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est; but only hath eased the top of his stomach, and cropt off some of the branches of the tree of death. The thorns of worldly desires and cares are still rooted in his heart; and, therefore, no wonder if they choak the seed of wholesome truth, and there be a greater harvest for the devil than for God; Gal. v. 24. vi. 4. 8. Rom. viii. 5. Mat. xiii. 22.
2. Another sign that follows upon this, is, that the sound convert doth carry on the course of his obedience, in a way of self-denial, as living in a continual conflict with his own flesh, and expecting his comfort and salvation to come in upon the conquest. And, therefore, he can suffer for Christ, as well as be found in cheaper obedience, and he dare not, ordinarily, refuse the most costly service. For the spoils of his fleshly desires are his prey, and crown of glorying in the Lord; Luke xiv, 27. 33. Gal. v. 17.24. 1 Cor. ix. 27. Luke ix. 23, 24. 2 Cor. xii. 9. Gal. vi. 14.
But the opinionative convert still liveth to his carnal-self. And, therefore, secretly at least, seeks himself, and layeth hold on present things, as the true convert layeth hold on eternal life. The truths of God being received but into his opinion, do not go deep enough to conquer self, and to take down his great idol, nor make him go through fire and water, and to serve God with the best, and honour him with his substance much less with his sufferings and death. He hath something that he cannot spare for God; Matt. xiii. 21. Luke xviii. 22-24.
3. The sound convert hath taken God for his portion, and heaven for that sure and full felicity, which he is resolved to venture upon. That is it that he hath set his heart and hopes upon, and thither tends the drift of his life; Col. iii. 14. Matt. vi. 20, 21.
But he that is changed only in his opinions, had never such sure apprehensions of the life to come; nor so full a confidence in the promises of God, as to set his heart unfeignedly upon God, and make him truly heavenly-minded He may have a heavenly tongue, but he hath an earthly heart. A bare opinion, be it never so true, will not raise men's hearts so high, as to make their affections, and the very design and business of their lives to be heavenly; Phil. iii. 18-20. Rom. xvi. 17, 18. viii. 5.
4. The sound convert hath seen the vileness of himself, in the sinfulness of his heart and life, and the misery there
by deserved; and so is a sincerely humbled self-accusing
But the opinionist is commonly unhumbled, and wellconceited of himself, and a self-justifying Pharisee; unless it be that self-accusing will cost him no disgrace, and he take it up as a custom, or that which may bring him into the repute of being humbled and sincere. For his opinion will not search, and pierce his heart, nor batter down his selfexalting thoughts, nor root up the master-sin of pride. These are two great works for an opinionist to perform. And, therefore, you shall hear him more in the excusing of his sin, the magnifying of himself, or the stiff maintaining of his own conceits, than in unfeigned self-abasing; Rom. xii. 16. 1 Cor. i. 19, 20. iii. 18. 2 Cor. x. 12. Luke xvi. 15. 5. The sound convert is so acquainted with the defects, and sins, and necessities of his own soul, that he is much taken up at home, in his studies, and cares, and censures, and his daily work. The acting and strengthening of grace, the subduing of corruption, and his daily walk with God, are much of his employments. Above all keeping, he keeps his heart, as knowing that thence are the issues of life. He cannot have while to spy out the faults of others, and meddle with their affairs, where duty binds him not, as others can do ; because he hath so much to do at home; Gal. vi. 3, 4. Prov. iv. 23.
But the opinionist is most employed abroad, and about mere notions, and opinions; but he is little employed in such heart-searching, or heart-observing work. His light doth not pierce so deep as to shew him his heart, and the work that is there to be necessarily done. As the change is little upon his heart, so his employment is little there. He is little in bewailing his secret defects and corruptions, and little in keeping his soul's accounts; and little in secret striving with his heart to work it into communion with God, and into a spiritual, lively, fruitful frame. He is forward to aggravate others, and oft-times severe enough in censuring them. But he is a very gentle censurer of himself, and a patient man with his own corruptions, and puts the best construction upon all that is his own. He hath much labour, perhaps, in shaping his opinions, but little for the humbling and sanctifying his heart, by the power of the truth.
6. And as the difference lieth thus constantly in the heart, so it is usually manifested by the tongue; Matt. xii. 34. The sound convert is most desirous to discourse of those great and saving truths, which his very heart hath taken in, and which he hath found to be the seed of God for his regeneration, and the instruments of that holy and happy change, that is made upon him. He feeleth most favour and life in these great and most necessary points, which formed the image of God upon him. And upon these he daily feeds and lives. Read John xvii. 3. 1 Cor. xv. 1-6. ii. 2. Phil. iii. 8-11. 1 Tim. iii. 16. Acts xvi. 22, 23. In these Scriptures, you may find what points they were that the greatest saints did study and live upon.
But the opinionist is most forward to discourse of mere opinions, and to feed upon the air of notions, and controversies of lesser moment. For one hour's holy, heavenly,experimental, heart-searching discourse, that you shall have from him, you shall have many and many hours' discourse of his opinions. I mean it indifferently of all his opinions. I mean it, I say, of all his opinions whether true or false. For though falsehoods cannot be fit food for the soul, yet truths as themselves, also may be made of little service to them. A man may be a mere opinionist that hath true opinions, as well as he that hath false. Almost all the free and zealous discourses of these men, on matters of religion, is about their several sides, and parties, and opinions. If they be set upon a point, especially wherein they seem to themselves to be wiser than others, they have a fire of zeal for it in their breasts, that makes them desirous to be propagating it to others. About the orders and ceremonies of the church; about the forms of prayer, and the accidents of worship; about infant baptism, or other such controversies in religion, is the freest of their discourse.
Yea, you may perceive much of the difference, even in the very manner of their conference. A serious Christian, even when he is necessitated to speak of lower controverted points, yet doth it in a spiritual manner, as one that more savoureth higher truths, and makes a holy and heavenly life his end, even in these lower matters; and deals about such controversies in a practical manner, and in order to the growth of holiness.
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 better. 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 sermons. 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 carcase. 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 may 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 à 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
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