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it a difparagement to his judgment that any should differ from it. Meer nature and felf-love, will make a man hate those who oppose the interest and advancement of that party which himfelf hath efpoufed. Hence men are many times more difpleafed at fome small mistakes in judgment, than the greatest immoralities in practice; yea, perhaps they will find a secret pleasure, and wicked fatisfaction, in hearing or reporting the faults or fcandals of their adversaries. Certainly the power of religion, rightly prevailing in the foul, would mould us into another temper; it would teach us to love, and pity, and pray for the perfons, as well as hate and condemn the errors they are fuppofed to efpoufe. It would make us with their converfion rather than their confufion, and be more defirous that God would fit them for another world, than that he would take them out of this. We may indeed with the difappointment of their wicked purposes; for this is charity to them, to keep them from being the unhappy inftruments of mifchief in the world; but he that can with plagues and ruin to their perfons, and delights in their fins, or in their misery, hath more of the devil than the Chriftian.




JESUS ESUS conftantly avoided taking any part in the theological controversies of the Jews, but in fo far as he faw it neceffary to secure the effential interefts of true religion. The errors and corruptions of the Pharifees, as totally deftructive of these important interefts, he publicly and ftrenuoufly oppofed. The diftinguishing error of the Sadducees, as it tended to destroy the principal foundation upon which he was to propagate the practice of religion, he in like manner publicly confuted and condemned. With relation to every other dispute, as not having an immediate connection with the virtue and happiness of men, he appears to have obferved a perfect filence and neutrality. The perpetual aim of his inftructions was to propagate the love of God and man, and the duties of a holy life, on the faith that he had come from God as the inftructor and faviour of mankind. Thefe effential interefts of practical religion being guarded and secured, he neglected all inferior difputes, and taught the things of God in fuch a manner, as either to withdraw the attention of the world from every unessential and intricate debate, or to preserve fuch a temper of benignity and meekness among men, as might for ever unite the hearts, whatever disagreement in their judgments might arise.


It is well known how much theological difputes (oftentimes concerning matters of the most minute and inconfiderable moment) have diverted men's attentions from thofe effential duties of religion which admit of no difpute; nay, what unjuft and violent antipathies, deftructive of the spirit and design of all true religion, have arisen from fuch difputes. This appears to have been the unhappy fituation of the Jews and the Samaritans in our Saviour's time, with relation to the controverfy which they had about the place where God was to be worshipped. The Jews had openly renounced all focial and friendly intercourfe with their antagonists, and formed such an odious idea of their character, as created in their breafts the most implacable hatred and rancour. Hence, in order to exprefs in the ftrongeft manner their averfion to our Saviour, and to give him the moft opprobrious appellation which their imaginations could devife, they called him a Samaritan, and faid he had a devil. The manner of our Saviour's deportment towards these religious antagonists, merits our particular attention. It appears from various incidents recorded in the hiftory of his life, that he not only disapproved of that unnatural hatred and antipathy with which they conducted their debate, but that he had in his view entirely to extinguish it. He fignified, indeed, in his converfation with the woman of Samaria, that the Jews were in the right on the

fubject in debate between them and the Samaritans; but that, nevertheless, the question which divided them was of small importance in itself, as it concerned not what was moft effential in the worship of the Deity; and by the zeal which he expreffed to inftruct her, and the reft of the Samaritans, in the doctrines of the gofpel, he fufficiently declared, that notwithstanding their dif-. ference of opinion on the matter in debate, both Jews and Samaritans were equally capable of being the true worshippers of God. Having thus prepared the way for their mutual reconcilement, our Saviour took every proper occafion to give the Jews a more favourable impreffion of the Samaritans than they were difpofed to entertain, and thereby to destroy their mutual hatred and enmity. Thus when he defcribes the nature and extent of that benevolence and charity which he came from heaven to propagate among mankind, he describes it as exemplified in the conduct of a Samaritan, and fets it in oppofition to the conduct of a Jewish prieft and Levite. By this defcription he undoubtedly intended to correct the antipathy which the Jews entertained against the Samaritans, as perfons totally depraved. It was very probably with the fame amicable intention that Jefus reprehended in fo strong a manner the severity of his two difciples, when they defired to bring fire from heaven to destroy the Samaritans who had oppofed him in his journey to Jerufa

lem-declaring that the hatred and revenge which they expreffed was very different from the fpirit which he came from heaven to promote among mankind: the purpose of his coming being not to de troy, but to fave the lives of men. With the fame intention the Evangelift appears to have recorded the ftory of the ten lepers whom Jefus cured of their difeafe. One of them, it is faid, was a Samaritan, and his gratitude for the favour he had received is marked by the Evangelift, and commended by our Saviour, with this particular note of approbation-that he was a firanger!

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From thefe few remarks on our Saviour's conduct with relation to the religious controverfies of the Jews, it may appear that he intended to exclude from the plan of his inftructions every controverfy of this nature, which had not an immediate connection with the virtue and immortal happiness of men, and purpofely avoided every intricate enquiry or debate which might either perplex their underftandings or divide their hearts. The gospel, indeed, was delivered by him with a plainnefs and fimplicity which makes it level to the capacity of every honeft mind, independent of the fubtility and art of all those curious intricate diftinctions by which, in after-ages, the learning and philofophy of men has vainly attempted to explain it.

Life of Chrift.

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