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the anxieties of death; who in uncessant inquietudes, but act the life of the damned, and anticipate the desolations of hell. 'Tis indeed a sin in man, but a punishment only in devils; who offend not God, but afflict themselves, in the appointed despair of his mercies. And, as to be without hope is the affliction of the damned, so is it the happiness of the blessed; who having all their expectations present, are not distracted with futurities. So is it also their felicity to have no faith; for enjoying the beatifical vision, there is nothing unto them inevident; and in the fruition of the object of faith, they have received the full evacuation of it.
The last speech was that of Lamech, “I have slain a man to my wound, and a young man to my hurt: If Cain be
avenged seven fold, truly Lamech seventy and seven fold.” Now herein there seems to be a very erroneous illation : from the indulgence of God unto Cain concluding an immunity unto himself; that is, a regular protection from a single example, and an exemption from punishment in a fact that naturally deserved it. The error of this offender was contrary to that of Cain, whom the Rabbins conceive that Lamech at this time killed. He despaired of God's mercy in the same fact, where this presumed of it; he by a decollation of all hope annihilated his mercy, this by an immoderancy thereof destroyed his justice. Though the sin were less, the error was as great : for, as it is untrue that his mercy will not forgive offenders, or his benignity co-operate to their conversions, so is it also of no less falsity to affirm His justice will not exact account of sinners, or punish such as continue in their transgressions.
Thus may we perceive how weakly our fathers did err before the flood; how continually, and upon common discourse, they fell upon errors after; it is therefore no wonder we have been erroneous ever since. And being now at greatest distance from the beginning of error, are almost lost in its dissemination, whose ways are boundless, and confess no circumscription.
Of the second Cause of Common Errors; the erroneous
Disposition of the People.
Having thus declared the fallible nature of man, even from his first production, we have beheld the general cause of error. But as for popular errors, they are more nearly founded upon an erroneous inclination of the people; as being the most deceptable part of mankind, and ready with open arms to receive the encroachments of error. Which condition of theirs, although deducible from many grounds, yet shall we evidence it but from a few, and such as most nearly and undeniably declare their natures.
How unequal discerners of truth they are, and openly exposed unto error, will first appear from their unqualified intellectuals, unable to umpire the difficulty of its dissentions. For error, to speak largely, is a false judgement of things, or an assent unto falsity. Now, whether the object whereunto they deliver up their assent be true or false, they are incompetent judges.
For the assured truth of things is derived from the principles of knowledge, and causes which determine their verities. Whereof their uncultivated understandings scarce holding any theory, they are but bad discerners of verity, and in the numerous track of error, but casually do hit the point and unity of truth.
Their understanding is so feeble in the discernment of falsities, and averting the errors of reason, that it submitteth to the fallacies of sense, and is unable to rectifie the error of its sensations. Thus the greater part of mankind, having but one eye of sense and reason, conceive the earth far bigger than the sun, the fixed stars lesser than the moon, their figures plain, and their spaces from the earth equidistant. For thus their sense informeth them, and herein their reason cannot rectifie them; and, therefore, hopelessly continuing in mistakes, they live and die in their absurdities; passing their
dayes in perverted apprehensions and conceptions of the world, derogatory unto God and the wisdom of the creation.
Again, being so illiterate in the point of intellect, and their sense so incorrected, they are further indisposed ever to attain unto truth; as commonly proceeding in those wayes, which have most reference unto sense, and wherein there lyeth most notable and popular delusion.
For, being unable to wield the intellectual arms of reason, they are fain to betake themselves unto wasters, and the blunter weapons of truth: affecting the gross and sensible ways of doctrine, and such as will not consist with strict and subtile reason.
Thus unto them a piece of rhetorick is a sufficient argument of logick; an apologue * of Æsop, beyond syllogisms in barbara, parables than propositions, and proverbs more powerful than demonstrations. And therefore are they led rather by example than precept; receiving persuasions from visible inducements, before intellectual instructions. And, therefore also, they judge of human actions by the event; for, being uncapable of operable circumstances, or rightly to judge the prudentiality of affairs, they only gaze upon the visible success, and, therefore, condemn or cry up the whole progression. And so, from this ground, in the lecture of Holy Scripture, their apprehensions are commonly confined unto the literal sense of the text, from whence have ensued the gross and duller sort of heresies. For not attaining the deuteroscopy,' and second intention of the words,
6 wasters.] A kind of cudgel. authority for the word operable, which he
syllogisms in barbara.] Barbara, observes is not in use. among logicians, the first mode of the
deuteroscopy.) i. e. the inward and first figure of syllogism. A syllogism in spiritual meaning, which is sometimes barbara, is one whereof all the proposi- Allegorical, and by a continual metaphor tions are universal and affirmative; the or allusion, or similitude or parable, promiddle term being the subject of the first poses the greatest depths of divinitye:proposition, and attribute in the second. Tropological, tending to the reformaExample :
tion of the manners and life of a Christian: bar-Every wicked man is miserable: as by the forbidding of swine's flesh, exba - -All tyrants are wicked men: pressing God's detestation of all filthiness
--Therefore all tyrants are misera- in the flesh and the spirit:ble.- Enc. Brit.
