« PreviousContinue »
and precious to themselves. Howsoever, unless there be absolute 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 case whatsoever, feign or devise false - rumours concerning them. Take heed, left if ye bite and devour one another, ye be not consumed one of another, and one with another.
Exposition of the Commandments.
JOHN TILLOTSON, D. D.
and examine things, and the light of his word to direct us in this trial ; and if we will judge rashly, and suffer ourselves to be hurried by prejudice or passion, the errors of our judgment become the faults of our lives.
For God expects from us, that we should weigh and consider what we do ; and when he hath afforded us light enough to discern betwixt good and evil, that we should carefully follow the direction of it; that we should be suspicious of ourselves, when our zeal carries us to do things that are furious and cruel, false and treacherous, and have a horrid appearance even to the light of nature: we should question that zeal which is so contrary to Christian goodness and meekness, to peace and charity, and which tends to confusion, 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 spurs men on to more horrid impieties, than a blind zeal for God, and false and mistaken principles in the matters of religion. Our Saviour compares the Christian religion, and the ministers and professors of it, to salt 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 should
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 such mischievous consequence, as in religion. A blind and misguided zeal in religion, is enough to spoil the best nature and disposition in the world. St. Paul (for aught appears) was of himself of a very kind and compassionate 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 descend lower, and give instances both of former and latter times, of emperors and princes,
both heathen and Christian, that of themselves were mild and gentle, and yet, through a mistaken zeal, have been carried to cruel and bloody things. And, indeed, nothing gives so keen an edge, even to the mildest tempers, as an erroneous and wild zeal for God and religion, it is like quicksilver in the back of a sword, that is not very sharp 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 blessed Saviour to his disciples, when their zeal for him had transported them to make that cruel request to him, that he would call for fire from heaven to destroy the Samaritans : Ye know not what manner of Spirit ye are of, for the son of man came not to defiroy men's lives, but to save them. Hereby declaring the true fpirit and temper of Christianity, and that they that act contrary to it, are ignorant of the nature of the Christian religion.
WILLIAM CAVE, D. D.
HAT the Christian religion was immediately
designed to improve and perfect the principles of human nature, appears, as from many other instances of it, so especially from this, that it so strictly enjoins, cherishes, and promotes that natural kindness and compassion, which is one of the prime and essential inclinations of mankind. Wherever the gospel is cordially complied with, it begets such a sweet and gracious temper of mind, as makes us humble, affable, courteous, and charitable, ready and disposed to every good work, prompt to all offices of humanity and kindnefs; it files off the ruggedness of men's natures, banishes a rude, churlish, and pharisaical temper, and infuses a more calm and treatable difpofition. It commands us to live and love as brethren, to love without hypocrisy, to have fervent charity among ourselves, and to be kindly affectioned one towards another. It lays the sum of our duty towards others in this,—to love our neighbours as ourselves. This our Saviour seems to own as his
and peculiar law, and has ratified it with his own folemn fanction. A new commandment I give
love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. And then makes this the great visible badge of all those who are truly Christians. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.
And so, indeed, it was with those first and best ages of religion ; for no sooner did the gospel fly abroad into the world, but the love and charity of Christians became notorious, even to a proverb; the heathens taking notice of the Christians of those times, with this particular remark, See how these Christians love one another! They were then
united in the most happy fraternity (a word much used by Christians 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 cominon parent, but upon much higher accounts, viz. that they had one and the same God for their father, drank all of the fame spirit of holiness, were brought out of the same womb of darkness and ignorance, into the same light of truth; that they were partakers of the same faith, and co-heirs of the same hope. This Lucian himself confeffes of them, and that it was one of the great principles that their master, inftilled into them, that they should all become brethren after they had thrown off the religion of the Gentiles, and had embraced the worship of their great crucified Master, and given up themselves to live according to his laws. The truth is, so ready, entire, and constant 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 demonstrations of a hearty and sincere affection, faluting each other with an holy kiss, not only in their own houses, but at their religious assemblies, as a badge and bond of that Christian fellowship and communion that was maintained amongst them.