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be in every instance: in what thou couldest profit thy brother and didst not, thou art accountable; and then tell over the times, in which thou hast prayed for the conversion of thy sinning brother; and compare the times together, and observe, whether thou hast not tempted him or betrayed him to sin, or encouraged him in it; or didst not hinder him, when thou mightest, more frequently than thou hast, humbly, and passionately, and charitably, and zealously, bowed thy head, and thy heart, and knees, to God to redeem that poor soul from hell, whither thou seest him descending with as much indifferency as a stone into the bottom of the well. In this thing xaddy Snowotas, “it is a good thing to be zealous,” and put forth all your strength, for you can never go too far. But then be careful, that this zeal of thy neighbour's amendment be only expressed in ways of charity, not of cruelty, or importune justice. “He that strikes the prince for justice," as Solomon's expression is, “is a companion of murderers;" and he that out of zeal of religion, shall go to convert nations to his opinion by destroying Christians, whose faith is entire and summed up by the apostles; this man breaks the ground with a sword, and sows tares, and waters the ground with blood, and ministers to envy and cruelty, to errors and mistake, and there comes up nothing but poppies to please the eye and fancy, disputes and hypocrisy, new summaries of religion estimated by measures of anger, and accursed principles; and so much of the religion as is necessary to salvation, is laid aside, and that brought forth that serves an interest, not holiness; that fills the schools of a proud man, but not that which will fill heaven. Any zeal is proper for religion, but the zeal of the sword and the zeal of anger; this is sizgia ).ou, “the bitterness of zeal;"* and it is a certain temptation to every man against his duty: for if the sword turns preacher, and dictates propositions by empire instead of arguments, and engraves them in men's hearts with a poniard, that it shall be death to believe what I innocently and ignorantly am persuaded of, it must needs be unsafe to “try the spirits, to try all things," to make inquiry ; and yet without this liberty, no man can justify himself before God and man, nor confidently say that his religion is best; since he cannot without a final danger,
* James iii. 14.
make himself able to give a right sentence, and to follow that which he finds to be the best; this may ruin souls by making hypocrites, or careless and compliant 'against conscience or without it; but it does not save souls, though peradventure it should force them to a good opinion: this is inordination of zeal; for Christ-by reproving St. Peter, drawing his sword, even in the cause of Christ, for his sacred, and yet injured person, διδάσκει μη χρήσθαι μαχαίρα, καν τον Ordu dozei sus éxdixeĩ (saith Theophylact),—“ teaches us not to use the sword though in the cause of God, or for God himself;" because he will secure his own interest, only let him be served as himself is pleased to command; and it is like Moses's passion, it throws the tables of the law out of our hands, and breaks them in pieces out of indignation to see them broken. This is zeal, that is now in fashion, and hath almost spoiled religion; men, like the zealots of the Jews, cry up their sect, and in it their interest ; Snacãos uc 9ητας, και μαχαίρας ανασύρονται ; « they affect disciples and fight against the opponents;” and we shall find in Scripture, that when the apostles began to preach the meekness of the Christian institution, salvations and promises, charity and humility, there was a zeal set up against them ; the apostles were zealous for the Gospel, the Jews were zealous for the law: 'and see what different effects those two zeals did produce; the zeal of the law came to this, Jogúßou ogies Fódov, and εδίωξαν μέχρι θανάτου, and ανασύρονται, and όχλοποιήSartis, “they stirred up the city, they made tumults, they persecuted this way unto the death, they got letters from the high-priest, they kept Damascus with a garrison,” they sent parties of soldiers to silence and to imprison the preachers, and thought they did God service, when they put the apostles to death, and they swore “neither to eat nor to drink, till they had killed Paul.” It was an old trick of the Jewish zeal.
Non monstrare vias, eadem nisi sacra colenti :
Juv. 14. 104.
They would not show the way to a Samaritan, nor give a cup of cold water but to a circumcised brother; that their zeal. But the zeal of the apostles was this, they preached publicly and privately, they prayed for all men, they wept to
God for the hardness of men's hearts, they “ became all things to all men, that they inight gain some,” they travelled through deeps and deserts, they endured the heat of the Sirian star, and the violence of Euroclydon, winds and tempests, seas and prisons, mockings and scourgings, fastings and poverty, labour and watching, they endured every man and wronged no man, they would do any good thing and suffer any evil, if they had but hopes to prevail upon a soul ; they persuaded men meekly, they entreated them humbly, they convinced them powerfully, they watched for their good, but meddled not with their interest; and this is the Christian zeal, the zeal of meekness, the zeal of charity, the zeal of patience, èv soúrois xudos Snoodan, " In these it is good to be zealous," for you can never go far enough.
2. The next measure of zeal is prudence. For, as charity is the matter of zeal ; so is discretion the manner. It must always be for good to our neighbour, and there need no rules for the conducting of that, provided the end be consonant to the design, that is, that charity be intended, and charity be done.
