Page images
PDF
EPUB

what he is to think, and to do; raises . some Fanciful Scheme of things to him. self, frames fome Particular Set of Opinions; and then rejoices in the mighty Discovery he hath made, and wonders at the Rest of tlie World, that they do not fall in with it, and adore it. Now these Pretences, the Wise-man tells us, are vain, and these Searches are vain; he hath taken a great deal of pains, only to be out of the way, and to miss the mark which he aims at : A Scorner seeket le Wisdom, and findeth it not.

Having thus largely opend the Sense of the Text, I shall endeavour, in what follows, to justifie the Truth of the Observation containd in it, by shewing you, how it comes to pass, that the Men, who thus set up for a more than ordinary pitch of Wisdom and Sense, by Contemning Religion, and Deriding the Professors of it, do always, and must always, fail of the End which they propose to themselves; fince, whatever Abilities they may have in Other matters, yet they are the most unqualified and incapable, of all men, to make impartial Enquiries after Divine Truth, and to discern between That and Error -

There

There are Four things, which particularly unfit a Man for such a Task, a very Proud, or a very Suspicious Temper ; False Wit, or Sensuality. And These are the Chief and Prevailing Ingredients in the Composition of that man, whom we call a Scorner. The Two Last do

generally, and in most instances, belong to him; but the Two First are Essential to him, and inseparable from him. Pride is that Ruling Quality which,

I. of all others, seems to take the fastest Hold of him ; Proud and Haughty Scor

Prov. xxi ner is his Name, says Solomon, elsewhere. 24. And again, There is a Generation, o how Prov.xxx lofty are their Eyes! and Their Eylids lift- 13. ed up! The truth is, there never was, nor ever can be a settled Contempt of Religious Principles, that is not built upon Pride , i. e. upon an undue Value, which a Man hath for himself, and for his own Opinion, and a Disregard for every thing besides. And, therefore, the Author of (that Fantastical Book) the Leviathan, doth, at the very Entrance of it, very honestly, and in Terms confess, that he is a Man who Loves his own Opinions. And so, doubtless, doth every

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Man too, who treads in His Steps, tho? he doth not own it fo frankly, or perhaps know it fo throughly; Indeed, a Modest Humble man can hardly bring himself once to think of shaking off common receiv'd Principles, and going against the United Wisdom of mankind : or, if he should entertain, yet will he never venture to publish that Thought; but will conceal it, as carefully as he would his own Bosom Infirmity, or the Secret of his Friend. 'Tis the Presumptuous and Proud man alone, who dares to trample on those Truths, which the rest of the World reverence; and can sit down quietly in the assurance, that He alone is in the Right, and all Mankind beside in the Wrong

Now, I say, as there is no One Quality, that sticks more closely to a Scorner than that of Pride, so is there none that doth more evidently obstruct right Reasoning, and an impartial Search after Truths of all kinds, especially those which relate to Vertue and Piety. And no wonder, therefore, if

, on This Account, the Scorner, tho' he seek Wisdom, yet finaeth it not. Pride makes a man Teem sufficient in his own Eyes for all manner of Speculations and Inquiries; and, there

fore,

fore, puts him indifferently upon the

pursuit of all Knowledge, and the determination of all Doubts, without giving him Leave to distrust himself in the least, or, coce to consider, which way his Genius and Abilities lie. Hence it happens, that the Man, not being duly Qualified for Every Search, or, if he were, yet not having leifure and opportunity enough to go through with it, is fain to take up with Night and superficial accounts of things; and then, what he wants in true Knowledge, to make up in downright Assurance. As soon as he hath touch'd on any Science, or Study, he im, mediately seems to himself to have mafter'd it; is as Positive in his Opinions, and as hardy in his Assertions, as if the Thoughts of his whole Life had been directed That way only: which is, as if a Coaster, who hath gone from Port to Port only, should pretend to give a better description of the Inland Parts of a Country, 'than Those who have travellid it all over. But this, I say, is the mischievous Nature of Pride; it makes a Man Grasp at every thing, and, by Consequence, comprehend nothing effectually and throughly; and yet (which is worst of all) inclines him to despise and contradict those that do. It gives him just enough Understanding, to raise an Obje

tradiet

tion, or a Doubt ; but not enough to lay it: which, as it is the meanest and most despicable, so it is also the most dangerous State of mind, a man can be in; and by so much the more dangerous, as the Subject, upon which his Enquiries turn, is more important, and the Errors more fatal which he runs into, for want of a due knowledge of it. He that is but Half a Philosopher, is in danger of being an Atheist; an Half-Physician is apt to turn Empiric; an Half-Bred man is conceited in his Address, and troublesome in his Conversation. Thus it is in all matters of Speculation, or Practcie ; He that knows but a little of them, and is very confident of his own strength , is more out of the way of True Knowledge, than if he knew nothing at all. Now there is, I say, a Natural Tendency in Pride, towards putting a Man's mind into such a Situation as this; and, therefore, it must must needs be a Quality very opposite to the Search and Attainment of True Wisdom.

And then, supposing a Proud man to be once in the Wrong, it is scarce possible that he should ever be set right again; he is

plac'd

« PreviousContinue »