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ZEALOTS

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BALOTS

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I shall conclude this paper with an adventure which I was myself an eye-witness of very lately.

I happened the other day to call in at a celebrated coffee-house near the Temple. I had not been there long when there came in an elderly man very meanly dressed, and sat down by me; he had a threachbare loose coat on, which it was plain he wore to keep himself warm, and not to favour bis ander-suit; which seemed to have been at least its contemporary: his short wig and hat were both answerable to the rest of bis apparel. Ile was no sooper seated than be called for a dish of tea; but as several gentlemen in the room wanted other tbings, the boys of the house did not think themselves at leisure to mind him. I could observe the old fellow was very uneasy at the affront, and at his being obliged to repeat his commands seve ral times to no purpose ; until at last one of the lads presented him with some stale tea in a broken dish, accompanied with a plate of brown sugar ;

which so raised his indignation, that after several obliging ap. pellations of dog and rascal, he asked bim alood before the whole company, “ Why be must be used with less respect than that fop there?" pointing to a well-dressed young gentleman who was drinking tea at the opposite table. The boy of the house replied with a great

deal of pertness, that his master had two sorts of customers, and that the gentleman at the other table bad giver him many a sixpence for wiping his shoes. By this tinie the young Templar, who found his honour coho cerned in the dispute, and that the eyes of the wbole coffee-house were upon him, had throwy aside a paper wild bhe had in his hand, and was coming towards tis, while we at the table malle what baste we could to get away from the impending quarrel, but were all of us surprised to see him as be approached nearer put on an air of deference and respect. To whom the old man said, “ Hark you, sirrah, I will pay

off gant bills once more; but will take effectual care for

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the future, that your prodigality shall not spirit up a parcel of rascals to insult your father.”

Though I by no means approve either the impudence of the servants or the extravagance of the son, I cannot but think the old gentleman was in some measore justly served for walking in masquerade, I mean appearing in a dress so much beneath his quality and estate.

X.

ZEALOTS IN RELIGION AND

ATHEISM.

-Tantæne animis cælestibus ira?

VIRG. And dwells such fury in celestial breasts? THERE is notbing in which men more deceive

themselves than in what the world calls zeal. There are so many passions which hide theinselves under it, and so many mischiefs arising from it, ibat some have gone so far as to say it would have been for the benefit of mankind if it had never been reckoned in the cata. logue of virtues. It is certain, wbere it is once laudable and prudential, it is an bundred times criminal and er. rodeons; nor can it be otherwise, if we consider that it operates with equal violence in all religions, however opposite they may be to one another, and in all the sub-divisions of each religion in particular.

We are told by some of the Jewish Rabbins, that the first murder was occasioned by a religions controversy; and if we had the whole history of zeal from the days of Cain to our own times, we should see it filled with so many scenes of slanghter and bloodshed, as would make a wise man very careful how he suffers himself to be actnated by such a priuciple, when it only regards inatters of opinion and speculation.

I would have every zealous man esamine bis heart

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thoroughly, and, I believe, he will often find, that atent les what he calls a zeal for his religiou is either pride, inst, terest, or ill-nature. A man, who differs from another Fex ment, and in several particulars pretends to be the father is pr in opinion, sets himself above him in his own jude: A wiser person. This is a great provocation to the proud TOTE man, and gives a very keen edge to what he calls bis zeal. And that this is the case very often, we may observe from the behaviour of some of the most zealous for orthodoxy, who have often great friendships and intimacies with vicious immoral men, provided they do but agree with them in the same scheme of belief. The reason is, because the vicious believer gives the precedency to the virtuous man, and allows the good kesti: an Christian to be the worthier person, at the same time man way

we that he cannot come up to his perfections. This find exemplified in that trite passage which we see quoted in almost every system of ethics, though apo out, w another occasion :

Video meliora proboque, Deteriora sequor

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I see the right, and I approve it too;
Condemn the wrong, and yet the wrong pursne.

TATE. On the contrary, it is certain, if our zeal were true and as w gennine, we should be much more angry with a singer than a heretic; since there are several cases which may excuse the latter before his great Judge, but none which can excuse the former.

Interest is likewise a great inflamer, and sets a wan on persecution under the colour of zeal. For this res son we find none are so forward to promote the true worship by fire and sword, as those who find their pre sent account in it. But I shall extend the word Interest to a larger meaning than what is generally gives me, I can it, as it relates to our spiritual safety and welfare, as

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well as to our temporal. A man is glad to gain numbers on his side, as they serve to strengthen him in his private opinions. Every proselyte is like a new argument for the establishment of his faith. It makes him believe that his principles carry convictiou with them, and are the more likely to be true, when he finds they are conformable to the reason of others, as well as to his own. And that this temper of mind deludes a man very often into an opinion of his zeal, may appear from the common behaviour of the atheist, who maintains and spreads his opinions with as much heat as those who believe they do it only out of a passion for

God's glory.

Ill nature is another dreadful imitator of zeal. Many a good man may have a natural rancour and malice in

his heart, which has been in some measure quelled and - subdued by religion; but if it finds any pretence of

breaking out, which does not seem to him inconsistent with the duties of a Christian, it throws off all restraint, and rages in its full fury. Zeal is therefore a great ease to a malicious man, by making bim believe he does God service, wbilst he is gratifying the bent of a perverse revengeful temper. For this reason we find, that most of the massacres and devastations, which have been in the world, have taken their rise from a furious pretended zeal.

I love to see a man zealous in a good matter, and especially when his zeal shows itself for advanciog morality, and promoting the happiness of mankind: but when I find the instruments he works with are racks and gibbets, gallies and dungeons; when he im. prisons men's persons, confiscates their estates, ruins their families, and burns the body to save the soul, I cannot stick to pronounce of such a one that (whatever he may think of his faith and religion) his faith is vain, and his religion unprofitable.

After having treated of these false zealots in reli: gion, I cannot forbear mentioning a monstrous species

of wien, who one would not think had any existence in

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nature, were they not to be met with in ordinary cos. versation. I mean the zealots in Atheism. One would fancy that these men, though they fall short, in every other respect, of those who make a profession of religiou, would at least outshine them in this particular, and be exempt from that single fault which seenis to grow out of the imprudent fervoars of religion: but so it is, that infidelity is propagated with as much fierceness and contention, wrath and indignation, as if the safety of mankivd depended upon it. There is something so ridiculous and perverse in this kind of zealots, that one does not know how to set them ont in their proper colours. They are a sort of gamesters, who are eternally upon the fret, though they play for nothing. They are perpetually teasing their friends to come over to them, though at the same time they allow that neither of them shall get any thing by the bargain

. In short, the zeal of spreading atheisin is, if possible, more absurd than atheism itself.

Since I have mentioned this unaccountable zeal which appears in atheists and infidels, I must further observe that they are likewise in a most particular manner possessed with the spirit of bigotry. They are wedded to opinions full of contradiction and impossibility, and at the same time look upon the smallest difficulty in an article of faith as a sufficient reason for rejecting it. Notions that fall in with the common reason of mankind, that are conformable to the sense of all ages and all nations, not to mention their tendency for promoting the happiness of societies, of particular persons, are exploded as errors and prejudices; and schemes erected in their stead that are altogether monstrous and irrational, and require the most extravagant credulity to embrace them. I would fain ask one of these bigotted infidels, supposing all the great points of atheism, as the casual or eternal formation of the world, the materiality of a thinking substance, the mortality of the soul, the fortuitous organization of the body, the motions and gravitation of matter, with the

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