag, or at best in some disorder. Who will make me so happy as to shew me one true Scheme of Physicks, of Metaphysicks, of Logick, yea of Theology, which I cannot presently prove guilty of such mistake, confusion, misorder, as tendeth to great errour in the subsequent parts, I know of no small number that have been offered to the world, but never saw one that satisfied my understanding. And I think I scarce know any thing to purpose, till I can draw a true Scheme of it, and set each compounding notion in its place.

II. And the great Diversity and Contrariety of Opinions, of Notions and of Methods, proveth that our Knowledge indeed is yet but small. How many Methods of Logick have we? How many Hypotheses in Physicks, yea how many contentious Volumes written against one another, in Phi­losophy and Theology it self▪ What loads of Videtur's in the [Page 144] Schoolmen? How many Sects and Opinions in Religion? Physicians agree not about mens Lives. Lawyers agree not about mens Estates; no nor about the very fundamental Laws. If there be a Civil War, where both sides appeal to the Law, there will be Lawyers on both sides. And doth not this prove that we know but little?

III. But mens rage and confidence in these Contrarieties doth discover it yet more. Read their contentious writings of Philosophy and Theology; observe their usage of one another, what contempt, what reproach, what cruelties they can proceed to? The Papist silenceth and burneth the Protestant; the Lutheran silenceth and revileth the Cal­vinist; the Calvinist sharply judgeth the Arminians, and so round: And may I not judge that this wisest part of the world is low in Knowledge, when not the vulgar only, but the Leaders and Doctors are so commonly mistaken in their greatest Zeal? And that Solomon erred not in saying, [The fool rageth, and is confident.]

IV. If our knowledge were not very low, the long ex­perience of the World would have long ago reconciled our Controversies. The strivings and distractions about them (both in Philosophy, Politicks and Theology) have torn Churches, and raised Wars, and set Kingdoms on Fire, and should in reason be to us as a Bone out of Joint, which by the pain should force us all to seek out for a cure: And sure in so many thousand years, many Remedies have been tryed: The issues of such disingenuous-ingenious Wars, do furnish men with such experience as should teach them the cure. And yet after so many years War of wits, to be so witless as to find no End, no Remedy, no Peace, doth shew that the wit of man is not a thing to be proud of.

V. The great mutability of our apprehensions doth shew that they are not many things that we are certain of. Do we not feel in our selves how new thoughts and new rea­sons are ready to breed new conjectures in us, and that [Page 145] looketh doubtful to us, upon further thoughts, of which long before we had no doubt. Besides the multitudes that change their very Religion, every studious Person so oft changeth his conceptions, as may testifie the shallowness of our minds.

VI. The general barbarousness of the World, the few Countreys that have polite Learning, or true Civility or Christianity, do tell us that knowledge in the World is low: When besides the vast unknown Regions of the World, all that are of late discovery in the West-Indies, or elsewhere, are found to be so rude and barbarous; some little differing from subtile Brutes: When the vast Regions of Africk, of Tartary, and other parts of Asia, are no wiser to this day. When the Roman Eastern Empire so easily parted with Christianity, and is turned to so much barba­rous ignorance; this sheweth what we are: For these men are all Born as capable as we.

VII. Especially the sottish Opinions which the Heathen and Mahometan World do generally entertain, do tell us how dark a Creature man is. That four parts of the whole World (if not much more, that is unknown) should re­ceive all the sottish Opinions as they do, both against the light of Nature (knowing so little of God) and by such vain conceits of their Prophets and petty Deities: That a­bove the fifth part of the known World, should receive, and so long and quietly retain, so sottish an Opinion as Maho­metanism is, and Build upon it the hopes of their Salvati­on. If the Greek Church can be corrupted into so gross a foolery, why may not the Latine, and the English, if they had the same temptations? O what a sad proof is here of humane folly.

VIII. But in the Latine Church (be it spoken without any comparing Mahometanism with Christianity) the won­der is yet greater, and the discovery of the fallaciousness of mans understanding is yet more clear: Were there no proof [Page 146] of it, but the very being of Popery in the World, and the re­ception of it by such and so many, it affordeth the strongest temptation that ever I thought of in the World, to the Brutist, to question whether Instinct advance not Brutes above man! The Brutes distrust not their right disposed senses; but the Papists not only distrust them, but renounce them: Bread is no Bread, and Wine is no Wine with them, All mens senses are deceived that think otherwise: It is ne­cessary to Salvation to believe that Gods natural Revelations to sense here are false,Of this oft before. and not to be believed. Every man that will be saved must believe that Bread is no Bread, that Quantity, Locality, Co­lour, Weight, Figure, are the Quantity, Locality, Co­lour, Weight, Figure, of nothing: And God worketh Grand Miracles by every Priest, as frequently as he Conse­crateth in the Mass: And if any man refuse to Swear to this Renunciation of Humane Sense, and the Truth of these Miracles, he must be no Priest, but a combustible Here­tick. And if any Temporal Lord refuse to exterminate all those from their Dominions who will believe their Senses, and not think it necessary to renounce them as deceived, he must be Excommunicated and Dispossest himself, his Subjects absolved from their Oaths and Allegiance, and his Dominions given to another: And this is their very Reli­gion, being the Decree of a great General Council, (questi­oned indeed by some few Protestants, but not at all by them, but largely vindicated:) Later. sub. Innoc. 3. Can. 1, 3. The sum is, No man that will not renounce not only his Humanity, but his Animality, must be suffered to live in a­ny ones Dominions, and he that will suffer men in his Do­minions, must be himself turned out? this is plain truth: And yet this is the Religion of Popes and Emperors, and Kings, of Lords and Councellors, of Prelates and Doctors, Universities, Churches and famous Kingdoms; and such as men, all these wise men dare lay their Salvation upon; [Page 147] and dare Massacre men by Thousands and Hundred Thou­sands upon, and Burn their Neighbours to Ashes upon; and what greater confidence of certainty can be exprest! And yet shall man be proud of Wit? O what is man! How dark, how sottish and mad a thing! All these great Princes, Doctors, Cardinals, Universities and Kingdoms, are Born with Natures as capacious as ours. They are in other things as wise: They pity us as Hereticks, because we will not cease to be men: The Infidel that denieth mans Reason and Immortality, would but level us with the Brutes, and allow us the pre-eminence among them in subtlety: But all these Papists Forswear or Renounce that Sense which is com­mon to Brutes and us, and sentence us either below the Brutes, or unto Hell. Pretend no more, poor man, to great knowledge▪ as the sight of a Grave and a rotten Carcass may humble the Fool that is proud of Beauty, so the thought of the Popish, Mahometan and Heathen World, may humble him that is proud of his understanding. I tell thee, man, thou art capable of that madness as to be­lieve that an Ox or an Onion is a God; or to believe that a bit of Bread is God; yea more, to believe as necessary to Salvation that thy own and all mens senses about their pro­per objects are deceived, and the Bread which thou seest and eatest is no Bread; yea though it be three times in the three next verses, 1 Cor. 11. Called Bread after Consecration by an inspired Expositor of Christs words.

IX. Moreover the poverty of mans understanding ap­peareth by the great time and labour that must be be­stowed for Knowledge: We must be Learning as soon as we have the use of reason, and all our Life must be bestowed in it; I know by experience; Knowledge will not be got, without long, hard and patient studies; O what abundance of Books must we read! What abundance of deep Meditations must we use! What help of Teachers, do we need? And when all's done, how little do we obtain? Is this an Intellect to be proud of?

[Page 148]X. And it is observable how every man slighteth ano­thers Reasons, while he would have all to magnify his own. All the Arguments that in disputation are used against him, how frivolous and foolish are they? All the Books that are written against him, are little better than Nonsence, or Here­sie or Blasphemy. Contempt is answer enough to most that is said against them. And yet the men in other mens Eyes, are perhaps wiser and better than themselves. Most men are fools in the judgment of others! Whatever side or party you are of, there are many parties against you, who all pity your ignorance, and judge you silly deceived Souls. So that if one man be to be believed of another, and if the most of mankind be not deceived, we are all poor silly cheated Souls: But if most be deceived, mankind is a very deceivable crea­ture. How know I that I must believe you when you be­fool twenty other Sects, any more than I should believe those twenty Sects when they as confidently befool you; if no other Evidence turn the Scales?

XI. And verily I think that the Wars and Contentions, and Distractions of the Kingdoms of the World, do shew us that man is a pitiful, silly deceiveable thing. I am not at all so sharp against Wars and Souldiers as Erasmus was; But I should think that if men were wise, they might keep their peace, and save the lives of thousands, which must be dearly answered for. Were all the Princes of Christendom as wise as proud wits conceit themselves to be, how easy were it for them to agree among themselves, and equally to distribute the charge of two or three Armies, which might quick­ly shake in pieces the Turks Dominions, and recover Constantinople, and free the Greek Church from their Cap­tivity.

XII. And what need we more than every days miscarri­ages to tell us of our folly▪ Do we not miss it in one de­gree or other in almost all that we take in hand! Hence cometh the ruine of Estates, the ill education of Children, [Page 149] the dissentions among Neighbours and in Families: Parents have scarce wit enough to breed and teach a Child; Nor Husbands and Wives to live together according to their Re­lations; nor Masters to teach their Servants. If I write a Book how many can find folly and errour in it: And I as easily in theirs. If I Preach, how many faults can the silliest Woman find in it: And I as many perhaps in other mens. Do we live in such weakness, and shall we not know it?

XIII. And the uncureableness of ancient errours is no small evidence of our folly: If our ancestors have but been de­ceived before us, though their errour be never so Palpable, we plead their venerable antiquity, for an honour to their Ignorance and mistakes: The wisdom of wise ancestors almost dieth with them; But the errours of the mistaken must be Successive, lest they be dishonoured. We will deny reason, and deny Scripture, and deny sense for fear of being wiser for our Souls than some of our forefathers were.

XIV. The self-destroying courses of mankind, one would think should be enough to evince mans folly. Who almost suffer but by themselves? Few sicknesses befall us which folly brings not on us by excess of Eating or Drinking, or by sloth or some unwise neglect. Few ruines of Estates but by our own folly! Few calamities in Families and Relations but by our selves! What Churches distracted and ruined, but by the Pastors and Children of the Church themselves! What Kingdom ruined without its own procurement. It need not be said, Quos perdere vult Jupiter hos dementat; It is enough to say, Insaniam eorum non curat: If he cure not our madness, we shall certainly destroy our selves. Whose hands kindled all the flames that have wasted the Glory, Wealth and Peace of England in State and Church except our own? Were they Forreign Enemies that did it, and still keep open our wounds, or is it our selves? And yet are we wise men?

[Page 150]XV. But the greatest evidence in all the world of the madness of Mankind, is the obstinate self-destruction of all the ungodly. Consider but 1. The weight of the Case; 2. The plainness of the Case; 3. The means used to undeceive them; 4. And yet the number of the madly erroneous; and then bethink you what man's Understanding is.

1. It is their Souls and everlasting Hopes that are cast away! It is no less than Heaven and Endless Happiness which they reject: It is no better than Hell and Endless Misery which they run into; and are these men in their wits?

2. It is themselves that do all this; neither Man nor Devils else could do it: They do it for nothing: What have the wretches for their Salvation! a few cups of drink; a filthy Whore; a little preferment or provision for a cor­ruptible flesh, which must shortly lie and rot in darkness: The applause and breath of flatterers as silly as themselves. O profane persons, worse than Esau, who will fell their birth-right for so poor a morsel! Come see the madness of Mankind! It is a doubt to them whether God or a filthy lust should be more loved and obeyed! It is a doubt with them whether Heaven or Earth be better worth their la­bour! Whether Eternity or an inch of Time; whether a Soul or a perishing Body should be more cared for! Are these wise men? Did I say, It is a doubt? yea their choice and practice sheweth that at the present they are resolved: Vanity, and shadows and dreams are preferred: Heaven is neg­lected: They are lovers of pleasure more than God: They set less than a Feather in the ballance against more than all the world, and they chuse the first, and neglect the latter! This is the wise world!

3. And all this they do, against common reason, against daily teaching of appointed Pastors, against the Judgment of the Learnedest and Wisest men in the world; against the express Word of God; against the obligation of daily mer­cies; [Page 151] against the warnings of many afflictions; against the experience of all the world, who pronounce all this Vanity which they sell their Souls for; even while men die daily before their Eyes, and they are certain that they must short­ly die themselves; while they walk over the Church-yard, and tread on the Graves of those that went before them; yet will they take no warning, but neglect God and their Souls, and sin on to the very death.

4. And this is not the case only of here and there one; we need not go to Bedlam to seek them. Alas! in how much more honoured and splendid habitations and conditions may they be found! In what reverend and honourable garbs! And in how great numbers throughout the world! And these are not only Sots and Idiots, that never were told of better things; but those that would be accounted witty, or men of Learning and venerable aspect and esteem. But this is a subject that we use to Preach on to the people; it being easie, by a multitude of arguments, to prove the Madness of all ungodly persons. And is this nothing to humble us, who were naturally like them, and who, so far as we are sinners, are, alas! too like them still?

XVI. And the fewness of wise men in all Professions, doth tell us how rare true Wisdom is: Among men, whose Wis­dom lieth in Speculation, where the Effects of it do not open­ly difference it much from Prefidence, the difference is not commonly discerned: A prating Speculator goeth for a wise man: But in Practicals the difference appeareth by the Effects. All men see, that among Physicians and Lawyers, those that are excellent are few. And even among the Godly Preachers of the Gospel, O that it were more easie and common, to meet with men suited to the majesty, my­stery, greatness, necessity and holiness of their works, that speak to God, and from God, like Divines indeed, and have the true frame of found Theology ready in their Heads and Hearts; and that in publick and private speak to sin­ners, [Page 152] as beseemeth those that believe that they and we are at the door of Eternity, and that we speak, and they hear for the life of Souls, and that are uncertain whether ever they shall speak again. Alas! Lord, thy Treasure is not only in Earthen Vessels, but how ordinarily in polluted Vessels, and how common are empty sounding Vessels, or such as have Dirt or Air instead of holy Treasure!

And as for Philosophers and Judicious Speculators in Di­vinity, do I need to say, that the number is too small? Of such as are able judiciously to resolve a difficulty, to answer Cases of Conscience, to defend the Truth, to stop the mouths of all gainsayers, and to Teach holy Doctrine clear­ly and in true Method, without confusion, or running into any extreams? We bless God this Land, and the other Re­formed Churches, have had a laudable degree of this mer­cy: The Lord restore it to them and us, and continue the comfortable measure that we possess.

XVII. And it is a notorious discovery of the common Ignorance, that a wise man is so hardly known: And men that have not wisdom to imitate them, have not wit enough to value them: So that as Seneca saith, He that will have the pleasure of wisdom, must be content with it for it self, without Applause: Two or three approvers must suffice him. The Blind know not who hath the best Eye-sight. Swine tram­ple upon Pearls. Nay, it is well if when they have increas­ed knowledge they increase not sorrow? And become not the mark of Envy and Hatred, and of the venom of malignant Tongues and Hands, yea and that meerly for their knowledge sake. All the Learning of Socrates, De­mosthenes, Cicero, Seneca, Lucane, and many more; and all the Learning and Piety of Cyprian, and all the Martyrs of those ages; of Boetius, of the African Bishops that perished by Hunnerichus; of Peter Ramus, Marlorate, Cranmer, Rid­ley, Philpot, Bradford and abundance such, could not keep them from a cruel Death: All the excellency of Greg. Na­zianzene, [Page 153] Chrysostome, and many others could not keep them from suffering by Orthodox Bishops: no nor all the Holi­ness and Miracles of Martin. Insomuch that Nazianzene leaveth it to his People as a mark of the man whom he would have them value and choose, when he was dead. This one thing I require; that he be one of those that are envyed, not pitied by others: who obey not all men in all things; but for the love of Truth in some things incurreth mens offence. And of him­self he professeth, that, Though most thought otherwise than he did, that this was nothing to him who cared only for the truth, as that which must condemn him or absolve him, and make him hap­py or miserable. But what other men thought was nothing to him, any more than what another dreameth. Orat. 27. page 468. And therefore he saith, Orat. 26. p. 443. [As for me, I am a small and poor Pastor, and to speak sparingly, not yet grateful and accepted with other Pastors, which whether it be done by right judgment and reason, or by malevolence of mind and study of contention, I know not] — And Orat. 32. p. 523. [I am tired, while I fight both with Speech and Envy, with Enemies and with those that are our own: Those strike at the Breast, and obtain not their desire: For an open Enemy is easi­ly taken heed of: But these come behind my back and are more troublesome.]

Such obloquy had Hierome, such had Augustine himself, and who knoweth not that Envy is Virtues Shadow? And what talk I of others, when all godly men are hated by the world, and the Apostles and Christ himself were used as they were, and Christ saith, Which of the Prophets did not your Fathers Kill and Persecute, Math. 23. If Hating, Persecuting, Slan­dering, Silencing, Killing men that know more than the rest be a sign of wisdom, the world hath been wise since Cains Age until this.

Even a Galilaeus, a Savonarola, a Campanella, &c. Shall feel it, if they will be wiser than the rest: So that Solomons warning, Eccl. 7.16. concerneth them that will save heir [Page 154] Skin; Be not Righteous over-much, neither make thy self over wise: Why wilt thou destroy thy self? But again I may Prog­nosticate with Antisthenes in Laert. Then Cities are perishing, when they are not wise enough to know the good from the bad. And with Cicero, Rhet. 1. That mans safety is desperate whose Ears are shut against the truth, so that even from a Friend he cannot hear it.

XVIII. And this leadeth me to the next discovery, How rare wisdom is in the world, in that the wisest men and Learnedst Teachers have so small Success. How few are much the wiser for them? If they praise them, they will not Learn of them, till they reach to their degree. Men may delight in the sweetness of truth themselves; but it is a Feast where few will strive for part with them. A very few men that have first sprung up in obscure times have had great Success; So had Origine at Alexandria, and Chrysostom at Constantinople, but with bitter sauce. Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle at Athens, and Augustine at Hippo had the most that History maketh mention of (with Demosthenes and Cicero in Oratory;) Melanchthon at Wittenberge (with Luther) and Zwinglius in Helvetia, and Calvin at Geneva prevailed much: And now and then an age hath been fruitful of Learned, Wise and Godly men: And when we are ready to expect, that each of these should have a multitude of Scho­lars like themselves, suddenly all declineth, and Ignorance and Sensuality get uppermost again. And all this is because that all men are born Ignorant and Sensual; But no man at­taineth to any excellency of Wisdom, without so long and laborious studies, as the flesh will give leave to few men to perform. So that he that hath most laboriously searcht for knowledge all his days, knoweth not how to make others partakers of it: No not his own Children of whom he hath the education: Unless it be here and there one Scaliger, one Paraeus, one Tossanus, one Trelcatius, one Vossius, &c. how few excellent men do leave one excellent Son behind them! O what would a wise man give, that he could but [Page 155] bequeath all his wisdom to others when he dieth.

XIX. And it's evident that great Knowledge is more rare than Prefidence, in that the hardest Students, and most knowing men, complain more than others of Difficulties and Ignorance. When certainly other men have more cause. They that study a little, know little, and think they know much: They that study very hard, but not to maturity, oft become Sceptick, and think nothing certain. But they that follow it till they have digested their studies, do find a certainty in the great and necessary things, but confess their ignorance in abundance of things which the presumptuous are confident in. I will not leave this out, to escape the carping of those that will say, that by this Character I pro­claim my self one of the wisest, as long as it is but the confes­sion of my Ignorance which is their occasion. But I will say as Augustine, to Hierome, Epist. 29. Adversus eos qui sibi vi­dentur scire quod nesciunt, hoc tutiores sumus, quod hanc ignoranti­am nostram non ignoramus.

XX. Lastly, Every mans nature, in the midst of his pride, is conscious of the Fallibility and Frailty of his own under­standing. And thence it is that men are so fearful in great matters of being over-reacht. And where ever any conclusi­on dependeth upon a contexture of many proofs, or on any long, operous work of Reason, men have a natural conscious­ness of the uncertainty of it. Yea though our Doctrines of the Immortality of our own Souls, and of the Life of Retri­bution after this, and the Truth of the Gospel, have so much certain Evidence as they have, yet a Lively certain Faith is the more rare and difficult, because men are so consci­ous of the fallibility of their own understandings, that about things unseen & unsensible, they are still apt to doubt, whether they be not deceived in their apprehensions of the Evidence.

By these twenty instances it is too plain that there is little solid wisdom in the world; that wise men are few, and those few are but a little wise. And should not this suffice to make [Page 156] all men, but especially the unlearned, half-learned, the young and unexperienced, to abate their ungrounded confidence and to have humble and suspicious thoughts of their own apprehensions.

Chap. 17.

Inference 5. That it is not the dishonour, but the Praise of Christ, his Apostles and the Gospel, that they speak in a plain manner of the Certain, Necessary things, without the Vonity of School-uncertainties, and feigned unprofitable nations.

Concil. Carth. 4. Can. 16.I Have been my self oft Scandalized at the Fa­thers of the 4th Carthage Council, who for­bad Bishops the reading of the Heathens Books; and at some good old unlearned Christian Bishops who spake to the same purpose, and oft reproach Apollinaris, Aetius and other Hereticks for their Secular or gentile Learning, Logick, &c. And I wondered that Julian and they should prohibit the same thing. But one that is so far distant from the action, is not a competent Judge of the reasons of it. Perhaps there were some Christian Authors then, who were sufficient for such literature as was best for the Church: Perhaps they saw that the danger of reading the Heathens Philosophy was like to be greater than the benefit: Both because it was them that they lived among, and were to gather the Churches out of, and if they put an honour upon Logick and Philoso­phy, they might find it more difficult to draw men from that party which excelled in it, to the belief of the Scriptures which seemed to have so little of it: And they had seen also how a mixture of Platonick notions with Christia­nity, had not only been the Original of many heresies, but had sadly blemished many great Doctors of the Churches.

Whatever the cause was, it appeareth that in those days it was the deepest insight into the Sacred Scriptures which was reckoned for the most solid Learning; Philosophy was so confounded by Differences, Sects, Uncertainties, and Falshoods, that made it the more despicable, by how much [Page 157] the less pure. And Logick had so many precarious Rules and Notions, as made it fitter to wrangle and play with, than to further grave men in their deep and serious enqui­ry in the great things of God, and mysteries of Salvation.

But yet it cannot be denied but that true Learning of the Subservient Arts and Sciences is of so great use, to the accomplishing of mans mind with wisdom, that it is one of the greatest offences that ever was taken against Christ and the holy Scriptures, that so little of this Learning is found in them, in comparison of what is in Plato, Ari­stotle, Demosthenes, or Cicero. But to remove the danger of this offence, let these things following be well consi­dered.

I. Every means is to be judged of by its aptitude to its proper use and end: Morality is the subject and business of the Scriptures: It is not the work of it to teach men Logick and Philosophy, any more than to teach them Languages: Who will be offended with Christ for not teaching men La­tine, Greek, or Hebrew, Architecture, Navigation, or Mechanick Arts? And why should they be more offended with him for not teaching them Astronomy, Geometry, Physicks, Metaphysicks, Logick, &c. It was none of his work.

II. Nature is presupposed to Grace; and God in Nature had before given man sufficient helps to the attainment of so much of the knowledge of Nature, as was convenient for him. Philosophy is the knowledge of Gods works of Crea­tion. It was not this (at least chiefly) that man lost by his fall: It was from God, and not from the Creature that he turned: And it was to the knowledge of God, rather than of the Creature that he was to be restored. What need one be sent from Heaven to teach men the order and rules of speaking? Or to teach men those Arts and Sciences which they can otherwise learn themselves. As it is presupposed that men have reason, so that they have among them the common helps and crutches of reason.

[Page 158]III. The truth is, it is much to be suspected, lest as an inordinate desire of Creature-knowledge was a great part of our first Parents sin; so it hath accordingly corrupted our na­ture with an answerable vicious inclination thereunto: Not that the thing in it self is evil to know Gods works; but good and desireable in its place and measure: But it is such a good as by inordinacy may become a dangerous evil: Why should we not judge of this desire of knowing the Creatures, as we do of other Creature-affections? It is lawful and meet to love all Gods Creatures: His works are good, and therefore amiable. And yet I think no man is damned but by the inordinate loving of the Creature, turn­ing his Heart from the love of God. And as our Appetites are lawful and necessary in themselves; and yet Natures pravity consisteth much in the prevalency of them against reason, which is by reasons infirmity, and the inordinacy of the sensitive Appetite; even so a desire to know Gods works, is natural and good; but its inordinateness is our pravity and a sinful Lust.

Doubtless the mind and phantasie may find a kind of pleasure in knowing, which is according to the nature and use of the thing known. When it is vain or low, and base, the pleasure is vain, and low, and base! When the object is ensnaring and diverting from higher things, it doth this principally by delight. Verily this inordinate desire of Creature-knowledge is a Lust, a vicious Lust. I have been guilty of it in some measure my self since I had the use of reason. I have lived a Life of constant pleasure, gratifying my Intellect and Phantasie with seeking to know as much as I could know: And if I could not say truly, that I referred it as a means to the knowledge and love of God, I should say that it was all sin: But because I have loved it too much for it self, and not referred it to God more purely and in­tirely, I must confess that it was never blameless.

And the corruption of the noblest faculty is the worst: [Page 159] The delights of Eating, Drinking, Venery, are the matter of common Sensuality, when they are inordinately desired: And is not the inordinate desire of Creature-knowledge, (if it be desired from the like principle, and to the like ends) as bad or worse in some respects. Consider,

1. I am sure that it doth as much take up and pre-possess the mind, which should be employed on God, and take up those thoughts and affections which should be holy. Tell me why one man should be accounted carnal and ungodly, for delighting to see his own Houses, Fields, Woods, Corn, Rivers, Cattle, &c. rather than another that hath as much delight to peruse a Map of pleasant Countreys (setting aside the covetous desire of having much.) Do we not justly ac­count it as unfit a work for the Lords day to be for pleasure perusing Maps, as to be for pleasure viewing the Woods and Fields? Many a poor Student is as long and perilously entangled in his thoughts and affections, and kept from God and Heaven, and Holiness, by deep study of Lan­guages, Customs, Countreys, Chronology, Logick, Phy­sicks, Mathematicks, Metaphysicks, Law, &c. as world­lings are by over-minding the World.

2. And it wasteth their precious time as much as other Lusts do. One Sensualist spendeth his hours in Gaming, Feasting, Wantonness, idle Courtship, Hunting, Hawking, Bowling, and other Excess of Sports: Another spends his precious time in hearing Comedies; and another in reading Play-Books and Romances; and another in read­ing true and useful History, and other parts of useful Learning: And though the matter of the latter be better than the former, a man may make up the same sensuality in one as in the other; in reading Mathematicks or History, as in reading or beholding, and hearing Comedies.

3. And some turn this Learning to as powerful a perver­sion of the mind, as others do their sensual delights. Ma­ny think so highly of their Languages and Chronology, and [Page 160] Philosophy, that secretly they are drawn by it to despise the Gospel, and to think a holy Life to be but an Employment for Women, & Persons that live more by Affection than by Judgment: So perniciously doth Learning make them Mad.

4. And abundance make it the Fuel of their pride, and think that they are excellent Persons, because they have got some Ornaments of the mind; as vain Women are proud of fine clothes instead of real comeliness and worth. I will not dishonour some famous Writers by naming them here, lest I seem to take down their due praise. But in ge­neral I may say, that it is more than one, of our late fa­mous Philological and Grammatical Criticks, who openly shew so much pride of their kind of wordy knowledge, as may warn humble men to fear such temptations, and to see that this Learning may be made a snare.

5. And the worst of all is, that while such Learned men think highly of themselves for that, they are kept from the knowledge and sense of their sinful corruption and misery, and feel not the need of a Saviour and a Sanctifier; they cry not for Grace; they seek not after God and everlasting happiness; they neglect a holy heavenly Life: They take up some easie formalities and words to make up an Image of Religion of; and then they think that (in their unhum­bled, unsanctified state) they have as good right to be esteemed godly, as any other, and if any question it, they are accounted proud, self-conceited Phanaticks, who appro­priate the reputation of holiness to themselves: And to question a Learned Formalists sincerity, (as Martin and Sul­pitius Severus did Ithacius his, and his Fellow Bishops) is to expose himself to the censure of proud Hypocrisie. Yea, no man is so fit for Church preferment and honour, and to be the Governor of all the Religious Persons and Affairs, as one of these unsanctified Learned men is in his own Eyes; from whence it is, that the state of the Churches is so low in the East and West (the Roman I mean) because those that [Page 161] have truly no Religion must dispose of Religion, and the Churches of Christ must be instructed and ruled by his real Enemies; and those that hate godliness at the heart, must be the Teachers of godliness, and the chief managers of the sacred work.

Lay all this together, and think whether our inordinate de­sire of common Learning, which is the knowledge of the Crea­ture, be not the fruit of Adams Sin.

And if it prove so, consider how far it was the work of Christ to cure it. Sure he was sent to destroy the works of the Devil (Not Learning, but this Inordinate desire of it.) And he was to mortify it in the same way, as he mortified other sinful lusts. Therefore as he mortified venereous and all sensual Lusts, by holy example, and by condemning them, and calling men off them to spiritual delights; And as he mortified Worldliness in men, by living himself a life of Poverty and Inferiority in the World, and calling men off from the Love of the World, to the Love of God and Glory; Even so no wonder if he mortified in men, the inordinate desire of greater knowledge, by calling them up to higher things, and shewing them the vanity of this alone. And as he saith, Love not the World, nor the things that are in the World; If any man love the World, the love of the Father is not in him, 1 Joh. 2.15. When yet the ordinate love of the World is lawful: And as he saith, John 6.27. Labour not for the meat that perisheth, when he meaneth, Labour not for it inordinately: Even so no wonder if Christ omit this common Philosophy, and if Paul bid them take heed that none deceive them by vain Philosophy, when it is the Inordinacy only which they condemn.

If you ask me, when this desire of common Learning is inor­dinate? I answer 1. When it's desired most for the phantasti­cal, sensual or intellectual Delight of Knowing! or from the overvaluing of the thing known? Not but a delight in knowledge as such is good and lawful, but not as our Chief End. 2. When it is desired as a step to serve a proud aspi­ring [Page 162] mind, that we may be magnified as Learned men: or to serve any Worldly Covetous design. 3. When it is not duely subordinate and subservient to the Love of God, and to his Service, and the Common good: If God be not first Intended, and all our Studies and Learning desi­red purely as a means to God, that is, as a means to know him, and to love him, and to please him, and praise him, and do him service in the World, and enjoy him for ever, but be desired for it self or Carnal Ends, it is a Carnal lust. 4. When it hath a greater measure of our Time and af­fection and Industry comparatively than its due; and the study of higher things is put behind it, or neglected by it, at least in a great degree. 5. When it cometh not in due or­der, but is taken first and in the hours and place which higher things should have.

In a word; God, and our duty to him, and the common good, and our Salvation, are the great and necessary things, in comparison of which, all other things are vain: As Riches, and Pleasure, with its Appetite, may be used Holily, as God's mercies, to raise us unto spiritual delights, and to serve him the better our selves, and to be helpful to others: And for these ends they are given us, and may be sought and used; when yet, as they are the fuel of Lust, they are the snares of Satan, the Mammon, the God of this World, the damna­tion of Souls: So is it with the knowledge of the creature; sanctified and made serviceable to God and Holiness, it is of great utility; but out of its place it is poison and perdition.

Yea, as Appetite and Sensual Delight is Necessary, while we are in a body in which the Soul must operate and re­ceive: Even so is some knowledge of Creatures and common things (called Learning) of Necessity, as a means to better. And while we see, as in a glass, we must not cast away the glass, nor neglect it, though it be but a help to see the species.

I conclude then, 1. That it is hard to say that any man [Page 163] can know too much, except it be, 1. Matter of Temptation: 2. And of penal Knowledge, raising terrours, and torment­ing the Soul. In these two cases we may know too much; And I fear some mens knowledge is much of the first sort. But so far am I from disswading any from true knowledge, or studies to attain it, that I think Ignorance is the Mother, as Pride is the Father of all heresies, and almost all sins: And that the lazy student shall never be wise, though one may take his years in the University, the greatness of his Li­brary, or the titles which he hath obtained, instead of Wis­dom; and another as slothful, may boast that the Spirit hath saved him the labour of long and hard studies; for my part I shall account both sorts as they are, and leave them to be admired by such as themselves: And verily they have their reward. He that will be wise, must spare no pains, and be diverted by no worldly things, but take wisdom for his wel­fare here, and the getting and using it for all his work. Ne­ver was slothful, or impatient, or presumptuous person wise.

2. God hath not made and set before us his works in vain:Psal. 111, Great and wonderful are all his works, sought out of them that have pleasure therein: The Image of his Power, Wisdom and Goodness is imprinted on them all. Who can look up to the Sun and Moon and Stars; to the vast and numerous Globes above us; to this Earth and all its furniture and inhabitants, and not see the footsteps of the Great and Wise, and Good Creator, and be edified and made more holy; that doth not use the Eye of sense alone, while he winketh with the eye of reason? Our Redeemer came to recover us to the Knowledge, Love and Obedience, of our Creator, and by Faith to lead us up to the love of God, and to sanctifie us to our Makers praise and Service. Far was it from his design to call us from studying the works of Creation; which he prepareth us bet­ter to understand and use: Nor would he deprive Reason of its Spectacles, but help us to better, than we had before. [Page 164] Mans wit and Tongue are apt to be so irregular, that we have need of the Rules of true Logick to keep them to order, and save them from deceit. Too little true Logick and Philosophy is much of their unhappiness who think they have enough, to deserve veneration and applause.

3. But all this is dreaming, insignificant, incoherent non­sence, deliration, worse than Childrens chat (as it trou­bleth the world more) if God be not the Beginning, Guide, and End of it, and if we know not how to please him and be saved; And if all Learning be not directly or indirectly a Learning to know God and life eternal: When Conscience is awakened all things are as dreams and signify nothing in comparison of God and Life eternal, to be obtained by Christ. When men come to die, the most Learned die in this mind. And further than it is Divine and Holy and Felicitating, they cry out of all their Fame and Learning, Vanity of Vanities, all is Vanity. Though Learning be the most splen­did of all Vanities: Fear God and Keep his Commandments, is the end of true Learning, and the whole Learning of Man. Of writing many Books there is no end; and much reading is a weariness to the flesh, and he that increaseth Know­ledge Contracteth Envy and Contradiction, and increaseth sorrow: But sanctified Learning maketh a man indeed; so it be true, and not false pretended Learning.

4. Therefore the industry of a mans study, the most of his time, the Zeal of his Soul, must be laid out on God, and the great and endless concernments of his own and others Souls; And Learning must be Desired, Esteemed, Sought and Used, according to its usefulness to these high and glorious Ends: Then it is the lower part of wisdom: Which all that want it must esteem and honour, and desire: Else it is a dream and folly, which leaveth the awakened Soul in shame. But I have been too long on this.

IV. Consider next, that as this lower sort of Learning [Page 165] is presupposed by Christ as true, and the desire of it Cured as it is a lust; so Plainness and Intelligibleness were altogether neces­sary to his ends; what came he on Earth to do, but to recon­cile us to God, and make known his Kingdom, and his Love to sinners: To procure us pardon and a Spirit of Vivificati­on, Illumination, and Sanctification? And the word that must be the means of this must be fitted to its end, and be intelligible to the unlearned; or else he should have been the Saviour of a few Learned men only, and not of the World. Kings and Parliaments write their Laws in a stile suitable to the matter: And so do men draw up their Covenants; and Princes their Pardons, and Physicians their Bills and Di­rections: And none of these useth to write a Grammar or Logick instead of their proper work, nor to fill their writ­ings, with Ludicrous, Logical Tricks, and Toys. He that is but to tell men how to be saved from sin and Hell, and brought to Heaven, and live so here that he may live with God and Angels for ever, must speak in plainness and in good earnest.

V. And consider that the Scripture is not void of so much Logick and Philosophy as is suitable to its design. In a well flesht body the distinction and compagination of the parts are hid, which in an ugly Sceleton are discerned. So the Scripture is a Body of Essentials, Integrals and Accidentals of Religion, and every unstudied fellow cannot anatomize it: But it hath its real and excellent Method, for all that it is hid to the unskilful. There is a Method of Scripture Theo­logy, which is the most accurate that ever the World knew in Morality. I have drawn up the Body of Theology into Schemes. In which I doubt not but I have shewn, that the Method of Theology contained in the holy Scrip­tures, is more accurate than any Logical Author doth pre­scribe: And the Lords Prayer and Decalogue, especially will prove this, when truly opened: And the Doctrine of of the Trinity and the Baptismal Covenant, is the Founda­tion of all true method of Physicks, and Morality in the [Page 166] World. What if a novice cannot Anatomize Cicero or De­mosthenes, doth it follow that they are immethodical? Brand-miller and Flaccher upon the Scripture Text, and Steph. Tzegedine, Sohnius, Gomarus, Dudley Fenner, and many others upon the Body of Theology have gone far in opening the Scripture Method. But more may be yet done.

VI. Consider also that the Eternal Wisdom, Word and Son of God our Redeemer, is the Fountain and giver of all Knowledge: Nature to be restored, and Grace to restore it, are in his hands. He is that true Light that lighteneth e­very one that cometh into the World: The Light of Na­ture and Arts, and Sciences are from his Spirit and Teaching, as well as the Gospel. Whether Clemens Alexandrinus and some other Ancients were in the right or not, when they taught that Philosophy is one way by which men come to Salvation, it is certain that they are in the right, that say it is now the gift of Christ: And that as the Light which go­eth before Sun-rising (yea which in the night is reflected from the Moon,) is from the Sun, as well as its more glori­ous Beams; So the Knowledge of Socrates, Plato, Zeno, Cice­ro, Antonine, Epictetus, Seneca, Plutarch, were from the Wis­dom and Word of God, the Redeemer of the World even by a lower gift of his Spirit, as well as the Gospel and higher illumination: And shall Christ be thought void, of what he giveth to so many in the World?

VII. Lastly, Let it be considered above all that the grand difference between the teaching of Christ and other men, is that he teacheth effectively (as God spake when he Created, and as he said to Lazarus, Arise.) He giveth wisdom by giving the Holy Ghost: All other Teachers speak but to the Ears; but he only speaketh to the Heart: Were it not for this he would have no Church.— I should never have else believed in him my self, nor would any other, seri­ously and savingly. Aristotle and Plato speak but words, but Christ speaketh LIFE and LIGHT, and LOVE, in all [Page 167] Countreys, through all Ages to this day. This above all is his witness in the World. He will not do his work on Souls, by ludicrous enticing words of the Pedantick wis­dom of the World; but by illuminating Minds, and chang­ing Hearts and Lives by his effectual operations on the Heart. God used not more Rhetorick nor Logick than a Philosopher, when he said only [Let there be Light,] but he used more Power. Indeed the first Chapter of Genesis (though abused by Ignorants and Cabalists) hath more true Philosophy in it than the presumptuous will understand, (as my worthy Friend Mr. Samuel Gott lately gone to God, hath manifested in his excellent Philosophy, (excepting the style and some few presumptions.) But operations are the glori­ous Oratory of God, and his wisdom shineth in his works, and in things beseeming the Heavenly Majesty, and not in childish Laces and Toys of Wit.

