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pose of Jesus to spread dissentions among mankind, his precepts and example tended uniformly to defeat that purpose. To what end, I beseech you, did he exhort his followers to forgive his enemies? With what consistence did he pronounce a most exalted blessing upon the peace-makers ? With what appearance of sincerity, or common decency, could he say that he came to save men's lives, when his fixed, and, according to this sense of the text, his avowed intention was to destroy them? Had the Founder of Christianity in reality formed the flagitious design blasphemously imputed to him, and had he thought himself justified in proclaiming it, why did he not point out to his disciples the turbulent measures, and encourage in them the seditious disposition, which seem necessary for so shocking an end? Was it likely that one solitary injunction would destroy the collective force of all his other precepts ? Was the very hypocrisy, which lurked under his apparent meekness and lowliness, compatible with the audacity of an undistinguishing and undisguised hostility to all domestic comfort, and to all public security—to virtuous individuals and lawful governors—to the active sensibilities of self-preservation in the one, and to the jealous vigilance of power in the other? But certain it is that Christ, though he often mentions the persecutions and divisions that were to take place after his death, never once speaks of them in terms of unequivocal, positive applause

-that he never recommends, directly or indirectly, a proud and contentious temper to his followers and that he never gives the most distant promise of protection to those acts of violence by which the harmony of families is interrupted, and the tranquillity of nations is disturbed. If, therefore, he did not speak this language in the odious sense which I am now combating, he has said nothing inconsistent with the character of a divine instructor. If he did speak them in that sense, we must confess that he wanted, not only the ordinary feelings of a human creature, but the ordinary sagacity even of the clumsiest and most illiterate deceiver.

Let us pursue this train of investigation. Is it not universally acknowledged that Christ, in propagating his doctrines, personally observed the most cautious conduct - that he never insulted the authority of magistrates that he never violated the laws of his country - that he neither sought nor seized such opportunities as the prejudices of his countrymen would have afforded to a false Messiah for stirring up popular tumults, and grasping at illegal power? How, then, can we suppose him to have directed others to a behaviour so different from his own? For the text, as some men misunderstand, or rather misinterpret it, carries with it a positive direction for Christians not to pay the regard which Christ himself did pay to the peace of the community

And surely if the immediate hearers of our Lord had supposed these words to convey a licence for his followers to violate the decorum of common life, and to commit all the outrages which the laws had forbidden, a proceeding of this kind would have instantly provoked accusation from the Jewish

teachers, and punishment from the Roman Government. But no consequence of this kind is recorded. Had the same words been considered by Christians themselves as giving a sanction to any kind of persecution, they would surely have found a place in the long catalogue of absurd reasonings which in various ages, and for various purposes, have been alleged by Christians as a justification for drawing the sword. But no such perverse use of them has ever been made, by either the visionary crusader, the gloomy inquisitor, or the frantic zealot who erected the standard in honour of King Jesus, and that to maintain the right of paying him an exclusive allegiance.

Again, is not Christianity allowed by its most determined enemies to possess a milder and more liberal genius than Judaism? Now the religious constitution of the Jews was intimately interwoven with the political ; and hence arose the austere and intolerant rules, by which the institutions of Moses were fenced against encroachment. The Gospel, on the contrary, is attached to no particular system of polity. It is flexible to every possible modification of wise government; it is fortified by sanctions, which point to futurity; and it has not ordained any one temporal punishment for any offence of any kind, or any degree. If then Moses threw an appearance of justice around the severity of his laws, by specifying the offence, and ascertaining the penalty, is it credible that Jesus should give a peremptory commission promiscuously to his followers to harrass mankind without the forms of judicial pro

cess, and without even the pretence of any transgression against an explicit and definite command ?

Moses has, moreover, directed the Jews upon particular occasions, and in particular countries, to extirpate idolators with unrelenting severity. That severity was, however, antecedent, and even instrumental to the establishment of the Jewish policy. It was rarely exercised in ages that succeeded the firm and full establishment of that policy, and it did not extend beyond the borders of the Jewish state. But Christ, if the invidious exposition of my text be well founded, must be supposed to have authorized the most rigorous and inhuman measures, even after the establishment of his religion, to have authorized them in all places, and at all times, against all persons who would not embrace it.

Yet further, the religion of Mahomet, as well as Moses, is allowed to be of a more sanguinary complexion than that of Christ. But how will such a concession correspond with the sense of my text, if it be taken literally, according to the English idiom? Mahomet commanded his followers to unsheathe the sabre only against those whom he reputed infidels ; but the words of Christ, if they are to be understood independently of any other precepts, and according to vulgar apprehensions, will justify his followers in persecuting each other. Nay, it is by implication only and just consequence, that they warrant cruelty against strangers and enemies ; whereas they expressly and directly warrant it among neighbours and relations-among those, who are members of the same community and pro

fessors of the same religion-among fathers and sons — among mothers-in-law, and daughters--inlaw.

In this point of view, also, Christianity would be far more unsocial than Judaism. Among the Jews many bitter contentions arose upon religious topics ; yet the disputants seldom proceeded to acts of direct personal violence. They never pleaded the commands of Moses in justification of the cruelties, into which they might have been hurried towards those, who differed from them in matters of their own law; and it is well known, that the Pharisee, the Sadducee, and the Essene, widely as they dissented upon points of speculation, and ceremony, partook of the same sacrifice and worshipped at the same altar. But if Christ's words contain the meaning, which upon the first view they seem to contain, he has authorized his disciples to run greater lengths in passion and uncharitableness than the Jews did. To greater lengths they have rushed. We confess and lament the fact. But the question before us is, whether the words of Christ were intended to justify the excesses of Christians ?

Even the Pagan theology has been pronounced less adverse to the rights of nature, and less dangerous to the peace of the world, than the most corrupted mode of Christianity, which invested its priests with power to execute whatever was suggested to them by the hardiest ambition or the most rancorous revenge, and debased its votaries by superstition. The accusation, however humiliating, is not untrue; but how should we repel its force if it were

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