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endued you with. Let not these least differences cause the greatest distances, as often they do: if he hath so much candour as [that] he will be received, and be not sullen and angry, receive him; and by strength of love bear with him, and forbear him, till by love you soften and overcome him, by "heaping coals of fire upon his head.” (Rom. xii. 20.) For if he be weak, yet seriously and sincerely a lover of Christ, and beloved cf him, the Lord hath received him; (Rom. xiv. 3;) therefore do you also receive him.

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3. The limitation of this exception.—Mn eis diaxpiosis Ɛladogioμων Not to doubtful disputations." Some would render it "discerning of thoughts;" and there was such an extraordinary gift as "the discerning of spirits;" (1 Cor. xii. 10;) so there may be an ordinary prying into men's thoughts; and what is evounos in Matthew ix. 4, is Ɛlaλoyoμo in Luke v. 22: “Jesus seeing their thoughts;" and thoughts are but "men's dialoguing and discoursing with themselves ;" and so the sense is thus,-" Receive him, but not to the discerning or judging of his opinion or thoughts; or that he should be hardened to judge others' thoughts to be altered because they receive him.” But receiving is receiving him into their society; therefore not receiving him must be not to something which was apt to be in their society and among them; which was, not the discretion of the strong, but their disputes, which were not fit for these weak ones. And the word most commonly signifies, "disputing with others:" "Paul disputed daily in the school of Tyrannus;" (Acts xix. 9;) and "the disciples disputed who among them should be greatest." (Mark ix. 34.) But in Jude 9 both words are met together: "Michael, contending with the devil, disputed about the body of Moses."

DOCTRINE.

Christians are to receive such as are weak in the faith into their hearts by love, and not to trouble or heat their heads with cramping disputes.

For practical piety will sooner rectify the judgment of the weak, than fierce argumentations. Lay aside this heat about ceremonies on all hands, and "attend to reading" and hearing the word, "and exhortation." (1 Tim. iv. 13.) Pray and praise God together, and converse in holy ordinances in love to each others' souls; let but this fire live upon the altar of your hearts, and then all other strange fire and heats will die away.

I will show you,

I. That weak Christians cannot well judge of arguments.

II. That the practice of known duties is the way to get more light. III. That Christian love will sooner win others from error than rigid arguments.

IV. The inferences from all for instruction and direction.

I. First, then: Disputations and arguments are not easily judged of by such as are weak in faith and knowledge of Christian liberty.— Now this is evident from the first dispute that ever was in the world.

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For Satan was a disputer from the beginning; and is still the father and author of all ensnaring and contentious disputations. The first thing he disputed was God's command. The prohibition and threatening were absolute: na nin moth tamuth, ["Thou shalt surely die."] (Gen. ii. 17.) But the woman, who "was first in the transgression," faltereth in the recital of it, with a 1" Perhaps we shall die." (Gen. iii. 3.)

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1. But by this first dispute with the serpent, our first parents [were foiled], when in uprightness and strength of the image of God, newly stamped on them in knowledge and holiness; yet this father or fomenter of disputes foiled them and so all mankind, being naturally and federally in them, was drawn into their guilt and filth. So that reason is ever since debased and deposed, and no man is able to rule himself, much less another; his rule and measures being broken, he hath only some fragments and splinters of the tree of knowledge, which he darts against God and himself; the holy lamp and flame is so extinguished, that now he only "compasseth himself about with " his own "sparks" till he "lie down in sorrow." (Isai. 1. 11.) Creatures, as creatures, are fallible and failable, (witness men and angels,) especially by the impulse of false arguments. It is God's only prerogative to be intrinsically infallible and immutable; and it is a perfection incommunicable to men or angels. But now sinful man is in a much more dark and doleful state. For,

(1.) He cannot form an idea of any thing, nor frame a true notion of any thing as it is in itself.—But he conceives by the aid of metaphors, similitudes, and phantasms. He cannot see into things themselves, nor their essences. He is hardly put to it to tell what dull matter or body is; much more what nimble forms, motion, or spirits are; or what his own soul is, though so nigh to him and part of himself. He is so in the dark, [that] he cannot define what light itself .is. If any be so confident as to "think he knoweth any thing," our apostle tells him, "he knoweth nothing as he ought to know;" (1 Cor. viii. 2;) he is "not sufficient" as of himself for one good or true thought; (2 Cor. iii. 5 ;) which cuts the top sinew of Pelagianism, and the champions of the power of nature.