Let us therefore cease quarrelling, and learn wisdom of God, instead of teaching and reprehending him. Let us magnifie the mercy and wisdom of our Redeemer, who hath brought Life and Immortality to light, and certified us of the matters of the World above, as beseemed a Messenger sent from God; and hath taught us according to the matter and our capacity, and not with trifling childish notions.

Chap. XVIII.

Inference VI. The true and false ways of restoring the Churches, and healing our Divisions, hence open­ed and made plain.

HAving opened to you our Disease, it is easie, were not the Disease it self against it, to discern the Cure. Pretended knowledge hath corrupted and divided the Christian World. Therefore it must be CERTAIN VERITIES which must Restore us, and Unite us. And these must be Things PLAIN and NECESSARY, and such as God hath designed to this very use, or else they will never do the [Page 168] work. One would think that it should be enough to satis­fie men of this, 1. To read Scripture. 2. To peruse the terms of Concord in the Primitive Church. 3. To peruse the sad Histories of the Churches Discord and Divisions, and the Causes. 4. To peruse the state of the World at this day, and make use of Universal Experience. 5. To know what a Christian is, what Baptism is, and what a Church is. 6. To know what Man is, and that they them­selves, and the Churches are but Men. But penal and sin­ful Infatuation hath many Ages been upon the minds of those in the Christian World, who were most concerned in the Cure, and our sin is our misery, as I think, to the dam­ned it will be the chief part of their Hell.

But this subject is so great and needful, and that which the Wounds and Blood of the Christian World do cry for a skilful Cure of, that I will not thrust it into this corner, but design to write a Treatise of it by it self, as a second part of this.

This Book is since Printed with some Alteration, and called, The true and Only way of the Concord of the Churches.

Chap. XIX.

Of the Causes of this Disease of Prefidence, or Proud Pretended Knowledge, in order to the Cure.

THE Cure of Prefidence and pretended knowledge could it be wrought, would be the Cure of Souls, Fami­lies, Churches and Kingdoms. But alas, how low are our hopes? yet that may be done on some, which will not be done on all or most. And to know the causes, and oppugn them, is the chief part of the Cure, so far as it may be hoped for.

1. The first and grand cause is the very Nature of igno­rance it self; which many ways disableth men, from know­ing that which should abate their groundless confidence. For [Page 169] 1. An ignorant man knoweth but little parcels and scraps of things: And all the rest is unknown to him: Therefore he fixeth upon that little which he knoweth, and having no knowledge of the rest, he cannot regulate his narrow appre­hensions by any conceptions of them. And all things visi­ble to us (not light it self excepted which as seen by us is Fire incorporated in Air) being Compounds, the very Na­ture or Being of them, is not known where any Constitutive part is unknown. And in all Compounds each part hath such relation and usefulness to others, that one part which seemeth known is it self but half known, for want of the knowledge of others. Such a kind of knowledge is theirs that knowing only what they see, do take a Clock or Watch to be only the Index moving by the Hours, being ignorant of all the causal parts within: Or that know no more of a Tree or other Plant, than the Magnitude, Site, Colour, Odour, &c. Or that take a man to be only a Bo­dy without a Soul; or the Body to be only the Skin and Parts discerned by the Eye in converse.

Now that which such persons do sensibly apprehend, they are confident of, because that Nature teacheth them to trust their senses: But not knowing the rest, their little partial conceptions are lame, defective and deceitful. For most will hence rashly conclude of the Negative, that There is no more, because they know no more. But if any be more wise and modest, yet do they want the conception of the unknown parts, to make the rest to be true Knowledge, or to tell them what is yet unknown: And such use to turn a Judicial Rule, into a Physical, that non apparere & non esse are to them all one.

2. And an Ignorant man doth not know what Con­ceptions other men have of the same things which he is ignorant of: So that he neither knoweth the thing in­telligible (what it is) nor yet the Act of Knowing it, which he never had: But as a man born blind hath no formal [Page 170] conception either of sight, or of light, or visible objects; so is it here.

3. Nor hath he usually a true Knowledge of his own Igno­rance; how imperfect his understanding is, and how much to be suspected, as liable to mistake: Though in some sen­sible matters it is easie to convince men of a total Ignorance; yet when they know any thing, it is hard to convince them what more is to be known, and to keep them from false and hasty conclusions. A man that cannot read at all, is ea­sily convinced that he cannot read: But he that can read a little, is apt to think that he readeth rightly when he doth not. A man that never heard of Physick, is easily con­vinced that he hath no skill in it: But if he have read, heard of, and tryed a few Medicines, he is apt to grow con­ceited, and venture mens lives upon his skill. A man that never saw Building, Navigation, or any Art or Manufacture, is easily convinced that he is ignorant of it: But if he have got some smattering knowledge, he is ready to think that it is more than it is, because he knoweth not what he wants.

And to err, and know that a man erreth (at the same time, about the same thing) is a contradiction: For he that erreth judgeth a falshood to be a truth: But to know that so to judge, is to err, is certainly not so to judge: For Intellectus vult verum, that is, Truth is the object which it is naturally in­clined to. The same light which discovereth Errour cureth it: And that light which discovereth the Thing it self, is it that must convince me that I before erred about it, by mis­apprehensions.

4. And an ignorant man doth not so much as know the difficulties of the case, and what may be said on the other side: What contrary Evidence convinceth others, or what weight there is in the objections, which are or may be brought against him. So that all men being naturally ig­norant, and little being known for much that's unknown, [Page 171] even to the wisest; alas, the temptation to Errour and false Confidence is so strong, that few escape it.

II. Another cause of it is, the Radical Master sin of Pride: An unhumbled mind; never well acquainted with its own dark and erroneous condition, and its great need of natural and supernatural helps. I find it hard to convince men of this; but the formentioned Effects do certainly prove it. The Vice is Born with us at the very Heart. It is the Devils Image: He that is not naturally proud is not a Son of Adam: It liveth first, and dieth last: And there is no­thing that a man is apter to be proud of than his Reason, which is his Humanity, and next to that of his Goodness, and of his Greatness. Men perceive not this in themselves, because they know not what Pride is while it ruleth in them. They think that it is only some womanish or child­ish extrinsical Ostentation, (boasting) or perking up above others in Garb and Place, or Peacock-like looking upon their own Train, or setting it up for others to look on. But Pride is (as I said before) an over-valuing our selves, and a desire that others should over-value us: And how few be there that be not tickled when their wisdom is applauded, and netled when it is accounted small: It's hard to bear to be accounted and reported a Fool, or a Person of little Wit. Many a man spendeth all the studies of his Life, more for a Fame of Learning than for Learning it self; what is Pride if this be not? What grosser Pride, than for a Wo­man or unexperienced Lad, to scorn and despise the eldest and hardest Students in Divinity as dark Souls in compari­son of them? The Quakers in their Shops, when I go a­long London Streets, say, Alas, poor man, thou art yet in darkness: They have oft come into the Congregation, (when I had liberty to Preach Christs Gospel) and cryed out a­gainst me as a Deceiver of the people. They have followed me Home, Crying out in the Streets, The day of the Lord is coming, when thou shalt perish as a Deceiver. They have stood [Page 172] in the Market-place, and under my Window year after year, Crying out to the people, Take heed of your Priests, they deceive your Souls: And if they saw any one wear a Lace or neat clothing, they cryed to me, These are the fruit of thy Ministry. If they spake to me with greatest ignorance or nonsence, it was with as much fury and rage, as if a bloody Heart had appeared in their Faces; so that though I never hurt, or occasioned the hurt of one of them, that I know of, their truculent countenances told me what they would have done had I been in their power: (This was 1656, 57, 58, 59.) And yet they were poorly clothed: (Some of them went through the Streets stark naked) and cryed out over and over all the year, [Woe to the Proud.] Wonderful! wonderful! O the blindness of a corrupted mind! That these poor Souls did not perceive their superlative Pride. How highly did these people think of their own wisdom and holiness, while they cryed down Laces, Points and Cuffs?

And when did I ever know either a true Church-Tyrant, or a true Sectarian Separating Humorist, which were not both notorious proud over-valuers of their own conceits. To which those that bowed not must be persecuted as unruly Schismaticks by the one sort, and Excommunicated, Sepa­rated from, and Damned as Ungodly, Carnal or Antichri­stian by the other sort?

Several ways doth PRIDE cause pretended knowledge. 1. By thinking that our understandings are so good as that without great study we can know truth from falshood; and so making us venture to judge of things at the first hearing or reading; which we cannot be capable of judging of un­der long and diligent studies: Because recipitur ad modum re­cipientis. Therefore it is that when a man by great success in Studies hath made things as plain as words can make them, so that you would think that all Students should pre­sently be wise at easie rates by the light which he hath set up to them, they are half as long in Learning for all that, as if [Page 173] he had never given them such a help. And therefore it is that we cannot leave our Learning to Posterity; Because still the stop is in the Receivers incapacity. And he cannot be capable of the plainest precepts, but by much time and study.

2. Pride maketh men hasty in concluding, because they are not humbled to a just Suspicion of their own apprehensi­ons. And men stay not to prove and try things, before they judge.

3. Pride maketh men insensible how much they are igno­rant of, in all their Knowledge.

4. And it causeth men to slight the Reasons and Judg­ments of other men, by which they might learn, or at least might be taught to Judge considerately, and suspend their own.

If over-valuing a mans own apprehensions be Pride (as it is) then certainly Pride is one of the commonest sins in the world, and particularly among men professing godliness who upon every poor surmise or report are condemning those that they do not throughly know, and in every petty contro­versy, they are all still in the right, though of never so many minds.

III Another cause of Pretended Knowledge is the want of a truly tender Conscience: Which should make men fear, lest they should err, lest they should deserve the curse of putting light for darkness, & darkness for light; evil for good,Isa. 5.20. & good for evil: & should make them afraid lest they should defile their minds, resist the truth, blaspheme God or Dishonour him, by fathering Errors on him, and lest they should prove snares to mens Souls, and a Scandal and Trou­ble to the Church of God. A tender Conscience would not have espoused such opinions under a year or two or ma­nies deliberation, which an Antinomian, or other Sectary will take up in a few days, (if they were true.) O saith, the tender Conscience, what if I should Err, and prove a [Page 174] Snare to Souls, and a Scandal and Dishonour to the Church of God, &c.

IV. Another cause of Pretended Knowledge is a blind Zeal for Knowledge and Godliness in the General, while men know not what it is that they are zealous of. They think that it is a necessary part of sincerity, to receive the Truth speedily without delay: And therefore they take a present concluding, for a true Receiving it. And he that soonest taketh up that which is offered him, probably as a part of Godli­ness, is taken for the most resolved down-right convert. Which is true in case of Evident Truths, where it is the will that by vice suspendeth the mind. But not in dark and doubtful cases.

V. Another cause is, an inordinate trust in man: When some admire the learned too much, and some the Religious, and some this or that particular person, and therefore build too confidently on their words: Some on great men, some on the Multitude, but most on men of fame for great Learning, or great Piety. A credit is to be given by every learner to his Teacher: But the confounding this with o [...] Belief of God, and making it a part of our Religion, and not trusting man as man only, that is, as a fallible Wight, doth cause this Vice of Pretended Knowledge, to pass with millions for Divine Faith. Especially when men embody themselves in­to a Sect as the only Orthodox or Godly party, or as the only true Church (as the Papists do) then it emboldeneth them to believe any thing which their Sect or Church believeth. For they think that this is the Churches Faith, which can­not err, or is the safest: And that God would not let so many good men err. And thus they that should be made their Teachers, and the Helpers of their Faith, become the Lords of it, and almost their Gods.

VI. And it much increaseth this sin, that men are not suf­ficiently acquainted with the Original and Additional Corrup­tion of mans nature, and know not how Blind all Mankind [Page 175] is. Alas man is a dark Creature! What error may he not hold. What villany may he not do? Yea and maintain? Truly said David, All men are Liars. Pitifully do many expound this, as an effect of his unbelief and passion, because he saith, (I said it my haste;] When it is no more than Paul saith; Let God be true, and every man a Liar, Rom. 3. And than Solomon and Isaiah say, All men are Vanity: And Jeremy, cursed be he that trusteth in man: All men are untrusty in a great de­gree! Weak, False, and Bad. And his haste was either as Dr. Hammond translateth it, his Flight, or else that his Tryal and distress made him more passionately sensible of the Vani­ty or Untrustiness of man, than he was at other times. For Vanity and a Lie to the Hebrews were words of the same importance, signifying Deceivableness and untrustiness. And indeed among mankind there is so great a degree of Impo­tency, Selfishness, Timorousness, Ignorance, Errour, and Vicious­ness, as that few wicked men are to be believed, where there is any strong Temptation to lying. And the Devil is seldom unprovided of Temptations: And abundance of Hy­pocrites are as untrusty as open wicked men: And abundance of sincere Godly persons, especially Women, have loose Tongues, and hasty passions, and a stretching Conscience, but specially injudicious heads, so that frequently they know not truth from falshood, nor have the tenderness of Conscience to be silent till they know: So that if one say it, another will say it, till a hundred say it, and then it goeth for currant truth.

Good-mens over-much credulity of one another hath fil­led the Church with Lies and Fables: Many of the Papists S [...]rstitions, Purgatory, praying to Saints and Angels, pray­ [...] for the dead, &c. were bred by this credulity: It is so visible in Venerable Beda, Gregory the first, yea before them in Sulpitius Severus of Martius Life, and abundance more, that to help up Christianity among the Pagans, they laid hold of any old Womans or Ignorant Mans Dreams, and Visions, [Page 176] and stories of pretended Miracles & Revelations, that it made even Melchior Canus, cry out of the shameful Ridiculous filth that hence had filled their Legends: Even Baronius up­on Tryal, retaineth no small number of them, and with his Brethren the Oratorians on their Prophesying days told them to the people. I am ashamed that I recited one out of him before my Treatise of Crucifying the World, though I did it not, as perswading any that it was true: For I quickly saw, that Sophronious on whom he fathered it, was none of the reporters of it, that Book being spurious, and none of So­phronius his work.

Indeed I know of such impudent false History lately Print­ed of matters of publick fact in these times, yea divers con­cerning my own Words and Actions, by persons that are far from Contemptible, that Strangers and Posterity will scarce believe that humane nature could be guilty of it in the open light. And I know it to be so customary a thing, for the Zealots professing the fear of God, on one side and the other, to receive and rashly tell about lies of one another, that I confess I am grown to take little heed of what such say in such a case, unless the report continue a year uncontrol­led! For it's common for them to tell those things as un­questionable, which a few months prove false: And yet never to manifest any repentance, but to go on with the like; one month disproving what the former hatcht and vended.

And indeed the very wisest and best of men are guilty of so much Ignorance, Temerity, Suspiciousness of others partiality, &c. That we must believe them (though far sooner than others, yet) still with a reserv [...] [...]o change our minds, if we find them mistaken, [...] still on supposition that they are fallible persons, and that all men are Liars.

VII. Another great cause of pretended false Knowledge and Confidence is the unhappy prejudices which our minds con­tract [Page 177] even in our Childhood, before we have time and wit and Conscience to try things, by true deliberation. Chil­dren and Youth must receive much upon trust, or else they can learn nothing: But then they have not wit to propor­tion their apprehensions to the Evidence, whether of Credibi­lity or Certainty: And so fame and tradition, and education and the Countreys Vote, do become the ordinary Parents of many Lies; and folly maketh us to fasten so fearlesly in our f [...]rst apprehensions, that they keep open the door to abundance of more falshoods; And it must be clear Teachers, or great impartial studies, of a self-denying mind, with a great bles­sing of God, that must deliver us from prejudice, and unde­ceive us. And therefore all the World seeth, that almost all men are of the Religion of their Country or their Parents, be it never so absurd; Though with the Mahometans they believe the Nonsence of a very sot, (once reading a quarter of whose Alcoran one would think should cure a man of Common reason, of any inclination to his belief.) And a­mong the Japonians even the eloquent Bonzii believe in Ami­da and Xaca; To mention the belief of the Chinenses, the People of Pegu, Siam, and many other such; yea the A­mericans, the Brasilians, Lappians, &c. that correspond with Devils, would be a sad instance of the unhappiness of mens first apprehensions and education. And what doth the fore­said instance of Popery come short herein, which tells us how Prejudice and Education, and Company, can make men deny all mens common sence, and believe common unseen Mi­racles pretended in the stead?

VIII. Another cause is the mistaking of the nature of the duty of submitting our judgment to our Superiours and Tea­chers, especially to the Multitude or the Church, or Antiqui­ty: No doubt but much reverence and a humane belief, is due to the Judgment of our Teachers credibly made known. But this is another thing▪ quite different, 1. From know­ing by Evidence. 2. And from believing God; (of which before and after.)

[Page 178]IX. Another cause is base slothfulness, which makes men take up with the judgment of those in most reputation (for Power, Wisdom, or Number) to save them the labour of searching after the scientifical Evidence of things; or the certain Evidence of Divine Revelations.

X. Another frequent cause is, an appearance of something in the Truth, which frighteneth men from it; either for want of a clear, methodical, advantageous representation; or by some difficult objection; or some miscarriage in the utterance, carriage, or life of them that seem most zealous for it: such little things deceive dark man: And when he is turned from the Truth, he thinks that the contrary Errour may be embraced without fear.

XI. Another great cause of Confidence in false Conceits, is the byass of some personal Interest prevailing with a cor­rupted Will, and the mixture of Sense and Passion in the Judgment. For, as interested men hardly believe what seemeth against them, and easily believe that which they would have to be true; so Sense and Passion (or Affections) usually so bear down Reason, that they think it their right to possess the Throne. Not but that Sense is the only dis­cerner of its own sensible Object as such, (and Reason by Sense as it is intelligible:) But that's not the matter in hand. But the Sensualist forceth his Reason to call that Best for him, which his Sense is most delighted with, and that Worst which most offendeth Sense. The Drunkard will easily judge that his drinking is good for him, and the Glut­ton that his pleasant meats are lawful, and the Time-waster that his Plays are lawful, and the Fornicator, the wrathful revenger, &c. that their lusts and passions are lawful, be­cause they think that they have Feeling on their side. It's hard to carry an upright Judgment against Sense and Passion.

XII. Sometimes a strong deluded Imagination, maketh men exceeding confident in Errour; some by Melancholy, and [Page 179] some by a natural weakness of Reason, and strength of Phan­tasie; and some by misapprehensions in Religion, grow to think that every strong conceit which doth but come in suddenly, at reading, or hearing, or thinking on such a Text, or in time of earnest prayer, especially if it deeply af­fect themselves, is certainly some suggestion or inspiration of God's Spirit. And hence many Errours have troubled poor Souls and the Church of God, which afterward they have themselves retracted. Hence are the confidence of some ignorant Christians in expounding difficult Scriptures Pro­phecies; and the boldness of others in expounding dark Providences; and also in foretelling by their own surmises things to come.

XIII. And not a few run into this mischief in some ex­treams, by seeing others run into Errour on the other side. Some are so offended at the credulity of the weak, that they will grow confident against plain certainties themselves. As because there are many feigned Miracles, Apparitions, Pos­sessions and Witchcrafts in the World, divulged by the Cre­dulity of the injudicious; therefore they will more foolish­ly be confident that there are no such things at all. And because they see some weak persons impute more of their opinions, performances and affections to God's Spirit, than they ought; therefore they grow mad against the true ope­rations of the Spirit, and confident that there is no such thing. Some deride Praying by the Spirit, and Preaching by the Spirit, and Living by the Spirit; when as they may as well deride understanding, willing, working by a Reasonable Soul; no holy thing being holily done without God's Spi­rit, any more than any act of life and reason without the Soul: And they may on the same grounds deride all that Live not after the flesh, and that are Christians, Rom. 8.5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 13. or that Love God, or that seek Salvation. Yea, some run so far from spiritual Fanaticisms, that they deny the very Being of Spirits; and many confidently set [Page 180] up a dead Image of true Religion, in bitter hatred and op­position of all that hath Life and serious Holiness: So mad are some made by seeing some feverish persons dote.

XIV. Another Cause is conversing only with those of our own mind and side, and interest, and not seeking familiar loving acquaintance with those that differ from us: Where­by men deprive themselves of hearing half that is to be heard, and of knowing much that is to be known. And their proud Vice hardeneth them in this way, to say, I have read, and I have heard enough of them; I know all that they can say: And if a man soberly speak to them, their Vices of Pride, Presumption and Passion will scarce patiently bear him to go on without interruption to the end; but the Wiz­zard saith, I know already what you will say, and you are tedi­ous; and do you think that so wise a man as I, hath nothing to do but hear such a Fool as you talk? Thus proud men are or­dinarily so full of themselves, that they can scarce endure to hear, or at least learn any thing from others, nor restrain their violent list to speak so long as either just information, or humane civility requireth.

XV. Another Cause is Malignity and want of Christian Love; whereby men are brought if not to a hatred, yet to a proud contempt of others, who are not of their mind, and side, and way. O they are all — as foolish and bad as any one hath list to call them; and he that raileth at them most ingeniously, and impudently, giveth them but their due. And will a man full of Himself and his Own, be mo­ved from his presumptions, by any thing that such a hated or scorned people can say? Nay, will he not be hardened in his self-conceit, because it is such as these that contradict him?

Many such Causes of this Vice there be, but PRIDE and IGNORANCE are the proper Parents of it, whatever else be the Nurse or Friend.

Chap. XX.

Objections answered.

I Easily foresee that besides the foresaid impediments, all these following Objections will hinder the Cure of false pretended knowledge and self-conceitedness, and false Belief, if they be not answered.

Obj. I. You move men to an Impossibility: To see without light; and for an erring man to believe that he erreth. He that hath not light to see the truth, hath not light to see his ig­norance of it: This is no more than to perswade all men to be wise and not to err; which you may do long enough to little pur­pose.

Ans. It is impossible indeed for an erring man, while such, to know that he erreth: but it is not impossible 1. For an ignorant man to know that he is ignorant, (nor for a man without light or sight to know that he seeth not; though he cannot see that he seeth not.) For though Nescience be Nothing; and Nothing is not properly and directly an Ob­ject of our Knowledge, no more than of our Sight: Yet as we see the limited quantity of substances, and so know little from big, by concluding that it hath no more quantity than we see; so we know our own knowledge, both as to Object and Act, and we know the degree of it, and to what it doth extend: And so can conclude, I know no more: And though Nescience be nothing, yet this Proposition, [I know no more] is not nothing. And so nothing is usually said to be known Reductively; but indeed it is not properly known at all; but this proposition de nihilo is known, which is something▪ (I will not here meddle with the question, whether God know non-entities.)

2. To think and to know are not all one: For I may think that I may know, that is, I study to know: Now I can know that I study or think; and I can perceive that my studies reach not what I desire to reach, but fall short of satisfacti­on: [Page 182] And so as in the Body, though emptiness be nothing, and therefore not felt as nothing, yet a hungry man feeleth it in the consequents, by accident; that is, feeleth that by which he knoweth that he is empty: And so it is with a Student as to knowledge.

3. And a man that hath so much experience as we all have of the stated darkness of our understandings, and fre­quent errors, may well know that this understanding is to be suspected, and so blind a Guide not over-confidently and rashly to be trusted.

4. And a man that knoweth the danger of Errour, may know that it is a thing that he should fear: And fear should make him cautelous.

5. And though an erring man while such cannot know that he erreth, yet by the aforesaid means he may cease to err, and know that he hath erred.

6. And lastly, It is a shame for a man to be unacquainted with himself, and especially with his understanding, and not to know the measure of his knowledge it self.

Obj. II. You talk like a Cartesian that must have all that would know, suppose first that they know nothing, no not that he feeleth and liveth.

Ans. No such matter: Some things, we know necessarily, and cannot chuse but know: For the Intellect is not free of it self, but only as quoad exercitium actus, it is sub imperio vo­luntatis: And it is vain to bid men not to know what they cannot chuse but know: And it is as vain to tell them that they must suppose (falsly) that they know not what they know, as a means to know: For ignorance is no means to knowledge, but knowledge is: One act of knowledge being necessary to more, and therefore not to be denied. I have told you before what certainties are, which must be known and never forsaken.

Obj. III. But your discourse plainly tendeth to draw men to Scepticism, and to doubt of all things.

[Page 183] Ans. 1. I tell you I describe to you many certainties not to be doubted of. 2. And it is indeed your prefidence that tendeth to Scepticism, as is shewed: For men that believe hastily and falsly, find themselves so oft deceived, that at last they begin to doubt of all things: It is Scepticism which I prevent. 3. But I confess to you that I am less a­fraid of Scepticism in the World than ever I was; as find­ing corrupt nature so universally disposed the contrary way. As when I first saw the Books of Jacob Behmen, and some such others, I adventured to Prognosticate, that the Church would never be much indangered by that Sect, or any o­ther which a man cannot understand and join in without great study and acuteness; because few men will be at so much labour; even so I say of Scepticism; here and there a hard-impatient half-knowing Student may turn Sceptick; but never any great number: For Pride and Ignorance, and other causes of self-conceitedness are Born in all men, and e­very man that apprehendeth any thing, is naturally apt to be too confident of his apprehensions; and few will have the humility to suspect themselves; or the patience and dili­gence to find out difficulties. I must say in my Experience, that except the Congregation which I long instructed, and some few-such, I meet with few Women, Boys, or unlearn­ed men, when they are past 18 or 20 years old, but they are in conceit wiser than I, and are still in the right, and I am in the wrong, in things Natural, Civil, Religious, or almost any thing we talk of, if I say not as they say; and it is so hard to abate their confidence, or convince them, that I have half ceased to endeavour it, but let every one believe and say what he will, so it be not to the dishonour of God, the wrong of others, and the hazard of his Salvation: For I take it for granted before-hand, that contradiction ofter causeth strife than instruction; and when they take not themselves for Scholars, they seldom learn much of any but themselves: And their own thoughts and experience must [Page 184] teach them that in many years which from an Experi­enced man they might have cheaplier learnt, in a few days.

Obj. IV. You speak against taking things on trust, and so would keep Children from Believing and Learning of their Parents and Masters, and from growing wise.

Ans. I oft tell you that humane faith is a necessary help to Divine Faith; But it must not be mistaken for Divine Faith. Men are to be believed as fallible men: But in some things with diffidence; and in some things with confidence, and in some things, (where it is not the speakers credit that we rely upon, but a Concurrence of Testimonies, which make up a natural certainty) Belief and Knowledge go toge­ther, and the thing is sure. But man is not God.

Obj. V. May not a man more safely and Confidently believe by the Churches Faith, than his own! That is, take that for more certain which all men believe, than that which I think I see a Di­vine word for my self?

Ans. This is a Popish Objection thus confusedly and fal­laciously often made. 1. Properly, No man can believe by any faith but his own, any more than understand with any understanding but his own. But the meaning being, that we may better trust to the Churches Judgment, that this or that is Gods word, than to our own perswasion that it is Gods word, from the Evidence of the Revelation. I further an­swer, 2. That the Churches Judgment is one part of our sub­ordinate motive; and therefore not to be put in competi­tion with that Divine Evidence which it is always put in Conjunction with. And the Churches Teaching, is the means of my coming to know the true Evidences of Divinity in the word. And the Churches real Holiness caused by that word, is one of the Evidences themselves, and not the least. Now to put the question, Whether I must know the Scrip­ture to be Gods word because I discern the Evidences of its Divinity, or rather because the Church Teacheth me that it [Page 185] is Gods word, or because the Church saith it is Gods word, or because the Church is Sanctified by it, are all vain questions; setting things conjunct and co-ordinate as oppo­site. 1. By the Churches Judgment or Belief, I am moved to a high Reverence of Gods word, by a very high Humane Faith, supposing it credible that it may be Gods word indeed. 2. Next by the Churches (or Ministers) Teaching, the E­vidences of Divinity are made known to me. 3. The Effect of it, in the Churches Holiness is one of these Evidences. 4. And by that and all other Evidences, I know that it is Gods word. 5. And therefore believe it to be true. This is the true Order and Resolution of our Faith.

3. But because the Popish Method is, barely to believe the Scripture to be Gods word, because a Pope and his Council judgeth so, I add, 1. That we have even of that hu­mane sort of Testimony far more than such. For theirs is the Testimony of a self exalting Sect of Christians, about the third part of the Christian world: But we have also the Testimony of them and of all other Christians; and in most or much of the matter of Fact, (that the Scriptures were delivered down from the Apostles) the Testimony of some Heathens and abundance of Hereticks. 2. And with these we have the Evidences of Divinity themselves. 3. But if we had their Churches (or Pope and Councils) Decrees for it alone, we should take it but for a humane Fallible Testi­mony.

For, 1. They cannot plead Gods word here as the proof of their Infallibility: For it is the supposed question, what is Gods word, which (they say) cannot be known but by their Infallible Judgment. 2. And they cannot plead num­ber; for, 1. The Mahometans are more than the Christians in the world (Brierwood reckoneth that they are six parts of thir­ty, & we but five.) And yet not therefore Infallible nor Credi­ble. 2. And the Heathens are more than the Mahometans and Christians (being four sixth parts, of the world,) and [Page 186] yet not infallible. But of this I have the last week wrote a Book of the certainty of Christianity without Popery; and here­tofore my safe Religion and others.

Obj. VI. At least this way of Believing and Knowing things by proper Evidences of Truth, will loosen the common sort of Christians, (even the godly) from their Faith and Religion: For whereas now they quietly go on without doubting, as receiving the Scriptures from the Church or their Teachers as the word of God, when they fall on searching after proofs, they will be in dan­ger of being overcome by difficulties, and filled with doubts, if not apostatizing to Infidelity, or turning Papists.

Ans. Either these persons have already the Knowledge of Certain Evidence of the Divinity of the Scripture, or Chris­tianity, or they have none. If they have any the way of studying it more will not take it from them, but increase it: Else you dishonour Christianity to think that he that knoweth it to be of God, will think otherwise if he do but better try it. Upon search he will not know less, but more.

But if he have no such certainty already, 2. I further an­swer, that I take away from him none of that humane be­lief which he had before: If the belief of his Parents, Teachers or the Church only, did satisfy him before, which was but a strong probability, I leave with him the same help, and probability and only perswade him to add more, and surer arguments. And therefore that should not weaken, but confirm his Faith.

Obj. But you tell him that the Churches or his Teachers Judgment or word is uncertain, and that sets him on doubt­ing.

Ans. 1. I tell him of all the Strength and Credibility that is in it, which I would have him make use of. 2. And it is not alone, but by his Teachers help that I would have him seek for certainty. 3. But if he did take that Testimony for certain which was not certain; If he took man for God, [Page 187] or took his Teachers, or Pope for inspired Prophets, and a humane Testimony for Divine, do you think that this errour should be cherished, or cured? I think that God nor Man have no true need of a lie in this case; and that lies seldom further mens Salvation? And that though they do some job of present service the next way, at the end we shall find that they did more harm than good. And that to say the contrary, and that men will cease to be Christians unless they be kept to it by deceit, is the way to downright infide­lity.

And yet that you may see how much more than ordina­ry I favour the weaknesses of such, I will here answer a great question.

Quest. Whether a Man can have true saving Faith, who be­lieveth the Gospel or Scripture to be Gods word, and Christ to be the Saviour of the World, upon reasons or grounds not sure nor cogent and concluding; yea possibly not true, for the most part.

Ans. He that readeth Mr. Pinks excellent Sermons, and many other such Divines, will find them thus describing the Faith of Hypocrites, (that they conclude have no true saving Faith) that they believe in Christ, but on the same or like reasons as a Turk may believe in Mahomet, that is, because the most, the greatest, the Learnedst and the best, and all the Countrey are of their minds, and in that way their Pa­rents did educate them in. For my part, I easily confess, 1. That such a belief which buildeth on unsound grounds, is want­ing proportionably in its own soundness; 2. And that it should not be rested in; 3. Much less cherished against all counsels that would cure it. 4. And that though uncertain reasons are, 1. The first, 2. And the most prevailing with him afterwards, yet every true Believer discerneth some in­trinsick Signs of Divinity at least as probable in the Word it self. But yet supposing that wrong motives be his chief, and that he discerneth not that in the word it self which most pre­vaileth with him, I am of opinion that, 1. If the end of such a [Page 188] Believer be sound, (the reducing of the Soul to God, and attainment of Glory, and the perfect Love of God.) 2. And if that man unfeignedly believe all that is Gods Word to be true. 3. And if he believe all the substance of the Gospel to be Gods word, though by an unsound and non-concluding me­dium as his chief. 4. And if he by this belief be brought himself to the actual love of God as God; This unsound Be­liever is sound in the Essentials of Christianity, and shall be saved.

The objection is, An uncertain, yea deceived belief upon false suppositions, is no true belief, and therefore cannot save.

I answer, There is a double Truth in such a belief, 1. That all Gods Word is true. 2. That this Gospel is Gods Word, and Christ is the Messiah.

You will say that there can be no more, no surer, no better in the Conclusion, than is in the weaker of the Pre­mises. Of which see Smi­glicius Logicks, and Albertinus in his Phi­losoph. Disputat. at large. I answer, I grant it. And all that will follow is, that the Conclusion is not ne­cessary from these Premises; and that the believer was mistaken in the reason of his inference, and that he concluded a truth upon an unsound medium; I grant all this, and consequently that his Faith hath some unsoundness or diseasedness in it. But for all this, I see not but such a believer may be saved. 1. Because Christs promise is, that whoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life, without excepting such as are drawn to it by non-cogent arguments. And he that will put in an exception against the Covenant of Grace, must prove it, or be injurious to Christ, to his Gospel and to mens Souls.

2. Because by experience I find, that it is but a small part of serious Godly Christians, who believe the Scriptures upon cogent evidence, (or at least many do not:) But a­bundance take it upon trust from Godly Preachers or Parents, and go on without much examining of their grounds; And are not able to bring a cogent proof of the Divinity of the [Page 189] Scriptures, when they are called to it: And I am not wil­ling to conclude so great a part of humble upright Chri­stians, to Damnation, as know not such reasons for their Faith as would hold good in strict disputation. Not that our Charity must bend the Scripture to it. But that Scrip­ture commandeth such Charity; and it no where condemn­eth any man that believeth upon uncogent reasons. For he that doth so, may yet firmly Trust on Jesus Christ, and firmly believe that the Gospel is true, as being the very Word of God, and may take Heaven for his Portion, and Love God, as God, and therefore may be saved. Though yet I think it impossible that any man should truly believe the Scriptures, and not perceive in them some Characters of Divinity, which as an intrinsical Evidence much encou­rage and induce him to believe them; And-though this se­cret gust and perception be not the medium that he useth in arguing, or be not the chief, yet it may have an effectual force with his Soul to hold him close to Christ. But if you suppose the man to have no Spiritual sight and tast of a difference between Gods Word and a common Book, then he cannot be supposed to be a sound believer.

As a man that hath one ingredient in his medicine which is effectual, may be cured, though in the composition the main bulk be vanities; or as a debtor that hath many insufficient sure­ties, may do well if he have one sufficient one, though he more trust the rest; or as a mans cause may go for him in Judgment that hath one or two good Witnesses, and twenty bad ones which he put more trust in; and as he truly proveth his po­sition, who bringeth one sound argument for it, and twenty bad ones; So I think that the common way of the illiterate in believing is, first to believe Gods Word to be his Word by humane Faith; and after upon trial to find a Spiritual light and goodness in the Word it self, and by both together to believe that it is Gods Word. And the worser reasons may be the more powerful with him, and yet not destroy the sincerity of his Faith.

[Page 190]Nor doth this make his Faith meerly humane: For the Question now is not, why he believeth God's Word to be True, & trusteth on it: For that is, because it is God's Word (discern­ed by him so to be) but he that by an insufficient Medium (at least with a Better, though less understood) doth take it to be God's, may yet by a Divine Faith believe it, because he judgeth it his Word.

If a man should counterfeit himself an Angel from Hea­ven, and come in some splendid deceitful appearance in the night to an Heathen, and tell him that he is sent from God to bring him this Bible as his Certain Word, and if the man receive it, and believe it on his credit to the death, and by that Believing it be brought to see an excel­lency and credibility, and taste a spiritual sweetness in it, and be brought by it (as he may be) to Holiness and the Love of God, that man shall be saved, though I cannot say that the Intrinsick Evidence of the Word alone would have prevailed with him without that false belief of a deceiver: When it is once become a Sanctifying Belief, then there is no doubt but the Man hath better Evidence than the uncer­tain word of man: He hath the witness in himself. And it is not a Glorifying Faith, till it be a Sanctifying Faith. But the Question is, What soundness of Reason or proof that this is God's Word, is necessary to make it a Sanctifying Faith? at least, as most prevalent and trusted in?

By this you may know what I judge of the Faith of ho­nest illiterate Papists, and of illiterate Protestants, for a great number of them, who live in Love and Obedience to God.

And yet to speak both more concisely and distinctly, I. I may believe by Historical Tradition all that matter of Fact, which those that saw Christ's and the Apostles Miracles, and heard their words, did know by sense, and those that saw not believed on the credit of the reporters. II. And yet I may know by reason, through God's help, that these Mi­racles, [Page 191] and this Scripture Impress and Efficacy are God's atte­station; and none but God could do it. And of this all Be­lievers have some perception in various degrees. III. And then we know it to be true, because it is sealed by those attestations, and is the Word of God.

Obj. VII. But would you have men take the matters of Fact for uncertain (that this is a true Bible and Copy, and was given the Church by the Apostles, &c.) and so not pretend to be certain of them.

Ans. I have oft said, and elsewhere largely proved, that as, 1. A Humane Faith of highest probability prepareth the way; so 2. These things are known by an Historical Evi­dence, which hath a proper certainty above meer Humane Faith: For Humane Faith resteth on mens Veracity or Fide­lity, which is uncertain: But there is a History (such as that there is such a City as Rome, Venice, &c.) which is evi­dent by a surer ground than mens fidelity; even from such a concurrence of consenters and circumstances, as will prove a forgery impossible.

Obj. VIII. You seem to favour the Popish Doctrine of Igno­rance, while you would have all our Knowledge confined to a few plain and easie things, and perswade men to doubt of all the rest.

Ans. 1. I perswade no man to doubt of that which he is certain of, but not to lie, and say he is certain when he is not. 2. I am so far from encouraging Ignorance, that it is Ig­norance of your Ignorance which I reprove: I would have all men know as much as possibly they can of all that God hath revealed. And if the self-conceited knew more, they would doubt more; and as they grow wiser, will grow less confident in uncertainties. It is not knowing, but false pretending to know, that I am against. Do you think that a thousand self-conceited men and women do really know ever the more, for saying they know, or crying down that Ignorance, Doubting and Uncertainty which they have themselves? How many a one (yea Preachers) have cryed [Page 192] down the Popish Doctrine of Uncertainty of Salvation, who had no Certainty of their own; but their neighbours thought by their lives were certainly in the way to Hell.

Obj. IX. But you would have men resist the Spirit that con­vinceth them, and make so long a work in doubting, and question­ing, and proving every thing, as that Christians will come but to little knowledge in your way.

