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and the danger of them. Nay, fuppofing only the legal establishment of religion, or fome branch of it be attacked, yet the attempt may both be injurious enough to us, and detrimental enough to the public, to deferve a vigorous oppofition. But to fhew paffion and bitterness in any of thefe cafes; to take pleafure in making men's mistakes or defigns thought worse than they are; to judge harfhly of them with respect to another world, or expofe them to ill-ufage in this; to refuse them due allowances for human infirmity, or be more backward to own their merits than to fee their faults; fuch behaviour, instead of promoting truth, will prejudice the world against it; will give unbelievers dreadful advantages, and for ever prevent that union among Chrif tians which would procure us, above all things, the esteem of men and the bleffing of God. Charge to the Clergy.




ERSECUTION is contrary to the spirit of Chriftianity. The religion of our Saviour is a religion like its author, full of humanity, lenity, and univérfal benevolence. Though he preached the gospel in vain to many perfons whose unbelief proceeded from a corrupted heart,


as himself declared, who knew what was in man, yet he neither called down fire from heaven to confume them, nor fent legions of angels to dragoon them. To their obftinacy and malice he only oppofed acts of kindness and miracles, and arguments, and exhortations, and reproofs. He fent forth his apoftles into the world not to perfecute but to be perfecuted, and to establish the worship of God by fuch methods as himfelf had employed. 'Tis not to be imagined that out of the mouth which faid-Hereby fhall all men know that ye are my difciples if ye love one another, could proceed an order to exercife all forts of cruelty upon men for their errors in religion.

To banish, imprifon, plunder, ftarve, hang, and burn men for their religion, is not the gospel of Christ, it is the gospel of the devil. Where perfecution begins Christianity ends, and if the name of it remains the spirit is gone. Christ never ufed any thing that looked like force or violence, except once, and that was to drive bad men out of the temple and not to drive them in.

The fpirit of perfecution is an inveterate eneiny to examining matters of faith, and to reformation of the groffeft abuses; oppofite to this is the fpirit of contradiction, and the love of novelty and fingularity, with which whofoever is smitten is ever framing new systems of religion and morality, and not able to conceal any of his awkward inventions. Happy and wife is he who

can keep at a proper distance from both extremes -he esteems the gospel to be the greatest bleffing which God hath conferred upon us-he carefully endeavours to understand and to practife it, and to recommend it to others. Acts of civility and humanity he exerciseth towards all, but avoids the fociety of those who in their conversation and behaviour show a difregard to God, to truth, to probity, and to religion. His faith depends not upon human authority, fashion, and cuftom; he reafons and judges, and determines for himself; but never forgets the refpect due to civil fociety, or hates those who differ from him. Of all moral qualities the most valuable is piety— the next to it is prudence, and they must be joined together; for piety without prudence becomes enthusiasm and bigotry; and prudence without piety finks into knavish craft.

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LE ET your moderation be known unto all men. Among the many apoftolical exhortations to univerfal benevolence and charity, there is none lefs infifted upon, and yet none deferving to be


more infifted upon from the pulpit, than this remarkable one of St. Paul. And this, perhaps, may be the reason why moderation, though it is fo frequently the fubject of difcourfe, yet is for feldom the object of understanding. The name is in familiar ufe, but few appear to have a right comprehenfion of the thing. We not only mistake it in others, but often in ourselves. Our lukewarmnefs, indifference, phlegm, and dulnefs, frequently pafs with us for moderation, and what is yet stranger, many a fiery, furious bigot, fancies himself a cool reasonable man; as the greatest perfecutors for religion will still "think that they are doing God fervice." But if the thing is understood by few, it is certainly practifed by yet fewer. Our debates and controverfies, our divifions and parties, afford but too vifible, too flagrant proof of the want of it. And even religion, which should be the bond and cement to unite us all, is become the greatesft bone of contention; that which fhould abate and extinguish all animofities, is made itself to heighten and inflame them most. Think not that I am come to fend peace on earth (faid our bleffed Saviour) I came not to fend peace but a fword; not that this was the intent, but only would be the event of his coming; not that he could properly be the caufe of divifion, fuch is the perfection of the Christian religion; but fuch is the perverseness of human nature, fhe thould be made the innocent

occafion. Religion, like oil, is fmooth and foft of itfelf, but thrown into the fire, produceth the hottest and the fierceft flame. It is fo not only in one part, but all the world over; Christian quarrels with Chriftian, as bad as heathen with heathen; not only papifts with protestants, but protestants with one another; and it is to be wished that churchmen themfelves had been entirely free from this leaven. I am forry that thefe reproaches can be more easily objected to us than refuted.

Now moderation, at the first hearing of the word, conveys the idea of fomething oppofite to a blind, precipitate, furious zeal; and yet, on the other hand, it is by no means to be confounded, nor indeed hath it the leaft affinity with a lazy, undistinguishing, unthinking indifference. True moderation is equally distant from both these, or any other extremes; for one of its principal characteristics is to proportion its efteem of things to their real worth; to be more or less concerned for them as they are more or lefs valuable to yield a weaker or ftronger affent as there is weaker or ftronger evidence; to be indifferent about indifferent things, and to be zealous about things wherein 'tis good (as the apoftle faith) to be zealously affected. But though it be zealous for fome things, yet it hath no more zeal than knowledge, no more warmth than difcretion; attends not to one fide of the question only,

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