- (2.) His judgment therefore must needs be dubious or wrong whereby he is to compare things that differ or agree together.-If God leave him or give him up to himself, "the prophet is a fool," and "the spiritual man is mad; " (Hosea ix. 7 ;) so as he will "put darkness for light, and light for darkness; bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter; call good evil, and evil good." (Isai. v. 20.) Conscience, the soul's taster, and common sense are so vitiated and defiled, (Titus i. 15,) that he hath no true judgment or discretion, having not his "senses exercised to discern" between "good and evil." (Heb. v. 14.)

(3.) His conclusions therefore must needs be distorted from these premisses; and the errors in the first and second concoction are not corrected and amended by the third.-He who cannot make one straight step, can never take three together. All the errors and fallacies in the world are but the products of his ratiocinations; namely, "I can go

to the tavern or exchange, I find therefore I can repent and believe, when I will;" whereas these are actions of another life and nature, which he was never born to, unless regenerated by the Spirit of God. To repent and believe are God's gift, (Acts v. 31,) his work in us ; (John vi. 65; Eph. ii. 8;) though for this very doctrine "many of his" ignoranter disciples went back, and walked no more with him." (John vi. 66.) And so men jog on in their sensuality presumptuously, as if there was something in the pleasures of sin which was sweeter and dearer to them than God or heaven; and [as if] when they have no more strength to serve their lusts, nor any thing else to do but to die, they can in one quarter of an hour make their peace with God: as one of that herd said to me; who, soon after, drawing water out of his own well, and being drunk, was by the weight of the bucket drawn into the well and drowned. Another saith, "I may sin, because grace aboundeth." (Rom. vi. 1.) This is a most disingenuous and unnatural argument: "I may hate God and my Saviour, because he hath so loved me; when holy Herbert said, "Let me not love thee, if I love thee not; love being stronger than death or hell in the hearts of God's beloved ones. So, "Without holiness none shall see God;" (Heb. xii. 14;) therefore we must be justified by our evangelical obedience and righteousness;" whereas this is only a concomitant for the cause; for God pronounceth and declareth none to be righteous but such as are righteous. Now "there is none righteous, no, not one,” (Rom. iii. 10,) but in the righteousness of Christ," who of God is made wisdom, righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." (1 Cor. i. 30.) In sound Davenant's words: "An alderman sits in the court, not because he is to come in his gown, but because he is an alderman by election," &c.* So, "You must obey the laws of the church," if that wedge will drive; if not "the laws of the state;" both which are inconsequent if they be not according to the law of God. The establishing [of] perverseness by a law (Psalm xciv. 20) made neither David's nor Christ's sufferings the worse, but their sin the greater who twisted such a law. So that we need a new logic from 'O Aoyos, "the eternal Word," as a directory to our reasonings, as well as the common logic which teacheth us the regulation of the operations of our minds.

2. As we are lame in our feet by our naturals, so even those who by the light of the gospel and grace are brought over to better understanding, yet by virtue of the old craziness they are not thoroughly illuminated and refined. The very apostles themselves were plainly told by our Saviour, that he should suffer death, and rise again the third day; yet "they understood none of these things;" (Luke xviii. 33, 34;) these sayings were hid from them until he "opened their understandings" to "understand the scriptures." (Luke xxiv. 45.) We have all a dark side; and Paul says, We " know" but "in part," (1 Cor. xiii. 12,) we see but one side of the globe; we cannot view things round about, they are above our hemisphere. These weak Jews were zealous for their ceremonies, as being instituted by God; the Gentiles, as hot for theirs let no man think himself infallible, for these were all out and • DAVENANTIUS De Justif

mistaken.

in error.

Form, custom, and education, do wonderfully confirm men How hardly were people in our first Reformation drawn from their prayers in Latin to English! yet they understood not Latin: as hardly would they still be weaned from little formalities, though it were to entertain the most real and reasonable service in the world. So great a tyrant is tough custom over phlegmatic souls; so apt are men to heats for trifles, by which straw and stubble they turn the church into a brick-kiln.

These Jews had divine right to plead, and the usage and practice of all the seed of the faithful, enough to stagger a weak Christian. Errors, fairly set off, may pass for truths; and, if but weakly confuted, may hang a doubt in men's minds: so truths ill-guarded may go for errors. Objections not well-cleared had better never have been started; for they may puzzle a weak head and heart, and make them both ache with fear of mistakes. A sophistical disputant will prove there is no motion; the best way to confute him is, in our Saviour's words, "Rise up and walk," (John v. 8,) which is a real silent demonstration of it.

