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Heb. jii. 13. Vid.
SERM. obedience; I will not, said he, let Israel go; his will was I.
his reason, which no persuasion, no judgment could subdue: this was the cause of that monstrous infidelity in the
Ifraelites, which baffled all the methods which God used 2 Kings to persuade and convert them; Notwithstanding, it is said, xvii, 14.
they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the
neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the Lord their Pl. xcv. 8. God: whence that exhortation to them; To-day if you Heb. iii. 8. will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. And to obdu
ration the disbelief of the Gospel upon the Apostles'
preaching is in like manner ascribed; St. Paul, it is said in Aas xix. 8, the Acts, went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the
Space of three months, disputing and persuading the things
concerning the kingdom of God: but divers were hardened, Mark xvi. and believed not: and, Exhort one another daily, saith the
Apostle, lest any of you be hardened (in unbelief) through the deceitfulness of sin.
7. Of kin to that perverseness of heart is that squeamish delicacy and niceness of humour, which will not let men entertain or favour any thing, anywise seeming hard or harsh to them, if they cannot presently comprehend all that is said, if they can frame any cavil, or little exception against it, if every scruple be not voided, if any thing be
required distasteful to their sense; they are offended, and Ifa. XIX. 10. their faith is choked; you must, to satisfy them, speak to.
them smooth things, which nowise grate on their conceit or pleasure: fo when our Lord discoursed somewhat myfteriously, representing himself in the figure of heavenly
bread (typified by the manna of old) given for the world, Jobuvi. 60, to sustain men in life; Many of his disciples, hearing this,
said, This is a hard saying, who can hear it? and from John vi. 61. that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no Matt. xxiv. more with him : this is that which is called being Scan10. xiii. 21. dalized at the word, and stumbling at it; concerning
which our Saviour faith, Blesed is he, whoever shall not be offended in me.
In regard to this weakness, the Apostles were fain in their instructions to use prudent dispensation, proposing only to fome persons the most easy points of doctrine,
Matt. xi, 6.
they not being able to digest such as were more tough and SERM. difficult : I have, faith St. Paul, fed you with milk, and not
I. with meat ; for hitherto ye were not able to bear it-for ye 1 Cor. iii. 2. are yet carnal; and, Ye, faith the Apostle to the Hebrews, Heb. v. 12. are such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
Such were even the Apostles themselves in their minority; not favouring the things of God; being offended at Matt. xvi. our Lord's discourses, when he spake to them of suffering;
23.xxvi.31. and with his condition, when he entered into it.
8. With these dispositions is connected a want of love to truth; the which if a man hath not, he cannot well entertain such notions as the Gospel propoundeth, being nowise grateful to carnal sense and appetite : this caufe St. Paul doth assign of the Pagan doctors falling into fo gross errors and vices, because they did not like to relain God in Rom. i. 26. their knowledge; and of men's revolting from Christian truth to Antichristian imposture—because they received not the love of truth, that they might be saved: for which caufe 2 Theff. ii. God shall send them strong delufon, that they should believe 11. a lie : nothing indeed, but an impartial and ingenuous love of truth (overbalancing all corrupt prejudices and affections) can engage a man heartily to embrace this holy and pure do&rine, can preserve a man in a firm adherence thereto.
9. A grand cause of infidelity is pride, the which doth interpofe various bars to the admission of Christian truth; for before a man can believe, nãy übwjd, every height 2 Cor. X. 5. (every towering imagination and conceit) that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, must be cast down.
Pride fills a man with vanity and an affectation of seeming wise in special manner above others, thereby disposing him to maintain paradoxes, and to nauseate common truths received and believed by the generality of mankind.
A proud man is ever averse from renouncing his prejudices, and correcting his errors ; doing which implieth a confession of weakness, ignorance, and folly, consequently depresseth him in his own conceit, and seemeth to impair that credit, which he had with others from his wisdom; neither of which events he is able to endure.
He that is wise in his own conceit, will hug that con1. ceit, and thence is uncapable to learn: there is, faith SoloProv. xxvi. mon, more hope of a fool than of him ; and he that affect
eth the praise of men, will not easily part with it for the John v. 44. sake of truth: whence, How, faith our Lord, can ye be.
lieve, who receive glory one of another ? how can ye, retaining such affections, be disposed to avow yourselves to
have been ignorants and fools, whenas ye were reputed 1 Cor. iii. for learned and wise? how can ye endure to become
novices, who did pass for doctors ? how can ye allow yourselves so blind and weak, as to have been deceived in your former judgment of things?
He that is conceited of his own wisdom, strength of parts, and improvement in knowledge, canot submit his mind to notions which he cannot easily comprehend and penetrate; he will scorn to have his understanding baffled or puzzled by sublime mysteries of faith; he will not easily
yield any thing too high for his wit to reach, or too knotty John iii. 9. for him to unloose : How can these things be ? what reason
can there be for this? I cannot see how this can be true; this point is not intelligible: so he treateth the dictates of
faith; not considering the feebleness and shallowness of 1 Cor. i. 26. his own reason : Hence not many wise men according to John vii.26. the flesh, (or who were conceited of their own wisdom, re
lying upon their natural faculties and means of know1 Cor. i. 30. ledge,) not many scribes, or disputers of this world, did
embrace the Christian truth, it appearing absurd and fool1 Cor. iii. ish to them; it being needful, that a man should be a fool,
that he might, in this regard, become wise.