Ans. They will have the more knowledge, and not the less for trying. Peremptory confidence is not knowledge. The next way here is farthest about. Receive all Evidence from God and Man, from the Word and Spirit with all the desire, and all the delight, and all the speed that possibly you can: Study earnestly; Learn willingly; Resist no Light; neglect no Truth. But what's all this to foolish conceit that you know what you do not? What's this to the hasty believing of falshoods, or uncertainties, and troubling the Church and World with self-conceit and dreams? I remember two or three of my old acquaintance, who suddenly received from a Seducer the Opinion of Perfection, that we might be per­fectly sinless in this life: And because I denied it, they carry­ed it as if I had pleaded for sin against perfection; and they presently took themselves to be perfect and sinless, because they had got the Opinion that some are such. I told them that I desired Perfection as well as they, and that I was far from hindering or disswading any from Perfection; but wisht them to let us see that they are so indeed, and ne­ver to sin more in thought, word or deed: And ere long they forsook all Religion, and by Drunkenness, Fornication and Licentiousness, shewed us their Perfection. So here, it is not a conceit that men have Faith and Knowledge, and quickly saying, I believe; or turning to the Priest or Party that perswadeth them, which maketh them ever the wiser men, or true Believers.

Obj. X. But that may seem certain to another which seemeth uncertain or false to you: Therefore every man must go according to his own Light.

[Page 193] Ans. 1. Nothing is Certain which is not true: If that seem True to you which is False, this is your Errour: And is every man, or any man bound to err, and believe a false­hood? Being is before Knowing: If it Be not true, you may Think it to be so (which is that which I would cure;) but you cannot Know it to be so; much less be Certain of it. 2. If it be Certain to you, it is Evidently True: And if so, hold it fast and spare not: It is not any mans Certainty, but Errour, which I oppose.

Obj. XI. But if we must write or utter nothing but Certain­ties, you would have but a small Library.

Ans. 1. The World might well spare a great many un­certain Writings. 2. But I say not that you must think, say or write nothing but Certainties: There is a lawful, and in some cases necessary exercise of our understandings about Probabilities and Possibilities. The Husbandman when he ploweth and soweth is not certain of an increase. 1. But call not that certain which is not. 2. And be not as vehement and peremptory in it as if it were a Certainty. 3. And separate your Certainties and Probabilities asunder, that confusion fill not your minds with Errour.

Obj. XII. While you perswade us to be so diffident of mens reports, and to suspend our belief of what men say, you speak a­gainst the Laws of Converse.

Ans. I perswade you not to deny any man such a Belief as is his due: But give him no more. If a man profess him­self a Christian, and say that he sincerely believeth in Christ, and consenteth to his Covenant, though you may perceive no ascertaining Evidence that he saith true, yet you must believe him, because he is the only opener of his own mind, and the Laws of God, and Human Converse require it. But what is this believing him? Not taking it for a certain truth: But taking it for a thing probable, which may be true for ought you know, and which you must hope is true; and this in different degrees according to the different degrees of the Persons credibility.

[Page 194]If you hear men confidently report any News in these times, when half that we hear oft proveth false, you may believe the reporter as a fallible Person, that is, believe that he doth not wilfully Lie, and so not uncivilly contradict him; and yet suspend your belief of the thing it self, and whether he took it up rashly on uncertain rumors.

But if you hear a man speak evil of another behind his Back, when the thing is not notorious and certain other­ways, the Law of Justice and Charity obligeth you not to believe him, but to suspend your belief till you hear both sides, or have surer proof; yea, and to suspend, not with an indifferency, but with a hope that it is not true which he speaketh.

Obj. XIII. But then I shall be as uncharitable in judging the Reporter (who perhaps is a godly man) to be a Liar and Slan­derer, as I should be in believing that the other is guilty.

Ans. 1. I say not that you are to conclude that certainly he lieth, and that it's false, but to suspend your belief, and to hope that it's false. 2. He that maketh himself the ac­cuser of another man behind his Back, in a way of talk, doth expose himself to that disadvantage, and maketh it our duty to begin our charitable Opinion on the side of him that is accused, and rather to hope that he is innocent (caeteris paribus) than the accuser. For God forbiddeth backbiting and slandering, and biddeth us speak evil of no man. And he that in our hearing backbiteth and speaketh evil (how godly otherwise soever) without a clear necessary cause, doth forfeit our Charity and Belief, more than a man can do whom we do not see or hear. For if I was bound to judge him innocent before this backbiting, I am bound so to judge him still. Therefore I do but continue that good Opinion of my Neighbour which I was bound to: And that I must suspect the backbiter of a Lie, is the consequent of his own act, and long of himself. For I cannot believe contraries: And it is not his backbiting which will disob­lige [Page 195] me from my former duty, of judging the other innocent. So that it is the reporter that casteth away the reputation of his own veracity.

Obj. XIV. When you have written all this against pretended knowledge, who is more guilty than your self? Who so oppresseth his Reader with distinctions? Are all your large Writings evi­dent certainties? Even those Controversies in which you have so many Adversaries?

Ans. I put in this objection, because I have a Book (called Methodus Theologiae) which I know will occasion such thoughts in many Readers. But 1. It is one thing to assert uncertainties; and another thing to anatomize, and distinct­ly, and methodically, explain a certain truth. In all my large writings, if you find that I call any thing certain which is uncertain, that is, which I give not ascertaining evidence of, acquaint me with the particulars, and I shall retract them.

2. I never perswaded any man to write or say no more than all men certainly know already, no not all Learned Di­vines: For then how should we receive edification. Sub­jective certainty is as various as mens Intellects, where no two are of a size. And objective certainty must be tryed by the evidence, and not by other mens consenting to it. Nor must a Major Vote of Dissenters go for a proof of objective uncertainty: For Heathens are more than the rest of the World; and Mahometans more than Christians; and Pa­pists more than Protestants; and the ungodly more than the godly; and yet this is no proof of our own, or the things uncertainty.

3. Part of my writings are against uncertainties; and to deliver the Church from false Opinions that go for certain­ties; and these are they that have most contradicters: And may I not write against false and uncertain Opinions which Religion is corrupted with, and defend the ancient simpli­city, without being guilty of the introduction of uncertain­ties my self.

[Page 196]4. I deny not but I have many things that are uncertain: But then I acknowledge them uncertain; and treat of them but as they are.

5. Lastly, If really my writings are guilty of that which I here reprehend, (false pretended knowledge) the sin is never the better for that, nor my accusation of it, ever the less true, nor your duty to avoid it ever the less. Think what you will of me, so you will but think rightly of sin and duty. If I go contrary to my Doctrine, and you can prove it, take warning by me, and do not you the like.

Chap. XXI.

Directions for the cure of Pretended Knowledge, or Self-conceit.

Because I must not oft repeat the same things, I must refer the Reader to what I have more fully said of this in 27 Directions for certainty of Knowledge in my Christian Directory, Part 3. Chap. 7. THE Cure of this Plague of Prefidence of Pretended Knowledge is it which all the rest is written for; and must now be the last in Execution as it was the first in my intention. And could men be per­swaded to this following course it might be done: But natures vitious inclination to the vice, and the Commonness and Strength of Tempta­tions to it, do make me expect to prevail but with a few.

Direct. I. Labour to understand the true Nature and Princi­ples of Certainty before opened. False measures will make you judge Certainties to be Falshoods or Uncertain, and Falshoods to be certain truths. And when you know the conditions of certainty, try all things by them accurately; And if any would by art, perswade you of the uncertainty of Natures just perceptions (by Sense or Intellect) remember that be they what they will, you have no better or surer: They are such as our Creator hath given you to trust to for your use, even for the ends of life.

Direct. II. Discern the helps of Knowledge from Knowledge or Certainty itself. Believing your Teachers as men, and be­lieving Historians according to their Credibility and Reve­rencing [Page 197] the Judgment of Seniors, and of the Church, are all preparative helps to Certainty; And humane Faith is such as to Divine Faith. But do not therefore think that it is the same: Nor give men that prerogative of Infallibility which belongeth to God, or to inspired Prophets who prove their word by Gods attestation. The belief of Logicians is need­ful to your understanding Logick, and Logick is a great help to your certain discerning of Physical and Metaphysical and Moral Verities. And yet many Rules of your Logick may be uncertain, and you must not take the helps of your Knowledge, for Evidence it self.

Some think that nothing is known till we have Second notions for it, or can define it: When things sensible are bet­ter known by sensing them, and usually second notions de­ceive men and make them doubt of what they better appre­hended without them.

Be very suspicious of all words or terms; 1. As ambigu­ous, as almost all are: And therefore he that cannot dis­tinguish them must needs err by confusion: 2. Lest you take the Names for Things, most disputes using to carry Controver­sies de nomine as if they were de re, or slide from this into that.

Dir. III. Therefore also trust not too far to the artificial forms of Argument without or instead of the Evidence of the truth of the thing it self. For there are many things supposed to the infalli­bility of your Art, which may not themselves be infallibly true: And mans wit is conscious of its own Fallibility, and therefore is doubtful lest it should be deceived in its col­lections and ratiocinations; Especially when the Engine hath many tacklings, and the Chain many links, we are still in doubt lest some one should break: But the Evidence of the thing in its own reality, which is not wholly laid on the form of an artificial argument, (which is of great use) doth satisfy more.

Direct. IV. Take truths in Order; the Principles first, and the rest in their true Exurgence and Dependance upon them; [Page 198] And take nothing to be well known which is not known, not only in a Method, but in a Method clearly suitable to the things: As Words and Notions, so Rules and Methods must be fetcht from the Things, and fitted to the Things, or they are vain. Sense, and Intellect must first perceive the things themselves, and be your first Tutors in Somatology and Pneumatology; And then these must do much in making your Logick. The Foot must be the measure of the Shoe. And remember that you have but a half, fallacious Knowledge, till you know the True Place and Order, and Respects, of the thing, as well as the nature and quality of it in it self; and till you can draw up a True Scheme of the things which you know; It is dreams that are incoherent.

Direct. V. Let the great Radical Verities have your greatest confidence, and not only so, but the most of your thoughts and Esti­mation and time; and proportionably let the lesser things have but that share of your Esteem and Time, and Studies, which they deserve; (which comparatively will be little.) And make them the test of what is further offered to you: And believe nothing which is certainly contrary to them. Argue always à notioribus, and reduce not certainties to uncertainties, but contrarily.

Direct. VI. Keep all your perceptions distinct according to the distinction of their natures; Let both your Books and your In­tellects be like an Apothecaries Shop, where there are different Boxes with different Titles for different things. Let sensible perceptions be by themselves: And the Intellective percepti­on of things sensate be by themselves: And the Intellective perception of its own and the wills Acts be by themselves: And the collection of the nature of Spirits and Intellective Agents thence, be by themselves; & the knowledge of Principles, Phy­sical and Moral, be by themselves: And the certainty of Con­clusions be ranked according to the Variety of their degrees: The confusion of these different things, causeth so confused a kind of Knowledge, as is next to no Knowledge, and fitter to trouble than to satisfy.

[Page 199]Direct. VII. Look to all things, or as many as is possible: When half is unknown the other half is not half known. Respicere ad omnia is proper to God: Respicere ad plurima is necessary to the competent wisdom of a man: To be of a narrow mind and prospect, is the property of the Ignorant and Erroneous. He that seeth only a hand or foot knoweth not what a man is by it: And he that seeth only a word knoweth not by that what a Sentence is; Gods works are all one: I know not what we shall see in Commenius his Pansophy, which they say is yet to see the Light; how far he hath reduced all Sciences to one. But I little doubt but they may and should be all reduced to two, which are as the Soul and Body that yet make up one man, though not one nature, viz. 1. The [...] or Real part, distinguished into that of Substances and of Modes (where Morality com­eth in, &c.) 2. The Organical part, which fitteth words and Notions to Things. And I am sure that as the Knowledge of one thing or of many much conduceth to further Know­ledge; so the Ignorance of one thing conduceth to igno­rance and error about others: It is here as in the Know­ledge of a Clock or Watch or Musical Instrument: Know all or you know little, and next to none. No man is a fit Judge of Church affairs, who hath not the State of the World in some good measure in his Eye; else he will be like most Secta­ries who Judge and Talk and Live, as if the World were no bigger than their Synagogues or Sects. He must have all the Scripture in his Eye, and all the Body of Divinity and all the World in his Eye; and God himself who is more than all, who will not by a narrow mind be cheated into a mul­titude of Errours. There are abundance of truths un­known to you, which were they known, would rectify your other Errours.

D. VIII. Conclude not hastily of Negatives. You may easi­lier know that you do know what you do know, than know what it is that you do not know. It doth not follow that [Page 200] there is no more, because you know no more. St. John tells you, that if all that Christ did should be written, the World could not contain the Books: You cannot therefore con­clude from what is recorded, that he said and did no more than is recorded: Though I am sure against Popery, by my sense and intellect, that there is real Bread and Wine in the Sacrament, I am not sure by sense that there is no spiritual Body of Christ: The Negative must be otherwise proved. I am sure by my five senses (as they are commonly distin­guished and numbred) that there are existent all the sen­sible qualities which are their objects: But whether the World may not have more sensible qualities, suited to many other sort of senses, which we have no conception, notion or name of, is a thing that no mortal man can know.

You hear many things, and know many things by ano­ther man, which make his cause seem bad: But do you know how many more things may be existent unknown to you, which if you knew, would change your Judgment?

Allow still room and supposition for abundance of un­known things, which may come hereafter to your know­ledge, and make things seem to you quite other than they do. How can you possibly know how much more may be unknown to you? If I have a Servant that stayeth out much longer than I expected, I may conjecture that he could have no business to stay him, but his negligence: But there may be many accidents to cause it, which I cannot judge of till I hear him speak.

D. IX. Be sure that you suspect your first apprehensions of things, and take few conceptions (conclusive) for certain that are not digested. Fasten not over tenaciously upon Opinions in the beginning at the first hearing: Take it for granted that your first conceptions of things must alter, either as to the Truth, or the Evidence, or the Order, or the Degree. Few men are so happy in youth, as to receive at first such right impressions, which need not after to be much altered. When [Page 201] we are Children, we know as Children; but when we be­come Men, childish things are done away. Where we change not our Judgment of the matter, yet we come to have very different apprehensions of it. I would not have Boys to be meer Scepticks (for they must be Godly and Christians.) But I would have them leave room for increase of knowledge, and not be too peremptory with their juvenile conceptions, but suppose that a further light will give them another prospect of the same things.

D. X. Chuse such Teachers, if possible, as have themselves at­tained the things you seek; even that most substantial Wisdom which leadeth to Salvation. For how else shall they teach others what they have not learnt themselves! O the diffe­rence between Teachers and Teachers! between a rash flashy unexperienced proud wit, and clear headed, well studied, much experienced, and godly man! Happy is he that hath such a Teacher, that is long exercised in the ways of Truth, and Holiness, and Peace, and hath a heart to value him!

D. XI. Value Truth for Goodness, and Goodness above Truth; and estimate all Truths and Knowledge by their usefulness to higher Ends. That is Good as a Means, which doth Good. There is nothing besides God that is simply Good, in, of, and for it self; all else is only Good derivatively from God the Efficient, and as a Means to God the final Cause. As a pound of Gold more enricheth than many loads of Dirt: so a little Knowledge of great and necessary matters, maketh one wiser, than a great deal of pedantick toyish Learning. No man hath time and capacity for all things: He is but a proud fool that would seem to know all, and deny his igno­rance in many things. Even he that with Alstedius, &c. can write an Encyclopaedia, is still unacquainted with abundance that is intelligible. For my own part, I humbly thank God, that by placing my dwelling still as in the Church­yard, he hath led me to chuse still the studies which I [Page 202] thought were fittest for a man that is posting to another world. He that must needs be ignorant of many things, should chuse to omit those which he can best spare. Distin­guish well between studying and knowing for Use, and for Lust: For the True Ends of Knowledge, and for the bare de­light of Knowing. One thing is necessary, Luke 10.42. And all others but as they are necessary to that one. Mortifie the Lust of useless Knowledge as well as other lusts of flesh and fantasie. Dying men commonly call it Vanity. Remember what a deal of precious Time it wasteth; and from how many greater and more necessary things it doth divert the mind; and with what wind it puffs men up; as is afore­said. How justly did the rude Tartarians think the great Libraries, and multitudes of Doctors, and idle Priests, among the Chinenses to be a foolery, and call them away from their Books to Arms (as Palafox tells us) when all their Learning was to so little purpose as it was, and led them to no more high and necessary things?

D. XII. Yet because many smaller parts of Knowledge are necessary to Kingdoms, Academies and Churches, which are not necessary nor greatly valuable to individual persons; let some few particular persons be bred up to an eminency in those studies, and let not the generality of Students waste their time therein. There is scarce any part of Knowledge so small and useless, but it is necessary to great Societies that some be Masters of it, which yet the generality may well spare. And all are to be valued and honoured according to their several excellen­cies. But yet I cannot have while to study as long as Po­litian how Virgil should be spelt; nor to decide the quarrels between Phil. Pareus and Gruter, nor to digest all his Gram­matical Collections, nor to read all over abundance of Books which I allow house room to. Nor to learn all the Languages and Arts which I could wish to know, if I could know them without neglecting greater things. But yet the excel­lent Professors of them all I honour.

[Page 203]D. XIII. Above all, Value, Digest, and seriously Live upon the most Great and Necessary Certain Truths: O that we knew what Work (inward and outward) the great Truths of Sal­vation call for from us all! If you do not faithfully value and improve these, you prepare for delusion: You forget your Premises and Principles: God may justly leave you in the dark, and give you up to believe a lie. Did you live according to the importance of your certain Principles, your lives would be filled with fruit, and business, and de­light, and all this Great: So that you would have little mind or leisure for little and unnecessary things. It is the neglect of things necessary, which fills the World with the trouble of things unnecessary.

D. XIV. Study hard, and search diligently and deeply, and that with unwearied patience and delight. Unpleasant studies tire and seldom prosper. Slight running thoughts accom­plish little. If any man think that the Spirit is given to save us the labour of hard and long studies, Solomon hath spent so many Chapters in calling them, to dig, search, cry, labour, wait for Wisdom, that if that will not undeceive them, I cannot: They may as well say, that God's blessing is to save the Husbandman the labour of plowing and sow­ing: And that the Spirit is given to save men the labour of learning to read the Bible, or to hear it, or think of it, or to pray to God. Whereas the Spirit is given us to provoke and enable us to study hard, and read, and hear, and pray hard, and to prosper us herein.

And as vain are our idle Lads that think that their na­tural Wits, or their Abode and Degrees in the Universities, will serve the turn instead of hard studies! And so they come out almost as ignorant, and yet more proud than they went thither, to be Plagues in all Countreys where they come, to teach others by example the idleness and sensua­lity which they learnt themselves; and being ignorant, yet the honour of their Functions must be maintained, and [Page 204] therefore their ignorance must be hid, which yet them­selves do weekly make ostentation of in the Pulpit, where they should be shining lights; and when their own Tongues have proclaimed it, those of understanding that observe and loath it, must be maligned and railed at for knowing how little their Teachers know.

Nothing without long and hard studies furnisheth the mind with such a stock of truth, as may be called real wis­dom. That God is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him, (and not of the lazy neglecters of him) is the second Principle in Religion, Heb. 11.6. They that cannot be at this labour, must be content to know but little, and not take on them to know much. For they are not able to dis­cern truth from falshood: But while they sleep the Tares are sowed: Or while they open the Door, all croud in that can come first; and they cannot make a just separation. Ig­norant Persons will swarm with errors; and he that erreth will think that he is in the right: And if he think that it is a divine and necessary truth which he embraceth, how zea­lously may he pursue it?

D. XV. Take heed of a byas of Carnal Interest, and of the disturbing Passions which selfish partiality will be apt to raise. Men may verily think that they sincerely love the truth, when the secret power of a carnal interest, their honour, their profit or pleasure, is it that turneth about their judg­ment, and furnisheth them with Arguments, and whets their Wits, and maketh them passionately confident, and they are not aware of it. Is your worldly interest on that side that your opinion is for? Though that prove it not false, it proveth that you should be very suspicious of your selves.

D. XVI. Keep up unfeigned fervent love to others, even as to your selves. And then you will not contemn their Per­sons and their Arguments, beyond certain cause. You will not turn to passionate contentions, and reproaches of them when you differ; and the reverence of your Elders, [Page 205] Teachers, Superiors, will make you more ready to suspect your selves than them. Most of our self-conceited pretenders to knowledge have lost their love and reverence of Dissen­ters, and are bold despisers of the Persons, reasons and writings of all that contradict their errour. And most that venture to cast the Churches into flames, and their Bre­thren into silence and sufferings, that they may plant their own opinions, are great despisers of those that they afflict, and either hate them, or would make them hateful, lest they should be thought to be unjust in using them like hate­ful Persons. Love that thinketh not evil of o­thers,1 Cor. 13. is not apt to vaunt it self.

D. XVII. Reverence the Church of God, but give not up your understandings absolutely to any men; but take heed of ta­king any Church Sect or Party instead of the Infallible God. With the Universal Church you must Embody and hold Concord: It is certain that it erreth not from the Essenti­als of Christianity: Otherwise the Church were no Church, no Christians, and could not be saved: If a Papist say, [and which is this Church?] I answer him, It is the Univer­sality of Christians, or all that hold these Essentials; and when I say that this Church cannot fall from these Essenti­als, I do but say it cannot cease to be a Church: The Church is constituted of, and known by the Essentials of Faith; and not the Essentials of Faith constituted by the Church, nor so known by it; though it be known by it as the Teacher of it.

He that deserteth the Christian Universality, (in deed though not in words) and cleaveth too close to any Sect, (whether Papal or any other) will be carried down the stream by that Sect, and will fill his understanding with all their errors and uncertainties, and confound them with the certain truths of God, to make up a mixt Religion with; and the reverence of his Party, Church or Sect, will blind his mind, and make him think all this his duty.

[Page 206]D. XVIII. Fear Error and ungrounded Confidence. Consi­der all the mischiefs of it, which the World hath long felt, and the Churches in East and West are distracted by un­to this day; and which I have opened to you before. He that feareth not a sin and mischief is most unlikely to escape it. A tender Conscience cannot be bold and rash, where the interest of God, the Church, and his own and others Souls is so much concerned: When you are invited to turn Papist, or Quaker, or Anabaptist, or Antinomian, or Se­paratist, think, What if it should prove an Errour; and as great an Errour as many godly learned men affirm it to be? A­las what a gulf should I plunge my Soul in? What injury should I do the Truth? What wrong to Souls? And shall I rashly venture on such a danger, any more than I would do on Fornication, Drunkenness, or other sin? And doth not the sad example of this Age, as well as all former Ages warn you to be fearful of what you entertain? O what pro­mising, what hopeful, what confident Persons, have dread­fully miscarried, and when they once began to roll down the Hill, have not stopt till some of them arrived at Infide­lity and Prophaneness, and others involved us all in confu­sions? And yet shall we not fear, but rage and be confi­dent?

And to see on the other side what darkness and delusion hath faln upon thousands of the Papal Clergy, and what their Errour hath cost the World, should make those that are that way inclined also fear.

Direct. XIX. Above all pray and labour for a truely humble mind, that is well acquainted with its own defects; and fear and fly from a proud overvaluing of your own understanding. Be thankful for any Knowledge that you have, but take heed of thinking it greater than it is. The Devils Sin, and the imitation of Adam, are not the way to have the illumi­nation of Gods Spirit. It is not more usual with God to bring low those that are Proud of Greatness, than to leave to [Page 207] folly, deceit and errour, those that are proud of Wisdom; and to leave to Sin and Wickedness those that are proud of Good­ness. A Proud understanding cannot be brought to suspect it self, but is confident of its first undigested apprehensions: It either feeleth no need of the Spirits light, but despiseth it as a fancy; or else it groweth conceited that all its con­ceptions are of the Spirit, and is proud of that Spirit which he hath not. Nothing maketh this peremptory confidence in false conceits so common, as Pride of a knowledge which men have not. Would the Lord but humble these persons throughly, they would think, Alas! What a dark deceitful mind have I? how unfit to despise the judgment of them that have laboured for knowledge far more than I have done, and how unfit to be confident against such as know much more than I?

But so deep and common is this Pride, that they that go in rags, and they that think themselves unworthy to live, and are ready to despair in the sense of Sin, do yet ordina­rily so overvalue their own apprehensions, that even these will stifly hold their vain and unpeaceable opinions, and stifly reject the judgment and arguments, of the wisest and best that will not be as envious as they.

Direct. XX. Lastly, Keep in a Child-like, teachable, learn­ing resolution, with a sober and suspended judgment, where you have not sure evidence to turn the scales. When Christ saith, Mat. 18.3. Except ye be converted and become as little Children, ye shall in no wise enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; As he hath respect to the humility of Children in general (and their inception of a new life) so in special he seemeth to respect them as Disciples: set Children to School and their business is to hear and learn all day; They set not their wits against their Masters and do not wrangle and strive against him, and say, It is not so; we know better than you. But so abominably is humane nature corrupted by this Intel­lectual Pride, that when once Lads are big enough to be from under a Tutor, commonly instead of Learning of others, [Page 208] they are of a teaching humour, and had rather speak two hours than hear one; And set their wits to contradict what they should learn, and to conquer those that would instruct them; and to shew themselves wiser than to learn to be more wise; and we can scarce talk with Man or Woman, but is the wisest in the Company, and hardliest convinced of an errour.

But two things here I earnestly advise you: 1. That you spend more time in Learning than in Disputing: Not but that disputing in its season is necessary to defend the Truth: But usually it engageth mens wits in an eager opposition a­gainst others, and so against the truth which they should receive: And it goeth more according to the ability of the disputants, than the merits of the cause. And he that is worsted is so galled at the disgrace, that he hateth the truth the more for his sake that hath dishonoured him: and there­fore Paul speaketh so oft against such disputing, and saith that the Servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle, and apt to teach, and in meekness instruct opposers.

I would ordinarily if any Man have a mind to wrangle with me, tell him; [If you know more of these things than I, if you will be my Teacher, I shall thankfully hear and learn] and desire him to open his Judgment to me in its fullest evidence: And I would weigh it as the time and case required; And if I were fully satisfied against it, I would crave leave to tell him the reasons of my dissent, and crave his patient au­dience to the end. And when we well understood each o­thers mind and reasons, I would crave leave then to end in peace; unless the safety of others required a dispute to de­fend the Truth.

2. And my specially repeated counsel is, that you sus­pend your judgment till you have cogent evidence to de­termine it. Be no further of either side than you know they are in the right, cast not your self into other mens opi­nions hastily, upon slight reasons at a blind adventure. If [Page 209] you see not a Certainty judge it not Certain, If you see but a Probability, judge it but Probable. Prove all things, and hold fast that which is good. The Bereans are commended for searching the Scripture,1 Thes. 5. Act. 16. and seeing whether the things were so which Paul had spoken. Truth feareth not the light. It is like Gold, that loseth no­thing by the fire. Darkness is its greatest Enemy and Dis­honour. Therefore look before you leap: you are bid, Believe not every Spirit,1 John. 2. but try the Spirits whe­ther they be of God. Stand still till you know that the ground is safe which you are to tread on. When Poysoners are as Common as Physicians, you will take heed what you take. It's safer when once you have the essentials of Christianity, to take too little than too much: For you are sure to be saved if you are meer true Christians; but how far Popery, Antinomianism, &c. may corrupt your Christiani­ty is a controversie. Wish them that urge you, to forbear their haste in a matter of everlasting consequence: These are not matters to be rashly done. And as long as you are uncer­tain, profess your selves uncertain; and if they will condemn you for your ignorance when you are willing to know the truth, so will not God. But when you are certain, re­solve in the strength of God, and hold fast whatever it cost you, even to the death, and never fear being losers by God, by his Truth, or by Fidelity in your Duty.


Of true saving Knowledge: I. Causing our Love to God. II. Thereby Qualifying us for his Love.

1 Cor. 8.3.

But if any man Love God, the same is known of him.

Chap. I.

Knowledge is to be estimated more, by the end it tendeth to, than by it self.

HAving done with that Epidemical mortal disease, (SELF-CONCEITEDNESS or PREFIDENCE or overhasty judging, and Pretending to know that which we know not) which I more desire than hope to cure; I have left but a little room for the nobler part of my Subject, True saving Knowledge, because the handling of it was not my principal design.

The meaning of the Text I gave you before:‘The true Paraphrase of it is as followeth: As if Paul had said; [You overvalue your barren notions, and think that by them you are wise; whereas Knowledge is a means to a higher end; & is to be esteemed of as it attaineth that end; And that end is to make us Lovers of God, that so we may be known with Love by him; For to Love God and be beloved by him is mans felicity and ultimate end; and therefore that which we must seek after and live for in the world; and he is to be accounted the wisest man that loveth God most; when unsanctified Notions & Speculations will prove but folly.]’

[Page 211]This being the true meaning of the Text, I shall briefly speak of it by parts, as it containeth these several Doctrines or Propositions.

Doct. 1. Knowledge is a means to a higher end, according to which it is to be estimated.

Doct. 2. The End of Knowledge is to make us Lovers of God, and so to be known with Love by him.

Doct. 3. Therefore knowledge is to be valued, sought and used, as it tendeth to this holy blessed end.

Doct. 4. And therefore those are to be accounted the wisest or best-knowing men, that Love God most; and not those that are stored with unholy knowledge.

For the first of these, that [Knowledge is a means to a higher end] I shall first open it, and then prove it.

I. Aquinas and some other Schoolmen make the Vision or Knowledge of God, to be the highest part of mans Felici­ty: And I deny not but that the three faculties of mans Soul, (Vital Activity, Intellect and Will) as the Image of the Divine Trinity, have a kind of inseparability and coequality. And therefore each of their perfections and perfect Receptions from God, and operations on God, is the ultimate end of man: But yet they are Distinguishable, though not divisible; and there is such an Order among them, as that one may in some respects be called the Inceptor and another the Perfecter of humane operations; and so the Acts of one be called a means to the Acts of the other. And thus though the Vision or Knowledge of God be one inadequate conception (if not a part) of our ultimate end; yet the Love of God, and Living to God, are also other conceptions or parts of it: yea and the more completive perfect parts, which we call finis ultimate ultimus.

II. The proof shall be fetcht, 1. From the Order and use of the Faculties of the Soul. 2. From the Objects. 3. From the constitution of the Acts. 4. From express Scrip­ture.

[Page 212]I. It is evident to our internal perception, 1. That the Understanding is but the Guide of the Will, and its acts but mediate to determine the Will: As the Eye is to lead the Appetitive and Executive faculties, by presenting to them their proper objects. To know is but an initial introductory act.

Yea, 2. It is evident that the Soul is not Satisfied with bare knowing if no Delight or Complacency follow: For what is that which we call Satisfaction but the Complacency of the Will? Suppose a man to have no effect upon his Will, no Pleasure, no Contentation in his Knowledge, and what Fe­licity or Desireable Good to him, would there be, in all the Knowledge in the world? Yea when I name either [Good] or [Desirable] every one knoweth that I name an object of the Will. Therefore if you stop at bare Intellection, it is not to be called Good or Desireable as to the Intellect, these being not proper intellectual objects: Though remotely I confess they are; that is, that which is called Good, Amiable and Desireable primarily as the proper object of the Will, must be discerned to be such by the understanding: When yet the Formal notion of the Intellects object, is but quid Intel­ligibile, which materially is Ens, Unum, Verum, Bonum: But Goodness is the Formal notion of the object of the will, and not only the material.

If any say that I seem here to take part with Epicurus, (and Cicero's Torquatus) who erred by placing the chief excellen­cy of Virtue in the Pleasure of it; and consequently mak­ing any thing more Excellent which is more Pleasant, though it be sin itself; I answer, he that will decide that great con­troversy, must distinguish, 1. Between Sensitive Pleasure, and the Complacency of the Will. 2. Between that which is Good only to me, and that which is Good to others, and that which is Good in relation to the Supream and Final Will of God. 3. Between the Exterior and the Interior acts of Virtue. And then you shall [Page 213] see Cicero and Torquatus easily reconciled, thus.

1. It is certain that GOODNESS and the WILL are so essentially related to each other, that they must each e [...]r the others definition. To be Bonum is to be Volibile; and to Will is ever Velle Bonum.

2. It is certain that God's Will is the Original and End of all Created Good, which hath its Essence in relation to His Will. And therefore if it were possible for Virtue to be unplea­sant or pernicious to the possessor, it would be Good as it is suited and related to the Will of God.

3. Therefore it cannot be said, that Virtue as Virtue is bet­ter than Virtue as it pleaseth God: But it is most certain that Virtue as Virtue is pleasing to God, (as to the objective apti­tude,) and that Virtue as pleasing to God, and consequently as Virtue, is Better than Virtue, as it is pleasant to the possessor.

4. And it is certain that Virtue, as it is profitable, and justly pleasing to Mankind, to the Church, to Kingdoms, to Publick Societies or multitudes, is better than as it is pleasing unto one: Because the Good of many is better than of one.

5. And it is certain that Virtue, as it pleaseth the rational Will, is better than as it pleaseth the meer Sensitive Appetite, which it seldom doth: And therefore Sensuality hath no advantage hence.

6. And Virtue as it profiteth, though at present it occasion sorrow or displicence in its consequents, is better than that which at the present only pleaseth; and quickly vanisheth. But that Profit lieth in this, that it prepareth for everlasting ▪ or more durable Pleasure. And a long Pleasure attained by present sorrow, is better than a momentany pleasure; which is another difference between sensual sinful; and spiritual durable delights.

7. And to end all this Controversie between us and Epi­curus, it is notorious, that the Internal Vital Acts of true Vir­tue, are nothing else radically but Pleasure it self: For it is radically and summarily nothing but the Love of God and [Page 214] Goodness: And Love in its properest notion is nothing but the Complacency of the Will. To say, I love it, is but to say, It pleaseth me; unless when you speak of either sensual ap­petite and delight, or Love as conjunct with some other act or passion. And (though Occam here stretch it a little too far) it is certain that the external act of man hath no Virtue in it that is Moral, but secondary and derived from the Will, even as far as it is Voluntary: So that the informing root of all Virtue is Will, Love, or Complacency; which Austin useth to call Delectation, asserting what I now assert. So that the Question now is, Whether Virtue, which is nothing but Complacency in Good, be better as Complacency or as Virtue, that is, under one Name or another? or whether it be better as Virtue, or as Virtue? as Complacency, or as Complacency?

If you think I make Cicero and the older Philosophers fools, by feigning them to agitate such a Question; I answer, 1. If they do so, it is not my doing, but their own. 2. But I think Cicero meant not so foolishly, but understood Epi­curus only of sensual pleasure, and not of rational. 3. Or at least of private pleasure of a single person, as opposite to the utility and pleasure of multitudes. 4. And whether he had so much Theology as to remember that which is it that re­solveth the whole doubt, I know not; viz. that Virtus as Virtue is objectively pleasing to the Will of God, and as pleasing to God, it is better than as pleasing to me, and all the world.

So that notwithstanding this Objection (thus fully an­swered) the Acts of the Intellect meerly as such, without their respect to some Will (either of God or Man) are not so much as formally Amiable, Desirable or Good.

3. I further add, that the Acts of the Intellect may be forced, involuntary, displeasing, and both morally and penally evil. A man may by God be forbidden to search after, and to know some things; and to know them (as voluntarily done) may be his sin. And all know that a man may be necessita­ted to know many things; and that knowledge may torment [Page 215] him: As to know dangers, losses, enmities, injuries, future evils; especially sins, by an accusing Conscience, and God's displeasure: And Devils and damned Souls have such know­ledge.

Obj. All this is true of some knowledge, but not of the know­ledge of God or Goodness.

Ans. 1. It is granted then that Knowledge as such is not sufficient to be man's felicity, or final act. 2. And as to the Object, I easily grant that the true Knowledge of God is the initial part of man's felicity: But that is much, because it ever inferreth that Love or Complacency of the Will, which is the more completive part. 3. But there is a Knowledge even of God, which being separated from Love, is sin and misery: As the Devils and damned that believe and tremble, and hate and suffer, are not without all knowledge of God. So much for the first proof, fetcht from the order of the fa­culties of the Soul.

II. The second proof is fetcht from the Objects: It is not meer Intelligibility that blesseth a man, but Goodness, which as such is the formal Object of the Will, though the mate­rial Object of the Understanding. It is a pleasant thing for the Eyes to behold the Sun: And as pleasant, it is good; and also as useful to further pleasure of our selves or others. No­thing maketh a man Good or Happy but as it is Good. There­fore the Goodness of God, (his transcendent perfection by which he is first Essentially Good in himself, and amiable to himself, and then Good and Amiable to us all) is the ultimate­ly ultimate object of mans Soul, to which his Intelligibility is supposed.

III. The third proof is from the Constitution of these se­veral [...] a Knowledge being but an introductive act, sup­poseth not Love, as to its Essence (though it produce it as an Effect:) But Love included knowledge in it; as the number of two includeth one, when one doth not include two. There­fore [...] [...]ogether must needs be perfecter than one alone.

[Page 216]IV. The fourth proof is from express Scripture; I will only cite some plain ones which need no tedious comment. 1. For Love it's said, 1 Joh. 4.16, 17, 18. We have known and believed the Love that God hath to us: God is Love; and he that dwelleth in Love, dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our Love made perfect, (or in this the Love with us is perfected) that we have boldness in the day of Judgment. Be­cause as he is, so are we, in this world: There is no fear in Love, but perfect Love casteth out fear. He that feareth is not made perfect in Love.] So that Love is the perfection of man.

1 Cor. 12.31. and 13.2, &c. Yet shew I unto you a more excellent way: Though I understand all mysteries and all know­ledge, and have not Charity, I am nothing.Charity never fail­eth— 13. The greatest of these is Charity.]

Rom. 8.35. Who shall separate us from the Love of God, &c.

Rom. 13.10. Love is the fulfilling of the Law.

Rom. 5.5. The Love of God is poured out on our hearts by the Holy-Ghost which is given to us.]

Gal. 5.6. Faith which worketh by Love.

Mat. 22.37. The first and great Commandment is, Thou shalt Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, &c.

Luk. 10.27. Deut. 10.12. and and 19.9. and 13.3. and Josh. 22.5. and 23.11. Psal. 5.11. and 31.23. and 69.36. and 119.165. and 145.20. Jam. 1.12. He shall receive the Crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that Love him. So 2.5.

Prov. 8.17. I love them that love me.

See Joh. 14.21. and 16.27. 1 Joh. 4.19. Joh. 21.15, 16, 17. 1 Joh. 3.22. Heb. 11.6, &c.

And of Knowledge it is said, [Joh. 13.17. If ye knew these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

See Jam. 2.14. to the end, Joh. 15.24. But now they have both seen and hated, both me and my Father.

Luk. 12.47. Knowing Gods will, and not doing it pre­pareth [Page 217] men for many stripes. See Rom. 2. And as barren knowledge is oft made the aggravation of sin, so true know­ledge is usually made the cause or means of Love and Obedi­ence., 1 Joh. 4.8. He that loveth not, knoweth not God. 2 Pet. 1.2. Grace and peace be multiplied to you, through the know­ledge of God.— 2 Pet. 2.20. and many such like.

I conclude therefore that the knowledge of Creatures is not desirable ultimately for itself, but as it leadeth up the Soul to God. And the knowledge of God, though desirable ulti­mately for it self, yet not as the perfect, but the initial part of our ultimate act or end, and as the means or cause of that love of God, which is the more perfect part of that ul­timate Perfection.

Chap. II.

The End of Knowledge is to make us Lovers of God, and so to be known with Love by Him.

THis is the second Doctrine contained in the meaning of the Text. Where is included, 1. That all know­ledge of Creatures (called Learning) must be valued and used but as a means to the knowledge and love of God: Which is most evident in that the whole Creation is the work of God, bearing the Image or Impress of his Perfections, to reveal him to the Intellectual Creature, and to be the means of provoking us to his love, and helping us in his service. To deny this therefore is to subvert the use of the whole Creation, and to set up Gods works as an useless shadow, or as an Idol in his place.

