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For while we are in the way to Heaven these means are necessary, and un· less we make use ofand steer our course by the Light which they hold forth to us, we must never look to come thither, and to arrive at that perfection of Knowledge which we shall there attain to. A Learned Man looks back upon some of the things that were taught him when he was a Boy, and which then he was much taken with, as low and inconsiderable matters, but yet they were necessary for those his tender Years, and without them he had never attained what now he is Honoured for.
Now to go on with the Text, the Apostle in the two Verses following gives a double Illustration of what he had spoken touching the imperfection of our Knowledge here in comparison of that which we shall attain hereafter. The former of these Illustrations we have in the 11th Verse, the latter in the 12th. In the nith Verse he Illustrates it by resembling our Knowledge here to the Knowledge of a Child, and our Knowledge hereafter to that of a Man. When I was a Child, I Spake as a Childo I understood as a Child, I thonght as a Child ; but when I became a Man I put
away Childish things. His meaning is, that there is as much difference between our Knowledge here and hereafter, as there is between the Knowledge of a Child and a Man. Our Knowledge in this Life is like that of Children in divers respects.
1. They are but few things that Children know. Their Knowledge for the most part runs within the narrow compass of what relates to their Meat and Drink and Recreations, and the things which they every Day converse with. Such is our Knowledge here; it reacheth but a little way, the things we know not being many more than the things that we know.
2.The things that Children understand, are known to them mostly by comparisons and fimilitudes shadowing them, but to them rudely and imperfectly as they are capable of them. And such is much of our Knowledge of Heavenly things. God is pleased to condescend to our weakness, representing Heavenly things to us by Earthly things ; and such things as we never saw nor can see while we are here, by those things which we see daily.
3. To make Children understand and retain things, you must take a great deal of pains in opening them and explaining them to them several ways over and over, and in whetting and inculcating them on them. So for Heavenly things, we must hear them over and over, there must be precept upon precept, and line upon line, here a little, and there a little , we are narrow-mouthed Vessels that cannot take in much at once.
4. Children quickly lose what they have gotten, unless they be often reminded of it, and means be frequently used for preventing it. So it is with us in Spiritual things, what we have gained, slips away from us again, unlefs means be often used for recalling and recollecting what we know, and for res newing those Impressions which Truths have formerly made upon our Minds.
Use. Now seeing our condition here as to our Knowledge, is like thạt of Children, it were well if we could in some things imitate them. Our Saviour sometime propounded the example of little Children to his Disciples for their Imitation. He called a little Child unto him, and fet bini in the midst of them; and said, verily I say unto you, exión cept ye be Converted, and become as little Children, ye shall not enter into the King, dom of Heaven. Whosoever, therefore shall humble bimself as a little Child, the fame is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, Matth. 18. 2, 3; 4. As to the thing that I have been speaking of.
i. Let us imitate Children in being inquisitive as they are, ever inquiring after this and that, (I mean Ingenious Children are) and putting so many Questions that you are weary of answering them. If we could do so in Spiri, tual thiugs, if we had that esteem of Heavenly things, and that earnest thirsting after the Knowledge of them that did make us as inquisitive after them, we should soon come to be better acquainted with them than we are. But
us, are well pleased with our Ignorance, never inquiring after these matters, nor concerning our felves with
2. Children are of a teachable, difposition, they are ready and willing to receive what is made known to them they do not wrangle, or perverlly contradict and oppose themselves against what is imparted to them. And the same
disposition should there be in us in re ference to Heavenly things. Whatsoever the Word of God clearly holds forth unto us, that we must receive with all readiness of Mind, as did the Bereans, Acts 17. 11. We must not Cavil, or contentiously dispute against plain Truths which are clearly revealed in Scripture, because we cannot fully compreherd them, or by our Reason fathom the depth of them, and resolve all knots and difficulties about them.
3. Children are easily reduced when they err, easily rectified when they are niistaken, and willing to be fet right when they are wrong. They are ready to acknowledge their mistakes, and to yield to any one that will give them better Information. In this also we should labour to be like them, especially in reference to Spiritual things. We should not be unwilling or ashamed to acknowledge our mistakes, but readily see and own our errors, and gladly embrace better Information from any by whom God shall be pleased to offer it us.
4. Children out of a Natural thirst after Knowledge, are still reaching forward, and longing after higher attainments. When shall they come to Read