« ZurückWeiter »
: Since the first appearance of the Sketch, leisure, Sir, has been found, to lay before the public the Sequel, being the second and concluding part of this work*. There it is largely shewn, both in a preliminary. Essay, and in the numerous Extracts, thal MODERATION is the genuine offspring of Christianity. To avoid the imputation of partiality, the authorities, amounting in nunie ber to near one hundred, are taken from divines of the Church of England, of the Kirk of Scoland, and from among the Protestant Dissenters. The drawing up of this latter work, jā seconá edition of wřich is just published) was with me a favourite object, and no small pains were bestowed upon it. The Sketch and Sequel complete my design on the subject. May the effort be attended with a divine blessing !
* A new edition of the Sequel has just appeared, with considerable augmentations and improvements. The number of testimonies are now one hundred. It is also embellished with the heads of Tillotson, Clarke, Jortin, Watts, Doddridye, Chandler, Robertson, and Blair; and enriched, at the conclusion, by certain poetical pieces, illustrative of the spirit and genius of Christianity.-March 30, 1807.
I am, however, aware, Sir, that for the same reason that the passionate charge the mild and unassuming with a want of spirit, zealots are reproaching the advocates of moderation with a propensity to indifference. But this is an iniquitous charge, since it is known, that liberal characters have been distinguished for their zeal, in support of what appeared to them to be the interests of truth. That the candid have fallen into lukewarmness, and that the zealous have been betrayed into persecution, cannot be devied ; but surely no man in his senses will, on that account, seriously maintain, that candour and indifference, zeat and persecution, are inseparably connected. Against a spirit of indifference, I here solemnly protest; nor indeed will any person accuse me of such an intention, who has attentively read my Address to the General Baptists on the Revival of Religion amongst thein. While with our blessed Saviour, Christians are exhorted to love one another; so on the other hand with the apostle Paul, are they loudly called upon to contend earnestly (but not in
temperately) for the faith once delivered to the saints. .
Dr. Prideaux (a learned, clergyman of the church of England), in his Life of Mahomet, . speaking of the dissensions of the sixth century, remarks- Christians having drawn the: abstrusest nicities into controversy, did thereby so destroy peace, love, and charity among them. selves, that they lost the whole substance of religion, and in a manner drove. Christianity quite out of the world; so that the Saracens, taking advantage of the weakness of power and distractions of councils, which those divisions had caused, soon over-ran, with terrible devastation, all the eastern provinces of the Roman empire:; turned every where their churches into mosques, and forced on them the abominable imposture of Mahometanism." From this lamentable fact, Sir, Christians ought to learn an instructive lesson. In an age like the present, when Atheists and Deists are, both in this country and upon the Continent, assailing on every side the venerable fabric of our religion, its professors ceasing to
lay an updue stress on their private differences of opinion, should concentrate their scattered forces, and inspired with kindness towards each other, oppose, with one heart and with one soul, the COMMON ENEMY! .
The biographer of Bishop Burnet tells us, that when making his Tour on the Continent, this great and good prelate “there became acquainted with the leading men of the different persuasions tolerated in that country, particularly Calvinists, Arminians, Lutherans, Baptists, Brownists, Papists, and Unitarians; amongst each of which, he used frequently to declare, he met with men of such unfeigned piety and virtue, that he became fixed in a strong principle of universal charity.” Would to God, that an example in every respect so illustrious, were devoutly imitated by the professors of Christianity! The good effects of such a conduct would be instantaneously discerned. The sincere and hearty co-operation of Christians of every denomination, in the great cause of virtue and piety, would essentially promote the best interests of mankind.
Nor will you, my dear Sir, blame me for thus venturing publicly to express the gratification I feel in the publication of both Sketch and Sea quel at Philadelphia in America. This extension of their sphere of usefulness will, I trust, prove the humble means of aiding in some small degree the cause of Christian liberality amongst our Transatlantic brethren. The period is approaching, when the jealousies and distinctionsof party, in every quarter of the globe, shall be lost in the diffusion of pure and unadulterated Christianity! In the present awful crisis of in- . fidelity and lukewarmness, Christians are apt to be borne down by a spirit of despondency. But the energies of their faith ought by no means to be exhausted. Over the attacks of its enemies, and over the infirmities of its friends, the religion of Jesus shall obtain a complete triumph. The day of small things must not be despised. Dispensations the most dark, and events the most unpromising, are rendered subservient to the purposes of the divine government. The rays of revealed truth which have hitherto only beamed: upon us through the clouds of our ignorance and prejudices, are nevertheless destined to light up