ページの画像
PDF
ePub

against all manner of Difficulties; for such it is a good Conscience, and a well ground-1. 17oh. iii, 21. ed Confidence towards God, which is its inseparable Attendant.

3. The more a Man knows, and the better those Subjects are, upon which his Studies have been employed ; the heavier shall his 'Account he, unless his Piety and Virtue be proportionably eminent and exemplary. So little Reason have we to be exalted with our Attainments; and not rather to fear more, as we improve more in Knowledge I And what Improvements

. indeed can posfibly be fo great, ' as to juftifyour being proud of them? For no Man can ever want this Mortification of his Vanity, That what he knows is but a very little, in comparison of what he still conti nues ignorant'of

. Consider this; and, instead of boasting of thy

Knowledge of a few Things, confefs and be out of Countenance for the many more which thou dost not understand. And whý fo forward to prefer thy felf before others, when there are fo 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 ufefúl 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 felf more bigbly than be ought to think, is the most difficult, but withal the most profitable Lesson ; (and the preferring others beim fore our felves, is a Point of true Wifdom and high Perfection. Nor ought our Opinions of this kind to be changed, though we should fee another guilty of fome egregious Folly, or very grievous Wickedness since we our felves are Men of like Paffions and Frailties; nor can we tell how long our own Virtue may con tinue unshaken. Remember then, that Infirmities are common to all Mankind; and fo remember it, as to persuade your felf, or at least co fufpect, that these are

dealt

B

dealt to Thee in as plentiful a Measure, as to any other Perfon.whatsoever.

uoni,

در کنار

[ocr errors]

ivi

CH A P. III. * -i:

LO!
The Doctrine of Truth.

girre
rodon
Lesied is the Man, whom Truth condescends to
Teach ; not by dark Figures, and Words quick-

ly forgotten, but by a full and familiar Pfal.xciv. 12.

Communication of it self. Happy should we be, could we but fee things as they are, free from the Errors of our fond Opinions, and the false Eftimates we form from thence. How high a Value do we set 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 Cafe 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 Pfalm cxv.

to be ignorant at last, and verifying in our own selves, the Prophet's Defcription 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 Divine Word instructs, takes a much shorter Cut to Truth : For from this Word alone all saving Knowledge is derived, and without This no Man understands or judges aright. But he, who reduces all his Studies to, and governs himself by this Rule, may

esta

establish his Mind in perfect Peace, and rest himself securely upon God. 0 Thou whose very Essence is

Truth, unite me to thy self in perfect Love ! The Variety of other Subjects tires and distracts my Soul ; in Thee alone I find the Sum of all my Wishes and Desires. Should all our Teachers be for ever dumb, and this great Volume of the Creatures continue shut to us, we might dispense with all the rest ; if Thou wouldst vouchsafe thy own Information, and teach us by thy Self.

The better acquainted any Man is with himself, the more he converses with, and retires into his own Breaft; and the less he wanders abroad, and dwells upon things without him, the more extensive and fublime is his Knowledge, and the more easily attained. Because this Man receives, and is directed by, a Ray darted from Heaven into his Soul. A Mind sincere, and pure, and firm, is not diverted by Multiplicity of Objects

. For the Honour of God is its constant 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 PasLion? A truly good and pious Man first 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 Undertaking submit to the Dictates of Reason and Religion. The sharpest as well as noblest Conflict is that, wherein we labour to gain a Conquest over our selves; and this should be our principal and constant Care, to get ground every Day, by bringing our Paffions more and more under, and becoming more masterly Proficients in Virtue and Goodness.

Nor may we suppose any Degree of Virtue so exalted, that it should cease to be a State of Proficiency; for such is the Condition of Mortals, that their utmost B 2

possi

pollible Perfection in this Life, is ever embased with an Allay of Imperfection, and their brightest Notions are clouded with some Confusion and Obscurity. But in the Study of our felves we are best capable of avoiding Mistakes. Therefore a true Senfe 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 whatsoever, considered 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 Efteem, before things abundantly better : I mean a good Confcie ence, and a virtuous Conversation. The true Reason then why, in an Age where Learning is had in univerfal Admiration, fo little Profit is made ; and both Error and Vice do, notwithstanding, fo 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.

Oral 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 the Opposi1 Tim. iv. 20. tion of Science, fallly so called ; what a blessed Reformation should we fee? Then would not the Vulgar, and Meaner Sort, abandon themselves to fuch scandalous, brutish, and abominable Wickedness. Nor would the Men of Sense and Learning, and Quality, continue so profligate 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,

that

that a Day of Judgment there will come, wherein Measures will be taken very different from Ours; when the Enquiry, upon which our Affairs must all turn, will be, not how much we have Heard or Read, but how much we have Done ; not how Eloquent our Expressions, 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 Credit and Honour of the thing were the only Confideration ; yet even thus, Where is the Fruit of all this mighty Toil? What is become of all the Eminent Divines, Philosophers, Lawyers, Orators, Persons 'celebrated far and near just at the time when they lived and flourished ? but now somebody else enjoys the Gains of all that Learning and Fatigue ; and 'tis odds, whether he that lives upon their Labours, ever so much as sends one Thought after them. These Men, so eminent in their respe, ctive Professions, no doubt, thought themselves confiderable in their own Time ; but now that Time is gone, and they are loft in universal Silence. Their very Names are 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 Aourishing, 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 rendred 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

them,

B3

« 前へ次へ »