Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

rally enriched and qualified with the three forementioned requifites, that mind excels others in the riches of koowledge. And get the teachings of the Spirit, in the way of sanctification, do very much fupply and recompeose the defects and weaknesses of the forementioned qualifications. Whence two things are highly remarkable:

1. That men of great abilities of nature, clear apprehensions in natural things; strong judgments, and tenacious memories, do not only frequently fall into gross errors, and damnable herefies themselves, but become Herefiarchs, or heads of erroneous factions, drawing multitudes into the fame fin and misery with themselves; as Arius, Socinus, Pelagius, Bellarmine, and maltitudes of others have done..

And secondly, It is no less remarkable, that men of weaker parts, but babes in comparison, through the fanctification and direction of the Spirit, for which they have humbly waited at his feet in prayer, have not only been directed and guided by him into the truth, but so confirmed and fixed therein, that they have been kept sound in their judgments, in times of abounding errors; and firm in there adherence to it, in days of fiercelt per fecution. How men of excellent natural parts have been blinded, and men of weak natural parts illuminated; see 1 Cor. i. 26, 27. Mat, xi. 25. Observ. 4. Among the manifold impediments to the obtaining of

true knowledge, and settling the mind in the truth and faith ofthe gospel, these three are of Special remark and confideration ;

viz. ignorance, curiosity, and error. Ignorance flights it, or despairs of attaining it. Truth falls ioto contempt among the ignorant, from suggilhness, and ap. prehension of the difficulties that lie in the way to it, Prov. xxiv. 7. Wisdom is too high for a fool. Curiosity runs beside or beyond it. This pride and wantonness of the mind, puffs it up with a vain conceit, that it is not only able to penetrate the deepest mysteries revealed in the scripture, but evca upre.. vealed secrets allo; Col. ii. 18. - Intruding into those things " which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fethly mind.” But error militates directly against it, contradicts and opposeth truth, especially when an error is maintained by pride against inward convictions, or means of better information. 'Tis bad to maintain an error for want of right; but abundantly worse to maintain it against light. This is such an affront to the Spirit of God, as he usually pupilhes with penal ignorance, and gives them up to a spirit of error..

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

o binds, ions; and the much the

Observ. 5. Error is binding upon the conscience, as well as

truth; and altogether as much, and, sometimes, more in

fluential upon the affections and pafions, as truth is. For it presents oot itself to the soul in its own name and pa. ture, as error; but in the name and drefs of truth, and under that notion binds the conscience, and vigorously influences the passions and affections; and then being more indulgent to lust, than truth is, it is, for that, fo much the more embraced and hugged by the deceived soul, Acts xxii. 4, 5. The heat that error puts the soul into, differs from religious Zeal, as a feverish doth from a natural heat; which is not, indeed, fo benigo and agreeable, but much more fervent and scorchiog. A mind under the power of error, is restless and impatient to propogate its errors to others, and these heats prey upon, and eat up the vital spirits and powers of religion. Obferv. 6. 'Tis exceeding difficult to get out error, when

once it is imbibed, and hath rooted itself by an open pro

fefion. Errors, like some forts of weeds, having once feeded in a field or garden, 'tis scarce poffible to fubdue and destroy them; especially if they be hereditary errors, or have growa up with us from our youth,; a teneris assuescere multum eft, faith Se. Deca ; 'tis a great advantage to truth, or error, to have an early and long posfefsion of the mind. The Pharisees held many erroneous opinions about the law, as appears by their corruptive

commencaries upon it, refuted by Christ, Mat. v. But did he | root them out of their heads aod hearts thereby? No, no, they

fooner rid him out of the world. The Sadducees held a most dangerous error about the resurrection; Christ disputed with them, to the admiration of others, and proved it clearly againk them; and yet, we find the error remaining loog after Chrill's death, 2 Tim. ii. 18. The apostles themselves had their minds tinctured with this error, that Chrilt should be outwardly great and magnificent in the world, and raise his followers to great honours and preferments amongst men. Christ plainly told them it was their mistake and error ; " for the son of man came not “ to be ministred unio; but to minifter;" yet this did not rid their miods of the error ; it fuck fast in them, even till his asceo fion to heaven. O how hard is it to clear the heart of a good man once leavened with error! and much more hard to fcparate it from a wicked mau *.

[ocr errors]

I am persuaded (faith Mr. Gurnal) fome men take more pains

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Some have chosen rather to die, than to part with their darling errors, and soul-damning heresies. I have read (faith Mr Bridges) of a great Atheist, that was burnt at Paris for blafpheming Christ, held fast his Atheistical opinions till he came to the very stake; boasted to the priests and friars that followed him, how much more confidently he went to sacrifice his life in the strength of reason, under which he suffered, than Chrilt himself did ; but when he began to feel tormeots indeed, then he roared and raged to the purpose. Vidi ego hominem, faith the author : lo his life, he was loose ; in his imprisonments, sullen ; and ar his death, mad with the horrors of conscience.

Some, indeed, have recovered the soundoess of their judge ments, after deep corruptions by dangerous errors. Austin was a Manichee, and fully recovered from it. So have many more ; and yet multitudes hold them fast even to death, and nothing but the fire can reveal their work, and discover what is gold, and what is straw and stubble. Obferv. 7. It deserves a remark, That men are not so circum

spect and jealous of the corruption of their minds by errors, as they are of their bodies in times of contagion; or of their

lives, with respect to gross immoralities. Spiritual daogers affect us less thao corporal; and intellectual evils less than moral. Whether this be the effect of hypocrify, the errors of the mind being more secret and invisible than those of the conversation, God only knows, man cannot positively determine.

