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discerning : for in this state, both mens minds and consciences are defiled. How unsatisfactory would it be to a man, were he not in a spiritual lethargy, to be unacquainted with the true principles of life ; and that he Thould take this to be good, and that to be evil, only because he is told so. In all other matters wherein men are concerned about the things of this life, they would not have patience, to sit down fatisfied without making due search and enquiry : but matters of religion are of the greatest importance to us ; and therefore, here is our special employment, and herein we ought to fhew our greatest care and diligence. These are things of greatest weight, and moment; and there is nothing to be alledged to the contrary. And really, we do in subftance agree with the papists, that do usurp and impofe upon us and we justify their practice : they call men to blind obedience ; and we practise it if we do not-according to our ability, and parts, set up within us a throne of judgment, by virtue of which we refine our spirits, and reform our lives. This would make a good man ; and if he should happen to mistake, this would yet preserve him, for that which doth proceed from judgment of truth, as the perfon doth think and suppose, though there be a mistake; the vice of the mind is abated, and the man will rather be pitied and compaffionated, than condemned. He doth act, because it is his judgment, because he hath examined ; and finds cause so to think, after he hath heard, learnt, prayed and confidered. If after all this, the man is mistaken at Jaft, he is pardonable, and his case compassionable.
But if he hath a private judgment, and hath not used due care for better information ; he is inexcufable : and if he be not reformed according to his judgment, then he is self-condemned.
This is a point of great weight, and it lies at the foundation of religion. But alas ! alas ! I lose my labour as to the greatest part of the world ; for though liberty of judgment be every one's right, yet how few are there that make use of this right? For the use of this right doth depend upon felf-improvement by meditation, confideration, examination, prayer, and the like. These are things antecedent, and pre-requisite ; for a man doth not leap into a judgment; he is born only with faculties, but these cannot immediately produce these acts. For it is not in the intellectual world, as in the world natural : for there doth the sun no sooner appear, but there is light from the east to the west ; and if the wind blow, it blows, we know, not how far. But in the intellectual world, a man is born only with faculties, powers and principles ; but all habits are acquired, and men attain them by particular acts. No man is born with habits ; but every man hath himself as he useth himself ; and he that hath never considered, weighed and searched, he knows but little upon this account. Hence it is, that a great many persons are in an incapacity, (however they may flatter themselves) concerning acts of judgment. For that man's judgment is not worth a rush, in any case whatsoever, that hath not examined, often thought upon, and enquired into things. Men should consider, and make it their
business to be informed in the difference of things, and make due application to God to teach their understandings knowledge ; or else, 'tis not to be expected that they should arrive at a true and right judgment. Therefore I do resolve it much safer of the two, for one that is blind, or is not at leisure to weigh and consider, and so to receive instruction, to choose a wise and good person to follow, and to make him his guide, than to attempt to go alone. For he was born only to a possibility, because of his natural parts : but faculties you
put no confidence in, unless they be qualify'd and seconded by habits; and no habits are, if not acquired; and acquisition is by mental, rational, and spiritual improvement.
None so miscarry, as the presumptuous beyond their own sufficiency ; they who assume to themselves where they are not prepared and qualified. Such as are sober, and modeft, know much better than others : and yet they are loath to speak, fearful of being mistaken. But others there are, that are blind and unawakened ever since they came into the world, and yet they are confident, arrogant, presumptuous and self-fufficient. The modest man will not venture beyond his own strength; he is very receptive of all direction ; glad of information, but the presumptuous man, though blind, he is bold and confident; because he is moft ignorant. So that you see this argument of private judgment is modest and humble ; and grows only in God's garden. And this is the privilege of human nature ; yea incumbent upon us all ; and we ought so to employ our
selves, that we may arrive to a perfection of judge ment; and consequently upon judgment, to a right frame and temper of mind.
Now all this I have discoursed upon this argument of judgment of truth, and conscience of right, which are things that have great place in religion ; and wherein if we will have
foundation for our profeffion, and denominate ourselves christians, from true and solid grounds; we must charge ourselves with these things ; and put ourselves into a capacity of discerning the difference of things, and form ourselves according to that judgment.
The MALIGNITY of POPER Y.
J A N E S iï. 18. The fruit of righteousness is fown in peace of them that
Have proposed to make use of these words as a character, a criterion, a note or mark of diffe
rence and distinction : and that not only of perfons in their single capacities, but chiefly of churches. For we find the great enquiry of christendom is, Which is the true church? The Romißh they pretend that they are it : and they will tell us, that there is no other; and that there is no salvation out of their shurchA very great affuming and taking upon
themselves. I would not run into other arguments, but let us judge by this temper recommended in the text, which is likely to be the true church. If they do make use of the name and credit of religion for inhuman and cruel practices, then this character doth not belong to them. Let us try by that : and,
In the first place they own it, that they may propagate religion with fire and sword : and by woful experience it hath been found, that that which hath been done under that title of extirpating heretical pravity, of which they take to themselves the cognisance and judgment, hath proved the most fiery and incendiary principle that ever was in the world. Farther, they do not account themselves bound to keep faith and truth with hereticks. They say, that by heresies, men lose all their right to truth; whereas we know that keeping our word is the foundation of all converse : for what is one man to another, more than his word ? If men be not true to their word and promise, by which men are sure of persons and things, all converse is to little purposč, if not for the worfe.
Farther, they fanctify, by their notion of religi. on, treachery, falfhood and perfidiousness, murder, massacre, bloody and cruel practices ; and all this, to extirpate heresy, (as they call it) to plant religion, and bring men into their church. But how this agrees with the character given of religion in the text, and the intent and purpose of it, lét any min judge. Verily, by what these men say and do, ore would think that hell itself were broken loose, and come up
into the world. So unlike it is to new VOL. I.