The X. Sermon.
JOHN vii. 48.
[ D] IT is observable from History with what difficulty Religion attempts to propagate, and establish it self with the many: what Countenance and en∣couragement it hath required from those things which are most specious, and pompous in the [ E] World: how it hath been fain to keep its de∣pendencies and correspondencies, and submit to the poor con∣dition of sustaining it self by those beggarly helps which the World and the flesh will afford it. Two main pillars which it relies on are Power and Learning, the Camp and the Schools, or in a word, authority of great ones and countenance of Scho∣lars; the one to force and extort obedience, the other to in∣sinuate belief and assent, the first to ravish, the second to per∣swade. One instance for all: if we would plant Christianity in Turky, we must first invade and conquer them, and then con∣vince them of their follies: which about an hundred years ago [ F] Cleonard proposed to most Courts of Christendom, (and to that end himself studied Arabick) that Princes would joyn their strength and Scholars their brains, and all surprize them in their own land and language, at once besiege the Turk and his Al∣coran, put him to the sword, and his religion to the touchstone; command him to Christianity with an high hand, and then to Page 148 shew him the reasonableness of our commands. Thus also may [ A] we complain but not wonder that the Reformation gets ground so slow in Christendom, because the forces and potent abettors of the Papacy secure them from being led captive to Christ; as long as the Pope is riveted so fast in his chair, and as long as the rulers take part with him, there shall be no doubt of the truth of their religion; unless it please God to back our arguments with steel, and to raise up Kings and Emperours to be our Champions, we may question but never confute his supremacy. Let us come with [ B] all the power and Rhetorick of Paul and Barnabas, all the demon∣strations of reason and spirit, yet as long as they have such To∣picks against us, as the authority of the Rulers and Pharisees, we may dispute out our hearts, and preach out our Lungs, and gain no proselytes: all that we shall get is but a scoffe and a curse, a Sarcasm and an Anathema, in the words next after my text, This people which know not the law are cursed,* there is no heed to be taken to such poor contemptible fellows. To bring all home to the [ C] business of the text; Let Christ come with all the enforcement and violence and conviction of his spirit, sublimity of his speech and miracles, all the power of Rhetorick and Rhetorick of his power, so that all that see or hear bear witness that never man spake as this man, yet all this shall be accounted but a delusion, but an in∣chantment of some seduced wretches, unless the great men, or deep scholars will be pleased to Countenance them. And 'tis much to be feared they are otherwise possessed, and rather than this [ D] shall not be followed, Christ shall be left alone; rather than they shall speak in vain, the Word it self shall be put to silence: and if they which were appointed to take and bring him to judgment shall be caught by him they came to apprehend, and turn their accusations into reverence, the Pharisees will not be without their reply, they are doctors in the Law, and therefore for a need can be their own Advocates: Then answered the Pharisees, are ye also deceived, have any of the rulers and Pharisees believed on him? [ E]
Concerning the infidelity of the rulers in my Text, as being not so directly appliable to my audience, I shall forbear to speak. My discourse shall retire it self to the Pharisee, as being a pro∣fessor of learning, brought up at the University in Jerusalem, and God grant his vices and infidelity be not also Academical.
The words we shall divide not into several parts but considera∣tions, and read them either as spoken by the Pharisee, or recorded by the Evangelist. In the first, we have the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the rational [ F] force of them as they are part of an argument, that they which be∣lieved in Christ were deceived sub hâc formâ; he that would judge of the truth of his life, is to look which way the greatest scholars are affected, and then though in that case it concluded fallaciously, yet the argument was probable, and the point worth our dis∣cussion; Page 149 [ A] that the judgment of learning and learned men, is much to be heeded in matters of Religion.
In the second we have the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the rational sense of the words being resolved, as affirmative interrogations are wont, into a negative Proposition, Have any, &c. The Pharisees did not believe on him, i. e. the greatest Scholars are not always the best Chri∣stians. And first of the first, the authority of learning and learn∣ed men in matters of Religion, noted from the logical force of the [ B] words, Have any, &c.
