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moted by a religion, the Author of which, both in his words and actions, has endeavoured to establish peace among us upon earth, as well as to secure felicity for us in heaven.

But if the excellence of all religion is to be measured by its utility, do not such instances of superstition, stubbornness, and cruelty in Christians, tend to weaken our veneration, and to stagger our belief, of the Gospel itself? As to the fact, I reply that Christianity has, upon the whole, produced a far greater share of good than of evil -- that in what it explicitly teaches, or positively commands, no evil whatsoever has arisen-that the errors and vices of its professors are to be traced up to other sources than their religion — that by this religion both are expressly condemned, and both so far prevented, as seems to have been possible with beings whose intellectual and moral constitution is like that of man. As to the right it yet asserts to our faith, good sense bids us distinguish between the use and abuse of every good gift; experience tells us, that as the use is profitable the abuse is dangerous ; and analogy may inform us, that Christianity, from the mixed state of things in which it was taught, and yet is believed, stands upon a footing with all the moral and natural dispensations of its Author. Are not all the crimes in the world produced by an excessive self-love, or a mistaken benevolence? Yet self-love is the spring, and benevolence the end, of all virtue. Do not the convulsions and seeming irregularities of nature proceed from the laws of gravitation, and of attraction and repulsion? Yet

from these laws is also the beauty, order, and, in our apprehension perhaps, the very existence of such objects as are discernible by our senses ; and by the constancy and intenseness of their operation, all things conspire for our happiness and our preservation. Christianity, misunderstood and disobeyed, may have occasioned the sword of oppression to be lifted up; but it has diffused sentiments of peace more widely and more effectually than any other religion, which human wisdom has devised, or human authority supported.

Evil terminating in itself cannot be reconciled to the nature of a wise Creator; but evil productive of ultimate good, in our conceptions, may properly make, and in our experience actually has made, a part of the moral government under which we live. Now, why the same evil should not be designed for the same ends in the Christian dispensation —why, if designed by the great Contriver of that dispensation, it should not be known to the immediate Dispenser of it — and, if known, why it should not be declared, peculiarly as a proof of his foresight, and in common with all other moral precepts, addressed to those who are likely to violate them, as a warning to his followers—these are questions which it is no very easy task to establish in the negative.

SERMON XXX.

MATTHEW X. 31.

Think not I am come to send peace on earth : I came not to

send peace, but a sword.

In a late discourse I endeavoured to rescue these words from the misconceptions of ignorance, and the misrepresentations of infidelity, by a series both of presumptive and direct proofs. I shewed you that they were intended to predict, but not to justify the evils of which Christianity has been eventually productive; and therefore that they may with more propriety be alleged by the friends of the Gospel in proof of Christ's wisdom, than by the enemies of it, as instances of his cruelty.

Now if our Lord had magnificently described peace and harmony as the immediate consequences of his religion, you would have opposed the solid evidence of fact to the unsupported authority of assertion. If he had coldly, and, as it were, incidentally mentioned all the unfortunate and unjustifiable divisions that have arisen among his followers, you would have been offended at the languor of his feelings—but when he repeatedly foretells, and most expressly condemns those divisions, he surely cuts off all possibility of fair complaint against the want of foresight, or the want of consistence.

As my last discourse was intended to obviate the speculative objections of those who disbelieve the Gospel, the present will be employed in strengthening the conviction, and in regulating the conduct, of those by whom it is sincerely admitted. I then endeavoured to establish the fact, that Christ predicted, but did not countenance religious contention. I shall now go forward to the discussion of such questions as the fact thus established naturally suggests to every serious believer; for surely it is of the highest importance for us to know how far what Christ predicted has been accomplished, and whether it be practicable for us to avoid what he has not countenanced. Let us therefore in the third place, consider the proofs which history supplies in confirmation of the prophecy contained in my text. .

By a writer, * who is justly celebrated for the depth of his learning, and the keenness of his penetration, it has been said, that unarmed prophets never were successful. The observation, as applied to the conduct of Christ himself, is notoriously unjust. And if it be just in its application to all other teachers, we deduce from it a new argument in favour of the Gospel, and we contend, that the true religion neither required, nor employed those hateful expedients, which were indispensably necessary to the establishment of falsehood, and invariably used by those who patronized it. Assuredly the triumphs of Christ over the prejudices and vices of his hearers were effected without the stratagems of policy, and without the tumults of conquest. They derived their success from the social wisdom, the exemplary virtue, and the preternatural powers of our righteous master, They were obtained without any artifice to beguile those who were endowed with an honest simplicity of heart, and without any compulsion to subdue men who were of an impetuous or refractory spirit. Such, if we speak comparatively, was the easy and calm progress of the Gospel during the life of Christ. For violence was then confined to his person; it took its rise from his enemies always; and it was retaliated by his friends in one instance only, when the servant of the chief priest was wounded by the indignant apostle, and in the very same moment was healed by his compassionate master. But after the death of Christ the prospect is overspread with a thicker and more inauspicious gloom. Those malignant passions which had vented their fury upon the mild and unresisting Founder of the Gospel, now extended themselves to his numerous followers. And, indeed, if we reflect upon the pride and obstinacy of the Jewish nation, we shall not wonder at the excess to which they carried their opposition to the doctrines of our Lord, or at the rooted and implacable hatred which they conceived against any of their countrymen who taught or embraced them. Such is the perverseness of the human will, and such too often the depravity of the human heart,

* Machiavel.

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