« PreviousContinue »
BENJAMIN HOADLEY, D.D.
BISHOP OF WINCHESTER.--DIED 1761.
How many men who are not contented
with being in what they judge a good way themselves, with the advantages of truth and right on their own side ; not without fuch a due sense of the mistakes and faults of others, as may infpire with a desire to reclaim and amend them, but think their business is to irritate and expose them as far as possible ; and imagine that they cannot be just to their own cause without being unjust to that of others ; nay, that no one is -truly and heartily in their way of thinking, as to the main objest of their zeal, who doth not join in the reviling, abusing, and unchristian treatment of all who think otherwise? This is vifible in many of all parties and all fects throughout the world ; and yet this is as certainly contrary to Christian moderation, as it is to all hopes of peace in the world. For if Christian moderation be a yielding and pliable disposition of mind, then it certainly tends to the uniting the differences
Persecution, in any degree, is the invention and instrument of God's greatest enemy; and as Christ disdained to make use of outward force in planting the best religion in the world ; so it is. unchristian and 'impious to change his method in supporting it, and for this purpose to chufe these very weapons which his enemies used at first against hiin and his kingdom; and which his Father, in his infinite wisdom, rejected as improper for the good end he then had in view. We may now, therefore, very justly ask, if this be true according to the law of nature and the gospel of Jesus Christ, how great, inexpressibly great, is the guilt of the leaders of that church which places the whole strength of religion in the strength of power and the arm of flesh; which turns the motives of all that is good from inward to outward; which hath no care or concern about honesty and integrity, but enforces an unity of voices by fires, banishments, racks, and such like methods ; which forsakes the paths of meekness, plainly pointed out by God and Christ, and pursues those of desolation and destruction ? And then let us confider how much it behoves all who have professed to feparate from that church, to separate effectually from the most unchristian and diabolical thing in it; and to keep themselves at a distance from every tendency to the fame evil; to study the gospel, and to put on that spirit of charity, of peace, and of forbearance, which breathes through every page of it. And this will effectually dispose them not to judge or censure, much more not to condemn and injure, oppress and torment, the fervants of another master ; but to leave their fellow servants in all matters of religious concern, to stand or fall by the judgment of their common Lord and Master; to whom alone, they must all give an account for themselves.
THOMAS SHERLOCK, D. D.
BISHOP OF LONDON-DIED 1761. Go to your natural religion : lay before her
Mahomet and his disciples, arrayed in armour and in blood, riding in triumph over the spoils of thousands, and tens of thousands, who fell by his victorious sword-shew her the cities which he fet in flames, the countries which he ravaged and destroyed, and the miserable distress of all the inhabitants of the earth. When she has viewed him in this scene, carry her into his retirements ; shew her the prophet's chamber, his concubines and wives.; let her see his adultery, and hear him alledge revelation and his divine commission, to justify his lust and his oppression. When she is tired with this profpect, then shew her the Blessed Jesus, humble and meek, doing good to all the fons of men, patiently instructing both the ignorant and the perverse-let her fee him in the most retired privacies—let her follow him to the mount and hear his devotions and supplications to God. Carry her to his table to view his poor fare, and hear his heavenly difcourse. Let her fee him injured but not provoked.
Let her attend him to the tribunal, and consider the patience with which he endured the fcoffs and reproaches of his enemies.
Lead her to his cross, and let her view him in the agony of death and hear his last prayer for his persecutors—Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.-When natural religion has viewed both, ask which is the prophet of God? But her answer we have already had—when she saw part of this scene, through the eyes of the Centurion, who attended at the cross, by him she spoke and said, Truly, this man was the son of God.
THOMAS SECKER, L. L. D.
was more needful, and never less shewn. But passion will do no good. If expressed against those who are indifferent about religion, it will turn them into enemies : if against the enemies of religion, it will make them yet more vehement enemies. Besides, the extravagant things which men fay, and attempt against us and our profeffion, are not always defigned injuries, but frequently the effects of misrepresentations and prejudices that have imperceptibly taken hold on persons who, otherwise, mean tolerably well. Now mildness to such as these is but justice; and to all others it is prudence. Railing is the province which our adverfaries have chosen, and let us leave it to them. For whatever success they may meet with that way, as indeed they excel in it, we shall meet with none, but only make the spirit of Chrifiianity be misunderstood and illspoken of by our own want of it. Therefore, how injuriously soever we may be treated, let us return neither injurious nor harsh treatment for it; nor endeavour to mark out those persons for objects of popular hatred, who are ever so unwearied in labouring to make us so.
And if undue severity of speech must be foreborne towards profilsed enemies, much more to those who may, for aught we know, design themselves for friends. Indeed when it is evident that men only put on a pretence of wishing well to Chriftianity, or the teachers of it; and whilst they affect to charge us with uncharitableness for quertioning their fincerity, would despise us for believing them; there we must be allowed to see what plainly appears, and to speak of them both a's adversaries and unfair ones. Or when doctrines, whatever the intention of propagating them be, are inconsistent either with the whole, or any part of our religion, it is no uncharitableness, but our duty to lay open the fallhood