CHAP. VIII. THE PARTIALITY OF MENS PRACTICAL JUDGEMENT IN THEIR OWN CASE
CHAP. VIII. THE PARTIALITY OF MENS PRACTICAL JUDGEMENT IN THEIR OWN CASE
- Another Discovering instance of the Dominion of Self, is, The strange Partiality of men’s practical Judgements when the Cause is their own; and the equity of their judgements when the Case is another mans.
For particular instances of this, you may take up those that were mentioned before. I’ll give you but a few.
- Take but a dull and backward Minister, (for I know you will expect I begin next home) and he that is most averse to particular Instruction, and Discipline, and Self-denying duties, will be content that another man should perform them, and will commend and extoll him for a worthy man: except he perceive that another’s diligence disgraceth his selfishness and negligence, and then indeed he may possibly repine at it.
- A man that will not come near us to be instructed or Catechized will yet let his children or servants come. Why what’s the matter? doth he more regard their salvation than his own? or hath he not a soul to save or lose as well as they? and hath he not need of teaching? Yes: but they are not himself: If they learn a Catechism, it is no trouble to him: If their ignorance be opened, he takes it to be less dishonour to him than if he show his own. He can yield to their submission without self-denial, but not to his Own.
- Take a common glutton or drunkard, that cannot forbear, but must needs have that which the flesh desires, and they can be content that another man be temperate and sober: and if a neighbour should have the Cup before him, as they have, or a provocation to their appetite, they could be content that they let it alone; yea, they can tell them that it is the best way, and give them good counsel; and yet when the case is their own, it is otherwise. I have known drunkards that would persuade their children to take heed of it, and swearers that would whip their children for swearing, and persons that would not read or pray, that would be content to have their children do it. And why is all this? why that which goes by their own throats, must cost them self-denial in the displeasing of their greedy appetites; but that which goes by the throat of another doth cost them nothing: self is not so much against their children’s abstinence and reformation as their own.
- The same Magistrate that will not trouble himself and displease his neighbours, by suppressing Alehouses, and punishing vice, will perhaps be content if it were done by another; so that self might have none of the trouble and ill will.
- Some men that will not instruct their families, nor pray with them morning and night, will confess it is well done of others that do it. Yea, some that will not be persuaded to an holy heavenly life, will confess it is the best and wisest course, and approve of it in others, and wish they might but dye in such men’s case: And yet they will not themselves be brought to practise it. They will commend Peter, and Paul, and the Fathers, and the Martyrs for a holy life, and as I said, keep holy-days for them, and yet they will not be persuaded to imitate them. And why so? why it costs them nothing to commend Holiness in others: but to practise it themselves, must cost them self-denial.
- If another man be so ingenuous as to forsake an old self-espoused opinion, which their reputation seems to lye upon, and this upon their arguing, or in conformity to their minds, they will commend his great self-denial and sincerity: But yet they will not do so themselves, where the case is perhaps more clear and necessary.
- Take a man that is never so worldly and unmerciful, that gives not to the poor any considerable part of his estate, nor doth nothing worth the mentioning for the Church, and yet this man will consent that another shall be as bountiful and charitable as he will: when you can hardly screw a groat out of his purse, he will be content if another will give an hundred. And he will commend the liberal, and speak well of them, when he will not imitate them. And why is this? why it costeth him nothing for another to be liberal; and therefore he can advise it, or consent to it without self-denial: but self is against it when he should do it himself.
- Take the most selfish unsanctified man, that cannot love an enemy, nor forgive a debt, or a wrong, and he will yet commend it in another, and advise them to it, and speak well of those that will do so by him: And why is this? why it costeth him nothing to have another man love an enemy, or forgive a debt or wrong; but he cannot himself do it without self-denial.
- Those men that love not to be touched themselves by the Ministers application, can yet endure well enough that others be dealt as sharply with as may be; And they are glad to hear any sharply reproved whose sins they do dislike. The Covetous man loves to hear us reprove the drunkard, and the drunkard is content to have the Covetous reprehended: Erroneous professors, dividers and hypocrites do hate the Minister that reprehendeth their own sin, and can scarce endure to hear him, but say, he is bitter, or a persecutor, or raileth at the godly (alas that wickedness should have so impudent a plea!) But they can freely give us leave to deal as plainly as we will with the openly profane: scarce any sect can endure you to speak against their own mistakes: but you may speak as freely against the contrary minded as you please. How easily can Papists endure one to speak against Protestants? or Anabaptists endure one to speak against Infant-baptism? And the openly profane can well enough endure to have Sects, and Schismatic, and Heretics reproved: And why is all this, but from the Dominion of self, and the scarcity of self-denial in the world? To have another rebuked, toucheth not Self, and therefore may be born.
The poor man loves to hear us preach against the Vices of the rich, and to reprehend the luxury of Gentlemen, and the cruelty of oppressors: The subject too often loves to hear the Rulers faults laid open: The Countryman loves to hear the Courtiers, the Ministers, but specially the Lawyers faults laid open: Here you may speak freely: but Self must be let alone, upon pain of their displeasure, and many a reproach.
- So also in case of personal close reproof: those that cannot endure it themselves, do think it the duty of others to endure it, and expect that others should submit to them; and if any will say, [Neighbour, I thank you for your plain and friendly dealing, and having so much compassion on my soul, as to help to save me from my sins: I confess I am a vile unworthy sinner; but by the grace of God I will do so no more: or if I be any more overtaken, I pray you tell me of it, and let me not alone in it.] I say if another should answer them thus and thank them for their reproof, they would think the better of him, and take it well. But yet they will not do so themselves: for it costeth Self nothing to have another submit and humble himself.
So those that are most backward to the admonishing of others, lest they lose their love, can like to have a Minister or another do it: For that doth not put them to deny themselves.
