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rupt or to withhold the Divine Word which is confided to us—that, called to be dispensers of the faith, we should have respect in our preaching to any other object than the triumph of Truth and Righteousness!

The various observations already suggested by the text, leave us no time to pursue further the important task which it appeared particularly to impose upon us—to defend the Gospel of Jesus Christ against THE

ERRORS

AND

EXCESSES OF A WILD AND MISJUDGING RE

LIGIOUS ZEAL: we shall therefore conclude this discourse by briefly pointing out to you the source of those errors and those excesses.

The unhallowed source of these evils is the maxim, openly professed by some and implicitly received by othersThat we are allowed to do evil, in order to promote the interests of Religionthat every thing is lawful for the Glory of God.

Open the annals of History, and the traces of this horrible maxim will be laid open to you, in every country, and under every form of religion, in the flames which it has kindled, the

blood which it has caused to flow, and the cries of the wretched victims it has immolated. You will behold it converting mere opinions into pretexts of prescription and death. This maxim it was, which, in less enlightened times, on the mere ground of some shades of difference in belief, deprived whole classes of citizens of their most sacred rights, and exposed them to slaughter and extermination; which peopled the dungeons, and applied the tortures, of the Inquisition-in the name of a God of justice and mercy; which, equally adopted by parties who were agreed on no other point, commanded the massacre of St. Bartholomew, and dragged the unhappy Servetus to the stake. Thank God! from such abominations the sentiments, habits, and manners of the period in which we live, äre entirely abhorrent; and that false zeal which respects nothing else, is at least forced to respect the spirit of the age. All, however, which the age permits, it does--and what evils is it not the occasion of, even now !

There are countries in which the mass of the people are still kept in ignorance and slavery; in which they are degraded, and interdicted from the means of improvement; in which every thing that might inform their minds and exalt their condition is forbidden--and all for the glory of God! Others there are, in which the Church is torn by divisions; in which congrega

. tions are stimulated to rebellion against pious and exemplary pastors, who are denounced to them, as devouring wolves; in which the seeds of mutual estrangement, 'uneasiness, and domestic discord, are unscrupulously sown in families; in which parents are condemned to see the child whom they have reared with the utmost tenderness--on whom all their comforts depended,—whom they had associated with every purpose and every scene of their existence in this world, and their every hope of happiness in another, -separate himself from them in the most affecting concerns of life;—to see him seek for his devotions another sanctuary, and, doubtless, another God than Him beneath whose guidance they have continued to lavish

upon him the most affectionate cares;—to see him destroy that community of hopes, through which their mutual relations are extended beyond the grave,--coldly calculate, according to rules emanating from a heart frozen by false zeal, the exact measure of his filial duties, satisfied, in the mean time, that he sufficiently discharges them if he offers his parents mere outward respect and worldly support, -and, with a superciliousness for which it is hard to find a name, beseech Heaven that that venerable father and pious mother, whose exertions were unremitted to ground his youthful mind in the principles and love of truth, may become Christians after his pattern. And this shameless insult to nature and religion is also sanctioned under pretence of promoting the glory of God!

From the consideration of this pernicious maxim, upon which all the extravagances of false . zeal are either openly or by implication founded, we may obtain a sure means of distinguishing the true.

If a doctrine tends to encourage pride--to weaken the ties of affection and charity—to disseminate strife and discontent

it is to no purpose, My Brethren, in forming a judgment upon it, to plunge into endless discussions about the meaning of particular passages : it is already irrevocably condemned by the common voice of reason and the Gospel ; and, however good may be the intentions, however pious may be the behaviour and the language of those who would propagate it, I am justified by all that I know of mankind, by the dictates of my conscience, and by numberless declarations of Scripture, in asserting that the zeal by which they are actuated is false and unsound,-a zeal opposed to every sentiment of truly enlightened piety,—the effect of which is to injure the faith it boasts to defend and to reform, and which takes advantage of a hollow semblance of Christianity to overthrow Christianity itself. What the fruits of TRUE ZEAL are, the Holy Spirit has told us. They are

peace, goodness, love, righteousness, truth :" that peace, which can never be maintained by those who make diversity of opinions a motive of separation, and a ground of discord; that goodness, which is prolific in charitable devices

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