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against all manner of Difficulties; for such
3. The more a Man knows, and the better those Subjects are, upon which his Studies have been employed, the heavier shall his Account be, unless his Pies ty and Virtue be proportionably eminent and exem plary. So little reason have we to be exalted with our Attairiments, and not rather to fear more, as we improve more in Knowledge. And what Improvements indeed can possibly be so great, as to justifie our being proud of them? For no Mancanever want this Mortification of his Vanity, That what he knows is but a very little, in comparison of what he still continues ignorant of. Considerthis, and, instead of boasting thy Knowledgeof a few Things,confess and be out of Countenance for the many more which thou doft not understand. And why fo forward to prefer thy self before others, when there are so many Persons, whose Learning and Skill in the Rules of Living, give them an undoubted Right to be preferr'd before You? If you would attain to useful Learning indeed; learn to conceal your Attainments, and be content that the World should think meanly of you: For Lowliness of Mind, and not thinking of a Man's self more highly than be ought to think, is the most difficult , but withal the most profitable Lesson; and the preferring others before our felves, is a Point of true Wisdom and high Perfection. Nor ought our Opinions of this kind be changed, though we thould see another guilty of fome egregious Folly, or very grievous Wickedness; fince we our selves are Men of like Passions and Frailties; nor can we tell how long our own Virtue may continue unshaken. Remember then, that Infirmicies are common to all Mankind ; and so remember it, as to perfwade your felf, or at least to suspect, that these are
dealt to Thee in as plentiful a measure, as to any other Person whatsoever.
CHA P. III.
The Doctrine of Truth.
Lessed is the Man, whom Truth condescends to
Teach; not by dark Figures, and Words quickly Psal. xciv. 12.
forgotten,but by a full and familiar Com
munication of it self. Happy should we be, could we but see things as they are, free from the Errors of our fond Opinions, and the false Estimates we form from thence. How high a Value do we fet upon the Knack of Distinguishing and Disputing nicely, in Matters hid from common Apprehensions; but Matters too, which to know nothing of, will not render a Man's Case one whit the worse at the Day of Judgment? Egregious and Elaborate Folly ! which overlooks useful and necessary Points, as Things not worthy our Regard; and bends our Industry to find out those, which either turn to no Account, or what is
worse than none. Thus taking pains to Psalm xcv.
be Ignorant at last, and verifying, in our own selves, the Prophet's Description of the Heathen Idols, which have Eyes, and yet see not.
Why should we then, with such eager Toil, strive to be Masters of Logical Definitions, or what do our abstracted Speculations profit us? He, whom the Eternal Word instructs, takes a much shorter Cut to Truth; For from this Word alone are all Things; In This they center and conspire ; and this is the true Principle of Knowledge, without which no Man underItands or judges any thing aright. But he, who reduces all to One Principle, and in that one discerns
m We he tes let
all things, may establish his Mind in perfect Peace, and rest himself securely upon God. O Thou whose very Essence is Truth, unite me to thy self in perfect Love! The Variety of Subjects tire and distract my Soul; in Thee alone I find the Sum of all my Wishes and Defires. Let all our Teachers be for ever Dumb; and this great Volume of the Creatures continue shut to me, so Thou vouchafe thy more immediate Information, and teach me thy self alone.
The better acquainted any Man is with himself, the more he converses with, and retires in his own Breast; and the less he wanders abroad,and dwells upon things without him, the more extensive and sublime is his Knowledge, and the easier attained; because this Man receives immediate Illumination, and is directed by a Ray darted from Heaven into his Soul. A Mind (incere, and pure, and firm, is not diverted by Multiplicity of Objects ; for the Honour of God is its conftant Aim ; and having but one End to pursue, it is in perfect Peace and Unity with it felf, and does not divide its Thoughts with Vanity and Self-love. For what can be a greater Hindrance than our own ambitious and
ungovern d Passion? A truly good and pious Man first iš orders and disposes all his Business regularly, before he
enters upon the Execution of any Design: He suffers
no vicious Inclination to divert him, but makes every EN Undertaking submit to the Dictates of Reason and Res
ligion. The sharpelt as well as noblest Conflict is that
wherein we labour to gain a Conquest over ourselves; or and this should be our principal and constant Care, to I
get ground every Day, by bringing our Passions more ; and more under, and becoming more masterly Proficients in Virtue and Goodness.
