« PreviousContinue »
to come, through the free grace of God, reign in life everlasting.'
That they, and you their benefactors, may, to all eternity, sing and rejoice together, ascribing the whole of your salvation to the covenant mercy of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is my heart's desire, and my prayer to the triune God.
AT ST. MILDRED'S, IN THE POULTRY, LONDON;
FRIDAY, December 13th, 1776.
BEING THE DAY APPOINTED FOR A GENERAL FAST.
PHILIP. iv. 5.
Let your moderation be known unto all men.
It was a favourite and frequent remark of king Henry VII. that, when Christ came into the world, peace was sung; and, when he went out of it, peace was bequeathed. From the justness of which observation, may be inferred the manifest impropriety of a Christian minister's taking too deep and too acrimonious a part, in matters of merely civil concern.
Few men, indeed, have been more prone to dabble in politics, than some divines. And, it must be added, that in general, few men have acquitted themselves more lamely upon that subject, than those reverend daubers with untempered mortar. For one dean Tucker, who draws a sensible pen on the occasion, a hundred ignorant and mercenary scribblers emerge from their concealments, to darken counsel by words without knowledge.
The truth is, that those of the clergy, who mostly content themselves with paddling in the shallows of a superficial morality, step much beyond the line, both of their ability, and of their proper department, when they attempt to fathom the deep water of politics. For it is well known, that (in past ages at least) politics and morality have had but very slender connection with each other.
As to those of us who deem it our duty to preach the gospel, and to know nothing, among our people,
but Jesus Christ, and him crucified; we, of all persons in the world, should religiously abstain from whatever may conduce to cherish the seeds, and fan the fire of civil discord. Shocking it is, when they, who profess to experience and to preach the love of Christ, can so far prostitute the dignity and design of their sacred calling, as to offer fulsome incense at the shrine of aggrandized authority, or seek to exasperate differing parties against each other: instead of labouring to preserve unity of spirit, to strengthen the bond of peace, and to promote righteousness of life.
Such bad men in black, pay very little attention to that solemn vow which they took at the time of their investiture with the holy order of priesthood : when they pledged themselves to God and man, that they would“ lay aside the study of the world, and of the flesh; and maintain and set forwards, as much as in them lieth, quietness, peace, and love, among all Christian people.
Our direct business is with the polity of an invisible and better country; even of a kingdom, which is not of this world. On one hand, we are to sound the trumpet, not of secular, but of spiritual, alarm; and, on the other, to proclaim unto them that mourn, and to them that believe, in Zion,
“ The joyful news of sin forgiv'n,
Hence, it is my stedfast opinion, that pulpits were built to answer far nobler and more important purposes, than those of political declamation : and that an occasion must be very singular indeed, to warrant the substitution of discussions, so exceedingly remote from the letter and spirit of our heavenly commission. To those, therefore, who, as ministers of Christ, entangle themselves with the affairs of this