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prerequisite to the obedience prescribed ; and farther to press them all together on us, we may consider that it is strictly incumbent on them (under danger of heavy punishment and woe) willingly, earnestly, with all diligence and patience, to labor in teaching and admonishing us; they must give attendance and take heed unto their doctrine, that it may be sound and profitable; they must preach the word,' and be instant on it in season, out of season,' (that is, not only taking, but seeking and snatching all occasions to do it,) 'reproring, rebuking, exhorting with all longsuffering and doctrine;' they must warn every man, and teach every man in all wisdom, that they may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: as they are obliged in such manner to do these things, so there must be correspondent duties lying on us, to receive their doctrine readily, carefully, patiently, sincerely, and fairly : as they must be faithful dispensers of God's heavenly truth and holy mysteries, so we must be obsequious entertainers of them : imposing such commands on them doth imply reciprocal obligations in their hearers and scholars; otherwise their office would be vain, and their endeavors fruitless ; God no less would be frustrated in his design, than we should be deprived of the advantages of their institution.
But farther, it is a more immediate ingredient of this duty, that,
4. We should effectually be enlightened by their doctrine, be convinced by their arguments persuading truth and duty, be moved by their admonitions and exhortations to good practice; we should open our eyes to the light which they shed forth on us, we should surrender our judgment to the proofs which they allege, we should yield our hearts and affections pliable to their mollifying and warming discourses : it is their part to subdue our minds to the obedience of faith, and to subject our wills to the observance of God's commandments, (* casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowlege of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ ;') it must therefore answerably be our duty not to resist, not to hold out, not to persist obstinate in our errors or prejudices; to submit our minds to the power of truth, being willingly and gladly conquered by
it; it must be our duty to subjugate our wills, to bend our inclinations, to form our affections to a free compliance of heart with the duties urged on us; we should not be like those disciples, of whom our Lord complaineth thus; O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken :' nor like the Jews, with whom St. Stephen thus expostulates; · Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost.' They should speak with power and efficacy; we therefore should not by our indispositions (by obstinacy of conceit or hardness of heart) obstruct their endeavors : they should be co-workers of your joy,' (that is, working in us that faith and those virtues, which are productive of true joy and comfort of us ;) we therefore should co-work with them toward the same end: they should edify us in knowlege and holiness; we should therefore yield ourselves to be fashioned and polished by them.
5. We should, in fine, obey their doctrine by conforming our practice thereto ; this our Lord prescribed in regard even to the Jewish guides and doctors ; •The scribes and pharisees sit in Moses's seat; all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do:' the same we may well conceive that he requireth in respect to his own ministers, the teachers of a better law, authorised to direct us by his own commission, and thereto more specially qualified by his grace : this is indeed the crown and completion of all; to hear signifieth nothing; to be convinced in our mind, and to be affected in our heart, will but aggravate our guilt, if we neglect practice; every sermon we hear, that showeth us our duty, will in effect be an enditement on us, will ground a sentence of condemnation, if we transgress it : for, as the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft on it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God, so that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing, and its end is to be burned :' and, · Not the hearers of the law are just with God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. And it is a good advice, that of St. James ; * Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves;' it is, he intimateth, a fallacy some are apt to put on themselves, to conceit they have done sufficiently when they have lent an ear to VOL. III.
the word ; this is the least part to be done in regard to it, practice is all in all; what is it to be showed the way, and to know it exactly, if we do not walk in it, if we do not by it arrive to our journey's end, the salvation of our souls? To have waited on our Lord himself, and hung on his discourse, was not available; for when in the day of account some shall begin to allege, We have eaten and drunk before thee, and thou hast taught in our streets; our Lord will say, I know you not, whence are ye; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.' And it is our Lord's declaration in the case, Whosoerer heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house on a rock ;--but every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house on the sand.'
