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whatever ill Opinions they may entertain of SE R M、
SERM. One Man only (for no fingle Man can have XV. any more than a certain Proportion of it) and especially to great Bodies and Societies of Men for the better Establishment of it in the World. It is right therefore to give them a proper Credit beyond a fingle Man; for if it is right to give Credit to another as well as one's felf, it is right to give them more in exact Proportion to their Number, their Abilities and Opportunities of finding out the Truth beyond our Selves. For tho' Number may feem to fome of no great Signification in this Cafe, abftracted from all other Confiderations, Number and nothing elfe; yet if we consider it with an Addition of Judgment and Underftanding, they must be of great Weight; for if one is of any Signification, two is of double, three treble that Proportion, and so on. Suppose Men to be near upon a Par; where they are not fo, an Allowance must be made more or less in Proportion, but fome Additional Weight in every Addition of Number there must be ftill. Indeed as long as we are Imperfect and fubject to Infirmity, 'tis neceffary there fhould be fome Supply for this; and fo there is, for the Deficiencies are fupplied by the Abilities of others, who according to the Differences of their Genius,
Genius, Industry, Situation 6c, will al- SER M ways warrant a mutual Truft and Depend- XV. ence upon each other: Accordingly this in will be always a Ground and Foundation CO for Humility and a teachable Difpofition; and indeed there is no Way of arriving at Wisdom and Knowledge, but thro' the Gate of Humility. Pride and Conceit are the Paths that lead to infinite Error and Confufion. For the lefs Truft we put in others, the lefs Benefit can we have from them; and the lefs.we make our Circle the fmaller will our Circle be; and the more we admire ourselves, the lefs fhall we fee to admire in others, 'till at laft we fancy ourfelves all-fufficient. But there being no folid Foundation to fupport this imaginary Perfection, it commonly ends in infinite Doubts, Diffidence and Defpair.
There is certainly nothing more amiable in the Sight of God or Man, than Humility and a Difpofition to hearken to Inftruction and Advice. 'Tis fuch a true Direction of the Mind, that it gains the Love of People at the fame Time that it gains Inftruction. And if, where there is Action, there is also neceffary Reaction, 'tis the beft Difpofition imaginable for Instruction. For the good Opinion he entertains of others, operates
SERM. operates back upon himself with all the Advantage imaginable. In short, nothing can be wanting to fuch a Difpofition to receive Inftruction, or to create a Difpofition in others, to give it. In the natural and moral World there is the fame Refemblance and Analogy. Minds that are rightly dif pos'd, do naturally attract each other, like natural Bodies, and when they don't do this, 'tis a Sign they are not right.
But perhaps it will be objected, that Men are fallible, and therefore can have no right to fuch a Truft or Gredit, which it would be prepofterous to give them, fince they are fallible Men as our felves. 'Tis true, they are fo, for which reason the Truft we put in them, is not an abfolute one but limited accordingly. But after all, what if they are as fallible as we, are they not as wife too? therefore if we diftrust 0thers, fhould not we for the fame Reason diftruft ourselves likewife? But what does a Man lose by a proper Submiffion to Authority? Do we part with any Privilege by fo doing, which we might otherwife have enjoy'd? Do we give up the use of our Understandings by giving a due Credit to the Understandings of others? Or have we less Understanding for fo doing? Or rather
ther is it not demonftrably true, that by a SERM. proper Submiffion to the Understanding of XV. others, you have not only your own, but the Benefit of others at the fame Time? Whereas upon the other Hand, the Lofs is very confiderable, for the lefs Credit we give to others, the lefs Benefit fhall we receive from them. And indeed a Man that will give no Man Credit but himself, ought according to his own Principles to relinquish all manner of Claim to any Benefit arifing from the Maxims, Rules, Precepts, or any Sort of Knowledge whatfoever, that comes from abroad. Let him give back all Con-' clufions, which the Induftry of Ages has already form'd to his Hands, and fee when he will be able to acquire the ten millionth Part of them by his own. A Being thus bereft of all his acquired Knowledge, cut off from all Benefit to be had from his Fellow-Creatures, left deftitute of every foreign Help, would never arrive at any Truth, because that which could afcertain him of it, the concurring Judgment' of his Fellow-creatures, would be wanting. But perhaps it will be faid, that tho' it be proper to fubmit to others, as to what we have to fay, yet it will not be right to put a Faith in them, 'till they convince the Reafon, i. e. tho' their Judgments fhall be of fome Weight, yet they fhall be allow'd to weigh nothing at all. In anfwer to this, let it be obferved, that when the Reason is Sf