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dren, and perhaps more indulgence is due to the former than to the latter, since they cannot be spoiled by it, being past curing.
And here the civil magistrate is of excellent use, to keep the peace among his fractious subjects, or at least to keep them from doing one another a bodily mischief. Forbear to draw your sword upon your adversary, says Minerva to Achilles ; abuse him as much and as long as you will :
'Αλλ' άγε λήγ έριδος, μηδέ ξίφος έλκεο χέρι,
'Αλλ' ήτοι έπεσαν μεν ονείδισον, ως έσεθαι σερ. But worse than fanaticał fervour is the sedate spirit of religious tyranný, arising from the lust of dominion, from sórdid self-interest, and from atheistical politics, taking its measures, and pursuing its ends deliberately, void of all regard to truth, and of every tender sentiment of pity and humanity.
Thus Christianity degenerated, and things went on from bad to worse, from folly to corruption, from weakness to wickedness; and then the Reformation made considerable amendments.
The Christian world is now divided into the reformed and unreformed, or rather, into those who are not, and those who are members of the church of Rome. The latter, as they deal least in reason, are the most disposed to use the illuminating arguments above-mentioned, which serve as a succedaneun in the place of reason. They would willingly force upon us à mode of Christianity, which neither we nor our fathers were able to bear. Our religious establishment is far better, and highly valuable, and we should be ungrateful if we did not esteem it ; but the more simple and unexceptionable a religion is, the dearer will • B 2
it be to those who understand it, and know what it is to enjoy it. In such a religion, charity would be a gainer, and faith would be no loser, and it would be an easier task to satisfy doubters, to bring over infidels, and to re-unite believers. Before the Jews shall be converted, and the Gentiles Aow into the church, it is reasonable to suppose, that in the Christian world there will be inore harmony, more mutual compliance and forbearance, than at present is to be found.
As the opposers of the gospel have frequently had recourse to arguments ad hominem, and liave taken advantage from modern systems, and from the writings of divines of this or that persuasion ; so the defenders of revelation have often found themselves under a necessity of reducing things to the venerable Christiani: ty of the New Testament, and of adventuring no farther; and of declining the rest, as not essential to the cause, and to the controversy.
The removal even of small defects, and improve. ment from good to better, should always be the object of every man's warm wishes, and modest and peaceable endeavours. Modest and peaceable they ought certainly to be ; for there is a reverence due to the public, to civil society, to rulers and magistrates, and to the majority ; and decency and prudence are neither marks of the least, nor that worldly wisdom which stands condemned in the gospel. In all such endeavours, great care and discretion are requisite. Difficulties of various sorts present themselves, and difficulties not to be slighted, some of which shall be passed over in silence, because they might possibly rather tend to irritate than to appease, and give an offence which should be industriously avoided. There is a fear of consequences, arising in cautious and dif
fident minds, a fear of losing what is valuable by seeking what is desireable ; there is a wide-spread indifference towards every thing of a serious kind, and it is sadly increased by that thoughtless dissipation, and those expensive follies, which are so prevalent ; there is also a settled dislike of the gospel among too many, who are so ignorant, and so prejudiced, as to account Christianity itself to be of no use and iinportance.
These considerations may incline melancholy persons to imagine, that it is vain to expect amendments of a more refined nature, which seem to depend on a favourable concurrence of circumstances seldom united, and that we have not a foundation which can bear the superstructure.
It is much to be wished, that more effectual methods could be contrived to suppress vice, and to assist the willing, and to compel the unwilling to earn their bread honestly in the days of their youth and strength, and thereby to secure the peace of civil society, and to save from ruin so many poor creatures, of whom it is hard to decide, whether they be more wicked, or more miserable, and whose crimes it would be far better to prevent than to punish. If we could do any thing to remove, or to diminish these dreadful evils, moral and natural, the love of God and of man would be our reward. But these are things which perbaps are reserved for another generation :
-munet nostros felix eu curu nepotes. Let us in the mean time bc thankful for what we bave; for our religion and liberties; for a disposition, which may be called national, to acts of charity public or private, and for that portion of learning, and that skill in liberal arts and sciences, which we possess, sufB 3
ficient to secure us from the contempt of our neigh, bours, though not to give us any claim to precedency. What we possess of erudition, must in a great measure be ascribed to the preyailing force of education, emulation, and custom ; for so it is, the love of letters begun at school and continued at the university, will usually accompany a man through all the changing scenes of this life, improving his plea, sures, and soothing his sorrows. Happy is it, that the pious and judicious liberality of our ancestors founded and endowed those tivo noble seminuries, which have been our best security against ignorance, super. stition, and infidelity,
ESTOTE PERPETUÆ ! An agreeable remembrance of former days presents itself,
-nec me meminisse pigebit alumnæ,
Dum memor ipse mei, dum spiritus hos regit artus, But let us also do justice to the theological merits, and useful labours of persons of another denomination in this country, of whom qui tales sunt, utinam essent nostri.
Polite learning, or humanity, helps to open and enlarge the mind, and to give it a generous and liberal way of thinking, not what is vulga-ly termed free-thinking, and belongs to vulgar understandings. Learning has a lovely child called moderation, and moderation is not afraid or ashamed to shew her face in the theological world; the number of her friends is increased, and, whilst our civil constitution subsists, they are in no danger of being sewed up in a bag with a monkey, a viper, a wit, and a free-thinker, and flung into the next river. That liberty of prophesying may prevail, and that profane licentiousness may be restrained, are wishes which should always be joined together.
And now, if men will say I persuade to indifferency, I must bear it as well as I can. I am not yet without remedy, as they are ; for patience will help me, and reason cannot cure them. The words are borrowed from a pious, ingenious, learned, charitable, and sweet tempered bishop, who, with a noble candour and generous openness, pleads the cause of liberty of prophesying, and who never was censured for it by any man worth the mentioning, though probably he was reviled by those who called Tillotson an Atheist. If these two excellent Prelates, and Erasmus and Chillingworth, and John Hales, and Locke, and Episcopius, and Grotius, and many who shall not be named, had been contemporaries, and had met together FREELY to determine the important question, What makes a man a Christian, and what profession of faith should be deemed sufficient, they would probably have agreed, notwithstanding the diversity of opinions which they might all have had on some theological points. There have been others, indeed, who, on such an occasion, would have given us an ample catalogue of necessaries, the inference from which would have been, that it must needs be a very learned, and a very subtle, and a very ingenious thiing to be a good Christian : for some of these necessaries are of so refined a nature, that the understanding can hardly lay hold of them, or the
memory retain them :
Ter frustra comprensa, manus effugit imago,
Par levibus ventis, volucrique simillima somno. Some of the best defenders of Christianity, down from Origen, no saint, it seems, but worth a hundred and fifty saints who might be mentioned, have been unkindly used and traduced by injudicious Christians, for a hard