Amongst other acts of Gods Providence and wise Oeconomy of all things, there is not one more observable than the succession of his Church, and dispensation of his most precious gifts attend∣ing it; you shall not in any age find the flourishing of learning sever'd from the profession of Religion; and the proposition shall be granted without exception: Gods people were always the learnedst part of the world. Before the flood we are not so con∣fident [ C] as to define and set down the studies and proficiency in all kinds of knowledge amongst those long-liv'd ancients; how far soever they went belongs little to us. The Deluge made a great chasm betwixt us, and 'twould be hard for the liveliest eyes to pierce at such distance through so much water; let those who fancy the two Pillars,* in which all learning was engraven, the one of brick, the other of marble, to prevent the malice either of fire or water, please themselves with the fable, and seem to have [ D] deduc'd all arts from Adam. Thus far 'tis agreed on, that in those times every Father being both a Priest and a King in his own Family, bestowed on his son all knowledge both secular and sacred which himself had attained to: Adam by tradition instruct∣ing Seth, and Seth Enoch in all knowledge as well as righteousness. For 'tis Josephus his observation,* that whilest Cain and his proge∣ny employed themselves about wicked and illiberal inventions, groveling upon the earth, Seth and his bore up their thoughts as [ E] well as eyes towards heaven, and observed the course and disci∣pline of the stars: wherein it was easy to be exquisite, every mans age shewing him the several conjunctions and oppositions and other appearances of the luminaries, and so needing no successors to perfect his observations. Hence Philo calls Abraham〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, and says his knowledge in Astronomy led him to the notice of a Deity, and that his sublime speculation gave him the name of Abram a high exalted Father, before his Faith had given the better [ F] Compellation of Abraham, Father of many Nations: hence from him, 1 Chaldaea, 2 Aegypt, 3 Greece, came all to the skill they brag of; so that Proclus made a good conjecture, that the Wisdom of the Chaldaeans was, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉a gift of some of the gods, it coming from Abraham who was both a friend and in a manner an acquaintance of the true God, and far ancienter and Page 150 wiser than any of their false. In sum, all learning as well as reli∣gion [ A] was pure and classical only among the Hebrews, as may ap∣pear by Moses in his 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the only true natural Philosophy that ever came into the World: so that even Longinus, which took the story of the Creation to be a fable,* yet commends Moses his expression of it, Let there be light, and there was light] for a speech admirably suited to a God; for the greatest 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 or sublimity that any Rhetorician could strain for. And Demetrius Phalareus commends the Pentateuch to Ptolomy〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, [ B] &c.* as the most Philosophical, accurate discourse he had ever heard of. And if by chance any scraps or shreds of knowledge were ever scat∣tered among the Gentiles, they certainly fell from the Chaldaeans table: from whence in time the poor beggarly world gathered such baskets-ful, that they began to feed full, and be in good like∣ing, and take upon them to be richer than their Benefactors, and Athens at last begins to set up as the only University in the World. But 'tis Austins observation, that 'twas in respect of Christ, and for [ C] the propagation of the Church that learning was ever suffered to travel out of Jewry. Christ was to be preached and received among the Gentiles, and therefore they must be civiliz'd before-hand, lest such holy things being cast abruptly before swine, should only have been trampled on: or as Moses his books falling among the •oets, have been only distorted into fables, turned also into pro∣digies, Metamorphoses, and Mythical divinity. Cum enim pro∣phetae, &c. Under Abraham and Moses, whilest the learning and the [ D] sermons of the Prophets were for Israels use, the Heathen world was as ignorant as irreligious; but about Romulus his time, when the Pro∣phecies of Christ which belonged also to the Gentiles, were no longer whispered, but proclaimed by the mouth of Hosea, Amos, Isaiah, Micah, and Jonas from the reign of Uzziah, to Hezekiah Kings of Judah, then also began learning to flourish abroad among the Nations, to dilate it self over the World: Greece began to hearken after wisdom, and brag of its 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Thales and the like, [ E] ut fontes divinae & humanae sapientiae pariter erupisse videantur, That then secular knowledge might dare to shed it self among the na∣tions, when Christ began to be revealed, the expectation of the Gentiles. 'Twere an infinite discourse to present unto you the like proceedings through all ages, the continual marriages, the Combinations, and never any divorce betwixt Learning and Reli∣gion. The Fathers before mentioned are large in drawing it down to our hands in tables of collateral descent throughout all genera∣tions; [ F] and I hope the present state of the World will sufficiently avouch it. For what is all the beggarly skill of the Arabians in Physicks and the Mathematicks, all the Cabalisms of the Jews; in sum, all the rather folly than wisdom, that either Asia, or Africa, pretend to? what hath all the world beside that dare look a Chri∣stian Page 151 [ A] in the face? I doubt not but this corner of Europe where we live, may challenge and put to shame, nay upbraid the ignorance of the learnedst Mahometan, and be able to afford some Champions which shall grapple with the tallest gyant, with the proudest son of Anak that Italy can boast of. I will hope and pray, and again dare to hope, that as all Europe hath not more moderation and purity of Religion than this Kingdom, so it never had a more learned Clergy; never more incouragement for learning from reli∣gion; [ B] never more advantages to religion from learning. But all this while we hover in the air, we keep upon the wing, and talk only 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, at large and in Thesi: we must descend lower to the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 and hypothesis here; where heed is to be taken to the Pharisee, to the Doctor in my Text. The Disciples were but Fisher∣men and Mechanicks, illiterate enough, and yet a word of theirs shall more sway mine assent, and rule my faith, than the proudest dictates out of Moses chair. And thus indeed are we now adayes [ C] ready to repose as much trust in the Shop as in the Schools, and rely more on the authority of one lay-professor, than the sagest El∣ders in theirs or our Israel. Learning is accounted but an ostenta∣tious complement of young scholars, that will never bring the Pa∣stor or his flock the nearer to the way toward Heaven. But to recal our judgments to a milder temper, we are to learn from Clemens, that although the Wisdom of God, and Doctrine of the Gos∣pel be 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, able to maintain, and fence, and autho∣rize [ D] it self, yet even Philosophy and secular learning is of use, nay necessity to defeat the treacheries and sophisms, and stratagems of the Adversary: And although the truth of Scripture be the bread we live on, the main staff and stay of our subsistence; yet this exoterical learning,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, as Sophronius calls them, this 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 of the Schools must be served in 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, as cates and dainties to make up the banquet; nay they are not only for superfluity, but solid and material uses. [ E] 'Twas a custome of old,* saith Dionysius Halic. to build cities 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, never far from some hill, or mountain, that beside the natural strength, the hold from the foundation, they may receive some security and safeguard from so stout and tall a neighbour: thus will it stand us upon, so to build our faith upon a rock, that we may also have some shelter near us to fence and fortifie our fabrick, when the wind or tempest shall arise. Had not Peter indeed and the rest at Christs call left their ignorance with [ F] their nets, and trades: had they not been made scholars as well as Disciples, all trades promiscuously might justly have challenged and invaded the pulpit, and no man denyed to preach that was able to believe. But you are to know that their calling was an inspiration, they were furnish't with gifts as well as graces; and whatever other learning they wanted, sure I am they were the Page 152 greatest Linguists in the world. Yea, the power and convincing [ A] force of argument,* which the heathen observed in Peter, made them get the Oracles to proclaim that he had learnt Magick from his Master. To drive the whole business to an issue in brief, take it in some few propositions.
