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is of greater deformity than all the former) affectation, fingularity, worldly intereft. Of these I have already spoken.
3. The darkness of things themselves : as where there is less of reason to be faid for a thing ; or where the rule of faith is short: as to that I take the rule to be, so far as God hath not determined we are referred to reason, and to the sense of our nature. For God did not make one uncapable creature, when he made one that was intelligent. Reason is the first participation from God.
Now, as to certain resolution, where there is neither conviction in the way of reason; nor assurance from revealed truth ; in this case, our course (after diligent search) will be, stay and expectance, rather than any peremptory conclusion in the point. 'Tis safer to suspend determination, than to be un. groundedly resolved. Difficile est deponere errorem. 'Tis hard to get rid of an error, therefore take heed of admitting one.
In this case, the knowledge of the thingis of less importance : and the ignorance of it, is of less danger. An implicit faith in God, without particular knowledge is safe in this case : and nothing gained by temerity, rashness, and suddenness of opinion. He that is light of faith, by the same reason, will be light of unbelief ; he will as easily disbelieve truth, as believe error. So that he does whatsoever he does by accident, and chance; he doth nothing by a certain rule, so that another may know what he will do next. I do not suppose uncertainty in necessaries of faith, or life and practice; but there is darkness in other things. A 2
4ly. Not 4ly. Not improvement of intellectuals is another cause of error.
Men are nothing, where they have not thought. Men are as they have used themselves, fui cuique mores tingunt fortunam. A man's temper and improvement make him that which he is. We work out of ourselves. Knowledge is fetcht out of us, not brought into us. Scientia educitur, non inducitur. The understanding is not in habit before it is in act. Intellectus non eft in habitu, ante aétum.
There are common principles, which every one who considers may come to the knowledge of : but before study and thought, the mind is abrasa tabula as white paper, that has nothing written upon it. The principles of reason, are as the term of a reasonable soul : and those principles, are principles of action ; so the philosopher, anima eft in dispositione ad quamlibet formam, in poteftate ad omnem ačtum. The soul may be made any thing, and may do any action.
'Tis necessary the mind of man should be enlightned, as to matters of faith ; and excited as to other things within its sphere, within the compass of reason.
A man may be for a while in a false opinion, thus ; upon presumption, and imagination fortified by non-attendance, and a non-occurrence of an occasion of thorough examination as yet ; which when once given, the error is discarded. chance, by some incogitancy, to be in an opinion, which when he comes feverely to examine and cenTure ; he
A man may
The materials of knowledge are large, and very various : many are greatly incumbred with business. and haye little leisure : and we are not considerable where we have not thought, and examined. None iş self-sufficient, or born to actual knowledge ; but to faculties and possibilities only: we are much more ourselves, where we have taken pains and made en quiry.
5. Another cause of error, is want of necessary helps and supplies which others do enjoy; as friends, fitting acquaintance, freedom of converse, liberty of time, and opportunity. It betters mens health and constitution to live and breath in a free and open air, Had some but once heard a supposition, or fuggertion to the contrary, they had escaped their mistakes. Possibly, if they had once imagined, that others had not so thought, they would have considered; fo fenfible is modesty and ingenuity.
Men acted by God's spirit, imitate the divine fpirit ; and come as refiners with fire, to do away man's dross. One who hath well considered, consulted, examined, is oraculor to the ignorant to persons of no vacancy and leisure. These have prepared intellectual dainties, spiritual food for them.
How comparatively defective in respect of others such an one is, who lives out of free and ingenuous, converse, though of commendable self-improvement? This notion is so true, that I wonder
any will venture to speak, where he hath not thought, especially in searching company.
These are the causes and accasions of error and mistake,
Secondly, The preservatives and securities against the danger of error, are,
1. Care of right information. We owe this to ourselves, as of nearer concernment than food and raiment. We owe this, as to truth, in respect of its worth and excellency ; so to our own souls. Truth is of kin to our souls, and natural to us : 'error is foreign, and a lie. No truth is so useless and unprofitable, as by any principle we may admit, to be neglected. 'Tis the best apology for a mistake that we did look out after truth.
2. Let the temper of mind be modeft and humble. Secure the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit. The meek God will lead in judgment, Psal. xxv. 9. and, he gives grace to the lowly, Prov. iii. 34. Every one is encouraged to discover his sense to the candid and ingenuous. This is the learner's temper. 'Tis every one's duty to give answer to every such enquirer. To be ready always to give answer to every man that asketh a reason of the hope that is in them, with meekness and fear, 1 Pet. iii. 15. But he is not likely to learn, who is not of a teachable fpirit.
3. A general intention to entertain and submit to all truth whatsoever, whensoever it shall appear
an implicit faith in God, where the sense of any ? text is not clear. This carries with it a double ad
vantage ; it doth qualify, prepare, and dispose the mind to be receptive of the highest truth whenfoever it shall appear : and it is an antidote against the malignity of any error, which, in the mean while, any one may chance to be in. He is in an honest meaning, whilst in error (in materia erroris.)
4. Deal ingenuously with truth, and love it for itself; both in respect of the ground upon which you receive it, and of the use you make of it. The certainty and assurance we have that it is truth, we receive from reason and scripture ; that it may be out of conscience to God, not out of compliance with humour and luft, nor out of a respect to a party or faction. To compromise, and refer ourselves, is only excusable for a while, as we are yet weak, and in the state of learners.
Make not truth subservient to base ends. Have religion only to honour God with, to do good to men, to fanctify and fave thy own soul.
5. See the fatal issue of wilfulness or wantonness of opinion, in the shameful miscarriages of such as have given themselves up to dreams and fancies. Hereof several histories give an account. Catherwhere we love to hear of dangers, that we may provide against them, and avoid them. examples are for our imitation ; so the bad are for our admonition and warning. If we be not careful of good security of truth, we give advantage to the devil to put his delusions upon us. We shall be obnoxious to all the cheats and impostors of all counterfeits among men.
Those at Munster in Germany, much about the time of the reformation, proved a scandal to the reason of the world, and a reproach to christianity. So are all those who make religion reproveable by rober reason ; or turn the grace of God into wantonness. The Gnosticks of old, and their successors in fpirit ever since, did this. There is nothing of af