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fijt not evil. Here the prohibition is general, and includes all evils, both great and small; nor will it admit of any limitation, because it was immediately, and directly, levelled against sucb retaliation of evils, as the law of Moles had appointed, which were great evils as well as small, such as the loss of life, of an eye, a hand, a foot, and the like. Besides, Christ was so far from admitting resistance and retaliation of any evil, how great foever, that on the contrary, he required his disciples to love and treat kindly the infli&tors of those evils, which is incompatible with resistance and retaliation of them.
And here it will be but just to acknowledge, that the people called Quakers have paid a strict regard to some of those
precepts peculiarly Christian, viz. in the cases of non-fwearing, and non-resistance of evil; at least, this was the case in former times, however of late their fidelity may have seemed to flagg ; but then, they seem to have been equally regardless of others of Christ's precepts, such as, restrain the desire and pursuit of earthly treasures, as they have appeared to be as great monopolizers of worldly goods, as any people in the world besides.
From whence, then, is this preposterousness of conduct ? Hath not he that said, swear not at all, refift not evil, said also, lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, take no (or little) thought for your life, what ye Shall eat, or what ye shall drink ; nor yet for the body what ye fall put on? Were not these precepts all given by one and the same master or lawgiver ? And do they not all equally oblige the subject ? And if so, then from whence is this great partiality of obedience ? For, fuppofing an horizontal hat and laceless apparel may be characteristicks of a Quaker ; yet nothing less than a uniform obedience to Christ's laws is the characteristick of a true disciple of Jesus Christ. John vii. 31. If ye continue in my word, then are je my disciples indeed.
The present Methodists, I apprehend, do also profess to pay a ftri&t regard, at least, to some of those precepts that are peculiarly christian ; and as far as this is really the case in fact, whilst those who oppose them do not, thus far, they have a much better pretence to discipleship to Christ, and to the name Christian, than those who preach and write against them.
The Methodists pretend to be under the guidance and direction of the
spirit of God, in the exercise of their miniftry, which our Clergy, do scarcely admit ; they, likewise, pretend to aim at a much higher degree of Christian perfection, than what at present passes for currant christianity; and this has drawn on them the imputation of Enthusiasts. Whether the Methodists pretensions are just, or whether this imputation be justly laid upon them, I do not pretend to say; but this I observe, that the former of these, viz. the guidance of God's spirit, is what our Church prays for; and the latter is what the writings of the new testament require and recommend ; and therefore, surely, the terms enthusiason and enthusiast should be cautiously applyed by Christians, left they should be found to terminate, not in methodism, but in Christianity; for, in this case, as is the stream, fo is the fountain it flows from. And, notwithstanding the loud out-cry that has been made against methodism, were it decently cooked up regular constitution, and were archbishopricks, bishopricks, deaneries, and other emoluments of grandeur, wealth and power, annexed to it; then, I dare say, it would be looked upon with a more favourable eye, and meet with much better acceptance, than
up into a
it now does ; and then, one might venture to foretell, without the gift of prophesy, that conversions, even of our Clergy, to methodism, would not be an unusual thing, nor a difficult task to effect, in such instances where the balance of trade lay pretty much on that side of the question. And were inethodism equally liberal to it’s Clergy with the Church of England, then, no doubt, it would be deemed equally excellent with her ; not but were a better penny to be gained in another
distinct from them both, it is great odds but it would gain the ascendant over them, by having the most votaries
; careful and industrious traders usually go to the best market. The forms of external religion are many and various ; and if more is to be gained under::one form than under another, the question is, why should not a Clergyman accept of a translation from one external form of religion to another, as well as from one parsonage, or one bishoprick, to another ? Why may not the shepherd change his pasturage as well as his flock, when his interest will as effectually be promoted by the former as the latter ? seeing interest is the ground of all these changes. For tho' one form of external religion may be more
gross and carnal, and more bürdensome to the people, than another ; yet, as each individual can neither introduce nor link forms of external religion at pleasure, so the question is, whether a man is not to make the best, and most, of that form he happens to be placed under, or may have the opportunity of being translated to ? As to truth and true religion, they are after-considerations, that may be thought to be pretty much out of the question ; as every man may inwardly enjoy these, and make them a principle of action to himself; and consequently, he may
as good in himself, and do as much good to others, whatever external form of religion he outwardly conforms to ; and as a sense of God and religion may be, and is kept up in the world, in and by all those external forms. And tho' truth and true religion are what they are, independent of all external forms; yet, perhaps, they may, in part, be mixed and blended with them. Thus, the unity and the fingle supremacy of the one God and father of all is maintained by the mahometan form; whereas, under some of the external forms of religion, called Chriftian, the case is otherwise ; but then, perhaps, in other instances, truth and true reli