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3. Nothing so convulseth men's reason as interest.—As Hobbes saith, "Though there is no problem in mathematics more demonstrable than that all straight lines drawn from the centre to the circumference are equal, yet if this did but cross any man's interest it would be disputed." Now in 1 John ii. 16, the apostle reduceth the whole world to those three elements, "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life;" a threefold cord, strong enough to pull any truth in pieces, as easily as Samson did his withes.

(1.) The lust of the flesh, modò hic sit benè.*-Pleasing the flesh goeth a great deal further than the monks' bellies, who yet have a lusty share in it; as one of their own said, they had all things so complacent, that they wanted only a vicar† to go to hell for them when they should die. The bishop of Rome's kitchen and purgatory mutually support one another. Disorders of life hold up celibacy in men in orders. The lust of idleness inviteth to stage-plays, the nurseries of vanity and vice; to cards and dice, in defiance of that canon which pronounceth them unlawful games. A lusty dinner makes the veins so strut, [that] they can leap or fly to heaven by their free-will, without the necessity of free-grace, so strong is flesh and blood without the Spirit of God. Surely he who hath an immortal soul within him, and a dubious state to himself as [to] that dreadful eternity before him, should never be sick of his time that lies upon his hand, one hour whereof millions of worlds cannot redeem.

(2.) Covetousness is a weighty argument.-Thousands are enough to break the loins of most men's minds, too heavy for the back of the strongest rationalist in the world; the scale of judgment cannot turn while this beam is in the eye, nor any argument counterpoise this dead and deadly weight; but "tithe of mint and cummin" will outweigh faith and the love of God. (Luke xi. 42.) "St. Bridget prophesied, the Roman clergy would ruin the church by their avarice;

• "Provided this service be delightful."— EDIT.

A substitute.-EDIT.

for she said, they had already reduced the Ten Commandments to two words, Da pecuniam."* ["Give money."]

(3.) Pride of life swells men till they break all bonds and bounds. —Like stum in the cask, [it] makes all the hoops fly off. The zeal of a party, and having declared for a way, make men [that] they cannot retreat; but will spur-on for honour and profit, though the angel of the Lord oppose them, till they are crushed to the wall. If Christian religion be founded in self-denial, mortification, and bearing the cross, they who seek their own glory are not of God: (John vii. 18) that is either no gospel, or these certainly are no disciples of Christ. We had need look to ourselves; for this lust of domination and glory, as Charron saith, "is the very shirt of the soul,-on from the first, but last put off."

II. Secondly. I am to show you that the practice of holy duties clearly commanded is the ready way to have our minds enlightened in the knowledge of principles.-Reading the scriptures; discoursing about heaven, and about their souls' everlasting welfare; reproving one another, and admonishing; (Rom. xv. 14;) comforting and supporting the weak and dejected soul; (1 Thess. v. 14;) to exhort one another daily, 'lest any be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin ;" (Heb. iii. 13;)—duties so much out of fashion in these days, that it is not counted good manners or civility to practise them : friendly reproof is esteemed want of good-breeding. But are they not strange Christians who are strangers to scripture-duties?

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1. These practical duties performed would give us light.—“ He that doeth the truth cometh to the light," (John iii. 21,) not only out of boldness, but [for] discovery of knowledge. Truth is nothing but goodness explained, and goodness is nothing but truth consolidated. Rudiments of knowledge are pre-requisite to practice, but examples clear all things to us. Demonstration by the compasses maketh the maxim evident. He that doeth best, knoweth best; for he seeth the actions as they are in themselves and circumstances. He doth avabαivery xaтw, "he seeth the bottom by diving into them." Pethac pethaiim: The very entrance into the command giveth light; (Psalm cxix. 130 ;) the door is a window to him that hath a weak sight: even those things [which] men have formerly ridiculed, practice hath reconciled them to be their Diana and great delight. As the Gnostic in Clemens Alexandrinus, who could not taste lewdness till he was "in all evil;" as it is, Prov. v. 14. If wicked practices darken the mind, (as all the works of darkness do,) then holy actions illuminate the soul.

2. The exercise of holy duties advanceth light.-Every step a man takes he goeth into a new horizon, and gets a further prospect into truth. Motion is promoted by motion, actions breed habits, habits fortify the powers, the new life grows stronger and fuller of spirit. The yoke of Christ is easier, smoother, and lighter, by often wearing it; this anoints us 66 with the oil of gladness," and makes the ways of wisdom" pleasantness." (Psalm xlv. 7; Prov. iii. 17.) Life and

• Fox's "Acts and Monuments."

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