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opposition against his cause, seem to run in another channel. The humor now is, to despise and laugh at all religion ; and there seems to be a spirit of indifferency about it. However, so far the state of things is better than it has been, that there is so much less of persecution.
 There is a great increase of learning. In the dark times of Popery before the Reformation, learning was so far decayed, that the world seemed to be overrun with barbarous ignorance. Their very priests were many of them grossly ignorant. Learning began to revive with the Reformation, which was owing very much to the art of printing, which was invented a little before the Reformation ; and since that, learning has increased more and more, and at this day is undoubtedly raised to vastly a greater height than ever it was before : And though no good use is made of it by the greater part of learned men, yet the increase of learning in itself is a thing to be rejoiced in, because it is a good, and, if duly applied, an excellent handmaid to divinity, and is a talent which, if God gives men an heart, affords them a great advantage to do great things for the advancement of the kingdom of Christ, and the good of the souls of men. That learning and knowledge should greatly increase before the glorious times, seems to be foretold, Dan. xii. 4. “ But thou, O Daniel, shut
the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end : Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” And however little now learning is applied to the advancement of religion ; yet we may hope that the days are approaching, wherein God will make great use of it for the advancement of the kingdom of Christ.
God in his providence now seems to be acting over again the same part which he did a little time before Christ came. The
age wherein Christ came into the world, was an age wherein learning greatly prevailed, and was at a greater height than ever it had been before ; and yet wickedness never prevailed more than then. God was pleased to suffer human learning to come to such a height before he sent forth the gospel into the world, that the world might see the insufficiency of all their own wisdom for the obtaining the knowledge of God, VOL. II.
without the gospel of Christ, and the teachings of his Spirit : And then, after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God, by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe. And when the gospel came to prevail first without the help of man's wisdom, then God was pleased to make use of learning as an handmaid. Se now learning is at a great height at this day in the world, far beyond what it was in the age when Christ appeared ; and now the world, by their learning and wisdom, do not know God; and they seem to wander in darkness, are miserably deluded, stumble and fall in matters of religion, as in midnight darkness. Trusting to their learning, they grope in the day time as in the night. Learned men are exceedingly divided in their opinions concerning the matters of religion, run into all manner of corrupt opinions, and pernicious and foolish errors. They scorn to submit their reason to divine revelation, to believe any thing that is above their comprehension ; and so, being wise in their own eyes, they become fools, and even vain in their imaginations, and turn the truth of God into a lie, and their foolish hearts are darkened. See Rom. i. 21. &c.
But yet, when God has sufficiently shown men the insufficiency of human wisdom and learning for the purposes of religion, and when the appointed time comes for that glorious outpouring of the Spirit of God, when he will himself by his own immediate influence enlighten men's minds ; then may we hope that God will make use of the great increase of learning as an handmaid to religion, as a means of the glorious advancement of the kingdom of his Son. Then shall human learning be subservient to the understanding of the scriptures, and to a clear explanation and a glorious defence of the doctrines of Christianity. And there is no doubt to be made of it, that God in his providence has of late given the world. the art of printing, and such a great increase of learning, to prepare for what he designs to accomplish for his church in the approaching days of its prosperity. And thus the wealth of the wicked is laid up for the just, agreeable to Prov. xiii. 22. Having now shown how the work of redemption has been carried on from the fall of man to the present time, before I proceed any further, I would make some APPLICATION.
1. From what has been said, we may see great evidence of the truth of the Christian religion, and that the scriptures are the word of God. There are three arguments of this, which I shall take notice of, which may be drawn from what has been said.