2. It is included as was afore-proved, that all our know­ledge of God himself, is given us to kindle in us the Love of God. It is the Bellows to blow up this holy Fire. If it do not this it is unsound and dead. If it do this it hath at­tained its end; which is much of the meaning of James in that Chap. 2. which prejudice hindereth many from un­derstanding.

[Page 218]3. This love of God hath its degrees and effects: Know­ledge first kindleth but some weak initial act of love; which through mixtures of fear, and of carnal affections is hardly known to be sincere by him that hath it. But afterward it produceth both stronger acts, and the Holy Ghost still working as the principal cause, infuseth or operateth a ra­dicated Habit. So that this holy love becometh like a na­ture in the Soul, even a divine nature: And it becometh in a sort natural to us to love God and goodness, though not as the brutish nature, which is exercised by necessity and with­out reason. And this new nature of holy love, is called the new Creature, and the Holy Ghost dwelling in us, and the Spirit of Adoption; and is our New-name, the White-stone, the Witness in our selves that Christ is the Saviour, and that we are the Regenerate Children of God, the Pledge, the Earnest, the First-fruits, and the Fore-taste of Life Eter­nal.

And all the works of a Christian are so far truly holy, as they are the Effects of holy love: For 1. Holy love is but a holy will; and the will is the man, in point of Morality. 2. And the love of God is our final act upon the final object; and all other gracious acts are some way means subservient to this end: And the end is it that informeth all the means, they being such only as they are adapted to the end.

And in this sense it is true which is said in the Schools (though many Protestants misunderstanding it, have con­tradicted it) that love is the form of all other Graces: That is, It is the heart of the new Creature; or it is that by which the man is Morally to be reputed and denominated: And it is the final Grace which animateth or informeth the rest as means.

And thus it is true, that when you will prove any Grace to be sincere and saving, or any evidence certain, you must prove it to participate of the love of God and goodness, or you have failed and said nothing. (Yea, you must prove [Page 219] it to be conjunct with predominant love, which setteth God above all Creatures.) And if you will prove any good work to be acceptable to God, (Prayer, Praise, Alms, Jus­tice, &c.) you must prove that it cometh from this predo­minant love. For it is so far and no further acceptable to God.

And their ignorance is but to be pitied, who tell you that this is to make our love of God to be instead of Christ to us, or to set up an acceptable righteousness or merit in our selves: For we dream not that our love of God was a Sacrifice for our sins, and the Expiatory Atonement and Satisfaction to Justice, nor that Merit which procured us Love it self, or purchased us the Holy Ghost. Our meaning is that good­ness is the only proper object of love: And God loveth his Essential goodness first, and Created goodness next: And our Moral goodness which is his Image is holy love (produced by and joined with holy wisdom and vitality.) And so though God love us in Christ, or as Related to him, it is as holy Members of him; and not that he loveth complacentially the haters of God for their Relation to Christ, without re­spect to any goodness in themselves. And to say that Christ maketh us acceptable and amiable to God, is all one as to say that he procureth us the pardon of Sin, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and maketh us holy Lovers of God: Or that he is indeed our Saviour. He that commendeth health as wrought by his Physician, doth not set health instead of the Physician. Christ is the Physician; the Holy Ghost or Holy Love in us, is our health: To procure and give us the Holy Ghost, is Christs Office. He pardoneth our sin when he pardoneth the punishment: The privation of the Holy Ghost and his operations is our principal punishment: And therefore (not all, but) the principal part of our pardon ly­eth in the giving us the Holy Ghost.

But some will say, That if God love nothing but goodness, and love us no further than we are good, how then did he love us [Page 220] first, and while we were his Enemies? Are not Election, Crea­tion, Redemption and Conversion acts of love? And is not our love, the fruit of his love?

Ans. Thus Names not opened, by confounding Heads, are made the matter of a thousand Controversies. As our love is nothing but our will, so the word love is taken strictly and properly, or largely and less properly. A mans will is consi­dered as efficient or as final. As it respecteth a future effect, or a present existent good. And so Gods will as it final, and respecteth things existent, either, 1. In esse cognito. 2. Or in esse reali, is called complacence, and only complacence is love in the strict and properest sense. But Gods will as efficient of good, may in a laxer sense be called love. Gods will is the Fountain or efficient cause of all good, Natural and Moral in the World. And so you may call Gods causing or making good, by the name of love, if you please; remembring that it is but the name that is questioned: But his complacency in good foreseen or existent is strictly called his love. And so still God loveth nothing in either sense but good. For 1. He causeth nothing but good. 2. And he is pleased in nothing but good as good.

Quest. But how then doth God love his Enemies?

Ans. 1. He maketh us men, which may be called one act of efficient love: And he Redeemeth them; and he giveth them all the good things which they possess: And he sancti­fieth some, and maketh them lovers of him, that is, holy. And thus he willeth their good, while they are Nothing or Evil; which is called Benevolence, and Love efficient.

2. And he hath true love of complacency in them. 1. As they have the good of humane nature. 2. And thereby are capable of grace, and all the love and service which after they may perform. 3. And as they are Related to Christ as his Redeemed ones. 4. And as by Relation they are those that God fore-knoweth will love and serve him here, and in the perfections of Eternal Glory. There is all this good in some [Page 221] Enemies of God, to be the matter of his complacency. And beyond their goodness he hath no complacency in them.

3. And to clear up all this, still remember, that though mans will is changed by or upon the various objects, yet so is not the will of God. And therefore all these words sig­nifie no variety or change in God; but only how his simple immutable▪ Essential will is variously related to and denomi­nated from the Connotation of Effects and Objects.

4. Also it must be noted, as included in the Text, that God loveth all that truly love him: For to be known of him, here meaneth, to be known with approbation and love as his peculiar people. As Psal. 1.6. It is said, The Lord knoweth the way of the righteous; and so oft: And of the wicked, Mat. 25.12. Depart from me, I know you not. God owneth with love all those that love him. What Parts, what Qua­lity, what Degree soever men are of, whatever difference else there be among them, if they are true lovers of God, they are certainly approved and beloved by him. This be­ing the very Heart and Essence of the new Creature, and the Divine Nature in us, must needs prove that man to be Amiable to God that hath it. Other things are true marks of a Child of God, only so far as they participate of love: But love is the primary proper Character, which proveth us Adopted directly of it self.

And here you may resolve the question that seemeth so difficult to many: Whether when the Scripture either by describing the godly, or by promising Life, doth mention some one Grace or Duty, as the Character of a Saint, or the Condition of Salvation, it be to be understood with a caeteris paribus, if other Graces and Duties concur, as sup­posing them separable? Or absolutely, as supposing that one mark infallible, because it is never separated from the rest?

Ans. The New Man hath 1. Its Essential parts; and 2. Its Integrals; and 3. Its Accidents. The Essentials are ever infal­lible [Page 222] marks, and are inseparable from each other: Any one of them will prove us Holy, and will prove the presence of the rest. These Essentials are an united Trinity of Gra­ces, Holy Life, Light and Love; where each one hath the common Essence of Holiness, which is their objective termi­nation upon God; and each is linked by participation to ano­ther. Holy Vitality is Vital Activity towards God, in mind, will and practice; Holy Light is that Knowledge and Belief which kindleth Love, and causeth a Holy Life. Holy Love is that complacency of the Will in God and Goodness, which is kindled by Holy Life and Light, and operateth in Holy practice. Any one of these thus described, where Love is the Heart of all, is an infallible mark of Holiness. But all other Graces and Duties which are but the Integrals of Ho­liness, are in all Characters and Promises to be understood with a caeteris paribus, that is, supposing them to be animated with Holy Love, and caused by Holy Life and Light (Know­ledge and Belief.)

And that God doth most certainly Love all that Love him, besides the forementioned proofs from Scripture is fur­ther evident.

1. The Love of God and Goodness is the Divine Nature: And God cannot but Love his own Nature in us: It is his Image, which (as in its several degrees) he Loveth for him­self, and next to himself.

2. The Love of God is the Rectitude of Man's Soul; its soundness, health and beauty: And God Loveth the Recti­tude of his creatures.

3. The Love of God is the final, perfect operation of the Soul; even that end which it was created and redeemed for: And God Loveth to have his works attain their end, and to see them in their perfection.

4. The Love of God is the Goodness of the Soul it self: And Goodness is Amiableness, and must needs be Loved by Him that is Goodness and Perfection Himself.

[Page 223]5. The Love of God is our uniting adhesion to him: And God that first draweth up the Soul to this Union, will not himself reject us, and avoid it.

6. Love is a pregnant, powerful, pleasing Grace: It de­livereth up our selves, and all that we have to God: It de­lighteth in duty: It conquereth difficulties: It contemneth competitors, and trampleth on temptations: It accounteth nothing too much, nor too dear for God. Love is the Soul's nature, appetite and pondus, according to which it will or­dinarily act. A man's Love, is his Will, his Heart, himself: And if God have our Love, he hath our selves, and our all: So that God cannot but Love the Soul that truly Loveth him as God.

But here are some Doubts to be resolved.

Q. 1. What if the same Soul have Love and Sin mixed; or sincere Love in a degree that is sinfully defective, and so is con­sistent with something of its contrary: God must hate that Sin: How then can he Love that Soul?

Ans. Remember still that Diversity is only in us, and not in God: Therefore God's Will is related and denominated towards us, just as its object is. All that is Good in us God Loveth: All that is Evil in us he hateth. Where Goodness is predominant, there God's Love is predominant, or greatest (from this Relation and Connotation.) Where Sin is predo­minant, God's aversation, displicency or hatred is the chief. And we may well expect that the effects be answerable.

Obj. But we are beloved as Elect before Conversion.

Ans. That was answered before. That is, God from Eter­nity purposed to make us Good, and Amiable, and Happy; if you will call that (as you may) his Love.

Obj. But we are beloved in Christ, for his Righteousness and Goodness, and not for our own.

Ans. The latter is false: The former is thus true: For the Merits of Christ's Righteousness and Goodness, God will pardon our sins, and make us Good, Holy and Happy; and [Page 224] will Love us as the Holy Members of his Son; that is, both as Related to him, and as Holy.

Obj. But if God must needs Love sincere imperfect Lovers of him as such, with a predominant Love (which will not damn them) then sin might have been pardoned without Christ's death, and the sinner be loved without his Righteousness, if he had but sincerely loved God.

Ans. The supposition is false, that a sinner could have Lo­ved God without Pardon and the Spirit, purchased by the Death and Righteousness of Christ. God perfectly Loveth the perfected Souls in Glory for their own holy perfection: But they never attained it but by Christ. And God Loveth us here according to the measure of our Love to him: But no man can thus Love him, till his sin be pardoned, for which he was deprived of the Spirit which must kindle Love. And imperfect Love is ever joyned with imperfect Pardon (what­ever some falsly say to the contrary;) I mean that Love which is sinfully imperfect.

Quest. 2. Doth not God's Loving us make us Happy? And if so, it must make us Holy. And then none that he Loveth will fall away from him: Whereas the fallen Angels and Adam Lo­ved him, and yet fell from him: How then were they beloved by him?

Ans. I before told you that God's Will (or Love) is first Efficient causing Good, and then Final, being pleased in the Good that is caused. God's Efficient Will or Love, doth so far make men Holy and Happy as they are such, even efficiently. But God's Will or Love, as it is our Causa finalis, and the termi­ting Object of our Love, and is pleased in us, and approveth us, is not the Efficient Cause of our Holiness and Happiness; but the objective and perfect constitutive Cause. Now you must further note, that God's Benevolent Efficient Will or Love, doth give men various degrees of Holiness. To Adam in Innocency he gave but such a degree, and upon such terms as he could lose and cast away; which he did. But to [Page 225] the blessed in Glory, he giveth that which they shall never lose. These degrees are from God's Efficient Love or Will, which therefore causeth some to persevere, when it left Adam to himself to stand or fall. But it is not God's Final Love of Complacency as such, that causeth our perseverance: For Adam had this Love as long as he Loved God and stood, and he after lost it; so that it is not that Final Complacency which is the Terminus of our Holiness, and Constitutive Cause of our Happiness, which alone will secure the perpe­tuity of either of them.

Obj. Thus you make God mutable in his Love, as Loving Adam more before his fall than after.

Ans. I told you, Loving and not Loving the Creature, are no changes in God, but in the Creature. It is Man that is mutable, and not God. It is only the Relation of God's Will to the Creature as varying in it self, and the extrinsick deno­mination, by connotation of a changed Object, which is changed as to God. As the Sun is not changed when you wink, and when you open your Eyes: Nor a Pillar changed when your motion sets it sometimes on your right hand, and sometimes on your left.

5. Lastly, It must be noted as included in the Text, That our own Loving God is not the only or total notion of our end, perfection or felicity; but to be Known and Loved by God is the other part, which must be taken in, to make up the total notion of our end.

In our Love, God is considered as the Object: But in God's Complacential Love to us, he is considered as Active, and his Love as an Act, and Man as the Object: But yet not as an Ob­ject of Efficiency, but of Approbation and a Pleased Will or De­light. Here then the great difficulty is in resolving which of these is the highest perfective notion of man's felicity, perfection or ultimate end; Our Love to God, or God's Love to us.

Ans. It is mutual Love and Union which is the true and compleat notion of our End: And to compare God's Love [Page 226] and ours as the parts, and tell which is the final principal part or notion, is not easy, nor absolutely necessary. But I con­ceive,

1. That our Love to God is Objectively or as to the Object of it, infinitely more excellent than Gods Love to us as to the Object: Which is but to say, that God is Infinitely better than man: God loveth man who is a worm: But we Love God who is perfect goodness.

2. Gods Love to us as to the Agent and the Act ex parte A­gentis, is Infinitely more excellent than our Love to him: For it is Gods Essential will which loveth us; and it is the will of a worm that loveth God.

3. That mans Felicity as such, is not the chief notion of his ultimate end: But he must Love God as God better than his own Felicity as such, or better than God as our Feli­city.

4. That mans true ultimate end, containeth these five inadequate conceptions. 1. The lowest notion or part of it is our own holiness and felicity. 2. The next notion of it is the perfection of the Church and Universe, to which we con­tribute, and which we must value above our own; Includ­ing the Glory of Christs Humanity. 3. The third no­tion is the Glory or Lustre of Gods perfections as they shine forth in us and all his perfected glorious works. 4. The fourth notion is, Gods own Essential goodness as the Object of our Knowledge, Love and Praise. 5. The fifth and highest notion is, the Active Love or Complacency of Gods fulfilled Will, in us and in the whole Creation. So that the Pleasing of Gods will is the highest notion of mans ultimate end. Though all these five are necessarily contained in it.

Chap. III.

Doct. 3. Therefore Knowledge is to be valued, sought and used, as it tendeth to our Love of God.

THis third Doctrine is much of the Scope of the Text: All means are for their end: So far as Knowledge is a means of love, it must needs hence have the measure of its worth, and we the motives of our desires of it, and the direction for our using of it.

1. All knowledge that kindleth not the love of God in us, is so narrow, and small that it deserveth not indeed the name of Knowledge: For the necessary things that such a person is Ignorant of, are a thousand times more or greater, than that little which he knoweth: For, 1. What is it that he is Ignorant of?

1. He hath no sound and real Knowledge of God. For if he knew God, truly, he could not but love him: Goodness is so naturally the Object of the will, that if men well knew the infinite Good, they must needs love him: However there is a partial knowledge that is separable from sincere Love.

2. He that knoweth not and loveth not God, neither know­eth nor loveth any creature truly and effectually either as it is of God, or Through him, or To him; Either as it beareth the Impress of the Glorious Efficient, or as it is order­ed to its end by the most wise Director, or as it is a means to lead up Souls to God, or to Glorify and please him, no nor to make man truly happy. And can he be said indeed to know any Creature that knoweth it not in any of these respects that knoweth neither its Original, Order or Use? Doth a Dog or a Goose know a Book of Philosophy, because he looketh on it, and seeth the bulk? Doth he know a Clock or Watch, who knoweth no more of it, but that it hath such Parts and Shapes, made of Iron and Brass? It is most evident that an unholy person knoweth nothing, that is, no one [Page 228] Being, though he may know aliquid de re aliqua, something of some Being: For he that knoweth not the Nature, Order or Use and End of a Being, cannot properly be said to know that Being, but only secundum quid, or some Accidents of it, or to have a general Knowledge that it is a Substance, or a something, he knoweth not what. As an Epicurean can call all things compacted Atomes, or Matter and Motion. An un­godly man is just like one that studieth the art of a Scrivener or Printer, to make the Letters, and place them by art, but never learnt to read or know the signification of the Letters which he maketh or composeth.

Or if any may be said to have a Speculative knowledge of all this in the Creature (the Nature, Order, and Use,) yet he is without the true Practical Knowledge, which is it that on­ly is Knowledge indeed, and of use and benefit to man. For to be able to speak or write a true Proposition about God or the Creature, is not properly to know God or the Creature, but to know names and words concerning them: It is but a Logical Knowledge of Notions, and not the know­ledge of the Thing it self, to be able to say and know that this or that concerning it, is true or false. Nothing more de­ceiveth mankind, both in point of Learning and of Religion, and Salvation, than mistaking the Organical or Logical Knowledge of second Notions, Words, Propositions, In­ferences and Methods, for the Real Knowledge of the Things themselves; And thinking that they know a thing, because they know what to say of it.

He knoweth not a Countrey, who is only able by the Map or hear-say to describe it. He knoweth not Motion, Light, Heat, Cold, Sweet, Bitter, that knoweth no more than to give a true definition of it. And as this is true of things sensible, which must themselves be perceived first by sense, so is it of things spiritual, which must themselves be per­ceived first by Intellection, and not only the notions and de­finitions of them. He that doth not intuitively or by internal [Page 229] immediate perception, know what it is to Understand, to Remember, to Will and Nill, to Love and Hate, and conse­quently to be able to do these acts, doth not know what a man is, or what a Reasonable Soul is, and what an Intel­lectual Spirit is, though he could (were it possible) without these, learn the Definition of a Man, a Soul, a Spirit. A defi­nition or word of art spoken by a Parrot, or a madman prov­eth not that he knoweth the thing.

Practical objects are not truly known without a Practical Knowledge of them. He knoweth not what meat is, that knoweth not that it must be eaten, and how to eat it. He only knoweth his clothing that knoweth how to put it on. He only knoweth a Pen, a Gun, or other instrument, that knoweth how to use it. Now the ungodly, not knowing how any creature signifieth the Divine perfections, nor how by it to ascend to the Knowledge and Love of God, do indeed know nothing with a proper formal Knowledge.

2. And what is it that such men know or seem to know, which may be compared with their Ignorance? To give them their due praise, they know how to eat as well as a Dog, though not so subtilly as an Ox or Sheep, that can distinguish grass before he taste it. He can tell how to drink, tho' not by so constant a temperance as a Beast. He can speak better than a Parrot: He can build him a house as apt for his use, as a Swallow or other Birds can do for theirs. He can lay up for the time to come, more subtilly than a Fox, or Ant, though nothing so orderly and by wonderful self-conficiency, as the Bees: He can look upwards, and see the Birds that soar and fly in the Air, though he cannot imitate them: He can look into the surface of the Waters, and Artificially pass over them in Ships, though he cannot live in them, or glide through them as the fish: He can master those that are weaker than himself, as the great Dogs do the little ones, and carry away the bone from them all: He can glory in his Strength, though it be less than a Horse's, an Oxe's, an [Page 230] Elephant's, or a Whale's. He can kill and eat his fellow Ani­mals, as well as a Pike among the Fishes, a Kite among the Birds, or a Wolf or Dog among the Beasts: He can more craftily than the Fox entrap and ensnare them (the Fishes, Birds and Beasts;) yea as artificially as a Spider doth the Flies, to make up what he wants, of the Hawk, or Dog for swift pursuit, or of the Lyon for rapacious Strength. He can sing; and so can the Linnet, the Owsel the Lark and Nigh­tingale: He can make his Bed as soft as the Birds their Nests, or as other creatures that love their ease: He can generate and breed up his Off-spring, though not with that constan­cy of affection, and accurateness of Skill and Industry, as a Hen her Chickens, or most other animals do their young. Yea he can live in Society, Families, Commonwealths▪ though much more disorderly, contentiously and to the disturbance if not destruction of each other, than Pigeons in their Dove-house or the flight of Stares, or Larks, or Lapwings, or the flocks of Sheep, and less accurately than the Bees do in their Hive.

All this and more we can speak of the praises of the Knowledge or Wisdom of an ungodly man, that never learnt to Know and Love his God, nor any thing truly worthy of a man: And is all this worthy the name of Knowledge? Their Character could not be fitlier given, than here it is by the A­postle: They know nothing as they ought to know. But of this more next.

Chap. IV.

And therefore those are to be accounted the wisest and best knowing men, that love God most; and not those that are stored with unholy knowledge.

THis fourth Doctrine, is also a discernable part of the meaning of the Apostle in the Text. His purpose is to humble those that judge themselves wise for that which is no wisdom, but useless, ludicrous notions and self-conceited­ness: And to shew men wherein true wisdom doth consist. [Page 231] Many thousands there are that heartily love God, and are devoted to him, and live to his service in the World, who never read Logick, Physicks, Metaphysicks or Mathema­ticks; nor laid in that stock of artificial notions, which are the Glory and Utensils of the Learned World. And yet that these are truly and happily wise and knowing, the Apo­stle judgeth, and I thus further prove.

1. Because they know the things themselves, and not only the names and definitions of them: As he that knoweth food by eating it, the Military Art, or Navigation by Ex­perience, or a Countrey by travelling or dwelling in it. Others lick the outside of the Glass, but taste not the sweet that is within.

2. Because they know the greatest and most excellent things: God is infinitely greater and better than the Creatures: And Heaven incomparably better than the riches and pleasures of this Earth. To know how to Build a City, or a Navy, and how to Govern an Army or a Kingdom, is more than to know how to pick Sticks or Straws, or to dress and un­dress us. Understanding is valuable by the dignity of its objects; therefore how much doth the wisdom of a holy Soul excell all the Craft and Learning of the ungodly? Let not the rich man glory in his riches—But let him that glori­eth glory in this, that he knoweth God; if he so know him as to love him.

3. Because they know the most Necessary things, and the most Profitable. They know how to be Good, and how to do their duty, and how to attain their End, and how to please God, and how to escape damnation, and how to be happy in everlasting joy and glory. And I think he is wise, that is wise enough to be Happy, and to attain all that the Soul of man can well desire.

But who will desire the Wisdom that maketh a man ne­ver the better? and that will not save his Soul from Hell? What Soul in Hell doth think that Wisdom brought him [Page 232] thither? It were a thousand times better, not to know how to speak or go, to dress or undress us, than not to know how to be holy and happy, and to escape sin and everlast­ing misery.

4. A holy Soul understandeth that which his understand­ing was made for; and for which he hath his life, and time, and teaching; which is but to be good, and Love God and Goodness, and to do good. And Wisdom, as is afore proved, as as all other means, is to be estimated by its end.

But an ungodly man knoweth not that which he was made for. He is like a Knife that cannot cut; a Ship that will not endure the Water; a House that is not fit to dwell in. What is a man's wit worth, but for its proper end? If man was made but to eat, and drink, and play, and sleep, and build, and plant, and stir a while about the Earth, and have his will over others, and his fleshly pleasure, and then die, then the ungodly may be called wise: But if he be made to prepare for another world, and to Know, and Love, and Live to God, they are then worse than Bedlams, and more dangerously beside themselves.

5. A holy Soul knowing God the beginning and end, knoweth all things; Because he knoweth them, 1. In the chiefest excellency of their natures, as they bear the Impress of God; 2. And in their Order as governed by him; 3. And in their Usefulness as tending to him: Though neither they, nor any others, be well acquainted with their material part, which the Philosopher thinketh that he knoweth best. Who think you best knoweth what Money is? He that knoweth the King's Impress, and the Value, and what it is good for, and how to get and use it? or he that can only tell you whether it be Copper or Silver, or Gold (not knowing well what any of these are,) and knoweth nothing of the Impress, or Value, or Use? I tell you, the humble holy person, that seeth God in all, and knoweth all things to be Of Him, and By Him, and To Him, and Loveth Him in and for all, and [Page 233] serveth Him by all, is the best Philosopher, and hath the greatest, most excellent and profitable Knowledge. In com­parison of which, the unholy Learning of the world is well called Foolishness with God. (For I believe not that Para­phraser who would perswade us, that it is but the Phana­tick conceits and pretensions of the Gnosticks, that the Apostle here and elsewhere speaketh of. But I rest satisfied that it is primarily the unholy Arts and Sciences of the Phi­losophical Heathens; and secondarily the Platonick Here­ticks pretensions to extraordinary Wisdom, because of their speculations about Angels, Spirits, and other invisible and mysterious things, which they thought were peculiarly opened unto them.) Doting about questions that engender strife, and not edification, and do increase to more ungodli­ness, is the true description of unholy Learning.

6. The Lovers of God are wise for perpetuity: They see before them: They know what is to come; even as far as to Eternity: They know what will be best at last, and what will be valued, and serve our turn in the hour of our extre­mity: They judge of things as all will judge of them, and as they shall constantly judge of them for ever. But others are wise but for a few hours, or a present job: They see not before them: They are preparing for repentance: They are shamefully mutable in their Judgments; magnifying those pleasures, wealth and honours to day, which they vilifie and cry out against at death and to eternity! A pang of sick­ness, the sight of a grave, the sentence of death, the awaken­ing of Conscience, can change their Judgments, and make them speak in other Language, and confess a thousand times over that they were fools: And if they come to any thing like Wisdom, 'tis too late, when time is past, and hope is gone. But the godly know the day of their visitation, and are wise in time; as knowing the season of all duties, and the duties of every season. And as some Schoolmen say, that All things are known to the Glorified, in speculo Trinitatis; [Page 234] so I may say, that All things are morally and savingly known, to him that knoweth and Loveth God, as the Efficient, Gover­nour and End of all.

Yet, to avoid mistakes and cavils, remember, that I take no true Knowledge as contemptible. And when I truly say, that he knoweth nothing as he ought to know, that doth not know and Love his God, and is not wise to his duty and sal­vation; yet if this Fundamental Knowledge be presupposed, we should build all other useful Knowledge on it, to the utmost of our capacity: And from this one stock, may spring and spread a thousand branches, which may all bear fruit. I would put no limits to a Christian's desires and en­deavours to know, but that he desire only to know useful and revealed things. Every degree of knowledge tendeth to more: And every known Truth befriendeth others; and like Fire, tendeth to the spreading of our knowledge, to all neighbour Truths that are intelligible. And the want of ac­quaintance with some one Truth among an hundred, may hinder us from knowing rightly most of the rest; or may breed an hundred Errours in us. As the absence of one wheel or particle in a Watch, or the ignorance of it, may put all the rest into an useless disorder. What if I say that Wis­dom lieth more, in knowing the things that belong to salva­tion, to publick good, to life, health, and solid comfort, than in knowing how to sing, or play on the Lute, or to speak or carry our selves with commendable decency, &c. It doth not follow that all these are of no worth at all; and that in their places these little matters may not be allowed and de­sired: For even Hair and Nails are appurtenances of a man, which a wise man would not be without; though they are small matters in comparison of the animal, vital and nobler parts. And indeed he that can see God in all things, and hath all this sanctified by the Love of God, should above all men value each particle of Knowledge, of which so holy an use may be made: As we value every grain of Gold.

Chap. V.

The first Inference: By what measures to estimate mens Knowledge.

FRom hence then we may learn how to value the un­derstandings of our selves, and others: That is Good which doth good. Would God but give me one beam more of the heavenly light, and a little clearer knowledge of him­self, how joyfully could I exchange a thousand lower no­tions for it! I feel not my self at all miserable, for want of knowing the number and order of the Stars, the nature of the Meteors, the causes of the ebbing and flowing of the Sea, with many hundred other questions in Physicks, Meta­physicks, Mathematicks: Nor do I feel it any great addition to my happiness, when I think I know somewhat of such things which others know not. But I feel it is my misery to be ignorant of God, and ignorant of my state and duty, and ignorant of the world where I must live for ever. This is the Dungeon where my wretched Soul doth lie in capti­vity night and day, groaning and crying out, O when shall I know more of God! and more of the Coelestial Habita­tions! and more of that which I was made to know! O when shall I be delivered from this darkness and captivity! Had I not one beam that pierceth through this Lanthorn of flesh, this Dungeon were a Hell, even the outer darkness. I find Books that help me to names, and notions: But O for that Spirit that must give me Light to know the Things, the spiritual, great and excellent things, which these names import! O how ignorant am I of those same things, which I can truly and methodically speak and write of! O that God would have mercy on my dark understanding that I be not as a Clock, to tell others that which it self under­standeth not! O how gladly would I consent to be a fool in all common Arts and Sciences, if I might but be ever the wiser in the Knowledge of God! Did I know better Him [Page 236] by whom I live, who upholdeth all things, before whom my Soul must shortly appear; whose favour is my life, whom I hope to love and praise for ever; what were all other things to me? O for one beam more of his Light! For one tast of his Love! for one clear conception of the heavenly glory! I should then scarce have leisure, to think of a thousand inferiour speculations, which are now mag­nified and agitated in the world.

But much more miserable do I find my self, for want of more Love to the blessed God, who is Love it self. O happy exchange! did I part with all the pleasures of the world, for one flame, one spark more of the Love of God? I hate not my self for my ignorance in the common Arts and Sciences: But my God knoweth, that I even abhor and loath my self, because I love and delight in him no more! O what a Hell is this dead and disaffected heart! O what a foretast of Hea­ven would it be, could I but feel the fervours of Divine Love! Well may that be called the First-fruits of Heaven, and the Divine Nature and Life, which so uniteth Souls to God, and causeth them to live in the pleasures of his Good­ness. I dare not beg hard for more common knowledge: But my Soul melteth with grief for want of Love; and forceth out tears, and sighs, and cries; O when will Heaven take acquaintance with my heart, and shine into it, and warm and revive it, that I may truly experience the de­lightful life of holy Love! I cannot think them loathsom and unlovely, that are unlearned, and want the ornaments of Art. But I abhor and curse those hateful sins, which have raised the clouds, and shut the windows, and hindred me from the more lively Knowledge, and Love of God. Would God but number me with his zealous Lovers, I would pre­sume to say, that he had made me wise, and initially hap­py. But, alas! such high and excellent things will not be gotten with a lazy wish, nor will holy Love dwell with ini­quity in unholy and defiled Souls.

[Page 237]But if Wisdom were justified of none but her Children, how confidently durst I call my self a Son of Wisdom? For all my Reason is fully satisfied, that the learned ungodly Doctors are meer fools, and the Lovers of God are only wise: And O that my Lot may be with such, however I be esteemed by the dreaming world!

Chap. VI.

The second Inference: To abate our Censures and Contempt of the less Learned Christians and Churches upon Earth.

I Must confess that Ignorance is the great Enemy of Holi­ness in the world; and the Prince of Darkness, in his Kingdom of Darkness, oppugneth the Light, and promoteth the works of Darkness by it: And it is found that where Vision ceaseth, the People perish, even for lack of know­ledge: And the ignorantest Countreys are the most ungod­ly. But I must recant some former apprehensions: I have thought the Armenians, the Syrians, the Georgians, the Copties, the Abassines, the Greeks, more miserable for want of Polite Literature, than now I judge them. Though I contemn it not as the Turks do, and the Moscovites; yet I perceive that had men but the knowledge of the holy Scriptures, yea of the summaries of true Religion, they might be good and happy men, without much more. If there be but some few among them, skill'd in all the Learning of the world, and expert in using the Adversaries weapons against themselves, as Champions of the Truth, the rest might do well with the bare Knowledge of God, and a Crucified Christ. It is the malice of assaulting Enemies, that maketh all other Learning needful in some for our defence. But the New Creature li­veth not on such food, but on the bread of life, and living waters, and the sincere Milk of the sacred Word.

The old Albigenses and Waldenses in Piedmont, and other Countreys, did many Ages keep up the life and comfort of [Page 238] true Religion, even through murders and unparallel'd cruel­ties of the worldly Learned Church; when they had little of the Arts and common Sciences. But necessary Knowledge was propagated by the industry of Parents and Pastors: Their Children could say over their Catechisms, and could give account of the Principles of Religion, and recite many practical parts of Scripture: And they had much Love and Righteousness, and little Division or Contention among them; which made the moderate Emperor Maximilian pro­fess to Crato, that he thought the Picards of all men on Earth were likest the Apostolick Primitive Churches.

And Brocardus, who dwelt among them in Judea, tells us that the Christians there that by the Papists are accoun­ted Hereticks, (as Nestorians or Eutychians) were indeed good harmless simple men, and lived in Piety, and morti­fying Austerities, even beyond the very Religious sort (the Monks and Fryars) of the Church of Rome, and shamed the wickedness of our Learned part of the World.

And though there be sad mixtures of such Superstitions and Traditions, as ignorance useth to breed and cherish, yet the great devotion and strictness of many of the Abassines, Armenians, and other of those ruder sort of Christians, is predicated by many Historians and Travellers. And who knoweth but there may be among their vulgar, more love to God and Heaven, and Holiness, than among the conten­tious Learned Nations, where the Pastors strive who shall be the greatest, and Preach up that Doctrine and Practice which is conformable to their own Wills and worldly In­terests; and where the people by the oppositions of their Leaders, are drawn into several Sides and Factions, which as Armies, Militate against each other. Is not the love of God like to be least, where Contentions and Controversies divert the peoples minds from God and necessary saving Truths? And where men least love one another? And where mutual Hatred, Cruelty and Persecution, proclaim [Page 239] them much void of that love which is the Christian Badge?

I will not cease praying for the further Illumination and Reformation of those Churches: But I will repent of my hard thoughts of the Providence of God, as if he had cast them almost off, and had few holy Souls among them. For ought I know they may be better than most of Europe.

And the like I say of many unlearned Christians among our selves! we know not what love to God and goodness doth dwell in many that we have a very mean esteem of. The Breathings of poor Souls towards God by Christ, and their desires after greater holiness is known to God that kindleth it in them, but not to us.

Chap. VII.

The third Inference: By what measures to judge of the Knowledge necessary to Church Communion.

I Know that there are some that would make Christ two Churches; one Political and Congregate (as they phrase it) and the other Regenerate: Or one Visible and the other Invisible: And accordingly they say that professed Faith is the qualification of a Member of the Church-Congregate (and Obedience to the Pope, say the Papists,) and real love is the qualification of the Church-Regenerate.

But as there is but one Catholick Church of Christ, so is there but one Faith, and one Baptism, by which men are stated as Members in that Church. But as Heart-consent and Tongue-consent are two things, but the latter required only as the Expression and Profession of the former; so Heart-consenters and Tongue-consenters should be the same men; as Body and Soul make not two men, but one. But if the Tongue speak that consent which is not in the Heart, that Person is an Hypocrite; and is but analogically or equivocally called a Christian or Member of Christ: And such among the sin­cere are not a distinct Church or Society, (if they were, they [Page 240] should be called the Hypocritical Church, and not the Political or Congregate Church.) But they are as Traytors in an Ar­my, or as stricken Ears in a Corn Field. But the true Church being One is considered, as consenting with Heart and with the Tongue: As a Corn Field hath Straw, Chaff and Grain; and as a Man hath Soul and Body. So that it is the same Church that is visible by Baptism and Profession, and Invisible by Heart-consent or Sincerity.

But it is the same thing (and not divers) that is in the Hearts of the sincere, and that is to be professed by the Tongue: Even that voluntary practical Faith which is de­scribed in Baptism, and no other. The same Faith which is accepted to Salvation in the sincere and invisible Members of the Church (as they are called) must be professed by all that will (at Age) be visible Members.

And the Knowledge and Belief required in Baptism is so much as prevaileth with the Person to give up himself to God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, as his Reconciled Creator, his Saviour and Sanctifier. And he that hath so much knowledge as will do this, hath as much as is necessa­ry to his reception into the Church.

Doubtless he that is capable of Baptism, is capable of Church Membership; and he that is capable of Church Membership, is capable de jure as to right, of so much Church Communion as he is capable of by real aptitude: An Infant is not naturally capable of the actions of the Adult; nor half-witted Persons, of the receptions and performances of the judicious; some cannot understand a Sermon, or Pray­er, or Praise, the twentieth part so well as others can do, and so cannot receive and do beyond their understanding: Some may not so well understand the nature of the Lords Supper, as to be really fit at present to receive it: And some may be unfit through some extraordinary doubts, opinions, or lapses: But still de jure a Church Member hath right to so much Church Communion as their real qualifications [Page 241] make them capable of. For that right is part of the defini­tion of a Church member; And to be made a Church mem­ber is the work of Baptism.

And here we must consider of the reason, why God would have Baptism to be the Profession of that Faith which maketh us Christians: Sometime we are called Believers, and said to be Justified by Faith, as if it were Faith alone that were our Christianity: And yet when it cometh to Church entrance, and to the solemn profession of our faith, and reception of a Sealed and Delivered pardon, we must do more than pro­fess that we believe with the understanding; We must give up our selves absolutely by a Vow and Covenant, to God the Father Son and Holy-Ghost, renouncing the flesh, the World and the Devil; which is the act of a resolved Will. And to Will, is rationally to Love and Choose. By which Christ telleth us, that (as words of Knowledge in Scripture usually imply affection, so) the Faith that he means and re­quireth to our justification, is not a meer assent or act of in­tellection; but it is also the wills consent, and a practical Affi­ance: As a man Believing the Skill and Fidelity of a Physi­cian, doth Desire, Will or Choose him for his Physician, and Practically Trust him, or cast himself upon his Fidelity and care for cure. Therefore Christ joyneth both together, Mark 16.16. He that Believeth and is baptized shall be saved, not principally intending the washing of the flesh, but the answer of a good Conscience, as Peter expoundeth it; that is, [He that so believeth as by hearty consent to devote and give up himself openly and absolutely, and presently to God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, shall be saved.]

And so the Apostle saith, Eph. 4.4, 5. There is one Bap­tism, as part of the uniting bond of Christians: That is there is one solemn Covenant between God and Man, in which we profess our Faith, and give up our selves to God the Father Son, and Holy Ghost, and are stated in a gracious Relation to him and one another.]

[Page 242]And thus it is that Baptism is reckoned, Heb. 6. among the principles; And that the ancient Doctors unanimously conclude, that Baptism washeth away all sin, and certainly puts us into a present state of life; That is, The delivering up our selves sincerely to God in the Baptismal Covenant, is the condition of our right to the benefits of that Covenant from God.

From all which it is plain, that the Head is but the guide of the Heart, and that God looketh more to the Heart than to the Head, and to the Head for the Heart: And that we are not Christians indeed, till Christ have our Hearts indeed; Nor Christians by profession, till by Baptismal Covenant and profession we deliver up the Heart to Christ; Now so far as Consent and Will may be called Love, fo far even Love is Essential to our Christianity, and to this faith, which is required to our baptism and justification. And no other faith is Christianity, nor will justify us.

But to them that are here stalled with the great difficul­ty, How Love is that grace of the Holy Ghost which is pro­mised to believers, in the Covenant, as consequent, if it go before it in the Covenanters, I answer at present, that they must distinguish between, 1. Love to Christ as a Saviour of our selves, proceeding principally from the just Love of our selves, and our Salvation; and Love to God above our selves, for his own Infinite Goodness, as our ultimate end: 2. Between the Act of Love, and a Habit; 3. Between that spark of Love which consisteth in the said consent, and is contained in true Faith; and that Flame of Love which it self carryeth the name, as being the most eminent operation of the Soul. And if hereupon they cannot answer this question themselves, I must refer them to the Appendix of the third Chapter of my Christian Directory, in which I have largely opened this case, with as much exactness as I could reach unto.

