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selves. This must render us less liable to be ensnared by passion, and better able to discern what use we are to make of any trials or provocations we may meet with from the world.
We have complained sometimes, and indeed with reason, of the general reflections thrown upon the Universities and Clergy: such treatment was as injurious as it was rude and uncivil. To throw scandal at large, and to condemn whole bodies for the faults of a few, is an uncharitable and unwarrantable procedure. And this might have been enough to exasperate some men. But such as consider that this was chiefly owing to the petulance of a few writers, and those the least considerable; and how unavoidable such things are, and how little they deserve the notice of understanding men, and how easily they are wiped off by a prudent and exemplary conduct: I say, such as consider thus, will think such censures proper only to provoke their pity, or to exercise their virtues, or to put them upon the practice of the Apostle's rule, “not “ rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing : but contrari“ wise blessing; knowing that they are thereunto called, “ that they should inherit a blessing y.”
2. A second useful caution is, to be upon our guard against any popular pretences or vulgar delusions. It should seem the privilege and happiness of such as are trained up to think justly, and to reflect coolly, to be above any thing of that kind; to be able to distinguish between persons and principles, between men and things. It is natural for many to run in implicitly with whatever happens to be espoused by any particular set of men, with whom they have been engaged in some common interests. The reputation of constancy, the fear of disobliging, and the shame of deserting, are very powerful prejudices and strong temptations. But the best philosophy, as well as religion, teaches us to arm against this delusion; acquainting us, that it is the part of a wise and good man to
y 1 Pet. iii. 9.
be constant to none, farther than they are constant to themselves, and to their duty; and that the truest constancy is, to sit loose to men, and to keep fixed to sound and good principles. Men are uncertain, fickle, various : principles are settled things, and change not. These are what will hold, and what we may safely trust to, while men's humours are afloat, and their passions toss them to and fro: and these are what, after they have been weary of a vain pursuit, they will at length return to, when they grow cool, and reflect.
When a nation is unhappily divided, and animosities run high, it is easy to imagine there may be danger of extremes either way. A good man has no security in such cases, nor any firm ground to rest bimself upon, but by examining carefully what is true, right, and just in itself, separate from common vogue or popular opinion. And this is so necessary a part of Christian conduct, that, amidst the variety of cases and incidents which may happen, there is no other way of preserving a good conscience, and keeping up to one certain rule and tenor of life and conversation. And he that wants either the courage or the will to do this, know's not yet what it is to be a good Christian, or a good man. But,
3dly and lastly, It should be our especial care not only to forbear any thing tending to promote divisions, but to use our best endeavours to heal and reconcile them.
As there are none more sensible of these things than ourselves, or more likely to suffer by them; so I beg leave to intimate, how becoming and proper a part of our profession and business it is, to do what in us lies to prevent the growth and increase of them. While animosities prevail, arts and sciences will gradually decay and lose ground; not only as wanting suitable encouragement, but also as being deprived of that freedom, quiet, and repose, which are necessary to raise and cherish them. As divisions increase, Christian charity will decline daily, till it becomes an empty name, or an idea only. Discipline will of course slacken and hang loose; and the conse
quence of that must be a general dissoluteness and corruption of manners. Nor will the enemy be wanting to sow tares to corrupt our faith, as well as practice; and to introduce a general latitude of opinions. Arianism, Deism, Atheism, will insensibly steal upon us, while our heads and hearts run after politics and parties.
It were a happy thing, if any remedy could be found out for these grievances ; if all odious names of distinction could be forgotten and laid aside, and moderate counsels might take place; if men would learn humility and contentedness, meekness and charity; and consider that the “ wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of “ God;" and that all envy and malice and party rage are directly opposite to the mild and gentle spirit of the Gospel
Permit me to observe, that the great warmth and eagerness, which is shown by many, is not about heaven and happiness, and the blessedness of the life to come. It is not so much as pretended that the glory of God, or the salvation of men, is what engages their thoughts and concern, or what they so eagerly contend for. - It is all for the fading and perishing things of this life; power, honour, and riches. These are the things which divide and distract
Were it possible to restore a true spirit of heavenly mindedness, those eager contests would soon fall of themselves, as having no longer any sufficient foundation.
We profess to believe a God, and a future judgment; a state of eternal happiness, and a state of eternal misery. We have been taught that we are as a strangers and pilgrims here on earth; that we are to seek for a better country, and are to look upon ourselves as citizens of heaven; of that blessed place, from whence all envy and ill-will, all wrath and bitterness, all rancour and malice, all fury and violence, must be for ever shut out; and nothing but love, peace, gentleness, harmony, and goodness, abound for evermore. These things, I presume, are not
Hebr. xi. 13. 1 Pet. ii. 11.
told us, in Scripture, as matters of theory and speculation only, or as subjects to talk on; but are designed to influence our practice, and to make us good men.
It is a moving and a solemn reflection, made by a a great Prelate of our Church on another occasion,
“ That a good man would be loath to be taken out of “ the world reeking hot from a sharp contention with a
perverse adversary, and not a little out of countenance to “ find himself in this temper translated into the calin and “ peaceful regions of the blessed, where nothing but per“ fect charity and good-will reign for ever.” This was meant of controversial disputes; but may be applied with equal or greater force to our party contests, which are neither so innocent nor so useful, nor carried on so coolly as the other.
But this I leave to your serious and pious meditation. And shall conclude with a word or two of advice to the youth of the University, whose want of years and sedateness may render them most liable to intemperate sallies.
As the privilege of their education raises them above the vulgar crowd, and is apt to inspire larger thoughts and views in them, as well as to create expectation in others; so it concerns them highly, to demean themselves suitably thereto, and to act up to their character.
To behave themselves soberly, peaceably, and discreetly; to let party disputes alone, which can hardly be managed with temper even by men of years and gravity.
Not to provoke or to exasperate one another by any opprobrious words or invidious names, invented only to sow discord and to propagate mischief in the world. In fine, to use no insulting, no rudeness, no misbecoming behaviour, on this day of thanksgiving, or on any day after: but to curb their passions, to observe rules and orders, to submit to their proper governors, and to pursue their respective studies; such as may hereafter render them the supports and ornaments of our most holy Church, and so many blessings and comforts of the age and place they shall live in.
* Tillotson, vol. i. p. 583.
In the mean while, to set a shining example of sobriety, modesty, regularity, and all other graces and virtues that may tend to promote the glory of Almighty God, the security and satisfaction of our most gracious, and, to us particularly, most indulgent Sovereign, and the peace of his kingdoms; together with the honour and prosperity of the University whereunto they belong; and their own comfort, welfare, and happiness, both now and for ever.