Page images

God, yet that was more than they understood: all that they intended was to satiate their own pride and ambition, their own cruelty and revenge. And, if such hath been the fatal end of the enemies and oppressors of the Jews, let it serve as a warning to all those, who at any time or upon any occasion are for raising a clamour and persecution against them. They are blameable no doubt for persisting in their infidelity after so many means of conviction; but that is no warrant or authority for us to proscribe, to abuse, injure, and oppress them, as Christians of more zeal than either knowledge or charity have in all ages been too apt to do. Charity is greater than faith: and it is worse in us to be cruel and uncharitable, than it is in them to be obstinate and unbelieving. Persecution is the spirit of Popery; and in the worst of popish countries the Jews are the most cruelly used and persecuted: the spirit of Protestantism is toleration and indulgence to weaker consciences. Compassion to this unhappy peo ple is not to defeat the prophecies: for only wicked nations were to harrass and oppress them, the good were to shew mercy to them; and we should choose rather to be the dispensers of God's mercies, than the executioners of his judgments. Read the 11th chapter of the Epistle to the Romans; and see what the great apostle of the Gentiles, who certainly understood the prophecies better than any of us can pretend to do, saith of the infidelity of the Jews. Some of the Gentiles of his time valued them

selves upon their superior advantages; and he reproves them for it, that they, who were cut out of the olive-tree which is wild by nature, and were graffed contrary to nature into a good olive-tree, should presume to boast against the natural branches: but what would he have said, how would he have flamed and lightened, if they had made religion an instrument of faction, and had been for stirring up a persecution against them? We should consider, that to them we owe the oracles of God, the scriptures of the New Testament as well as the Old; we should consider that the glorious company of the apostles and the goodly fellowship of the prophets were Jews; we should consider, that of them as concerning the flesh Christ came, the Saviour of the world: and surely something of kindness and

gratitude is due for such infinite obligations. Though they are now broken off, yet they are not utterly cast away. Because of unbelief, as St. Paul argues, they were broken off, and thou standest by faith; be not high-minded, but fear. There will be a time, when they will be graffed in again, and again become the people of God; for, as the apostle proceeds, I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery (lest ye should be wise in your own conceits) that blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in; and so all Israel shall be saved. And which (think ye) is the most likely method to contribute to their conversion, which are the most natural means of reconciling them to us and our religion, prayer, argument, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness; or noise and invective, injury and outrage, the malice of some, and the folly and madness of more? They cannot be worse than when they crucified the Son of God, and persecuted his apostles: but what saith our Saviour? Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do what saith his apostle St. Paul? Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. In conformity to these blessed examples our church hath also taught us to pray for them; and how can prayer and persecution consist and agree together? They are only pretended friends to the church, but real enemies to religion, who encourage persecution of any kind. All true sons of the church, all true protestants, all true Christians, will, as the apostle adviseth, put away all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil-speaking, with all malice; and will join heart and voice in that excellent collect-Have mercy upon all Jews, Turks, infidels, and heretics, and take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy word: and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to thy flock, that they may be saved among the remnant of the true Israelites, and be made one fold under one shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord *."

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]


« PreviousContinue »