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of capacities, means of instruction, and situation in life. Who can tell what determined proportion of faith (neither less nor more) will carry a man to heaven? That quantity of faith which may be insufficient in itself to make a man a complete Christian, may be sufficient for that man who, humanely speaking, has done the best he could in his circumstances.
You ought not to conceive a distaste for any man, or body of men, because they are of a different persuasion, sect, or party. Supposing yourself in the right; you pity corporeal blindness : Why should you not, likewise, compassionate, instead of being angry with the blindness of the understanding, when it cannot discern certain religious truths ? I know no reason but this, which resolves itself into pride ; that the corporeally blind own themselves to be so; but the blind in understanding maintain that we labour under that diftemper, and not they. Now we are not so thoroughly convinced that our understanding and way of thinking is perfectly right in all points, as that we have the full enjoyment of our eyefight: and this makes us so angry with the one, while we pity the other. Ensure your own salyation as much as you can, but do not think hardly of those who differ from you, even in fundamental points, much less consign them over to damnation. Our blessed Saviour, who disapproved the worship of the Samaritans, as appears
from his conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well, yet singles out, in his beautiful parable, one of that nation to do a generous action to the wounded traveller, on purpose, one would think, to obviate this contracted turn of mind, and to recommend those to our love whose religious notions we dislike. Whether a good man, who is a misbeliever in some points, without any faultiness or irregularity of will, will be damned for his erroneous way of thinking, may be a question with some people ; but I think it admits of none, that a man will be damned for an uncharitable way of thinking and acting.
JOHN BALGUY, D. D.
W HATEVER be the meaning of it, we
seem all to expect that others 1hould think as we do, and subscribe to our principles and persuasions. And whenever this expectation fails, as it perpetually must, our affection is apt to cool, and our good will to abate, in proportion to the differerce.
Whoever judges in his own way and rejects ours, at least forfeits some share of our esteem, and often becomes an object of our high displeasure, if not deemed our enemy. Such an inhuman procedure being too general and coinmon, it deserves to be a little considered. Let us then briefly enquire into the true cause of this proceeding ; for unless that be discovered, it will be in vain to think of a cure.
To what principle, then, can we ascribe this? Is it owing to our love of truth and our zeal and concern for the support of it? No; for such a principle, if sincere, would make us behave quite the reverse. But admitting our opinions to be just and true, how are they to be maintained, promoted, and propagated ? By ill-will or goodwill; by hatred or love ; by injuries and reproaches, or kind usage and gentle treatment? Surely if we would recommend our opinions effectually, we must procure them a fair hearing, and appear well affected to those whom we would convince. But if we discover any signs of enmity and disaffection, men will be, naturally, prejudiced against all the arguments we can urge, because they may justly suspect that we are influenced by motives very different from what we pretend. Whoever then has a real regard for truth, and is desirous to promote its interest, will, doubtless, follow other methods than those we are speaking of.
He will find it necessary to correfpond with men of different persuasions fairly and friendly; and, in all his dealings, to proceed with humanity, equity, and candour. He will be so far from exasperating their minds by ma
levolence or contempt, that he will strive to conciliate their good will, and cultivate their esteem, by a willing discharge of all such good offices as may reasonably be expected from him. So that a pretence of our love and zeal for truth, cannot justify the practice we have been condemning. But then may not a pious concern for the glory of God make men impatient of opposition, and zealous for their opinions, in order to preserve the doctrines of religion in their original purity? However plausibly this may
be alledged, it cannot be easily proved true. Let the. pure doctrines of religion, by all ineans, be guarded and maintained as carefully as may be ; But how is this to be done? Will animofity or reproaches have a better effect than argument and fair reasoning ? If we think our neighbour has erred and strayed from the paths of truth, muft we fall out with and abuse him, in order to bring him back in the right way? Will our treating him angrily or scornfully, make him more attentive to instruction, or more open to conviction? Will he not rather be apt to conclude that our passions and difpofitions are more faulty than his faith, or more irregular than bis judgment? As the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God, so it is the most improper instrument to maintain truth, or rather it is much more likely to fubvert it.
For can we suppose that God can ever be glorified by such measures as are repugnant to charity and huinanity, and contrary to the principles both of nature and religion? Such a conduct is no less injurious to truth than to the public peace and tranquillity of mankind. To promote and propagate what we believe to be truth by amicable methods, is undoubtedly a real service to the public ; but strife and variance, and uncharitable proceedings, are the very bane of human society. Where then thall we search for the true source, or to what cause or principle may it be justly described? To none, I fear, that is praiseworthy or even innocent; but to what is exceedingly blameable, and of which we ought to be ashamed. For in truth it springs from pride, vanity, and immoderate self-love. Hence, chiefly, proceed those severe judgments and rigorous dealings, which so often appear among Christians, to the dishonour of our holy religion, and the reproach of human
An intemperate fondness for our notions, sanctified by fpecious names, has laid waste our charity, and often made us violate the first principles of humanity and common justice.
To this has been owing most of the calamities and miferies which have often fo cruelly infested the Christian world ! From this fountain have flowed not only bitter waters, but streams of blood in every age. ' Inquisitions, persecutions, martyrdoms, murders, mafsacres," are, in a great measure, to be placed to the account of