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ny Scripture Affertions: all which are easie, and familiar to those that knew the exact propriety of such Languages, were acquainted throughly with such Histories, Customs, Usages, and manner of Speakings: and besides all these, the application of general Rules, to particular Cases, (where a little circumftance may make a great alteration,) is full of puzzle and intricacy. Insomuch, that some D'Efpagne pohave thought, that there are several cases of Conscience, that are pular Errours
. not yet fully determined, and that are like fo to remain.' S. 2. Chapollo
Fourthly, Neither is the nature of Knowledg it felf, without an - Argument to prove the infufficiency of our Knowledg ; to Know, is properly to understand things by their Causes; or at least, by their Effects: and to make a right result of Particulars from a general Maxim. Such a kind of Knowledg, is necessary in Religion ; for setting aside, some particulars of mysterious height, (about which, God hath set bounds, left Men in presumptuous boldness should adventure to break through unto the Lord to gaze.) And some things which are the Principles of Nature, or their next results, (which are upon that score, beyond all need of enquiry,) in all which, 'tis enough to believe, that what the Scripture faith is true, without asking a further account : yet in other things, the Scripture gives us the Grounds, Reasons, and Proofs of what it declarcs, or afferts ; as may appear by infinite Examples: so that to know Christ dyed, or that we are justified by Faith, or that Christ mall come to fudgment; without a knowledge of the grounds, and reasons of thefe things, is indeed bút grofs ignorance. The like, may be said, of the Knowledg of general Precepts, without the Knowledg of their neceffary Application.
But how few are there that do thus know? the greatest part of Men fatisfie themselves with the bare affirmations of Scripture, and they resolve all into this, That the Word of God faith so: or, That it is the Will of God it should be so, without further enquiry.
And as for others, though they may know the Reasons of many things, yet are there a vaft oumber of Particulars, whose reasons we know not, though the Scripture may contain them :. and as for Consequences, and the application of general Rules, their just limitation, and the Enumeration of the Cases wherein they are true, or falfe: it is that that keeps the Wits of Men upon the rack perpetually. Fifthly, The unsuitableness of our Capacities, to those Objects
of Knowledg, may be particularly considered as a further con-
were they fed as babes in Cbrift (according to the Apostles Simi1 Cor. 3. 1. litude,) with Milk, and not with strong Meat, because they were not
able to bear it. And yet Christ sometimes complained, That this
But possibly, some may expect higher matters, from those that
still fo much in capacity may be seen in them, as will sufficiently justifie the charge of imperfection in Knowledg againh the inolt Learned. Let us bring in some instances, and it will be evident,
First, The greatest Errours that have most disturbed the Church in all Ages, have had their rise from Learned Men; the names of their Authors are marked upon their Foreheads. These known Errours are so many, that they fill whole Volumes. The result of which consideration, will be this, That Learned Men have often been very dangerously mistaken. (2) The present Contentions and Disputes of Men, managed on all hands with so much earnestness, wherein one party Triumphs over another, and all (in their own apprehensions) are Victorious ; instead of Conquests, by Are guments and Answers, each party is but more confirmed in its own apprehenfions, and yet the one half is certainly wrong, and perhaps in many things both Parties are mistaken. This (I say)lufficiently shews the incapacities of the Learned: for if every capacity were truly correfpondent to Truth, there would be no more Disputes nor differences. (3) The moft Learned, find the business of their open perswafion and satisfaction in many Truths (in which common People have no scruple nor doubt ) very difficult, because they see more Objections to be answered, and
the weakness of Arguments than others do; but this shews their Capacities are not so large as some would think. (4) Let us once for all, consider that which seems to be the highest Evidence for Knowledge and Understanding in the Learned ; and we shall find upon juft examination, 'tis no more than an argument of their Ignorance : What is there wherein they seem more acute, and Eagleey'd, than in their Distinctions, by which they would give us the molt minute differences of things; and appear fo exact, as if they would divide an Atom, and give every thing its juft weight and meafore. But let' as confider, that (though all Distinctions are not unproñtable) their multitude is become oppreflive and troublesom, and more time must be spent in learning terms and words of Art, than tbings; and their nicety and fubtilty so great, that they recher darken Truth, and give occasion to bold Spirits, to undertake the defence of any Paradox. Nay, if we could sever these clearly from their abuses, yet, seeing 'tis certain there are more distinctions of terms than things ; they will evince, That our Knowledge is more verbal than real, and that often for a moun