Many are very earnest to hear, they hear gladly,' as Herod did St. John Baptist's homilies ; they receive the word with joy,' as the temporary believers in the parable did; they do, as those men did in the prophet, delight to know God's ways, do ask of God the ordinances of justice, do take delight in approaching God;' or as those in another prophet, 'who speak one to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come, I
pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the Lord : and they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but will not do them; fur with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness : and, lo, thou art to them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument; for they hear thy words, but they do them not;' they for a time rejoice in the light of God's' messengers, as those Jews did in the light of that burning and sbining lamp,'St. John the Baptist; but all comes to nothing; but they are backward and careless to perform, at least more than they please themselves, or what suiteth to their fancy, their humor, their appetite, their interest : many hearers will believe only what they like, or what suiteth to their prejudices and passions ; many of what they believe will practise that only which sorteth with their temper, or will serve their designs; they cannot conform to unpleasant and unpafitable doctrines : sometimes care choketh the word; sometimes temptation of pleasure, of profit, of honor allureth; sometimes difficulties, hazards, persecutions, discourage from obedience to it.
These particulars are obvious, and by most will be consented to: there is one point which perhaps will more hardly be admitted, which therefore I shall more largely insist on ; it is this :
6. That as in all cases it is our duty to defer much regard to the opinion of our guides, so in some cases it behoveth us to rely barely on their judgment and advice; those especially among them who excel in dignity and worth, who are approved for wisdom and integrity; their definitions, or the declarations of their opinion, (especially such as are exhibited on mature deliberation and debate, in a solemn manner,) are ever very probable arguments of truth and expediency; they are commonly the best arguments which can be had in some matters, especially to the meaner and simpler sort of people. This on many accounts will appear reasonable.
It is evident to experience, that every man is not capable to judge, or able to guide himself in matters of this nature, (concerning divine truth and conscience.) There are ‘children in understanding;' there are men weak in faith,' (or knowlege concerning the faith ;) there are idiots, árakoi, (men not bad, but simple,) persons occupying the room of the unlearned, unskilful in the word of righteousness,' who, as the Apostle saith, need that one should teach them which be the first principles of the oracles of God.'
The vulgar sort of men are as undiscerning and injudicious in all things, so peculiarly in matters of this nature, so much abstracted froin common sense and experience; whence we see them easily seduced into the fondest conceits and wildest courses by any slender artifice or fair pretence ; like children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.'
There are also some particular cases, a competent information and skill in which must depend on improvements of mind acquired by more than ordinary study and experience; so that in them most people do want sufficient means of attaining knowlege requisite to guide their judgment or their practice : and for such persons in such cases it is plainly the best, the wisest, and the safest way, to rely on the direction of their guides, assenting to what they declare, acting what they prescribe, going whither they conduct.
The very notion of guides, and the design of their office, doth import a difference of knowlege, and a need of reliance on them in such cases; it signifieth that we are in some measure ignorant of the way, and that they better know it; and if so, plain reason dictateth it fit that we should follow them : and indeed what need were there of guides, to what purpose should we have them, if we can sufficiently ken the way, and judge what we should do without them ?
In the state of learning, in which the assigning us teachers supposeth us placed,) whatever our capacity may be, yet our judgment at least (for want of a full comprehension of things, which must be discovered in order and by degrees) is imperfect: in that state therefore it becometh us not to pretend exercise of judgment, but rather easily to yield assent to what our teachers, who see farther into the thing, do assert ; • The learner,' as Seneca saith,' is bound to be ruled, while he beginneth to be able to rule himself.'*
Δεί μανθάνοντα πιστεύειν, “A learner should in some measure be credulous ;' otherwise, as he will often fail in bis judgment, so he will make little progress in learning : for if he will admit nothing on his master's word, if he will question all things, if he will continually be doubting and disputing, or contradicting and opposing his teacher, how can instruction proceed ? He that presently will be his own master is a bad scholar, and will be a worse master. He that will fly before he is fledged, no wonder if he tumble down.
There are divers obvious and very considerable cases in which persons most contemptuous of authority, and refractory toward their guides, are constrained to rely on the judgment of others, and are contented to do it, their conscience showing them unable to judge for themselves : in admitting the literal sense of Scripture, according to translations; in the interpretation of
* Sen. Ep. 94.