Page images

this untolerating unchriftian spirit. A confiderable part of the best and worthieft of mankind, have fallen victims to this barbarous principle. The chief bleffings of fociety it has corrupted and poisoned; it has robbed men of their mutual affection, benevolence, and efteem; infufed jealoufies, kindled contentions, and spread variances far and wide; it has divided friends, families, and kindreds; crumbled communities into parties and factions; burst asunder the strongest obligations, both natural, civil, and religious. It perverts men's understandings, corrupts their judgments, and alienates their affections; it confounds their ideas of merit and demerit, and makes them estimate characters by falfe rules and fallacious measures; it creates uneafy fentiments productive of ill-will; it nourishes prefumption, confidence, and felf-conceit; and destroys the kind instincts of humanity and compaffion. A principle fo unnatural and perverse, fo injurious to virtue and destructive of happiness, is as great a curfe to its poffeffors as to the public. Laftly, it is a difcredit and difhonour to religion; for candour and charity are the chief characteristics of Chriftians, their peculiar ornament and nobleft diftinction.

If then we have any regard to plain reason and natural equity; if we wish peace and profperity either to our fellow creatures or ourselves; if we have any concern for the glory of God and

the honour of his difpenfations, let us not prefume to exercife dominion over other men's faith, or to oppress their understanding, or impair their liberties. Let us cherish fobriety of thought and humility of spirit. Above all, let us put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness, the end of the commandment, and the very effence of the gospel.

Sermon on Reafon and Revelation.




to God that Chriftians would be content with the plainnefs and fimplicity of the gofpel! That they would be perfuaded to make no other terms of communion than what Jefus himself hath made! That they would not vend, under the name of evangelical truth, the abfurd and contradictory schemes of ignorant or wicked men ! That they would part with that load of rubbish which makes thinking men almoft fink under its weight, and gives too great an handle for infidelity? That they would distinguish betwixt human opinions and revealed truth! That they would fee the difference betwixt authority and reafon! That they would look upon Jefus as the Author and Finisher of Faith! That

they would think that they are not qualified to make any other terms of acceptance with God, than what are already published by our Saviour! That they would look upon all ferious Chriftians as members of the one body of Chrift! That they would ceafe from unchriftian and inhuman damning, perfecuting, burning one another, for not affenting to the words of men as to the words of God! and CHRISTIANITY would foon become the joy of the whole earth, and infidelity would foon lofe its main, I may say its only fupport.

Dr. Difney's Life of Sykes.



IN a grove of tulips or a knot of pinks, one perceives a difference in almoft every individual. Scarce any two are turned and tinctured exactly alike. Each allows himself a little particularity in his dress, though all belong to one family; fo that they are various and yet the fame. A pretty emblem this of the fmaller differences between Proteftant Chriftians. There are modes in religion which admit of variation, without prejudice to found faith, or real holiness. Juft as the drapery on these pictures of the Spring may be formed after a variety of patterns, with

out blemishing their beauty or altering their nature. Be it fo, then, that in some points of inconfiderable confequence, feveral of our brethren diffent, yet let us all live amicably and fociably together; for we harmonize in principles though we vary in punctilios. Let us join in conversation and intermingle interefts; difcover no estrangement of behaviour, and cherish no alienation of affection. If any ftrife fubfifts, let it be to follow our divine Mafter more closely in humility of heart and unblameablenefs of life. Let it be to ferve one another most readily in all the kind offices of a cordial friendship. Thus fhall we be united, though diftinguished; united in the fame grand fundamentals, though distinguished by fome small circumftantials; united in one important bond of brotherly love, though diftinguished by fome flighter peculiarities of fentiment. Between Christians, whofe judgments difagree only about a form of prayer or manner of worship, I apprehend there is no more effential difference than between flowers which bloom from the fame kind of feed, but happen to be fomewhat diverfified in the mixture of their colours. Whereas if one denies the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and degrades the incarnate God to the meanness of a mere creature; if another cries up the worthinefs of human works, and depreciates the meritorious righteoufnefs of the glorious

Mediator; if a third addreffes the incommunicable honours to a finite being, and bows to the image or prays to the faint; these are errors extremely derogatory to the Redeemer's dignity, and not a little prejudicial to the comfort of his people. Against these to remonstrate; against these to urge every argument, and ufe every diffuafive, bespeaks not the cenforious bigot, but the friend of truth and the lover of mankind. Whereas to ftand neuter and filent, while fuch principles are propagated, would be an instance of criminal remiffness rather than a Chriftian moderation. For the perfons we will not fail to maintain a tender compaffion: we will not ceafe to put up earnest interceffions: we will alfo acknowledge and love whatever is excellent and amiable in their character. Yet we dare not fubfcribe their creed; we cannot remit our affiduous, but kind endeavours, if by any means we may reconcile them to more fcriptural belief, and a purer worship *.


"In fome former editions I expreffed myself on this point unwarily and harshly. But my meaning and real fentiments were no other than those represented above. The reader, from fuch unguarded intimations, might too naturally be led to conclude that the author avows, and would ftir up a spirit of perfecution. But this is a method of dealing with opponents in religious doctrines, which he disclaims as abfurd, and abhors as iniquitous. He is for no force but that of rational conviction; for no conftraint but that of affectionate perfuafion. Thus, if you please, compel them to

come in."

« PreviousContinue »