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and precious to themselves. Howfoever, unless there be abfolute neceffity, and you be constrained to do it for the glory of God and the good of others, divulge not their imperfections, though they be real; and in no cafe whatfoever, feign or devife falfe rumours concerning them. Take heed, left if ye bite and devour one another, ye be not confumed one of another, and one with another. Expofition of the Commandments.




OD hath given us understanding to try and examine things, and the light of his word to direct us in this trial; and if we will judge rafhly, and fuffer ourselves to be hurried by prejudice or paffion, the errors of our judgment become the faults of our lives. For God expects from us, that we fhould weigh and confider what we do; and when he hath afforded us light enough to difcern betwixt good and evil, that we fhould carefully follow the direction of it; that we fhould be fufpicious of ourselves, when our zeal carries us to do things that are furious and cruel, falfe and treacherous, and have a horrid appearance even to the light of nature: we should queftion that zeal which is fo contrary to Christian

goodness and meekness, to peace and charity, and which tends to confufion, and every evil work.

The corruption of the best things is the worst. Religion is, certainly, the highest accomplishment and perfection of human nature; and zeal for God, and his truth, an excellent quality, and highly acceptable to God; and yet nothing is more barbarous, and fpurs men on to more horrid impieties, than a blind zeal for God, and falfe and mistaken principles in the matters of religion. Our Saviour compares the Christian religion, and the minifters and professors of it, to falt and light, the most useful and delightful things in the world! Religion enlightens the minds of men, and directs them in the way wherein we fhould go; it seasons the spirits and manners of men, and preserves them from being putrified and corrupted. Mistakes, and false principles, are no where so pernicious, and of fuch mifchievous confequence, as in religion. A blind and mifguided zeal in religion, is enough to spoil the best nature and difpofition in the world. St. Paul (for aught appears) was of himself of a very kind and compaffionate nature, and yet what a fury did his mistaken zeal make him! It is hardly credible how madly he laid about him, but that he himself gives us the account of it. I might defcend lower, and give inftances both of former and latter times, of emperors and princes,

both heathen and Chriftian, that of themfelves were mild and gentle, and yet, through a mistaken zeal, have been carried to cruel and bloody things. And, indeed, nothing gives fo keen an edge, ́even to the mildeft tempers, as an erroneous and wild zeal for God and religion, it is like quickfilver in the back of a fword, that is not very fharp of itself, which gives a mighty force and weight to its blow, and makes it to cut terribly. I conclude all with that gentle reproof of our bleffed Saviour to his difciples, when their zeal for him had tranfported them to make that cruel request to him, that he would call for fire from heaven to deftroy the Samaritans: Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of, for the fon of man came not to deftroy men's lives, but to fave them. Hereby declaring the true fpirit and temper of Chriftianity, and that they that act contrary to it, are ignorant of the nature of the Chriftian religion.



DIED 1713.

THAT HAT the Chriftian religion was immediately defigned to improve and perfect the principles of human nature, appears, as from many other inftances of it, fo especially from this, that it fo ftrictly enjoins, cherishes, and promotes that natural kindness and compaffion, which is one of

the prime and effential inclinations of mankind. Wherever the gofpel is cordially complied with, it begets fuch a fweet and gracious temper of mind, as makes us humble, affable, courteous, and charitable, ready and difpofed to every good work, prompt to all offices of humanity and kindnefs; it files off the ruggednefs of men's natures, banishes a rude, churlifh, and pharifaical temper, and infufes a more calm and treatable difpofition. It commands us to live and love as brethren, to love without hypocrify, to have fervent charity among ourfelves, and to be kindly affectioned one towards another. It lays the fum of our duty towards others in this, to love our neighbours as ourselves. This our Saviour feems to own as his proper and peculiar law, and has ratified it with his own folemn fanction. A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. And then makes this the great vifible badge of all thofe who are truly Chriftians. By this shall all men know that you are my difciples, if you have love one to another.

And fo, indeed, it was with those first and best ages of religion; for no fooner did the gofpel fly abroad into the world, but the love and charity of Chriftians became notorious, even to a proverb; the heathens taking notice of the Chriftians of thofe times, with this particular remark, See how thefe Chriftians love one another! They were then

united in the moft happy fraternity (a word much ufed by Chriftians in those days, and objected against them by the heathens) they lived as brethren, and accounted themselves fuch, not only as being sprung from one common parent, but upon much higher accounts, viz. that they had one and the fame God for their father, drank all of the fame spirit of holiness, were brought out of the fame womb of darkness and ignorance, into the fame light of truth; that they were partakers of the same faith, and co-heirs of the fame hope. This Lucian himfelf confeffes of them, and that it was one of the great principles that their mafter. inftilled into them, that they fhould all become brethren after they had thrown off the religion of the Gentiles, and had embraced the worship of their great crucified Mafter, and given up themfelves to live according to his laws. The truth is, fo ready, entire, and conftant was their kindness and familiarity, that the heathens accused them of having private marks upon their bodies, whereby they fell in love with each other at first fight. Indeed they never met but they embraced one another, with all the demonftrations of a hearty and fincere affection, faluting each other with an holy kifs, not only in their own houses, but at their religious affemblies, as a badge and bond of that Chriftian fellowship and communion that was maintained amongst them.

Primitive Chriftianity.

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