Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

the resurrection and ascenhon of the blessed Jesus. The doctrine of one God, and a judgment to come, may receive much light and strength from natural reason: and whatever establishes a revealed truth, will be so far from diminishing, that it will increase the virtue and efficacy of it. All the caution I think fit to give here is, that we be sure that the ground be plain and firm, on which we build the belief of an illuminating truth. . Philosophy, in many cases is clear and convictive : St. Paul himself amongst the Gentiles frequently appeals to reason. But too often we call our fancy philosophy ; and obtrude upon the world, the wild and undigested theories of a warm and confident imagination, for new discoveries. What strange stuff was Gnostick philosophy once? What did it produce. but the corruption of the Christian faith ? And what can be expected from mystick, euthnhastick philosophy or divinity in any age, any man may guess, without any deep penetration. Nor do I doubt but that all judicious and experienced men, do as much despise and nauseate the blendures and mixtures of pretended philosophy with our faith and morals, as the world generally does the subtilties and perplexities of the schools. For my part, I can't endure to have my religion lean upon the rotten props of precarious notions. I admire, I love the ele

vations

vations and enlargements of foul : but I can have no value for unaccountable amusements or rambles of fancy. An itch of novelty or curiohty has a tincture in it of our original corruption. I ever fufpect an opinion that carries an air of novelty in it ; and does always prefer à vulgar truth ber fore refined error. They are vulgar truths, which like vulgar blessings, are of most use, and trueft worth: and furely our Saviour thought so, when he thanked his Father, that be bad bid these things from the wife and prin dent, and revealed them into babes. And when he himself taught the people with power and authority, and not as the scribes, he did advance no subtil theories, but bright and dazling, useful and convi&tive truths: This minds me of another property of illus minating knowledge.

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

175

and bow attained. in their own nature dreadful and amazing, fhould excite in us no fear; or that things in their own nature infinitely amiable, should inkindle in us no paffion, no defore. The notions we have of spiritual and invifable things are dim, dušky, and imperfect : our thoughts pass over them fo fightly, that they scarce retain any print or traces of them. Now this sort of knowledge will never do the work. These drowsy notices of things will never ferment and raise our paffions for heaven high enough to confront and combat those we have for the world. From hence we may give a fair account, what the use is of propbetick retirement, and prophetick eloquence : what is the purpose of all those schemes and trapes which occur in inspired writings : and why the best of men have ever fo much affected folitude and retreats, from the noife and the hurry of the world. Serious, frequent, and devout contemplas tion is necessary to form in our minds, clear, distinct, and fprightly notions : and to communicate thefe well to the world, they must be expressed in moving language, in living tropes and figures. Ah! did we but consider this, we should sure allot more time to the study of divine truths ; and we should not think, that to discover them throughly, it were enough to let our thoughts glance upon them. But we should furvey

and

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

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

Or Or the knowledge of gospel-threats, if they are unable to curb and restrain my passions? And so is it with other truths : what will it avail me that I know, the life of man confifts not in the multitude of the things which be pollesjes, if notwithstanding I cannot content my self with a competency? That righ. teousness is the chief good, and the richiest treasure of the soul of man ; if notwithstanding I seek this world, and the things of it, with a more early and pasionate concern? That fin and pain are the most considerable, if not only, evils of man; if notwithstanding I be cast down and broken under every adversity?' And thus I might go on, and shew you, that the knowledge which is not digested into nourishment is, if not a burden, of no benefit to us. 'Tis plain, that is to me nothing worth, which I make no use of. We mult then follow the advice of Solomon, and never quit the search and meditation of truth, till we grow intimate and familiar with it ; and so have it always ready for a guide and guard for our support and strength, and for our delight and pleasure. We must bind it about our heart, as he speaks, and tie it as an ornament about our neck. Then, when we go forth it shall lead us, when we peep it shall keep us, and when we awake it shall talk with us: for the commandment is a lamp, and the law is light, and reproofs of instruction are the way of life, Prov.

« AnteriorContinuar »