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observe, that in their Epistles to the Churches, whatever the occasion was, whatever discipline they instituted, whatever points of faith they explained, whatever heresies they stigmatized, whatever immoralities they condemned, or whatever virtues they recommended, CHARITY was still the thing most constantly enforced, as the very
end of all
, the bond of perfectness *. The beloved disciple of our Lord, particularly, who may surely be supposed to know his Master's wilt, hath wrote his Epistle on sett purpose to recommend this single virtue; at a crisis too, when, as heresies were springing up apace, a modern controversialist would be apt to think he might have employed his time better. And why it may be reasonably asked) so very much on charity, in an age when Christians had so few provocations or temptations to violate it? For their faith being yet chaste from the prostitutions of the schools, and their hierarchy yet uncorrupted by the gifts of Constantine, the Church knew neither bigotry nor ambition, the two fatal sources of uncharitable zeal. I will tell you, it was the providence of their prophetic spirit, which presented to them the image of those miserable times foretold by their Master, when iniquity should abound, and the love of many wax cold f. So that if the men of those times should persist in violating this bond of perfectness, after so many repeated admonitious, they might be found altogether withour excuse. For I can by no means enter into the views of that profound philosopher, who discovered that Jesus and his followers might preach up love and charity, the better to enable a set of men, some centuries afterwards, to tyrannise over those whom the engaging sounds of charity and brotherly love had intrapped into subjection 1,
I am aware that certain modern propagators of the faith, aided with a school distinction, will tell you, that
, it is pure charity which sets them all at work, and that
: ; what you call uncharitableness, when they insult the fame, the fortune, or the person of their brother, is indeed the very height of charity, a charity for his soul. This indeed may be the height of the hangman's charity. , * Col. iii. 14.
+ Matt. xxiv, 12. Characterístics, vol. i. p. 87. vol. iii. p. 115. Ed. 1737.
who waits for your clothes : - But it could never be St. Paul's. His was not easily provoked, thought no evil, bore all things, hoped all things, endured all things * It was a charity that began in candour, inspired good opinion, and sought the temporal happiness of his brother.
I leave it with Mr. De Crousaz to think upon the different effects which excess of zeal in the service of religion hath produced in him.
For I will, in very charity, believe it to be really that; notwithstanding we every day see the most despicable tools of others impotency, and the vilest slaves to their own ambition, hide their corrupt passions under the self-same cover. This learned gentleman should reflect on what the sober part of the world will think of his . conduct. For though the Apostle bids AGED MEN BE SOUND IN FAITH, he adds immediately, and in CHARITY, IN PATIENCE † likewise. But where was his charity in labouring, on the slightest grounds, to represent his
, brother as propagating Spinozism and immorality? Where was his temper, when he became so furious against him, on the supposition of his espousing a system he had never read, that of Leibnitz; and justifying a doctrine he had never heard of, the pre-established harmony? Where was his patience, when, having conceived this of him, on the mere authority of a most mistaken Translator, he would not stay to inquire whether the Author owned the faithfulness of the version ; but published his conceptions, and the strongest accusations upon those conceptions, in volume after volume, to the whole world? Where, if in any of these imaginations so founded, he should be mistaken, he became guilty of a deliberate and repeated act of the highest injustice; the attempting to deprive a virtuous man of his honest reputation.
If Mr. De Crousaz presumes his zeal for the honour of God will excuse his violations of charity towards men, I must tell him, he knows not what spirit he is of. man (says the beloved disciple of our Lord) say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: For he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love
i Cor. xiii. 5. 7.
+ Titus ii. 2.
God whom he hath not seen * ? A free-thinker may per... haps laugh at the simplicity of this argument, which yet he would affect to admire, could any one find it for him in Plato. But let him for once condescend to be instructed by his Bible, and hearken to a little christian reasoning
“ You say you love God (says the Apostle) though you hate your brother : Impossible! The love of any object begins originally, like all the other passions, “ from self-love. Thus we love ourselves, by representa
tion, in our offspring; which love extends by degrees " to our remoter relations, and so on through our neigh" bourhood, to all the fellow-members of our community. “And now self-love, refined by reason and religion, begins to lose its nature, and deservedly assumes another
Our country next claims our love ; we then “ extend it to all mankind, and never rest till we have,
at length, fixed it on that most amiable of all objects, “the great Author and Original of Being. This is the
of human love: God loves from whole to parts, but human soul Must rise from individual to the whole. “ Now (pursues the Apostle) I reason thus : Can you, who are not yet arrived at that inferior stage of “ benevolence, the love of your brother, whom you
have seen, that is, whom the necessities of civil life, and a “sense of your mutual relation might teach you to love,
pretend to have reached the very height and per"fection of this passion, the love of God, whom you have
not seen? that is, whose wonderful ceconomy in his
system of creation, which makes him so amiable, you “cannot have the least conception of; you, who have
not yet learnt that your own private system is supported
on the great principle of benevolence ? Fear him, “ flatter him, fight for him, as you dread his power,
you may; but to love him, as you know not his nature, “ is impossible.” This is the Apostle's grand and sublime reasoning; and it is with the same thought on which the Apostle founds his argument, that our moral
* i John iv. 20. Vol. XI. L
Poet ends his Essay, as the just and necessary conclusion of his work:
Self-love but serves the virtuous mind to wake,
, Earth smiles around, with boundless bounty blest, And HEAVEN BEHOLDS ITS IMAGE IN HIS BREAST. REMARKS
ON A BOOK ENTITLED
Future Rewards and Punishments believed by the Ancients,
particularly the Philosophers ;
Wherein some Objections of the Rev. Mr. WARBURTON, in his
Divine Legation of Moses, are considered : 1742.
And A LETTER to Bishop SMALLBROOK,
Beware lest any man spoil you through PHILOSOPHY and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after CHRIST.-Col. ii. 8.