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Serm. Thus Christianity, which is the most peace
VI. able and lovely Institution in the World, by the Wickedness of Men, becomes the same as if it had been made up of Fire and Sword. Which brings me,
Secondly, To shew the dangerous Conse-
cvery one does who
This is doing the very Work of the
SERM. to destroy them ; who it was that went le
borit seeking whom he may devour. So that
Our blessed Saviour has given us an extraordinary Example of universal Love and Benevolence, in laying down his Life, not only for our Sins, but also for the Sins of the whole World : And as far as we are for promoting the same Love, so far we follow his Steps; but when we turn that Love into Hatred, even unto Death, we shew that we belong to another Master, viz. the Prince of Darkness, and follow his Steps, in endeavouring to prevent and frustrate the inestimable Benefit of Christ's Death, by destroying them for whom Chrift died.
Axes and Halters are unanswerable Arguments indeed, but then 'tis for this Reafon, because they put an End to the Difpute and the Disputer too.' But one would think that every one must know, that it
must be a bad Cause that stands in need SERM. of such Arguments as these. As for Chri- VI. ftianity, 'tis directly opposite to this Spirit of Cruelty ; even Nature itself-abhors it : And yet it seems it must be kept up to do God good Service. But for God's fake, how? Where is there one Text of Scripture that says, a Man must be destroyed for the sake of Religion? Does not the whole Tenor of it run the contrary way?
But 'tis the everlasting Plea of the Advocates for Persecution, that we, and all but themselves, are Heretics: And suppose it were so, tho' there is no reason to suppose any such thing, for there are a great many Things to be made out first, where is there one Text of Scripture that says, a Heretic must be destroyed? Has not our Blessed Saviour determined this very Thing already with relation to the Samaritans, who were not only Heretics but Idolaters? And yet when the Disciples James and John were for calling for Fire from Heaven to consume them, he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of Spirit ye are of : For the Son of Man P
SEŘM. is not come to destroy Men's Lives but to VI.
But if others think, that thó' our Saviout did not come to destroy Men's Lives, yet that they have a Right to do fuch Things, then I think too, they ought at least to be so fair às to make no Preten. fions to Christianity, since they are as contrary to it as an evil Spirit is to a good oné. So that upon Supposition we were Heretics, in the Sense they are willing to understand it, yet Persecution is a manifest Breach of Christian Charity, which is émployed, and delights in doing good to Men, and not in destroying them; and therefore, if it were to be put upon that Footing, they are in a much worse Condition than we, as being guilty of the great Šin of Uncharitableness, which is so much worse than Heresy, as Charity is greater than Faith,
But further, let us pursue the Consequence of this persecuting Spirit, and see where it will end. Suppose then all that can be desired, that Persecution is a Christian Principle, and that there is sufficient Warrant for it from Scripture; let all this
for once be granted, and what are we SERM. now the better? Can this alter the Nature VI. of things ? or make Hatred and Ill-nature be otherwise than they are ? As long as things are what they are, it will still be a Moral Crime ; and Human Nature, upon Supposition that it is what it is, can never approve of it, unless it be strangely byass'd by other Considerations. What then will an Argument drawn from hence prove? If it
prove any thing, it will prove too much. For was there but one Text of Scripture that would justify Perfecution, that would be sufficient to prove the Christian Religion to be false, and not to come from God; For that would be to make Christianity destroy its own End, as well as confound and deAtroy the eternal Differences and Relations of things. Accordingly we find the Deists have made this Use of it: Andindeed were it not for the Hatred and Cruelty that has been so often found among Christians, a late Author, that has appear'd at the Head of their Cause, would have very little to lay. This is what He, and all the Enemies of Reveald Religion have found their Ad