Слике страница


endure to see victory obtained, even by his own side, except they fought according to what he thought the strict rules of discipline? It is certain this excuse would not satisfy a court-martial; and why the battles of the Lord should be fought with less unanimity among the ecclesiastical soldiers, than those of avarice and ambition amongst us, I cannot see.

I remember in our late wars in Flanders, if any of us happened to have a pique at his brother-soldier, an engagement never failed to reconcile us. Our private animosities were swallowed up in the general danger. The common cause and the national quarrel always superseded those little differences, which in time of peace might have been more lasting; and people that hated each other before, have not only returned good friends from a fight, embracing and wishing each other much joy of the victory, but have been known to assist and rescue each other in the fury of the battle, generously consulting the common cause, and not weakly yielding to the dictates of a private resentment.

A little before the famous battle of Ramillies, I had a quarrel with a brother-officer of the same regiment with myself. Our spleen on both sides ran high enough to bring us to extremities any where, but in a camp. However, we having occasion to fight the French soon after, our private grudge gave way to the common cause, and we engaged, though without a formal reconciliation, yet well enough disposed to friendship in our hearts. I am sure mine was utterly divested of its spleen, and that his was so too, his behaviour in the battle sufficiently shewed; for the generous man (the remembrance of it brings the tears from my eyes at this day) when I had closed with a captain of the opposite side, and was pulling him from his horse, seeing a French soldier making a full pass at my back, which lay fairly exposed to him, though he was very hotly pressed at that instant himself, gave the fellow such a gash on the shoulder, as made him drop his sword, and then threw himself between me and the enemy, fighting before me until I had finished my man. As soon as the battle was over, and I was fully informed of what he had done for me (for I could see but little of what passed) I flew to him in such a trans

port of love, and shame, and gratitude, as no other occurrence could possibly have excited. We were ever after but one man.

Thus, gentlemen, we of the army compose our resentments, and vent our particular spleen upon the general foe; we, whose very profession is wrath and death. How much more ought you to postpone private piques, whose business it is to recommend the gospel of peace, both by your examples, and in your preachings, who fight an infinitely more important battle than we, such a battle, and for such a stake, as should bind your hearts together in the firmest concord, and lift your spleen to a higher and juster object of resentment, than little personal affronts can suggest to it?

Had the duke of Marlborough, and prince Eugene obstinately pursued two different plans in their marches, sieges, and battles, and had each been industrious to acquaint the enemy with all the wrong steps the other made, and how he might be easiest surprised and defeated, our triumphs, notwithstanding the bravery of our soldiers, had been but few, and our trophies rare. As rarely shall we triumph over Deism and infidelity, if our leaders in knowledge, and the ablest champions of our faith, thwart each other, and mutually conspire their own ruin and confusion. I do not say this, because I think you manage the war of opinion with less address and conduct, than the generals above-mentioned did that against the French, or that you can find much in each other to fix the common enemy upon; but though your measures be discreet enough in themselves, yet mutual opposition will defeat both.

You can never, gentlemen, answer the end you propose by this controversy, whether it be the conviction of infidels, or the credit of writing well. You can never prove yourselves in the right, by proving one another in the wrong; nor hope that your characters will flourish among posterity, when you nip them thus in the bud, and apply such a canker-worm to their tender roots. It is the interest of you both to sound a speedy retreat, and, if that consideration cannot weigh with you, consider, that it is the interest of religion, that you contend no longer. If you be truly those disinterested defenders of the divine cause, which the more pacific part of your writings and your noble characters



speak you, you will instantly put an end to those fatal hostilities, that rend the bowels of religion, and bring the deepest groans from the spirit of faith and love. For shame, good gentlemen, throw down your arms; fight no more like foes, but embrace like Christians; rather conquer yourselves than one another. Such a victory will make you invincible to your adversaries of the minute tribe, and give your names a brighter lustre to all succeeding generations, than a thousand volumes, wrote with all the mastery of those you have already published. If you would rather choose to share in the conquest of the common foe, than a mutual defeat, join hand in hand, and bear upon the adversaries of truth and virtue, with united forces, and mutual resolution. The battle waxes hotter, and the enemy press on harder; in such an heat of action, there is no leisure for little private brigues.

This epistle may seem too prolix, but excuse it, since it is from an old man. The din of arms and battles, that make so much noise in it, may offend; but consider, that controversies in religion have been usually attended with such sounds. The strain of metaphor and allegory may disgust; but you will pardon that, I hope, when I assure you, that the reading of your books could scarce choose but have that effect upon one that admires them as much as I do. So much freedom in one of my character, with persons so highly and so deservedly distinguished in the church, might seem presumption to men of less understandings than yourselves, who do not weigh what you hear by. the figure and station of him that speaks, but the weight of what he says, who know that the first messengers of Christian peace were the simplest and meanest of the people. Reason and truth, come they from whom they will, always find a welcome with such spirits, and do not more convince, when they proceed from the mouth of the most eminent in learning, than when they are proposed by such a one as,



Your most humble servant and admirer,












Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?-JOB Xxxviii. 2. -Indignum! Scelerato profuit ara.-OVID METAM.

Quo teneam vultus mutantem protea nodo?-HOR.



&c. &c.

HAPPENING lately to make a visit to an acquaintance who is one of those few gentlemen that still retain some faint sense of religion, and would willingly be thought Christians; I found him perusing a book, the title of which is, A plain account of the Nature and End of the Lord's Supper. He seemed to be extremely pleased with the performance, and recommended it to me as the best treatise on that subject that he had ever seen. I took it home with me and read it over with attention; but perceived that it could no otherwise be called a plain account, than as the generality of Quakers may be called plain men. It is true there is a superficial simplicity, a plainness of dress and language; but in the matter and tendency of the book there is a world of cunning, ambiguity, and dissimulation. I likewise soon perceived my friend's reason for approving so highly of it. He is one of your easy men, who is satisfied to profess and practice just so much of religion as will not be troublesome to him, nor thwart either his interest or recreation. Now nothing could be more exactly adapted to his purpose than this plain account, as the author figuratively entitles it; because, according to the promise it makes its reader in the preface, it represents the duty of receiving this sacrament in such a manner, that there is nobody so indolent, so lukewarm, nor indeed so profligate in his life and conversation, but may safely communicate at any time. Nay, and for the greater ease and convenience of all persons indisposed to strictness of principle or practice, or weary of attending at church, or perhaps disgusted at the parson; the laity, for any thing I can see in this book to the contrary, may consecrate and receive this sacrament any where, any time, or in any manner they please.

I may safely say there never was a book more likely to please, nor less likely to reform, the present times. There were two ordinances that till thirty or forty years ago, did

« ПретходнаНастави »