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But the opinionists, even when they speak of the most weighty truths, do speak of them but as opinions; and when they discourse of God, of Christ, of grace, of heaven, it is but as they discourse of a point in philosophy, or little bet

er. They go not through the shell to the kernel ; they look after the truth, but they have little relish of the good




The like may be said of their reading, and hearing of

The sound convert feeleth life and spirit in that which is little savoury to the opinionist. It is one thing in a sermon or text, that is pleasing to a true Christian, and another thing usually that is most pleasant to the opinionist. The true Christian delighteth in, and feedeth on, the inward life of spiritual doctrine, and the good which they offer him ; that is, indeed, it is upon God, and Christ himself, that he is feasting his soul in reading, and hearing. For this is the soul of all, without which, letters and words are but a

But the superficial opinionist is much more taken up, either with the history, or the elegancy of speech, or with the rational light of the discourse, still sticking in the bark, and savouring not Christ, and the Father in all. As a man that reads the deeds, or lease of his own lands, delights in one thing; and a clerk that reads the same, or the like, in a book of precedents, for his learning, delights in another thing. So is it in this case.

7. And hence it follows, that they are several sorts of duties, and exercises, usually, that these several sorts of persons are most addicted to. The sound convert is most addicted to those spiritual means, that tend most to the strengthening of his faith, and warming his heart with the love of God, and promoting holiness, and destroying sin; but tend to furnish him with speculative knowledge, and discourse, and to satisfy his fancy, or curious mind. The sound convert is much addicted to prayer, even in secret, and to heavenly meditations, and gracious discourse. But the opinionist is much more addicted to reading histories, or controversies, or dogmatical divinity, or civil and political matters. The sound convert savoureth best those preachers, and books, that speak the most weighty, spiritual truths, in the most weighty, spiritual manner, in power, and demonstration of the Spirit. But the opinionist relisheth those preachers, and books most, that either speak curious

ly to please the ear, or exactly, and learnedly to please the natural intellect, or that speak for the opinions, or party that he is addicted to. But others he hath less mind of.

8. Moreover, the sound Christian layeth out most of his zeal, affections, and endeavours, about the great essentials of religion, and that, as I said, in a practical manner. But the opinionist layeth out his zeal upon opinions. Right or wrong it is but as opinions. Of these he makes his religion; for these he contendeth. He loveth those best that are of his own opinion, though there be nothing of the special image of God upon his soul; or if he love a true Christian, it is not so much for his holiness and spirituality, as because he is of his mind in those matters of opinion. Hence it is that he is usually a bitter censurer of those that are not of his opinion, how upright soever they inay be ; his very esteem of men, and love to them is partial, and factious, to those that are of his mind and sect. A Papist will esteem and love men of the Popish sect; and an Anabaptist will esteem and love men of that sect most; yea, a Protestant, if he be an opinionist, doth esteem of men, and love them as a sect. Whereas, the true Christian, as he is truly Catholic, and of the Catholic church, which is not confined to Papists, no, nor Protestants, so he hath truly Catholic affections, and loveth a Christian as a Christian, a godly man as godly; yea, if he saw more serious godliness in one that is not of his opinion in lesser things, yet would he love him more than one that is in such matters of his opinion, that is ungodly, or of more doubtful piety. For as it is God in Christ that he principally loveth, so it is Christ that he admireth in his members; and so much of Christ as he-sees in any, so much are his special affections towards them.

9. Ordinarily, the mere opinionist will sacrifice the very ends of the Gospel, and the honour and success of the great fundamental truths of God, to the interest of those opinions which he hath in a singular manner made his own.

He will rather hinder the propagation of the common truths, and the conversion of the ignorant, than he will silence his opinions, or suffer them to lose any advantages with the world. Hence it is, that we cannot prevail with the Papist, to silence awhile the differences between us and them, till we

