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send some person to instruct you ;" and Plato in his treatise concerning a republic, says, “whatever is set right, in the present bad state of the world, can be done only by the interposition of God.” These maxims of these great philosophers imply, that, thos the people may be capable of receiving the wise and excellent principles of theology or of morals from authority, which is proved to be divine ; yet if they were to be wrought out by the efforts of their own understanding, or by the aid of human teachers merely, the moral state of the world must be irremediable.See Smith's Lectures.
Such then was the state of the world when the apostles preached the gospel ; and astonishing were the effects, which their la. bors produced. In a short time, numbers of christian congregations were established and true religion and morality flourished.
The great men among the Jews, as well as among the heathens, were no quiet observ. ers of this rapid extension of christian principles; they soon began to persecute the
christians, and enacted laws for their supe pression and extirpation. Thousands of them, of every sex and age, were cruelly executed ; some of them stoned, burned, sawed asunder, crucified, and others thrown to wild beasts to be devoured. But notwithstanding all their opposition, and all their exterminating laws and persecutions, the truth of the gospel prevailed ; for in the year 324, the emperor Constantine, the great, declared christianity to be the established Religion in the Roman empire, and many heathen temples were, by his orcler, converted into christian churches,
In these first centuries the christian doctrine remained pure and unadulterated ; but by degrees innovations and false doctrines a. rose. " While men slept, the enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat." Some of the ministers of the gospel, who had been created inspectors or bishops of particular districts, began to claim great powers, and to introduce new ceremonies. This was particularly the case with the bishops of Rome,
chia and of Jerusalem, who assumed to them. selves the title of Patriarchs, and began to regulate the affairs of the churches under their particular care. About the year 606, the Roman patriarch, Boniface the 3d, obtained the title of Papa, Pope, or head of the whole christian church, from the infamous and impious Phocas, who had usurped the empire of the east. This Phocas had been a centurion in the army, and during a revolt, had ascended the imperial throne and caused the lawful emperor Maurice, with his wife, and sons, and daughters to be cruelly put do death. The patriarch of Constantinople, Cyriacus, enraged at Phocas' conduct, excommunicated him ; however Boniface the 3d, being sent for, granted him absolution and crowned him emperor, and as a recompence for this favor, Phocas proclaimed him head of the christian church.
From this time protestant writers generally date the beginning of popery. For from that period, innovations, false doctrines and abominations arose, which very much suppressed the true religion of Christ. Among
these we reckon image-worship, adoration of saints, purgatory, indulgences, transubstantiation and the mass. Besides this, the Latin language was introduced into divine service; the word of God as well as the cup in the Lord's supper was taken from the laity ; the priest forced into celibacy, and a system of oppression and violence ensued, which soon surpassed the horrors of all the former persecutions of the heathenish emperors.
Against these, and other ruinous errors and abuses, the Lord, from time to time, stirred up many witnesses. Such were the Waldenses in France and Piedmont, in 1176 the Wickliffites in England, in 1378and the Hussites in Bohemia, in 1438.These men were indeed a light to the world ; but their light did not dispel the gloum. Though it shone far into the vale of night, it reached not to the throne of darkness in Rome.
Myconius, a German author, who lived at the beginning of the 16th century, gives
ligion of those times: “The sufferings and satisfaction of Christ were only considered. as an old history, much like the Odyssey of Homer ; concerning faith, which embraces the righteousness of a Saviour and life eternal, nothing was said ; Christ was represented as an inflexible judge, who was prepared to condemn all such as had not the intercession of a saint and the favour of the pope to show ; in the place of Christ were placed as saviours and intercessors, the virgin Mary, (like an heathen Diana) and other saints, which the popes had introduced from time to time. And even these intercessions could not be expected, unless they were merited by particular works—these works, however, were not such as are prescribed by the ten commandments, or other precepts of the scriptures; they consisted in saying the Lord's prayer, the ave marias and their rosaries, at certain times, during the day ; in giving alms and money to the convents ; in pil. grimages ; in purchasing indulgences; in short, in the observance of a number of in.