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OF TRUE SAVING KNOWLEDGE :
I. CAUSING OUR LOVE TO GOD. U. THEREBY QUALIFYING US FOR HIS LOVE.
1 CORINTHIANS viii. 3. But if any man love God, the same is known of him.
THE END IT TENDETH TO, THAN BY ITSELF. HAVING done with that epidemical, mortal disease, SELF-CONCEITEDNESS, or PREFIDENCE, or over-hasty judging, and pretending to know that which we know not, which I more desire than hope to cure ; I have left but little room for the nobler part of my subject, True Saving Knowledge, because the handling of it was not my principal design.
The meaning of the text I gave you before. The true paraphrase of it is as followeth : As if Paul had said : : You overvalue your barren notions, and think that by them you are wise ; whereas knowledge is a means to a higher end; and is to be esteemed of as it attaineth that end ; that end is to make us lovers of God, that so we may be known with love by him ; for to love God and be beloved by him is man's felicity and ultimate end ; and therefore that which we must seek after and live for in the world ; and he is to be accounted the wisest man that loveth God most; when unsanctified notions and airy speculations will prove but folly.'
This being the true meaning of the text, I shall briefly speak of it by parts, as it containeth these several doctrines or propositions.
Doct. I. Knowledge is a means to a higher end, according to which it is to be estimated.
Doct. II. The end of knowledge is to make us lovers of God, and so to be known with love by him.
Doct. III. Therefore knowledge is to be valued, sought and used, as it tendeth to this holy blessed end.
Doct. IV. And therefore those are to be accounted the wisest or best-knowing men, that love God most; and not those that are stored with unholy knowledge.
For the first of these, that • Knowledge is a means to a higher end,' I shall first open it, and
then prove it.
I. Aquinas and some other schoolmen make the vision or knowledge of God to be the highest part of man's felicity : and I deny not but that the three faculties of man's soul, vital acti. vity, intellect, and will, as the image of the Divine Trinity, have a kind of inseparability and co-equality. And therefore each of their perfections and perfect receptions from God, and operations on God, is the ultimate end of man : but yet they are distinguishable, though not divisible ; and there is such an order among them, as that one may in some respects be called the incepter and another the perfecter of human operations ; and so the acts of one be called a means to the acts of the other. And thus though the vision or knowledge of God be one inadequate conception, if not a part of our ultimate end ; yet the love of God, and living to God, are also other conceptions or parts of it : yea, and the more completive, perfect parts, which we call • finis ultimate ultimus.'
II. The proof shall be fetched, 1. From the order and use of the faculties of the soul. 2. From the objects. 3. From the constitution of the acts. 4. From express Scripture.
III. It is evident to our internal perception ; 1. That the understanding is but the guide of the will, and its acts but mediate to determine the will : as the eye is to lead the appetitive and executive faculties, by presenting to them their proper objects. To know is but an initial introductory act.
Yea, 2. It is evident that the soul is not satisfied with bare knowing, if no delight or complacency follow : for what is that which we call satisfaction, but the complacency of the will ? Suppose a man to have no effect upon his will, no pleasure, no contentation in his knowledge, and what felicity or desirable good to him would there be, in all the knowledge in the world? Yea, when I name either good or desirable every one knoweth that I name an object of the will. Therefore if you stop at bare intellection, it is not to be called good or desirable as to the intellect, these being not proper intellectual objects : though remotely I confess they are ; that is, that which is called good, amiable and desirable primarily as the proper object of the will, must be discerned to be such by the understanding : when yet the formal notion of the intellects object, is but .quid intelligibile,' which materially is 'Ens, Unum, Verum, Bonum :' But goodness is the formal notion of the object of the will, and not only the material.
If any say that I seem here to take part with Epicurus, and Cicero's Torquatus, who erred by placing the chief excellency of virtue in the pleasure of it ; and consequently making any thing more excellent which is more pleasant, though it be sin itself; I answer, He that will decide that great controversy, must distinguish, 1. Between sensitive pleasure, and the complacency of the will. 2. Between that which is good only to me and that which is good to others, and that which is good in relation to the supreme and final will of God. 3. Between the exterior and the interior acts of virtue, and then you shall see Cicero and Torquatus easily reconciled thus
1. It is certain that goodness and the will are so essentially related to each other, that they must each enter the other's definition. To be • bonum' is to be · volibile ;' and to will is ever * velle bonum.'
2. It is certain that God's will is the original and end of all created good, which hath its essence in relation to his will. And therefore if it were possible for virtue to be unpleasant or pernicious to the possessor, it would be good as it is suited and related to the will of God.
3. Therefore it cannot be said, that virtue as virtue is better than virtue as it pleaseth God : but it is most certain that virtue as virtue is pleasing to God, (as to the objective aptitude,) and that virtue as pleasing to God, and consequently as virtue ; is better than virtue, as it is pleasant to the possessor.
4. And it is certain that virtue, as it is profitable, and justly pleasing to mankind, to the church, to kingdoms, to public societies or multitudes, is better than as it is pleasing unto
Because the good of many is better than of one.
5. And it is certain that virtue, as it pleaseth the rational will, is better than as it pleaseth the mere sensitive appetite, which it seldom doth : and therefore sensuality hath no advantage hence.
6. And virtue as it profiteth, though at present it occasioneth sorrow or disobedience in its consequents, is better than that which at the present only pleaseth, and quickly vanisheth. But that profit lieth in this, that it prepareth for everlasting, or more durable pleasure. And a long pleasure attained by present sorrow, is better than a momentary pleasure ; which is another difference between sensual sinful, and spiritual durable delights.
7. And to end all this controversy between us and Epicurus, it is notorious, that the internal vital acts of true virtue, are nothing else radically but pleasure itself: for it is radically and summarily nothing but the love of God and goodness : and love in its properest notion is nothing but the complacency of the will. To say, I love it, is but to say, it pleaseth me; unless when you speak of either sensual appetite and delight, or love as conjunct with some other act or passion. And ( though Occum here stretch it a little too far) it is certain that the external act of man hath no virtue in it that is moral, but secondary, and derived from the will, even as far as it is