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it is. This
do by looking into his own Heart : for there he will learn if he fincerely intends the Honour and Glory of God, the Advancement of Religion and Virtue, the publick Good, and the Welfare of his Neighbour ; if he finds that these are the true Springs and Motives, his Zeal is good and laudable ; but if his Heart tells him that private Interest, Passion, Revenge, vain Glory, or Attachment to a Party, are at the Bottom, such Zeal, whatever Colours and Pretexts it may put on, is false and vicious, and will some Time or other betray it self; for the Masque of Hypocrisy is commonly thin, and seldom wears to the End of a Man's Life.
I confess indeed that where Zeal is the meer Effect of Prepossession, Superstition and Bigottry, it may be honest and sincere, 'tho' it be mistaken : But the weakest Man may with some Attention discern it by its working. For if it pushes him on to Actions that are immoral, and contrary to Truth, Righteousness, and Charity, he cannot stand excused even to his own Conscience; for this will tell him that he must not do Evil that Gové may come.
As to the prudential Part even of pious Zeal, it is impossible to establish any antecedent Test for discovering this, because it depends entirely upon Circumstances and Çonjunctures, and every Man must be first made wise and discreet before he can judge of these, and who can find out the Secret of doing this ? who can convince a Man that he has a weak Judgment, which he cannot find out without first having a better Judgment than he has ? The most that can be prescribed to him in that case is to refrain his Zeal, till he has advised with those who are generally allowed to have more Sense and Wisdom than their Neighbours, and to remember that Zeal is not equally the Duty of every Man, which is a certain Truth. For as Magistrates are entrusted with a divine Authority to be a Terror to Evildoers, and a Praise to them that do well, Zeal in them is more especially necessary to put an Edge upon the Sword of Justice, and stir them up to Activity in supporting Virtue, and discouraging Vice. And the greater and more extended their Power is, the more necessary is their Zeal, for promoting the Honour of God, and the Interests of Religion, and the Good of the
Community, for protecting the Innocent, relieving the Oppressed, curbing the Infolent and Lawless, and securing to all that are put under their Authority the great Blessings of Liberty and Property. Then it is Judgment will run down as Water and Righteousness as a mighty Stream.
This is the true Glory of Men in high Authority, and these will be the Effects of their Zeal. Whereas on the contrary, a Spirit of Lukewarmness and Indolence, is, next to Corruption, the highest breach of thcir Trust.
But I cannot recommend Zeal in the same Degree to the lower part of Mankind, because it is apt to turn weak Heads, and to produce Confufion where there is not Knowledge and Discretion to manage it; such Men cannot always judge for themfelves, and are liable to be practised upon by the more knowing and cunning, who mislead their Zeal, and make them the Tools and Instruments of their Designs.
We have indeed once seen the happy Effects of popular Zeal, when it happened to take a right Turn; and we have since that, seen both our Church and State brought to the very brink of Ruin by it. In the for
mer Case, Popery and Tyranny, advanced
a variety of Lyes, and specious Colours,
As to the Zeal of others, it is not so easy to judge of this, as of our own, because Things may appear to them in different Lights, and they cannot judge otherwise than according to those Appearances. St. Paul says of many of the Jews, I bear them Record that they have a Zeal of God, but not according to Knowledge. As it was a Zeal of God, it was honest and pious, but as it was ignorant, there was great room for Charity, and they were to be pitied, and
Rom. 10. 2.
enlightned, but not censured and condemned. When therefore we see the Zeal of Men running contrary Ways, when it carries them to oppose the Party, and the Measures we have espoused; if they are otherwise Men of Probity, we must judge favourably, and believe they are milled and miltaken, and they must judge the fame of us ; by this Means there will be mutual Charity between good Men of different Parties ; but when the Zealots in any Cause or Party are Men of ill Lives, and promote it by wicked Means, it is shrewdly to be suspected that they are in the Wrong; but whatever the Cause be, yet it is the Zeal of bad Men, and our Charity is here fore closed and precluded; for tho’ Charity must foften our Hearts, yet it was never design'd to put out our Eyes.