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a most diligent and impartial enquiry, I still believe to be the truth "once delivered to the saints." I can say with the Apostle Paul, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth." With this conviction, I hold it to be a sacred duty to contend earnestly for the faith; I trust, however, that my zeal is according to knowledge, and that it has not betrayed me into any language, unbecoming a clergyman, or a Christian. I abhor persecution, as altogether inconsistent with the precepts, as well as the practice, of the Redeemer of the world. When certain Samaritans refused to receive Jesus, and his disciples, James and John, on this account, said to him, "Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them;" he turned and rebuked them, and said, "Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of;" and on another still more trying occasion, when the disciple Peter drew a sword to fight in his cause, and struck a servant of the high priest, and smote off his ear, the benevolent Jesus not only healed the wounded man, but said to Peter, "Put up
again thy sword, for all they that take the sword,
shall perish with the sword." learn, that nothing is more spirit of Christianity, than secution, and that reason and argument, are the proper weapons, wherewith we ought to combat the enemies of our religion. The proper armour of the Christian is not carnal, but spiritual, and taking "the shield of faith," and "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God," he need be "in nothing terrified by his adversaries," for the Gospel will stand the test of the most scrutinizing investigation. Every time it is submitted to the trial, it will come forth with increased lustre. The religion of the Christian being founded on the rock of truth, and having the God of truth for its author, "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." As to those who abandon the bright hopes, and glorious prospects of the Gospel, to wander in the steril paths of infidelity and darkness, who "forsaking the fountain of living waters, hew them out cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water," for them every reflecting Christian will feel the most sincere compassion; a compassion
Hence we may contrary to the
violence and per
which must still more be excited, when we see such characters endeavouring by impiety and ridicule to make proselytes to their own comfortless opinions. Charity should induce us to hope that, whether most deceiving or deceived, such persons are not aware, either of the extent of the mischief they commit, or of the guilt they incur, by opposing a religion, every way adapted to promote the present peace, and eternal happiness of mankind. Surely they are like one that scatters fire-brands, " and says, Am I not in sport?" Let Christians then pray for them in the language of the blessed Jesus: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do:" and more especially let those, who stand forward as the advocates of Christianity, remember the excellent advice, which the Apostle Paul gave to Timothy: "The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instruct
a The verb páxeo@a, in the original, signifies, 1. To fight, contend, in fighting, or battle. 2. To strive, contend in words. It is evident that an angry, hostile, manner of disputing, as opposed to gentleness, forbearance, meekness, is the only thing here forbidden to Christians." Parkhurst.
Hence too, Hesych. explains διακρινομένων. μαχομένων.
ing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth."