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SAMUEL CLARK, D.D.
employed in searching after truth, and the practice of right, which is its true and proper object; nor is this sufficient; for, though zeal cannot possibly be excessive in its degree, if fixed on a good object, yet, if care be not taken, it may easily degenerate into a false and unchristian zeal; wrath and fierceness, contentiousness and animosity, violence and hatred, are vicious and ungodly practices, whether the object of a man's zeal be good or bad. St. Paul was not only faulty for persecuting the Christians, when himself a Jew, but he would have continued equally so, had he persecuted the Jews when he became a Christian. When the disciples would have called for fire from heaven upon the Samaritans, our Saviour rebuked them, saying, Ye know not what Spirit ye are of. And St. Paul directs, that the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be .gentle unte all men, apt to teach, patient in meekness, instructing those that oppose themselves. And he advises all Christians to let their MODERATION be known unto all men. Such moderation was not to consist in a lukewarmness or indifferency for religion, or for the great and weightier matters of the law; but St. Paul, by moderation, means that meekness, calmness, and equitable spirit which well agrees with, and -usually accompanies, the highest possible zeal for truth and virtue. Nothing makes zeal properly a Christian virtue, but when the end or intention to which it is ultimately directed does tend to, and is for the honour and glory of God. I mean not, by God's honour and glory, any thing imaginary or enthusiastic, which often turns religious zeal into the worst and most pernicious vices, but only the establishment of God's kingdom of righteousness, here, in truth, and peace, and charity, in order to the salvation of men's fouls hereafter, in his eternal kingdom of glory; and, if we remember the end, we shall never do amiss.
There is no opinion fo absurd, but men may be brought to believe and embrace it ; no crime so black, but they may confidently engage in it, and yet still think themselves in the right; and the reason for this evidently is, that such people, when they consider, begin at the wrong end.
For, instead of coming to their rule, with minds : open and unbiassed, and free to entertain truth,
when discovered, they, on the contrary, bring their own notions and impressions along with them, and resolve to admit of nothing for just and true, but what agrees with their own principles. Hence they stretch and bend the rule, to bring it to their own crooked affections and designs. Hence we fee holy missionaries divide, that they may devour; and, from the ignorance and credulity of the people, take advantages of kindling such a furious zeal as sets whole kingdoms in a flame; as blows the coals till all the soft relentings of human nature are consumed, and makes their profelytes ten times more the children of hell, by a falfe hope of ensuring heaven to themfelves. Instead of correcting the extravagancies of cruelty and injustice, by Christian considerations of mutual forbearance and meek suffering, they render their instruments more turbulent, barbarous, and cruel, upon the pretence of serving a church, or a cause. Deliver us, good God, from such dangerous delusions, and let us not fall into the hands of such men as think they do thee service by our destruction. For when blood is esteemed a sacrifice, and persecution commences a principle, compassion thenceforth becomes a crime ; and the tenderest mercies of a zeal, thus inflamed, will be sure to prove the very extremity of cruelty.
But let not this disorderly zeal of our bitterest enemies, or the most dreadful consequences of it, extinguish our charity for such mistaken men ; no, let us bless them that curse us, and pray for them that despitefully use and persecute us. We must not let our fear, or resentment, transport us to the like extravagance which we condemn in others. But invite the mistaken over to our persuasion by that Christian meekness and gentleness of temper, which may affert the credit of religion, and prove that God is in us of a truth.
Sermon on Zeal.
WILLIAM WAKE, D.D.
S to charity, God forbid that any differences
in religion whatsoever, much less things of smaller concern, should ever make us uncharitable to our fellow Christians. Indeed our Saviour foretold to his disciples, that there should some rise up from among their brethren who would, , on this account, not only put them out of their Synagogues, but even think it religious to kill them. But they were Jews, not Christians, who were to do this; and, to the scandal of our holy religion, we must acknowledge that there are a fort of men, who now call themselves Christians, who still continue, even literally, to fulfil this prophecy; who not only cast us out of their fynagogues, but, as far as they can, deprive us of all hopes of salvation. But this, and many other of their errors, may serve to convince us how little they have of the true spirit of Christianity. But I hope there needs no argument to persuade you to observe that charity, the want of which we all of us so justly lament, as one of the most deplorable corruptions in popery itself. If Chrif
tjanity commands us to love our enemies, it must be highly reasonable for us not to hate our brethren; and, indeed, whatever arguments we can use to justify our uncharitableness to others, will equally excuse them in withholding their charity from us. For there is no honest, fincere Chriftian, how erroneous foever, but what thinks hinself. in the right, and supposes us, by differing from him, to be as far from the truth as we do him for not agreeing with us. And if it be lawful for us to hate another, solely on account of such differences, we must allow it to be equally as reasonable for him to hate us. The Saviour says, By this Mall all men know that ye are niy disciples, if ye have love one to another. But we shall act directly contrary to this, if we make our hatred to our brother the great mark of our zeal for religion, and believe he loves Christ the most who the least loves his fellow Chriftians. We should rather, with the apostle, consider the love of our dear master to us, even whilst we were enemies, and love those who, notwithstanding their errors, may be still his and our friends; and not think those unworthy of our charity whom, We piously presume, God will not think unworthy of his favour. For, supposing they thould be mistaken, yet we ourselves are but men, and may also err, and they as much think us in the wrong as we do them; and, perhaps, it must be left to the day of judgment to determine who is in the