(1) It may be argued from that violent and inveterate opposition there has always appeared of the wickedness of the world against this religion. The religion that the church of God has professed from the first founding of the church after the fall to this time, has always been the same. Though the dispensations have been altered, yet the religion which the church has professed has always, as to its essentials, been the
The church of God, from the beginning, has been one society. The Christian church which has been since Christ's ascension, is manifestly the same society continued, with the church, that was before Christ came. The Christian church is grafted on their root: They are built on the same foundation. The revelation on which both have depended, is essentially the same : For as the Christian church is built on the holy scriptures, so was the Jewish church, though now the scriptures be enlarged by the addition of the New Testament; but still it is essentially the same revelation with that which was given in the Old Testament, only the subjects of divine revelation are now more clearly revealed in the New Testament than they were in the Old. But the sum and substance of both the Old Testament and New, is Christ and his redemption. The religion of the church of Israel, was essentially the same religion with that of the Christian church, as -evidently appears from what has been said. The groundwork of the religion of the church of God, both before and since Christ has appeared, is the same great scheme of redemption by the Son of God ; and so the church that was before the Israelitish church, was still the same society, and it was essentially the same religion that was professed and practised in it. Thus it was from Noah to Abraham, and thus it was before
the flood. And this society of men that is called the church, has always been built on the foundation of those revelations which we have in the scriptures, which have always been essentially the same, though gradually increasing. The church before the flood, was built on the foundation of those revelations of Christ which were given to Adam, and Abel, and Enoch, of which we have an account in the former chapters of Genesis, and others of the like import. The church after the flood, was built on the foundation of the revelations made to Noah and Abraham, to Melchisedeck, Isaac, and Jacob, to Joseph, Job, and other holy men, of whom we have an account in the scriptures, or other revelations that were to the same purpose. And after this the church depended on the scriptures themselves as they gradually increased ; so that the church of God has always been built on the foundation of divine revelation, and always on those revelations that were essentially the same, and which are summarily comprehended in the holy scriptures, and ever since about Moses's time have been built on the scriptures themselves.
So that the opposition which has been made to the church of God in all ages, has always been against the same religion, and the same revelation. Now therefore the violent and perpetual opposition that has ever been made by the corruption and wickedness of mankind against this church, is a strong argument of the truth of this religion, and this revelation, upon which this church has always been built. Contraries are well argued one from another. We may well and safely argue, that a thing is good, according to the degree of opposition in which it stands to evil, or the degree in which evil opposes it, and is an enemy to it. We may well argue, that a thing is light, by the great enmity which darkness has to it. Now it is evident, by the things which you have heard concerning the church of Christ, and that holy religion of Jesus Christ which it has professed, that the wickedness of the world has had a perpetual hatred to it, and has made most violent opposition against it.
That the church of God has always met with great opposition in the world, none can deny. This is plain by profane
history as far as that reaches ; and before that, divine history gives us the same account. The church of God, and its religion and worship, began to be opposed in Cain's and Abel's time, and was so when the earth was filled with violence in Noah's time. And after this how was the church opposed in Egypt ! And how was the church of Israel always hated by the nations round about, agreeable to that in Jer. xii. 9. « Mine heritage is unto me as a speckled bird, the birds round about are against her.” And after the Babylonish captivity, how was this church persecuted by Antiochus, Epiphanes and others! And how was Christ persecuted when he was on earth ! And how were the apostles and other Christians persecuted by the Jews before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans ! How violent were that people against the church ! And how dreadful was the opposition of the Heathen world against the Christian church after this before Constantine! How great was their spite against the true religion ! And since that, how yet more violent, and spiteful, and cruel, has been the opposition of Antichrist against the church !
There is no other such instance of opposition. History gives no account of any other body of men that have been so hated, and so maliciously and insatiably pursued and pesecuted, nor any thing like it. No other religion ever was so maligned age after age. The nations of other professions have enjoyed their religions in peace and quietness, however they have differed from their neighbors. One nation has worshipped one sort of gods, and others another, without molesting or disturbing one another about it. All the spite and opposition has been against this religion, which the church of Christ has professed. All other religions have seemed to show an implacable enmity to this ; and men have seemed to have, from one age to another, such a spite against it, that they have seemed as though they could never satisfy their cruelty. They put their inventions upon the rack to find out torments that should be cruel enough ; and yet, after all, never seemed to be satisfied. Their thirst has never been satisfied with blood.