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but especially to those of meaner. For thus they may not only be enriched with the knowledge of the most useful things, and of the grounds on which our obligation either to belief or practice is bottom'd; but also may be furnished with general principles of reason, by which that may. steer their judgment in all cases; and with certain beads of faith and morals, to which they may be able to reduce most of what they read or bear. Thirdly, 'Tis with the understanding as with the eye of the body: one sees further off, and in a fainter light; but another fees as well with regard to all the uses of life, who yet requires that the objects should be neårer, and the light better. Men of how capacities must not be daring or precipitate in paffing their sentence and forming their notions. They must examine, whether the matters they enquire after be not too remote and obscure : whether the object may be brought nearer, and placed in a better light; or whether they may be furnished with telescopes or microscopes fit for them. If not, they must quit the search of such truths as improper and unnecessary for them: by which means they will, at least, avoid being deceived or perplexed; which is no finall advantage. To be enriched with a kind of universal knowledge is a great thing; but I doubt too great for man. Next to this is, to be endowed with a knowledge of necesary:
and important truths ; and to be freed from errors and perplexity in matters of any moment: and methinks it were no great excess of modesty or humility, for man to be content with this.
3. There is no great need of acquired learning in order to true Illumination. Our Saviour did not exact of his disciples, as a necessary preparation for his doctrine, the knowledge of tongues; the history of times, or nature ; logick, metapbyficks, mathematicks, or the like These indeed may be serviceable to many excellent ends : they may be great accomplishments of the mind; great orna. ments and very engaging entertainments of life : they may be, finally, very excellent and necessary instruments of, or introductions to feveral professions or employments. But as to Perfection and happiness, to these they can never be indispensably necessary. A man may be excellently, habitually good, without more languages than one : he
be fully perswaded of those great truths, that will render him master of his passions, and independent of the world ; that will render him easy and useful in this life, and glorious in another, though he be no logician nor metaphysician. Yet would I not all this while be supposed to exclude the use of true reason and solid judgment. Tho’the meanest capacity may attain to its proper Perfection; that is, such a measure of knowledge,
as may make the man truly wife and happy; yet che more capacious any man's foul is, and the more enlarged his knowledge, the more perfe&t and happy he.
4. The qualifications previously necessary to Illumination, are two or three moral ones, implied in that infant temper our Saviour required in those who would be his disciples. These are humility, impartiality, and a third or love of truth. First, Humility. He that will be taught of God must not be proud or confident in himself. He must not over-rate his own parts and capacity ; nor lean too ftiffly to his own understanding. He must firmly believe, that Illumination is the work of God; and on him he must depend. He must confess the weakness of his own faculties, the natural poverty and indigence of his understanding; and so look up to God, who is the fountain of wisdom, and giveth grace to tbe humble, but refifteth the proud. Secondly, impartiality, fincerity, or a certain purity or innocence of judgment, if I may be allowed to speak fo. That the understanding may be capable of divine light, it must not be blurred and stained by falfe principles: it must not be byass’d nor influenced by any corrupt inclinations. Some, to prove their impartiality or freedom of judgment, abandon themselves to the scrupulousness of fcepticism and a wanton itch of endless disputation and contradi&tion. But I cannot think it necessary to our freedom and impartiality, to deny the evidence of our senfe; to oppose the universal reafon of mankind; and to shake off all reverence for the integrity of man, and the veracity of God. No, this favours too much, either of oftentation, or of a raw and unexperienced affection of new theories and speculations. He secures his freedom fufficiently, who guards his reafon against the force of groundless preposleffions, and fenfelefs modes and customs"; against the lusts of the body, and the prejudices of parties; who keeps a strict eye upon the motions and tendencies of his inferiour nature; who admits not the dictates of a fingle person or party for Catholick reafon; who considers, that there are revolutions of philosophy and opinions, as well as of states and kingdoms; and judges well of times and men, ere, he, pay much deference to authority. But, thirdly, this is not all that is necessary to any compleat degree of Illumination. Impartiality is necessary to the first dawnings of it; but if we would have it increase, and diffuse itself into a perfect day of spiritual wisdom and understanding, we must hunger and thirst after truths. An unprejudiced mind is necessary to qualify us for the first rudiments of truth; but we must be inflamed with desire and love of it, ere we shall enter into the fanctuary or receses of it: therefore our Saviour invites
to him every one that thirsts, John vii. 27. And St. Peter exhorts us, as new born babes, to desire the fincere milk of the word, that we may grow thereby, 1 Epist. ïi 2.' And St. Paul imputes the damnation of those that perish, to want of love of the truth, 2 Thess. ii. 10. 'Tis too trifling to object here, how come we to thirst after what we do not know? for it concerns every man to enquire what will become of him for ever; and if he be already assured that there is another world, and a glorious salvation to be attained, it is natural to thirst after the resolution of such questions as these, what shall I do to be Javed? what shall I do to inherit an eternal life? and such is the beauty of illuminating truth, that every glance of it kindles in our hearts the love of it; and such its boundless Perfektion, that the more we know, the inore still shall we desire to know. Having thus considered what qualifies man for Illumination, my next business is to enquire,
s. 2. What.