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fhewn in all the other substantial parts, the very fame with that we are now under) to become an Adam's covenant of works.
These things I have here fuper-added, to leave as little as poffible behind me to be an occasion of further trouble and contention. Let all ftrife therefore, in fo plain a cafe, be ended: contentious fpirits, are not the most excellent fpirits among Chriftians. Fire (and fo contention) is more apt to catch in low built thatcht cottages, than in high built castles and princely palaces: the higher we go, ftill the more peace. The highest region is most fedate and calm. Stars have the strongest influence when in conjunction. Angels (though legions) have no wars among them; and as willingly go down, as up the ladder, without juftling each other. And the most high God is the God of peace; let us alfo be the children of peace. And I do affure the perfons with whom I contend, that whilft they hold the head, and are tender of the church's peace, I can live in charity with them here, and hope to live in glory with them hereafter. I remain, reader, thine and the truth's friend
INDING, by fad experience, what I before justly fear
Fed, that errors would be apt to fpring up with liberty (tho
the restraint of just liberty being a practical error in rulers, can never be the cure of mental errors in the fubjects ;) } judged it neceffary, at this season, to give a fuccinct account of the rife, causes, and remedies of feveral mistakes and errors, under which, even the reformed churches among us, as well as others, do groan at this day.
I will not stay my reader long upon the etymology and derivations of the word. We all know that etymologies are no definitions: yet because they caft fome light upon the nature of the thing we enquire after, it will not be loft labour to observe, that this word ERROR, derives itself from three roots in the Hebrew language.
(1.) The first *" word primitively fignifies to deviate or de"cline from the true scope or path," as unfkilful markf-men,
NOT Charta, a Scopo aberravit.
or ignorant and inadvertent travellers ufe to do. The least variation or turning aside from the true rule and line, tho' it be but an hair's breadth, presently becomes an error. We read, Judg. xx. 16. of 700 Benjamites, who could every one fling ftones at an hair's breadth, and not mifs, NTN Heb. and not err. This, by a metaphor, is applied to the mind or judgment of man; and denotes the warpings thereof from the Straight, perfect, divine law or rule, and is ufually translated by the word fin.
(2.) It is derived from another word also, which fignifies to wander in variable and uncertain motions: You find it in the title of the 7th Pfalm, Shiggaion of David, a wandring fong, or a song of variable notes and tunes, higher and lower, sharper and flatter. In both the former derivations it feems to note fimple error, through mere weaknels and ignorance. But then,
(3.) In its derivation from a third root †, it fignifies not only to err, but to cause others to err alfo; and fo fignifies a feducer, or one that is active in leading others into a wrong way; and is applied in that sense, to the prophets in Ifrael, who feduced the people, Ezek. xiii. 10. The Greek verb πλανάω, takes in both these fenfes, both to go aftray, and, when put tranfitively, to lead or cause others to go aftray with us.
is the word virus, planets, or wandering ftars; the title given by the apostle Jude, ver. 13. to the falfe teachers and feducers of his time.
An error then is any departure or deviation in our opinions or judgments from the perfect rule of the divine law: and to this all men, by nature, are not only liable, but incliaable. Indeed man, by nature, can do nothing else but err, Pfal. lviii. 3. He goeth afray as foon as born; makes not one true step till renewed by grace, and many false ones after his renovation. The life of the holiest man is a book with many errata's ; but the whole edition of a wicked man's life, is but one continued error: he that thinks he cannot err, manifeftly errs in fo thinking. The Pope's fuppofed and pretended infallibility hath made him the great deceiver of the world. A good man may err, but is willing to know his error; and will not obftinately maintain it, when he once plainly discerns it. Error and herefy, among other things, differ in this: herefy is accompanied with pertinacy, and therefore the heretic is alexaldxpilos, felf-condemned; his own confcience condemns
.Shaga שנח .Tagna in Hiph טעה *
him, whilst men labour in vain to convince him. He doth not formally, and in terms, condemn himfelf; but he doth fo equivalently, whilft he continues to own and maintain doctrines and opinions which he finds himself unable to defend against the evidence of truth. Human frailty may lead a man into the first, but devilish pride fixes him in the laft.
The word of God, which is our rule, must therefore be the only teft and touchftone to try and difcover errors; for regula eft index fui & obliqui. 'Tis not enough to convince a man of error, that his judgment differs from other mens; you must bring it to the word, and try how it agrees or disagrees therewith; elfe he that charges another with error, may be found in as great or greater an error himself. None are more difpofed eafily to receive, and tenaciously to defend errors, than those who are the Antefignani, heads or leaders of erroneous sects; efpecially after they have fought in defence of bad causes, and deeply engaged their reputation.
The following difcourfe juftly entitles itself, A BLOW AT THE ROOT. And though you will here find the roots of maby errors laid bare and open, which, comparatively, are of far different degrees of danger and malignity; which I here mention together, many of them fpringing from the fame root: Yet I am far from cenfuring them alike; nor would I have any that are concerned in leffer errors be exafperated, because their leffer mistakes are mentioned with greater and more pernicious ones; this candour I not only intreat, but juftly challenge from my reader.
