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judgment in religion ; neither can I believe but that he that is right in matters of faith, will practise accordingly. For judgment and practice will comply one with another. But here I put in an exception ; I do not mean to challenge all alteration of judgment; for there may be an alteration of judgment in some cases, which is not only warrantable, but commendable ; to which we are also bound. It is no religion for a man to act all the days of his life upon the principles of his education ; if that be the ground of his religion, he doth err fundamentally : that is not religion in the subject to sanctify men, which may be religion in the point itself : if a man only think Yo because his parents gave him such education, or because he was born in such a church. It is necessary for the entertainment of truth, that a man should entertain it in the love of it. It is commendable therefore, when men come to years of understanding, to examine all the principles of their education ; and to enquire into all matters of their former supposition : and if upon impartial examination, truth appear to the contrary ; if there appear a mistake, an error ; we must lay it aside and entertain truth. None of us were born knowing or wise, but become so by consideration, by obfervation and experience : it is a good motto, dies dant intelligentiam ; quotidie deponó aliquem errorem. Every day, I lay aside, I rid myself of some errors, fome mistakes ; for since we are all fallible, we should suppose that we may be mistaken. 2. Apostacy from better to worse in matter of praca tice ; which may be in these cases, viz. either for compliance with other mens humours, or to avoid Vol. IV.
persecution persecution and trouble in this world, or to ferve byends and gratify lusts.-To comply with other mens humours; this is a shrewd temptation; many are tempted not to keep to their rules, on this account, because they find they shall be bad company; therefore they assume to themselves liberty to comply and to correspond with others ; this is apostacy in point of practice. Or else to avoid trouble and perfecution. This can be no true reason for variation or alteration. Or else to serve ends and gratify lusts; when men come to resolve that the principles of religion are too ftrait to live by in the world ; and therefore enlarge their judgments by fome device, that they may have liberty to enlarge their practice, so as that they may not be self-condemned. For it is an unquiet thing for a man to think one way, and do another way. It is a sad condition, when a man's judgment and practice do disagree ; to have a will to practise, a desire of undue liberty, and a judgment that will not allow it ; is to be under a rack and torture. For a man to study to alter his judgment, that he
may be freer in practice ; this is to do the greatest wrong, to offer the greatest violence to himself. It is greatly advisable to be well-informed, and resolved upon good grounds concerning the truth and goodness of things ; otherwise he will do that hastily, which either must be undone, or he himself will be miserable. Therefore fit down, consult, be well advised, so as to take up a resolution upon folid grounds, either as to the truth of things which you receive as principles of knowledge, or the goodness of things which you receive as principles of action, before you
God hateth wickedness.
339 charge your consciences with them ; for judgment muft
before conscience. If a man have not a well informed judgment, he may indeed have a conscience, but it will only disquiet and torment him : conscience will put a man into a kind of hell, if it be not governed by judgment rightly informed.
But now obligation to truth is true liberty : it is a thousand times more injurious to a man, and trous blesome for a man to be under obligation, either to that which is not true or not good, than to be under the obligation of all the truth which is from God ; for the service of the one is slavery, and the service of the other is liberty. Therefore I advise, before any thing be entertained as a rule of action, or before conscience be charged with it, that there be a severe and impartial examination of it : and that for two reasons, 1. If a man be possessed with an opinion, he has lost the indifferency of his judgment. This is the best thing we are brought into the world withal, to receive truth when it is offered, and to refuse evil when that is made known to us. And I would never part with the indifferency of myjudgment, 'till the truth of the thing do evidently appear to me. For it is a great deal harder to be satisfied when the mistake is discovered, if a man has had his indifferency before determined ; it is a great deal eafier to instruct him that is absolutely ignorant, than to convince one that is in an error, and is mistaken. I will retain the indifferency of my judgment to the last, while there is any uncertainty in the thing : I will make further enquiry, offer it to be debated and dif coursed, I will hear all men that differ, but I will Y 2
not determine till the truth of the thing and the goodness of it doth appear. For otherwise.
2. A man brings himself into bondage. The service of truth is always conjoined with liberty and freedom; and it is a noble service, an ingenuous employment, John viii. 32. The truth shall make you free. But the service of falfhood is slavery and drudgery. A man is cheated, couzened and disappointed ; does that for the devil, which he should do for God ; does that for error, which he owes to truth.
A man that is in an error, he lives in a lie, so far as he is bound by his own vain persuasion, and fond opinion ; whereas, to the thing, and in respect of God, he is free ; this belongs to his very make; contenditur pro libertate, I will amplify and enlarge my liberty under God as far as God allows : I will not be a slave in my own imaginations, suppositions, dictates ; but learn of asy, take every thing into consideration, have no biass but that which I receive from truth. I will have the greatest assurance, have it from God, that it is true, or else keep it in the catalogue of questionables, and there it shall stay till I have further evidence. man be credulous, light of belief, run away with persuasions, he may live all the days of his life in a lie ; or else when truth appears to him, shamefully fall off from his judgment, to hazard his conscience.
Here I have two things to say. 1. A man may offend in materia libera, where he may do one way or other, if his conscience determine him one way. Rom. xiv. 14. Nothing is in itself unclean, but to him who esteems it unclean, to him it is unclean ; that is, by reason of his judgment, while he does so understand
himself. So that through false judginent of himself, and conscience ill-directed, he may offend in the use of his liberty in a free matter ; not that he does err in the thing itself, but in that he does not govern himself by his judgment. 2. A. man may be in some measure excused in a thing that is not right, where either he is ignorant or misapprehensive ; 2 Sam. XVa 11. They followed Abfalom in their fimplicity. Gen., xx. 6. God makes this apology for Abimelech ; I. know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart : St. Paul gives this account of himself ;. I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. Wherefore it
far with God how a man understands himself; it is much what a man means, unless he be ignorant by gross neglect, unless his ignorance be affected, or be subservient to bad ends and purposes ; if a man be inadvertent, mifpersuaded, it alters the case with God, it is no such provocation ; but we must be careful to inform ourselves : judgment must be antecedent to conscience.
I conclude therefore, and advise from the whole,
1. Take heed of grofs carelessness and neglect of God and of religion, so as to do any thing without difference or distinction : for if you do so (as has been shewed) you are evil-doers, evil-workers, wicked persons, finners.
2. Carefully with-hold your consent from known iniquity ; for this is not the spot of God's people, to do that which a man's judgment tells him he ought not. This I will not bring within the state or compass of religion : I take him to be an unregenerate man, who when his judgment tells him it is evil, yet