1. There is not so great a dependence betwixt learning and religion in particular persons, as we have observed to be in Ages and Countries: so that though plenty of knowledge be a symptom or judiciary sign, that that Church where it flourishes is the true Church of [ B] God, yet it is no necessary argument, that that man where it in special resides is the sincerest Christian; for upon these terms is the wisest man, the scribe the disputer of the world, the loudest braggers of Jews or Grecians are found guilty of spiritual igno∣rance, 1 Cor. i. as the last part of our discourse shall make evi∣dent.
2. Matters of Faith are not Ultimò resolubilia in principia rationis, therefore not to be resolved any farther than the Scriptures; they are not to beg authority from any other science; for this is the [ C] true Metaphysicks,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the mistress and commandress of all other knowledges, which must perpetually do their homage to it, as servants always to attend and confirm its propo∣sals, never to contradict it, as Aristotle hath it, Met. 2. 2.
3. Though Faith depend not upon reason, though it subsist entirely upon its own bottom, and is then most purely Faith when it relies not on reason, and adheres wholly to the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 of Gods word, yet doth the concurrence, and agreement, and evidence of reason add [ D] much to the clearness, and beauty, and splendor of it: takes away all fears and jealousies, and suspicious surmisings out of the under∣standing, and bestows a resolution and constancy on it. For Faith, though in respect of its ground Gods word, it be most infal∣lible, yet in its own nature is, as the Philosopher defines it, a kind of opinion, and in our humane frailty subject to demurs, and doubts, and panick terrors, for fear it be false grounded, and therefore Aristotle faith of it, that it differs from knowledge 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 [ E] 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉as a sickly man or a strong, 'tis very weak and aguish, subject to sweats, and colds, and hourly distempers: whereas the evidence and assurance of sense and reason added to it, bestows a full health and strength upon it, an 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, a per∣fect state that it shall never be forced or frighted out of. In brief, where reason gives its suffrage, it unvails faith, and to adherence super-adds evidence, and teaches us to feel, and touch, and handle what before we did believe; to gripe, and hold, and even [ F] possess what before we apprehended: and these are believers in a manner elevated above an earthly condition, initiated to the state which is all vision,* where every thing is beheld 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, naked and display'd, as the entrals of a creature cut down Page 153 [ A] the back;*or with open face beholding as in a glass, 2 Cor. iii. 28.
4. There be some difficulties in Religion at which an illiterate under∣standing will be struck in a maze; some depths of mystery where an Elephant can scarce tread water, a Lamb must not hope to wade. Many above the apprehensions of the most capacious brain, where reason being not able to express, must be content to shadow, and describe in some rude lines what it cannot perform in pourtraicture: and here, I say, learning, though it cannot reach, yet can heave up [ B] and point at; profit, though not perfect us, help us to some ima∣ges and resemblances, to conceive that which we cannot fully com∣prehend: so saith Philoponus, will Mathematical abstractions facilitate the simplicity of Gods essence to our understandings, the lucid na∣ture of the Sun express the brightness of his glory, and the mysteri∣ous numbers of the Pythagoreans, represent the Trinity to our phan∣sies. And thus doth Zoroastes in Patricius, Philosophari de Deo, sub∣due, as it were, divinity to reason, and raise up reason to joyn issue [ C] with divinity, and by his 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, that paternal depth made of three threes, comprise all the secrets of the Godhead. But besides these secrets of the upper Cabinet, these supernatural depths, there are others secundae alti∣tudinis, and as Halicar.* calls those which are above the reach of all but Philosophers, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, and Aristotle〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, natural miracles, which none but Scholars can attain to. And these I hope shall never be discust upon a shopboard, or enter into [ D] any brain that is not before well ballast with weight and substance at the bottom: I need not name them to you, you may know them by this, that when they come into an empty brain, they breed winds, and turn all into vertigoes and dizziness. There be yet farther lights of a third magnitude, which yet every one hath not eyes to gaze on, and of this condition are almost all the speculations in divinity; nay the ordinariest truth in a Catechism can scarce be forced into a vulgar understanding; his brain is not set that way, [ E] and many of our subtilest worldlings have mistaken the Virgin Mary for an Angel, and the Apostles Creed, where only they find mention of her, for a prayer: and then you cannot imagine what stead a little learning would stand these men in, what even mi∣racles 'twould work upon them.