And because there are many general and very ufeful obfervations about errors, which will not fo conveniently come under the laws of that method which governs the main part of this discourse, viz. CAUSES and CURES of error: I have therefore forted them by themfelves, and premifed them to the following part in twenty obfervations next enfuing.
Twenty general OBSERVATIONS about the Rife and Increase of the ERRORS of the Times.
RUTH is the proper object, the natural and pleasant food of the understanding, Job xii. 11. Doth not the ear (that is, the understanding by the ear) try words, as the mouth tafieth meat? Knowledge is the affimilation of the understanding to
the truths received by it. Nothing is more natural to man, than a defire to know: knowledge never cloys the mind, as food doth the natural appetite; but as the one increaseth, the other' is proportionably fharpened and provoked. The minds of all (that are not wholly immerfed in fenfuality) fpend their strength in the laborious fearch and pursuit of truth: fometimes climbing up from the effects to the causes, and then defcending again from the caufes to the effects; and all to difcover truth. Fervent prayer, fedulous ftudy, fixed meditations, are the labours of inquifitive fouls after truth. All the objections and counter-arguments the mind meets in its way, are but the pauses and hesitations of a bivious foul, not able to determine whether truth lies upon this fide, or upon that.
Answerable to the fharpness of the mind's appetite, is the fine edge of pleasure and delight it feels in the difcovery and acquifition of truth. When it hath racked and tortured itself upon knotty problems, and, at laft, difcovered the truth it fought for, with what joy doth the foul dilate itself, and run (as it were with open arms) to clafp and welcome it?
The understanding of man, at first, was perfpicacious and clear; all truths lay obvious in their comely order and ravishing beauty before it: God made man upright, Eccl. vii. 29. This rectitude of his mind confifted in light and knowledge, as appears by the prescribed method of his recovery, Col. iii. 10. Renewed in knowledge, after the image of him that created him. Truth in the mind, or the mind's union with truth, being part of the divine image in man, difcovers to us the fin and mifchief of error, which is a defacing (fo far as it prevails) of the image of God.
No fooner was man created, but by the exercife of knowledge he foon difcovered God's image in him; and by his ambition after more, loft what he had. So that now there is an hazinefs or cloud fpread over truth by ignorance and error, the fad effects of the fall.
Obferv. 2. Of knowledge there are divers forts and kinds : fome is human, and fome divine; fome fpeculative, and fome practical; fome ingrafted as the notions of morality, and fome acquired by painful fearch and study: but of all knowledge, none like that divine and fupernatural knowledge of faving truths revealed by Chrift in the fcriptures; from whence arifeth the different degrees both of the finfulaefs and danger of errors; thofe errors being always the worft, which are committed against the most important truths revealed in the gospel.
These truths ly infolded either in the plain words, or evident and neceffary confequences from the words of the Holy Scripture; fcripture-confequences are of great ufe for the refutation of errors: it was by a fcripture-confequence, that Chrift fuccessfully proved the refurrection against the Sadducees, Mat. xxii. The Arians, and other heretics, rejected confequential proofs, and rquired the exprefs words of Scripture only; hoping, that way, to defend and fecure their errors against the arguments and affaults of the orthodox.
Some think that reason and natural light is abundantly fufficient for the direction of life; but certainly nothing is more neceffary to us, for that end, than the written word; for tho' the remains of natural light have their place and ufe, in direct. ing us about natural and earthly things, yet they are utterly infufficient to guide us in fpiritual and heavenly things,
ii. 14. "The natural man receiveth not the things of God," &c. Eph. v. 8. "Once were ye in darkness, võv dè` Qãç ev xvupsw, DOW "are ye light in the Lord;" i. e. by a beam of heavenly light fhining from the Spirit of Chrift thro' the written word, into your minds or understandings.
'Tis the written word which fhines upon the path of our duty, Pfal. cxix. 105. The fcriptures of the Old and New Testament do jointly make the folid foundation of a Chriftian's faith. Hence, Eph. ii. 20. we are faid to be built upon the foundation of the apoftles and prophets. We are bound therefore to honour Old Teflament fcriptures, as well as new, they being part of the divine canon; and muft not fcruple to admit them as fufficient, and authentic proofs, for the confirmation of truths, and refutation of errors. Chrift referred the people to them, John v. 39. and Paul preached and difputed from them, Acts xxvi,
Obferve. 3. Unto the attainment of divine knowledge out of the feriptures, fome things are naturally, yet less princpally requifite in the fubject; and fomething abfolutely, and principally neceffary.
The natural qualifications defirable in the fubject, are clearnefs of apprehenfion, folidity of judgment, and fidelity of retention. These are defirable requifites to make the understanding fufceptible of knowledge; but the irradiation of the mind, by the Spirit of God, is principally neceffary, John xvi. 13. "He fhall guide you into all truth :" The clearest and most comfortable light he giveth to men is in the way of fanctification, called the teachings of the anointing, 1 John. ii. 27.
When this spiritual fanctifying light shines upon a mind, natu,