But there is a zeal also of religion or worshipping, and this hath more need of measures and proper cautions. For religion can turn into a snare ; it may be abused into superstition, it may become weariness in the spirit, and tempt to tediousness, to hatred, and despair : and many persons, through their indiscreet conduct, and furious marches, and great loads taken upon tender shoulders and inexperienced, have come to be perfect haters of their joy, and despisers of all their hopes ; being like dark lanterns, in which a candle burns bright, but the body is encompassed with a crust and a dark cloud of iron ; and these men keep the fires and light of holy propositions within them, but the darkness of hell, the hardness of a vexed heart, hath shaded all the light, and makes it neither apt to warm nor to enlighten others, but it turns to fire within, a fever and a distemper dwell there, and religion is become their torment.
1. Therefore our zeal must never carry us beyond that which is profitable. There are many institutions, customs, and usages, introduced into religion upon very fair motives, and apted to great necessities ; but to imitate those things, when they are disrobed of their proper ends is an importune zeal, and signifies nothing but a forward mind, and an easy
heart, and an imprudent head; unless these actions can be invested with other ends and useful purposes. The primitive church were strangely inspired with a zeal of virginity, in order to the necessities of preaching and travelling, and easing the troubles and temptations of persecution; but when the necessity went on, and drove the holy men into deserts, that made college of religious, and their manner of life was such, so united, so poor, so dressed, that they must love more non seculari,' • after the manner of men divorced from the usual intercourses of the world : still their desire of single life increased, because the old necessity lasted, and a new one did supervene. Afterward, the case was altered, and then the single life was not to be chosen for itself, nor yet imitation of the first precedents; for it could not be taken out from their circumstances and be used alone. He therefore that thinks he is a more holy person for being a virgin or a widower, or that is bound to be so, because they were so; or that he cannot be a religious person, because he is not so ;-hath zeal indeed, but not according to knowledge. But now if the single state can be taken out and put to new appendages, and fitted to the end of another grace or essential duty of religion, it will well become a Christian zeal to choose it so long, as it can serve the end with advantage and security. Thus also a zealous person is to choose his fastings; while they are necessary to him, and are acts of proper mortification, while he is tempted, or while he is under discipline, while he repents, or while he obeys; but some persons fast in zeal, but for nothing else; fast when they have no need, when there is need they should not ; but call it religion to be miserable or sick; here their zeal is folly, for it is neither an act of religion nor of prudence, to fast when fasting probably serves no end of the spirit; and therefore in the fasting-days of the church, although it is warrant enough to us to fast, if we had no end to serve in it but the mere obe.. dience, yet it is necessary that the superiors should not think the law obeyed, unless the end of the first institution be observed: a fasting-day is a day of humiliation and prayer ; and fasting being nothing itself, but wholly the handmaid of a farther grace, ought not to be divested of its holiness and sanctification, and left like the walls of a ruinous church where there is no duty performed to God, but there remains
something of that, which used to minister to religion. The want of this consideration hath caused so much scandal and dispute, so many snares and schisms, concerning ecclesiastical fasts. For when it was undressed and stripped of all the ornaments and useful appendages, when from a solemn day it grew to be common; from thence to be less devout by being less seldom and less useful; and then it passed from a day of religion to be a day of order, and from fasting till night, to fasting till evening-song, and evening-song to be sung about twelve o'clock ; and from fasting it was changed to a choice of food, from eating nothing to eating fish, and that the letter began to be stood upon, and no usefulness remained but what every one of his own piety should put into it, but nothing was enjoined by the law, nothing of that exacted by the superiors, then the law fell into disgrace, and the design became suspected, and men were first ensnared and then scandalized, and then began to complain without remedy, and at last took remedy themselves without authority; the whole affair fell into a disorder and mischief; and zeal was busy on both sides, and on both sides was mistaken, because they fell not upon the proper remedy, which was to reduce the law to the usefulness and advantages of its first intention. But this I intended not to have spoken.
2. Our zeal must never carry us beyond that which is safe. Some there are, who in their first attempts and entries upon religion, while the passion that brought them in, remains, undertake things as great as their highest thoughts; no repentance is sharp enough, no charities expensive enough, no fastings afflictive enough, then 'totis quinquatribus orant;' and finding some deliciousness at the first contest, and in that activity of their passion, they make vows to bind themselves for ever to this state of delicacies. The onset is fair : but the event is this. The age of a passion is not long, and the flatulent spirit being breathed out, the man begins to abate of his first heats, and is ashamed: but then he considers that all was not necessary, and therefore he will abate something more ; and from something to something, , at last it will come to just nothing, and the proper effect of this is, indignation, and hatred of holy things, an impudent spirit, carelessness or despair. Zeal sometimes carries a man into temptation : and he that never thinks he loves