Thursday, September 16, 2010

Personal Heresy and Truth

Well knows he who uses to consider, that our faith and knowledge thrives by exercise, as well as our limbs and complexion. Truth is compared in Scripture to a streaming fountain; if her waters flow not in a perpetual progression, they sicken into a muddy pool of conformity and tradition. A man may be a heretic in the truth; and if he believe things only because his pastor says so, or the assembly so determines, without knowing other reason, though his belief be true, yet the very truth he holds becomes his heresy. There is not any burden, that some would gladlier post off to another, than the charge and care of their religion. There be, who knows not that there be of Protestants and professors, who live and die in as errant and implicit faith, as any lay papist of Loretto.

A wealthy man addicted to his pleasure and to his profits

  • finds religion to be a traffic so entangled,
  • and of so many piddling accounts, that of all mysteries
  • he cannot skill to keep a stock going upon that trade.

What should he do? 

  • Fain he would have the name to be religious,
  • fain he would bear up with his neighbors in that. 

What does he, therefore, but resolves to give over toiling, and to find himself out some factor to whose care and credit he may commit the whole managing of his religious affairs;

some Divine of note and estimation that must be.

To him he adheres, 
  • resigns the whole warehouse of his religion 
  • with all the locks and keys into his custody; 
  • and indeed makes the very person of that man his religion; 
  • esteems his associating with him a sufficient evidence and commendatory of his own piety.

So that a man may say his religion is now no more within himself, but is become a dividual  movable, and goes and comes near him, according as that good man frequents the house.

  • He entertains him,
  • gives him gifts, 
  • feasts him, 
  • lodges him. 
  • His religion comes home at night, prays, 
  • is liberally supped, 
  • and sumptuously laid to sleep, rises, is saluted, 
  • and after the malmsey, or some well spiced brewage, 
  • and better breakfasted than he whose morning appetite would have gladly fed on green figs between Bethany and Jerusalem, 

his religion walks abroad at eight, 
and leaves his kind entertainer 
in the shop trading all day 
without his religion. 

(John Milton, Areopagitica)
  • divisible or divided; 
  • separate; distinct.;  
  • distributed, shared.