Page images

on Aaron's head, or the refreshing dew descending on Hermon and Sion, and making all the country between them to share in its copious blessings. Let us often reflect with ourselves, how amiable and excellent it is! what an ornament ! and indeed, with all its meekness and tenderness, what a defence to true Christianity! Let us accustom ourselves to think, so far as our best information reaches, what the face of the Christian church has, in fact, been, amidst all the mutual animofities that have reigned among its members ; and, on the other hand, let us try to imagine what it would have been, if that pacific, gentle, beneficent temper, which the gospel recoinmonds, had conftantly, had generally been prevalent, and every angry, turbulent, and malignant thought and paffion had been brought into sweet subjection to the laws of Christ. But who can make the computation, whether we consider its aspect on prefent, or on future happiness? Who can calculate how widely Christianity would have been spread, while the adıniring world had been charmed by so bright a light, had been melted by fo celestial a flame? Who can imagine what delights had sprung up in every breast, and how they had been multiplied by reflection from each? Above all, who can conceive how large a colony the regions of perfect love and blessedness would have received from the peopled earth!

The lowest understanding, the meanest education, the most contemptible abilities, may suffice to give hard names, and to pronounce severe cenfures. A harsh anathema may be learnt by heart, , and furiously repeated by one that could scarce read it; and, as was in truth the case, in fome ancient councils, may be signed by those that cannot write their names. But true catholicism of temper is a more liberal thing; it proceeds from more enlarged views; it argues a superior greatness of mind, and a riper knowledge of men and things. And the man, who is blessed with such advantages, should be so much the more solicitous that he does not, on any provocation, add the weight of his example to so bad a cause as that of uncharitableness always is. He owes it to God, and to the world, that such an influence be employed to the happy purposes of healing the wounds of the Chriftian church, and of conciliating the affections of good and worthy men towards each other, till their united counsels can regulate its disorders, and restore to it a form more worthy of itself.

And Oh! may the God of the spirits of all flesh, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Chrift, who is the Author of Peace and Lover of Concord, hear the prayers in which our hearts would unite with all our brethren: humbly interceding for the prosperity of the universal church, “ That it may be so guided and governed by his good fpirit, that all who profess, and call themfelves Christians, may be led into the way of truth, and hold the faith once delivered to the Jaints, in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life, through Jesus Christ.” Amen.

Sermon on Candour and Unanimity.


DIED 1691.


HE Jews, that perfecuted Christ and his

Apostles, had the testimony of Paul himself, that they had a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge ; and St. Paul faith of the deceivers and troublers of the Galatians (whom he wisheth even cut off) that they did zealously affect them, but not well. And he saith of himself, while he persecuted Christians to prison and to death-I was zealous towards God, as ye are all this day. Was not the Papist's St. Dominic, that stirred up the persecution against the Christians in France and Savoy, to the murdering of many of them, a very zealous man? And are not the butchers of the inquisition zealous men? And were not the

* This great and good man was one of the most praéti sal writers of the last century. A large volume might be extracted out of his writings, in behalf of candour, charity, and moderation.

authors of the third canon of the general council at the Lateran, under Pope Innocent the third, very zealous men, that decreed that the Pope should depofe temporal lords, and give away their dominions, and absolve their subjects, if they would not exterminate the godly, called heretics ? Hath not zeal caused many of later times to rise up against their lawful governors, and many to persecute the church of God, and deprived the people of their faithful pastors, without compalfion on the people's fouls ? Doth not Christ say of such zealots--The time cometh, when whofoever killeth you, will think he doth God service. Therefore Paul faith, it is good to be zealously affected always in a good matter ; showing you that zeal, indeed, is good, if found judgment be its guide. It is fad to observe what odious actions are committed in all ages of the world by the instigation of misguided zeal, and what a shame an impudent zealot is to his profeffion; while making himself ridiculous in the eyes of the adversaries, he brings his profession itself into contempt, and maketh the ungodly think that the religious are but a company of transported, brain-fick zealots ; and thus they are hardened to their perdition. How many things doch unadvised affection provoke well-meaning people to, that afterwards will be their thame and forrow ? Labour, therefore, for knowledge and soundness of understanding, that you may know truth from falle

[ocr errors]

hood, good from evil, and may walk confidently while you walk safely; and that you become not a shame to your profession, by a furious prosecution of that which you must, afterwards, confess to be an error ; by drawing others to that which you would, after, wish that you had never known yourselves. And yet, see that all your knowledge have its efficacy upon your heart and life ; and take every truth as an instrument of God to reveal himself to you, or to draw your heart to him, and conform you to his holy will.

Keep right apprehensions of the excellency of charity and unity among believers, and receive nothing hastily that is against them ; especially take heed, lest under pretence of their authority, their number, their foundness, or their holiness, you too much addiet yourselves to any feet or party, to the withdrawing of your special love and just communion from other Christians, and turning your zeal to the interest of your party, with the neglect of the common interest of the church; but love a Christian as a Christian, and promote the unity and welfare of them all. It is a most dangerous thing to a young convert to be ensnared in a fect; it will, before you are aware, poffcss you with a feverish sinful zeal for the opinions and interests of that fect; it will make you bold in bitter invectives and censures against those that differ from them ; it will corrupt your church communion, and fill your very prayers

« PreviousContinue »