5. 'Tis but necessity and exigence of nature that those which are the weak should apply themselves for help and directions to those that are stronger; the child in a Cradle must be put to a Nurse, which [ F] may give it suck till it be able to eat, and for a while bear it in her arms, that it may be taught to go. There be in nature, faith Ari∣stotle in his Mechan. many wants; she performs not all our needs, and therefore Engines were invented to supply defects. Thus is Art a Machina or invention, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, to furnish us with those abilities which nature was a niggard in:Page 154 and therefore to deprive our selves of this guidance when it is of∣fered,* [ A] is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, to put out an eye of his that hath but one in all, which was of old a great aggravation to the injury in the Rhetor. indeed to leave our selves desperately blind. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, in lambl. In matters of Religion we must not so much as speak, nay, not think without a Candle, we shall want the guidance of some Teacher to direct every such word out of our mouths or thought into our hearts. An ignorant man must not have leave so much as to meditate on God without a [ B] guide;* for he is mad, say the Philosophers, and then every thought of his will be a kind of delirium or phrenzy. 'Tis the law of nature, saith the Historian,*〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, that superiors should have a kind of sovereignty over all that are inferior to them, a magisterium and command over them, to rule and order them; and this superiority and sovereignty hath the learned Pastor, or gene∣rally the Scholar over all ignorant men, be they never so rich or potent; and whosoever denies or scorns thus to obey, I say not, is [ C] to be slain (as the Law was in the ancient wars) 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉,* without an assizes; but to be condemned of much peevishness and more stupidity, and his punishment is, Let him fall into his own hands, i. e. be ruled by a fool or mad man.
6. Much of the speculative part of Religion may be had from a Pha∣risee as well as a Disciple. Christ himself bears witness of him, that he was orthodox in matters concerning the Law: They sit in Moses chair, and therefore whatsoever they bid you, that observe and do, Mat, [ D] xxiii. 3. They err indeed in prescribing their additions to duty, as divine command, but the chief obliquity was in their lives: they were Hereticks, nay Apostates from their doctrine, and therefore do not after their works, for they say and do not, verse 4. If I am resolved of such a mans abilities in learning, but see him a scandalous liver, I will borrow of his gifts, and pray God to en∣crease his graces. In matters of spiritual joy and sorrow, I will, if I can, be counselled by an heart which once was broken, that I [ E] may see how he recovered, and repair my breaches by a pattern; and yet even these things may be learnt from him which never had them, but in his speculation: as the Physician may cure a disease, though himself was never sick of it. But for the ordinary Theories of Religion, I will have patience to receive instructions from any one, and not examine his practices, but in modesty, and in sub∣mission, and humility receive the Law at his mouth. But all this with caution, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, as to a guide not a monarch [ F] of my Faith; rule he shall my belief, but not tyrannize over it. I will assent to my teacher 'till I can disprove him, but adhere, and anchor, and fix my self on the Scripture.
7. In matters of superstruction, where Scripture lays the founda∣tion, but interpreters, i. e. private spirits build upon it, some Page 155 [ A] gold, some stubble, &c. and I cannot judge or discern which is firmliest rooted on the foundation; I will take the Philosophers counsel in the first of his Rhetor. and observe either 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 or 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, be guided either by the ancientest, if they have shewed themselves in the cause, or else men alive, which be best reputed of for integrity and judgement: I shall scarce trust the honestest man you can commend to me, unless I have some knowledge of his parts; nor the learned'st you can cry up, unless I can believe [ B] somewhat in his sincerity.
8. All the contradictions and new ways of my own brain, oppo∣site or wide from the current of the learned, I must suspect for a work of my own phansie, not entitle them to Gods spirit in me. Verebar omnia opera mea, saith Job, whatever a man can call his own, he must be very cautious and jealous over it. For 'tis no less then atheism which the scorners of the last age are to fall upon by walking after their own lusts, 2 Pet. iii. 3. And thus was the Pharisees pra∣ctice [ C] here, who makes use of his own authority to deny Christ; 'twas the Pharisees that said, Have any of the Pharisees believed on him? There is not a more dangerous mother of heresies in the midst of piety, then this one, that our phansie first assures us that we have the spirit, and then that every phansie of ours is Theopneust, the work of the spirit. There are a multitude of deceits got alto∣gether here; 1. We make every idle perswasion of our own the evidence of Gods spirit, then we joyn infallibility to the person, [ D] being confident of the gift; then we make every breath of our nostrils, and flame that can break out of our hearts an immediate effect of the spirit and fire which hath spiritually enlivened us, and then we are sure it is authentical; and all this while we never examine either the ground or deductions from it, but take all up∣on trust from that everlasting deceiver our own heart, which we ought to sit upon and judge of by proofs and witnesses, by com∣paring it with other mens dictates, probably as godly, perhaps [ E] more learned, but certainly more impartial judges of thee, then thou canst be of thy self.
