Page images



thou not waiting for Chrift to touch thine eyes a fecond time? Doft thou not pray for his fpirit to lead thee into all truths? Canft thou be content to lofe thy fhare in the riches of that glory thou art yet a stranger to? And if thou thinkeft that thou understandeft all myfteries, and haft all knowledge, yet, fure I am, all that thou canst attain to here below, is but a little part of what is yet to come, and will be done away when that which is perfect appears. Why then doft thou lay fo great a ftrefs upon those opinions which thou hadst not the other day; which thou mayeft lofe to-morrow; and which dre, finally, to be fwallowed up? And why art thou fo fond of them, to the prejudice of that love and charity, without which thou art, with all thy knowledge, nothing? Contend as much as thou wilt for what thou likeft and believe to be the truth of God, and endeavour to fupprefs error]; but let it be by fuch weapons as the gofpel allows." Be as zealous as thou wilt for what thou calleft truth; but take heed how thou putteft the authority, and ftamp of God, upon thy own opinions; and how, in contending for them, thou lettest go brotherly love. Above all things, let us preferve ourselves from that bitter zeal which St. James. fpeaks of, and upon which he fets fo evil a mark, that he brands it with the fire of hell. If there be faith he, bitter envyings (but in the original we have it bitter zeal) this wisdom is not from above,


[ocr errors]


but earthly, fenfual, and devilish. Let us take heed of fuffering our zeal against the errors and miscarriages of our brother; to be mingled and tempered with a bitterness against his person ; as lightning from heaven melts the fword, but doth no harm to the fcabbard, let us in all our reproofs, discover an equal love to the person, and. hatred to the evil—an equal defire to destroy the evil and fave the perfon. Or let our zeal against the evil be nothing but love to the perfon, flaming forth, and burning with a great but with a fweet and divine force, that it may confume the drofs for the gold's fake, to which the drofs cleaves. That only is a true zeal which, like the fire from the golden altar, mingled with incenfe, fills all round about, and carries up that on which it feeds, as a facrifice to heaven, with the richest odours and perfumes of a divine love. Let us fuffer nothing to interrupt or ftain this divine love, whose reasons being altogether divine, ought to fubject all other reafons to themfelves. And let us always remember how that the measure which we mete to others, fhall be measured to us: again.

Perfuafive to Moderation.

[ocr errors]


DIED 1721.

To O what has a man a greater right, than to the entire free enjoyment and direction of his own confcience, and to a full power to act uprightly and in fincerity before God and man ? And yet men are not by far, fo much difturbed and wronged in any other poffeffions and enjoyments as in thefe. It is common to fee' men openly, not only justifying and pleading for, but acting their injuries of this kind fometimes by a law, and making a merit of them, and turning` them into acts of religion; but to the very great prejudice and dishonour of the moft holy religion they profefs; which neither knows, nor will ever excufe any fuch practices. What is more common, than to fee men affume to themselves that extravagant power, not given to any, to prescribe, to direct, and force the confciences of others, and rob them of their peace and purity, or else of their religious rights and privileges, by depriving

* Dr. Gale used to exprefs more concern upon reflecting on the conduct of men, and the fearful confequences of their vices, than upon any other fubject whatever.-When I look upon men's behaviour (faid he) I imagine eternity a thing to be trifled with—but when I look upon eternity, the behaviour of men aftonishes me!

Life of Gale in the Protestant Diffenter's Magazine.


them of that fociety and communion which they claim and defire, but cannot purchafe at fo dear a rate? All the difficulties and hardships, of every kind and in every degree, which are brought upon perfons on the fcore of religion, come properly under the name of perfecution; and are all equally founded in oppreffion, violence, and injuftice. If it be lawful and juft, arbitrarily to break in upon the religious rights and privileges of men, by the fame reafon, it will be equally lawful to break in upon all their civil rights and liberties, which are not more facred, nor better guarded by God and nature; and, therefore, if it be good and just to rob men of their religious liberties, by impofing other terms of communion, demanding other profeffions of faith, and making other articles neceffary to be believed than Chrift, our only lawgiver, has done; then it is likewife lawful to rob them of their civil poffeffions and liberties, by incapacitating laws, by fines, dragoons, banishments, gallies, and imprisonments; and if all this be lawful for the honour of God and religion, and the good of men's fouls, as is infamoufly pretended; it is likewife lawful, for the fame good ends, to inflict all manner of corporal punishments, to exert the utmost rage, and fury, and barbarity, in devifing racks and tortures, and all the moft exquifite pains; and even to poifon, ftab, maffacre, and give a general loose to all the execrable paf

fions and violences of the most inhuman, relentlefs, and unmerciful robbers, affaffins, and murderers. And in fact, men feem to have argued in this manner, and to have gone on as they have found themfelves in power, from one degree of violence to another, till they have filled most parts of the world with blood and flaughter, and the moft horrible devaftations; and, if they may be believed, in pure love to men, and for the honour, fecurity, and establishment of the beft, most holy, and peaceable religion of the Prince of Peace. But after all, thefe things do, undoubtedly, the greatest dishonour and differvice to Christianity imaginable; even in the lowest degree; they breed the moft inveterate camity, diffenfion, and irreparable divifions and bloody perfecutions among Chriftians; they expofe religion to the contempt, and ridicule, and banter of atheifts and infidels; and arm the heathen powers against a religion they fee carries fo much mischief and danger in its banners, and whets their rage and fury against thofe who, making a profeffion of it, feem to be the declared enemies of mankind.

Well, therefore, did the Apoftle exhort the Hebrews, then actually under perfecution, and too apt to dishonour their moft holy profeffion; I fay, well did the Apoftle exhort them to follow peace with all men, and holiness; for all the evils and dreadful calamities we have been mentioning,

« PreviousContinue »