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dom that has its Being in Opinion and
and by which Men come to think well of themselves. Now this kind of Wisdom is a meer Shadow ; for even they that are Fools pretend to it, as well as they that are of greater Ta.
but neither are at all the wiser in truth, for this Opinion of their being so: And as it is in it self a Shadow; so it chiefly aims and catches at a Shadow, that is, at Vain Glory and the Admiration of others. Now we may observe of this kind of Wisdom, That it is al. ways attended with one mischievous Companion, and that is the Affectation of Singularity : They that are Wise in their own Conceit, always found their Conceit
upon the Knowledge of somewhat that is Odd and out of the Way: They hare to think in the common Le. vel; They value not themselves for knowing what is vulgarly known; but esteem is their Excellency to start No. velties, and to be the Originals of their B.
own Opinions. From which it follows that this kind of Wisdom is always a direct Adversary to Faith : For Faith is a simple Thing, and delivered purely with the Design that all should receive it Uniformly; In which case the Man that affects Singularity is never pleas’d till he can form some New Conception of the maccer Revealed, whereby he may import that the Reach of his Understanding is above the common Mea. sure. So that the main characteristick of this Wisdom is to be ever Opposing, or Scrupling, or Refining upon Faith, and pretending to lead that revealed Light, which we all ought to follow with a ready and chearful Submission. From this busie Itch of pretended wise Men, to unsettle Religion, and mis-in. terpret the Messages of God, and to vend their own Imaginations in place of Divine Oracles, it was that the Prophet, 11. 5.21. Denounces Woe against them that are Wife in their oion Eyes, and
Prudent in their own Sight. And my Text is no less a warning against this kind of Wisdom from the exemplary Mischiefs that it has formerly brought upon others, who profefling themselves to be Wife became Fools. The Truth that is pointed at in these Words and from this Example, I shall farther evince, and apply in these two Propositions.
(1.) That Humane Wisdom is a dangerous Guịde in Matters of Religion. And,
(2.) That God has vouchsafed Faith as a necessary Expedient in order both to make and to keep Men Wise.
The first Propofition, (viz.) That Humane Wisdom is a dangerous Guide in Matters of Religion ; I shall evidence by shewing, that the greatest Mischiefs relating to Religion, that ever yet happen'd to Mankind, have ow'd their Original to this pretended Wisdom. And
I need no more to prove this than the following Instances, viz.
(1.) That VVisdom first extinguish'd the common VVorship of God and brought Idolatry into the World.
(2.) That VVisdom first wasted Man's Conscience, and brought Sin in. to the VVorld.
(3.) That this VVisdom first cor. rupted Faith and brought all Heresies into the Church.
As to the first Instance (viz:) That VVisdom first extinguish'd the common worship of God and brought Idolatry into the VVorld.
It is the exprefs Intimation of the Text. For the Apostle is here treating concerning the Idolatry of the Gentiles; to what extravagance it proceeded and from what Cause it sprung; a Subject which cannot be duly confider'd with out matter of VVonder: Noah the Preacher of Righteousness, who had warn'd the old VVorld and calld them
to Repentance in vain, had at least this Advantage by it, that he came with greater awe to Teach and Instruct the New : And he caught them in such a manner, both what they ought to Believe and to Do; that the Apostle says of them, v. 21. They all knew both God and his Worship; cho' it was a Knowledge they liked not to retain ; but instead of that as v. 23. They changed the Glory of the Incorruptible God, into the Image of corruptible Man, and to Birds, and four. footed Beasts, and creeping Things. And this Corruption of Faith and VVorship together came on so fast, that the same Noah who had leen the Funerals of the old VVorld, for their No Religion ; saw likewise in his own days the new World overspread with a False Religion, more Absurd and Irrational than None. Now the Text tells us expresly that this State of things as strange and gross as it was, was introduced under the pretences of VVisdom, Professing to be Wife they be