The prime notions of Christianity do also tend to the Rom. iii. debasing human conceit, and to the exclusion of all glory27.1v.3, 16: ing in ourselves; referring all to the praise and glory of 1 Cor. i. 29. God, afcribing all to his pure inercy, bounty, and grace: Ephel
. ii. 9. it representeth all men heinous finners, void of all worth Tit. iii. s. and merit, lapsed into a wretched state, altogether impo
tent, forlorn, and destitute of ability to help or relieve themselves; such notions proud hearts cannot digest; they cannot like to avow their infirmities, their defects, their wants, their vileness, and unworthiness; their distresses and
miseries; they cannot endure to be entirely and absolutely SERM. beholden to favour and mercy for their happiness; such
I. was the case of the Jews; who could not believe, because, going about to establish their own righteousness, they Rom. x. 3. would not submit to the righteousness of God. Dextra mihi Deus, every proud man would say, with the profane Mezentius.
Christianity doth also much disparage and vilify those things, for which men are apt much to prize and pride themselves; it maketh small account of wealth, of honour, of power, of wit, of secular wisdom, of any human excellency or worldly advantage : it levelleth the rich and the poor, the prince and the peasant, the philosopher and idiot in spiritual regards; yea far preferreth the meanest and fimplest person, endued with true piety, above the mightiest and wealthiest, who is devoid thereof: in the eye of it, The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour, whatever he be in worldly regard or state: this a proud man cannot support; to be divested of his imaginary privileges, to be thrown down from his perch of eminency, to be set below those whom he so much despiseth, is insupportable to his fpirit.
The practice of Christianity doth also expose men to the scorn and cenfure of profane men; who for their own folace, out of envy, revenge, diabolical fpite, are apt to deride and reproach all conscientious and resolute practisers of their duty, as filly, credulous, superstitious, humorous, morose, sullen folks : so that he that will be good, must resolve to bear that usage from them; like David; I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base 2 Sam. vi. in my own hght: but with these sufferings a proud heart 22. cannot comport; it goeth too much against the grain thereof to be contemned.
Christianity doth also indispensably require duties, pointblank opposite to pride; it placeth humility among its chief virtues, as a foundation of piety; it enjoineth us to think meanly of ourselves, to disclaim our own worth and desert, to have no complacency or confidence in any thing belonging to us; not to aim at bigh things; to wave the Rom. xii.
Rom. xii. 10.
30. V. 12. xiii. 13. Isa. v. 24.
SERM. regard and praise of men; it exacteth from us a sense of
1. our vileness, remorse and contrition for our fins, with Job xlii. 3,
humble confession of them, self-condemnation and abhorrence; it chargeth us to bear injuries and affronts patiently, without grievous resentment, without seeking
or so much as wishing any revenge; to undergo disgraces, Phil . ii. 3. crosses, disasters, willingly and gladly; it obligeth us to
prefer others before ourselves, fitting down in the lowest 1 Pet . V: 5. room, yielding to the meanest persons: to all which forts
of duty a proud mind hath an irreconcileable antipathy.
A proud man, that is big and swollen with haughty
conceit and ftomach, cannot stoop down fo low, cannot Matt. vii. fhrink in himself so much, as to enter into the firait gate, Prov. i. 7, or to walk in the narrow way, which leadeth to life: he
will be apt to contemn wisdom and instruction.
Shall I, will he say, such a gallant as I, so accom13, 16, 24. plished in worth, so flourishing in dignity, so plump with Acts xiii.41. wealth, so highly regarded and renowned among men, (καταφρονηται.) thus pitifully crouch and sneak ? shall I deign to avow Luke x: 16. such beggarly notions, or bend to such homely duties?
shall I disown my perfections, or forego my advantages ? shall I profess myself to have been a despicable worm, a villanous caitiff, a sorry wretch ? shall I suffer myself to be flouted as a timorous religionist, a scrupulous precisian, a conscientious sneaksby? shall I lie down at the foot of mercy, puling in forrow, whining in confeffion, bewailing my guilt, and craving pardon? shall I allow any man better or happier than myself? fhall I receive those into consortship, or equality of rank with me, who appear so much my inferiors ? shall I be misused and trampled on, without doing myself right, and making them smart who shall presume to wrong or cross me? shall I be content to be nobody in the world ? So the proud man will say in his heart, contesting the doctrines and duties of our religion, and so difputing himself into infidelity.
10. Another spring of infidelity is pufillanimity, or want Rev. xxi. 8. of good resolution and courage : Sardoà xa árvotos, cowards
and infidels, are well joined among those who are devoted