All that remaineth very difficult then as to our judging of the Knowledge of men to be admitted to Christian Church [Page 243] Communion, is but, what knowledge is necessary in the adult unto their lawful Baptism? And to that I say, so much as is necessary to an understanding consent to the Baptismal Cove­nant, or to an hearty giving up themselves to God the Fa­ther Son and Holy-Ghost: And here we must know that the same Covenanting words being comprehensive, are un­derstood in different degrees, according to mans different Capacities, even of true believers: Insomuch that I do not think that any two men in the world, have in all notions and degrees just the same understanding of them. And therefore it is not the same distinctness and clearness of un­derstanding which we must expect in all, which is found in some, or which is desireable. When one man nameth GOD, he hath an orderly conception of his several Attributes (in which yet all men are defective, and most Divines themselves are culpably ignorant:) When another man con­ceiveth but of fewer of them, and that disorderly: And yet these must not be accounted Atheists, or denied to believe in the same God, or refused Baptism, nor is it several Gods that men so differently believe in.

I. He that knoweth God to be a most perfect Spirit, most powerful, Wise and Good, the Father Son and Holy Ghost, the Creator of the world, our Owner, Governour and most A­miable Lover, (Benefactor and End) I think knoweth as much of God as is of necessity to Baptism and Church Com­munion.

II. He that knoweth [that Jesus Christ is God and man, the Redeemer of the sinful world, and the Mediator be­tween God and Man, who was conceived by the Holy-Ghost in the Virgin Mary, fulfilled all righteousness, was crucified as a Sacrifice for mans sin; and being dead and buried rose again, and ascended into Heaven, and is the Teacher, King and Intercessor of his Church, and hath made the new Co­venant, and giveth the Holy-Ghost to sanctify believers, and pardoneth their sins, and will raise our Bodies at last, and [Page 244] Judge the World in righteousness according to his Gospel, and will give everlasting happiness to the Sanctified] I think knoweth as much of Christ as is necessary to Baptism and Church Communion.

III. He that knoweth that [the Holy Ghost is God, pro­ceeding from the Father and the Son, the sanctifier of Souls, by Holy Life and Light, and Love, by the Holy Gos­pel of which he is the Inditer and the Seal] I think knoweth all that is necessary unto Baptism, concerning the Holy Ghost.

IV. And as to the Act of Knowing this Trinity of Ob­jects, there is great difference between, 1. Knowing the No­tions or Words, and the matter. 2. Between an orderly clear, and a dark and more confused Knowledge. 3. And between apt significant words, and such as any way no­tify a necessary true conception of the mind. 4. Be­tween such a Knowledge as maketh a man Willing, and Consent to give up himself to this Trinity in Covenant, and that which prevaileth not for such consent. And so,

1. It's true that we know not the Heart immediately; and therefore must judge by Words and Deeds: But yet it is the Knowledge of the Things (as is aforesaid) that is ne­cessary to Salvation, because it is the Love of the Things, is chiefly necessary. But by what words to ex­press that Love or Knowledge, is not of equal necessity in itself.

2. There being no man whose conceptions of God, Christ, the Holy Ghost, the Covenant, &c. are not guilty of dark­ness and disorder, a great degree of darkness and disorder of conceptions, may consist with true grace in those of the lowest rank of Christians.

3. The second Notions and Conceptions of things (and so of God our Redeemer, and Sanctifier) as they are verba mentis in the mind itself, are but Logical, Artificial Organs; [Page 245] and are not of that necessity to Salvation as the conception of the matter or incomplex objects.

4. Many a man in his studies findeth that he hath oft a general and true Knowledge of Things in themselves, before he can put names and notions on them, and set those in due Order, and long before he can find fit words to express his mental notions by; which must cost him much study after­ward. And as Children are long learning to speak, and by degrees come to speak orderly and composedly and aptly (mostly not till many years use hath taught them;) So the expressive ability is as much matter of art, and got by use, in men at age: And they must be taught yet as Children to speak of any thing, new and Strange, and which they learn­ed not before. As we see in learning Arithmetick, Geome­try, and all the Arts and Sciences. Even so men, how holy internally soever, must by study and use (by the help of Gods Spirit) learn how to speak of holy things, in Prayer, in Confe­rence, in answering such as ask an account of their Faith and Knowledge: And hypocrites that are bred up in the use of such things, can speak excellently in Prayer, Conference or Preaching: When true Christians at first that never used them, nor were bred up where they heard them used, can­not tell you intelligibly what is in their minds, but are like men that are yet to learn the very Language in which they are to talk in, I know this by true experience of my self, and many others, that I have examined.

5. Therefore, I say again, if men cannot aptly answer me of the very Essentials of Religion, but speak that which in its proper sense is Heresie, or unsound and false: Yet if when I open the questions to them my self, and put the Article of Faith into the question, and ask them (e. g.) Do you believe that there is but One God? or, are there many? Doth God know all things, or not? Is he our Owner, or not? Doth he rule us by a Law, or not, &c? If they by Yea or Nay, do speak the truth, and profess to believe it, I will not [Page 246] reject them for lack of knowledge, if the rest concur. I meet with few censorious Professors (to say nothing of Teachers) that will not answer me with some nonsense or falseness, or ineptitude, or gross confusion, or defectiveness, if I examine them of the foregoing Notions of the very baptismal Cove­nant: As, what is a Spirit? what doth the word [God] signifie? what is Power in God? what Knowledge? what Will? what Goodness? what Holiness? what is a Person in the Trinity? what is the difference between the three Persons? How is God our End? Had Christ his humane Soul from the Virgin, or only his flesh? Had he his Man­hood from Man, if not his Soul, which is the chief essential part? what is the Union of the Divine and Humane Nature? wherein different from the Union of God and Saints, or every Creature? with an hundred such. In which I must bear with ignorant false answers from eminent Professors, that separate from others as too ignorant for their Commu­nion: And why then must I not bear with more in those that are new beginners, and have not had their time and helps?

6. But if a man can speak never so well, and profess ne­ver so confident a belief, if he Consent not to the Covenant and Vow of Baptism, to give up himself presently and abso­lutely to Christ, I must reject that man from the Commu­nion of the Church. But if these two things do but con­cur in any, 1. The foresaid signification of a tolerable Knowledge and Belief, by yea or nay, (Dost thou Believe in God, &c. as the Ancient Churches used to ask the Bap­tized;) 2. And a ready professed consent to be engaged by that holy Vow and Covenant to God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost; I will not deny Baptism to such, if Adult, nor after Church Communion to them, if they are already in the Covenant.

And all this is because that the Will is the Man; and if a­ny Man truely love Jesus Christ, he is a true Believer in [Page 247] Christ; and if any Man love God, the same Man is known and loved of him, and hath so much knowledge as will save his Soul. I confess in private Catechizing and Conference I have met with some ancient Women that have long lived as godly Persons, in constant affectionate use of means, and an honest godly Life, and been of good repute in the Church where they lived, who yet have spoken downright Heresie to me, through ignorance, in answering some questi­ons about Jesus Christ: But I durst not therefore suspend their Communion, nor condemn their former Communion: For as soon as I told them better, they have yielded, and I could not perceive whether it was from gross ignorance, or from unreadiness of notions, or from the want of memory, or what, that they spake amiss before. So that I shall be very loth to reject one from Communion, that sheweth a love of God, and Jesus Christ, and Holiness, by diligent use of means, and an upright Life.

7. And he that will impartially be ruled by the Holy Scriptures, will be of the same mind. For no one was ever taken to be a Church Member at Age, without so full a consent, as was willingly exprest by devotedness to God in the Solemn Covenant: The Jews by the Sign of Circumci­sion, and the Christians by Baptism; and both by Cove­nanting with God were initiated: And consent is love. But the Articles and objective Degrees of Knowledge and Be­lief have greatly varied. The Jews were to know and pro­fess more than the Gentiles; and the Jews since the Egyp­tian Deliverance, more than before; And John Baptized upon a shorter Profession than the Apostles did; And the Apostles till Christs Resurrection, believed not many great Articles of our Faith, not knowing that Christ must die, and be an Expiatory Sacrifice for Sin, and Sin to be pardon­ed by his Blood; nor that he was to rise again, and send the Holy Ghost for the work which he was sent for, &c. And Acts 19. there were Disciples that had not heard that there [Page 248] was a Holy Ghost (I confidently think, twice Baptiz­ed.)

And if we mark how the Apostles Baptized, with what Orders for it they received from Christ, it will confirm my conclusion. For Christ could have given a particular Creed, and Profession of Faith, if he had pleased; but he taketh up with the General three Articles, of Believing in the Fa­ther, Son, and Holy Ghost, Mat. 28.19, 20. lest any should cast out his weak ones for want of distinctness of Knowledge and Belief. And he maketh the Covenant-consent in Bap­tism the necessary Thing, as the End and Measure of their Knowledge. He that hath Knowledge enough to cause him to thirst, may come and drink of the waters of Life, Rev. 22.17. And he that hungreth and thirsteth after righte­ousness shall be satisfied; and he that cometh to Christ he will in no wise cast out.

And the Apostles Baptized so many thousands in a short time, that they could not examine each Person about a more particular Knowledge and Belief, Acts 2. &c. Nor do we read in Scripture of such particular large Professions, as go much beyond the words of Baptism. And though, no doubt, they did endeavour to make the ignorant under­stand what they profest and did, and so had some larger Creed, yet was it not all so large, as the short Creed called the Apostles now is; several of its Articles having been long since added.

I have spoken all this, not only to Ministers, who have the Keys of Admission, but especially for the Religious Per­sons sakes, who are too much enclined to place godliness in words and ability to speak well, in Prayer or Conference, or answering Questions, and that make a more distinct Knowledge and Profession necessary than God hath made: Yea, if all the Articles of the Creed are professed, when the understanding of them is not clear and distinct, they de­ride it, and say, A Parrot may be taught as much; and [Page 249] they separate from those Pastors and Churches that receive such to their Communion. Many do this of a godly Zeal, lest ignorance and formality be encouraged, and the godly and ungodly not sufficiently distinguished: But their Zeal is not according to Knowledge, nor to the holy Rule; and they little know how much Pride oft lurketh unobserved, in such desires to be publickly differenced from others, as below us, and unmeet for our Communion: And less know they how much they injure and displease our gracious Lord, who took little Children in his Arms, and despiseth not the weak, and carrieth the Lambs, and refuseth no one any further than they refuse him.

I tell you, if you see but true love and willingness in a di­ligent, reformed, pious and righteous Life, there is, certain­ly there is, saving Knowledge and Faith within; and if words do not satisfactorily express it, you are to think that it is not for want of the thing it self, but for want of use and exercise, and for want of well studied Notions, or for want of natural Parts, Education or Art to enable them to act that part aright. But if God know the meaning of Abba, Father, and of the groans of the Spirit, in his Beloved In­fants, I will not be one that shall condemn and reject a lover of God and Christ, and Holiness, for want of distinct par­ticular Knowledge, or of words to utter it aright.

Chap. VIII.

The fourth Inference: The aptness of the Teach­ing of Christ, to ingenerate the Love of God and Holiness.

IF Love be the End and Perfection of our Knowledge, then hence we may perceive, that no Teacher that ever ap­peared in the World, was so fit for the ingenerating of true saving knowledge as Jesus Christ. For none ever so pro­moted the love of God.

1. It was he only that rendered God apparently lovely to sinful man, by reconciling us to God, and rendering him [Page 250] apparently propitious to his Enemies, pardoning sin, and tendering Salvation freely to them that were the Sons of Death. Self-love will not give men leave to love aright a God that will damn them, though deservedly for sin. But it is Christ that hath made Atonement, and is the Propitia­tion for our sins, and proclaimeth Gods love, even to the Rebellious: Which is more effectually to kindle holy love in us, than all the Precepts of Naturalists without this could ever have been. His Cross, and his Wounds and Blood were the powerful Sermons, to Preach Gods winning love to sinners.

2. And the benefits are so many and so great which he hath purchased and revealed to man, that they are abun­dant fewel for the Flames of Love. We are set by Christ in the way of Mercy, in the Houshold of God, under the Eye and special Influence of his love; all our sins pardoned, our Everlasting punishment remitted, our Souls renewed, our wounded Consciences healed, our Enemies conquered, our fears removed, our wants supplied, our Bodies, and all that is ours under the protection of Almighty love; and we are secured by Promise, that all our Sufferings shall work together for our good. And what will cause love if all this will not? When we perceive with what love the Father hath loved us, that of Enemies we should be made the Sons of God, and of condemned Sinners we should be made the Heirs of endless Glory, and this so freely, and by so strange a means, we may conclude that this is the Doctrine of Love, which is taught us from Heaven by love it self.

3. And especially this work of love is promoted, by o­pening the Kingdom of Heaven to the foresight of our Faith; and shewing us what we shall enjoy for ever; and assuring us of the Fruition of our Creators Everlasting Love; yea, by making us fore-know that Heaven consisteth in perfect mutual endless love. This will both of it self, draw up our Hearts, and engage all our Reason and Endeavours, in [Page 251] beginning that work which we must do for ever, and to learn on Earth to love in Heaven.

4. And besides all these objective helps, Christ giveth to Believers the Spirit of Love, and maketh it become as a na­ture in us; which no other Teacher in the World could do. Others can speak reason to our Ears, but it is Christ that sendeth the warming Beams of holy Love into our Hearts.

If the love of God and holiness were no better than com­mon Philosophical Speculations, then Aristotle, or Plato, or such other Masters of names and notions, might com­pare with Christ and his Apostles, and Athens with the Pri­mitive Church; and the Schoolmen might be thought the best Improvers of Theology. But if thousands of dreaming Disputers wrangle the World into misery, and themselves into Hell, and are ingenious Artificers of their own damna­tion; and if the love of God and Goodness, be the health­ful constitution of the Soul, its natural content and plea­sure, the business and end of life, and all its helps and blessings, the Soder of just Societies, the Union of Man with God in Christ, and with all the Blessed; and the Fore-taste and First-fruits of endless Glory; then Christ the Messen­ger of Love, the Teacher of Love, the Giver of Love, the Lord and Commander of Love, is the best Promoter of Knowledge in the World. And as Nicodemus knew that he was a Teacher come from God, because no man could do such works unless God were with him; so may we conclude the same, because no man could so reveal, so cause, and communicate Love, the holy Love of God and Goodness, unless the God of Love had sent him. Love is the very end and work of Christ, and of his Word and Spirit.

Chap. IX.

The fifth Inference: What great cause men have to be thankful to God for the Constitution of the Christian Reli­gion: And how unexcusable they are that will not learn so short and sweet, and safe a Lesson.

SO excellent and every way suitable to our case is the Religion taught and instituted by Christ, as should render it very acceptable to Mankind. And that on several accounts.

1. The brevity and plainness of Christian Precepts, great­ly accommodateth the necessity of Mankind. I say his ne­cessity, lest you think it is but his sloth. Ars longa, Vita bre­vis, is the true and sad complaint of Students. Had our Salvation been laid upon our Learning a Body of true Phi­losophy, how desperate would our case have been? For, 1. Mans great Intellectual weakness; 2. His want of leisure would not have allowed him a knowledge that requireth a subtile wit and tedious studies.

1. Most men have wits of the duller sort: Such quickness, subtilty and solidity, as is necessary to great and difficult stu­dies, are very rare. So rare, as that few such are found even amongst the Preachers of the Gospel: Of a multitude who by hard Studies and honest Hearts, are fit to Preach the Doctrine of Salvation, scarce one or two are found of so fine and exact a wit as to be fit judiciously to manage the curious Controversies of the Schools. What a case then had Mankind been in, if none could have been wise and happy indeed, but these few of extraordinary capacity? The most publick and common good is the best. God is more merciful than to confine Salvation to subtilty of wit: Nor indeed is it a thing it self so pleasing to him as a Holy, Heavenly Heart and Life.

2. And we have Bodies that must have Provision and Em­ployment: We have Families and Kindred that must be [Page 253] maintained: We live in Neighbourhoods and publick So­cieties, which call for much Duty, and take up much time. And our sufferings and crosses will take up some thoughts. Were it but Poverty alone, how much of our time will it alienate from contemplation? whilst great necessities call for great care and continual labour? Can our common poor Labourers, (especially Husbandmen) have leisure to in­form their minds with Philosophy or curious Speculations?

Nay, we see by experience, that the more subtile and most vacant wits, that wholly addict themselves to Philoso­phy can bring it to no considerable certainty, and consisten­cy to this day, except in the few Rudiments or common Prin­ciples that all are agreed in. Insomuch that those do now take themselves to be the chief or only wits, who are pul­ling down that which through so many Ages, from the beginning of the World, hath with so great wit and study been concluded on before them; and are now themselves no higher than new Experimenters, who are beginning all anew again, to try whether they can retrieve the errours of Mankind, and make any thing of that which they think the World hath been so long unacquainted with: And they are yet but beginning at the Skin or Superficies of the World, and are got no further with all their wit, than Matter and Motion, with Figure, Site, Contexture, &c. But if they could live as long as Methusalem, it is hoped they might come to know that besides Matter and Motion; there are Essential Virtues called substantial Forms, or active Natures, and that there is a Vis Motiva, which is the cause of Motion, and a Virtus Intellectiva, and Wisdom which is the cause of the Order of Motion, and a Vital Will and Love which is the perfection and end of all: In a word, they may live to know that there is such a thing in the World as Life, and such a thing as Active Nature, and such a thing as Sense and Soul, besides Corporeal Matter and Motion, and consequently that man is indeed man. [Page 254] But, alas, they must die sooner, perhaps before they attain so far, and their Successors must begin all anew again, as if none of all these great attempts had been made by their Pre­decessours, and so (by their method) we shall never reach deeper than the Skin, nor learn more than our, A B C And would we have such a task made necessary to the Common Salvation, even for all the Poor and Vulgar, wits, which is so much too hard for our most subtile Stu­dents?

2. And Christianity is as suitable to us, in the Benefit and Sweetness of it. What a happy Religion is it that em­ployeth men in nothing but receiving good to themselves, and in doing good to themselves and others. Whose work is only the Receiving and Improving of Gods Mercies, and Loving and Delighting in all that is good, rejoycing in the tasts of Gods Love on Earth, and in the Hopes of perfect Fe­licity, Love and Joy for ever. Is not this a sweeter life, than tiresom, unprofitable Speculations.

O then how unexcuseable are our contemners of Religi­on, that live in wilful Ignorance and ungodliness, and think this easy and sweet Religion, to be a tedious and intolerable thing! What impudent Calumniators and Blasphemers are they of Christ and Holiness, who deride and revile this sweet and easy way to life, as if it were a slavery and an irksom toil, unnecessary to our Salvation, and unfit for a freeman, or at least a Gentleman, (or a Servant of the flesh and world) to practise. If Christ had set you but such a task as Aristotle, or Plato did to their disciples; so many noti­ons, and so many Curiosities to learn; If he had written for you as many Books as Chrysippus did; If he had made neces­sary to your Salvation, all the arbitrary notions of Lullius, & all the Fanatick conceits of Campanella, and all the dreaming Hypotheses of Cartesius, and all the Astronomical & Cosmogra­phical difficulties of Ptolomy, Tycho-Brache, Copernicus and Ga­lilaeus, and all the Chronological difficulties handled by Eu­sebius, [Page 255] Scaliger, Functius, Capellus, Petavius, &c. And all the curiosities in Philosophy and Theology of Cajetane, Scotus, Ockam, Gabriel, &c. Then you might have had some excuse for your aversation: But to accuse and refuse, and reproach so Compendious, so Easie, so Sweet, so Necessary a Doctrine and Religion, as that which is brought and taught by Christ, this is an ingratitude that hath no excuse, unless Sensua­lity and Malignant enmity may pass for an excuse.

Doth Christ deliver you from the maze of Imaginary Cu­riosities, and from the burdens of worldly wisdom called Phi­losophy, and of Pharisaical Traditions, and Jewish Ceremo­nies, and make you a light burden, an easy Yoak, and Commandments that are not grievous, and after all this, must he be requited with Rejection and Reproach, and your Burdens and Snares be taken for more tolerable than your deliverance? You make a double forfeiture of Salvation, who are so unwilling to be saved.

Be thankful, O Christians, to your heavenly Master, for tracing you out so plain and sweet a way. Be thankful that he hath cut short those tiresom studies, by which your task-masters would confound you, under pretence of making you like Gods, in some more subtile and sublime Speculations than Vulgar wits can reach. Now all that are willing may be Religious, and be saved: It is not confined to men of learning. The way is so sweet, as sheweth it suitable to the end. It is but [Believe Gods Love and Promises of Salvati­on by Christ, till you are filled with Love and its delights, and live in the pleasures of Gratitude and Holiness, and in the Joy­ful hopes of endless Glory:] And is not this an easy Yoak! Saith our Heavenly Poet Mr. G. Herbert, in his Poem called Divinity p. 127.

[Page 256]As men for fear the Stars should Sleep and Nod,
And trip at night, have Spheres supply'd;
As if a Star were duller than a clod,
Which knows his way without a guide,
Just so the other Heaven they also serve,
Divinities transcendent Sky,
Which with the Edge of wit they Cut and Carve,
Reason Triumphs, and Faith lies by.
— But all his Doctrine which he taught and gave,
Was clear as heav'n from whence it came;
At least those Beams of truth which only save,
Surpass in Brightness any Flame:
Love God, and Love your Neighbours, watch and pray,
Do as you would be done unto.
O dark instructions! even as dark as day!
Who can these Gordian Knots undo?

Chap. 10.

The sixth Inference: How little reason ungodly men have to be proud of their Learning, or of any sort of Know­ledge or Wisdom whatsoever.

AS the ancient Gnosticks, being puffed up with their corrupt Platonick Speculations, lookt down with con­tempt upon ordinary Christians, as silly ignorants in com­parison of them, and yet had not wisdom enough to pre­serve them from the Lusts and Pollutions of the world; E­ven so is it with abundance of the worldly Clergy and un­godly Scholars in this age. They think their Learning set­teth them many degrees above the Vulgar, and giveth them right to be Reverenced as the Oracles or Rabbies of the World; When yet (poor Souls!) They have not learned (by all their Reading, Studies and Disputings) to Love God and Holiness, better than the Riches and Preferments of the World. And some of them not better than a Cup of strong [Page 257] drink, or than the brutish pleasures of Sense and Flesh. It is a pitiful thing to see the Pulpit made a Stage for the ostentation of this self-shaming, self-condemning Pride and Folly: For a man under pretence of serving God, and help­ing other men to Heaven, to make it his errand to tell the hearers, that he is a very Wise and Learned man; who hath not wit enough to choose a holy, humble life, nor to make sure of Heaven or to save his Soul; nor perhaps to keep out of the Tavern, or Ale-house the next week, nor the same day to forbear the venting of his worldly, carnal mind. What is such Learning, but a Game of Imagination, in which the Phantasie sports it self with names and noti­ons; or worse, the materials which are used in the service of sin, the fuel of pride, the blinder and deceiver of such as were too ignorant before, being a meer shadow and name of Knowledge? What good will it do a man tormented with the Gout, or Stone, or by miserable poverty, to know the names of various herbs, or to read the titles of the Apo­thecaries boxes, or to read on a sign-post, Here is a good or­dinary? And what good will it do a carnal, unsanctified Soul, that must be in Hell for ever, to know the Hebrew roots or points, or to discourse of Cartesius his materia subtilis & glo­buli aetherei, &c. Or of Epicurus and Gassendus Atomes, or to look on the Planets in Galileus Glasses, while he casteth away all his hopes of Heaven, by his unbelief, and his pre­ferring the pleasures of the flesh? Will it comfort a man that is cast out of Gods presence, and condemned to utter darkness, to remember, that he was once a good Mathemati­cian, or Logician, or Musician, or that he had wit to get riches and preferments in the world, and to climb up to the heighth of honour and dominion? It is a pitiful thing to hear, a man boast of his wit, while he is madly rejecting the only felicity, forsaking God, esteeming vanity, and damning his Soul! The Lord deliver us from such wit and learn­ing. Is it not enough to refuse Heaven and choose Hell (in [Page 258] the certain causes) to lose the only day of their hopes, and in the midst of light, to be incomparably worse than mad, but they must needs be accounted wise and learned, in all this self-destroying folly? As if (like the Physician who boasted that he killed men according to the Rules of art) it were the heighth of their ambition to go learnedly to Hell, and with Re­verend gravity and wit, to live here like brutes, and hereaf­ter with Devils for evermore.

Chap. 11.

The seventh Inference: Why the ungodly world hat­eth Holiness, and not Learning.

FRom my very Child-hood, when I was first sensible of the concernments of mens Souls, I was possest with some admiration, to find that every where the Religious, godly sort of people, who did but exercise a serious care of their own and other mens Salvation, were made the won­der and obloquy of the world; Especially of the most viti­ous and flagitious men, so that they that professed the same Articles of faith, the same Commandments of God to be their Law, and the same Petitions of the Lords Prayer to be their desire, and so professed the same Religion, did every where revile those that did endeavour to live according to that same profession, and to seem to be in good sadness in what they said. I thought that this was impudent Hypocrisie in the ungodly, worldly sort of men! To take them for the most intolerable persons in the Land, who are but serious in their own Religion, and do but endeavour to perform, what all their Enemies also vow'd and promised. If religion be bad, and our faith be not true, why do these men profess it? If it be true and good, why do they hate and revile them that would live in the serious practice of it, if they will not practise it themselves? But we must not expect Rea­son, when sin and sensuality have made men unreasonable.

But I must profess that since I observed the course of the [Page 259] world, and the concord of the Word and Providences of God, I took it for a notable proof of mans fall, and of the verity of the Scripture, and the supernatural Original of true Sanctification, to find such an universal enmity between the holy and the serpentine seed, and to find Cain and Abels case so ordinarily exemplified, and him that is born after the Flesh to persecute him that is born after the Spirit. And methinks to this day it is a great and visible help for the con­firmation of our Christian Faith.

But that which is much Remarkable in it is, that nothing else in the world (except the Crossing of mens carnal inte­rest) doth meet with any such universal enmity. A man may be as learned as he can, and no man hate him for it. If he excel all others, all men will praise him and proclaim his excellency: He may be an excellent Linguist, an excel­lent Philosopher, an excellent Physician, an excellent Logi­cian, an excellent Orator, and all commend him. Among Musicians, Architects, Souldiers, Seamen, and all Arts and Sciences, men value, prefer and praise the best; Yea even Speculative Theology, such wits as the Schoolmen and those that are called great Divines, are honoured by all, and meet, (as such) with little Enmity, Persecution or Obloquy in the world. Though I know that even a Galilaeus, a Cam­panella, and many such have suffered by the Roman Inquisi­tors, that was not so much in enmity to their Speculations or Opinions, as through a fear lest new Philosophical noti­ons should unsettle mens minds, and open the way to new opinions in Theology, and so prove injurious to the Kingdom and Interest of Rome. I know also that Demosthenes, Cicero, Seneca, Lucan, and many other learned men, have died by the hands or power of Tyrants. But that was not for their Learning, but for their opposition to those Tyrants Wills and Interests. And I know that some Religious men have suffered for their Sins and Follies, and some for their medling too much with secular affairs, as the Councellours [Page 260] of Princes, as Functius, Justus Jonas, and many others. But yet no Parts, no Excellency, no Skill or Learning is hated commonly, but honoured in the World, no not Theologi­cal Learning, save only this practical Godliness and Religi­on, and the Principles of it, which only rendereth men a­miable to God (through Christ) and saveth mens Souls. To know and love God, and live as those that know and love him, to seek first his Kingdom and the Righteousness thereof, to walk circumspectly, in a holy and heavenly Con­versation, and studiously to obey the Laws of God, this which must save us, this which God loveth and the Devil hateth, is hated also by all his Children; for the same ma­lignity hath the same effect.

But methinks this should teach all considering men to perceive what Knowledge it is that is best, and most desira­ble to all that love their happiness. Sure this sort of Learn­ing, Wit and Art, which the Devil and the malignant World do no more dispraise, oppose and persecute, (though as it is sanctified to higher ends it be good, yet) of it self is comparatively no very excellent and amiable thing. I know Satan laboureth to keep out Learning it self (that is truly such) from the world, because he is the Prince and Pro­moter of darkness, and the Enemy of all useful light: And lower Knowledge is some help to higher, and speculative Theology may prepare for practical; and the most gross and brutish ignorance best serveth the Devils designs and turn. And even in Heathen Rome the Arts prepared men for the Gospel; and Learning in the Church Reformers hath ever been a great help and furtherance of Reformation. But yet if you stop in Learning and Speculation, and take it as for it self alone, and not as a means to holiness of Heart and Life, it is as nothing. It is Paul's express resolution of the case, that if we have all Knowledge without this holy Love, we are nothing, but as sounding Brass or a tinkling Cymbal, 1 Cor. 13.

[Page 261]But surely there is some special excellency in this holy knowledge, and Love, and Obedience, which the Devil and the malignant World so hate, in high and low, in rich and poor, in Kindred, Neighbours, Strangers, or any, where they meet with it. It is not for nothing. This is the I­mage of God; this is it that is contrary to their carnal Minds, and to their fleshly Lusts, and sinful Pleasures. This tells them what they must be and do (or be undone for ever) which they cannot abide to be or do.

Let us therefore be somewhat the wiser for this discove­ry of the mind of the Devil and all his Instruments: I will love and honour all Natural, Artificial, acquired Excellen­cies, in Philology, Philosophy, and the rest: As these ex­pose not men to the Worlds Obloquy, so neither unto mine or any sober mans. In their low places they are good, and may be used to a greater good. But let that holy knowledge and love be mine, which God most loveth, and the World most hateth, and costeth us dearest upon Earth, but hath the blessed end of a Heavenly Reward.

Chap. XII.

The eighth Inference: What is the work of a faithful Preacher, and how it is to be done.

IF that Knowledge which kindleth in us the Love of God, be the only saving Knowledge, then this is it that Ministers must principally preach up and promote. Could we make all our hearers never so learned, that will not save their Souls: But if we could make them holy, and kindle in them the love of God and goodness, they should certainly be saved. The holy practical Preacher therefore is the best Preacher, because the holy practical Christian is the best and only true Christian. We work under Christ, and therefore must carry on the same work on Souls which Christ came into the World to carry on. All our Sermons must be fitted to change mens Hearts, from Carnal into [Page 262] Spiritual, and to kindle in them the love of God. When this is well done, they have learnt what we were sent to teach them; and when this is perfect, they are in Hea­ven.

Those Preachers that are Enemies to the godliest of the people, and would make their Hearers take them all for Hy­pocrites, that go any further than obedience to their Pastors, in Church-forms and Orders, Observances and Ceremonies, and a civil Life, are the great Enemies of Christ, his Spirit, his Gospel and the Peoples Souls; and the Eminent Ser­vants of the Devil, in his malignant War against them all. All that Knowledge, and all those Formalities, which are set up instead of divine Love and holy Living, are but so many cheats, to deceive poor Souls till time be past, and their convictions come to late.

I confess that ignorance is the calamity of our times, and people perish for lack of Knowledge: And that the Heart be without Knowledge it is not good: And lamentable ig­norance is too visible in a great degree, among the religi­ous sort themselves; as their manifold differences and er­rours too openly proclaim: And therefore to Build up men in Knowledge, is much of the Ministerial work. But what Knowledge must it be? Not dead Opinions, or uneffectual Notions, or such Knowledge as tendeth but to teach men to talk, and make them pass for men of parts: But it is the Knowledge of God and our Redeemer, the Knowledge of Christ Crucified, by which we Crucifie the Flesh with all its Affections and Lusts: And by which the World is Crucified to us, and we to it. If the Gospel be hid it is hid to them that are lost in whom the God of this World hath blinded their Eyes; when there is no truth and mercy, and knowledge of God in the Land, no wonder if such a Land be clad in mourning. When men have not so much Knowledge of the evil of sin, and their own sin and misery, and of the need and worth of Christ, of the truth of Gods [Page 263] Word, of the vanity of the World, of the greatness, wis­dom and goodness of God, and of certain, most desirable Glory of Heaven, as shall humble their Souls, and turn them from the World to God, and absolutely deliver them up to Christ, and mortifie fleshly Lusts, and overcome temptations, and renew them unto the Love of God and goodness, and set their Hearts and Hopes on Heaven. This is the ignorance that is mens damnation: And the contrary effectual Knowledge is it which saveth Souls.

Chap. XIII.

The ninth Inference: Those that Know God so far as to Love him above all, may have comfort notwithstanding their remaining ignorance.

A Great number of upright hearted Christians, who Love God sincerely, and obey him faithfully, are yet under so great want of further knowledge, as is indeed a great dishonour to them, and a hinderance of them in their duty and comfort, and to many a great discouragement: And O that we knew how to cure this imperfection, that Ignorance might not feed so many Errours, and cause so many fractions and disturbances in the Church, and so many sinful miscarriages in its members!

But yet we must conclude that the person that hath knowledge enough to renew his Soul to the Love of God, shall be loved by him, and shall never perish, and therefore may have just comfort under all the imperfections of his knowledge. More wisdom might make him a better and more useful Christian: But while he is a Christian indeed, he may rejoyce in God. I blame not such for complaining of the dulness of their Understandings, the badness of their Memories, their little profiting by the means of Grace: I should blame them if they did not complain of these: And I think their case far more dangerous to the Church and to themselves, who have as much ignorance and know it not, [Page 264] but proudly glory in the wisdom which they have not. But many a thousand Christians, that have little of the Notio­nal and Organical part of Knowledge, have powerful ap­prehensions of the Power, Wisdom and Love of God, and of the great Mercy of Redemption, and of the Evil of Sin, the Worth of Holiness, and the Certainty and Weight of the Heavenly Glory: And by how much these men love God and Holiness more than the more Learned that have less Grace; by so much they are more beloved of God, and accounted wiser by the God of wisdom; and therefore may rejoice in the greatness of their felicity. I would have none so weak as to under-value any real useful Learning: But if Pharisees will cry out against unlearned, godly Christians, [These people know not the Law and are accursed;] Re­member the Thanksgiving of your Lord, I thank thee, Fa­ther, Lord of Heaven and Earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to Babes. And as the (reputed) foolishness of God (that is, of Gods Evangelical Mysteries) will shortly prove wiser, than all the reputed wisdom of men; so he that hath wis­dom enough to love God and be saved, shall quickly be in that World of light, where he shall know more than all the Doctors and subtile disputers upon Earth, and more (in a moment) than all the Books of men can teach him, or all their Authors did ever (here) know. Jer. 9.23, 24. Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, nei­ther let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches. But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord, which exercise loving kindness and righteousness in the Earth: For in these things do I delight, saith the Lord.

Chap. XIV.

Questions and Objections answered.

Quest. 1. IF so much knowledge will save a man as helpeth him to love God as God, may not Heathens or In­fidels at least be saved? For they know that there is one God who is Infinitely Good and Perfect, and more amiable than all the World, and the great Benefactor of man, and of the whole Creation: So that there is no goodness but what is in him, or from him, and through him, and finally to him: And mans will is made to love apprehended good, and followeth the last practical act of the Intellect, at least where there is no Competi­tor, but omnimoda ratio boni. And all men know that God is not only Best in himself, but Good, yea Best to them, because that all they have is from him: And they have daily Experience of pardoning Grace contrary to their Commerit. It seemeth there­fore that they may love God as God.

Ans. 1. To cause a man to Love God as God, there is ne­cessary both Objective Revelation of God's Amiableness, and such Subjective Grace which consisteth in a right Disposition of the Soul. 2. Objective Revelation is considered as sufficient either to well disposed, or to an ill disposed Soul. 3. This Right disposition consisteth both in the abatement of mens Incli­nations to contrary (sensual) objects, and in the inclining them to that which is Divine and Spiritual. And now I answer,

1. It cannot be denied but that so much of God's Ami­ableness or Goodness is revealed to Infidels that have not the Gospel, by the means mentioned in the Objection, as is sufficient to bring men under an obligation to love God as God, and to leave them unexcusable that do not.

2. Therefore to such the Impossibility is not Physical, but Moral.

3. And there is in that objective Revelation, so much sufficiency, as that if the Soul it self were sanctified and well disposed, it might love God upon such revelation. (Which Amyraldus hath largely proved.)

[Page 266]4. But to an unholy and undisposed Soul no objective Re­velation is sufficient without the Spirits help and operations.

Of all this I have dis­coursed more large­ly in my Cath. The­ology, and the applyed Epitome.5. Only the Spirit of Christ the Mediator, as given by and from him, doth thus operate on Souls, as savingly to renew them.

6. Whether ever the Spirit of Christ doth thus operate on any that hear not of Christs Incarnation, must be known either by the Scripture or by experience. By the Scripture I am not able to prove the Universal Negative, though it's easy to prove sanctification incomparably more common in the Church, than on those without, if any there have it. The case of Infants, and of the Churches, and the World before Christs Incarnation, must here come into consideration. 2. And by experience no man can prove the Negative; be­cause no man hath experience what is in the Hearts of all the persons in the World.

Q. 2. May a Papist or an Heretick by his knowledge be a lover of God as God?

Ans. What is said to the former question is here to be re­viewed. And further, 1. A Papist and such Heretick as po­sitively holdeth all the essentials of Christianity, and seeth not the opposition of his false opinions hereto, and holdeth Christianity more practically than those false opinions, may be saved in that state, for he is a Lover of God: But no other Papists or Hereticks can be saved but by a true conversion. 2. There is a sufficiency in the Doctrine of Christia­nity which they hold, to save them, as to Objective Sufficiency. And that God giveth not subjective Grace (of Sanctification) to any such, notwithstanding their er­rours, is a thing that no man can prove, nor any sober charitable Christian easily believe: And experi­ence of the piety of many maketh it utterly improbable, though we know not certainly the Heart of another.

