CHAP. V. THE POWER OF SELFISHNESS UPON MENS OPINIONS IN RELIGION
- Another instance Discovering the Reign of selfishness in the world, is, The great Power that it hath to form men’s Opinions and Conceptions in Religion. Though the understanding naturally be inclined to Truth, yet a selfish by as upon the soul, especially on the will, doth commonly delude it, and make the vilest error seem to be Truth to it, and the most useful Truth to seem an error. The Will hath much command over the Understanding: and when selfishness is become the very habit, the bias, the nature of the will, you may easily conjecture how it will pervert the understanding. But what need we more than experience to satisfy us. Do you not see that where self is but deeply engaged, the judgement is bribed or overmastered, and carried from the Truth? So that as the eye that looks through a coloured glass, doth see all things as if they were of the same colour as the glass: So the understanding that is mastered by a selfish inclination thinks everything is truth that savoureth his self-interest. And here I shall offer you some more particular instances.
- We all see that almost all the world is of that Religion or Opinion which hath the countenance of the Government that they live under, and the persons that have greatest power on their reputation; or at least which is consistent with their safety, if not rising and prosperity in the world. The Turks are commonly Mahometans: the subjects of Rome, and Spain, and Austria, &c. are generally Papists: those in Denmark, Sweden, Saxony, &c. are generally Lutherans: those of Scotland, England, Helvetia, &c. are commonly Calvinists (as they are called.) I know the power of education is great, and hearing evidence only on one side, may bias a well-meaning man: But Papists and Protestants (as to the learned part) have the Books of the contrary-minded at hand: And therefore that Opinions should run in a stream, and whole Country’s almost be of a party, must needs be much from the power of selfishness, because they are swayed by them that have the power of their reputation, and estates and liberties in the world.
- Moreover, when a man is by custom grown self-conceited, or by the power of Pride is wise in his own eyes, how hard a matter do we find it to convince such men by the clearest evidence! They will not see, when they can hardly wink so close as to keep out the light. It is their opinion, and therefore shall be so: and they will hold it because it is their own.
- Especially if it be an Opinion of a man’s own invention, which is doubly his own, both as he is the contriver and possessor, how close will he stick to it, too commonly beyond the evidence of truth, because that self-hath so great an interest in it?
- Yea, if a man be but deeply engaged for it, either by laborious Disputes, or confident owning it, or any way, so as that his credit lyeth on it, how tenacious will he be of it, because of the powerful interest of Self?
- And if it be but an Opinion that seems to befriend any former Opinion that we have much engaged for, how much doth selfishness usually appear in our inordinate propensity to it?
- Also if we live in days of persecution, how easily do we receive those Opinions that would keep us from prison and fire? Or if any suffering lye upon it, we commonly take that side to be right, that is safest to the flesh, (except when self would be advanced by the occasion of sufferings) And in prosperity, if there be any controversy arise, which our gain is concerned in, how easily believe we the thriving opinion? If any Oath, Engagement, or Duty be imposed on us by those that have Power to do us harm, the generality are for it, be it what it will. In all these cases it is commonly Carnal Self that is the Judge.
And how far Self commands in such cases, you may see by these discoveries following.
- In studying the case, men’s thoughts run almost all one way. They study what to say for their own opinions, and how to answer all that is against them: but they study but very little what may be said on the other side. They sit at their studies with a biased will, inclining or commanding their understanding what to do, even to prove that to be true, which they would have to be true, whether it be so or not.
- And hence it is that the weakest Arguments on their own side do seem sufficient, if not invincible; and they stand wondering at the blindness of all those men that cannot see the force of them: But no Arguments seem to have any weight, that are brought against them. And all this is from the power of self.
- Yea, sometimes when they are silenced and know not what to say for their opinions, nor how to answer the Arguments for the contrary, yet they can say, We are of this mind, and we will be of this mind. And why, but because it is espoused to them and their own?
- And hence it is, that if a man be but an admirer of us, or of our own opinion in other things, we are readier to receive an opinion from him than from another.
- And hence it is that Disputations do so seldom change men’s minds, because they take it to be a dishonour to be changed by another (unless it be a person of great renown;) we envy to an Opposite the glory of altering our understandings: But if we may have the doing of it ourselves by the power of our own understandings and studies, we will sometimes yield to change our minds. He is a stranger to the ungodly world that seeth not how much self-interest doth, to master their understandings, and turn their hearts from the holy doctrine of Christ, and how much it doth to make them like or dislike their teachers, or any point or practice in Religion. And he is a stranger even among Divines themselves, that seeth not the sway that self doth bear in their judgements, and disputes, and course of life, and the choice of their party or society to which they join themselves.
- THE SOLDIERS OF THE KING: Their Warfare, Weapons and Victory CLICK HERE
- THE BOOK OF REVELATION: A Study of The Last Prophetic Book of Holy Scriptures, 1919 Kindle Edition CLICK HERE
- FREEDOM OF THE WILL by Jonathan Edwards, Kindle Edition CLICK HERE
- WE WERE CREATED TO WORSHIP HIM: Rise Up Prayer Warriors and Be Counted! Kindle Edition CLICK HERE
- THE ART OF PROPHESYING with The Calling of the Ministry: A Needed Tool for All Pastors Kindle Edition CLICK HERE
- LORD I WANT TO BE OUT OF MY DEPTH IN YOU!: Deeper In Your Word Through Bible Verses & Christian Quotes That Nourish My Soul Kindle Edition CLICK HERE