« AnteriorContinuar »
thou not waiting for Christ to touch thine eyes a second time? Dost thou not pray for his fpirit to lead thee into all truths ? Canst thou be content' to lose thy share in the riches of that glory thou 'art yėt a stranger to ? And if thou thinkelt that thou understandest all mysteries, and hast all knowledge, yet, fure l'am, all that thou canst attain to here below, is but a little part of what is yet to come, and will be done away when that which is perfect appears. Why then dost thou lay so great a stress upon those opinions which thou hadst' not the other day; which thou mayest lofe to-morrow; and which dré, finally, to be swallowed up? And why art thou fo fond of them, to the prejudice of that love and charity, without which thou art, with all thy knowledge, nothing? Contend as much as thou wilt for what thou likest and believest to be the: truth of God, and endeavour to fuppress error; but let it be by such weapons as the gospel allows. Be as zealous as thou wilt for what thou callest truth; but take heed how thou putteft the authority, and stamp of God, upon thy own opinions ; and how, in contending for them, thou lettest go brotherly love. Above all things, let us preserve ourselves from that bitter zeal .which: St. James. 1peaks of, and upon which he fets so evil. a mark, that he brands it with the fire of hell. If there be faithy he, bitter envyings (but in the original we bave it bittor zeal) this wisdom is not from above,
but earthly, sensual, and devilish. Let us take heed of suffering our zeal against the errors and miscarriages of our brother, to be mingled and tempered with a bitterness against his person; as liglotning from heaven melts the sword, but doth no barin to the scabbard, let us in all our reproofs, discover an equal love to the person, and hatred to the evil-an equal desire to destroy the evil and Save the person. Or let our zeal against the evil be nothing but love to the perfon, flaming forth, and burning with a great but with a sweet and divine force, that it may consume the dross for the gold's sake, to which the dross cleaves. That only is a true zeal which, like the fire from the golden altar, mingled with incenfe, fills all round about, and carries up that on which it feeds, as a sacrifice to heaven, with the richest odours and perfumes of a divine love. Let us suffer nothing to interrupt or stain this divine love, whose reasons being altogether divine, ought to subject all other reasons to themselves. And let us always remember how that the measure which we mete to others, shall be measured to us : again.
Persuasive to Moderation.
JOHN GALE, D. D. *
'O what has a man a greater right, than to
the entire free enjoyment and direction of his own conscience, and to a full power to act uprightly and in fincerity before God and man?' And yet men are not by far, fo much disturbed and wronged in any other possessions and enjoyments as in these. It is common to fee' men openly, not only justifying and pleading for, but acting their injuries of this kind sometimes by a law, and making a merit of them, and turning them into acts of religion; but to the very great prejudice and dishonour of the most holy religion they profess; which neither knows, nor will ever excuse any such practices. What is more common, than to see men assume to themselves that extravagant power, not given to any, to prescribe, to direct, and force the consciences of others, and rob them of their peace and purity, or else of their religious rights and privileges, by depriving
* Dr. Gale used to express more concern upon reflect. ing on the conduct of men, and the fearful consequences of their vices, than upon any other subject whatever.-When I look upon men's behaviour (said he) I imugine eternity a thing to be trifled with—but when I look upon eternity, the behaviour of men astonishes me!
Life of Gale in the Protestant Diffenter's Magazine.
them of that fociety and communion which they claim and defire, but cannot purchase at fo dear a rate? All the difficulties and hardfhips, of every kind and in every degree, which are brought upon persons on the score of religion, come properly under the name of persecution; and are all equally founded in oppression, violence, and injustice. If it be lawful and just, arbitrarily to break in upon the religious rights and privileges of 'men, by the same reason, it will be equally lawful to break in upon all their civil rights and liberties, which are not more sacred, nor better guarded by God and nature ; and, therefore, if it be good and just to rob men of their religious liberties, by impofing other terms of communion, demanding other professions of faith, and making other articles necessary to be believed than Christ, our only lawgiver, has done ; then it is likewise lawful to rob them of their civil possessions and liberties, by incapacitating laws, by fines, dragoons, banishments, gallies, and imprisonments; and if all this be lawful for the honour of God and religion, and the good of men's fouls, as is infamously pretended; it is likewise lawful, for the same good ends, to inflict all manner of corporal punishments, to exert the utmost rage, and fury, and barbarity, in devising racks and tortures, and all the most exquisite pains ; and even to poison, stab, massacre, and give a general loose to all the execrable paffions and violences of the most inhuman, relentless, and unmerciful robbers, affaffins, and murderers.' And in fact, men seern to have argued in this manner, and to have gone on as they have found themselves in power, from one degree of violence to another, till they have filled most parts of the world with blood and flaughter, and the inost horrible devastations; and, if they may be believed; in pure love to men, and for the honour, security, and establishment of the best, most holy, and peaceable religion of the Prince of Peace. But after all, these things do, undoubtedly, the greatest dishonour and differvice to Christianity imaginable ; even in the lowest degree; they breed the most inveterate enmity, diffenfion, and irreparable divisions and bloody persecutions among Christians; they expose religion to the contempt, and ridicule, and banter of atheists and infidels; and arm the heathen pows ers against a religion they fee carries so much mischief and danger in its banners, and whets their rage and fury against those who, making a profession of it, seem to be the declared enemies of mankind.