Gambar halaman

9.] True Saving Knowledge. 159 casteth away all his hopes of heaven, by his unbelief, and his preferring the pleasures of the flesh ? Will it comfort a man that is cast out of God's presence, and condemned to utter darkness, to remember that he was once a good mathematician, or logician, or musician, or that he had wit to get riches and preferments in the world, and to climb up to the height of honour and dominion ? It is a pitiful thing to hear a man boast of his wit, while he is madly rejecting the only felicity, forsaking God, courting vanity, and damning his soul : the Lord deliver us from such wit and learning! Is it not enough to refuse heaven, and choose hell (in the certain causes) to lose the only day of their hopes, and in the midst of light, to be incomparably worse than mad, but they must needs be accounted wise and learned, in all this self-destroying folly ? As if (like the physician who boasted that he killed men according to the rules of art) it were the height of their ambition to go learnedly to hell — with reverend gravity and wit, to live here like brutes, and hereafter with devils for ever



WHY THE UNGODLY WORLD HATETH HOLINESS, AND NOT LEARNING. From my very childhood, when I was first sensible of the concernments of men's souls, I was possessed with some admiration, to find that every where the religious, godly sort of people, who did but exercise a serious care of their own and other men's salvation, para made the wonder and obloquy of the world ; especially of the most vicious and flagitious men; so that they that professed the same articles of faith, the same commandments of God to be their law, and the same petitions of the Lord's-prayer to be their desire, and so professed the same religion, did every where revile those that endeavoured to live according to that same profession, and to seem to be in good earnest in what they said. I thought that this was impudent hypocrisy in the ungodly, worldly sort of men ! To take those for the most intolerable persons in the land, who are but serious in their own religion, and do but endeavour to perform what all their enemies also vow and promise. If religion be bad, and our faith be not true, why do these men profess it ? If it be, true and good, why do they hate and revile them that would live in the serious practice of it, if they will not practise it themselves ? But we must not expect reason, when sin and sensuality have made men unreasonable.

But I must profess that since I observed the course of the world, and the concord of the word and providences of God, I took it for a notable proof of man's fall, and of the truth of the Scripture, and of the supernatural original of true sanctification, to find such an universal enmity between the holy, and the serpentine seed, and to find Cain and Abel's case so ordinarily exemplified, and he that is born after the flesh persecuting him that is born after the Spirit. And methinks to this day it is a great and visible help for the confirmation of our Christian faith.

Surely there is some special excellency in this holy knowledge, and love, and obedience, which

the devil and the malignant world so hate, in high and low, in rich and poor, in kindred, neighbours, strangers, or any, where they meet with it. It is the image of God; this it is that is contrary to their carnal minds, and to their fleshly lusts, and sinful pleasures. This tells them what they must be and do, or be undone for ever, which they cannot abide to be, or do, or think of.

Let us, therefore, be somewhat the wiser for this discovery of the mind of the devil and all his instruments. I will love and honour all natural, artificial, acquired excellencies in philology, philosophy and the rest : As these expose not men to the world's obloquy, so neither unto mine or any sober man's. In their low place they are good and may be used to a greater good. But let that holy knowledge and love be mine, which God most loveth, and the world most hateth, that costs us dearest upon earth, but hath the blessed end of a heavenly reward.



OTHER THING. IF Love be that which is most amiable in us to the God of Love, then as nothing in the world can excuse him that is without it, nor render him lovely indeed to God and man, so nothing must be made a pretence against it: and no pretence


will excuse that man, or that society that is against it. Even corrections and severities, when they are used, must come from love, and be wholly ordered to the ends and interest of love. And when necessity calls for destructive execu. tions, which tend not to the good of him that is executed, yet must they tend to the good of the community or of many, and come from a greater love than is due to one, or else that which otherwise would be laudable justice, is but cruelty.

1. LOVE is the life of religion, and of the soul, and of the church : and what can be a just pretence for any to destroy or oppose the very life of religion, the life of souls, and the life of the church of Christ ? Physic, blood-letting and dismembering, may be used for life; but to take away life, except necessary for a greater public good, is murder. And what is it that is better than the life of religion, in all matters of reli. gion? Or than the life of the church, in all church-affairs? Or than the life of men's souls, in all matters of soul-concernment ?

2. LOVE is the great command and summary of all the law : and what can be a just pretence for breaking the greatest command, yea, and the whole law ?

3. LOVE is God's image; and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, who is LOVE, and God in him: and what can be a pretence sufficient for destroying the image of God, which is called by his name?

4. There is nothing in man that God himself loveth better than our love: and therefore nothing better can be set against it.

And yet, alas, what enmity is used in the world against the Love of God and man! and many things alledged as pretences to justify it! Let us consider of some few of them.

1. The great tyrants of the world, such as in several ages have been the plagues of their own and neighbour-nations, care not what havoc they make of religion, and of men's lives, by bloody wars,

and cruel persecutions ; Destroying many thousands, and undoing far more thousands of families where their armies come; and sacrificing the lives of the best of their subjects by butcheries or flames ! and what is the pretence for all this? Perhaps they would be lords of more of the world, and would have larger kingdoms, or more honor.

Perhaps some prince hath spoken a hard word of them, or done them some wrong:

Perhaps some subjects believe not, as they bid them believe ; or forbear not to worship God, in a manner which they forbid them. Perhaps Daniel will not give over praying for a time; or the apostles will not give over preaching; or the three confessors will not fall down to the golden image; and so Nebuchadnezzar or the rulers are despised: and their wills and honors are an interest that with them seems to warrant all this. But how long will it seem so ? I had rather any friend of mine had the sins of a thief or drunkard, or the most infamous sinner among us to answer for, than the sins of a bloody Alexander, Cæsar, or Tamerlane.

1. The Roman clergy set up inquisitions, force men by cruelties to submit to their church-keys, whose very nature is opposed to force. They silence, yea, torment the faithful minis

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »