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assail the fabric of wickedness, its defenders will leave them unmolested.
The early patriarchs and saints, and, in later times, the Jewish people, endured the sufferings of persecution from the rage of the wicked, who disowned the true God. At the rise of Christianity, the Roman Empire, which honored the divinities who were vanity and a lie, raised its persecuting arm against the cause of truth, and used every effort to effeet its destruction. For several ages the blood of the martyrs flowed in streams and torrents.
Superstition and hypocrisy, when grafted upon true reli gion, when nothing of the truth remains but the name, are well prepared for the graceless work of persecution. By carrying on its front the name of the true God, conscience is quieted, while the heart is left free to exercise all its rage against his holiness and truth. Yea, the glare of names and profession, often dazzles the minds of men to such a degree, that they perceive not the motive by which they are actuated, and instead of the gratification of malice, they suppose it to be a zeal for God. Under the covert of such a delusion, the deepest atheistical rage takes a secure retreat, and is prepared for the execution of every wickedness. To such, the appeals of truth are ineffectual; satisfied with the name without the realily, they are deaf to its most solemn remonstrances. The Jews were once the people of God's gracious covenant. Abraham was their father, Moses was their lawgiver, Samuel and the prophets were their ancestors. But previous to the advent of the Messiah, they had become deeply sunk in corruption and viee. The forms of their religion they retained, the names of their sacred things were often in their mouths, but the pure precepts and the practical truths of the divine commandment, they had corrupted, discarded and destroyed. By their traditions, they had made the commandment of God of none effect. They had assumed the prerogative of Heaven and, by their own prescriptions, presumed to direct, vary or annul, the precepts of God. Instead of submitting to the plain precepts of the God of Israel, they would subject his holy truth and his divine institutions to a conformity to their fancies, and to countenance the indulgence of all their corruptions. Thus, by discarding the high authority of Jehovah, they disowned the true God. They would acknowledge no God but such an one as is not the God of Heaven, and thus, in reality, they acknowledged none. When therefore the true God sent to them his only begotten Son, bringing with him all the credentials of Heaven, perfectly sustaining the divine character
of his Father, teaching the doctrines of holiness, self-denial, and salvation by grace, they say at once, Away with him. They put him to death; and their rage against his followers has continued from that day to this.
The papal power was nominally christian, but it became at length, a great Apostate, the enemy of God, the enemy of righteousness. This apostate church is accurately described by the apostle to the Thessalonians, as one Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped: so that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. In this character, the catholic power became truly atheistical. The catholic church assumed a prerogative, equal, perhaps superior to that of the Jews in their most corrupt state, of modifying, mutilating. and adding to the word of God. The prerogatives ascribed to their chief, some of them at least, were such as belong only to God. The doctrine of transubstantiation, which maintained that the elements of the eucharist, by the ineantation of the administrator, were transformed into the body and blood of Christ, and that the bread should then be presented as a proper object of adoration, was a most palpable denial of God. A late eloquent writer observes," Popery naturally and necessarily conducts a nation into practical and speculative atheism." His judicious reasoning upon this position, Ionfit-A careful consideration of the history of those 'times will convince any one, that previous to the reformation, real atheism had overspread the most of the countries which were subject to the Romish See. We notice one fact, which has been well pronounced by competent judges," an incontrovertible proof of the practical atheism of the times in which it took place." In the year 1477, an attempt was made, from motives of mere wickedness, to assassinate Lorenzo de Medici the head of the republic of Florence, the most polished state of Italy, which was, at that time, the most refined country in Europe. In this transaction, were associated the pope, a cardinal, an archbishop, and several other distinguished ecclesiastics. The assassination was performed in a church, at the time of the administration of the holy eucharist, at the very period of the elevation of the host, when the people bowed in adoration. Lorenzo escaped, but his brother Giuliano, whose death had also been determined by the assassins, fell by their ruffian hands. Lorenzo was at that time the most illustrious and the most useful character in Italy.*
The Romish church having assumed such a character, it naturally became a violent persecutor of the religion of *See Roscoe's Life of Lorenzo de Medici and Universal History, Vol. 3.
Christ. From about the eleventh century to the time of the reformation, the persecutions of this Anti-christian power were numerous and cruel. The people of God had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover, of bonds and imprisonment, and death.
The period of the reformation, one of the most interesting epochs in the history of the church, was undoubtedly distinguished with the special effusions of the Spirit of God, as has been observed by President Edwards in his History of Redemption, and with a very great increase of true religion in the visible church of Christ. This observation, however, applies more particularly to Germany and the countries on the continent whieh adopted the reformation, where it was effected, principally, by the undaunted efforts of the zealous friends of truth. In England, the cause of the reformation was first espoused by the government, and, primarily, from political views. Though there was, undoubtedly, a progressive and great increase of vital religion, in the nation, from this time this increase was slow and gradual. It was therefore a long period, before there was any great change in public sentiment upon the subject of religion. That change of public sentiment, which was affected in many of the continental states, by the concussions of the reformation, in a short pcriod, in England, was left to the ordinary course of events, and was not effected in less than a century. Thus, although the principles of the reformation were adopted by the state, vital religion continued subject to publie obloquy; and the propriety of punishing Non-Conformity could not be eradicated from the public mind. From these causes, proceeded the severe persecutions to which the Puritans were continually subjected, from the time of their first rise, soon after the reformation, till after the period in which some of them emigrated to America, and laid the foundation of the states and churches of New-England.
As persecution has ever been the great means in the hand of the Most High of separating the gold of his church from the dross; so the sufferings of our fathers produced in them an example of humility, of fidelity to the truth, of unconquerable zeal for God, of unchanging attachment to the interests of Zion, of labor and suffering for the advancement of these interests; which is a legacy, bequeathed to their posterity, of inestimable value, which will be celebrated to the remotest periods of the church, and which will finally raise these sons of renown to elevated seats in endless glory. 0.
ON THE FOREKNOWLEDGE OF GOD.
THE foreknowledge of God is so generally believed and acknowledged, that there is no occasion of saying much to prove that God did foreknow all things from eternity. It may suffice to adduce one argument in support of it, which may be drawn from the divine predictions. The apostle James infers from God's foretelling things, that he must have foreknown what he had foretold. And it must be universally granted, that if God can foretel future events, he must certainly know the future events, which he foretels with certainty. It is impossible to conceive that any being should infallibly foretel what he does not infallibly know.God foretold the coming of Christ, four thousand years before he appeared in the flesh. He foretold to Adam, immediately after he had involved himself and his posterity in sin and ruin, that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head." He foretold to Abraham, that "in his seed all the families of the earth should be blessed." Peter on the day of Penticost told the Jews, that God had sworn with an oath to David, that of the fruit of his loins according to the flesh he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne." Afterwards he said to those who had killed the prince of life, "Now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers; but these things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all the prophets that Christ should suffer, he hath fulfilled. Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel, and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days." God foretold the time when, the place where, and the men by whom Christ should be crucified, together with some of the most extraordinary circumstances of his death. Now, God could not have infallibly foretold the great event of Christ's death, with all its circumstances, unless he had infallibly foreknown it; and he could not have infallibly foreknown it, unless he had infallibly foreknown all events from Adam to Christ.For if there had been among the many millions of intervening events, any which he did not foreknow, they might have prevented the death of Christ, and rendered his predictions false. God must have foreknown all the men from Adam to Christ, and all their volitions, and free, voluntary actions, in order to foreknow and foretel the coming, sufferings, and death of the Son of his love. And if he knew from eternity all things from Adam to Christ, there can be no question, whether he knew all things from Christ to this day; from this day to the end of time; and from the end of time to the
boundless ages of eternity. Indeed, if God foreknow any thing from eternity, he must have foreknown all things from eternity. For, foreknowledge, in every degree of it, is an infallible evidence of divinity. Hence God proclaims himself to be divine, and superior to all other beings in the universe, because he foreknows all things. "I am God, and there is none else: I am God and there is none like me: declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done." Known unto God, and to him alone, are all future things from eternity. Though there be complete and abundant evidence of the divine foreknowledge of all things, it is a very important question, how it was possible even for God himself to foreknow all things from eternity. This has been considered as a very difficult question. Some have said, that it cannot be answered. And some have answered it one way, and some another. Very few have denied the foreknowledge of God, though some bave presumed to do it, for the sake of avoiding what they deemed the natural consequences of it. But those, who do not deny, that God foreknew all things from eternity, suppose there was some way, in which it was possible for him to possess this truly divine knowledge. And, perhaps, by a serious and critical enquiry, we may discover the way, and the only possible way, in which God could foreknow all things from eternity. Here, then, we may observe,
1. That God could not foreknow all things from eternity, by information. In the early days of eternity, he existed alone. There was no other being, created or ancreated, in the universe. Hence the prophet, with great propriety and emphasis, demands, "Who hath directed the spirit of the Lord? or who, being his counsellor, hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding?" Before the beginning of the world, there was no superior, nor inferior intelligence, who could give God any information respecting future things. So that God, could not foreknow future things in the way in which prophets and apostles have foreknown them; that is, by inspiration or information. Nor,
2. Could God foreknow all things from eternity, by seeing any thing out of himself, which should be the cause of their future existence. Things that begin to exist, must have a previous cause of their existence. And unless God saw some cause of the existence of future things, it was absolutely impossible that he should have the least knowledge of their future existence. Though his understanding was