Anagogicall; inducing us by the vilitye, uncapable of operable circumstances.] unstabilitye, and vexatious fruition of “Not capable of judging what is to be earthly things to the love of that future done under any given circumstances." blisse, wherein shall bee noe defect, noe This passage is Dr. Johnson's solitary change, noe dislike for ever,— Wr.
they are fain to omit the super-consequences, coherences, figures, or tropologies: and are not sometimes persuaded by fire beyond their literalities. And, therefore also, things invisible but unto intellectual discernments, to humour the grossness of their comprehensions, have been degraded from their proper forms, and God himself dishonoured into manual expressions. And so likewise being unprovided, or unsufficient for higher speculations, they will always betake themselves unto sensible representations, and can hardly be restrained the dulness of idolatry. A sin or folly not only derogatory unto God but men; overthrowing their reason, as well as his divinity. In brief, a reciprocation, or rather an inversion of the creation, making God one way, as he made us another; that is, after our image, as he made us after
Moreover, their understanding, thus weak in itself, and perverted by sensible delusions, is yet farther impaired by the dominion of their appetite; that is, the irrational and brutal part of the soul, which, lording it over the sovereign faculty, interrupts the actions of that noble part, and choaks those tender sparks, which Adam hath left them of reason. And, therefore, they do not only swarm with errors, but vices depending thereon. Thus they commonly affect 3 no man any further than he deserts his reason, or complies with their aberrancies. Hence they embrace not virtue for itself, but its reward ; and the argument from pleasure or utility is far more powerful than that from virtuous honesty: which Mahomet and his contrivers well understood, when he set out the felicity of his heaven, by the contentments of flesh and the delight of sense, slightly passing over the accomplishment of the soul, and the beatitude of that part which earth and visi
by fire.] He seems to refer to the odoret. lib. iv, c. 10. In 1654, this stake. But, surely, martyrdom has, in extraordinary error was advocated by a vast majority of instances, been under- Mr. J. Biddle, in his “ Briefe Scripture gone in defence of truth, rather than Catechisme," which produced a reply in from ignorant adherence to vulgar error. the following year from the celebrated
! God himself dishonoured into manual Dr. Owen, his Vindicia Evangelicæ, or, expressions.] On the ancient heresy of The Mystery of the Gospel Vindicated. the Anthropomorphites, who ascribed to the ? image.] i. e. imagination.—Wr. Almighty a bodily shape, see Augustin. affect.] In the sense of “being Contru Epist. Manichæi, c. 23 ;-Epi- pleased with." phanius, tum, i, lib. iii, Hæres. 70; The
bilities too weakly affect. But the wisdom of our Saviour, and the simplicity of his truth proceeded another way ; defying the popular provisions of happiness from sensible expectations; placing his felicity in things removed from sense, and [in] the intellectual enjoyment of God. And, therefore, the doctrine of the one was never afraid of universities, or endeavoured the banishment of learning, like the other. And though Galen doth sometimes nibble at Moses, and, beside the apostate Christian, * some heathens have questioned his philosophical part, or treaty of the creation, yet is there surely no reasonable pagan that will not admire the rational and well grounded precepts of Christ; whose life, as it was conformable unto his doctrine, so was that unto the highest rules of reason, and must therefore flourish in the advancement of learning, and the perfection of parts best able to comprehend it.
Again, their individual imperfections being great, they are, moreover, enlarged by their aggregation; and being erroneous in their single numbers, once huddled together, they will be error itself. For, being a confusion of knaves and fools, and a farraginous concurrence of all conditions, tempers, sexes, and ages, it is but natural if their determinations be monstrous, and many ways inconsistent with truth. And, therefore, wise men have always applauded their own judgement, in the contradiction of that of the people ; and their soberest adversaries have ever afforded them the style of fools and mad men; and, to speak impartially, their actions have made good these epithets. Had Orestes been judge, he would not have acquitted that Lystrian rabble of madness, who,—upon a visible miracle falling into so high a conceit of Paul and Barnabas, that they termed the one Jupiter, the other Mercurius, that they brought oxen and garlands, and were hardly restrained from sacrificing unto them,—did, notwithstanding, suddenly after fall upon Paul, and, having stoned him, drew him for dead out of the city. It might have hazarded the sides of Democritus, had he been present at
† Non sani esse hominis, non sanus juret Orestes.
4 treaty.] In the sense of treatise ; but the word is obsolete.-Wr.