Page images

right. But should they be mistaken, yet I am sure our uncharitableness is not the way to convince them of their error, but quite the reverse. If, then, we are what we esteem ourselves to be, the strong in faith, let us reinember, that, though charity be their duty, as well as ours, yet it is to such as we are that St. Paul exhorts to bear the infirmities of the weak, and to receive one another, as Christ also hath received us, to the glory of God.

Hitherto we have defended our church by arguments; let us now, by our charity, fettle and establish it. This will recommend both ourselves and our religion, to the good esteem of all men, and may be a happy presage, that the blessed time spoken of in the sacred prophecy is now ready to be revealed; when the church of Christ, being purged from those corruptions that have so long. defaced its beauty, shall again appear in its primitive purity. When all heresy and fchism, being every where abolished, and the mystery of iniquity laid fully open, and the man of fin destroyed, true religion and sincere piety shall again reign throughout the world. O blessed state of the church militant here on earth! The glorious antepart of that peace and piety which God has prepared for his church triumphant in heaven! Who would not wish to see those days, when a general reformation, a true zeal, and a perfect charity, shall universally prevail, and that we may be all united in the same faith and worship, the same communion and fellowship, one with another? When all pride and prejudice, all interests and designs, being submitted to the honour of God, and the discharge of our duty, the holy scriptures shall again triumph over the traditions of men ; and religion no longer take its denomination from little sects and factions, but we shall be content with the same common primitive names of Chriftians and brethren, and live together as becomes our character, in brotherly love and Christian charity with one another. And who can tell but such a change as this is nigh at hand; and which may be soon accomplished, would we all but seriously labour to perfect the great work which the providence of God has so gloriously begun, and establish that unity among us, which may afterwards diffuse itself into diftant parts of the Christian world. And, though we may not be so happy as to see any such blessed effect on our endeavours, yet this we are sure of, that we shall not lose our reward in heaven; when to have contributed, though in the least degree, to the healing those divisions we so unhappily labour under, will be esteemed a greater honour than to have silenced all the cavils of our eneinies, and be rewarded with blessings more than all the stars in the firmament for number.

Exhortation to Mutual Charity.



S to religious differences, they are generally

the fiercest, and last the longest, and are of fatal consequence to peace and happiness; therefore certainly ought, as much as in us lies, to be prevented or composed by us. What concerns us, as private men, is so to defend our religion, and to maintain the true faith and worship, by discourse or writing, as not to lose our charity. Religion is a cause that deserves our zeal; and if many will be offended with us for telling them the truth, and not complying with such errors as would lead both to their and our destruction, the fault is their own; we should still, as much as lieth in us, live peaceably with them. Not by betraying the cause of Christ; not by ceasing to contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered to the faints ; not by pleading for amendments and alterations in the purest and best constituted church of any in the world; but by condescending to hearken to, and answer, any modest scruples, by meekness and gentleness, by patience and forbearance, not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing, but contrawise, blefing. This is, as much as in us lies, as private persons, towards living peaceably with them that diffent from

Some thing more lies in them who have no


unlawful terms of communion imposed; and, therefore, might and should give up their prejudices, and submit to lawful authority, and wholefome order, for the church's peace. However, considering the prevailing bias which education, cultom, and prejudice, lay upon weak minds, especially when they have neither leifure, nor capacity, to know better; and considering that mild and gentle usage may possibly win some over, whom reviling and rudeness would but harden and render worse, it is certainly a Chriftian duty not to upbraid and provoke them ; not to be bitter against them, but rather to wait with patience till God may open their

eyes, or turn their hearts ; to whose mercy we should therefore leave them, and, in the mean while, take care of our own fouls.

But another fort of differences, near as fatal as the former, and in some respects more fo, are those among ourselves, of the same church and interest, our PARTY differences. How have these fowered men's tempers, inflamed their passions, and almost eaten out the heart of Christian charity! I have not time, nor words, to lament the visible decay of religion and piety, owing to those heats and animofities fo rife amongst us: the whole nation feels it, and every good man mourns in secret for it.

We shall not, I am afraid, find that these eager contests are founded either in a true love of our own country in particular, or for mankind in general; or that our zeal arises from a real concern for truth, for justice, or for charity. While we are engaging, with fuch warmth and eagerness, about the affairs of this life, it might abate our fervor to confider how little time we have to sojourn here, and how great a work we have upon our hands; and of what moment it is to go cool and quiet hencć, if ever we hope to find a place within the calm and peaceful mansions of the blessed.

Sermon on Peace.


DIED 1747.

FUNDAMENTALS,abstractedly from persons,

as relating to the scheme of Christianity, may be fixed by a certain and determined standard, and they are plainly those that are so intimately interwoven with Christianity, that it and they must stand or fall together. But fundamentals, in a relative view, as respecting the falvation of particular persons, cannot be precisely defined and adjusted by any fixed and unchanging measure. They must vary according to the variety of men's apprehenfions, circumstances, and opportunities. And it is impossible to settle those points, the belief of which shall be necessary to salvation, absolutely and universally, io all men, without any

distinction, in all cases, under such an endless disparity

« PreviousContinue »