pel, and fuch as if they do not encourage Men to, yet at least furnish them with Pleas and Excufes for their Wickednefs; I am fure it is our Interest no less than our Duty, if we fincerely love God and our Souls, and have any real Defire of our own or others Welfare, faithfully to adhere to that Church we have the Happiness to be Members of, and vigorously to maintain and defend it.




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ROM. XII. 16.

Be not wife in your own Conceits.


HERE is hardly any Vice that Men do fo readily condemn in others, and yet so easily overlook and excufe in themselves, as this of Self-conceit, or a fond Opinion of their own great Wisdom and Understanding. None of us can endure that another fhould affume to himself continually to prescribe to us, or ufurp fo far upon us, as to be always impofing on us his own private Customs, Humours or Manners; as if we had no Wit or Judgment of our own, whereby to govern and order our own Affairs: and yet it

is to be feared, moft of us, who call this intolerable Pride in another, are fo deeply in love with our felves and our own ways, that we cannot forbear to cenfure and despise, to charge with Folly and Ignorance all that do not believe and practise just as we our felves do: Every one thus in his own vain Imagination prefuming himself wife and good enough to fet a Pattern, and give Law to all round about him.

It is the Obfervation of the great French Philofopher, That the most equal Diftribution God hath made of any thing in this World, is of Judgment and Understanding, becaufe every Man is content with his own, and thinks he hath enough: And though as to the outward Gifts of Nature or Fortune, he be willing to yield to others, yet he doubts not but he himself is as far removed from a Fool, hath as large a fhare of Reafon and Difcretion, is as able to manage himself and his own Business, as any other whatever. Whence it is that all Men are apt so confidently to lean unto, and rely upon their own Understandings, fo peremptorily to trust to and follow their own Judgments, fo refolutely and inflexibly to adhere to their firft Choices and Determinations, fcorning and taking it in great fnuff and dudgeon, to be taught, advised, check'd or controlled by


Now this is to be wife in our own Conceits, against which the Apostle here in my Text


cautions us. When any Man hath a vast and undue Opinion of his own Powers and Faculties, and thinks of himself above what is meet; when he will hearken to none other, nor believe any one but just himself; when he knows all things, does all things, is all things to himself, and within himself alone, not needing (at least in his own big Thoughts) any one's Help, Counsel or Af fiftance: In fhort, when he rates and values himself above his true Worth, and defpifes others, and judges meanly of his Betters, then a Man may be faid to be wife in his own Conceit. Which Self-conceit undoubtedly lies at the bottom, and is the original Cause of all Atheism and fceptical Difputes against Providence and Religion, of all undutiful Carriage towards Governours and Superiours, and of all those uncharitable Separations and unchristian Divisions that are fo rife amongst us, and do fo fadly threaten the Ruin both of our Church and State.

Whereas on the other fide, the great Foundation of all true Religion and civil Order, the only effectual Means of procuring and advancing Peace, real Wisdom and Truth amongst Men, is an humble and lowly Efteem of our felves, a modest Diffidence of our own Apprehenfions, a hearty and ferious Acknowledgment of our own Defects, and a Willingnefs to be inftructed, directed, ruled and governed by others, who are better and wifer than our felves.


I shall at this time propound to you fome plain Inftances, wherein this fort of Pride or Self-conceit doth fhew it felf, particularly in Matters of Religion, together with the Folly and Mischiefs of it.

I. This Self-conceit fhews it felf in being confident and pofitive about things which we do not understand, and intermeddling with Affairs which do not belong to us.

II. In being obftinate and pertinacious in fome fingular Fancies and Opinions, tho upon never fo flight Grounds at first believed and entertained.

III. In affecting to impofe our own Humours and Conceits upon others, and in defpifing and condemning all that are not in every thing juft of our own Mind and Perfuafion.

I. This Self-conceit appears in being confident and pofitive about things which we do not understand, and in intermeddling with Affairs which do not belong to us: When we reject every thing as false which we cannot presently comprehend, and damn every thing of which we cannot easily give a fatisfactory Account; when we speak evil of those things which we know not, as St. Jude fays of fome in his days; when nothing fhall escape us which we do not straight arraign and bring to the Bar, nor any thing pafs with us for wife, good or decent, but what is exactly fitted to our own Palate,


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