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take to be the honor of their understandings, and their lives; and much of that, which multitudes place their piety and hopes of salvation in, being a mere game at words, and useless notions; and as truly to be called vanity and vexation, as is the rest of the vain show, that most men walk in. My sad and bitter thoughts of the heathen, infidel, Mahommetan world, and of the common corruptions of rulers and teachers, cities and countries, senates and councils, I will not here open to others, lest they offend; nor cry out as Seneca, Omnes mali sumus, or Stultorum plena sunt omnia, nor describe the furious spirits of the clergy, and their ignorance, and unrighteous calumnies and schisms, as Gregory Nazianzen and others do, nor voluminously lament the seeming hopeless case of earth, by the boldness, blindness, and fury of men that make use of such sad considerations, to loosen my love from such a world, and make me willing to be with Christ.

9. And if other men's words and writings are blemished with so much imperfection, why should I think that my own are blameless? I must for ever be thankful for the holy instructions and writings of others, nothwithstanding human frailty, and contentious men's abuse of words: and so I must be thankful that God hath made any use of my own, for the good of souls, and his church's edification. But with how many allays are such comforts here mixed? We are not the teachers of a well-ruled school, where learners are ranked into several forms, that every one may have the teaching which is agreeable to his capacity; but we must set open the door to all that will crowd in, and publish our writings to all sorts of readers: and there being as various degrees of capacity as there are men and women, and consequently great variety and contrariety of apprehensions, it is easy ab antecedente to know what various reception we must expect : we cast out our doctrine almost as a foot-ball is turned out among boys in the street, in some congregations: few understand it, but every one censureth it. Few come as learners, or teachable disciples, but most come to sit as judges on their teacher's words; and yet have not either the skill, or the patience, or the diligence, which is necessary in a just trial, to a righteous judgment. But as our words agree or disagree with the former conceptions of every hearer,

so are they judged to be wise or foolish, sound or unsound, true or false, fit or unfit. Few sermons that I preach, but one extolleth them, and wisheth they were printed, and another accuseth them of some heinous fault: some men are pleased with clearness and accurateness of doctrine; and others account it too high, and say we shoot over the hearers' heads, and like nothing but the fervent application of what they knew before: most hearers are displeased with that which they most need: if they err, they reproach that doctrine as erroneous that would cure them: if they are guilty of any prevailing distemper and sin, they take that application to be injurious to them, which would convince them, and save them from that guilt. Most are much pleased with plain and zealous reproof of sin; but it must be other men's sins, and not their own. The poor love to hear of the evil of oppression and unmercifulness, of pride, fulness, and idleness, and all the sins of the rich: subjects love to hear of their ruler's faults, and say, O this man is no flatterer; he dares tell the greatest of their sins: but if they hear of their own, they take it for an injury. Rulers like a sermon for submission and obedience, but how few love to hear of the evil of injustice and oppression, or pride and sensuality, or to read Luke xvi. or xii. or James v.; to hear of the necessity of holiness, justice, and temperance, and of death, and judgment, and the life to come! Every sectary and dogmatist delighteth to have his own opinion cried up, and his party praised as the chiefest saints: but all that tendeth to the praise of those he dissenteth from, and accounteth adversaries to the truth, is distasteful to him, as a complying with iniquity, and a strengthening of the enemies of Christ: and all that uncharitableness which he expecteth from us against others, is as much expected by others against him, and such as he.

This day, while I am writing these words, my pockets are full of letters sent to me, on one side importunately charging it on me as my duty to conform to the oaths, declarations, covenants, and practices, now imposed, or else to give over preaching (which would please them); and on the other side vehemently censuring me as guilty of greivouse sin, for declaring my judgment for so much of conformity as I have done; and charging me by predictions as guilty of the suf

ferings of all that are otherwise minded, for communicating in the sacrament, and the common prayers of the church; and others in the mid-way, persuading me equally to bear my testimony against unjust separation and persecution, and to endeavor still, if possible, to save a self-destroying people from the tearing fury of these two extremes. And how should I answer these contrary expectations, or escape the censures of such expectants?


