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DIED 1729.

ZEAL cannot be a Chriftian virtue, unless employed in searching after truth, and the practice of right, which is its true and proper object; nor is this fufficient; for, though zeal cannot poffibly be exceffive in its degree, if fixed on a good object, yet, if care be not taken, it may eafily degenerate into a falfe and unchriftian zeal; wrath and fiercenefs, contentioufnefs and animofity, 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 perfecuting the Chriftians, when himfelf a Jew, but he would have continued equally fo, had he perfecuted the Jews when he became a Christian. When the disciples would have called for fire from heaven upon the Samaritans, our Saviour rebuked them, faying, Ye know not what Spirit ye are of. And St. Paul directs, that the fervant of the Lord must not frive, but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient in meekness, inftructing thofe that oppose themselves. And he advifes all Chriftians to let their MODERATION be known unto all men. Such moderation was not to confift in a lukewarmnefs or indifferency for religion, or for the great and weightier mat-*

ters of the law; but St. Paul, by moderation, means that meekness, calmness, and equitable spirit which well agrees with, and ufually accompanies, the highest poffible 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 moft pernicious vices, but only the establishment of God's kingdom of righteoufness, here, in truth, and peace, and charity, in order to the falvation of men's fouls hereafter, in his eternal kingdom of glory; and, if we remember the end, we fhall never do amifs.

There is no opinion fo abfurd, but men may be brought to believe and embrace it; no crime fo black, but they may confidently engage in it, and yet ftill think themselves in the right; and the reason for this evidently is, that such people, when they confider, begin at the wrong end. For, instead of coming to their rule, with minds open and unbiaffed, and free to entertain truth, when discovered, they, on the contrary, bring their own notions and impreffions along with them, and refolve 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 defigns.

Hence we fee holy miffionaries divide, that they may devour; and, from the ignorance and credulity of the people, take advantages of kindling fuch a furious zeal as fets whole kingdoms in a flame; as blows the coals till all the foft relentings of human nature are confumed, and makes their profelytes ten times more the children of hell, by a falfe hope of ensuring heaven to themfelves. Inftead of correcting the extravagancies of cruelty and injuftice, by Chriftian confiderations of mutual forbearance and meek fuffering, they render their inftruments more turbulent, barbarous, and cruel, upon the pretence of serving a church, or a cause. Deliver us, good God, from fuch dangerous delufions, and let us not fall into the hands of fuch men as think they do thee fervice by our destruction. For when blood is efteemed a facrifice, and perfecution commences a principle, compaffion thenceforth becomes a crime; and the tendereft mercies of a zeal, thus inflamed, will be fure to prove the very extremity of cruelty.

But let not this diforderly zeal of our bittereft enemies, or the most dreadful confequences of it, extinguish our charity for fuch mistaken men; no, let us bless them that curfe us, and pray for them that defpitefully use and perfecute us. We must not let our fear, or refentment, transport us to the like extravagance which we condemn in others. But invite the mistaken over to our perfuafion by that Christian meekness and gentle

nefs of temper, which may affert the credit of religion, and prove that God is in us of a truth.

Sermon on Zeal.



S to charity, God forbid that any differences in religion whatsoever, much less things of fmaller concern, fhould ever make us uncharitable to our fellow Chriftians. Indeed our Saviour foretold to his difciples, that there fhould fome rife 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 Chriftians, who were to do this; and, to the fcandal of our holy religion, we must acknowledge that there are a fort of men, who now call themselves Christians, who ftill continue, even literally, to fulfil this prophecy; who not only caft us out of their synagogues, but, as far as they can, deprive us of all hopes of falvation. But this, and many other of their errors, may ferve to convince us how little they have of the true spirit of Christianity. But I hope there needs no argument to perfuade you to obferve that charity, the want of which we all of us fo juftly lament, as one of the most deplorable corruptions in popery itself. If Chrif


tianity commands us to love our enemies, it must be highly reasonable for us not to hate our brethren; and, indeed, whatever arguments we can ufe to justify our uncharitablenefs to others, will equally excuse them in withholding their charity from us. For there is no honest, fincere Christian, how erroneous foever, but what thinks himself. in the right, and fuppofes 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, folely on account of fuch differences, we must allow it to be equally as reasonable for him to hate us. The Saviour fays, By this fall all men know that ye are my difciples, if ye have love one to another. But we fhall 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 Chrift the moft who the leaft loves his fellow Chriftians. We fhould rather, with the apoftle, confider the love of our dear mafter to us, even whilft we were enemies, and love thofe who, notwithstanding. their errors, may be ftill his and our friends; and not think thofe unworthy of our charity whom, We piously prefume, God will not think unworthy of his favour. For, fuppofing they thould be mistaken, yet we ourselves are but men, and may alfo 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

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