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gate Hatred, Discord, and all manner of
Was there nothing meant here by the Sword, but only the Hatred and Perfecution that Christians were to expect from their Enemies, the Prediction might stop here, and there would be no great Wonder in it ; for 'tis no more than what one might very
well fuppofe would happen. But there is a further more astonishing Meaning in it than this, and that is, the Cruelty and Persecution that Christians should exercise upon one another; of which we have too great a Proof from the History of all Ages, ever since Christianity was advanced into an Establishment.
'Tis no Wonder that Unbelievers should be offended at the Christian Religion, and evil entreat the Profeffors of it, since it was not only contrary to their old Prejudices, but as it tended also to destroy and root out that Ill-nature they were willing to indulge, and to niortify and subdue those Vices they were loth to part with. But, could it ever be imagin’d that Christians themselves should be offended at it, who had profess’d to renounce all this? That they, whose Religion taught them nothing but Peace and Love, should turn it into Contention and
Hatred ? Yet thus it was :
For when Serm. Unbelievers had left off to persecute Chri- VI. ftians, and Christianity became the Religion of the Country, by an unaccountable fort
of Madness, they fell to perfecuting one a".nother. Thus the Christian Religion, that
was at first a happy Cement to join People together in Love and Friendship, soon became a Name to fall out by, and at length, by the Help of a great deal of Malice and
Hatred, it became a Refuge for Spite and : fll-nature ; and so the Gospel of Peace was turn'd into an open Proclamation of War. .
Whoever looks into Ecclesiastical History, will find that the Heathens never persecuted the Christians with more Rage and Fury than they persecuted one another ; so much
Pains did they take to fulfil the Words of 1 the Text in a literal Sense, and undo, for
many Ages, all our Saviour had done before.
'Tis furprizing that any Body of Men, who call themselves Christians, should be guilty of so much Barbarity : And yet I believe it is a Truth no one can deny, that the ten persecuting Emperors of Rome, tho° they were Heathens, never massacred fo many Christians as the Church of Rome has done since, tho' professing Christianity, and 02
SERM. pretending to a greater Perfection of it than VI. all the rest of the World: A Church, which,
to the Sorrow of all good Christians, fubfifts not by the Purity of her Doctrine, but by the Sword ; that is not founded, as every Christian Church should be, in Love and good Works, but in a certain Degree of Hatred and Malice, which they flew against those who have a Right to differ from them; and in an ill-natur’d Faith, that swallows up every thing else, and destroys the Principles of natural as well as reveald Religion; that, in tead of promoting Good-will, and universal Charity and Benevolence, is perpetually contriving the Ruin and Destruction of Mankind: And accordingly, as it must be in such a Cafe, he is reckon'd to have the greatest Faith who has the least Charity. But can there be such a thing as a Religion fo void of Humanity, especially pretending at the fame Time to be Christian, as not to consist of Love and good Works? One would think it hardly possible ; yet what will you say, when Murder shall be reckon'd among the chiefest of good Works? When he that killeth you shall do it out of Love, and therein be thought to do God Service? If this be Love and good Works, what evil Work can be worse, or what
Mischief can Hatred do more than this? SERM.
The first Thing that offers itself to us in
Serm whatever he may think fit to call himself
, VI. fo neither is he a true Christian that wants
Charity; because he wants that which is ef-
if we were to look round us a little, one would think the Rule was revers’d, as if he had said, By this mall all Men know ye are my Disciples, if ye hate one another. For how many are there, whose Religion consists in little else, but in hating all of the opposite Side! That think they can't shew their Zeal but by their Wrath, and as long as they hate one another heartily, they imagine they give sufficient Proof of their Integrity, and of their stedfast Adherence to Religion. Instances of this kind are too frequent; and yet these are the Men who profess a Religion of Love, that would be thought Advocates for the Gospel of Peace at the same time that they delight in nothing but Hatred and Discord ; as if they were to commence Brutes in order to be Christians, and divest themselves of Humanity to prove their Zeal for Religion,