Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

that a simple history of the church and an exposition of its doctrines and discipline, will be of great advantage.

The authors, from which he has taken his information, are, Luther, Melanchton, Seckendorf, Robertson's Charles V. Rees's Cy. clopedia, Villers on the spirit and influence of the Reformation ; Mosheim, Priestly, Milner and Kunze's church histories; and Michaelis, Hecker, Osterwald, Less and Seiler's Theologies, &c.

He has endeavored to be as plain and popular in his style as possible, believing that his work would be the more useful to the unlearned, and adhering to Luther's maxim : « Preach and write so that the common and unlearned may understand you, and

you are sure to be understood by the learned.

INTRODUCTION.

THE christian religion was founded by Jesus Christ, the son of God and Saviour of the world. Of him all the prophets of the old dispensation had testified. Some of them had even gone so far, as to determine the time and place and circumstances of his birth. When the fulness of the time was come, he made his appearance in the world. Of his earlier days, we know little more than, that he was desirous of promoting the glory of his heavenly father, and was obe. dient to his parents. But when he began his ministry, and was baptized, we find that his Almighty father proclaimed him his son publicly, and in the presence of a great multitude of people, in these words, “This is my beloved son, him shall you hear.” ”

And he himself proved the truth of his divine mission by the numerous miracles, which he performed-he healed the blind, the dumb, the lame, the dropsical, the leprous, the lua

A 2

natics, the paralytical, the deaf, yea, he even raised up the dead to life, by his touch or by a single word-he walked upon the waters, and empowered others to walk upon them--the waves and the storms were made quiet by his commands, &c.' And these mi. racles were performed, not in remote or pri. vate places, but in the presence of multitudes ; some of them were even officially examined by the chief council of the nation. * Even among his enemies, no attempt was made to deny his miracles ; they confessed he did these great things, but attributed them to the power of the devil and to sorcery. He also foretold remarkable future events, which no human power could foresee. At his cru. cifixion, all nature bore witness to his divinity ; for the earth did quake, the rocks did split, the vail of the temple was rent in twain, and darkness covered the land for three whole hours.

On the third day after his erucifixion, he arose from the grave, and forty days afterwards triumphantly ascended to heaven.

At the beginning of his ministry, he chose twelve apostles, whom he instructed for three years, and who were eye-witnesses of all his actions. On the day of Pentecost (ten days after his ascension) he poured out his promised spirit upon them in a miraculous manner, by which they obtained power not only to perform miracles, but also to speak languages, which they had not learned. En. dued with these gifts and clothed with these testimonials, they went out in every direction to preach the gospel and to establish church

Wherever this was done, idolatry, superstition and barbarism vanished, and the knowledge and adoration of the true God, Jehovah, prevailed.

es.

To obtain a correct idea of the beneficial effects of the christian religion in the world, it is necessary to know the religious state of mankind in those days. It might truly be said of that period, “darkness covered the earth and gross darkness the people.” The Jews were entirely engaged with the tradi. tions of men ; they had forsaken the worship

become a depraved and immoral people ; and the heathens were sunk into idolatry and barbarism ; even Rome, Sparta and Athens, where learning and philosophy had been flourishing, were not excepted. They were worshipping Jupiter, Juno, Mars, Apollo, &c. supposed deities, who, according to their own ideas, had themselves been living and were yet living in heaven among each other in the grossest vices. They had temples erected to Bacchus, the God of wine, and to Venus the Goddess of debauchery, whither they resorted to worship by feasting and drinking, byfornication and adultery. * Some few of the most learned and wise men among them had indeed, by diligent study, obtained clearer ideas of the deity, and of religion in general ; but they despaired of ever spreading their principles among the people. “ You may resign” saith Socrates to Plato, “all hopes of reforming the manners of men, unless it please God to

* The apostle, in the 1st chapter of his epistle to the Romans, has drawn a dark and melancholy picture of the moral state of the heathen world, and he appeals for its verification to their own observation and

And Iwonal and Senere have given us

« ForrigeFortsæt »