tain of Words, we have but a mole-bill of substantial Matter. Nay, seeing we make but a sorry shift, at best, by these Artifices to come to some rude conceptions of things, which otherwise we cannot in any tolerable manner comprehend; it is as great a proof of our imperfection in Knowledg, as the necessary use of Alaves and crutches is an evidence of lameness. If I should pals from this, to the confideration of the Multitude (beyond all number) of Books that are written, we shall find them but so many Proclamations of our Ignorance; for if we could believe them all to contain so many wholsoine Precepts of necessary Truth (which yet we cannot rationally imagin) this would imply, That the greatest part wanted these informations ; and that common Ignorance is not only a general distemper, but also a Distemper hard to be cured, that stands in need of such Multitudes of Instructors, and such varieties of helps. But if we believe, that among this infinite number of Volumes there are thousands of Lyes, millions of unproved Conjectures, millions of millions of idle unprofitable Fancies; then do we in express terms pronounce them guilty of Ignorance, and of Ignorance so much the more dangerous, by how much the more bold it is, to avouch it self in the Light, and to obtrude it self upon the belief of others, who inftead of being better informed by it, shall but encrease their own blindness : were there nothing to be said but this, That there are such a vaft inultitude of Commentators upon the Bible, which do all pretend to expound and explain it, it would of necessity admit of these Conclusions. (1) That the Bible hath in it things so dark or at least, our capacities are so dull, that there is need of great endeavours to explain the one, or assist the other. (2) That the knowledg of Men is imperfect : for if all, or most Men could certainly interpret the Scripture, there needed not so many Volumes, but that one, or two might have signified as much, as now whole Libraries can do.
The imperfection of our Knowledg, being thus laid open, 'tis easie to see, what advantages the Devil may make out of it, for the promoting of Errour ; for it must now become our wonder, not that any Man errs, but that all do not. We find it easie to impose any thing upon Children, 'tis an easie matter for a trifle to cheat them out of all they have. Surely then Satan may do as much by Men, who are but Children in understanding. The Apo#le, Ephef. 4. 14. puts us in mind of this hazard, under that ve
ry fimilitude, That we henceforth be no more Children toffed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of Doctrine. How fitly doth he resemble us to Children? Their weaknesses are, (1) Want of discerning, they see not the true worth of things. (2) Crea' dulity, they believe all fair speeches, and specious Promises ; and the hazard of both these is in this, That it makes them un-' constant, uncertain, and fickle; and such are we made by our Ignorance : so little do we truly discern, so apt are we to believe eves ry pretence (for the simple believes every word, Prov. 14. 15.) That Kaudoni vesot as the Apostle's Metaphors do tell us we are easily tossed from one
Περιφερόμενοι conceit or Opinion to another, as a Ship is by the Waves, or a Feather in the Wind.
Thirdly, A third advantage which the Devil takes against us in his design of Errour, is the byafs of the Mind; were our Understandings purely free, in a just and even ballance toward all things propounded to its deliberation and assent, (though it were im. perfect in its Light) the danger were the less; but, now in regard of the bent and sway it is under ; 'tis commonly partial, and inclined to one side more than to another, and yet the Matter were the less, if only one or two noted things had the power of setting up a false-Light before the Mind; but there are many thingsthat are apt to do us this mischief, which have the same Effect upon us, that bribes have upon persons interested in Judgment, which not only tempts them to do wrong, but so blindes their eyes, that they know not they do so, or at least, not in so great a measure. The Mind is byaffed.
First,Naturally to Errour, rather than Truths; the corruption of our Nature is general,and doth not only dispose the will and affections to practical iniquities, but doth also incline the Understanding to Errour and misapprehension. And that
seems to be the ground of Christs assertion against the Jews; Jo. 5.43. I am come in my Fathers Name, and ye receive me not; if another shall come in his omon name, bim ye will receive. Which implies, That Men are Na, turally more prone to believe an Impofter, than one that speaks the most certain and profitable Verities : and besides this general inclination to vanities and lyes, there are (if some think right) some Errours that are formally engraven in the nature of faln Man ; D'Espagne poas that Opinion, To be saved by Works. For not only do all Men pu ar Eirours
. (that have any apprehensions of a future Eternal State) resolve §. 2. Chap. 4. that question of obtaining Salvation into Works, as the proper