There are many murmurings against me in this City (be­hind my back: for never one man of them to my remem­brance to this day, did ever use any charitable endeavour to my [Page 267] face to convince me of my supposed errour) as one that holds that a Papist may be saved, yea, that we are not certain that none in the World are saved besides Christians; and the Sectaries whisper me to one another to be like Origen, a person in these dangerous opinions, forsaken of God, in comparison of them: What really I assert about these Questi­ons, I have here briefly hinted; but more largely opened in my Catholick Theology: But I will confess that I find no inclination in my Soul, to desire that their doctrine may prove true, who hide the Glorified love of God, and would contract his Mercy and Mans Salvation into so narrow a Room, as to make it hardly discernable by man, and the Church to be next to no Church, and a Saviour to save so very few, as seem scarce considerable among the rest that are left remediless. And who would make us believe that the way appointed to bring men to the Love of God, is, to be­lieve that he hath elected that particular person, and left al­most all the World (many score or hundreds to one) unre­deemed, and without any promise or possibility of Salvation: I am sure that the covenant of Innocency is ceased; And I am sure that all the World was brought under a Law of Grace made after the fall to Adam and Noe: And that this Law is still in force to those that have not the more perfect edition in the Gospel. And that Christ came not to bring the World that never hear of him nor can do, into a worse condition than Jews and Gentiles were in before: nor hath he repealed that Law of Grace which he before made them; nor hath God changed that Gracious Name which he pro­claimed even to Moses, Exod. 34.6, 7. And I am sure that Abraham the Father of the Faithful conjectured once, even when God told him that Sodom was ripe for destruction, that yet there might be fifty Righteous persons in it; By which we may conjecture what he thought of all the WorldRead, Ma [...]. 1.14. with all the old Translations in the Polyglot Bible, and consider it.. And I know that in every [Page 268] Nation he that feareth God, and worketh righteousness, is accepted of him; And that he that cometh to God must believe that God is, and that he is the Rewarder of them that diligently seek him, and therefore without Faith none can please God: And that men shall be judged by that same Law which they were under and obliged by, whatever it be. And they that have sinned under the Law (of Moses) shall be judged by it; And they that sinned without that Law shall be judged without it. And I know that God is LOVE it self and Infinitely Good; and will shew us his goodness in such Glorious Effects to all eternity as shall satisfy us and fill us with Joyful praise: And as for the Papists, I know that they are seduced by a worldly Clergy, and that by consequence many of the Errours in that Church do sub­vert the Fundamentals; And so do many Errors of the Anti­nomians and others among us that are taken for religious per­sons; yea and as notoriously as any Doctrines of the Popish Councils do: But I know that as a Logical Faith or Ortho­doxness, which consisteth in holding right Notions and Words, deceiveth thousands that have no sound belief of the things themselves expressed by these words; So also Logical errors about Words, Notions and Sentences, may in unskilful men consist with a Sound Belief of the Things which must neces­sarily be believed. And that Christ and Grace may be thank­fully received by many that have false Names and Notions, and Sayings about Christ and Grace. And I know the great Power of Education and Converse, and what advantage an o­pinion hath even with the upright, which is commonly ex­tolled by Learned, Godly, Religious men, especially if by almost all. Therefore I make no doubt but God hath many among the Papists, and the Antinomians, (to name no others) who are truly Godly, though they Logically or Notionally hold such errours as if Practically held would be their damnation, and if the consequents were known and held: Much more when thousands of the Common People, hold not the errours of the [Page 269] Church which they abide in. And it shall not be my way of perswading my own Soul or others to Love God, by first perswading them that he Loveth but few besides them. And when such have narrowed Gods Love and mercy to all save their own party, and made themselves ea­sily believe that he will damn the rest of the world, even such as are desirous to please God as they are, they have but prepared a Snare for their own Consciences, which may per­haps when it is awakened as easily believe that he will damn themselves. Let us give all diligence to make our own calling and election sure, and leave others to the righteous God, to whose Judgment they and we must stand or fall. Who art thou that judgest anothers Servant?

As the Covenant of Peculiarity was made only with the Israelites, though the Common Law of grace (made to Adam and Noe) was in force to other Nations of the World; So the more excellent Covenant of Peculiarity is since Christs In­carnation made only with the Christian Church, though the foresaid Common Law of Grace be not repealed to all others: Nor can it be said that they sin not against a Law of Grace; or mercy leading to repentance.

And as the Covenant of Peculiarity was not repealed to the ten tribes (though the benefit [...]s were much forfeited by their violation;) but God had still Thousands among them in Elias time that bowed not the knee to Baal, and such as Obadiah to hide the Prophets; though yet the Jews were the more Or­thodox: Even so though the Reformed Churches, as the two Tribes, stick closer to the truth, the Kingdoms where Popery prevaileth, have yet many thousands that God will save; and notwithstanding their errours and corrupt additions, they have the same Articles of Faith and Baptismal Covenant as we. And if any man think himself the wiser or the happier man than I, for holding the contrary, and thinking so many are hated of God more than I do (and consequently rendering him less lovely to them,) I envy not such the honour nor com­fort of their wisdom.

[Page 270]Obj. III. You will thus confirm our Ignorant people in their presumption, that tell Professors of Godliness, I Love God above all, and my Neighbour as my self, though I do not know and talk, and pray so much as you do.

Ans. Either they do so Love God and Man, or they do not: If they do, they are good and happy men, though you call them ignorant: Yea he is far from being an Ignorant man that knoweth God and Christ, and Heaven and Holiness so well as to be unfeignedly in Love with them. But if he do not, what say I to his encouragement in presumption! But you must take another course to cure him, than by calling him to a barren sort of Knowledge. You must shew him that the Love of God is an operative principle, and where it is will have dominion and be highest in the Soul, and that telling God that we Love him, while we love not his Law, his Service, or his Children, yea while we love our Appetite, our Wealth, our Credit, and every beastly lust above him, and while we cannot abide much to think or hear talk of him, this is but odious Hypocrisie, which deceiveth the sin­ner, and maketh him more abominable to God.

But if really you see a poor Neighbour whom you count ignorant, live as one that loveth God and Goodness, take heed that you proudly despise not Christs little ones; but Love and Cherish those sparks that are kindled and Loved by Christ: The least are called by Christ, his Brethren, and their interest made as his own, Mat. 25. And the least have their Angels which see the face of God in Hea­ven.

Qu. IV. How then are Infants saved that neither have know­ledge nor Love.

Ans. 1. While they have no Wills of their own, which are capable of holy duties, they are as members of their Parents whose Wills are theirs; and who know God and Love him, for themselves and their Infants: As the Hand and Foot doth not know or Love God in itself, and yet is holy, in that [Page 271] it is the Hand or Foot of one that doth know and Love him.

2. Sanctified Infants have that Grace which is the seed of holy Love, though they have not yet the Act nor proper habit of Love. I call it as seed, because it is a holy dispositi­on of the Soul, by which it is (not only Physically as all are, but) Morally able to Love God, when they come to the use of reason, or at least mediately to do that which shall conduce to holy Love.

3. And in this state being Loved of God and known of him as the Children of his Grace and Promise, they are hap­py in his Love to them: For he will give their natures their due capacity in his way which we are not yet fit to be fully acquainted with, and he will fill up that Capacity with his Love and Glory.

Obj. V. If this hold, away with universities, and all our Vo­lumes and Studies of Physicks, Mathematicks and other Sciences; for they must needs divert our thoughts from the Love of God! And then Turks, Muscovites and other contemners of Learning are in the right.

Ans. There is a right and a wrong use of all these: As there is of Arts and business of the world: One man so fol­loweth his trade and worldly business as to divert, distract or corrupt his mind, and drown all holy thoughts and Love; and leave no due place for holy diligence. And another man so followeth his calling, as that Heaven hath still his heart and hope, and his labour is made but part of his obe­dience to God, and his way to life eternal, and all is Sancti­fied by holy Principles, End and Manner: And so it is about common Learning, Sciences or Arts: And I have proved to you, that among too many called great Scholars in the world, many books and much reading and acquaintance with all the arts of speaking, with Grammar, Logick, Oratory, Metaphy­sicks, Physicks, History, Laws, &c. is but one of Satans Last and Subtlest means of wasting precious time, deceiving Souls, [Page 272] and keeping such persons from pursuing the ends of their excellent wit, and of life itself, that would not have been cheated, diverted and undone, by the grosser way of brutish pleasures: But holy Souls have a Sanctified use of all their common knowledge, making it serve their high and holy ends. But O that some Learned men would in time, as well understand the difference between common Learning (which serveth fancy, pride or worldly hopes) and the Love of God and a heavenly life, as they must know it when they come to die.

Chap. XV.

Use, Exhort. Not to deceive our selves by over­valuing a dead or an unholy Knowledge.

IT grieveth my Soul to observe how powerfully, and how commonly Satan still playeth his first deceiving game, of calling off man from Love, Trust and Obedience, to an en­snaring and troublesome, or unprofitable sort of Knowledge: And how the Lust of knowing carryeth away many unsu­spected to misery, who escape the more dishonourable sort of lust! And especially what abundance in several ways, take Notional Knowledge, which is but an Art of thinking and talking, for real Knowledge, which is our acquaintance with God and Grace, and which changed the Soul into the Image of him that we seek and know, and filleth us with Love, and Trust, and Joy.

Two sorts are especially here guilty.

  • I. The Learned Students before described.
  • II. The superficial sort of people accounted Religious.

I. I have already shewed how pitiful a thing it is, that so many Academical Wits, and so many Preachers, (to say nothing of the grosly proud, tyrannical and worldly Clergy) do spend so many years in studies, that are used but in the service of the flesh, to their own condemnation, and never bend their minds to kindle in themselves the Love of God, [Page 273] nor a heavenly Desire or Hope, nor to live in the comfor­table prospect of Glory: How many preach up that Love and Holiness, (as the Trade that they must live by) which they never fervently preached to themselves, nor practised sincerely one hour in their lives! How many use to preach Funeral Sermons, and bury the dead, that are unprepared for death themselves, and hardened in their security and un­holy state, by those sights, those studies, those words which should awaken and convince them, and which they plead themselves for the conviction of their hearers! O miserable Scholars! Miserable Preachers! Miserable Doctors and Pre­lates, who study and preach to their own condemnation, and have not knowledge enough to teach them to Love God, nor to set more by the heavenly Glory, than this World; but by spiritual words do both hide and cherish a fleshly and a worldly mind! You will find at Death that all your Learning was but a Dream, and one of the Vanities that entangle fools, and you will die as sadly as the un­learned, and be beaten with more stripes than they that knew not their Masters will.

1. Unholy Knowledge is but a carkass, a shadow, the activity of a vain mind, or a means without the end, and unfit to attain it. A Map is not a Kingdom, nor doth it much enrich the owner. The names of meats and drinks will not nourish you: And to know names and notions gi­veth you no title to the things so named. You may as well think to be saved for being good Musicians, Physicians, or Astronomers, as for being Learned Divines, if your Know­ledge cause not holy Love: It may help others to Heaven, but it will be but vanity to you, and you will be a sound­ing Brass, or a tinkling Cymbal, 1 Cor. 13.1. You glory in a lifeless picture of Wisdom, and Hell may shortly tell you that you had better have chosen any thing to play the fools with, than with the notions and words of Wisdom mor­tified.

[Page 274]2. Nay, such prophanation of holy things is a heinous sin. Who is liker the Devil than he that knoweth most, and loveth God least? To know that you should love, and seek God most, and not to do it, is wilfully to despise him in the open light. As the privation of God's Love is the chief part of Hell; so the privation of our Love to God is the chief part of ungodliness or sin; yea and much of Hell it self. Knowledge puffeth up, but Charity edifieth. Unholy Knowledge is a powerful Instrument of Satan's service; in the service of Pride, and Ambition, and Heresie; one Learn­ed and witty ungodly man, will merit more of the Devil by mischieving Mankind, than many of the common unlearn­ed sort: And none are so like impenitently to glory in this sin: They will be proud of such adorned Fetters; that they can sin Philosophically, and Metaphysically, in Greek and Hebrew, and with Logical subtilty, or Oratorical fluency, prove against unlearned men, that they do well in damning their own Souls, and that God and Heaven are not worthy of their chiefest love and diligence; such men will offend God more judiciously than the ignorant, and will more dis­creetly and honourably fool away their hopes of Heaven, and more successfully deceive the simple: Their Wisdom, like Achitophel's, will serve turn to bring them to destroy themselves: And is it any wonder if this be foolishness with God? 1 Cor. 3.19.

The understanding of a man is a faculty unfit to be abu­sed and prostituted to the slavery of the Flesh. The abuse of the senses is bad, but of the understanding worse; be­cause it is a nobler faculty. When they that knew God, glo­rified him not as God, but became vain in their imagination, their foolish heart was darkened, and professing themselves wise (Philosophers or Gnosticks) they became fools, Rom. 1.21, 28. And as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them up to vile affections. And yet many are proud of this mortal Tympanite, as if it were a sound and healthful [Page 275] Constitution! And think they have the surest right to Hea­ven for neglecting it knowingly, and going learnedly in the way to Hell.

3. You lose the chiefest delight of knowledge: O that you knew what holy quietness and peace, what solid plea­sure that knowledge bringeth, which kindleth and cherish­eth holy love, and leadeth the Soul to Communion with God; and how much sweeter it is to have a powerful and experimental knowledge, than your trifling dreams? The Learnedst of you all have but the Husks or Shells of know­ledge; and what great sweetness is in Shells, when the poor­est holy experienced Christian hath the Kernel, which is far more pleasant? O try a more serious practical Religion, and I dare assure you, it will afford you a more solid kind of nourishment and delight. The pleasure of the specula­tive Divine in knowing, is but like the pleasure of a Ma­thematician or other Speculator of Nature; yea below that of the Moral Philosopher: It is but like my pleasure in reading a Book of Travels or Geography; in comparison of the true practical Christians, which is like their pleasure that live in those Countreys, and possess the Lands and Houses which I read of.

4. Nay, (yet worse) this unholy knowledge doth often make men the Devils most powerful and mischievous Instru­ments: For though Christ oft also so over-rule the Hearts of Men, and the Course of the World, as to make the know­ledge and gifts of bad Men serviceable to his Church (as wicked Souldiers oft fight in a good Cause, and save the lives of better men) yet a worldly mind is likest to follow the way of worldly interest; and it is but seldom that worldly interest doth suite with, and serve the interest of truth and holiness, but more commonly is its greatest adver­sary: Therefore most usually it must be expected that such worldly men should be adversaries to the same truth and holiness which their worldly interest is adverse to. And [Page 276] hence hath arisen that Proud and Worldly, and Tyrannical Clergy, which hath set up and maintained the Roman King­dom, under the Name of the Holy Catholick Church; and which hath by their Pope and pretended General Councils usurped a Legislative and Executive Power over the whole Christian World, and made great numbers of Laws with­out Authority, and contrary to the Laws of Christ; multi­plying Schisms on pretence of suppressing them, and mak­ing so many things necessary to the Concord of Christians, as hath made such Concord become impossible; presump­tuously voting other men to be Hereticks, while their own Errours are of as odious a kind, yea, when holy Truth is sometime branded by them as Heresie. And when they can­not carry the Judgments, Consciences and Wills of all men along in obedience to their Tyrannical Pride and Lust, and Interest, they stir up Princes and States to serve them by the Sword, and Murder, and Persecute their own Subjects, and raise bloody Wars against their Neighbours, to force them to obey these proud Seducers: Yea, and if Kings and States be wiser than thus to be made their Hangmen or bloody Executioners (to the ruine of their best Subjects, and their own Everlasting Infamy and Damnation) they stir up the foolish part of the Subjects against such Rulers, and in a word, they will give the World no peace: So that I am past all doubt that the Ten Heathen Persecutions so much cryed out of, was but a small matter as against the Christians Blood, in comparison of what hath been done by this Tyrannical Clergy: And the cruelest Magistrates still seem to come short of them in cruelty, and seldom are very bloody or persecuting, but when a worldly or proud Clergy stirs them up to it. And all the Heresies that ever sprang up in the Church, do seem to have done less harm on one side, than by pretences of Unity, Order and Go­vernment, they have done on the other. O how unspeak­ably have been and still are the Churches Sufferings, by a [Page 277] proud and worldly Clergy, and by mens abuse of pretended Learning and Authority!

5. I will add yet one more considerable mischief; that is, that your unholiness and carnal minds for all your Learning, corrupteth your judgments, and greatly hindereth you from receiving many excellent truths, and inclineth you to many mortal errours. To instance in some particulars.

1. About the Attributes and Government of God, a bad man is inclined to doubt of Gods particular Providence, his holy Truth and Justice, and to think God is such a one as he would have him to be. Whereas they that have the love of God and goodness, have his Attributes as it were written on their Hearts; that he is Good, and Wise, and Holy, and Just, and True, they know by an Experimen­tal certain knowledge, which is to them like Nature and Life it self. Joh. 17.3. Hos. 2.20. Psal. 34.8. &c.

2. The very truth of the Gospel and Mystery of Redemp­tion is far hardlier believed by a man that never felt his need of Christ, nor ever had the operations of that Spirit on his Soul, which are its Seal, than by them that have the witness in themselves, and have found Christ actually save them from their sins: Who are regenerated by this holy Seed, and nourished by this Milk. 1 Joh. 5.10, 11, 12. 1 Pet. 1.22, 23. and 1 Pet. 2.2.

3. Yea the very truth of our Souls Immortality, and the Life and Glory to come, is far hardlier believed by them who feel no inclination to suc [...] a future Glory,Rom. 5.2, 3. 2 Cor. 4.16, 17, 18. and 5.1, 2, 3, &c. but only a propensity to this present Life, and the interest and pleasures of it, than by them that have a Treasure, a Home, a Heart, and a Conversation in Heaven, and that long for nearer Commu­nion with God, and that have the Earnest and First-fruits of Heaven within them. Math. 6.20, 21. Phil. 3.20, 21. Col. 4.1, 2, 3, 4. Rom. 8.17, 18, 19, 20.

4. The evil of sin in general, and consequently what is sin [Page 278] in particular, is hardlier known by a man that loveth it, and would not have it to be sin, than by one that hateth it,1 Cor. 2.14. Joh. 9.40. and loveth God and holiness a­bove all. They that love the Lord hate evil.

5. Most Controversies about the Nature of Grace, are hardlier understood by them that have it not, than by them that have it as a new Nature in them. And consequently what kind of Persons are to be well thought of as the Chil­dren of God? The Pharisees were strict, and yet haters of Christ and Christians: Many Preach and Write for godli­ness, that yet when it cometh to a particular judgment, deride the godly as Hypocrites or Superstitious.

6. In cases about the worship of God, a carnal Mind, how Learned soever, is apt to relish most an outside, carnal, ceremonious way, and to be all for a dead formality, or else for a proud ostentation of their own Wits, Opinions and Parts, or some odd singularity that sets them up to be admired as some extraordinary Persons, or teacheth their own Consciences so to flatter them: When a Spiritual Man is for worshipping God (though with all decent Externals, yet) in Spirit and in Truth; and in the most understand­ing, sincere and humble manner, and yet with the greatest joy and praise. Rom. 8.16, 26, &c.

7. Specially in the work of self-judging, how hard a work have the most Learned that are ungodly truely to know themselves? When Learning doth but help their Pride to blind them? And yet none so apt to say as the Pha­risees, John 9.10. Are we blind also? And to hate those that honour them not as erroneously as they do themselves: And therefore Augustine so lamenteth the misery of the Cler­gy, and saith that the unlearned take Heaven by violence, when the Learned are thrust down to Hell with all their learning! who are prouder and more self-ignorant Hypo­crites in the World (expecting that all should bow to them and reverence them, and cry them up as wise and excel­lent [Page 279] men) than the Unholy, Worldly Fleshly Clergy.

8. And in every case that themselves are much concerned in, their Learning will not keep them from the most blind in Justice: Let the case be but such as their honour, or profit, or relations and friends are much concerned in, and they pre­sently take all Right to be on their side; and all these to be honest men that are for them, and all those to be wicked Hy­pocrites, Hereticks, Schismaticks, Factious, or Liars, that are against them; and dare print to the world that most noto­rious truths in matters of fact are lies, and lies are truths, and corrupt all History where they are but concerned: So that experience hath taught me to give little credit to any History written by men, in whom I can perceive this double Character, 1. That they are worldly and unconscionable; 2. And concerned by a personal Interest; especially when they revile their Adversaries. And money, friends or honour will make any Cause true and just with them, and can con­fute all evidences of truth and innocency. Learned Judges are too oft corrupt.

9. And in cases of great Temptation, how insufficient is Learning to repel the Tempter, when it's easily done by the holy Love of God and Goodness? How easily is a man's Judgment tempted to think well of that which he loveth, and ill of that which his heart is against?

Many such Instances I might give you, but these fully shew the misery and folly of ungodly Scholars, that are but blinded by dead notions, and words of Art, to think they know something, when they know nothing as they ought to know; and to hate truth and goodness, and speak evil of the things they know not, while for want of holy Love, these tinkling Cymbals do but deceive themselves, and as­certain their own damnation.

II. I should next have said as much of the vanity and snare of the Knowledge of such Gnosticks, as in an over-valuing of their own Religious skill and gifts, cry out as the [Page 280] Pharisees, This people that know not the Law are cursed. But what is said is applicable to them.

Chap. XVI.

Love best the Christians that have most Love to God and Man.

IF God Love those most that have most Love, and not those that have most barren Knowledge; then so must we, even all that take God's Wisdom as infallible: Of whom can we know better whom to Love and Value, than of him that is Wisdom and Love it self? There is more savoury worth in the experience, affections, and heavenly tendency of holy Souls, than in all the subtilties of Learned Wits. When a man cometh to die, who savoureth not more Wis­dom in the Sacred Scripture, and in holy Treatises, than in all Aristotle's Learned works? And who had not then ra­ther hear the talk and prayers of a holy person, than the most accurate Logick or Mathematicks? Alas! what are these but trifles to a dying man? And what they will be to a dying man, they should be much to us all our life; unless we would never be wise till it is too late.

And among men seeming Religious, it is not the Religi­ous wrangler or disputer, nor the Zealous reviler of his Brethren, that can hotly cry down on one side, These men are Heretical; or on the other, These are Antichristian, that are the Lovely persons: Not they that on one side cry out, Away with these from the Ministry and Church as disobedient to us? Or on the other, Away with these from our Communion as not holy enough to join with us? It is not they that proudliest persecute to prove their Zeal, nor they that proudliest sepa­rate from others to prove it; but it is they that live in the love of God and Man, that are beloved of God and Man. Nature teacheth all men to love those that love them. And the Divine Nature teacheth us to love those much more that love God and goodness. Though love be an act of obedi­ence [Page 281] as commanded, yet hath it a Nature also above meer obedience; and bare commanding will not cause it. No man loveth God or man only because he is commanded so to do; but because he perceiveth them to be good and ami­able. And the most loving are the most lovely so be it their love be rightly guided. Doth it not kindle love in you to others, more, to hear their Breathings after God, and Grace, and Glory, and to see them loving and kind to all, and delighting to do all the good they can, and cover­ing tenderly the infirmities of others, and practising, 1 Cor. 13. and living at peace among themselves, and as much as is possible with all men, and loving their Enemies, and bless­ing those that curse them, and patiently bearing and for­giving wrongs, than to come into one Congregation and hear a Priest teach the people to hate their Brethren as Schismaticks or Hereticks; or in another, and hear a man teach his Followers to hate others as Antichristian or Cere­monious? Or to hear silly Men and Women talk against things that are quite beyond their reach; and shaking the Head to talk against Dissenters, and say, Such a one is an erroneous or dangerous man, take heed of hearing him? Such a one is for or against Reprobation, Free Will, Uni­versal Redemption, Mans Power, and such like, which they little understand. In a word, the proudly Tyrannical, and the proudly Schismatical, with all their pretence of Learn­ing on one side, or of the Spirit and Holiness, and Gifts on the other, are no whit so amiable as the single-hearted, ho­nest, peaceable Christian, who preacheth love, and prayeth love, and liveth, and breatheth, and practiseth love. Paul saith, that all the Law is fulfilled in love; and fulfilling is more than knowing it. And Christ himself did not in vain sum up all the Commandments in the love of God and Man, Nor in vain ask Peter thrice: Lovest thou me? nor in vain so often charge it on them, as his new (that is his last) Commandment, that they love one another? Nor [Page 282] doth his beloved Apostle John in vain so earnestly write for love.

Chap. XVII.

Exhort. Plead not against Love or works of Love, upon pretence of a cross Interest of Learning, Know­ledge, Gifts, Church-order, Discipline, &c. or any other thing.

IF LOVE be that which is most amiable in us to the God of Love, then as nothing in the World can excuse him that is without it, nor render him lovely indeed to God and Man, so nothing must be made a pretence against it. And no pretence will excuse that man, or that Society that is against it. Even corrections and severities when they must be used, must come from love, and be wholly order­ed to the ends and interest of love. And when necessity calls for destructive Executions, which tend not to the good of him that is Executed, yet must they tend to the good of the Community or of many, and come from a greater love than is due to one, or else that which otherwise would be laudable Justice, is but Cruelty: For the punishment of Offenders is good and just, because tending to the common good, Debentur Reipublicae, the Community have Jus, a Right to them as a means to their good: So that it is Love that is the Amiableness of Justice it self.

If any think that Gods Justice is a cross instance, let him consider, 1. That though the most publick or common good be our end next the ultimate, yet the true ultimate end of all things, is God himself: And the love of God is the highest love: And Gods Justice is not without that love of himself, and tendeth to that good which he is capa­ble of receiving, which is but the fulfilling or complacency of his own will, which is but improperly called his Receiv­ing. 2. And we little know how many in another World, or in the renewed Earth, are to be profited by his Justice [Page 283] on the damned, as Angels and Men are by his Justice on the Devils.

1. LOVE is the Life of Religion, and of the Soul, and of the Church: And what can be a just pretence for any, to de­stroy or oppose the very Life of Religion, the Life of Souls, and the Life of the Church of Christ! Physick, Blood-let­ting and Dismembring may be used for Life: But to take away Life, except necessarily for a Good that is better than that life, is Murder: And what is it that is better than the Life of Religion in all matters of Religion? Or than the life of the Church in all Church affairs? Or than the life of mens Souls in all matters of Soul concernment?

2. LOVE is the great command and summary of all the Law: And what can be a just pretence for breaking the greatest command, yea, and the whole Law?

3. LOVE is Gods Image, and he that dwelleth in Love, dwelleth in God, who is LOVE, and God in him: And what can be a pretence sufficient for destroying the Image of God, which is called by his name?

4. There is nothing in man that God himself loveth bet­ter than our love▪ And therefore nothing that as better can be set against it.

And yet alas, what enmity is used in the World against the Love of God and Man? and many things alledged as pretences to justify it? Let us consider of some few of them.

1. The great Tyrants of the World, such as in several ages have been the Plagues of their own and neighbour Nations, care not what havock they make of Religion, and of mens lives, by Bloody Wars and Cruel Persecutions▪ destroying many thousands, and undoing far more thousands of the Country Families where their armies come, and sacrificing the lives of the best of their subjects by butcheries or flames? And what is the pretence for all this? Perhaps they would be Lords of more of the World, and would have larger [Page 284] Kingdoms: Or more honour: Perhaps some Prince hath spoken a hard word of them, or done them some wrong: Perhaps some subjects believe not as they bid them believe; or forbear not to worship God in a manner which they for­bid them: Perhaps Daniel will not give over praying for a time, or the Apostles will not give over preaching, or the three Confessors will not fall down to the Golden Image; and so Nebuchadnezzar, or the other Rulers seem despised: And their wills and honour are an Interest that with them seemeth to warrant all this. But how long will it seem so? I had rather any friend of mine had the Sins of a Thief or Drunkard or the most infamous Sinner among us to answer for, than the Sins of a Bloody Alexander, Caesar or Tamer­lane.

2. The Roman Clergy set up Inquisitions, force men by cruelties to submit to their Church Keys, whose very nature is to be used without force, and they silence, yea torment the faithful Ministers of Christ, and have murdered thou­sands of his faithful people raised rebellions against Princes and Wars in Kingdoms; and taught men to hate Gods Ser­vants as Hereticks, Schismaticks, Rebels, Factious, and what not? And what pretence must justify all this? Why the Interest of the Pope and Clergy, called in ignorance or craft by the name of the Holy Church, Religion, Unity, and such other honourable name. But must their Church live on Blood? and holy Blood? And be built or preserved by the destruction of Christs Church? Must their doctrine be kept up by silencing faithful Ministers? and their worship by destroying or undoing the true worshippers of Christ? Are all these precious things which die with Love, no better than to be sacrificed to the Clergies Pride and Worldly lusts?

3. Among many Schismaticks and Sectaries (that are not miscalled so, but are such indeed) their Discipline consist­eth in separating from most other Christians, as too bad [Page 285] (and that is, too unlovely) to be of their Communion; and their Preaching is much to make those seem bad (that is, unlovely) that are not of their way; and their worship is much such as relisheth of the same envy and strife, to add affliction or reproaches to their Brethren; or to draw the people from the Love of others unto them; And their or­dinary talk is back-biting others for things that they under­stand not, and reporting any lie that is brought them, and telling the hearers something of this Minister, or that person or the other, that is unlovely, as if Satan had hired them to Preach down Love, and prate and pray down Love, and all this in the name of Christ: And the third chapter of James is harder than Hebrew to them; they do not under­stand it, but though they tear it not out of the Bible, they leave it out of the Law in their Hearts, as much as the Pa­pists leave the Second Commandment out of their Books. And it is one of the marks of a good man among them to talk against other parties, and make others odious, to set up them. And what are the Pretences for all this? Why Truth and Holiness. 1. Others have not the Truth which they have. And 2. Others are not against the same Doctrines and Cere­monies, and Bishops and Church Orders and ways of worship which they are against; and therefore are ungodly, anti­christian or men of no Religion.

But Truth seldom dwelleth with the Enemies of Love and Peace: They that are Strangers and Enemies to it indeed do often cry it up, and cry down those as Enemies to it that possess it: The wisdom that hath bitter envying and heart-strife is from beneath; and is earthly, sensual and devilish. I admonish all that care for their Salvation that they set up nothing upon love killing terms: If you are Christs disci­ples you are taught of God to love each other, you are taught it as Christs last and great Commandment: You are taught it by the wonderful example of his life, and specially, Joh. 13.14. By his washing hi [...] disciples feet: You are taught [Page 286] it by the Holy Ghosts uniting the hearts of the disciples, and making them by Charity to live as in Community, Acts 3. and 4. You are taught it by the Effective operation of the Spirit on your own hearts: The new nature that is in you inclineth you to it. And will you now pretend the neces­sity of your own Interest, Reputation, your Canons, and things indifferent, your little Church orders of your own making, yea or the positive institutions of Christ himself, as to the present exercise, against this Love? Hath Christ com­manded you any thing before it, except the Love of God? You say, if such and such men be suffered, this and that dis­order and inconvenience will follow: But is it a greater thing than Love that you would maintain? Is it a greater evil than the destruction of Love that you would avoid? Did not Christ prefer mercy before Sabbath rest, and before the avoiding familiarity with sinners? Pretend nothing a­gainst Love that is not better than Love.

Obj. But what is this to the Love of God which the Text speaketh of?

Ans. As God is here seen as in a Glass, so is he loved: He that Loveth not his Brother whom he seeth daily, how shall he Love God, whom he never saw? He that saith he loveth God, and hateth his Brother, is a Liar? What you do to his Brethren you do as to Christ: If you can find as full a pro­mise of Salvation to those that observe your Canons, Cere­monies, Orders, or are of your Opinion and Sect, as I can shew you for them that Love Christ and his Servants, then prefer the former before Love.

I know that the Love and Good of Church and State and of many must be preferred before the love and good of few. But take heed of their hypocrisie that make these also incon­sistent when they are not; and make publick good and peace a meer pretence for their Persecutions on one side, or their Schisms on the other. Love is so amiable to nature it­self, that few of its Enemies oppose it but under pretence of [Page 287] its own interest and name: It is as in love to the Church & to mens Souls that the Inquisition hath murdered so many, and the Laws de Hereticis comburendis have been made and Exe­cuted. But this Burning, Hanging, Tormenting, and undoing kind of Love, needeth very clear proof to make good its name and pretences, before impartial men will take it for love in­deed. Whatever good you seem to do, by the detriment of Love to God and Man, you will find it will not bear your charges.

Chap. 18.

Exh. Bend all your Studies and Labours to the exer­cise and increase of Love, both of God and Man, and all good works.

THE greatest, best and sweetest work should have the greatest diligence. This great Commandment must be obeyed with the greatest care. The work of love must be the work of our whole life: If you cannot learn to pray and preach, no nor to follow a worldly trade, without study and much Exercise, how think you to be proficients in the love of God without them? Do this well, and all is done. O happy Souls that are habituated and daily exercised in this work! Whose new nature, and life and study, and business, is holy Love.

1. How Divine, how High and Noble is this life; To live in a humble friendship with God and all his holy ones? All animals naturally Love their like, and converse according to their Love: And men as men have as much sociable Love to men as the love of sin and inordinate self-love will allow them: And they that truly love God and Holiness, and Saints, do shew that they have some connatural suitableness to these ex­cellent Objects of their love. Nothing more aptly denominat­eth any man Divine and Holy, than Divine and Holy Love. How else should Souls have Communion with God? His common Influx all creatures receive? In him all live and [Page 288] move and have their being: But when his Love kindleth in us a reflecting Love, this is felicity itself. Yea it is much nobler than our felicity: For though our felicity consist in Loving God, and being Beloved of him, yet it is a far more excellent thing by reason that God is the Object of our love, than by reason that it is our felicity: Gods inte­rest advanceth it more than ours: And though they are not separable, yet being distinguishable, we should love God far more as God, and perfect goodness in himself, than as he or this love is our own felicity.

2. This life of love is the true improvement of all Gods Doctrines, Ordinances, Mercies, Afflictions, and other Provi­dences whatsoever! For the use of them all is to lead us up to Holy Love, and to help us in the daily exercise of it. What is the Bible else written for, but to teach us to Love and to exercise the fruits of Love? What came Christ from Hea­ven for, but to demonstrate and reveal Gods love and loveli­ness to man, and by reconciling us to God, and freely par­doning all our sins, and promising us both Grace and Glory, to shew us those motives which should kindle Love, and to shew us that God is most suitable and worthy of our Love, and to fill us with the Spirit of love, which may give us that which he commandeth us. What is it that we read books for, and hear Sermons for, but to kindle and exercise holy Love? What joyn we for in the Sacred worship of the assemblies, but that in an united flame of holy love, we might all mount up in praise to Jehovah? What is the Lords day separated to, but the tidings of love, the Sufferings Victories, and Triumphs of our Saviours love, the Tasts and Prospects of Gods love to us, and the lively and joyful exer­cise of ours to him, and to each other? What use are the Sa­craments of, but that being entertained at the most wonder­ful Feast of Love, we should tast its sweetness and pour out the grateful sense of it in holy Thanksgiving and Praise, and the exercise of uniting love to one another? What are [Page 289] Church Societies or Combinations for but the loving Com­munion of Saints? Which the primitive Christians expres­sed by selling all, and living in a Community of love, and stedfastly continuing in the Apostles Doctrine, and Fellow­ship, and breaking of bread and Prayer? What are all Gods mercies for but that as by Love tokens we should tast that he is Love and Good, and should by that tast be inclined to re­turns of Love? Nay what are Civil Societies, but loving Communions, if used according to their natures. Did they not love each other, so many Bees would never hive and work together, nor so many Pigeons dwell peaceably in one Dove-house, nor fly together in so great flocks. What is the whole Christian Faith for, but the doctrine of holy love believed, for the kindling and exercise of our love? what is faith itself but the bellows of love? What is the excel­lency of all good works, and gifts and endowments, but to be the exercises of love to God and man, and the incentives of our brethrens Love? Without love all these are dead Carkasses, and as nothing, and without it we our selves are as nothing; yea though we give all that we have to the poor, or give our bodies like martyrs to be burnt, or could speak with the tongue) the Orthodoxness and Elegancy) of Angels, we were but as sounding brass and as a tinkling Cymbal. James knew what he said, when he said that Faith without works is dead, because without love it is dead, which those works are but the body or the fruit of.

3. This life of Love is the perfection of mans faculties as to their intended end and use. As all the operations of the lower faculties, (Vegetative and Sensitive) are subordinate to the use and operations of the Intellectual part, which is the higher, so all the Acts of the Intellect itself, are but sub­servient and Dirigent to the Will (or Love) and Practice. The understanding is but the Eye by which the Soul seeth what to love, and choose or refuse, and what to do or to avoid. Love is the highest act of our highest faculty; And com­placency [Page 290] in the highest infinite good, is the highest of all the acts of Love. This is the State of the Soul in its Ripeness and Mellow Sweetness, when it is delightful, embracing its most desired object, and is blessed in the fruition of its ultimate end. All other Graces and Duties are Servants unto this. They are the parts indeed of the same new creature, but the Hands and Feet are not the Heart.

4. For Love is the very foretast of Heaven; the beginning of that felicity which shall there be perfect. In Heaven all Saints shall be as One; and all united to their glorious Head, as he is united to the Father (disparities allowed,) Joh. 17.24. And what more uniteth Souls than Love? Heaven is a state of Joyful Complacence; and what is that but Perfect Love? The Heavenly work is perfect Obedience and Praise: And what are these but the actions and the breath of Love?

5. Therefore they that live this life of Love, are fitter to die, and readier for Heaven, than any others. Belief is a foresight of it; but Love is a foretast; the first fruits, and our earnest and pledge. He that Loveth God, and Christ, and Angels, and Saints, and perfect Holiness, and Divine Praise, is ready for Heaven, as the Infant in the womb is ready for birth, at the fulness of his time: But other Chri­stians, whose Love is true, but little to their fears, and damped by darkness, and too much love of the body and this world, do go as it were by untimely birth to Heaven; and those in whom the love of the body is predominant, come not thither (in that state) at all. The God of Grace and Glory will meet that Soul with his felicitating embrace­ments, who panteth and breatheth after him by Love: And as Love is a kind of Union with the Heavenly Society, the Angels, who love us better than we love them, will be ready to convey such Souls to God. As the living dwell not in the graves among the dead, and the dead are buried from among the living; so holy Souls, who have this life of Love, cannot be among the miserable in Hell, nor the dead in sin among the blessed.

[Page 291]6. Therefore this life of holy Love, doth strengthen our Belief it self. Strong Reasons that are brought for the Im­mortality of Souls, and the future Glory, are usually lost upon unsanctified hearers; yea with the Doctors themselves that use them: When they have perswaded others that there is a Heaven for Believers, and that by Arguments in themselves unanswerable, they have not perswaded their own hearts; but the predominant Love of Flesh and Earth, doth byass their understandings, and maketh them think that they can confute themselves. Their gust and inclina­tion prevaileth against Belief: And therefore the greatest Scholars are not always the strongest Believers. But holy Love, when it is the Habit of the Soul, as it naturally ascend­eth; so it easily believeth that God, that Glory to which it doth ascend. The gust and experience of such a Soul assu­reth it that it was made for Communion with God, and that even in this life such Communion is obtained in some de­gree; and therefore it easily believeth that it is Redeemed for it, and that it shall perfectly enjoy it in Heaven for ever. Though Glory be here but seminally in Grace, and this world be but as the womb of that better world for which we hope, yet the life that is in the Embrio and seed, is a confirming Argument for the perfection which they tend to. O that men knew what holy Love doth signifie and fore­tel! As the seed or Embrio of a man becometh not a Beast or Serpent; so he that hath the habitual Love of God, and Heaven, and Holiness, is not capable of Hell, no more than the Lovers of worldliness and sensuality are capable of pre­sent Communion with God, and of his Glory. God doth not draw mens Hearts to Himself, nor kindle Heavenly desires in them in vain. He that hath the Spirit of Christ, hath the Witness in himself, that Christ and his Promises of Life are true, 1 John 5.10, 11, 12. And what is this Spirit, but the Habit of Divine and Heavenly Love, and its concomitants? May I but feel my Soul inflamed with the fervent Love of [Page 292] the Heavenly Perfection, surely it will do more to put me quite out of doubt of the certainty of that blessed state, than all Arguments without that Love can do.