- Nay take a scandalous professor, that is drawn to public Confession as a Bear to the Stake, and if it were another man’s case, he would think it but reasonable and meet, and would persuade him to it. If another had committed the same sin against God as he hath done, or had slandered, or wronged him, and would freely, without urging, confess in the Congregation with tears in his eyes, that he hath sinfully provoked God, and offended the Church, and wronged his Brother, and laid a stumbling block in the way of the ungodly, and the weak, and dishonoured his holy profession, and is never able to make satisfaction for such heinous sins, and is unworthy any more to be a member of the Church, and to have any communion with Christ or them; and should earnestly entreat them to pardon him, and pray for him, and retain him in their Communion, and entreat God to pardon him; Would not the stander by think this were well done, and a better way to his recovery than to refuse it? And all is, because that self is not touched in another man’s case; unless he apprehends it like to become his own; and then he may be against it, and scorn at this, as too precise a Course.
- Take also the extortioner, or any man that hath defrauded or injured another; and that will not be persuaded to make Restitution of all that he hath got amiss: and let this man hear of the case of Zacchaeus, and he will say, It was well done: Or let another’s case be propounded to him, and he can tell them that [Restitution is the safest way: whatever it cost you, its fit that every man should have his own.] Self will give him free leave to consent to another man’s Restitution; but not to his own.
- Moreover; Suppose that persecution were afoot, and a man must either knowingly sin against God, or lose his Estate, and part with all that he hath in the world, and burn at a Stake for the cause of Christ: The selfish unsanctified person will not be persuaded that this is his duty, or at least, he will not be persuaded to submit to it: He cannot suffer, nor burn: He will trust God with his soul, rather than men with his body; (as such speak that despise God, and reject him, and prefer the world before him, and call this trusting him.) But if this were another man’s case, they could tell him that its better displease men than God, and that its better venture a short life, than an endless life; and that it is little profit to win all the world, and lose his own soul; and that it is the wisest way to make sure work for eternity, and not to venture on endless misery: And they could consent that another should rather suffer than sin Why else do they commend the Martyrs for it? And what is the reason of this strange partiality? Why Self is the great Ruler, and God hath but the name. Self is partial in their own cause, but not in another mans: and therefore they can consent to his suffering without self-denial: And hence comes the difference.
- Moreover, when Offenders murmur at their punishment, ask but the standers by, and they are of another mind. When the Ale-seller thinks he is wronged if he be put down: ask but the poor women whose Husbands use to be drunk there, and whose children, lack meat, and drink, and clothes, because the Alehouse devours that which should buy them, and they will be quite of another judgment, and think you love not God nor the Country, if you will not suppress them.
- Also when you hear men extenuating their sin, and excusing it; put but the case as another mans, and let them not understand that it is their own, and you shall hear another judgment. So Nathan came about David, and put but a far lower case as another’s about the robbing a poor man of his only Sheep, and he could presently say and swear, [As the Lord liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die, because he had no pity:] and his anger was greatly kindled against the man, 2 Sam. 12. 5, 6. But why was he not as angry with himself for a greater sin? O self-had got the better in that grievous fall, till grace broke his heart by true repentance. So when Judah heard of Thamar’s fornication, he commandeth [Bring her out that she may be burnt,] Gen. 38. 24. But when he understood that it was by himself, the case was altered.
- Let a man that his provoked by injuries and ill words, have as bad by himself done or spoken against another, and he can make but a small matter of them, or think they should be easily put up or pardoned: when yet the same words spoken against him, do seem intolerable.
- Let a man speak with others in poverty, sickness, or any affliction, and what good counsel can he give him to submit to God, and take all patiently! But let the suffering be his own, and he cannot take the counsel that he gives.
- Nay more; men are not only partial for themselves, but for any that are near themselves,or that self is related to. Let another man’s Son or Servant do evil, and you can be content that he be rebuked or corrected: But if it be a Son, or Kinsman, or Servant of your Own, the case is altered; its then a wrong to punish, him, because of his relation to you. Let a Stranger do amiss, and you can give way to Justice: But if the Drunkard, or Ale-seller, or Swearer be your friend, then he must be born with and forgiven, and the justice must be entreated for him.
Let a scandalous, or insufficient Minister, or Schoolmaster be offered to any place: If he be a Stranger, you can be content that he be rejected: but if he be a Kinsman, or Child, or Friend of yours, what an alteration doth this make in the case! then he must be born with, or tried, and you hope he will mend, and his faults are made the least of, & his virtues more than indeed they are.
Nay any man that doth but love your selves and honour you, and think highly of you, shall have a favourable construction for all his words, and actions, and intentions, than one that you imagine is against you or hath low thoughts of you, or is against your interest, or your opinion.
Sirs, I have run into abundance of instances, but not a quarter so many as might be given; and all is to meet with the turnings and windings of this Serpent self; and to let you see (if light itself can make you see, against the blinding power of self) how rare self-denial is in the world, and what a large Dominion self obtaineth.
I would here have added some more Discoveries, as
- From the excessive care, and cost, and labour that almost all the world is at for self? and the little they are at for God, or the good of others,
- The large proportion that is expended on self, in comparison of God and others.
- The Zeal of men to vindicate self, but the little Zeal for God or others.
- The rigorous Laws that are made in the cause of self: (Thieves and Traitors must die): and the remissness of Law-givers in the cause of God: Blasphemy, Malignity, and Impiety is not so roughly handled.
- The firmness of men to carnal self, and their great mutability and unfaithfulness to God. But I had rather omit somewhat, than to be too tedious, and therefore I go no further in these Discoveries, save only to add a few of those Aggravations that show you the extent of self’s Dominion, as you have seen the sad discoveries of the reality of it.