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through which the pride, or lust, or avarice, or ambition of mankind, will not certainly break one time or other.
Consider what has been said, &c.
In the early times of the gospel, the Christians were very much distinguished from all other bodies of men, by the great and constant love they bore to each other; which, although it was done in obedience to the frequent injunctions of our Saviour and his apostles, yet, I confess, there seemeth to have been likewise a natural reason, that very much promoted it. For the Christians then were few and scattered, living under persecution by the heathens round about them, in whose hands was all the civil and military power;
• Notwithstanding the text and title of this sermon, and the many excellent observations which it contains in illustration of both, there are several passages in it which the dissenters of the time would hardly consider as propitiatory towards the continuance of brotherly love. There are also various allusions to the parties which raged at the time, and some which appear to have been written in defence of the preacher's character, then severely arraigned by the Irish Whigs, and held in abhorrence by the people of Dublin, by whom he was afterwards idolized.
and there is nothing so apt to unite the minds and hearts of men, or to beget love and tenderness, as a general distress. The first dissentions between Christians took their beginning from the errors and heresies that arose among them; many of those heresies, sometimes extinguished, and sometimes reviving, or succeeded by others, remain to this day; and having been made many instruments to the pride, avarice, or ambition of ill-designing men, by extinguishing brotherly love, have been the cause of infinite calamities, as well as corruptions of faith and manners, in the Christian world.
The last legacy of Christ was peace and mutual love; but then he foretold, that he came to send a sword upon the earth : the primitive Christians accepted the legacy, and their successors down to the present age have been largely fulfilling his prophecy. But whatever the practice of inankind hath been, or still continues, there is no duty more incumbent upon those who profess the gospel, than that of brotherly love ; which, whoever could restore in any degree among men, would be an instrument of more good to human society, than ever was or will be done by all the statesmen and politicians in the world.
It is upon this subject of brotherly love, that I intend to discourse at present; and the method I observe shall be as follows:
I. First, I will inquire into the causes of this
great want of brotherly love among us. II. Secondly, I will lay open the sad effects and
consequences, which our animosities and 'mu
tual hatred have produced. III. Lastly, I will use some motives and exhorta
tions, that may persuade you to embrace brotherly love, and continue in it.
I. First, I shall inquire into the causes of this great want of brotherly love among us.
This nation of ours hath, for a hundred years past, been infested by two enemies, the papists and fanatics; who, each in their turns, filled it with blood and slaughter, and, for a time, destroyed both the church and government. The memory of these events hath put all true protestants equally upon their guard against both these adversaries, who, by consequence, do equally hąte
The fanatics revile us, as too nearly approaching to popery; and the papists condemn us, as bordering too much on fanaticism, The papists, God be praised, are, by the wisdom of our laws, put out of all visible possibility of hurting us; besides their religion is so generally abhorred, that they have no advocates or abettors among protestants to assist them. But the fanatics are to be considered in another light; they have had of late years the power, the luck, or the cunning, to divide us among ourselves; they have endeavoured to represent all those who have been so bold as to oppose their errors and designs, under the character of persons disaffected to the government; and they have so far succeeded, that now-a-days, if a clergyman happens to preach with any zeal and vehemence against the sin and danger
of schism, there will not want too many, in his congregation, ready enough to censure him as hot and high-flying, an inflamer of men's minds, an enemy to moderation, and disloyal to his prince. This hath produced a formed and settled division between those who profess the same doctrine and discipline; while they who call themselves moderate, are forced to widen their bottom, by sacrificing their principles and their brethren to the encroachments and insolence of dissenters;
who are therefore answerable, as a principal cause of all that hatred and animosity now reigning among us.
Another cause of the great want of brotherly love is, the weakness and folly of too many among you of the lower sort, who are made the tools and instruments of your betters to work their designs, wherein you have no concern.
Your numbers make you of use, and cunning men take the advantage, by putting words into your mouths which you do not understand; then they fix good or ill characters to those words, as it best serves their purposes : and thus you are taught to love or hate, you know not what or why; you often suspect your best friends, and nearest neighbours, even your teacher himself, without any reason, if your leaders once taught you to call him by a name which they tell you signifieth some very bad thing.
A third cause of our great want of brotherly love seemeth to be, that this duty is not so often insisted on from the pulpit, as it ought to be in such times as these; on the contrary, it is to be doubted, whether doctrines are not sometimes delivered by an ungoverned zeal, a desire to be distinguished, or a view of interest, which produce quite different effects; when upon occasions set apart to return thanks to God for some public blessing, the time is employed in stirring up one part of the congregation against the other, by representations of things and persons, which God, in his mercy, forgive those who are guil
The last cause I shall mention of the want of brotherly love is, that unhappy disposition towards politics among the trading people, which hath been industriously instilled into them. In