Lastly, If the word of God speak distinctly and clearly, enforce, as here by miracles done before, all men to their astonishment and redargution, then will I not stay my belief to wait on or follow the learn∣edst man in the world: when Christ himself speaks to my eyes, the proudest, eminentest Pharisee in earth or hell, nay if any of their sect have crowded into Heaven, shall not be able to charm my ear, [ F] or lay any clog upon my understanding. So that you see the Pha∣risees argument in that case was sophistical, (the matter being so plain to them that they needed no advicè, His works bore witness of him, John v. 36.) yet in the general it holds probable and learn∣ing remains a good guide still, though an ill Master in matters of Religion, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the first thing we undertook to demonstrate.Page 156 And this we should draw down yet lower to our practice, and [ A] that variously, but that almost every Proposition insisted on hath in part spoken to your affections, and so prevented store of uses. This only must not be omitted; For Scholars to learn to set a value on their precious blessing which God hath vouchsafed them above all the world beside; to bless God infinitely that they understand and conceive what they are commanded to believe: this I am sure of, there is not a greater and more blessed priviledge besides Gods spirit, which our humane condition is capable of, then this of [ B] learning, and specially divine knowledge, of which Aristotle him∣self witnesseth, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, none is better then it. As long as we have no evidence or demonstration from that (which yet it most nearly concerns us to rely upon) we cannot enjoy without an immediate supernatural irradiation, a tranquillity and consi∣stency of spirit, we cannot peremptorily have resolved our selves that we have built upon the rock: every temptation proves a dis∣couragement to us, many horrours take hold of us, and some∣times [ C] we must needs fall to that low ebb, not far from despair, which the Apostles were in, Luke xxiv. 22. We had trusted, but now we know not what to think of it, that this was he that should have redeem∣ed Israel. But to see all the Articles of my faith ratified and confirm∣ed to my understanding, to see the greatest treasure and inheri∣tance in the world sealed and delivered to me in my hand, writ∣ten in a character and language that I am perfectly skilled in; O what a comfort is this to a Christian soul! O what a fulness of [ D] joy to have all the mysteries of my salvation transcribed out of the book of the Lord, and written in my heart, where I can turn and survey, and make use of them, as much and as often as I will! Nay, where I have them without book, though there were nei∣ther Father nor Bible in the world, able out of my own stock to give an account, nay, a reason of my faith before the perversest Pa∣pist, Heathen or Devil. This serves me instead of having lived, and conversed, and been acquainted with Christ. [ E]
By this I have my fingers pit into the print of the nails, and my hands thrust into his side, and am as sure as ever Thomas was; I see him as palpably as he that handled him, that he is my Lord and my God. 'Twas observed by the Philosopher as an act generally practised among Tyrants to prohibit all Schools and means of learning and edu∣cation in the Commonwealth, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, to suffer neither learning, nor Schools, nor com∣mon meetings, that men being kept blind might be sure to obey, [ F] and tyrannical commands through ignorance be mistaken for fair government. And thus did Julian interdict the Christi∣ans all manner of literature, and chiefly Philosophy, for fear, saith Nazianzen,*they should be able to grapple with the Heathen, and cut off Goliah's head with his own weapon. Page 157 [ A] The continuance of these arts of spiritual tyranny, you may ob∣serve in the prescribed stupidity and commanded ignorance of the Laity through all Italy. All which must call for a superlative measure of thanks to be exprest, not in our tongues and hearts only, but in our lives and actions; from us I say, who have obteined not only a knowledge of his laws, but almost a vision of his secrets, and for as much as concerns our eternal bliss, do even see things as they were acted, having already comprehended in our reason, [ B] (not only in our faith,) the most impossible things in nature; the bredth and length and depth and height of the conceived, incarnate, and crucified God: and if all that will not serve our turn, but we must press into his cabinet-secrets, invade the book of life, and oversee, and divulge to all men abscondita Domini Dei nostri, then are Gods mercies unworthily repaid by us, and those indulgences which were to bestow civility upon the world, have only taught us to be more rude. In sum the reallest thanks we can perform [ C] to God for this inestimable prize, is modestly and softly to make use of it, 1. To the confirming of others faith, and 2. to the ex∣pressing of our own. For 1. he is the deepest scholar, saith the Philosopher,* who is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, best able to teach other men what himself conceives; and then 2. he hath the habit most radi∣cated who hath prest it down into his heart, and there sow'd a seed which shall encrease and fructify, and spread, and flourish, laden with the fruits of a lively faith. He is the truest scholar that hath [ D] fed upon learning, that hath nourished and grown, and walked, and lived in the strength of it. And till I see you thrive and be∣stir your selves like Christians, I shall never envy your learning: the Pharisees were great scholars, well seen in the Prophets, and 'tis much to be suspected could not choose but find Christ there, and acknowledge him by his Miracles, they saw him plain enough, and yet not a man would believe on him; My second part, The greatest scholars are not always the best Christians.
