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GILBERT BURNET, D. D.
BISHOP OF SALISBURY.-DIED 1717.
WITH respect to love and charity, as our
Saviour was the greatest pattern of doing good for evil, both in life and death, so he carried the precept higher than any religion ever did. Love is the badge of Christianity, and when once this holy religion spreads its influence into the foul, it not only becomes so inwardly mollified into that tenderness and compassion, as to make all such fincerely love those who are truly good, but it also begets in them great piety, and a merçiful disposition, even towards enemies, or those wlio are in error; all cruelty, and fourness of temper, the great engines and instruments to support all false religions, is so foftened and mitigated, that St. Paul, who was a fierce persecutor while he was a zealous Jew, became a wonderful inftance of gentleness when this Spirit of Christ was formed in him ; a true Christian is peaceable, mild, and easy to be entreated. Piety towards God, and holiness of life, are to be found in other religions, but an universal charity, and brotherly kindness, are peculiar to our most holy faith ; fo that, as far as any church, or fort of men, depart from the rules of truth and goodness, so far they fall from the Spirit of Christ, and bear the character of the lapsed apoftate fpirit, who was a liar,
and a murderer from the beginning. Hence may every one make a judgment of the spirit that moves and appears in the conduct of any church, whether it be a spirit of truth and goodness, or of falsehood and cruelty; the former is the Spirit of Christ, the latter must be the spirit of the devil, and of antichrist.
It is a clear evidence of a very ill religion, when men, by its influences, become really worse, and more fiercely brutal, than if they were not under the restraint and government of any religion at all.
And what can be a more manifest proof of an ill religion than this ? But I am sorry to find, that too many among us are also deeply tinctured with the same cruel spirit. It is true, this is a personal fault, for no part of our doctrine gives it any countenance or encourageinent; on the contrary, to hate any man, to rejoice in executions, to insult or use ill any that are in misery, or to endeavour their ruin, because of their religion, are all such symptoms of a popish and persecuting fpirit, that it is our Mame not to leave these things entirely to them.
We ought to pity the seduced or mistaken, and endeavour to reclaim them by reason, and the force of truth, by our gentleness and tenderness towards them: this is most agreeable to that just and merciful religion we profess.
There is only one, and that the main thing which we want; namely, the true Spirit of Christ, to animate us in the practice of his religion, without which it is dead, even as the body is dead without the soul that quickens it. What can all notions and opinions, however true, all forms and customs, however harmless or useful they be, avail us, without such an internal sense of religion as fubdues and reforms our natures, and governs us in the course of our lives. All the rest will signify nothing, but aggravate our condemnation; for that, having known our master's will, we have not done it. This, of all things, is most likely to provoke God, to give us up; for, though God is long suffering, flow to wrath, and unwilling to deliver us up to those who are both his and our enemies, yet, if we continue still to provoke him by our wicked lives, all our pretended zeal for this holy religion will only tend to precipitate our ruin.
Sermon on Popery.
ROBERT LUCAS, D. D.
S virtue is the perfection of human life, fo
is action the perfection of virtue, and zeal is that principle of action which I require in a faint of God. Need I here distinguish this zeal from the fierceness of faction, the cruelty of superftition, from the wakeful and indefatigable activity
of avarice and ambition, from the unruly heats of pride and passion, and from the implacable fury of revenge? It needs not; no foolish, false, fantastic, earthly, or devilish principle, can counterfeit a divine zeal. 'Tis a perfection that fhines with such a peculiar lustre, with such an heavenly majesty and sweetness, that nothing else can imitate it ; 'tis always pursuing good, the honour of God, and the happiness of man. tends earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints ; but it contends, as earnestly too, to root out wickedness and implant the righteousness of the gospel in the world. It is not eager for the articles of a feet or party, and unconcerned for catholic ones.
When it presses for reformation it begins at home, and sets a bright example of what it would recommend to others. 'Tis meek and gentle under its own affronts, but warm and bold against those which are offered to God. In a word, though love fill its fails, divine wisdom and prudence give it ballast; and it has no heat but what is tempered and refracted by charity and humility.
Need I fix or state the various degrees of zeal ? Alas! it is not requisite ; zeal being nothing else but an ardent thirst of promoting the divine glory by the best works. 'Tis plain the more excellent the work, and the more it cost, the more perfect, the more exalted the zeal that performs it. In a word, zeal is nothing else but the love of God made perfeet in us. And if we would see it drawn to the life, we must contemplate it in the blessed Jesus, who is the perfect pattern of heroic love. How boundless was his love, when the whole world, and how transcendant, when a world of enemies was the object of it! How indefatigable was his zeal! how wakeful! how meek! how humble ! how firm and resolved ! His labours and travels, his self-denial, prayers and tears; his filence and patience ; his agony and blood, and charitable prayers, poured out with it for his persecutors, instruct us fully what divine love, what divine zeal is. And now, even at this time, love reigns in him as he reigns in heaven: love is still the predominant, the darling passion of his soul. Worthy art thou, O Jesus, to receive honour, and glory, and dominion! Worthy art thou to sit down with thy Father on his throne ! Worthy art thou to judge the world, because thou hast loved, because thou hast been zealous unto death, because thou haft overcome! Some there are, indeed, who have followed thy bright example, though at a great distance. First; martyrs and confeffors : next; those beloved and admired princes who have governed their kingdom in righteousness; to whom the honour of God, and the good of the world, have been far dearer than pleasure, than empire, than absolute power, or that ominous blaze that is now called glory. And next follow !