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and the danger of them. Nay, supposing only the legal establishment of religion, or some branch of it be attacked, yet the attempt may both be injurious enough to us, and detrimental enough to the public, to deserve a vigorous opposition. But to shew jicijsion and bitterness in any of these cases; to take pleasure in making men's mistakes or designs thought worse than they are; to judge harshly of them with respect to another world, or expose them to ill-ufage in this; to refuse them due allowances for human infirmity, or be more backward to own their merits than to see their faults ;such behaviour, instead of promoting truth, will prejudice the world against it; will give unbelievers dreadful advantages, and for ever prevent that union aptong'Christians which would procure us, above all things, the esteem of men and the blessing of God.
Charge to the Clergy.
JOHN JORTIN, D. D.
ARCHDEACON OF LONDON.—DIED 1770.
ERSECUTION is contrary to the spirit of Christianity. The religion of our Saviour is a religion like its author, full of humanity, lenity, and univerfal benevolence. Though he preached the gospel in vain to many persons 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 consume them, nor sent legions of angels to dragoon them. To their obstinacy and malice he only opposed acts. of kindness and miracles, and arguments, and exhortations, and reproofs. He sent forth his apostles into the world not to persecute but to be persecuted, and to establish the worship of God by such methods as himself had employed. 'Tis not to be imagined that out of the mouth which said—Hereby JJiall all men know that ye are my disciples if ye love one another, could proceed an order to exercise all sorts of cruelty upon men for their errors in religion.
To banish, imprison, plunder, starve, hang, and burn men for their religion, is not the gospel of Christ, it is the gospel of the devil. Where persecution begins Christianity ends, and if the name of it remains the spirit is gone. Christ never used 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 spirit of persecution is an inveterate enemy to examining matters of faith, and to reformation of the grossest abuses; opposite to this is the spirit of contradiction, arid the love of novelty and singularity, with which whosoever 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 blessing which God hath conferred upon us—he carefully endeavours to understand and to practise it, and to recommend it to others. Acts of civility and humanity he exercifeth towards all, but avoids the society of those who in their conversation and behaviour show a disregard to God, to truth, to probity, and to religion. His faifh depends not upon human authority, fastuon, and custom; he reasons and judges, and determines for himself; but never forgets the respect due to civil society, 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 sinks into knavish craft.
THOMAS NEWTON, D. D.
BISHOP OF BRISTOL AND DEAN OF ST. PAULS.— DIED 1782.
T ET your moderation be known unto all men.
Among the many apostolical exhortations to
universal benevolence and charity, there is none
less insisted upon, and yet none deserving to be
more insisted upon from the pulpit, than this •remarkable one of St. Paul. And this, perhaps^ 'may be the reason why moderation, though it is so frequently the subject of discourse, yet is so seldom the object of understanding. The name is in familiar use, but few appear to have a right comprehension of the thing. We not only mistake it in others, but often in ourselves. Our lukewarmnefs, indifference, phlegm, and dulnefs, frequently pass with us for moderation, and what is yet stranger, many a fiery, furious bigot, fancies himself a cool reasonable man; as the greatest persecutors for religion will still " think that they are doing God service." But if the thing is understood by few, it is certainly practised by yet fewer. Our debates and controversies, our Aw visions and parties, afford but too visible, 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 greatest bone^of contention; that which should abate and extinguish all animosities, is made itself to heighten and inflame them most. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth (said our blessed Saviour) I came not to send peace but a sword; not that this was the intent, but only would be the event of his coming; not that he could properly be the cause of division, such is the perfection of the Christian religion; but such is the perversenefs of human nature, she should be made the innocent
occasion. Religion, like oil, is smooth and soft; of itself, but thrown into the fire, produceth the hottest and the fiercest flame. It is so not only in one part, but all the world over; Christian quarrels with Christian, as bad as heathen with heathen; not only papists with protestants, but protestants with one another; and it is to be wished that churchmen themselves had been •entirely free from this leaven. I am sorry that these reproaches can be more easily objected to us than refuted.
Now moderation, at the first hearing of the word, conveys the idea of something opposite 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 least affinity with a lazy* undistingui/hing, unthinking indifference. True moderation is equally distant from both these, or any other extremes; for one of its principal characteristics is to proportion its esteem of thing*td their real worth; to be more or less concerned* for them as they are more or less valuable ;' to"yield a weaker or stronger assent as there is1 weaker or stronger evidence; to be indifferent about indifferent things, and to be zealous about things wherein 'tis good (as the apostle faith) to be xcahufly assessed. But though it be zealous for some things, yet it hath no more Zm/ than knowledge, no more warmth than discretion; attends not to one side of the question only,