« PreviousContinue »
in reality, Gnostics. For as 'tis (ingeniously observed by the excellent Cartesius)nothing is more Differes de equally distributed among men than the Intel- Method. p. i. textual Talent, wherewith every one fancies him; felf fo abundantly itockt, that even those who have the most unsatiable Desires, and whom Providence could not satisfy in any one thing else, are notwithstanding as to this Dispensation of Heaven well enough content, complain not of the dull Planet that influenc’d their Nativity, or wish their minds more richly endow'd than they are. And altho there are a generation of men who use to be very eloquent in setting out the degeneracy of humane nature in general, and particularly in decyphering the Shortness of our Intellectual Sight, and the defects of our now diminisb’d understanding, yet should a man take them at their word, and apply that Vera dict to themselves in particular which they fo freely bestow upon the whole Species, no men in the world so full of resentment and impatience as they; and I dare affirm notwithitanding their Harangues upon the Corruption of Human Nature, could all mankind lay a true claim to that Eftimate which they pass upon themselves, there would be little or no difference betwixt laps’d and perfect Humanity, and God might again review his image with par ternal Complacency, and still pronounce it good, A 2
Nor is it at all to be wonder'd that SelfConceitedness should be of such an unlimited and Transcendental Nature as to run through all Sorts and Classes of men, since the cause of it, Self-love, has such an universal Jurisdi&tion in our hearts. 'Tis most natural and necessary for every man (and indeed for every Intelligent Being) to be a Lover of himself, and to cover whatsoever any way tends to the perfection of his Nature. And as ’tis necessary for every man to be thus affected towards himself, foʻis this the only Disposition of mind wherein Man acts with Constancy and Uniformity. Our other Passions have some.
times their total intermissions, and at beft their * See sny. Dis increases and decreases, but this is * allways at course of HeYo!C Piety pag. Full, and stands drawn out to the utmost Stretch 72 and 13. of its Capacity. No man loves himself more
at one time then at another, and that because he allways loves himself in the highest Degree that is possible. More than all good he cannot wish to himself, and less than all he will not, nay I had allmost pronounc'd it impossi
ble for Omnipotence it self which stays the proud Job. 38.10. waves of the Ocean, and blocks up its violent
efforts with barrs and doors, to say unto this Passion, hitherto Malt thou come but no further, or to set any other bounds to it besides those of all possible good.
Now Man being such an infinite Lover of himself, is easily brought to believe that he is. really Master of many of those excellencies and perfections, which he so passionately wisbes among the Inventory of his possessions. For there is this notorious difference betwixt Self. love and the Love of others, that whereas the Love of others supposes an opinion of their excellency, the love of our felves begets it. We love others because we think well of them, but ( so preposterous is the method of Self-love) we think well of our felves because we first love our selves. So that now upon the whole, considering how necessarily and vehemently every man is carried on to the love of himself, and what a natural product Self-conceit is of Self-love,'tis much to be fear’d,that as we cannot set any bounds to the love of our felves, so we shall hardly set due ones to our Opinions of our selves, and consequently the most mortify'd and resign'd Man of us all, has no reason to think himself unconcern'd' in this Admonition of the Apostle.---- Not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think so. berly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of Faith.
,,;,... . ?Tis supposed that the Apostle in these words had respect to the then prevailing Herefy of y Gnostics, a sort of men that pretended to great
:*:* : Heights
Heights, of divine Knowledge, to close intimacies and familiarities with God, and uponi that presumption grew so haughty and info. lent as to defpise dominions, and peak evil of dignities, and withal so careless and secure, as to defile'the fleshy, and indulge themselves all manner of Sensuality, as you may fee their Character in the Epistle of St. Jude. Nay of such turbulent ungovernable Principles and
profligate manners were these men, that some Dr.Hammord
of the Learned (and particularly an eminent Divine of our own Church) haye adventured to write upon their Fore-heads, Mystery, and to place them in the Chair of Anti-Christ. As
an Antidote therefore against this Poison, the 2 Cor. 12.7. Apostle who through the Abundance of Reve
lation had himself been in danger of being exalted above Measure, and experimentally knew how prone humane nature is to swell and plume
upon a Conceit of its own excellencies, thought Hift. Ecolel. t expedie
it expedient to advise his Charge at Rome (the lib.zi co iz place which Simon Magus the Author of that
proud Sect had (as Eufebius tells us ) made choice of to be the Scene of his Magical Operations ) to moderate and føber thoughts of themselves, and being to teach them a Lesson of Humility, he modestly ushers it in with a Preface of his Commission and Authority, For I Say (fays he) througb the grace given unto me to every man that is among you not to think of himself more highly, &c.
The Discourse which I design upon these words shall be comprized within these limits.
First, I observe that we are not at our own liberty to entertain what Opinions we please concerning our felves, but that we ought to regulate them by some Standard. Which I collect from the former part of the Text, Not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly.
. Secondly, I observe that the Standard where-by we are to regulate our Opinions concerning our selves are those excellencies and perfections which we are really indow'd with,which I collect from the latter part of the Text, according as God has dealt to-every-man. the measure of Faith.
And in the third place I fall consider the Absurdities and ill Consequences of transgressing: this Standard, whereby it shall appear how highly reasonable this Admonition of the Apostle is, and fo conclude with a practical Application: of the whole in relation to our felves, and the present occasion..
I begin with the first Proposition, That we are not at our own liberty to entertain what Opinions: we please concerning our selves, but that we