[ E] 'Tis observable in the temper of men, that the cowardly are most inquisitive, their fears and jealousies make them very careful to foresee any danger, and yet for the most part they have not spirit enough to encounter, and they are so stupid and sluggish that they will not get out of its way when they have foreseen it: the same baseness and timerousness makes them a sort of men most diligent to at a distance avoid, and near hand most negligent to pre∣vent. Thus in iiii. Dan. 5. Nebuchadnezzar dreams and is affright∣ed, [ F] and a proclamation is made for all the Wisdom of the World to come in and consult and sit upon it, and give their verdict for the interpretation of the dream, and when he had at last got the knowledge of it by Daniel, that his fears were not in vain, that the greatest judgement that ever was heard of was within a twelve moneth to fall on him, then as though he had been a beast before Page 158 his time, without all understanding he goes and crowns himself [ A] for his slaughter. Just when, according to the Prophecy, he was to suffer, then was he walking in his pride; whilest he was igno∣rant, he was sensible of his danger, and now he sees it before his eyes, he is most prodigiously blind. At the end of twelve moneths, when his ruine was at hand, ver. 29. he walked in the Palace of the Kingdom of Babylon, and the King spake and said, Is not this great Babylon that I have built, &c. In brief he that was most earnest to understand the dream, is most negligent of the event of it, and [ B] makes no other use of his knowledge of God's Will, but only more knowingly and wilfully to contemn it. And this generally is the state of corrupt nature, to keep a distance and a bay betwixt our knowlege and our wills, and when a truth hath fully conquer'd and got possession of our understanding, then to begin to fortifie most strongly, that the other castle of the soul, the affections may yet remain impregnable. Thus will the Devil be content to have the outworks and the watch-tower taken, so he may be sure to [ C] keep his treasure within from danger: and will give us leave to be as great scholars as himself, so we will continue as prophane. And so we are like enough to do for all our knowledge: for wisdom, saith Aristotle, is terminated in it self, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, it nei∣ther looks after, nor produces any practical good, saith Andronicus,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, , nay there is no dependence betwixt knowing and doing: as he that hath read and studied the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, may perhaps be never the better wrastler, nor the skilfullest Physician [ D] the more healthy: experience and tryal must perfect the one, and a good temperature constitute the other. A young man may be a good Naturalist, a good Geometer, nay a wise man, because he may understand 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, wonders, depths, nay Di∣vine matters, but hee'l never be 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, prudent or actually vertuous,*i. e. a good Moralist: 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, moral precepts they cannot be said to believe, they have not entred so far, they float only in their memories, they have them [ E] by heart, they say them over by rote, as children do their Cate∣chism, or Plato's scholars (saith Plutarch) his depths of Philosophy: they now recite them only, and shall then understand them, when they come of age, when they are stayed enough to look into the meaning of them, and make use of them in their practice. The Mathematicks,* saith Aristotle, have nothing to do with the end or chief good that men look after: never any man brought good or [ F] bad, better or worse into a demonstration; there's no consultation or election there, only plain downright diagrams, necessary convi∣ctions of the understanding. And therefore for these meer specu∣lations, which hover only in the brain,* the youngest wit is nim∣blest; for 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, sharpness of apprehension is a sprightfulness of the mind,* and is there liveliest, where there be most spirits: Page 159 [ A] but prudence and active vertue requires an habituate temper of passions, a stayedness of the mind, and long tryal and experience of its own strength, a constancy to continue in vertue in spight of all forreign allurements or inward distempers. And the ground of all this is, that those things that most incumber the Will and keep us from practice, do nothing clog or stop the understanding, sensuality or pleasure hinders us not from knowing 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉,*&c. that a Triangle hath three angles equal to two right ones, and the [ B] like. Nay the most insolent tyrannizing passions which domineer over us, which keep us in awe, and never suffer us to stir, or move, or walk, or do any thing that is good, will yet give us leave to understand as much as we would wish, they have only fettered our hands and feet, have not blinded our eyes; as one shut up in the Tower from the conversation of men, may be yet the great∣est proficient in speculation; The affections being more gross and corporeous (from thence called the heels of the soul) and so easily [ C] chained and fettered: but the understanding most pure and spi∣ritual, and therefore uncapable of shackles: nay is many times most free and active, when the will is most dead and sluggish. And this may be the natural reason that even Aristotle may teach us, why the greatest scholars, are not alwayes the best Chri∣stians: the Pharisees well read in the Prophets yet backwardest to believe, because faith which constitutes a Christian is a spiritual prudence, as 'tis best defined, and therefore is not appropriate to [ D] the understanding: but if they be several faculties, is rather seated in the Will; the objects of Faith being not meerly speculative, but always apprehended and assented to sub ratione boni, as being the most unvaluable blessings which ever we desired of the Lord,* or can require. The speculative part of divine wisdom may make us 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, intelligent spirits, nay possibly do it in the worst no∣tion, render us devils. Real practical knowledge, only prudence will make Angels, ministring spirits unto God, teach us to live [ E] and be better then we did. So then in the first place learning doth neither make nor suppose men Christians: Nay 2ly. it doth per accidens many times hinder, put a rub in our way, and keep us from being Christians. Philoponus and Synesius (Miracles of learn∣ing) were therefore hardest to be converted, they were so possest and engaged in Peripatetical Philosophy: that however they might be perswaded to the Trinity, they will not believe the re∣surrection. 'Twas too plain a contradiction to philosophical reason [ F] ever to enter theirs. Thus in the 1 Cor. i. 21.*the World by wisdom knew not God: they so relyed on their reason, and trusted in it for all truths, that they concluded every thing impossible that would not concur with their old Principles. But this resistance which reason makes is not so strong, but that it may easily be supprest, and therefore Synesius was made a Bishop before he explicitly be∣lieved Page 160 the resurrection, because they were confident that he which [ A] had forsaken all other errors, would not long continue perverse in this, and so good a Christian in other things, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, could not choose but be illuminated in time, in so necessary a point of faith: and indeed so it happened in them both. But there are other more dangerous engins, more insidious courses which learning uses to supplant or undermine belief: other strata∣gems to keep us out of the way, to anticipate all our desires or in∣clinations, or thoughts that way-ward: and these are spiritual pride [ B] and self-content. Men are so elevated in height of contemplation, so well pleased, so fully satisfied in the pleasures and delights of it, that the first sort scorn to submit or humble themselves to the po∣verty and disparagement of believing in Christ; the second are never at leasure to think of it. For the first, spiritual pride, 'tis set down as a reason that the natural man receives not the things of the spirit, 1 Cor. ii. 14. receives them not, i. e. will not take them, will not accept of them, though they are freely given him; for they [ C] are foolishness unto him, i. e. so his proud brain reputes them. The pride of Worldly wisdom extremely scorns the foolishness of Christ, and consequently is infinitely opposite to faith which is wrought by special humility.