7. And holy Love will be the surest Evidence of our Sin­cerity; which many old Writers meant, that called it, The Form of Faith and other graces: As means, as means, are in­formed by their aptitudinal respect unto the End; so Love, as it is the Final Act upon God the Final Object, thus inform­eth all subordinate Graces and Duties as they are means. And as all Morality is subjected in the Will as the proper pri­mary seat, and is in the Intellect, executive power, and senses only by participation, so far as their acts are imperate by the Will; so Love and Volition being really the same thing, it may accordingly be said, that nothing is any fur­ther acceptable to God, than it is Good; and nothing is mo­rally Good any further than it is voluntary or willed; and to be willed (as Good, as End, or as Means) and to be Loved, are words that signifie the same. No preaching, praying, fast­ing, &c. no fear of punishment, no belief of the Truth, &c. will prove us sincere and justified, any further than we can prove, that all this either cometh from, or is accompanied with Love, that is, with a Consenting Will. With the heart man believeth unto righteousness, Rom. 10. And, If thou believe with all thy heart, thou mayest be baptized, saith Philip to the Eunuch, Acts 8. My Son, give me thy heart, is Wisdom's in­vitation. All's nothing without the heart, that is, without willingness or Love. They that love most are sureliest for­given, and have most holiness or grace, how unskifull so­ever they may be in their expressions. The sealing Spirit of Adoption, is the Spirit of Love, and the Abba Father, and the unexpressed groans of filial Love, are understood and acceptable to God. A Loving Desire after God and Holiness, is a better Evidence, than the most taking Tongue, or largest Knowledge.

8. This life of Holy Love will make all our Religion and [Page 293] Obedience easy to us; It will give us an alacrity to the perfor­mance, and a pleasure in the practice of it; and so our obe­dience will be hearty, willing and universal. Who is averse to that which he Loveth (unless for something in it which he hateth?) All men go willingly and readily to that which they truly Love. Therefore it is said that the Law is not made for a Righteous man: that is, a man that Loveth Piety, Temperance and Justice, and their several works, so far hath no need of Threatning Laws and Penalties to constrain him to it: And he that hateth sin, so far hath no need of Legal Penalties to restrain him from it. Thus is the Law said to be written in our Hearts; not as it is meerly in our knowledge and memory, but as the matter commanded is truly Loved by us, and the sin forbidden truly hated. Even our Horses will carry us cheerfully that way which they Love to go, and go heavily where they go against their Wills. Win mens Love, and the life and lips and all (according to pow­er) will follow it.

9. And such persons therefore are likest to persevere: men go unweariedly (if they be but able) where they go with Love. Especially such a Love, which groweth stronger as it draweth nearer the state of perfection which it loveth; and groweth by daily renewed experiences and mercies, as Rivers grow bigger as they draw nearer to the Sea. We easily hold on in that we Love; But that which men loath, and their hearts are against; they are quickly weary of: And the weary person will easily be perswaded to lie down: The root of a Apostasie is already in those persons, who Love not the end which they pretend to seek, nor the work which they pretend to do.

10. Lastly, holy Love is a pregnant, spreading, fruitful grace: It kindleth a desire to do good to others, and to draw men to Love the same God and Heaven, and Holiness which we love. It made Gods word to be to Jeremy as a burning Fire shut up in his Bones, he was weary of forbearing, Jer. [Page 294] 20.9. As fire kindleth fire, and is the active principle of ve­getation (as I suppose) so Love kindleth Love, and is a kind of generative principle of Grace. Gods Love is the first cause; but Mans Love maketh them meet Instruments of Gods Love: For Love will be oft praising the God and Ho­liness which is loved; and earnestly desireth that all others may Love and praise the same. The Soul is not indeed con­verted, till its Love is won to God and Goodness: A man may be terrified into some austerities, superstitions or re­formations, but he is not further holy than his Heart is won. And as every thing that generateth is apt to produce its like, so is Love, and the words and works of Love. And as Love is the Heart of Holiness, so must it be of all fruit­ful Preaching and conversation, whatever the Words or Actions are, they are like no farther to win Souls, than they demonstrate the Love of God, and of Holiness, and of the hearers or spectators. As among amorous and vain persons strong Love appearing though by a look or word, doth kin­dle the like more than all complements that are known to be but feigned and affected words; so usually Souls are won to God, as by the Preachers words and works of Love, the love and loveliness of God in Christ, are fulliest made known.

Quest. But how should we reach this excellent Life of holy Love, which doth so far excel all knowledge.

Ans. I have said so much of this in the first part of my Christian Directory, and other writings, that I must here say but little of it, lest I be overmuch guilty of repetitions. Briefly,

Direct. I. Believe Gods Goodness to be equal to his Greatness. Gods three great primary Attributes are coequal, viz. His Power, his Wisdom, and his Goodness! And then look up to the Heavens and think how Great and Powerful is that God that made and continueth such a frame, as that Sun, and those Stars, and those Glorious unmeasureable Regions where they are: Think what a World of Creatures God [Page 295] maintaineth in life, on this little lower Orb of Earth, both in the Seas and on the Land. And then think, O what is the Goodness which is equal to all this Power!

Direct. 2. Consider how communicative this Infinite Good­ness is: Why else is he called LOVE it self? Why else made he all the World? And why did he make the Sun so Glo­rious? Why else did he animate and beautify the Universe, with the Life and Ornaments of Created Goodness? All his works shine by the splendor of that excellency which he hath put upon them; all are not equal, but all are Good, and their inequality belongeth to the Goodness of the Universe. The Communicative Nature with which God hath endow­ed all active Beings, (and the most Noble most) is an Impress of the Infinite communicative LOVE. Fire would commu­nicate its Light, Heat and Motion to all passive objects which are capable of receiving it: How pregnant and fertile is the very Earth, with plants, flowers and fruits of won­derful variety, usefulness and beauty! What plant is not natured to the propagation of its kind, yea to a plenteous multiplication? How many Seeds which are Virtual Plants, doth each of them bring forth at once; and yet the same plant, with all its off-spring, perhaps liveth many years for further multiplication: so that did not the far greatest part of Seeds yearly perish, there must be very many such Earths to receive and propagate them: This Earth hath not room for the hundredth part: To shew us that the Active natures even of Vegetatives, do quite exceed in their pregnant com­municative activity, the receptive capacity of all passive matter: which teacheth us to observe that all created Pa­tients are unconceiveably too narrow to receive such Com­municative Influences, as Infinite pregnant LOVE can com­municate, were there subjects to receive them.

It is wonderful to observe in all sorts of Animals, the same multiplying communicative inclination! and what use the God of nature maketh even of sensual LOVE to all [Page 296] Generation? Uniting and Communicative LOVE is in all Creatures the incentive Principle of Procreation. And what a multitude of young ones will some one Creature Procreate, especially Fishes to admiration? So that if other Fishes, with Men and other Creatures did not devour them, all the Waters on Earth could not contain them.

Yea our Moral Communicativeness also hath the same indi­cation: He that knoweth much would fain have others know the same; secret knowledge kept to our selves only hath its excellent use; but it satisfieth not the mind, nisi te scire hoc sciat alter, unless others know that you have such knowledge, and unless you can make them know what you know: Holy Souls therefore have a fervent, but a regular de­sire, and endeavour by communicative Teaching to make o­thers wise: But proud Heretical Persons, that overvalue their conceits, have an irregular Fornicating Lust of Teach­ing; and adulterously invade the charge of others, presu­ming that none can do it so wisely and so well as they. Men will compass Sea and Land to make a Proselyte; and Tares and Weeds are as much inclined to propagation as the Wheat. There is a marvellous desire in the Nature of man to make others of their own Opinion; and when it is governed by Gods Laws, it is greatly beneficial to the World.

And even in Affections, as well as Knowledge, it is so: We would have others love those that we love, and hate what we hate. Though where, by the insufficiency of the narrow Creature, Men must lose and want that themselves, which they Communicate to others, selfishness forbiddeth such Communication.

And doubtless all the Creatures in their several Ranks, have some such Impresses from the Creator, by which his transcendent perfections may be somewhat observed. That God is now so Communicative as to give to all Creatures in the World, whatever Being, Motion, Life, Order, Beauty, [Page 297] Harmony, Reason, Grace, Glory, any of them possess is past all question to considering sober reason. Which tempted Aristotle to think that the World was Eternal, and some Christians to think that though this present Heaven and Earth were Created, as in Gen. 1. is said, yet that from E­ternity some Intellectual World at least, if not also Corpo­real, did flow from the Creator as an Eternal Effect of an Eternal Cause; or an Eternal Accident of the Deity: Be­cause they could not receive it, that a God so unspeakably Communicative now (who hath made the Sun to be an Em­blem of his Communicativeness,) should from all Eternity be solitary and not communicative, when yet to all Eternity he will be so. But these are questions which uncapable Mortals, were far better let alone than meddle with, un­less we desire rather to be lost than to be blessed in the Abyss of Eternity, and the thoughts of infinite pregnant LOVE.

But it is so natural for man and every Animal to love that love and goodness which is beneficent, (not only to us, but to all) rather than a meer self-lover, that doth no good to o­thers, that it must needs conduce much to our love of God, to consider that he is good to all, and his mercy is over all his works; and that as there is no light in the Air but from the Sun, so there is no goodness but from God in all the World, who is more to the Creation than the Sun is to this lower World. And a Sun that lighteth all the Earth, is much more precious than my Candle: A Nilus which watereth the Land of Egypt, is more precious than a private Well: It is the Excellency of Kings and publick Persons, that if they are good, they are good to many: And O what innu­merable Animals in Sea and Land, besides the far greater Worlds of nobler Wights do continually live by one God of Love! Study this Universal, Infinite Love.

Direct. 3. Especially study Divine LOVE and Goodness in the Face of our Redeemer Jesus Christ, and all the Grace which he hath purchased and conferreth. As we may see that mag­nitude [Page 298] of the Stars in a Telescope, which without it no Eye can discern; so may we see that glory of the love of God, by the Gospel of Jesus, which all common natural helps are insufficient to discover to such minds as ours. LOVE is the great Attribute which Christ came principally to manifest, (as was afore-said) Joh. 3.16. 1 Joh. 3.1, &c. And love is the great Lesson which he came to teach us; and love is the new nature which by his Spirit he giveth us. And love is the great duty, which by Law and Gospel he requireth of us. Love hath wrought its Miracles in Christ to the po­sing of the understandings of Men and Angels. There we may see God in the nearest condescending Unity with Man: In Christ we may see the divine wisdom and word incorpo­rate in such Flesh as ours, conceived in a Virgin by the power of the Spirit of Love; by which Spirit this Incorporate Word did Live, Preach, Converse familiarly with Man; work Miracles, heal Diseases, suffer reproachful Calumnies and Death; Rising, Triumphing, Ascending, Interceeding, sending the Embassies of Love to the World, calling Home the greatest sinners unto God, reconciling Enemies, and making them the Adopted Sons of God, forgiving all sin to penitent Believers, quickening dead Souls, illuminating the Blind, and sanctifying the Wicked by the Spirit of Life, and Light, and Love; and making it his Office, his Work, his Delight and Glory, to rescue the miserable Captives of the Devil, and to make Heirs of Heaven of those that were con­demned to Hell, and had forsaken Life in forsaking God. As this is shining, burning love, so it is approaching and self-applying love; which cometh so near us, in ways and bene­fits so necessary to us, and so exceeding congruous to our case, as that it is easier for us to perceive and feel it, than we can do things of greater distance. The clearer the Eye of Faith is, by which we look into this mysterious Glass, the more the wonders of Love will be perceived in it. He never knew Christ, nor understood the Gospel, that wondered [Page 299] not at Redeeming saving love; nor did he ever learn of Christ indeed, that hath not learned the Lesson, Work and Life of love.

Direct. 4. Keep as full Records as you can of the particular Mercies of God to your selves; and frequently peruse them, and plead them with your frozen Hearts.

These are not the chiefest reasons of Christian love; be­cause we are such poor inconsiderable Worms, that to do good to one of us, is a far smaller matter, than many things else that we have to think of for that end. But yet when love doth chuse a particular Person for its object, and there bestow its obliging Gifts, it helpeth that Person far more than others to returns of thankfulness and love: It's that place, that Glass which the Sun doth shine upon, doth re­flect its Beams, rather than those that are shut up in dark­ness. Self-love may and must be regulated and sanctified, to the furthering of higher love. It is not unmeet to say with David, Psal. 116.1. I love the Lord, because he hath heard the voice of my supplication. We should say as heartily, I love the Lord because he hath prospered, recovered, comforted my Neighbour: But this is not all so easie as the other: And where God by personal application, maketh our greatest duty easie, we should use his helps.

Obj. But if it be selfishness as some tell us, to love one that loveth us, better than another of equal worth, who doth not love us, is it not selfishness to love God on so low an account as loving us? God may say well, I love those that love me, Prov. 8.17. because to love him is the highest virtue, but to love us is as in­considerable as we are.

Ans. 1. You may love another the more for loving you on several accounts. 1. As it is a duty which God requireth him to perform (but so you must love him equally for lov­ing others also.) 2. As he rendereth himself more congru­ous and obliging to you, by chusing you for the special ob­ject of his love, by which he taketh the advantage of your [Page 300] natural self-love, to make your love to him both due and ea­sie, (as is said of the reflection of the Sun-beams before.)

2. But two things you must take heed of, 1. That you under-value not your Neighbours good, but love another for loving your Neighbours also, and doing them good; and he that arriveth at that impartial Unity as to make the smallest difference between his Neighbour and himself, doth seem to me to be arrived at the state that is likest to theirs that are One in Heaven. 2. And you must not over-love a­ny man by a fond partiality for his love to you; as if that made a bad man good, or fitter for your love: They that can love the worst that love them, and cannot love the best that set light by them (deservedly, or upon mistake) do shew that self-love overcometh the love of God. But God can­not be loved too much, though he may be loved too selfishly and carnally. His greatest Amiableness is his Essential Good­ness and Infinite Perfection: The next is his Glory shining in the Universe, and so in the Heavenly Society, especially (Christ and all his Holy Ones;) and so in the publick blessings of the World, and all Societies. And next his goodness to your selves, not only as parts of the said Socie­ties, but as Persons whose Natures are formed by God himself, to a capacity, of Receiving and Reflecting Love.

Who findeth not by Experience that God is most loved, when we are most sensible of his former love to us, in the thankful review of all his Mercies, and most assured or per­swaded of his future love in our Salvation. Therefore make the renewed Commemoration of Gods Mercies, the incen­tives of your love.

Direct. 5. But yet could you get a greater Union and Commu­nion not only with Saints as Saints, but with Mankind as Men, it would greatly help you in your Love to God: For when you love your neighbours as your selves, you would love God for your neighbours mercies, as well as for your own. And if you feel that God's Love and special mercies to one per­son, [Page 301] even your selves, can do so much in causing your Love, what would your Love amount to, if thousand thousands of persons to whom God sheweth mercy, were every one to you as your selves, and all their mercies as your own? Thus graces mutually help each other. We love Man, because we love God; and we love God the more for our love to Man.

Direct. 6. Especially dwell by Faith in Heaven where Love is perfect, and there you will learn more of the work of Love. To think believingly that Mutual Love is Heaven it self, and that this is our Union with God, and Christ, and all the holy ones, and that Love will be an everlasting employment, plea­sure and felicity, this will breed in us a desire to begin that happy life on Earth. And as he that heareth excellent Mu­sick will long to draw near, and joyn in the consort or the pleasure; so he that by Faith doth dwell much in Heaven, and hear how Angels and blessed Souls do there praise God in the highest fervours of rejoycing Love, will be inclined to imitate them, and long to partake of their felicity.

Direct. 7. Exercise that measure of Love which you have in the constant Praises of the God of Love. For exercise exciteth, and naturally tendeth to increase, and Praise is the duty in which pure Love to God above our selves and all, even as good and perfect in himself, is exercised. As Love is the Highest Grace, or Inward Duty; so praise is the Highest Outward Duty, (when God is praised both by Tongue and Life.) And as Soul and Body make one Man, of whose ex­istence Generation is the cause; so Love and Praise (of Mouth and Works) do make one Saint, who is Regenerated such by Believing in the Redeemer, who hath power to give the Spirit of Holiness to whom he pleaseth. But of this more afterwards.

Direct. 8. Exercise your Love to Man, especially to Saints, in doing them all the good you can; and that for what of God is in them. For as this is the fruit of the Love of God, and the evidence of it; so doth it tend to the increase of its cause: [Page 302] Partly as it is an exercise of it, and partly as it is a duty which God hath promised to the reward. As it is the Spirit of Christ, even of Adoption, which worketh both the lov [...] of our Father, and our Brethren in us; so God will bless those that exercise Love, (especially at the dearest rates, and with the fullest devotedness of all to God, with the larger measures of the same Spirit.)

Chap. XIX.

Exh. V. Place your Comforts in health and sick­ness in Mutual Divine Love. 2. See that you sincerely love God. How known? Doubts answered.

IT is of greatest importance to all Mankind, to know what is best for them, and in what they should place and seek their comforts: To place them most with the Proud, in the applauding thoughts or words of others, that magnifie them for their wit, their beauty, their wealth, or their pomp and power in the world, is to chuse somewhat less than a sha­dow for felicity, and to live on the Air; even an unconstant Air: And will such a life be long, or happy? Should not a man in misery rather take it for a stinging deriding mocke­ry or abuse, to be honoured and praised for that which he hath not, or for that which is his snare, or consisteth with his calamity? Would not a Malefactor at the Gallows take it for his reproach to hear an Oration of his happiness? Will it comfort them in Hell to be praised on Earth? This common reason may easily call, An empty Vanity.

To place our Comforts in the delights of Sensuality, had somewhat a fairer shew of Reason, if Reason were made for nothing better; and if these were the noble sort of plea­sures that advanced man above the brutes; and if they would continue for ever, and the end of such mirth were not heaviness and repentance, and they did not deprave and deceive mens Souls, and leave behind them disappointment and a sting. But he is unworthy the honour and pleasures [Page 303] of Humanity, who preferreth the pleasures of a beast, when he may have better.

To place our Comforts in those Riches, which do but serve this Sensuality with provisions, and leave posterity in as vain and dangerous a state as their progenitors were, is but the foresaid folly aggravated.

To place them in Domination, and having our Wills on others, and being able to do hurt, and exercise revenge, is but to account the Devils happier than men, and to desire to be as the Wolf among the Sheep, or as the Kite among the Chickens, or as the great Dogs among the little ones.

To place them in much Knowledge of Arts and Sciences, as they concern only the Interests of the body in this life; or as Knowledge is but the delight of the natural phantasie or mind, doth seem a little finer, and sublime, and manly, but it is of the same nature and vanity as the rest. For all Knowledge is for the guidance of the Will and Practice; and therefore meer knowing matters that tend to Pride, Sensuali­ty, Wealth or Domination, is less than the enjoyment of sensual pleasures in the things themselves. And the contemplation of superiour Creatures, which hath no other end than the delight of knowing, is but a more refined sort of vanity, and like the minds activity in a dream.

But whether it be the Knowledge or the love of God, that man should place his highest felicity in, is become among the Schoolmen and some other Divines, a controversy that seemeth somewhat hard. But indeed to a considering man, the seeming difficulty may be easily overcome: The Under­standing and Will and Executive activity, are not several Souls, but several faculties of one Soul; And their Objects and Order of operation easily tell us, which is the first, and which the last which tendeth to the other as its end, and which ob­ject is the most delightful and most felicitating to the man, viz. That Truth is for Goodness, and that Good as Good is the amiable, delectable and felicitating object; And there­fore [Page 304] that the Intellect is the guide of the Will, and Faith and Knowledge are for Love and its Delight. And yet that mans felicity is in both and not in one alone, as one faculty alone is not the whole Soul, (though it be the whole Soul that acteth by that faculty.) Therefore the later School­men have many of them well confuted Aquinas in this point.

And it is of great importance in our Christian practice. As the desire of more Knowledge first corrupted our nature, so corrupted nature, is much more easily drawn to seek af­ter knowledge, than after love. Many men are bookish that cannot endure to be Saints: Many can spend their lives in the studies of Nature and Theology, and Delight, to find in­crease of Knowledge, who are Strangers to the Sanctifying, Uniting, delightful exercise of holy love. Appetite is the pondus or first Spring of our moral actions, yea and of our natural, though the sense and intellect intromit or illumi­nate the Object. And the first act of natural Appetite (Sen­sitive and Intellectual) is necessitated. And accordingly the Appetite as pleased is as much the end of our Acts and Ob­jects, as the Appetite as Desiring is the beginning: Even as (si parvis magna, &c.) Gods Will as Efficient is the absolutely first cause, and his will as done and pleased is the ultimate end of all things. It is Love by which man cleaveth unto God, as Good, and as our ultimate end. Love ever suppos­eth knowledge; and is its end and perfection. Neither a­lone, but both together are mans highest State; Knowledge as discerning what is to be Loved, and Love as our uniting and Delighting adherence to it.

I. Labour therefore with all your industry, to know God that you may love him; It is that love that must be your comforting grace, both by signification, and by its proper Effective Exercise. 1. True love will prove that your Know­ledge and Faith are true and saving, which you will never be sure of, without the Evidence of this and the consequent [Page 305] Effects. If your expressive art or gifts be never so low, so that you scarce know what to say to God or man, yet if you so far know God as sincerely to love him, it is certainly true saving knowledge, and that which is the beginning of eter­nal life. Knowledge, Belief, Repentance, Humility, Meek­ness, Patience, Zeal, Diligence, &c. are so far, and no fur­ther sure marks of Salvation, as they cause or prove true love to God and Man, Predominant. It is a hard thing any otherwise to know whether our Knowledge, Repentance, Patience, Zeal or any of the rest be any better than what an unjustifyed person may attain: But if you can find that they cause or come from, or accompany a sincere Love of God, you may be sure that they all partake of sincerity, and are cer­tain signs of a Justified Soul. It is hard to know what sins for number, or nature, or magnitude, are such as may or may not consist with a State of saving grace. He that consider­eth of the sins of Lot, David, Solomon and Peter will find the case exceeding difficult: But this much is sure, that so much sin may consist with a Justified State, as may consist with sin­cere love to God and Goodness. While a man truly loveth God above all, his sin may cause Correction, but not DAM­NATION; unless it could extinguish or overcome this Love. Some question whether that the sin of Lot or David, for the present stood with justification: If it excussed not predomi­nant habitual love, it intercepteth not justification: If we could tell whether any or many heathens that hear not of Christ, have the true love of God and Holiness, we might know whether they are saved.

The reason is, because that the will is the man in Gods account; And as Voluntariness is essential to sin, so a Holy Will doth prove a Holy person. God hath the heart of him that loveth him. He that loveth him would fain please him, glorify him, and enjoy him: And he that loveth holiness would fain live a holy life.

Therefore it is that Divines say here that desire of grace is a [Page 306] certain sign of grace, because it is an act of Will and Love. And it is true, if that desire be greater or more powerful than our Averseness, and than our desire after contrary things, that so it may put us on necessary duty, and overcome the lusts and temptations which oppose them: Though cold wishes which are conquered by greater unwillingness and prevailing lusts, will never save men.

2. And as love is our more comforting Evidence, so it is our most comforting Exercise. Those acts of religion which come short of this, come short of the proper life and sweetness of true religion. They are but either lightnings in the brain that have no heat; or a feaverish zeal which destroy­eth or troubleth, but doth not perform the acts of life; or else (even where love is true, but little; and opprest by fears and grief, and trouble,) it is like Fire in green Wood, or like young green Fruits, which is not come to mellow ripeness. Love of Vanity is disappointing, unsatisfactory and tor­menting: Most of the Calamities of this life proceed from creature-love: The greatest tormentor in this world is the inordinate love of life; and the next is the love of the plea­sures and accommodations of life; which cause so much care to get and keep, and so much fear of losing, and grief for our losses, especially fear of dying, that were it not for this, our lives would be much easier to us (as they are to the fearless sort of brutes.) And the next tormenting affection is the love of Children, which prepareth men for all the Cala­mity that followeth their miscarriages in Soul and Body: Their unnatural ingratitude, their Lewdness, and Debau­chery, and Prodigality, their Folly and Impiety would no­thing so much torment us, were they no more loved than o­ther men. And our dearest Friends do usually cost us much dearer than our sharpest enemies. But the love of God and Satisfying everlasting good is our very life, our pleasure, our Heaven on Earth. As it is Purest and Highest, above all o­ther because of the Object, so is it yet more pleasant and con­tenting, [Page 307] because it includeth the hopes of more, even of those greater delights of heavenly everlasting love, which as a pledge and earnest it doth presignify. As in nature, concepti­on and the stirring the Child in the womb do signify that same life is begun, which must shortly appear and be exerci­sed in the open world. So the stirrings of holy love & desires towards God, do signify the beginning of the heavenly life.

Humility and Patience, and diligent obedience do com­fort us by way of Evidence, and as removing many hinde­rances of our comfort, and somewhat further they go. But Faith, Hope and Love, do comfort us by way of direct effi­ciency: Faith seeth the matter of our Joy; love first tasteth it so far as to stir up desires after it. Then Hope giveth some pleasure to us in expecting it. And lastly, complacential love delightfully embraceth it, and is our very Joy itself, and is that blessed union with God and holy Souls, the amiable Objects of true love, which is our felicity it self. To work out our comforts by the view of Evidences and Signs, is a necessary thing indeed, but it requireth a conside­rate search, by an understanding and composed mind; and it's often much hindered and interrupted, by mens ignorance of themselves, and weakness of grace, and darkness or smal­ness of Evidence, and divers passions, especially fear (which in some is so Tyrannical that it will not suffer to believe or feel any thing that is comfortable.) But love taketh in the sweetness of that good which is its object, by a nearer and effectual way, even by immediate taste; As we feel in the exercise of our Love to a dear Friend, or any thing that is amiable and enjoyed.

The readiest and surest way therefore to a contented and comfortable life is, (to keep clear indeed our evidence, espe­cially, sincere Obedience, but) especially to bend all our Studies and Religious endeavours, to the kindling and exercise of holy love, and to avoid all (though it may come on religious pretence of humiliation or fear) which tendeth to quench or hinder it.

[Page 308]I. In Health and Prosperity as you live upon Gods love, be sure that you do not atheistically overlook it, but take all as from it, and savouring of it. The hand of divine love perfumeth each mercy with the pleasant odour of itself, which it reacheth to us. Every bit that we eat is a love token, and every hour or minute that we live; All our health, wealth, Friends and Peace are the Streams which still flow from the Spring of unexhausted love. Love shineth upon us by the Sun; love maketh our Land fruitful, or Cattel useful, our Habitations convenient for us, our Garments warm, our Food pleasant and nourishing; Love keepeth us from a thousand unknown dangers night and day: It giveth us the comforts of our Callings, our Company, our Books, our law­ful Recreations; It blesseth means of Knowledge to our un­derstandings, and means of Holiness to our Wills, and means of Health and Strength to our bodies: Mercies are Sanctifi­ed to us when we tast Gods love in them, and love him for them, and are led up by them to himself, and so love him ultimately for himself, even for his Infinite Essential Goodness. As God is the efficient life of our mercies, and all the world without his Love could never give us what we have, so is Gods love the Objective life of all our mercies, and we have but the Corps or Carkass of them, and love them but as such, if we love not in them the Love that giveth them.

II. And even in adversity and pain, and sickness, whilst Gods love is unchanged, and is but changing the way of do­ing good, our thoughts of it should be unchanged also. We must not think that the Sun is lost when it is set, or clouded: we live by its influence in the night, though we see not its light, unless as reflected from the Moon: Our Mothers brought us into the World in sorrow; and yet they justly accounted it a mercy that we were born: Our lives are spent in the midst of sorrows; & yet it is a mercy that we live: and though we die by dolour, all is still mercy to be­lievers, which faith perceiveth contrary to sense: And here [Page 309] is the greatest and final victory which Faith obtaineth against the flesh, to believe even the ruine of it to be for our good. Even Antonine the Emperor could say that it was the same good God who is the cause of our birth and of our death: one as well as the other is his work, and therefore good: It was not a Tyrant that made us, and it is not a Tyrant that dissolveth us. And that is the best man, and the best will, which is most pleased with the Will of God, because it is his Will. Yet just self-love is here a true coadjutor of our joy: for it is the will of God that the Justified be Glorified. And Infinite love is saving us when it seemeth to destroy us.

To live upon the comforts of Divine love in sickness, and when death approacheth, is a sign that it is not the welfare of the body that we most esteem, and that we rejoice not in God only as the preserver and prosperer of our flesh, but for himself and the blessings of immortality.

It is a mercy indeed which a dying man must with thank­fulness acknowledge, if God have given him a clear under­standing of the excellent mysteries of Salvation: knowledge as it kindleth and promoteth love, is a precious gift of grace, and is with pleasure exercised, and may with plea­sure be acknowledged. But all other knowledge is like the Vanities of this World, which approaching death doth take down our esteem of, and causeth us to number it with other forsaking and forsaken things: All the unsanctified learning and knowledge in the World, will afford no solid peace at death▪ but rather aggravate natures sorrows, to think that this also must be left. But love and its comforts (if not hin­dered by ignorance or some strong temptation) do then shew their immortal nature: And even here we feel the words of the Apostle verified, of the vanishing nature of Know­ledge, and the perpetuity of holy love, whilst all our learn­ing and knowledge will not give so much comfort to a dy­ing man, as one act of true love to God and Holiness kind­led in us by the communication of his love. Make it there­fore [Page 310] the work of your Religion, and the work of your whole lives, to possess your minds with the liveliest sense of the infinite goodness and amiableness of God, and here­by to live in the constant exercise of Love.

II. And though some men hinder love by an over fear­ful questioning whether they have it, or not; and spend that time in doubting, and complaining that they have it not, which they should spend in exciting and exercising it, yet reason requireth us to take heed lest a carnal mind de­ceive us with any counterfeits of holy love: Of which hav­ing written more in my Christian Directory, I shall here give you but these brief instructions following.

It is here of grand importance, I. To have a true con­ception of God as he must be loved; II. And then to know practically how it is that love must be exercised towards him.

I. GOD must be conceived of at once, both 1. As in his essence, 2. And as in his relations to the world and to our selves, 3. And as in his works. And those that will separate these, and while they fix only on one of them leave out the other, do not indeed love God as God, & as he must be loved.

1. To think in general that there is an infinite eternal Spi­rit of Life, Light and Love, and not to think of him as relat­ed to the world, as its Creator, Preserver and Governor, nor as related to us and to mankind as our Owner, Ruler and Benefactor, is not to think of him as a God to us or to any but himself: And a love thus exercised cannot be true sav­ing love.

2. And because his relations to us result from his works, either which he hath done already, or which he will do hereafter, therefore without the knowledge of his works, and their goodness, we cannot truly know and love God in his relations to us.

3. And yet when we know his works, we know but the medium, or that in which he himself is made known to us; [Page 311] And if by them we come not to know him and love him in his perfect Essence, it is not God that we know and love. And if we knew him only as Related to us and the World, (as that he is our Creator, Owner, Mover, Ruler and Benefactor,) and yet know not what he is in his essence that is thus related viz, that he is (the Perfect, First, Being, Life, Wisdom and Love,) this were not truly to know and love him as he is God. These conceptions therefore must be conjunct.

God is not here known to us but by the revelation of his works and word, nor can we conceive of him but by the simi­litude of some of his works: not that we must think that he is just such as they, or picture him like a creature; for he is infinitely above them all: but yet it is certain that he hath made some impressions of his perfections upon his works; and on some of them so clear as that they are called his Image.

Nothing is known to us but either, 1. By sense imme­diately perceiving things external and representing them to the phantasie and intellect, or 2. By the Intellects own con­ceiving of other things by the similitude of things sensed; 3. Or by immediate internal Intuition or Sensation of the acts of the Soul in it self: 4. Or by reasons collection of the nature of other things, from the similitude and effect of such perceived operations.

I. By the external Senses, we perceive all external sensed things, and we imagine and know them as so perceived.

II. By the Intellection of these, we conceive of other things as like them, forming Universal conceptions, and ap­plying them to such individuals as are beyond the reach of our Senses. (As we think of Men, Trees, Beasts, Fishes, &c. in the Indies as like those which we have seen; and of sounds there as like those which we have heard, and of the taste of Fruits by the similitude of such as we have tast­ed, &c.

III. How Sense it self, Intellection it self, Volition it self, and internal Affections are perceived, is no small controver­sie [Page 312] among Philosophers. That we do perceive them, (by the great wisdom and goodness of our Creator) we are sure; but how we do it we can scarce describe, as knowing it bet­ter by the experience of that perception it self than by a knowledge of the Causes and Nature of the acts. It is most commonly said that the Intellect knoweth its own acts by Reflection, or as Ockam, by Intuition, and that it knoweth what Sense is, and what Volition by some Species or Image of them in the phantasie which it beholdeth. But such words give no man a true knowledge of the thing enquired of, unless withal he read the solution experimentally in his own Soul. I know not what the meaning of a Reflect act is: Is it the same act which is called Direct and Reflect? And doth the Intellect know that it knoweth by the very same act by which it knoweth other things? If so, why is it call­ed Reflect, and what is that reflection? But the contrary is commonly said, that divers objects make divers acts, and therefore to know e.g. that this is Paper, and to know that I know this, are two acts, and the latter is a reflecting of the former. But the former act is gone, and nothing in the in­stant that it is done, and therefore is in it self no intelligible object of a reflecting act: But as remembred it may be known, or rather that remembring is knowing what is past, by a marvellous retention of some impress of it which no man can well comprehend, so as to give an account of it: And why may not the same memory which retaineth the unex­pressible Record of an Act past an hour or many years ago, be also the Book where the Intellect readeth its own Act as past immediately in the foregoing instant? But sure this is not the first knowing that we know? Before the act of me­mory, the Intellect immediately perceiveth its own parti­cular acts: And so doth the sense: By one and the same act we see and perceive that we see; and by one and the same act (I think) we know and know that we know, and this by a consciousness or internal sense which is the immediate act [Page 313] of the Essence of the faculty: And chuse whether you will say that such two objects may constitute one act? Or whe­ther you will say that the latter (the act it self) is not pro­perly to be called an object: For the various senses of the word object must be considered in the decision of that: Mans Soul is Gods Image: When God knoweth himself and his own knowledge, and when he willeth or loveth himself, and his own will or love, here we must either say that him­self, his knowledge and will is not properly to be called an Object, or else that the Object and the Act are purely the same, without the least real difference; but we name them differently as inadequate conceptions of one Being: And why may it not be so in a lower sort in the Soul that is Gods Image? That is, that the understandings most inter­nal act, viz. the knowing or perceiving when it knoweth any thing that it knoweth. It is not really compounded of an act and an object (as the knowledge of distinct objects is;) but that either its act is not properly to be called its object, or that act and object are not two things, but two inade­quate conceptions of one thing.

And how doth the Soul perceive its own Volitions? To say that Volitions which are acts of the Intellectual Soul must be sensate, and so make a Species on the phantasie, as sensate things do, and be known only in that Species, is to bring down the higher faculty, and subordinate it to the lower, that it may be intelligible; while it is certain that we shall never here perfectly understand the solution of these diffi­culties, is it not pardonable, among other mens conjectures, to say, That the noble faculty of Sense (because Brutes have it) is usually too basely described by Philosophers? And that Intellection and Volition in the rational Soul are a supe­rior eminent sort of sensation transcending that of Brutes; and that Intelligere & Velle are eminenter sentire; and that the Intellect doth by understanding other things, eminently see or sense, and so understand that it understandeth: And [Page 314] that the will doth by willing feel that it willeth: When I consult my Experience, I must either say thus, or else that Intellection and Volition so immediately ever move the Inter­nal sense, that they are known by us only as acts compound­ed with that sense.

But I am gone too far before I was aware.

IV. The Soul thus knowing or feeling its own acts, doth in the next place rationally gather, 1. That it hath power to perform them, and is a substance so empowered. 2. That there are other such substances with the like acts. 3. And there is one prime transcendant substance, which is the cause of all the rest which hath infinitely nobler acts than ours.

And thus Sense and Reason concur to our knowledge of God, by shewing us, and perceiving that Image in which by similitude we must know him. The Fiery, Ethereal or Solar Nature is (at least) the similitude of Spirits: And by condescending similitude God in Scripture is called LIGHT, and the FATHER of LIGHTS, in whom is no darkness, al­lowing and inviting us to think of his Glory by the simili­tude of the Sun or Light. But Intellectual Spirits are the highest Nature known to us, and these we know intimate­ly by most near perception: By the similitude of these there­fore we must conceive of God.

A Soul is a self-moving Life or vital Substance; actuating the Body to which it is united. God is super-eminent­ly Essential-Life, perfect in himself, as living Infinitely and Eternally, and giving Being to all that is, and Motion to all that moveth, and Life to all that liveth.

A reasonable Soul is Essentially an understanding power: And God is super-eminently an Infinite understanding know­ing himself and all things perfectly.

A reasonable Soul is Essentially a rational Appetite or Will, necessarily loving himself, and all that is apprehended every way, and congruously good. God is super-eminently [Page 315] an Infinite Will or Love, necessarily loving himself; and his own Image, which yet he freely made by communicative Love.

All things that were made by this Infinite Goodness, were made good and very good. All his works of Creati­on and Providence (however misconceived of by sinners) are still very good. All the good of the whole Creation is as the heat of this Infinite, Eternal Fire of Love. And hav­ing made the World good, in the good of Nature, and the good of Order, and the good of mutual Love, he doth by his continual influx maintain and perfect it. His Power mov­eth, his Wisdom governeth, and his Love felicitateth. And man he moveth as man, he Ruleth him by Moral Laws as man; and he is his perfect Lo [...]er, and perfect amiable Ob­ject and End. As our Creator making us in this natural ca­pacity and Relation; as our Redeemer restoring and advanc­ing us to blessed Union with himself; and as our Sancti­fier and Glorifier preparing us for, and bringing us to Coelestial perfection. And thus must God be conceived of that we may love him: And false and defective conceptions of him, as the great impediments of our love: And we love him so little, (much) because we so little know him: And therefore it is not the true knowledge of God, which Paul here maketh a competitor with love.

II. And as we know God by ascending from his Works and Image, in the same order must our love ascend. The first acts of it will be towards God in his works, and the next will be towards God in his Relation to us, and the highest towards God as Essentially perfect and amiable in himself.

I will therefore now apply this to the Soul that feareth lest he love not God, because he perceiveth not himself either to know or love him immediately in the perfection of his Essence.

1. Do you truely love the Image of God on the Soul of [Page 316] Man? That is, a Heavenly Life, and Light, and Love? Do you not only from bare conviction commend, but truly love a Soul devoted to God, full of his love, and living in obedience to his Laws, and doing good to others according to his power? This is to love God in his Image! God is Infinite Power, Wisdom and Goodness, or Love ▪ To love true wisdom and goodness as such is to love God in his Works.

Especially with these two qualifications; 1. Do you love to have Wisdom and Goodness, and Love as Universal as is pos­sible? Do you long to have Families, Cities, Kingdoms and all the World, made truly Holy, Wise and united in Love to one another? The most Universal Wisdom and Goodness is most like to God: and to love this is to love God in his Image.

2. Do you love Wisdom and Goodness in your selves, and not in others only? Do you long to be liker to God in your capacity, and more near him and united to him? That is, Do you long to know him, and his will more clearly and to enjoy a holy communion with him and his holy ones in the fullest mutual love, (loving and being beloved) and to de­light your Souls in his joyful praises, in the communion of Saints? This is certainly the love of God. Our union is by love; he that would be united to God and his Saints in Je­sus Christ, that would fain know him more, and love him better, and praise and obey him joyfully in perfection, doth undoubtedly love him.

