It eclipseth, and for the most part keeps out the Understanding; With many instances thereof.
SIxthly, Herein doth the sinfulnesse of it appear, that it doth eclipse, yea for the most part exclude and keep out the understanding, which is the more noble light, and to which it ought to be subservient, so that men (whether in religions or civil affairs) are more led by fancy then by reason, there imagination is more predomi∣nant then the understanding. It is with man the little world, as the great world, God made in this two great lights, the Sunne and Moon, one to rule in the day, the other in the night: Thus man hath two lights created in him, which are to direct him in all his operations; the Sunne that is the Understanding, the Moon is like the Imagination, which giveth a glimmering light, and that onely in particu∣lar and corporeal things. Now as it would be an horrible confusion in the world, if the Moon should shut out the Sunne, and take upon it to rule in the day time all the light the Moon hath (let it be supposed it hath some of its own) would not suffice to make a day: Thus it is in man, his fancy which hath not light enough to guide him in his actions to his true end, yet that usurpeth upon the understand∣ing, and doth in effect command all: Thus the inferiour light prevaileth over the superiour: Oh what groaning should the new creature be in, till it be deliver∣ed from this bondage: See then to thy self, and examine all things that passe through thy soul more narrowly and exactly. It may be thy imagination is the cause of all thy Religion, of all thy opinions; It may be it is not faith but fancy; It may be it is not conscience, but imagination that instigateth thee; Those ex∣pressions me thinks, and I imagine so, are not high enough, or becoming those glorious actings of faith in the soul, which the Apostle calleth 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Heb. 11. 1. The substance of things hoped for. Aristotle opposeth 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, to those apparitions that are made in the air, as the Rain-bow, which hath no real subsi∣stency; and truly such are the conceits and apprehensions many have in Religion and Piety; They are not of a solid, true, and well-grounded knowledge, but are like meteors in the air: Thus do their opinions flie up and down in their head. We may observe it a very ordinary thing in controversies and polemical writings, that both parties will often charge one another with their fancies and their imagi∣nations, that there is no such thing in Scripture or in reason, but a figment in the brain; Yea the Pelagians and Socinians call this very Doctrine of original sinne, Augustini figmentum, Austin's fancy, as if it were an evil imagination to hold, That the thoughts and imaginations of the heart are only evil, and that continually. Thus you see in what confusion we are in, when sometimes the solid Doctrine of the Scripture is traduced for a meer imagination; And again, meer fancies ap∣plauded and earnestly contended for, as sundamental pillars of Religion and Piety. Seeing then our imaginations are so apt to get into the chair of the under∣standing, and as Athaliah destroyed the seed royal, that she might reign; so fan∣cy bolteth out all solid reasons and arguments, that it alone may do all, it beho∣veth us the more to watch over our hearts in this respect, and to be sure they are the solid works of faith, and not the fickle motions of the fancy that do guide thee, and the rather, because it is the perpetual custome of wicked and ungodly men, to brand and stigmatize both the true faith and all solid piety with the re∣proach of a meer fancy. Do not Papists, Arminians, Socinians, and the like, exclaim against the Protestant Doctrine, as if it were but an Idol of Calvins and Luthers making, when they condemned the blessed Martyrs to burn at the stake, they concluded such suffered but for their fancies and their humours. It being Page 359 therefore the constant charge by all enemies to truth, that it is not thy faith thou pleadest for, thou sufferest for, but thy meer fancy, it behoveth thee to be the more diligent in Scripture knowledge, and to pray, that the Spirit of God may thereby quicken thee up to a found and sure faith: Thus also it is in practicals, Let a man set himself to the power of godliness, walk strictly, in opposition to the loosness and profaneness of the world; Let his soul mourn for sinne, and his heart grieve for his evil wayes, what do carnal people presently say, This is your fancy, these are your melancholly conceits, they judge it to be some distemper in your imagination, that it is a kind of a madness. Now that we may withstand such accusations, it behoveth us to seek after, and pray for such a thorough work of sanctification, that we may be assured it is no more fancy then that we live or have our being, that if to be godly, if to be converted be a fancy onely, then to be a man, or to be a wicked man is only a fancy also. Well, though we must take heed of calling faith a fancy, and the work of grace a melancholly conceit (for that is a kind of blaspheming the holy Ghost) yet experience doth evidence, That many have not faith, have not true piety, but meer empty shadows and imagina∣tions in Religion, witness the Scepticism of many in these dayes, who are of no faith, and no Religion, who change it often, as they do their garments, who have no rooting or immovable foundation, but are as the water which receiveth every impression, but retaineth none, that are Reeds shaken with every wind, and are clean contrary to Christ, for they are not the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever: Can you say, this is the work of Gods Spirit? Can we say, this is the Scripture-truth? No, you read the Character of such, who have true faith, and that in a sanctified manner, If it were possible to deceive the very elect, Matth. 24. 24. Certainly the prevalency of the imagination above the understanding in re∣ligious things, is one of the sore evils which original sinne hath brought upon all mankind.