Secondly, for self-content:〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, saith Hera∣clitus in Hesych: Wise men need no friends, they are able to subsist by themselves without any help: they will have an happiness of their own making, and scorn to be beholding to Christ for a new [ D] inheritance, they are already so fully possest of all manner of contents. Let any man whisper them of the joys of the new Jerusalem, of the Intercessor that hath saved, of the way thither and made it passable, of all the priviledges and promises of our adoption, they will hear them 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, as old wives fables; they have the fortunate Islands too, their exactest tranquillity and sereni∣ty of mind in a perpetual contemplation, and all the golden Apples in Paradise shall not tempt or allarm them out of it. 'Tis strange [ E] to see when such a man is called, what a doe there is to get him out of his dream to hale him out of his study to the Church, how sleepy, and drowsy, and lethargical he is in matters of Religion: how soon a little devotion hath tired him out, that could have pored over a book incessantly all his life long, and never thought thus to have been interdicted the delights of humane learning, thus to have been pluckt and torn from the embraces of his Athenian Idol. His conversion is much unlike another mans: that which calls [ F] others into compass seems to let him loose, thrusts him abroad into the world, teaches him to look more like a man then ever he meant, makes him a member of the Commonwealth that was formerly but an Anchoret, and forces him to walk and run the way of Gods Commandments, that had once decreed him himself to a chair Page 161 [ A] for ever. In brief, there is as little hopes of one that indulges himself, and gives himself up to the pride and contents of any kind of learning, of him that terminates knowledge either in it self, or else in the ostentation of it, as of any other that is captiv'd to any one single worldly or fleshly kind of voluptuousness. This of the brain in spight of the Philosopher is an intemperance, as well as that of the throat and palate, and more dangerous, because less suspe∣cted, and seldomer declaimed against; and from this Epicurism, [ B] especially of the soul, good Lord deliver us.
Not to heap up reasons of this too manifest a truth, (would God it were not so undeniable) take but this one more, of the un∣sufficiency of learning never so well used to make a man a Christian. Let all the knowledge in the world, prophane and sacred, all the force and reason that all ages ever bragg'd of, let it concur in one brain, and swell the head as big as his was in the Poem that tra∣vell'd of Minerva: let all Scriptures and Fathers joyn their power [ C] and efficacy, and they shall never by their simple activity produce a saving faith in any one; all the miracles they can work are only on the understanding, the will distinctly taken is above their sphear or compass: or if their faculties are not distinguisht, and to will is present with me, Rom. vii. 18. as well as to understand, yet they can produce only an absolute simple general will, that is, an assent and approbation of the absolute goodness of the thing proposed, not a resolute will to abandon all other worldly purposes to per∣form [ D] that which I will. Knowledge and right apprehension of things may convince me first of the history, that all that is spoken of, or by Christ is true, and then of the expedience to apply all his merits to my soul, but when I see all this cannot be done without paying a price, without undoing my self, without pawning all that I have, my learning, my wealth, my delights, my whole worldly being, without self-denial, then the general assent, that absolute will is grown chill and dead; we are still (whatever we [ E] believe) but infidels; all the Articles of the Creed thus assented to are not enough to make us Christians. So that the issue of all is, all knowledge in the world cannot make us deny our selves, and therefore all knowledge in the world is not able to produce be∣lief; only the spirit must breath this power into us of breathing out our selves, he must press our breasts, and stifle, and strangle us; we must give up the natural ghost, he must force out our earthly breath out of our earthly bodies, or else we shall not be [ F] enlivened by his spiritual. Thus have you reasons of the common divorce betwixt knowledge and faith, i. e. the no manner of depend∣ence betwixt them in nature. Secondly, the open resistence in some points betwixt reason and Scripture. Thirdly, the more secret reluctancies betwixt the pride and contents of learning and the spirit. And lastly, the insufficiency of all natural knowledge, and Page 162 transcendency of spiritual, so that he cannot know them, because [ A] they are spiritually discerned. I should now in very charity re∣lease you, but that there is one word behind of most important necessity to a Sermon, and that is of Application.
