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world, to enforce uniformity of faith and wor fhip, or by the peremptory decifions and fentences of particular teachers, pretending with unabashed affurance to fupernatural illuminations. The glory cannot be great in either cafe, when the numbers that are added, either to an established system, or to a sect or party deviating from it, are merely the profelytes of ignorance and credulity. Four Difcourfes.


WE are ftill apt to confine the gospel of our

Lord as his primitive difciples fometimes did, to particular nations, churches, fects, and opinions; to contend vehemently either about things in their own nature abftruse and difficult to be understood, and therefore not neceffary to be determined; or else fuch lighter matters as the ceremonies, circumftances, and outward forms of its administration, inftead of explaining and recommending the true nature, end, and defign of it; of being intent upon enlarging its real kingdom, and taking care to maintain those works which are intrinfically good, and ever profitable to men; instead of attending to that more excellent way which the fame bleffed apostle fhewed us;

that bond of perfectness which he has earnestly exhorted us to put on above all things; which he has taught us to esteem above all faith and knowledge, and even the best miraculous gifts.

Let us then, instead of judging others, or hastily determining of their state, take care to fet a due value on, and to fecure our own falvation: instead of charging God foolishly and ungratefully, for not having imparted the fame benefits to all which we enjoy; let us rather be giving him continual thanks for his unspeakable gift, and endeavouring to employ it to his glory. Let us be intent on studying the pure word of God, and careful to interpret it in fuch a manner as may do most honour to its author, and at all times encourage a free and an impartial study of it. 'Tis now high time to do this, and to awake out of fleep, fince our reformation is much nearer than when we firft believed; and it is to be wifhed, that we ourselves could be perfuaded to examine our own ftate before others are obliged to do it for us; that we were difpofed to help and forward, rather than check, the progrefs of every ferious enquiry; and stop any farther improvements in the knowledge of that, which of all things deferves and wants them moft, rather than withstand a general reformation in religion, by rigorously infisting on, and obtruding fuch things for doctrine as are the com

mandments of men, and very foreign to the effence of it; instead either of entertaining that anti-christian kind of fpirit, which calls down fire from heaven on all who do not receive us ; which delights in ftraitening the way to life, and fhutting up the kingdom of heaven against men, or incurring the woe denounced against those hypocrites who are defirous of lading men with heavy burdens, and binding upon them things which are too grievous to be borne, and which they know that none need touch with one of their fingers. As we fee the faults and follies of paft ages, a double woe will be to us, if inftead of taking warning by them, and avoiding the like, we are refolved to tread the fame steps, and fill up the measure of our fathers.

Theory of Religion.


DIED 1791.

AND when Jehu departed thence, he lighted on Jehonadab, the fin of Rechab, coming to meet him. And he faluted him and faid, Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart? and Jehonddab answered, it is. If it be, give me thine hand! 'Tis very poffible that many good men may entertain peculiar opinions, and fome of them may

be as fingular herein, as even Jehonadab was. And it is certain, fo long as we know but in part, that all men will not fee all things alike, it is an unavoidable confequence of the prefent weakness and fhortnefs of human understanding, that feveral men will be of feveral minds in religion as well as in common life. So it has been from the beginning of the world, and fo it will be till the reftitution of all things. Nay, farther; although every man neceffarily believes that every particular opinion which he holds is true, yet can no man be affured that all his own opinions, taken together, are true. Nay, every thinking man is affured they are not, feeing to be ignorant of many things, and to mistake in fome, is the neceffary condition of humanity. This, therefore, he is fenfible is his own cafe. He knows, in the general, that he himself is mistaken. Although in what particulars he mistakes, he does not, perhaps cannot know. I fay perhaps he cannot know. For who can tell how far invincible ignorance may extend? Or what comes to the fame thing, invincible prejudice, which is fo often fixed in tender minds, that it is afterwards impoffible to tear up what has taken fo deep a root. And who can fay, unless he knew every circumftance attending it, how far any ftake is culpable? Seeing all guilt muft fuppofe fome concurrence of the will of which he only can judge who fearcheth the heart. Every


wife man, therefore, will allow others the fame liberty of thinking which he defires they fhould allow him; and will no more infift on their embracing his opinions, than he would have them to infift on his embracing theirs. He bears with those who differ from him, and only afks him with whom he desires to unite in love that single question: Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart?


We may learn hence what is a catholic fpirit. It is not an indifference to all opinions, nor an indifference as to public worship, nor an indifference to all congregations. But a man of a truly catholic spirit, while he is steadily fixt in his religious principles, in what he believes to be the truth, as it is in Jefus while he firmly adheres to that worthip of God which he judges to be most acceptable in his fight, and while he is united by the tenderest and closest ties to one particular congregation: his heart is enlarged towards all mankind, thofe he knows and thofe he does not he embraces with ftrong and cordial affection, neighbours and ftrangers, friends and enemies. This is catholic, or univerfal love. And he that hath this, is of a catholic fpirit. For love alone, gives the title to this character. Catholic love is a catholic fpirit. But if we take this word in the stricteft fenfe, a man of a catholic Jpirit is one who, in the manner above-mentioned, gives his hand to all whofe hearts are right with

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