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TESTIMONIES IN BEHALF OF CANDOUR EN UNANIMITY,

BY

DIVINES AMONG THE PROTESTANT DISSENTERS.

PHILIP DODDRIDGE, D.D.

NORTHAMPTON *

[F there be, therefore, any confolation in Christ, if

any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye

be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

If it indeed be, as it cer

* The places mentioned after the ministers names are the towns where they exercised their ministry; and when no names of piaces are specified, the ministers were settled in London, or in its vicinity. It became necessary to use this mode of characterising the Divines of the Kirk of Scotland, and among the Diflenters, because they have not, like those of the Church of England, any ecclesiastical dignities by which they are distinguished.

It gave me particular pleasure, when looking into the works of the amiable and learned Doddridge, to find that he had published a sermon, in which he illustrates and urges the virtues of Chriflian candour and unanimity, which it is the object of this little work to recommend. The above testimony so fully expreffus my own sentiments on the

tainly is, a test of true eloquence, that it is suited to strike powerfully upon the minds of all, however different in genius, education, or rank, I cannot but conclude that every one here present must already acknowledge these words to be a remarkable specimen of it, even before we proceed particularly to illustrate them; and having felt something of their pleasing energy, while we have been reading them, is ready to confess, thịt the sentiment they contain is finely conceived, and pathetically expressed. But ill shall we answer the great design of the Apostle, if we rest in the mere acknowledgment of this. His views were much more worthy of him whose ininister he was: he laboured to diffuse, through the breasts of his fellow Chriftians, that Spirit of love which was in his own, as a constant spring of living water. And what more convincing proof can be given of the deplorable disorder of men's minds, than that such addresses, proceeding from such a man, yea, I will add, the yet more forcible address of his divine Master and ours, should have produced so little effect ; that such discord and animosity subject, that I have made it introductory to the remaining contents of the volume. Of this sermon, Dr. Kippis, in his Life of Doddridge, has justly observed, “ This is an admirable discourse, and exhibits a fine transcript of the author's own mind, which was fully attuned to the virtue he recommended.” Dr. Doddridge died, 1751, at Lisbon, whither he went for the recovery of his health.

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fhould so early, so long, I had alınost said so universally prevail in the Christian church, amidst all the incentives, amidst all the intreaties, amidst all the tender adjurations, as well as the godlike examples, which the sacred oracles exhibit to charm us into the molt endeared affection. But, alas! these incentives and intreaties, these adjurations and examples, are overlooked, as not having lustre enough to detain our attention. For we too generally seem to study our bibles (if we study them at all) for amusement or oftentation, rather than practical instruction. We fix on some curious incident or high speculation, and are first ingenious to explain it where it cannot be explained, and then impassioned to defend it, as if it were fundamental truth, till we beat out the sacred gold fo thin, that every breath of air carrics it away; whilft the plain things, that tend to inspire an heavenly temper, and lead us on to the most exalted goodness, are flightly pasfed over, as too obvious and vulgar to engage our attention, or excite our emulation. Thus we feed our pride by what was intended to humble it, and make that the prize of mutual contention, which was designed to be the bond of love. What wise man has not observed this ? What good man has not lamented it? Yet, alas ! who fo wife as in all instances to have avoided it? Who so good as to have exerted himself to the utmost to cure it?

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Where we, and our brethren, agree in attending to the one thing which 'Christianity was designed to teach us, surely an agreement in that Thould unite our minds more than rence, consistent with that agreement, should divide them. To reverence with filial duty and love the God of heaven, and to adore him with integrity of heart; to honour Jesus, his son, as his brightest image, fubfcribing to the truth of all he is known to have revealed, and the authority of all he is apprehended to command ; conscientiously to abitain from every known evil ; and to practice, as far as human infirmity will permit, the comprehensive precepts of living soberly, righteously, and godly, still looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life; assuredly expecting a future judgment, and an eternal world; carefully endeavouring to prepare for both, by feiting the affections on those great objects which the gospel opens to our view; and finally, being habitually ready to sacrifice life, and all its enjoyments, to that blessed hope This, this, my brethren, is the effential character of every Christian ; and where we see this, should we esteem it a difficult thing to live peaceably with himn in whom we discern it? Should we arrogate it to ourselves as any high praise, that we do not censure, that we do not grieve, that we do not injure him, because he follows not us? Is this the man to be hated or suspected ? I will add, can we refuse to esteem and embrace him, merely because he worships in another assembly, or according to a different forin ; because he expresses his apprehensions about some of these doctrines in different words ; because he cannot see all that we think we discern in some passages of fcripture; or because he imagines he fees fomething which we discern not? Is it, after all, so great a matter to love a character, which, amidst all its imperfections, is, in the general, so justly amiable ? Nay, instead of thinking much of any acts of kindness which it is in our power to perform for such a fellow disciple, ought we not rather to lament that we can do no more for his service ? Ought we not to endeavour rather to supply, in our fervent prayers to God, the lack of that further service which Christian benevolence dictates, but which the narrow limits of our condition and our nature will not allow us to perform ?

Love not only guards the mind from the furious and diabolical passions of rage, envy, malice, and revenge, which tear it like a whirlwind, which corrode it like a cancer, which consume it like rottenness in the bones, but fills it with a thousand gentle and pleasing sensations. Love distils a fragrant balm into the soul, that, while it heals the wounds which contrary passions have made, diffuses a most grateful and reviving perfume, most justly compared to the ointment poured

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