Or whether it be the effect of ignorance, that 'men think there is less sio and danger in the one than in the other ; not consideriog, that an apoplexy seizing the head, is every way as mortal as a sword piercing the body : And that'a vertigo will as much unfit a man for service, as an ague or fever. The apostle, in 2 Pet. ii. 1. calls them espereis erweide, damnable heresies, or heresies of deltruction. An error in the mind may be as damoing and destructive to the loul, as an error of immorality or profaneness in the life.

Or whether it may come to pass from some remains of fear and tenderoess in the conscience, which forbids men to reduce their 'erroneous priociples into practice; their lying under ma

[ocr errors]

to furnish themselves with arguments to defend some error they have taken up, than they do for the most saving truths in the bible. Austin faid, when he was a Manichaean, Non tu eras, fed error meus erat Deus meus ; Thou, O Lord, wert not, but my error was my God. furnal's Christian Armour, part 2, pag. 36.

Dy confident errors in the mind, a secret jealousy, which we call formido oppofiti, which will not suffer tbem to act to the full

even of Pelagius himself, Retract. lib. II. cap. 33. Nomen Pelagii non fine laude aliqua pofui, quia vita ejus a multis praedicabatur: I have not meationed (Jaith he) the name of that man; without some praise, because his life was famed by many. Aod of Swiokfeldius it is said, Caput regulatum illi defuit, cor bonum non defuit : His heart was much more regular thao his head. Yet this falls out but rarely in the world; for loose priociples naturally run into loose practices; and the errors of the head into the immoralities of life.'

Obferv. 8. It is a great judgment of God, to be given over to

. For ori arroneous a realities of practices

For the voderstanding being the leading faculty, as that guides, the other powers and affections of the foul follow, as horses in a team follow the fore-horse. Now, how sad and dangerous a thing is this, for Satan to ride the fore-horse, and guide that which is to guide the life of man? That's a dreadful, {piritual, judicial stroke of God which we read of, Rom. i. 26. *apedeuty avTES O osos els Tout A atillises : God, by a pedal tradition, fuffered them to run into the dregs of immorality, and pollutions of life; and that, because they abused their light, and became vaia in their imaginations, ver. 21.

Wild whimsies and fancies in the head, usually mislead men iato the puddle and mire of profaneness, and then 'tis commonly observed God fers some visible mark of his dilpleasure upon them; especially the Herefiarchs, or ring-leaders in error. NeNorius his tongue was coníumed by worms. Cerinthus his brains knocked out by the fall of an house. Montanus haoged himelf: It were easy to instance in niultitudes of others, whom the visible hand of God hath marked for a warning to others; bot usually the spiritual errors of the mind are followed with a coosumption and decay of religion in the foul, If grace be ia the heart, where error (ways its scepire in the head, yet usually tacre it languithes and withers. They may mistake their dropsy for growth and flourishing; and think themselves to be more fpiritual, because more airy and notional; but if men would judge themselves impartially, they will certainly find that the feeds of grace thrive not in the heart, when shaded and over; dropt by an erroneous head. Obferv. 9. 'Tis a pernicious evil, to advance a mere opinion

into the place and seat of an article of faith ; and to lay as great a stress upon it, as they ought to do upon the mos

[ocr errors]

clear and fundamental point. To be as much concerned for a tile upon the roof, as for the corner-stone, which

unites the walls, and suitains the building. Opinjon (as one truly faith) is but reason's projector, and the spy of truth; it makes, in its fullest discovery, no more than the dawning and twilight of knowledge ; and yet, I know not how it comes to pass, but so it is, that this idol of the miod holds such a sway and empire over all we hold, as if it were all the day we had. Matters of mere opinion, are every where cried up by fome errorists, for mathematical demonstration, and articles of faith written with a fun-beam ; worshipping the fan-cies and creatures of their own miods, more than God; and putting more trust in their ill founded opinions, than in the surer word of prophecy. Much like that Humorist that would doc trust day-light, but kept his candle still burning by him; because, faith he, this is not subject to eclipses, as the sun is. • And what more frequent, when controversies grow fervent, than for those that maintain the error, to boast every Gilly, argument to be a demonstration; to upbraid and pity the blindness and dulness of their opposers, as men that shut their eyes against fun-beams; yea, fometimes, to draw their presumptuous cen. Tures through the very hearts of their oppofers, and to insinuate, that they must needs hold the truths of God in unrighteousness, fin against their knowledge, and that nothing keeps them from coming over to them, but pride, shame, or some worldig interest? What a complicated evil is here! Here's a proud exalting of our own opinions, and an inamodest imposing on the minds of others, more clear and found than our own, and a dangerous usurpation of God's prerogative in judgiog the hearts and ends of our brethren. Observ, 10. Error being conscious to itself of its own weak

ness, and the strong affaults that will be made upon it, ever- more labours to defend and secure itself under the wings of

antiquity, reason, scripture, and high pretensions to refor. mation and piety. Antiquity is a venerable word, but ill used, when made 3 cloke for error. Truth must needs be elder than error ; as the rule must deceffarily be, before the aberration from it. The grey hairs of opinions are then only beauty, and a crown, whea found in the way of righteoufoels. Copper (faith learned Du Moulin) will never become gold by age. A lie will be a lie, let it be never fo ancient. We dispute not by years, but by Feasons drawn from scripture. That which is now called ad ancient opinion, if it be not a true opinion, was once but a new

« AnteriorContinuar »