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R esleBions concern the Cause of Religion ? Whatever it may be to trie Reputation of an Opinion, 4 .am sure it isnothing to the 'Truth of it, that such or such a Man holds it. '•
And truly, if Men would leave this Impertinence, we might hope for a better Issue of our Religious Debates: But whilst Men will forsake the Merits of the Cause, and unmanly fall to railing, and disparaging Mens Persons, and scraping together all the 111 that can be said of them, they blow the Coals of Conten* tion, they so imbitter and envenom the Dispute, that it rankles into incurable Disasters and Heart-burnings.
Christians would do well to consider, that these mean Arts of exposing Mens Persons to discredit their Opinions, arc very much unworthy the Dignity of their Profession, and most of all. misbecoming the Sacredness and Venerabkness of the Truth they contend for. Andbesides, no Cause stands in need of them, but such an one as is extremely baffled and desperate; and even then they are the worst Arguments in the World to support it, for quick-sighted Men will easily sec through the Dust we endeavour to raise; and those that are duller will be apt to suspect from our being so angry and so waspish, that we have but a bad Matter to manage.
We should consider, that Mens Persons arc sacred Things; that whatever Power we have to judge of their Opinions, we have no Authority to judge or censure Them: That to bring Them irpon the Stage, and there throw Dirt
on them, is highly rude and uncivil, and an Affront to Human Society, and the most contrary Thing in the World to Christian Charity, which is so for. from enduring Reproaches and Evil-speaking, that it obliges us to covet as much as we can all the Faults, and even the very Indiscretions of others. ./ ,
The Sixth and last Thing I shall recommend to you as an Expedient pf Peace, is a vigorous Pursuit of Holiness, v . ,
Do but seriously set yourselves to be good, do but get your Hearts deeply affected with Religion as well as your Heads, and then there is no fear but you will be all the Sens ofPeace. ....','. .;
We may talk what we will, but really it is our not practising our Religion, that makes us so contentious and disputatious about it: It is our Emptiness of the Divine Life, that makes us so full of Speculation and Controversy: Was but 7hat once firmly rooted in us, these Weeds and Excrescencies of Religion,, would presently dry up and wither; we should loath any longer to feed upon such Husks, aster we once came to have a-Relish of that Bread.
Ah! how little Satisfaction can all our pretty Notions, and fine-spun Controversies, yield to a Soul that truly hungers and thirsts after Righteousness? How pitiful, flatly, and insipidly will they taste, in comparison of the Divine Entertainments of the Spirit ml Life?
Were we but seriously taken up with the Substantial of omK Religion, we should not , have Leisure for the talking, Disputing Divinity j we should have greater Matters to .take up our Thoughts, and more profitable Arguments to furnish out our Discourses. So long as we could busie ourselves in working out our Salvation, and furthering the Salvation of others, we should think it but a mean Employment to spend our Time in Spinning y?»e Jtfets, for the patching of Flies.
Besides, this Divine Life, if it once took Place in us, would strangely dilate and enlarge our Hearts in Charity towards our Brethren, it would make us open our Arms wide to the whole Creation; it would perfectly work out of us all that Peevishness and Sowrness, and Penurioufhefs of Spirit, which we do too often contract, by being addicted to a Setf; and would make us sweet and benign, and obliging, and ready to receive and embrace all Conditions of Men. In a Word, it would quite swallow up all Di/tintfions of ^Parties; arid whatever did but bear upon it the Image of God, and the Superscription of the Holy yesus, would need no other Commendatories to our Affection, but would upon that alone account be infinitely dear and precious to us.
Let us all therefore earnestly contend after this Divine Principle of Holiness; let us bring down Religion from our Heads to our Hearts, from Speculation to Practice: Let us make it our Business heartily to love God, and do his Will, and then we may hope to fee 'Peace in our Days. s. ...i This, .•; This> this is that that will restore to the World the Golden Age of '^Primitive Christianity, when the Love and Unity of the Disciples of "Jesus was so conspicuous and remarkable, that it became a Proverb, See how the Christians love one another / This, this is that that will bring in the Accomplishment of all those glorious (Promises of 'Peace and Sranguility that Christ hath made to his Church: Then shall the Wolf dwell with the Lamb, and the Leo-, sard lie down with the Kid'. Then shall not Efhraim envy Judah, nor Judah vex Ephraim\ hut we shall turn our Swords mto¥lough-Jbares> and our Spears into 'Pruning-hooks \ and there will be no more consuming or devouring in all God's Holy Mountain.
I should now proceed to the Second general Point in my proposed Method of handling this Text, viz. To set before you the very great Engagements and Obligations we have upon us to follow after the Things that make for Peace j and that,
i. From the Nature and Contrivance of our
Religion. » s.. From the great Weight the Scripture lays
upon this Duty.
3. From the great Unreasonableness of our Religious Differences.
4. From the very evil Consequences that attend them: As, 1. In that they are great Hindrances of a good Life. 2. They are very pernicious to the Civil (Peace of the State. 3. They are highly
•xit opprobrious to Christianity in General. And 4. and Lastly, Very dangerous to the (Protestant Religion, as giving too many Advantages, and too much Encouragement to the Faftors of the Papacy. <\:
But I have, I fear, already exceeded the Limits of a Sermon, and therefore shall add no more. C
-; God open our Eyes, that we may, in this ■': our Day, understand the Things that belong to Peace, before they be hid from our Eyes. ;.•;.