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roneous doctrines, will render themselves odious to the followers of the latter. No animals in nature are so furious as an idiot in the habit of a divine, when any offers to instruct him, and a hypocrite when any attempts to unmask him.
2. Let us pass to our next article, and let us attend the doctrine of Christ to court. If the servants of Christ had stirred up no other enemies beside priests and rabbies, they might have left their adversaries to bawl themselves hoarse in their solitary schools; to hurl after the innocent, the anathemas, and thunders of synagogues and consisiories; and each christian, despising their ill-directed discipline, might have appealed from the tribunal of such iniquitous judges to that of a sovereign God, and with a prophet might have said, Let them curse : but bless, thou ! when they arise ; let them be ashamed, Psal. cix. 28.
But the grandees of the world have often as false ideas of their grandeur and power, as pedants have of their jurisdiction and learning. Dizzy with the height and brightness of their own elevation, they easily imagine, the regal grandeur extends its government over the priestly censer, and gives them an exclusive right of determining articles of religion, and of enslaving those, whose parents and protectors they pretend to be. As if false became true, and iniquity just, by proceeding from their mouths, they pretend, that whatever they propose is therefore to be received, because they propose it. They pretend to the right of making maxims of religion as well as maxims of policy; and, if I may express myself so, of levying proselytes in the church, as they levy soldiers for the army, with colors flying, at the first word of command of His MAJESTY, for such is our good pleasure. They make an extraordinary
display of this tyranny, when their consciences accuse them of some notorious crimes, which they have committed ; and, as if they would wash away
their sins with the blood of martyrs, they persecute virtue to expiate vice. It hath been remarked that the greatest persecutors of the church have been, in other cases, the least regular, and the most unjust of all mankind.
This was long ago observed by Tertullian, who in his apology, speaks thus : We have never been persecuted, says he, except by princes, whose lives abounded with injustice and uncleanness, with infamous and scandalous practices; by those whose lives ye yourselves have been accustomed to condemn, and whose unjust decisions ye have been obliged to revoke, in order to re-establish the innocent victims of their displeasure.* Let us not insult our persecutors: but after the example of Jesus Christ, let us bless them that curse us; and when we are reviled, let us not revile again, Matt. v. 44. 1 Pet. ij. 23. Perhaps in succeeding ages posterity may make similar reflections on our sufferings ; perhaps some may remark to our descendants what Tertullian remarked to the senate of Rome, on the persecutions of the primitive christians. I will not enlarge this article ; but re turn to my subject. The religion of Jesus Christ hath armed a tyrant against a martyr; a combat worthy of our most profound considerations, in which the tyrant attacks the martyr, and the martyr the tyrant; but with very different arms. The tyrant with cruelty, the martyr with patience;
* Tertullian, in the chapter from which our author quotes the passage above, remarks, from the Roman historians, that Nero was the first who abused the imperial sword to persecute christians; that Domitian was the second, and then adds ; Tales semper nobis insccutores, injusti, impri, turpes: quos et ipsi damnare couşuestis, et a quibus damnatos ristituere soliti estis. Apol. cap. v.
the tyrant with blasphemy, the martyr with prayer; the tyrant with curses, the martyr with blessing; the tyrant with an inhuman barbarity, beyond the ferocity of the most fierce and savage animals, the martyr with an unshaken steadiness that elevates the man above humanity, and fills his mouth with songs of victory and benevolence, amidst the most cruel and barbarons torments.
3. I said, further, that the religion of Jesus Christ often occasioned troubles in the church, and excited the pastor against the flock. The gospelministry, I mean, is such that we cannot exercise it, without often applying the fire and the knife to the wounds of some of our hearers. Yes! these ministers of the gospel, these heads of the mystical body of Christ, these fathers, these ambassadors of peace, these shepherds, to whom the scriptures give the kindest and most tender names; these are sometimes incendiaries and firebrands, who in imitation of their great master Jesus Christ, the shepherd and bishop of souls, come to set fire on the earth, 1 Pet. ii. 25. Luke xii. 49.
Two things will make this article very plain : consider our commission, and consider society. It is our commission, that we should suffer no murmuring in your adversities, no arrogance in your prosperities, no revenge under your injuries, no injustice in your dealings, no irregularity in your actions, no inutility in your words, no impropriety in your thoughts.
Society, on the contrary, forms continual obstacles against the execution of this commission. Here we meet with an admired wit, overflowing with calumny and treachery, and increasing his own fame by committing depredations on the characters of others. There we see a superb palace, where the family tread on azure and gold, glittering with magnificence and pomp, and founded on the ruins of the houses of widows and orphans. Yonder we behold hearts closely united: but, alas! united by a criminal tie, a scandalous intelligence.
Suppose now a pastor, not a pastor by trade and profession, but a zealous and religious pastor ; who judgeth of his commission, not by the revenue which belongeth to it, but by the duties which it obligeth him to perform. What is such a man? A firebrand, an incendiary. He is going to sap the foundations of that house, which subsists only by injustice and rapine : he is going to trouble that false peace, and those unworthy pleasures, which the impure enjoy in their union; and so of the rest.
Among the sinners to whose resentment we expose ourselves, we meet with some whom birth, credit, and fortune have raised to a superior rank, and who hold our lives and fortunes in their hands. Moses findeth a Pharaoh ; Elijah an Ahab, and a Jezebel; St. John Baptist a Herod, and an Herodias; St. Paul a Felix, and a Drusilla; St. Ambrose a Theodosius; St. Chrysostom an Eudoxia, or to use his own words, another Herodias, who rageth afresh, and who demandeth the head of John Baptist again. How is it possible to attack such formidable persons without arming society, and without incurring the charge of mutiny? Well may such putrified bodies shriek, when cutting, and burning, and actual cauteries are applied to the mortified parts! Well may the criminal roar when the judgments of God put his conscience on the rack!
4. But censure and reproof belong not only to pastors and leaders of flocks, they are the duties of all christians; christianity, therefore will often excite troubles in families. A slight survey of each family will be sufficient to convince us, that each hath some prevailing evil habit, some infatuating
prejudice, some darling vice. Amidst all these disorders, each christian is particularly called to censure, and to reprove ; and each of our houses ought to be a church, in which the master should alternately execute the offices of priest and prince, and boldly resist those who oppose his maxims. Christian charity, indeed, requireth us to bear with one another's frailties. Charity maintains an union, notwithstanding differences on points that. are not essential to salvation and conscience. Charity requireth us to become to the Jews as Jews, to them that are without law as without law, to be made all things to all men, i Cor. ix. 20, 21, 22. But after all, charity doth not allow us to tolerate the pernicious practices of all them, with whom we are connected by natural, or social ties; much less doth it allow us to follow them down a precipice. And deceive not yourselves, my brethen, there is a moral as well as a doctrinal denial of Jesus Christ. It is not enough you know, to believe and to respect the truth inwardly; when the mouth is shut, and sentiments palliated, religion is denied. In like manner, in society, in regard to morals, it is not enough to know our duty, and to be guilty of reserves in doing it. If virtue be concealed in the heart; if through timidity or complaisance, people dare not openly profess it, they apostatize from the practical part of religion, Always when you fall in with a company of slanderers, if you content yourself with abhorring the vice, and conceal your abhorrence of it; if you outwardly approve what you inwardly condemn, , you are apostates from the law, that forbids calumny. When your parents endeavor to inspire you with maxims opposite to the gospel, if you comply with them, you apostatize from the law,