And it hath pleased God, who thirty years and more had tried me by human applause, of late in this city (where multitudes of persons of contrary minds are, like passengers in crowded streets, still jostling and offending one another) to exercise me with men's daily backbitings and cavils and so many have chosen me for the subject of their discourse, that I may say as Paul, (1 Cor. iv. 9, 10, &c.,) "We are made a spectacle (or theater) to the world, and to angels, and to men: we are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ," &c. Did I not live out of the noise in retirement, taken up with pain, and expectations of my change, what an annoyance to me would it be to hear religious persons, that have a God, a Christ, a heaven, to talk of, to abuse their time and tongues in so much talking of one so inconsiderable, and that hath so little to do with them, or they with him; while with some overvalueing me, and others still quarreling, I am the matter of their idle, sinful talk. The persecutors, for divers years after, first silencing, (if not still,) and the separatists for two or three years last past, have been possessed with so strange a jealousy and quarrelsome a disposition against me, that they seem to take it for their interest to promote my defamation, and for much of their work to search what may afford them any matter of accusation in every sermon that I preach, and every book that I write. And though the fury of the persecutors be such as maketh them much incapable of such converse and sober consideration as is needful to their true information and satisfaction; yet most of the more religous cavillers are satisfied as soon as I have spoken with them, and all endeth in a putarem or non putarem: for want of accurateness and patience, they judge rashly before they understand, and when they understand, confess their error; and yet many go on and take no warning after many times conviction of their mistake. Even

in books that are still before their eyes (as well as in transient words and sermons) they heedlessly leave out, or put in, or alter and misreport plain words, and, with confidence, affirm those things to have been said that never were said, but, perhaps, the contrary. And when all people will judge of the good or evil of our words, as they think we have reason to use them or forbear them, how can we satisfy men that are out of our hearing, and to whom we cannot tell our reasons? Most men are of private, narrow observation, and judge of the good or hurt that our words do by those that they themselves converse with: and when I convince them that my decisions, of many questions (which they are offended at) are true, they say, it is an unseasonable and a hurtful truth: and when I have called them to look further abroad in the world, and told them my reasons; they say, 'Had these been all set down, men would have been satisfied.' And on how hard terms do we instruct such persons, whose narrow understandings cannot know obvious reasons of what we say till they are particularly told them? And so to tell men the reasons of all that such can quarrel with, will make every book to swell with commentaries to such a bigness as they can neither buy nor read: and they come not to us to know our reasons; nor have we leisure to open them to every single person: and thus suspicious men, when their understandings want the humbling acquaintance with their ignorance, and their consciences that tenderness which should restrain them from rash judging, go on to accuse such needful truths of which they know not the use and reason. And what man living hath the leisure and opportunity to acquaint all the ignorant persons in city and country with all the reasons of all that he shall say, write, or do? Or who, that writeth not a page instead of a sentence, can so write that every unprepared reader shall understand him? and what hopes hath the tutor or schoolmaster of preserving his reputation, who shall be accounted erroneous, and accused of unsound or injurious doctrine, by every scholar that understandeth not his words, and all the reasons

of them?

But God in great mercy to me hath made this my lot (not causing, but permitting, the sins of the contentious) that I might before death be better weaned from all below: had my temptations from inordi

nate applause had no allay, they might have been more dangerously strong. Even yet while church-dividers, on both extremes, do make me the object of their daily obloquy, the continued respects of the sober and peaceable, are so great, as to be a temptation strong enough, to so weak a person, to give a check to my desires to leave the world. It is long since riches and worldly honor appeared to me as they are, as not rendering the world much lovely or desirable. But the love and concord of religious persons hath a more amiable aspect: there is so much holiness in these, that I was loth to call them vanity and vexation but yet as flesh and blood would refer them to selfish ends, and any way value them as a carnal interest, I must so call them, and number them with the things that are loss and dung. (Phil. iii. 7, 8.) Selfishness can serve itself upon things good and holy and if good men, and good books, and good sermons, would make the world seem over-lovely to us, it will be a mercy of God to abate the temptation: and if my soul, looking toward the heavenly Jerusalem, be hindered as Paul was in his journey to Jerusalem, (Acts xx. and xxi.,) by the love of ancient friends and hearers, I must say, 'What mean you to weep and break my heart! I am ready to leave the dearest friends on earth, and life and all the pleasures of life, for the presence of far better friends with Christ, and the sweeter pleasures of a better life.' That little amiableness which is in things below, is in godly men as life in the heart, which dieth last: when that is all gone, when we are dead to the love of the godly themselves, and to learning, books, and mediate ordinances, so far as they serve a selfish interest, and tempt down our hearts from heavenly aspirings, the world is then crucified to us, indeed, and we to it. I rejoice to tread in the footsteps of my Lord, who had some, indeed, weeping about his cross, but was forsaken by all his disciples, while in the hour of temptation they all fled! But my desertion is far less, for it is less than I am fit to bear. If God will justify, who shall condemn? If he be for me, who shall be against me? O may I not be put to that dreadful case, to cry out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" And may nothing separate me from his love! And then were I forsaken of the sober and peaceable, as I am, in part, of some quarrelsome dividers, how tolerable a trial would it be?

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