And here I would earnestly caution you against two com­mon deceits of men by counterfeit love. I. Some think that they love God savingly because they love him as the God of Nature, and cause of all the Natural Being, Order and Good­ness which is in the whole frame of Heaven and Earth; This is to love somewhat of God, or to love him secundum quid, in one respect: But if they love him not also as he is the Wise and Holy, and Righteous Ruler of Mankind, and as he requireth, [Page 317] us to be holy, and would make us holy, and love not to please his Governing will, they love him not as God with a saving love. I have elsewhere mentioned the saying of A­drian (after Pope) in his Quodlib. that an unholy person may not only love God as he is the glorious cause of the World and natural good, but may rather choose to be him­self annihilated, and be no man, than that there should be no God, were it a thing that could be made the matter of his choice: And indeed I dare not say that every man is holy who had rather be annihilated than one Kingdom should be annihilated, when many Heathens would die to save their Countrey or their Prince; much less dare I say that all shall be saved that had rather be annihilated than there should be no world, or be no God: But (saith the foresaid Schoolman) it is the love of God as our holy Governour, and a love of his holy will, and of our conformity thereto, that is saving love.

II. And I fear that no small number do deceive them­selves in thinking that they love Holiness as the Image of God in themselves and others, when they understand not truly what Holiness is, but take something for it that is not it. Holiness is this Uniting love to God and Man, and a de­sire of more perfect Union! To love Holiness, is to love this love it self; to love all of God that is in the World, and to desire that all men may be united in holy love to God and one another, and live in his praise and the obedience of his will. But I fear too many take up some opinions that are stricter than other mens, and call some things Sin which others do not, and get a high esteem of some particular Church order, and form of manner of worshiping God, which is not of the essence or holiness, and then they take themselves for a holy people, and other men for prophane and loose, and so they love their own Societies, for this which they mistake for holiness; and instead of that unite­ing love which is holiness indeed, they grow into a factious [Page 318] enmity to others, reproaching them as rejoicing in their hurt as taking them for the enemies of God.

2. And as God must be loved in his Image on his servants, so must he in his Image on his word. Do you love the holy Laws of God, as they express that holy Wisdom and Love, which is his perfection? Do you love them as they would rule the World in Holiness, and bring mankind to true wis­dom and mutual love? Do you love this word as it would make you Wise and Holy; and therefore love it most when you use it most, in reading, hearing, meditation and practice▪ surely to love the Wisdom and Holiness of Gods Laws and Promises, is to love God in his Image there imprinted, e­ven in that Glass where he hath purposely shewed us that of himself which we must love.

3. But no where is Gods Image so refulgent to us, as in his Son our Saviour Jesus Christ: In him therefore must God be loved: Though we never saw him, yet what he was, even the holy Son of God, separate from sinners, the Gospel doth make known to us: as also what wonde­rous love he hath manifested to lost mankind! In him are all the treasures of Wisdom and Goodness: both an exam­ple, and a doctrine and law of wisdom, holiness and peace he hath given to the World: In this Gospel, Faith seeth him, yea seeth him as now Glorified in Heaven, and made Head over all things to the Church; the King of love, the great high Priest of love, the Teacher of love, and the ex­press Image of the Fathers person: Are the thoughts of this glorious Image of God now pleasing to you, and is the wis­dom, holiness and love of Christ now amiable to you in be­lieving? If so, you Love God in his blessed Son. And as he that hath seen the Son hath seen the Father, so he that lov­eth the Son loveth the Father also.

4. Yet further, the glory of God will shine most clearly in the Celestial glorified Church, containing Christ and all the blessed Angels and Saints who shall for ever see the glo­ry [Page 319] of God and Love, obey and praise him, in perfect Unity, Harmony and Fervency! You see not this heavenly Society and Glory, but the Gospel revealeth it, and Faith believeth it: Doth not this blessed Society and their holy work, seem to you the most lovely in all the world? Is it not pleasing to you to think in what perfect joy and concord they love and magnify God, without all sinful ignorance, disaffection, dull­ness, discord or any other culpable imperfection? I ask not only whether your opinion will make you say that this So­ciety and State is best? but whether you do not so really esteem it as that it hath the pleasing desires of your Souls? Would you not fain be one of them and be united to them, and joyn in their perfect Love and Praise? If so, this is to Love God in that most glorious appearance where he will shew forth himself to man to be beloved.

But here true believers may be stopt with doubting be­cause they are unwilling to die, and till we die this glory is not seen. But it's one thing to love Heaven and God there manifested, and another thing to love death which standeth in the way. Nature teacheth us to loath death as death, and to desire, if it might be, that this Cup might pass by us? Though faith make it less dreadful, because of the blessed State that followeth: But he that loveth not blood-letting or Physick, may love health. It is not death, but God and the heavenly perfection in glory which we are called to Love. What if you could come to this glory, without dying as He­noch and Elias did, would you not be willing to go thi­ther?

5. And he that loveth God in all these his appearances to man, in his works and Image on his Saints, in the wisdom, holiness and goodness of his word, in the wisdom, love and holiness of his Son, and in the perfection of his glory in the heavenly Society, doth certainly also love him in the highest respect, even as he is himself that blessed essence, that perfect greatness, Wisdom and Goodness, or Life, Light and Love, [Page 320] which is the beginning and end of all things, and the most amiable object of all illuminated minds, and of every Sancti­fied will, and of all our harmonious praise for ever. For whatever become of that dispute, whether we shall see Gods essence in itself, as distinct from all created glory, (the word seeing being here ambiguous) it is sure that we can even now have abstracting thoughts of the Essence of God as dis­tinct from all creatures, and our knowledge of him then will be far more perfect.

It should be most pleasant to every believer to think that GOD IS; Even that such a perfect glorious being is existent: As if we heard of one man in another land whom we were never like to see, who in wisdom, love, and all perfections excelled all men that ever were in the world, the thoughts of that man would be pleasing to us, and we should love him because he is amiable in his excellency. And so doth the holy Soul when it thinketh of the infinite amiableness of God.

6. But the highest Love of the Soul to God, is in taking in all his amiableness together, and when we think of him as related to our selves, as our Creater, Redeemer, Sanctifier and Glorifier, and as related to all his Church and to all the world, as the cause and end of all that is amiable, and when we think of all those amiable works which these Relations do respect, his Creation and Conservation of the whole world, his Redemption of mankind, his Sanctifying and Glorifying of all his chosen ones, his wonderful mercies to our selves for Soul and Body, his mercies to his Church on earth, his unconceivable mercies to the glorified Church in Heaven, the Glory of Christ, Angels and Men, and their perfect Knowledge Love, and joyful praises, and then think what that God is in himself that doth all this? This Complexion of considerations causeth the fullest Love to God. And though unlearned persons cannot speak or think of all these distinctly and clearly as the Scripture doth [Page 321] express them, yet all this is truly the Object of their Love, though with confusion of their apprehensions of it.

But I have not yet done, nor indeed come up to the point of tryal. It is not every kind or degree of Love to God in these respects that will prove to be saving. He is mad that thinks there is no God: And he that believeth that there is a God doth believe that he is most powerful, wise and good, and therefore must needs have some kind of Love to him. And I find that there are a sort of Deists or Infidels now spring­ing up among us, who are confident, ‘That all, or almost all men shall be saved, because say they, all men do love God. It is not possible say they that a man can believe God to be God, that is, to be the Best, and to be love itself, and the cause of all that is good and amiable in Heaven and Earth, and yet not love him: The will is not so contrary to the understanding, nor can be. And say the same men, he that loveth his neighbour, loveth God; for it is for his goodness that he loveth his Neighbour, and that goodness is Gods goodness appearing in man: He that loveth Sun and Moon, and Stars, Meat and Drink, and pleasure loveth God, for all this is Gods goodness in his works; and out of his works he is unknown to us; and therefore they say, that all men Love God, and all men shall be saved, or at least all that love their Neighbours; for God by is us no o­therwise to be loved.’

For answer to these men, 1. It is false that God is no o­therwise to be loved than as in our Neighbour: I have told you before undeniably of several other respects or appear­ances of God, in which he is to be loved: And he that is not known to us as separate from all Creatures, is yet known to us as distinct from all Creatures, and is, and must be so loved by us: Else we are Idolaters if we suppose the Crea­tures to be God themselves, and love, and honour them as God: Even those Philosophers that took God for the inse­parable Soul of the World, yet distinguished him from the [Page 322] World which they thought he animated, (and indeed doth more than animate.)

2. And it is false that every one loveth God who loveth his Neighbour, or his Meat, Drink and fleshly Pleasure, or any of the accommodations of his sense. For Nature causeth all men to love life, and self, and pleasure for themselves: And these are beloved even by Atheists that believe not that there is a God! And consequently such men love their Neighbours not for God, but for themselves, either because they are like them, or because they please them, or serve their interest, or delight them by society and converse, as Birds and Beasts do love each other that think not of a God. And if all should be saved that so love one another, or that love their own pleasure, and that which serveth it, not only all wicked men, but most Brute Creatures should be saved. If you say, they shall not be damned, it's true, because they are not Moral Agents, capable of Salvation or Damnation, nor capable of Moral Government and Obedience; and there­fore even the Creatures that kill one another are not dam­ned for it: But certainly as man is capable of Salvation or Damnation, so is he of somewhat more as the means or way, than Brutes are capable of, and he is saved or dam­ned for somewhat which Brutes never do. Many a thou­sand love the pleasure of their sense, and all things and persons which promote it, that never think of God or love him. And it is not enough to say that even this natural good is of God, and therefore it is God in it which they love; for it will only follow that it is something made and given by God which they love, while they leave out God himself. That God is Essentially in all things good and pleasant which they love, doth not prove that it is God which they love, while their thoughts and affections, do not include him.

3. But suppose it were so that to love the Creature were to love God, is not then the hating of the Creature the ha­ting [Page 323] of God? If those same men that love Meat and Drink, and sensual Delight, and love their Neighbours for the sake of these, or for themselves, as a Dog doth love his Master, do also hate the holiness of Gods Servants, and the holiness and justice of his Word and Government, and that holiness and order of Heart and Life which he commandeth them, do not these men hate God in hating these? And that they hate them, their obstinate aversation sheweth, when no reason, no mercy, no means, can reconcile their Hearts and Lives thereto.

4. I therefore ask the Infidel Objector, whether he shall be saved that loveth God in one respect, and hateth him in another? That loveth him as he causeth the Sun to shine, the Rain to fall, the Grass to grow, and giveth Life and Prosperity to the World, but hateth him as he is the Au­thor of those Laws, and Duties, and that holy Government, by which he would bring them to a voluntary right or­der, and make them holy, and fit for Glory, and would use them in his holy Service, and restrain them from their inordinate Lusts and Wills? How can love prepare or fit a­ny man for that which he hateth or doth not love: If the love of fleshly interest and pleasure prepare or fit them to seek that, and to enjoy it, (the little time that it will endure) how should this love make them fit for Heaven, for a Life of holiness with God and Saints? It is this that they love not, and will not love, (for if they truely loved it they should have it;) yea, it is this that they hate, and will not accept or be perswaded to. And what a fond conceit then is it to think that they shall have Heaven that never loved it, no nor the small beginnings here of the Heavenly Nature and Life, and all because they loved the pleasures of the Flesh on Earth, and loved God and their Neighbours for promoting it?

5. Yea, I would ask the Infidel, whether God will save men for rebelling against him? Their love to their Flesh and [Page 324] to the Creature, as it is inordinate, and taketh Gods place, and shutteth out the love of Holiness and Heaven, is their great Sin and Idolatry? And shall this be called a saving love of God? What gross self-deceit hath sensuality taught these men?

6. I grant them therefore that all men that believe that there is a God, do love somewhat of God, or secundum quid, or in some partial respect have some kind of love to God. But it is not a love to that of God, which must save, felici­tate and glorifie Souls: Meat and Drink, and fleshly Sports do not this; but Heavenly Glory, Wisdom, Holiness and Love to God, and Man for God, and this they love not, and therefore never shall enjoy: Nay, that of God which should save and felicitate them they hate, and hated holiness is none of theirs, nor ever can be, till they are changed. And so much to the Infidels Objection.

7. I add therefore in the last place to help men in the try­al of their love to God, that their love must have these two qualifications.

1. They must love that of God which maketh man hap­py, and is indeed the end of his Nature, and Sanctification; And that is, not only the comforts of this transitory natu­ral Life and Flesh, but the fore described Union and Com­munion with God, in perfect knowledge, love and praise. 2. This love to God must be predominant, and prevail a­gainst the power of alluring objects, which Satan would use to turn our Hearts from him, and to keep out holy Hea­venly love. Damning sin consisteth in loving somewhat that is good and lovely, and that is of God; but it is not simply in loving it, but in loving it inordinately, instead of God or greater things, and out of its due time and rank, and measure, and so as to hinder that love which is our holiness and happiness. Moral Good consisteth not in meer Entity, but in Order; and disorderly Love even of real good is sinful Love.

[Page 325]Therefore when all is said, the old mark which I have many and many times repeated, is it that must try the sin­cerity of your love; viz. If 1. in the esteem of a believing mind, 2. And in the choice and adherence of a resolved will, 3. And in the careful, serious endeavours of your lives, you prefer the knowing, loving, obeying and joyful prais­ing of God, begun here and perfected in Glory, as the benefit of our Redemption by Christ, before all the inte­rests of this fleshly life, the pleasures, profits and honours of this World, that is, before the pleasures of sin and sen­suality for this transitory Season.’ Or in Christs words, Mat. 6.33. If you SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD, AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS, and trust him to superadd all other things. This is that love of God and goodness which must save us: And he that loveth God e­ven in these high respects, a little, and loveth his fleshly pleasure so much more, as that he will not consent to the regulating of his Lusts, but will rather venture or let go his Salvation than his sins, hath no true saving love to God.

Obj. There is scarce any Fornicator, Drunkard, Glutton, Swearer, or other rash and sensual sinner, but believeth that God is better than the creature, and that it were better for him to live to God in love and holiness, than to live in sinful pleasures: and therefore though he live in sin against this knowledge, it seemeth that with the rational will he loveth God and Goodness best, be­cause he judgeth them best.

Ans. 1. It is one thing, what the judgment saith; and an­other thing, how it saith it. A speculative judgment may drowsily say, that God and Holiness are best▪ when yet it saith it but as a dreaming opinion, which prevaileth not with the will to choose them, having at the same time so strong an apprehension of the pleasures of sin as carryeth away the will and practice.

2. It is one thing therefore to love God under the notion [Page 326] of being best, and another thing to love him best. For the will can cross such a notion of the understanding; at least by an omission, as appeareth by the sin of Adam, which be­gan in the will (or else had been necessitated.) The same understanding which sluggishly saith, God or Holiness is bet­ter, yet may more clearly and vehemently say [Lust is plea­sant, or Pleasure of the flesh is good] and being herein second­ed with the strong apprehensions of sense and fantasie, the will may follow this simple judgment, and neglect the com­parate.

3. It is one thing for the understanding to say, that God is more amiable to one that hath a heart to love him, and a suit­able disposition; and another thing to say, he is now more amiable to me: those can say the first, that cannot truly say the latter, and therefore love not God as best, and above all.

4. It is one thing for the understanding sometimes under conviction to say, God and Holiness are best for me, and I ought to love them best, and then to lay by the exercise of this judgment in the ordinary course of life, (though it be not con­tradicted) and to live in the continual apprehension of the goodness of sensual pleasure; and another thing to keep the judgment that God and Holiness are best, in ordinary ex­ercise. For the will doth not always follow the judgment that we had before, but that which we have at present: and that which we exercise not, we have not at that time in act: and it is not a meer power or habit of knowledge which rul­eth the will, but the present act. Many a man is said to know that which he doth not think of, when indeed he doth not know it at that time, but only would know it if he thought of it: As a man in his sleep is said to know what he knew awake, when indeed he knoweth it not actually till he be awake.

Obj. But true grace is rather to be judged of by the habit, than by the present acts.

Ans. By the habit of the Will it is, that is, by habitual love, [Page 327] for that will command the most frequent acts: but I pro­pose it to the consideration of the judicious, whether an or­dinary habit of drowsy knowledge, or belief that God and Holi­ness are best, may not be ordinarily kept out of act, and con­sist with a prevailing habit of sensuality or love of forbidden pleasure in the will, and with a privation of prevalent habi­tual love to God and Holiness. I suppose with most such sinners this is the true case: the understanding said lately, It is best for thee to love God, and live to him, and deny thy lust: And it oft forgetteth this, while it still saith with sense, that fleshly pleasure is desireable: and at other times it saith, Though God be best, thou maist venture at the present on this pleasure; and so lets loose the corrupted will, reserving a purpose to repent hereafter, as apprehending most strongly at the present, that just now sensual delight may be chosen, though holiness will be best hereafter.

Obj. But if a habit will not prove that we sincerely love and prefer God, how shall any man know that he loveth and prefer­reth him, when the best oft sin; and in the act of sin God is not actually preferred.

Ans. 1. I told you that a habit of true love will prove sincerity, though not a habit of true opinion or belief, which is not brought into lively and ordinary act: uneffectual faith may be habitual. Yea such an uneffectual counterfeit half love, which I before described to you, may be habitual, and yet neither act nor habit saving.

2. The Sins of godly men are not prevalent absolutely against the being, operation or effects of the love of God and Holiness; For even when they sin, these live, and are predo­minant in all other things, and in the main bent and course of life; but only they prevail against some Degree of holy love, perhaps both in the act and habit for such sins are not un­godliness, but imperfection of godliness and the effects of that imperfection.

3. When godly men fall into a great extraordinary sin, [Page 328] it is not to be expected that they should comfortably discern the sincerity of their love to God either by that sin, or in that sin; but they may discern it, 1. By the course of a godly life, where the prevalency of the habit ap­peareth in the power and stream of acts; and 2. By their Repentance for, and abhorring and forsaking of that sin, which stopt and darkened their love to God. And these two together viz, A resolved course of living unto God, and Repentance and Hatred of every sin which is against it, and es­pecially of greater sins, will shew the sincerity and power of holy love.

Obj. But then one that sinneth daily, e. g. by passion, or too much love to the World, or creatures, and by omissions, &c. shall never be sure that he sincerely loveth God, because this is a course of sin, and he cannot have such assurance till he forsake it.

Ans. One that ordinarily committeth gross and wilful sin, that is, such sin as he had rather keep than leave, and as he would leave if he were but sincerely willing, hath no predo­minant love of God; at least in act, and therefore can have no assurance of it: But one that is ordinarily guilty of meer infirmities may at the same time, know that the love of God doth rule both in his heart and life. The Passion of fear or of anger, or of sorrow may be inordinate, and yet God lov­ed best, because the will hath so weak a power over them, that a man that is guilty of them may truly say, I would fain be delivered from them. And some inordinate love of life, health, wealth, friends, honour, may stand with a more prevailing love of God, and the prevalency be well perceiv­ed. But what greater actual sin (as Noahs or Lots Drunken­ness, Davids Adultery and Murder, Peters denial of Christ) are or are not consistent with true love to God, is a case that I have elsewhere largely handled, and is unmeet for a short decision here.

[Page 329]Obj. But when I feel my heart, desires and delights all cold to God and Holiness, and too hot after fleshly, worldly things, may I not conclude that I love these better?

Ans. Sensible near things may have much more of the passionate part of our love, our desires and delights, and yet not be best loved by us. For God and Things Spiritual be­ing out of the reach of sense, are not so apt or like to move our sense and passion immediately to and by themselves. As I said before, that is best loved, which hath, 1. The highest esteem of the understanding. 2. The most resolved preva­lent choice of the will, 3. And the most faithful endeavours of our life.

And many a Christian mistaketh his affection to the thing it self, because of his strangeness to the place and to the change that death will make. If the weakest Christian could have without dying, the clear knowledge of God, the communion of Faith and Love by his Spirit; could he love God but as much as he would love him, and answerably tast his love, in every prayer, in every promise, in every Sacrament, in every mercy; could his Soul keep a continual sabbath of delight in God, and in his Saints and Holy wor­ship, this seemeth to him more desireable and pleasing than all the treasures of the World. And he that desireth this communion with God desireth Heaven in reality, though he fear the change that death will make, because of the weak­ness of faith, and our strangeness to the state of separated Souls.

Chap. XX.

The second part of the Exhortation; Rest in this that you are known with Love to God.

2. TO be KNOWN OF GOD here signifieth to be ap­proved and Loved of him, and consequently that all our concerns are perfectly known to him and regarded by him.

[Page 330]This is the full and final comfort of a believer. Our Knowledge and Love of God in which we are agents are, 1. The evidence that we are known with Love to God, and so our comfort (as is said) by way of Evidence; 2. And they are our comfort in their very exercise. But the chief part of our comfort is from God, not only as the Object of our Love, but as the Lover of us and all his Saints, even in our passive receiving of the blessed effects of his Love for ever: When a Christian therefore hath any discerning of his inte­rest in this Love of God, by finding that he Loveth God and Goodness, here he must finally Anchor his Soul, and quietly rest in all Temptations, Difficulties, and Tribu­lations.

1. Our enemies know us not, but judge of us by blinding interest, and the biass of their false opinions, and by an easy belief of false reports, or by their own ungrounded suspici­ons: And therefore we are odious to them, and abused, slan­dered and persecuted by them. But God knoweth us, and will justify our righteousness, and bring all our innocency in­to light, and stop the mouth of all iniquity.

2. Strangers know us not, but receive such Characters of us as are brought to them with the greatest advantage: And even good men may think and speak evil of us (as Bernard and others of the Waldenses, and many Fathers of many Godly Men that were called Hereticks, and many called He­reticks of such Fathers.) But to us it is a small thing to be judged of man, that is not our final judge, and knoweth not our cause, and is ready to be judged with us; We have one that judgeth us and them, even the omniscient God, who knoweth every Circumstance of our cause.

3. Our very Friends, know us not: No not they that dwell with us: In some things they judge us better than we are, and in some things worse: For they know not our hearts; And interests and cross dispositions may deceive them; and even our bosom Friends may slander us and think they speak the truth.

[Page 331]And when they entirely Love us, their Love may hurt us, while they know not what is for our good: But God knoweth us perfectly and knoweth how to Counsel us, Con­duct us, and Dispose of us: He seeth the inwards and the outwards, the onwards and the upwards of our case, which our dearest Friends are utter strangers to.

4. We know not our selves throughly, nor our own con­cerns: We oft take our selves to be better or worse than in­deed we are: We are oft mistaken in our own hearts and our own actions, and in our interest. We oft take that to be good for us that is bad, and that to be bad which is good and necessary: We long for that which would undo us, and fear and fly from that which would save us: We oft rejoyce when we are going to the slaughter, or are at least in greatest danger; and we lament and cry when God is saving us, because we know not what he is doing. Paul saith, [I know nothing by my self, yet I judge not my own self,] that is, though I have a good Conscience, yet that is not my fi­nal judge: It must go with me as God judgeth of me, and not as others or my self.

Is it not then an unspeakable comfort in all these cases that we are known of God?

Desiring to know inordinately for our selves was our first sin; And this sin is our danger and our constant trouble. But to be to God as a Child to his Father, who taketh care to Love him and obey him, and in all things trusteth his Fa­thers Love, as knowing that he careth for him, this is our duty, our interest and our only peace.

Remember then with comfort, O my Soul; 1. Thy Fa­ther knoweth what it is fittest for thee to do. His precepts are wise and just, and good; Thou knowest not but by his word! Love therefore and submit to all his Laws: The strictest of them are for thy good: Thy Guide, and not thou, must lead the way; Go not before him nor without him; nor stay behind him: In this night and wilderness if thou [Page 332] have not his Light and Presence, how forlorn, Erroneous and Comfortless wilt thou be? He knoweth thy heart, and knoweth thy Enemies, Temptations and Dangers, and there­fore best knoweth how to guide thee, and what to put into his Laws and into thy duty.

2. He knoweth what place, what state of Life, of Health, of Wealth, of Friends, is best for thee. None of these are known to thee: He knoweth whether ease or pain be best: The flesh is no fit judge, nor an ignorant mind: That is best which will prove best at last; Which he that foreknoweth all events knoweth. That therefore is best which infinite Wisdom and Love doth choose. Ease and Pain will have their end: It is the end that must teach us how to estimate them: And who but God can foretell thee the end?

He knoweth whether Liberty or Imprisonment be best: Liberty is a Prison if sin prevail, and God be not there. A Prison is a Pallace if God by his Love will dwell there with us. There is no thraldom but sin and Gods displeasure, and no true liberty but his Love.

3. He knoweth whether Honour or Dishonour be best for thee: If the esteem of men may facilitate their reception of the saving truth of God which is preached to them, God will procure it if he have work to do by it: If not, how little is it to be regarded? What doth it add to me to be highly esteemed or applauded by men, who are hasting to the dust, where their thoughts of me and all the world are at an end? When I see the Skulls of the dead who perhaps once knew me, how little doth it now concern me what thoughts of me were once within that Skull? And as for the immortal Soul, if it be in the world of light, it judgeth as God judgeth by his Light: If in hell, I have no more cause to be troubled at their malice than at the devils? And I have little cause to rejoyce that those damned Souls did once applaud me.

Oh miserable men that have no better than the Hypo­crites [Page 333] reward, to be seen and honoured of men! Gods ap­probation is the felicitating honour! He will own all in me that is his own, and all that he owneth is everlastingly honoured. The Lord knoweth the way of the Righteous, Psal. 1.6. For it is his way: The way which he prescribed them, and in which he did Conduct them. Good and evil are now so mixed in me, that it is hard for me fully to discern them: But the all-seeing God doth discern them) and will separate them.

4. Thy Heavenly Father knoweth whether it be best for thee to abound or want: And with what measure of world­ly things it is fittest for thee to be entrusted! Abundance hath abundant snares and cares, and troubling employments which divert our thoughts from things of real and perpe­tual worth: Provision is desirable according to its usefulness to our work and end: It is far better to need little and have little, than to have much and need it all: For it can­not be got, or kept, or used, without some troublesome and hurtful effects of its vanity and vexation. Let the foolish desire to be tired and burdened with Provision, and lose the prize by turning their helps into a snare, and miss of the end by over-loving the way: My Father knoweth what I want, and he is always able to supply me with a word: It doth not impoverish him to maintain all the World. His store is not diminished by Communication. The Lord is my Shepherd, what then can I need? Psal. 23.1. How oft have I found that he careth for me, and that it is better to be at his finding and provision, than to have been my own Carver, and to have cared for my self? Blessed be my bounteous Father who hath brought me so near to the end of my Race, with very little care for provision in my way, and with lesser want! Necessaries I never wanted, and superfluities are not wanted. Blessed be that wise and gracious Lord, that hath not given me up to greedy desires; nor ensnared and burdened me with [Page 334] needless plenty. How safe, how easie and comfortable a life is it, to live in the Family of such a Father, and with a thankful carelesness to trust his will, and take that porti­on as best which he provideth for us? And into what mi­sery do foolish Prodigals run, who had rather have their portion in their own hand, than in their Fathers?

5. Thy heavenly Father knoweth with what kind and mea­sure of Tryals and Temptations it is fit that thou shouldst be exercised! It is his work to permit and bound, and order them: It is thy work to beg his grace to overcome them, and watchfully and constantly to make resistance, and in Tryal to approve thy faithfulness to God: Blessed are they that endure Temptations; for when they are tryed they shall re­ceive the Crown of life, James 1. If he will try thee by bodily pain and sickness, he can make it turn to the health of thy Soul: Perhaps thy diseases have prevented some mor­tal Soul-diseases which thou didst not fear. If he will try thee by mens malice, Injury or Persecution, he knoweth how to turn it to thy good; and in season to bring thee out of trouble: He will teach thee by other mens wickedness to know what grace hath cured or prevented in thy self; and to know the need of trusting in God alone, and appealing to his desireable Judgment: He that biddeth thee when thou art Reviled, and Persecuted, and loaded with false reports for righteousness sake, to rejoyce and be exceeding glad, be­cause of the great reward in heaven, can easily give thee what he doth Command, and make thy sufferings a help to this exceeding joy.

If he will try thee by Satans molesting Temptations, and suffer him to buffet thee, or break thy peace by Melancholy disquietments and vexatious thoughts (from which he hath hitherto kept thee free) he doth but tell thee from how much greater evil he hath delivered thee, and make thy fears of Hell a means to prevent it, and call thee to thy Savi­our to seek for safety and peace in him.

[Page 335]If it please him to permit the malicious tempter to urge thy thoughts to blasphemy or other dreadful sin (as it ordi­narily falleth out with the Melancholy,) it telleth thee from what malice grace preserveth thee, and what Satan would do were he let loose: It calleth thee to remember that thy Saviour himself was tempted by Satan to as great sin as ever thou wast, even to worship the Devil himself; And that he suffered him to carry about his body from place to place, which he never did by thee: It tells thee therefore that it is not sin to be tempted to sin, but to consent; And that Satans sin is not laid to our charge: And though our cor­ruption is such, as that we seldom are tempted but some culpable blot is left behind in us, (for we cannot say as Christ, that Satan hath nothing in us:) Yet no sin is less dangerous to mans damnation, than the Melancholy thoughts which such horrid vexatious Temptations cause; both be­cause the person being distempered by a disease, is not a vo­lunteer in what he doth; and also because he is so far from loving and desiring such kind of sin, that it is the very bur­den of his life; They make him weary of himself, and he daily groaneth to be delivered from them. And it is cer­tain that Love is the damning malignity of sin; and that there is no more sin than there is will; And that no sin shall damn men which they had rather leave than keep; and therefore forgiveness is joyned to Repentance: Drunkards, Fornicators, Worldlings, Ambitious men, love their sin: But a poor Melancholy Soul that is tempted to ill thoughts, or to despair, or terrour, or to excessive griefs, is far from loving such a state. The case of such is sad at present: But O how much sadder is the case of them that are Lovers of pleasure more than of God, and prosper and delight in sin.

6. God knoweth how long it is best for me to live. Leave then the determination of the time to him; All men come into the word, on the condition of going out again: Die [Page 336] we must; and is it not fitter that God choose the time than we? Were it left to our wills how long we should live on Earth, alas how long should many of us be kept out of hea­ven, by our own desires? And too many would stay here till misery made them impatient of living. But our lives are his gift, and in his hand, who knoweth the use of them, and knoweth how to proportion them to that use; which is the justest measure of them. He chose the time and place of my birth, and he chuseth best: Why should I not willingly leave to his choice also, the time and place, and manner of my departure. I am known of him; and my con­cerns are not despised by him. He knoweth me as his own, and as his own he hath used me, and as his own he will re­ceive me, Psal. 37.18. The Lord knoweth the days of the up­right, and their inheritance shall be for ever. And if he bring me to death through long and painful sickness, he knoweth why, and all shall end in my Salvation. He knoweth the way that is with me, and when he hath tryed me, I shall come forth as Gold, Job 23.10. He forsaketh us not in sickness or in death. [Like as a Father pityeth his Children, the Lord pityeth them that fear him; For he knoweth our frame, he remembreth that we are dust: As for man his days are as grass; as a flower of the Field, so he flourisheth: For the wind passeth over it, and it is not, and the place thereof shall know it no more: But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to ever­lasting to them that fear him.] If the Ox should not know his owner, nor the Ass his Masters Crib, the owner will know his own and seek them. That we understand and know the Lord, is matter of greater joy and glorying, than all other wisdom or riches in the world, Jer. 9.24. But that he knoweth us in Life and Death, on Earth and in Heaven, is the top of our rejoycing. The Lord is good, and strength in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him, Nah. 1.7. Sickness may so change my flesh that even my Neighbours shall not KNOW ME; and Death will make [Page 337] the change so great, that even my friends will be un­willing to see such an unpleasing, loathsome spectacle: But while I am carried by them to the place of dark­ness, that I may not be an annoyance to the living, I shall be there in the sight of God, and my Bones and Dust shall be owned by him, and none of them forgotten or lost.

7. It may be that under the temptations of Satan, or in the languishing weakness or distempers of my flesh, I may doubt of the love of God, and think that he hath withdrawn his mercy from me; or at least may be unmeet to tast the sweetness of his love, or to meditate on his truth and mer­cies: But God will not lose his knowledge of me, nor turn away his mercy from me. The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his, and let him that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity, 2 Tim. 2.19. He can call me his Child, when I doubt whether I may call him Father: He doubteth not of his right to me, nor of his graces in me, when I doubt of my sincerity and part in him. Known unto God are all his works, Act. 15.18. What meaneth Paul thus to describe a state of grace, Gal. 4.9. Now after ye have known God, or rather are known of of God? but to notify to us, that though our knowledge of God be his grace in us, and our evidence of his love, and the beginning of life eternal, (Joh. 17.3.) yet that we are loved and known of him is the first and last, the foundation and the perfection of our security and felicity. He knoweth his Sheep, and none shall take them out of his hand. When I cannot through pain or distemper remember him, or not with renewed Joy or Pleasure, he will remember me, and delight to do me good, and to be my Salvation.

8. And though the belief of the unseen World be the principle by which I conquer this, yet are my conceptions of it lamentably dark: A Soul in flesh, which acteth as the form of a body, is not furnished with such images, helps, [Page 338] or light, by which it can have clear conceptions of the state and operations of separated Souls: But I am known of God, when my knowledge of him is dark and small: And he knoweth whither it is that he will take me, & what my state and work shall be! He that is preparing a place for me with himself, is well acquainted with it and me: All Souls are his; and therefore all are known to him: He that is now the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as being living with him while they are dead to us, will receive my departing Soul to them, and to himself, to be with Christ, which he hath instructed me to commend into his hands, and to desire him to receive. He that is now making us living Stones for the new Jerusalem, and his heavenly temple, doth know where every one of us shall be placed. And his knowledge must now be my satisfaction and my peace. Let unbe­lievers say, How doth God know? Psal. 73.11. But shall I doubt whether he that made the Sun, be Father of lights, and whether he know his dwelling, and his continued works? Be still O my Soul, and know that he is God, Psal. 40.10. and when he hath guided thee by his counsel he will take thee to Glory; and in his Light thou shalt have Light: And though now it appear not (to sight, but to Faith only) what we shall be yet we known that we shall see him as he is, and we shall appear with him in glory.

And to be KNOWN of God undoubtedly includeth his PRACTICAL LOVE, which secureth our Salvation and all that tendeth thereunto. It is not meant of such a know­ledge only as he hath of all things, or of such as he hath of the ungodly. And why should it be hard to thee, O my Soul, to be perswaded of the love of God?

Is it strange that he should love thee who is Essential Infi­nite love: Any more than that the Sun should shine upon thee, which shineth upon all capable recipient objects, though not upon the uncapable, which through interposing [Page 339] things cannot receive it? To believe that Satan or wicked men, or deadly Enemies should love me, is hard: But to believe that the God of love doth love me, should in reason be much easier than to believe that my Father or Mother, or dearest friend in the World doth love me: If I do not make and continue my self uncapable of his complacence by my wil­ful continued refusing of his grace, it is not possible that I should be deprived of it, Prov. 8.17. I love them that love me. Psal. 146.8. The Lord loveth the righteous. John 16.27.

2. Why should it be hard to thee to believe that he lov­eth thee, who doth good so universally to the World, and by his love doth preserve the whole Creation, and give all Crea­tures all the good which they possess? When his mercy is over all his works, and his Goodness is equal to his wisdom and his power, and all the World is beautified by it, shall I not easily believe that it will extend to me? The Lord is good to all, Psal. 145.9. Luk. 18.19. None is good (essentially, absolutely and transcendently) but he alone, Psal. 33.5. The Earth is full of the goodness of the Lord, Psal. 52.1. The good­ness of God endureth continually: He is good and doth good, Psal. 119.68. And shall I not expect good from so good a God, the cause of all the good that is in the World?

3. Why should I not believe that he will love me, who so far loved the World, yea his Enemies, as to give his only begotten Son, that whoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life? Joh. 3.16. Having given me so precious a gift as his Son, will he think any thing too good to give me? Rom. 8.32. yea still he followeth his Enemies with his mercies, not leaving himself without witness to them, but filling their hearts with food and gladness, and causing his Sun to shine on them, and his Rain to fall on them, and by his goodness leading them to repentance.

4. Why should I not easily believe his love, which he hath sealed by that certain gift of love, the Spirit of Christ [Page 340] which he hath given? The giving of the Holy Ghost is the shedding abroad of his love upon the heart, Rom. 5. I had never known, desired, loved, or served him sincerely but by that Spirit: And will he deny his name, his mark, his seal, his Pledge, and Earnest of Eternal life? Could I ever have truly loved Him, his Word, his Ways and Servants, but by the reflection of his love? shall I question whether he love those whom he hath caused to love him? When our love is the surest gift and token of his love, shall I think that I can love him more than he loveth me, or be more willing to serve him than he is willing and ready to reward his Ser­vants? Heb. 11.6. 1 Joh. 3.24. and 4.13.

5. Shall I not easily hope for good from him, who hath made such a covenant of Grace with me in Christ? Who giveth me what his Son hath purchased, who accepteth me in his most beloved, as a member of his Son? Who hath bid me, ask and I shall have? And hath made to Godliness, the promise of this life and that to come, and will with-hold no good thing from them that walk uprightly? Will not such a Gospel, such a Covenant, such promises of love se­cure me that he loveth me, while I consent unto his cove­nant terms?

6. Shall I not easily believe that he will love me, who hath loved me while I was his Enemy, and called me home when I went astray, and mercifully received me when I re­turned? Who hath given me a life full of precious mercies, and so many experiences of his love as I have had? Who hath so often signified his love to my Conscience? So often heard my prayers in distress, and hath made all my life, notwithstanding my sins, a continual wonder of his mercies? O unthankful Soul, if all this will not persuade thee of the love of him that gave it! I that can do little good to any one, yet have abundance of friends and hearers, who very easily believe that I would do them good, were it in my power, [Page 341] and never fear that I should do them harm! And shall it be harder to me to think well of Infinite Love and Good­ness, than for my neighbours to trust me and think well of such a wretch as I? What abundance of love-tokens have I yet to shew, which were sent me from Heaven to perswade me of my Fathers love and care.

7. Shall I not easily believe and trust his love who hath pro­mised me eternal glory with his Son, & with all his holy ones in Heaven? Who hath given me there a great Intercessor to pre­pare Heaven for me, and me for it and there appeareth for me before God? Who hath already brought many millions of blessed Souls to that glory, who were once as bad and low as I am? And who hath given me already the Seal, the Pledge, the Earnest and the First-fruits of that Felici­ty.

Therefore, O my Soul, if men will not know thee, if thou were hated of all men for the cause of Christ and Righte­ousness; If thine uprightness be imputed to thee as an o­dious crime; If thou be judged by the blind, malignant World, according to its gall and interest; If friends misunderstand thee; If Faction and every evil cause which thou disownest, do revile thee, and rise up against thee: It is enough, it is absolutely enough, that thou art known of God: God is All; and All is nothing that is against him, or without him: If God be for thee who shall be against thee? How long hath he kept thee safe in the midst of dangers? and given thee peace in the midst of furious Rage and Wars? He hath known how to bring thee out of trouble, and to give thee tolerable ease, while thou hast carried about thee night and day the usual causes of continual torment! His loving kind­ness is better than life, Psal. 63.3. but thou hast had a long unexpected life, through his loving kindness. In his favour is life, Psal. 30. And life thou hast had by and with his favour. Notwithstanding thy sin, while thou canst tru­ly [Page 342] say, thou lovest him, he hath promised that all shall work together for thy good, Rom. 8.28. And he hath long made good that promise: Only ask thy self again and again as Christ did Peter, whether indeed thou love him? And then take his love as thy full, and sure, and everlasting portion; which will never fail thee, though flesh and Heart do fail; For thou shalt dwell in God and God in thee for evermore 1 Joh. 4.12, 15, 16. Amen.


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