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and his Patience, if not to excite his Zeal, and improve his
Knowledge. 2. A second thing, required to this Dacility, is, That a Man be free from Paffion.
This disturbs the Mind, and blinds the Reason, and hinders many times the best Doctrine from producing any suitable Effects upon us.
Those who are subject «o the Command of their own Affe&tions, judge more according to the Inclinations of them, than to the Distates of right Reason, He that espouses a Party or Interest, that loves an Opinion, and desires it should be true, easily approves of whatsoever does but seem to make for it; and rejects, almost at all Adventures, whatsoever appears against it. How does the Hope and Desire of Honour, or Favour, or Fortune in the World, carry Men away to the vilest Things for the Prosecution of it? And so all the other Paffions of the Mind; whether it be Fear or Pleasure, or whatever else be the Affection that rules us ; they hinder the Reafon from judging aright, and weighing impartially what is delivered to us; and 'tis great odds, but such an Auditor receives or condemns the DoEtrine of Christ, not according as the Authority of Holy Scripture, and the Evidence of right Reason require he should, but as his own Passions and Inclinations prompt him to do. 3. A Third Thing required to Docility, is, That
a Man be free from Prejudice. He that will advance any Thing in the finding out of Truth, must bring to it that Traveller's Indifference which the Heathen so long fince recommended to the World : He must not defire it should lie on the one side rather than the other, left his
desire that it should, prompt him without just reason to believe that it does.".
And so in Religion too: He that will make a right Judgment, what to believe, or what to Practise, must first throw off all Prejudice in favour of his own Opinion, or against any others; And resolve never to be lo tied up to any Point or Party, as not to be at all times ready impartially to examine whatsoever can reasonably be objected against either. : How far the want of this does at this Day divide the Church of Christ, I would to God we had not too great reason on all sides to Complain. There are many among us so strangely engaged by falfe Principles to an ill cause, that 'tis in vain to offer them the clearest Arguments to convince them.
If you bring them Scripture, 'tis true that must be heard, but then be it never so plain they are not competent Judges of the Meaning of it : And they durft not trust their own Interpretation to tell them, that Abraham begat Saac, if the Church should think fit to expound it otherwise. For such and so plain are many of those Passages that we alledge againft them, to shew their Corruptions in a great Part of those Things wherein they differ from us.
If you offer them Reason, as clear as the plainest Demonstration; why, that were well: But still Private Reason may Err, and the Church cannot.
Convince them by their Senses, which one would think should Convince any Body ; Defire them to consult the Verdiet of their own Eyes, and Mouths, and Nofes, and Feeling : 'Tis to no purpose, the Senses may deceive them, but the Church cannot."
Thus have they suffer'd themselves to be conjured into a Circle, out of which 'tis impossible
ever to Retrieve them. Sense, Reafon, Scripture, All are of no force against this one Prejudice of their Churches: Authority; though at the same Time they know not either what the Church is to whom Christ's Promises are made, nor where to find it, nor what it has decided, nor wherefore they at all adventures attribute to their own the Title of tho : only true Church,
. ; Such Hearers as these, are Unteachable and Urit profitable: And we ought certainly, by their Example, to beware of such an Indisposition, as is able to lead Men into so Itrange a Slavery; and make them believe they are never more in the Right, than when they have put themselves out of a Car pacity of ever being so upon any certain Grounds, and otherwise than by meer Chance. :
4. A Fourth and last Thing required to Docility,
is a Freedom from Obstinacy, is This is an Indispofition for the most part Consex quent upon that. I the last mentioned, and such as whereever it is found, renders a Man utterly incompetent to receive any Benefit by the best Instruction. It is called by St. Paul, võça esixeu ,.. a reprobate Mind, a Mind void of Rom. i. 28. Judgment. When Men refolve they surir they will not be instructed, but affect Ignorance; and either to keep up a Fa&tion, or to serve their present Interests, or to indulge themselves the more freely in their Sins, fiee both the means and the defire of Knowledge.
And this, or somewhat like it, is again the Case of those of the other Communion. Who not content with the Prejudices I before-mentioned in fax vour of themselves and their own Opinions, do
C2 . . more
moreover engage their Profelytes by a See Pontif. R. most Solemn Dath, never upon any AcOrdo ad re
count, or by any Argument what for · concil. Hær.
same ever, to be drawn out of those Errors in which they have engaged them.
Such then is the Nature, and these the. Vices that are to be avoided by us, in order to the second Qualifications required in a Christian Auditor, viz. Docility. . · 3. The next I mention'd was, That he must be · • Diligent. . ."
· By which I mean, not only a carefulness to attend upon all the publick Means of Instruction which God is pleased to afford us; but yet much more, to apply those Means to a right and due End. Tó be sedulous and diligent in embracing the Opportunities of Hearing, is indeed very commendable, and the Duty of every Christian; but yet if his Diligence stop here, he may for all that reap but little Benefit by all his Care. He' that will be truly sea dulous, as he ought to be, Let him, .
ift, When he comes to these Holy Exercises, be very careful that he attend with all his Soul to what his delivered ; But especially if any Thing chance to be spoken in which his Conscience tells him that he was either altogether Ignorant before, or not sufficiently instructed in it.. . i i .
2dly, When he has done this, Let him be careful to take the first Opportunity to retire within himself, and call to remembrance the Things that he has Heard : And either by writing, or some other way, let him provide for the future Preservation of it. Bụt especially, .
• 3dly, Let him employ his utmost Diligence in the Practice of what he Hears : Let him confider, that this is the great End to which all his Knowledge in the Mystery of Godliness is to be referr'd : And that without this, he shall become but the more inexcusable for all the rest ; For be who knows his Master's Will, and Luke xii. 47. does it, shall be beaten with many Stripes.
It was for this that God sent his Son to Preach his Gospel to the World; And, 'tis for this, that we still are commissioned by him to declare to you your Duty, and press you with the strongest Arguments, the Hopes and Terrors of Eternity, to be careful and fedulous in the performance of it. The End of Christianity was not to puff us up, but to Edify us: To make us Better rather than more Knowing, and more Knowing only that we may be better. They are not the Hearers of the Word that shall be justified before God, but the Doers. of it. It is but a half Diligence that carries, Men to learn their Duty, He is the truly Sedulous Christian indeed, who both seeks with all earneftness to know what God requires of Him, and then as carefully endeavours to put it in Practice.
Now to this end, and to conclude all,
4ibly, He that will Hear as he ought to do, muft to all these other Qualifications add his fervent Prayers to God for his Assistance.
It is not an eafy Matter to become a Perfect Christian : So high and excellent are the Precepts of the Gospel, and in mapy Things so contrary to the Interests and Inclinations of sensual Men ; that