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Q. What Writings did this Apostle leare behind him?
A. He left but one Epistle, inscribed at large to all Christians; but it is thought to have been chiefly intended for the converted Jews in their several Dispersions. He exhorts them to stand manfully upot
the Defence of the Faith once delivered to the Saints, and to oppose the false Teachers, the Nicolaitans, and the Gnostics, who laboured so much to corrupt it. But because true Christian Charity, though zealous, is without Bitterness and Hatred, he exhorts all Christians by gentle Means to save them, and to pull them out of the Fire into which their own Folly had cast them.
Q. What may we learn from the Observation of this Festival ?
A. To be content that our best Actions should be known to God only, since there remains so little Remembrance of many eminent Apostles. That our Labours in doing Good, should rather appear by the happy Effects of them, than by any Publication from ourselves or others. That to court the Applause of Men is Vanity; and that nothing is worth our Care more than to approve ourselves to that Almighty Being who cannot be imposed upon. That in all our Undertakings we ought to be diligent and faithful in the Discharge of our own Duty, and leave the Success quietly to the All-wise Disposer of all Things. That Men of great Piety and Virtue are chiefly prepared to receive particular Acts of God's Grace and Favour. That Zeal ought to be applied, in the first place, to the most solid and substantial Parts of Religion; but that upon all Occasions it ought to be governed by Christian Measures in the Manner of its acting.
Q. Wherein consists the Nature of Zeal?
Å. It is an earnest Concernment for or against something, and a violent Pursuit and Prosecution of it; and is in its own Nature indifferent, like the Rest of the Passions, but good or bad, according to the Object and Degree of it. And after this Man
Tit. ij. 14.
Gal. v. 12,
ner it is used in the holy Scriptures : In a good Sense, when applied to those Things wherein the Honour of God and the Salvation of Men's Souls are concerned; as when St. Paul tells the Corinthians 2 Cor. ix. that their Zeal had provoked very many; and that Christ gave himself for us, to purify to himself a peculiar 2 Cor. xii. People zealous of good Works; and that he was zealouse. of the Corinthians with a godly Zeal. But in a bad Sense, when applied to a furious Spirit of Persecution, and to such Contentions and Divisions as produce Wrath and ungovernable Passions. Thus it is said the Jews were filled with Envy (in the Original Zeal), Acts xii. and spoke against those things that were spoken by St. Paul, contradicting and blaspheming : And that the 5. Jews that believed, moved with Enoy (in the Original 360. Zeal), set all the City in an Uproar. The Works of Rom. x. 2. the Flesh are manifest, Hatred, Variance, Zeal, &c. a Zeal for God, but not according to Knowledge.
Q. What is necessary to qualify our Zeal, that it may become a Christian Virtue
1. That it be right in respect of its object; that what we contend for be certainly and considerably good, and that what we oppose be certainly and considerably evil. That the Measure and Degree of it, be proportioned to the Good or Evil of Things about which it is conversant. And that it be always pursued and prosecuted by lawful and warrantable Means; since no Zeal for God and his Glory, for his true Church and Religion, will justify the doing of that which is morally in itself evil.
Q. When does our Zeal become criminal ?
1. When we violently contend for any Doctrine that is erroneous, and are more earnestly concerned for the Externals of Religion, and the Instruments of Piety, than for solid and substantial Goodness which they are designed to work in us; when it betrays us to the Breach of any of God's Laws in order to promote his Glory, and creates Divisions and Schisms in the Church of Christ. And when we prosecute even Truth itself without that Meekness
and Charity which are essential to the Character of a true Christian ; and we have the more Reason to take Care how we govern our Zeal, because Moses
himself, eminent for his Meekness, when zealous Psal. cvi. for God, at the Waters of Meribah, was so provoked, Ex. xxxii. that he spake unadvisedly with his Lips ; so that if
our Zeal for God be not well tempered, we may with that great Prophet break the Tables of the Law, and throw them out of our Hands, with Zeal to have them preserved.
Q. What Considerations are proper to excite our Zeal in the Service of God?
A. The Excellency of the Divine Nature, and the infinite Bounty and Goodness of God towards
The wonderful Condescension of the Son of God; who stooped so low to redeem us, and suf
fered so much to purify to himself a peculiar PeoTit. ii. 14. ple zealous of good Works: The great Importance
of working out our Salvation, and the Necessity of striving, if we will enter in at the strait Gate. That it is true Wisdom to employ our chief Concern upon Things that are most valuable; and that such is the Weakness of our Nature, and the Strength of Temptations, that, without constant Application of Mind, we shall never be able to attain them. That if we be stedfast, unmoveable, and always abounding in the Work of the Lord, our Labour shall not be in vain in the Lord.
Q. How far does Zeal for God, extenuate and mitigate the Immorality of any Action?
Ă. Wicked Things done out of true Zeal for God, are damnable without Repentance, because the Nature of wicked Actions is not altered by our Persuasion concerning them; though it may be some Allay to the Fault of the Person, and may render him more capable of the Mercy of God by Repentance, than if he had done contrary to his Conscience, and the clear Convictions of his own Mind. For it is a much greater Fault to do that which we really believe contrary to our Duty, than
ignorantly to transgress when we are under the Power of an erroneous Conscience. The first
argues we have a Will to do Evil; the other shews our Practice to be agreeable to our Judgment; and though we break God's Law, yet it is with a sincere Intention to serve him.
Q. How ought we to express our Zeal towards Heretics and Schismatics?
A. By earnest Prayer to God for their Conversion, that he would bring into the Way of Truth all such as have erred and are deceived. By showing such Kindness to their Persons, as may dispose them to receive the Impression of those Arguments that we should offer with Meekness for their Recovery. By abstaining from all reproachful and bitter Reflections, which prejudice them against the Truth. By exercising all Acts of Charity towards them, which is the only Moderation due to those that dissent from us, without impairing our own Principles by a misunderstood Complaisance ; for though St. Ignatius advises us to be their Brethren in Kindness st. Ignat, and Gentleness, yet not to imitate their Ways, but Epist. ad to be Followers of the Lord, and to their Errors to 23. oppose Firmness in the Faith. But when they lie under the Censures of the Church, we should keep at a Distance from their Conversation, which is but reasonable, that when all Methods have been used for their Recovery, we may be careful to avoid any Infection ourselves. As for great Corporal Punishments, and Infliction of Death upon these Accounts, they appear to me contrary to the Genius of the Christian Religion, and inconsistent with many of the chief Principles of it. For the Gospel of our Saviour engages us to shew Meekness unto all Men, and universal Love and Good-will even to our Enemies; from whence it must follow, that no Difference of Religion, no Pretence of Zeal for God, can justify a fierce, vindictive, and exterminating Spirit.
For Unity. O ALMIGHTY God, who hast built thy Church
upon the Foundation of the Apostles and Prophets,
most serious Thoughts to work out my own Salvation with Fear and Trembling. Enlighten my Understanding, that I may see the wondrous Things of thy Law; rectify my Will, that I may follow the plain Rules of Good, and eschew the Ways of Evil; and in all my Actions, fix my Heart entirely upon thy Glory. Let my devout Prayers be offered in Retirements, where thine all-seeing Eye only enters. Let my Works of Mercy and Charity be often unknown to be mine even to those that receive the Benefit of them. Make me to consider that the Praise of Meu is but as Smoke which vanishest away, and that thy Favour only is better than Life, and endureth for ever. Teach me heartily to strive that I may enter in at the strait Gate, to fight the good Fight of Faith, and to destroy the whole Body of Sin, Grant that I may be always upon my Guard