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was the glad Tidings he brought with him SEEM.
We know that our Saviour's Doctrine
requir'd them to do. And indeed if it does : not teach us this,' what does it teach us? Now, will it not be thought a surprizing Thing, after all this, to find, in the Words. immediately following the Text, that our
Saviour says, he came to set a Man agains - bis Father, and the Daughter against the
Mother. What? Did not People know how to fall out, and be at Variance with one another, without any Directions for lo doing? They knew this too well of them, felves certainly to need any Instructions de bout it :- And therefore, if this is the Doctrine which the Gospel teaches, it destroys
all Religion in the World, even the Rem - ligion of Nature itself.
SERM. But how shocking and inconsistent foever VI. these Words may appear at first Sight, yet
a little Consideration will give them another Countenance, and shew that they contain as great a Truth as any in the Scripture, which our perverse Passions will easily tell us how to explain.:;:;
For tho' without all Dispute our Saviour came to send Peace upon Earth, and good Will towards Men, yet, as the best Things are most liable to be abus'd, that peaceable and benevolent Spirit has, through the Wickednefs of Mankind, been abus'd into à turbulent evil Spirit of Hatred and Difcord. Not that this is, or can be, the Effed of a peaceable Spirit, but of such a Spirit abus'd, and misunderstood. So that, tho it be never so good of itself, it may by accident occasion a great deal of Evil. And as long as the Passions of Men are suffer'd to controul their Reason and Religion, fo long will there be too much Truth in our Sa. viour's Words, that he came not to fend Peace, but a Sword, i. e. Tho' the Intent and Design of our Saviour's Coming into the World was not to promote Discord, but Peace, yet, by means of the Perverseness of Mankind, it would be made an Occasion of Hatred and Discord, and so would be the same, in Effect, as if it had proceeded from SERM. a quite contrary Spirit, and as if he had come VI. . not to fend Peace wipon Earth, but a Szorda
From the Words of the Text I shall
I. Prove the Truth of our blessed Saviour's Prediction, and shew that Chriftianity, tho’ it be the most peaceable Religion in the World, has, by the Wickedness of Men, been made to propagate Hatred, Difçord, and all manner of Cruelty.
- II. I shall shew the dangerous Consequence of abusing Christianity to such wicked Purposes.
III. That we ought all of us, who have any Value or Esteem for the Christian Religion, to use our best Endeavours, in our several Stations, to restore it to its primitive Beauty and Comeliness, and make it appear to be, as it is in itself, a Religion of Peace and Love.
First, then, I am to prove the Truth of our blessed Saviour's Prediction, and shew that Christianity, tho’ it be the most peaceable Religion in the World, has, by the Wickedness of Men, been made to propa
Serm. gate Hatred, Discord, and all manner of W ie Cruelty.
Was there nothing meant here by the Sword, but only the Hatred and Persecution thạt Christians were to expect from their Enemies, the Prediction might stop here, and there would be no great Wonder in it ; for 'tis no more than what one might very well fuppofe would happen. But there is a further more astonishing Meaning in it than this, and that is, the Cruelty and Perfecution that Christians should exercise upon one another ; of which we have too great a Proof from the History of all Ages, ever since Christianity was advanced into an Eftablishment.
'Tis no Wonder that Unbelievers should be offended at the Christian Religion, and evil entreat the Profeffors of it, since it was not only contrary to their old Prejudices, but as it tended also to destroy and root out that Ill-nature they were willing to indulge, and to mortify and subdue those Vices they were loth to part with. But, could it ever be imagin’d that Christians themselves should be offended at it, who had profess'd to renounce all this? That they, whose Religion taught them nothing but Peace and Love, should turn it into Contention and
Hatred? Hatred ? Yet thus it was : For when Serm. Unbelievers had left off to persecute Chri- VI. ftians, and Christianity became the Religion of the Country, by an unaccountable fort of Madness, they fell to persecuting one another. Thus the Christian Religion, that was at first a happy Cement to join People together in Love and Friendship, soon became a Name to fall out by, and at length, by the Help of a great deal of Malice and Hatred, it became a Refuge for Spite and fil-nature ; and so the Gospel of Peace was turn'd into an open Proclamation of War.
Whoever looks into Ecclesiastical History, will find that the Heathens never persecuted the Christians with more Rage and Fury than they persecuted one another; so much Pains did they take to fulfil the Words of the Text in a literal Sense, and undo, for many Ages, all our Saviour had done be. fore.
'Tis surprizing that any Body of Men, who call themselves Christians, should be guilty of so much Barbarity : And yet I believe it is a Truth no one can deny, that the ten persecuting Emperors of Rome, tho" they were Heathens, never massacred so many Christians as the Church of Rome has done fince, thoʼ professing Christianity, and