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Abraham fled from his idolatrous countrymen and kindred, that he might safely worship the one true God. The idolatrous kings of Israel filled the land with the blood of the prophets and of the worshippers of the Supreme Jehovah. Daniel and his pious friends were by pagan authority doomed to death for their firm adherence to the institutions of the divine law. Antiochus, king of Syria, exercised a most cruel persecution against the Jews for their stedfastness in the religion of their fathers, and their rejection of the heathen superstitions. Socrates suffered death in Athens, on an accusation, that he asserted the unity of the godhead, and denied divine honors to the gods of his country. The Jews, though forbidden to mingle with heathen nations, yet were not authorized to spread among them promiscuous destruction on account of their idolatries. A Jew, indeed, who apostatized to idolatry, and endeavored to draw his brethren after him, was to suf fer death-not simply because he embraced a false religion, but because he rebelled against the constituted government of his country; for that government was founded in the acknowledgment of one true God; and from him its laws were immediately given. Therefore an attempt to introduce the wor ship of pagan divinities, was an attempt to subvert the national government, as well as the national religion. And a crime of this nature has, in all nations, been made capital.

The persecutions, which Christians first suffered, were begun, not by violent measures on their par to propagate their religion, but by the jealousy of the pagan priests and magistrates, and the resentment of the Jewish rulers, who felt themselves condemned by this religion. These persecutions, though begun by Jews, were aided and sanctioned by the Romans. For 200 years the Christian church was, at turns,

persecuted by the heathen Roman empire. When the government of the empire fell into the hands of Christian rulers, persecution ceased; but returned again, when the main body of nominal Christians degenerated into pagan idolatry.

Persecution for religion has generally been the work of heathens, or of Jews under the government of heathens, or of nominal Christians who had adopted the superstitions of heathens. Nothing therefore can be more unjust, than to ascribe religious persecution peculiarly to the gospel.

At the time of the reformation there were bloody wars - between the friends and the enemies of that great work. These were national wars, and they were begun by the catholic powers. On the On the part of the protestants they were wars of selfdefence.

Different sects of Christians have often been too intolerant toward each other, and in some instances have carried their intolerance to a degree of violence and cruelty. But this was not a dictate of the religion which they professed, but a dictate of worldly pride and false zeal, which their religion had not fully corrected.

It has sometimes been insinuated by the uninformed, or the uncandid, that sectaries in Newengland have suffered persecution, and even death, merely on account of their opinions. I will not say, that undue severity has never been used in matters of opinion. But I believe, that, in Newengland, there has been no instance of capital punishment for opinions only. Some sectaries, it is true, have suffered death from the hand of government; but they suffered as irreclaimable disturbers of the public peace, as vioent opposers of the settled government; not as sectaries in religion.

Some have alleged, that wars have been more frequent since, than before the appearance of the gos

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pel, and are more frequent among Christian than among heathen nations. But this is far from being the truth. The state of the world was generally a state of warfare in the ages before the gospel, until near the time of Jesus Christ, when the Romans had so far subdued all surrounding nations, that none had power to make war. Since that time, wars, so far as we can learn, have been much more frequent among savage and barbarous, than among civilized and Christian nations. Christianity, in its proper influence, would prevent all war. It has not yet done this; but still, with its partial influence, it has greatly meliorated the condition of mankind. It has mollified the rigor of government, and rendered it more rational and lenient. It has made war itself less ferocious and horrible, the condition of captives more safe and tolerable, and conquest less injurious to personal liberty and property. And whenever the gospel shall have its full spread and its genuine influence, it will diffuse peace and happiness through the world.

7. We are taught the great efficacy of the prayers of good men. John says of these witnesses," They have power to shut heaven and to smite the earth with plagues, as often as they will." The words allude to the power, which the prayers of Moses and Elijah had with God. When they prayed for the protection of God's faithful servants, he answered them by terrible things, which in righteousness were inflicted on their enemies,

The scripture not only asserts in general, but in many particular instances shews, that fervent prayers avail much. When Abraham interceded for Sodom, God condescended to his last request; that if ten righteous men were found there, it might be spared. When this city was to be destroyed, and Lot was warned to escape to a certain mountain, he

entreated, that he might find safety in a little city nearer than the mountain; and the destroying angel said, "See, I have accepted thee in this thing; haste thee, escape thither, for I cannot do any thing until thou be come thither." When Jacob wept and made supplication, it is said, "He had power with God, and prevailed." When Israel by repeated rebellions provoked the divine anger against them, it is said, "God would have destroyed them, had not Moses stood in the breach to turn away his wrath." While Moses was praying for them, God spake in this wonderful manner, "Let me alone, that I may destroy them." God expresses his wrath against Israel in terms of unusual severity, when he says, "Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, my mind could not be toward this people." He signifies, that he seldom executes his great judgments on his people in opposition to the prayers of such men as these. There is a more remarkable expression in the book of Isaiah; "Thus saith the Holy One of Israel, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me."

What great encouragement we have to wait on God in prayer for ourselves, our country, and the church of Christ! "The prayer of the upright is delight." If we believe, that God exercises a government in the world-that this government is intended for the good of his church-that he hears the prayers of his servants, and in answer to them sends blessings on his people-then let us "be instant in prayer, and watch thereunto with all perseverance.”

The prophecy, which we have been considering, conveys assurance of the final triumph of the church of God over all opposition: But it gives us reason to think, that, as she has passed through many severe trials already, so there is still at least one severer trial, which awaits her, before her glorious triumph;

and it instructs us, that her salvation, when it comes, will come by prayer. When we see a spirit of grace and of supplications remarkably poured out on the church of God, then we may conclude, that her redemption draweth nigh.

The state of the European world, has, for many years, afforded ground of apprehension, that a dangerous period is approaching. We certainly must be near the end of the 1260 years, during which the witnesses shall prophecy in sackcloth. Some calculations place the end at the distance of two centu ries; others bring it within half a century. The present aspects of providence would incline us to adopt the shorter. The prevalence of infidelity and immorality in Europe renders it doubtful, whether a reformation will generally take place there without great destruction of the people. The rage of war threatens this event. The total derangement which war has made in the political system of Europe hardly allows us to hope for a permanent peace. The prophecy under consideration announces great commotions and revolutions, in which multitudes will awfully perish, and the remnant will be affrighted, and give glory to God. In the corruptions of Europe we have been corrupted; and in her convulsions we shall be convulsed. In our own depravi ty our danger is great: In our connexion and intercourse with Europe our situation is critical. Our safety depends on the influence of the gospel among us. If this should be lost, our security will depart. It concerns us then to admit this influence into our own hearts, and by it to direct all our conduct-to recommend religion to others by exhibiting its excellency in our own lives-to honor the institutions of God by our own faithful attendance, and to transmit to those who are coming after us that divine religion which we have received from our fathers.

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