have taught their ignorant (in Ireland, and other barbarous parts) the knowledge of those truths that all are agreed in. Nor can we get many Anabaptists, or any such sect, that is engaged in a division, to forbear their opinions, till we have endeavoured to lay the necessary grounds, on which all must build, that will be saved. But though it be apparent to the world, that their disputes and contentions do exceedingly harden the ignorant and ungodly against all religion, and hinder their conversion and salvation; yet will they go on in the unseasonable, intemperate bruiting of their conceits, and will not be persuaded to agree on those terms, for the managing of differences, as most tend to secure the interest of Christ and his Gospel in the main. If an opinionist be for the truth, he is usually without much zeal for it, because that nature doth not befriend the great spiritual truths of the Gospel, so much as it doth errors, and private conceits. But if he be of erroneous opinions, he is usually very zealous for them. For corrupted nature, and self, and satan, (and the world oft-times) do more befriend these, and furnish him with a. zeal for them, and blow the coal. The counterfeit angel of light, is very ordinarily also a spirit of heat, and great activity; not a reviving fire, nor a refining fire, but a consuming fire, devouring Christian love, and meekness, and patience, and therewith the church, and truth of God, so far as it can prevail. For lesser matters, that minister questions, such men can lay by that which tends to godly edifying in faith. Yea, that Charity, which is the very end of the commandment, out of a “pure heart, a good conscience, and faith unfeigned. From these they swerve, and turn aside to vain jangling ; oft-times desiring to be teachers of such things, in which they understand not what they say, nor whereof they speak. Consenting not to the wholesome words of Christ, and the doctrine which is according to godliness, they teach otherwise, being proud, knowing nothing, but doating about questions, and strife of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputing of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth;" 1 Tim. i. 4-6. vi. 3-5. Yea, they sometimes take their opinions, or their worldly gain that they often aim at, to be instead of godliness. And think, that to be godly, is to be of their mind and way. They “use to strive

about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers, and their vain babblings increase to more ungodliness;'' 2 Tim. ii. 14. 16.

But the true convert looks principally to the main. He loves every known truth of God; but in their order, and accordingly to their worth and weight. He will not, for his own opinions, wilfully do that which will hazard the main, or hinder the Gospel, and the saving of men's souls. Though he will not be false to any truth, yet he will avoid “foolish and unlearned questions, knowing that they do gender strife; and the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle to all men, and meekly instruct opposers : following righteousness, faith, charity, peace with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart;" 2 Tim. ii 22—25.

10. Lastly, True converts are steadfast, but opinionists are usually mutable and inconstant. The sound convert receiveth the greatest truths, and receives the goodness as well as the truth ; and takes it not only into the head, but into the heart, and giveth it deep rooting : he closeth with God as his only felicity, and with Christ as his only refuge, and Redeemer, and with heaven as the sure, everlasting glory, to which the world is but a mole-hill, or a dungeon. No wonder then if this man be "steadfast, and immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, that knows his labour is not in vain in the Lord;" 1 Cor. xv. 58.

But the opinionist, either fasteneth on smaller matters, or else holdeth these great matters but as bare opinions, and therefore they have no such interest in his heart, as to establish him against shaking trials and temptations. For two sorts there are of these opinionists, the one sort have no zeal for their own opinions, because they are but opinions; and these are time-servers, and will change, as the king their landlords change, and fit their opinions to their worldly end. The other sort have a burning zeal for their opinions: and these use to wander from one opinion to another, not able to resist the subtlety of seducers, but are taken with fair and plausible reasonings, not able to see into the heart of the cause. These are as

“ children tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the slight and cunning craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;" Ephes. iv. 14. When with great confidence they have held one sort of opnions awhile, and

railed against those that were not of their mind; ere long they will themselves forsake them, and take up another way, and be as confident in that, and take no warning by the experience of their former deceit. And thus they go oft from one opinion to another, till at last, finding themselves deceived so oft, some of them cast off all religion, and think there is no certainty to be found in any, suspecting religion, when they should have suspected their false hearts : and all this comes to pass because they never received the truth in the love of it, that they might be sanctified and saved by it; 2 Thess. ii. 10–12. Nor ever gave it deep entertainment, or took it to heart that it might thoroughly convert them; but as a bare opinion into the brain to polish their tongues and outsides, and deceive themselves as much as others.

And thus I have shewed you the difference between a sound convert and an opinionist, or one that hath but an overly, superficial change, that you may see which of these is your own condition.

To return now to my advice, and exhortation, I entreat every person that readeth or heareth these words, to see that they stick not in an opinionative conversion. To which end I further desire you, 1. To consider that it is a higher matter that Christ came into the world for, than to change men's bare opinions; and it is a higher matter that the Gospel is intended for, and that ministers are sent to you for. For it is more than a corruption of men's opinions, that sin hath brought upon you ; and therefore it must be a deeper disease that must be cured. The work of Christ by his Gospel, is no less, than to fetch you off all that which flesh and blood accounts your happiness, and to unite you to himself, and make you holy, as God is holy, and to give you a new nature, and make you as the dwellers or citizens of heaven, while you walk on earth; Phil. iii. 20, 21. And these are greater matters than the changing of a party or opinion. The Holy Ghost himself must dwell in you, and work in you, and employ your soul and life for God, that you may study him, and love him, and live to him here, and live with him

Do but think well of the ends and meaning of the Gospel, and how much greater matters it drives at, and then you will see that there is no taking up with an opinionative religiousness.

2. Keep company, if it be possible, with the most sober,

for ever.

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