That laying to our hearts the important documents of the Text, our righteousness and faith may exceed that of the Pharisees, Mat. v. 20. our preaching and walking may be like that of Christs, in power, and as having authority, and not as the Scribes, Mat. vii. 29. and we not content with a floating knowledge in the brain, do press and [ B] sink it down into our inferiour faculties, our senses and affections, till it arise in a full harvest of fruitful, diligently working faith. It was Zenophanes his phansie, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, and that God was all eyes and all ears, but breathed not, there was no use of that in him; and so is it with us, who are always exercising our knowledge, powers to see and hear what e're is possible; but for any breath of life in us, any motion of the spirit, we have no use of it: it is not worth valuing or taking notice of, nothing so vulgar and con∣temptible [ C] in them that have it, nothing of which we examine our selves so slightly, of which we are so easily mistaken, so willingly deceived, and nothing that we will be content to have so small a measure of. A little of it soon tires us out, 'tis too thin aery diet for us to live upon, we cannot hold out long on it; like the Isra∣elites, soon satiated with their bread from Heaven, nothing com∣parable to their old food that Nilus yielded them, Numb. xi. 5. We remember the fish that we did eat in Egypt, but now our soul is [ D] dryed away, there is nothing but this Manna before our eyes, as if that were not worth the gathering.
Pythagoras could say, that if any one were to be chosen to pray for the people, to be made a Priest, he must be a vertuous man, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, in Iamblicus,*because the Gods would take more heed to his words:* and again, that many things might be permit∣ted the people, which should be interdicted Preachers. It was the confir∣mation of his precepts by his life,* and practice, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, that [ E] made Italy,*〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, all the Country his School, and all that ever heard him his Disciples. Nothing will give such authority to our doctrine, or set such a value on our calling as a religious conversation. He that takes such a journey, as that into Holy Or∣ders, must go on, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, according to his 15. Symbolum, must not return to his former sins as well as trade, saith lamblicus: the falling into one of our youthful vices, is truly a disordering of our selves, and a kind of plucking our hands from the plow. A [ F] Physician, saith Hippocrates, must have colour and be in flesh, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, of a good promising healthy complexion, and then men will guess him a man of skill, otherwise the patient will bid the Physician heal himself, and having by his ill look a preju∣dice against his Physick, his phansie will much hinder its working. Page 163 [ A] You need no application; He again will tell you, that the profes∣sion suffers not so much by any thing as by rash censures, and un∣worthy professors. In brief, our very knowledge will be set at nought, and our gifts scoffed at, if our lives do not demonstrate that we are Christians as well as Scholars. No man will be much more godly for hearing Seneca talk of providence, nor be affected with bare words, unless he see them armed and backt with power of him that utters them. Consider but this one thing, and withal [ B] that my doctrine is become a proverb, and he is a proud man that can first draw it upon a Scholar, his learning and his clergy make him never the more religious. O let our whole care and carriage, and the dearest of our endeavours strive and prevail to cross the pro∣verb, and stop the mouth of the rashest declamer. That Come∣dy of Aristophanes took best,* which was all spent in laughing at Socrates, and in him involved and abused the whole condition of learning; though through Alcibiades his faction it miscarried and [ C] mist its applause once or twice, yet when men were left to their humour, 'twas admired and cried up extremely. Learning hath still some honourable favourers which keep others in awe with their countenance, but otherwise nothing more agreeable to the people then Comedies or Satyrs, or Sarcasms dealt out against the Universities: let us be sure that we act no parts in them our selves, nor perform them before they are acted. Let us endeavour that theirs may be only pronunciations, a story of our faults as present∣ed [ D] in a scene, but never truly grounded in any of our actions. One wo we are secure and safe from,*Wo be to you when all men shall speak well of you] we have many good friends that will not •et this curse light on us. O let us deliver our selves from that catalogue of woes which were all denounced against the Pharisees for many vices, all contained in this accomplisht piece, Ye say but do not, Mat. xxiii. 4. And seeing all our intellectual excellencies cannot allure, or bribe, or wooe Gods spirit to overshadow us, and con∣ceive [ E] Christ, and bring forth true and saving faith in us; let all the rest of our studies be ordered in a new course, let us change both our method and our Tutor, and having hitherto learnt God from our selves, let us be better advised, and learn our selves from God. Let us all study all learning from the spring or fountain, and make him our instructer, who is the only Author worth our understanding, and admit of no interpreter on him but himself. The knowledge of God shall be our vision in heaven, O let it be [ F] our speculation on earth. Let it fill every conceit or phansie that we at any time adventure on. It is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the last work in which all the promises, all our possible designs are accomplished: O let us in part anticipate that final revelation of him, lest so sudden and so full a brightness of glory be too ex∣cellent for the eyes of a Saint: and labour to comprehend here, Page 164 where the whole comfort of our life is what we shall then possess. [ A] And if all the stretches, and cracking, and torturing of our souls will prevail, the dissolving of all our spirits, nay, the sighing out of our last breath will do any thing, let us joyn all this, even that God hath given us, in this last real service to our selves, and ex∣pire whilst we are about it in praying, and beseeching, and impor∣tuning, and offering violence to that blessed spirit, that he will fully enlighten and enflame us here with zeal as well as know∣ledge; that he will fill us with his grace here, and accomplish us [ B] with his glory hereafter.
Now to him that hath elected us, hath created us and redeemed us, &c.