Nor may we suppose any fo exalted Degree of Vira tue, that it should cease to be a State of Proficiency ; for such is the Condition of Mercals, that their utmost possible Perfection in this Life,is ever embased with an
1 of ch Of
Allay of Imperfection; and their brightest Notions clouded with some Confusion and Obscurity : But in the Study of our selves we are best capable of avoiding Mistakes; and therefore a true Sense of what we are, and that Humility, which cannot but proceed from such a Sense, is a surer Way of bringing us to God, than the most laborious and profound Enquiries after Knowledge. Not that Learning is in its own Nature blameable; for the Understanding of any thing whatfoever, as confidered simply, and as it really is, ought to be acknowledged commendable and good ; the Gift and Ordinance of God; but the Danger is, when we give this the Precedence in our Esteem, before things abundantly better, I mean, a good Conscience, and a virtuous Conversation. The true Reason then why, in an Age where Learning is had in universal Admiration, so little Proof is made ; and both Error and Vice do notwithstanding, so wretchedly abound, is, in Truth, no other than that Men generally mistake their main Business and proper Excellence. They had rather cultivate their Parts than their Manners, and account it a greater Accomplishment, to Know much, than to Live well.
Oh! Would Men but bestow half the Pains in rooting out Vice and planting Virtue in its stead, which they are content to throw away upon captious and
unprofitable Questions, and that Oppositii Tim. iv. 20.
in of Science, falfly so called, what a blesfed Reformation should we see Then would not the Vulgar, and Meaner Sort, abandon themselves to such scandalous , brutish , and abominable Wickedness nor would the Men of Sense, and Learning, and Qua. lity, continue foprofligate and diffolute in their Manners, and blemish, as they do, their Honour and Attainments, with shameless and licentious Impurities. Surely this could not be, did men but consider at all, thata Day of Judgment there will come, wherein Mea
sures will be taken very different from ours; when the Enquiry, upon which our Affairs must all turn, will be, not how much we liave Heard or Read, but how much we have Done; not how Eloquent our Expreflions, but how Pure and Devout our Lives; how much our Manners, not our Capacity or Breeding, our Wit or Rhetorick, distinguished us from common Men. But if the Crédit and Honour of the thing were the only Consideration, yet even thus, Where is the Fruit of all this mighty Toil? What is become of all the Eminent Divines, Philosophers, Lawyers, Orators, Person's celebrated far and near just at the time when they lived and flourished; but now somebody else enjoy's the Gains of all that Learning and Fatigue; and’tis odds, whether he that lives after their Labours ever so much as fends one Thought after them. These Men, so eminent in their respective Professions, no doubt, thought themselves considerable in their own time; but now that time is gone, and they are loft in universal Silence: Their very Names buried as deep as their. Bodies; and the one was scarce sooner out of Sight, than the other out of all Mention and Remembrance.
Ah wretched Men! How have you been deluded ? How short and withering a Good does that Fame and Reputation prove, which you vainly promised your. selves would be Eternal; always fresh and flourishing, always precious in the Mouths and Memories of Posterity. But this, and no better, is the Condition of all worldly Honour. Oh! had you but been equally careful to improve in Piety,and rendered your Virtues as eminent as your Learning, your Studies then had not been fruitless; but followed with a Recompence which would not thus have forsaken you. But this is the fatal Error of our Age, that infinite Numbers are destroyed by unprofitable Knowledge. They lay themselves out upon Subtleties and Curiosities, which