« PreviousContinue »
ciple, of confining their friendship and esteem, their charity and good offices, to those of their own party, yet dare not discover their good inclinations, for fear of losing their favour and interest. And others, again, whom God had formed with mild and gentle dispositions, think it necessary to put a force upon their own tempers, by acting a noisy, violent, malicious part, as a means to be distinguished. Thus hath party got the better of the very genius and constitution of our people ; fo that whoever reads the character of the English in former ages, will hardly believe their present posterity to be of the same nation or climate.
III. Í shall now, in the last place, make use of some motives and exhortations, that may perfuade you to embrace brotherly love, and to continue in it. Let me apply myself to you of the lower fort, and desire you will consider, when any one of you make use of fair and enticing words to draw in customers, whether you do it for their fakes, or your own. And then, for whose fakes do you think it is, that your leaders are so industrious to put into your heads all that party-rage and virulence? Is it not to make you the tools and instruments, by which they work out their own designs ? Has this spirit of faction been useful to any of you in your worldly concerns, except to those who have traded in whispering, backbiting, or informing, and wanted kill or honesty to thrive by fairer methods ? It is
no business of yours to inquire, who is at the head of armies, or of councils, unless you had power and skill to chuse, neither of which is ever like to be your case: and therefore, to fill your heads with fears and hatred of persons and things, of which it is impossible you can ever make a right judgment, or to set you at variance with your neighbour, because his thoughts are not the same as yours, is not only in a very gross manner to cheat you of your time and quiet, but likewise to endanger your souls.
Secondly, In order to restore brotherly love, let me earnestly exhort you to stand firm in your religion, I mean the true religion hitherto established among us; without varying in the least, either to Popery on the one fide, or to Fanaticism on the other : and in a particular manner beware of that word moderation ; and believe it, that your neighbour is not immediately a villain, a Papist, and a traitor, because the Fanatics and their adherents will not allow him to be a mo. derate man. Nay, it is very probable, that your teacher himself may be a loyal, pious, and able divine, without the least grain of moderation, as the word is too frequently understood. Therefore, to set you right in this matter, I will lay before you the character of a truly moderate man; and then I will give you the description of such an one who falsely pretendėth to that title.
A man truly moderate, is steady in the doctrine and discipline of the church, but with a due Christian charity to all who difsent from it,
out of a principle of conscience; the freedom of which, he thinketh, ought to be fully allowed, as long as it is not abused; but never trusted with power. He is ready to defend, with his life and fortune, the Proteftant succession, and the Protestant established faith, againft all invaders whatsoever. He is for giving the crown its just prerogative, and the people their juft liberties. He hateth no man for differing from him in political opinions; nor doth he think it a maxim infallible, That virtue fhould always attend upon favour, and vice upon disgrace. These are some few lineaments in the character of a truly moderate man. Let us now compare it with the defcription of one who ufually pafseth under that title.
A moderate man, in the new meaning of the word, is one to whom all religion is indifferent; who, although he denominates himself of the church, regardeth it no more than a conventicle. He perpetually raileth at the body of the clergy, with exceptions only to a very few, who, he hopeth, and probably upon faise grounds, are ready to betray their rights and properties as himself. He thinks the power of the people can never be too great, nor that of the prince too little; and yet, this very notion he publisheth, as his beft argument to prove him a most loyal subject. Every opinion in government, that differeth in the least from his, tends directly to Popery, slavery, and rebellion. Whoever lieth under the frown of power, can, in his judgment, neither have common sense, common honesty, nor reliVOL. II.
gion. Lastly, his devotion consisteth in drinking gibbets, confusion, and damnation ; in profanely idolizing the memory of one dead prince, and ungratefully trampling upon the ashes of another.
By these marks, you will easily distinguish a truly moderate man, from those who are commonly, but very falsely, so called : and while persons thus qualified, are so numerous, and fo noisy, so full of zeal and industry to gain profelytes, and spread their opinions among the people, it cannot be wondered that there should be so little brotherly love left among
Lastly, It would probably contribute to restore some degree of brotherly love, if we would but consider, that the matter of those disputes, which inflame us to this degree, doth not, in its own nature, at all concern the generality of mankind. Indeed, as to those who have been great gainers or losers by the changes of the world, the case is different; and, to preach moderation to the first, and patience to the last, would perhaps be to little purpose. But what is that to the bulk of the people, who are not properly concerned in the quarrel, although evil instruments have drawn them into it? For, if the reasonable men on both fides were to confer opinions, they would find neither religion, loyalty, nor interest, are at all affected in this dispute. Not religion, because the members of the church, on both sides, profess to agree in every article: not loyalty to our prince; which is pretended to by one party
as much as the other, and therefore can be no subject for debate : not interest, for trade and industry lie open to all; and, what is further, concerneth those only who have expectations from the public. So that the body of the people, if they knew their own good, might yet live amicably together, and leave their betters to quarrel aamong themselves, who might also probably foon come to a better temper, if they were less seconded and supported by the poor deluded multitude.
I have now done with my text; which I confess to have treated in a manner more suited to the present times, than to the nature of the subject in general. That I have not been more particular in explaining the several parts and properties of this great duty of brotherly love, the apostle to the Thessalonians will plead my excuse. Touching brotherly love, (faith he,) ye need not that I write unto you ; for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. So tbat nothing remains to add, but our prayers to God, that he would please to restore and continue this great duty of brotherly love or charity among us, the very bond of peace, and of all virtues.