Billeder på siden


enemies, were enough to provoke the most Sermon passive tempers to some acts of hostility and resistance P. But every one knows, that they had recourse to no arms, but those of the spirit: they took no advantage of distracted


? Could it be foreseen, that nothing of this sort would happen? When the Reformation was set on foot in Germany, Luther and his adherents resolved to carry it on in the spirit of the Gospel, that is, by pacific measures. But how soon did passion and policy strike in, to drive them from this purpose! The Catholics were intolerant : the Reformed grew powerful: and then, wha was too naturally to be expected, followed.

If it be said, that the Gospel hath not been always propagated, without force; I acknowledge, it has not : but then I observe, 1. that it was incontestably so propagated, till the conversion of the Roman empire; in which event, alone, the prophecies appear to have had a reasonable completion. 2. that the force employed, has generally been the force of one Christian sect, directed against some other in which scandalous contentions the prophecies have no concern), not in the propagation of Christianity itself in unbelieving countries. 3. that the way of force, when professedly used against unbelievers, though, in some cases, it has contributed to the enlargement of Christ's kingdom, has yet, in others (where, too, the utmost force and zeal were combined) very signally failed of success; of which the crusades against the Mahometans af

ford a striking instance: and 4. lastly, that we expect the final universul prevalence of the Christian faith from the same spiritual arms only, which were first employed with such success in the propagation of it.


[ocr errors]

SEMMON times, to raise commotions in behalf of the VI.

new religion, or to suppress the old one: 0 bruised reed did they not break, and smoaking far did they not quench : yet with meekness, and patience, and suffering; by piety, by reason, by the secret influence of a divine blessing attending on these feeble efforts, the doctrine of the cross insensibly gained ground, spread itself far and wide, and in the end became vięs torious over all the rage and power and sophistry of an unbelieving world 1. " De !

T. 069!! An eminent writer, with the view, indeed, of dist, gracing the Reformation, hath set this matter in a very just light: Que nos freres, says he, ouvrent donc les yeux; qu'ils les jettent sur l'ancienne Eglise, qui durant tant de siécles d'une persecution si cruelle ne s'est jamais

' échapée, ni un seul moment, ni dans un seul homme, & qu'on a vůé aussi soumise sous Diocletien, et même sous Julien l'apostat, lorsqu'elle remplissoit deja toute la terre, que sous Neron & sous Domnitien, lorsqu'elle ne faisoit que de naitre: C'EST LA QU'ON VOIT VERITABLEMENT LE DOIĞI De Dieu.

Hist. des Variations, 1. x. c. 53. The finger of God, as the learned writer says, was indeed conspicuous in this conduct of the primitive Christians, because it fulfilled the prophecies (so unlikely to be

Cri fulfilled) concerning the manner in which Christianity was


[ocr errors]

an establishment in the world. If the conduct of the reformed had not this merit, it was because the pro phecies did not 'extend to the reformation of Christian religion, but to the introduction and first settlement of it.' The agents, in this last work of Providence, were there


to obtain an estimat


That this victory hath not been, hitherto, SERMON so complete, as to answer the promise of an absolute universality, we readily acknowledge ; but are in no pain for the event"; as the same oracles, which have thus far been verified, suppose the present condition of things; and, what is more, assure -'us of a time to come, when the fulness of the Gentiles shall come in.

One word more, and I have done. If it be now thought, that these THREE prophecies concerning the destruction of Jerusalem--the dispersion of the Jews--and the call of the Gentiles - have been clearly accomplished;

[ocr errors]

fore left to the natural influence of their passions, and they acted too frequently as those passions impelled them,

For the rest, how far the general precepts of the Gospel require a passive submission and non-resistance to outrageous intolerance, whether absolutely, and in all cases, is a point of nice discussion; in which I take no part, at present, because I am not now making the apology of the reformed, but shewing the completion of the prophecies concerning the propagators of Christianity: and the wonder to see them so punctually completed, is not lessened, but increased, by supposing, that the precepts of the Gospel leave mankind to the free use of their natural rights, in the case of extreme violence and injustice.

The vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lye: though it tarry, wait for it, because it shall surely come, it will not tarry. Habakkuk,

ii. 3.


SERMON and yet were of that nature, that no human

foresight could deliver them, nor any probable conjuncture of human affairs account for the accomplishment of thein, you will conclude that they were truly divine, and that we do not abuse your credulity in alledging such prophecies, in proof of our holy religion. You will see and acknowledge that there are prophecies, recorded in scripture, concerning the Christian Church; and that these prophecies, in particular, concerning it, have been remarkably fulfilled. Ye will, therefore, the less wonder to find, that there are still other prophecies, relative to the kingdom of Christ, as administered in this world; and will, of course, be disposed to consider, with less prejudice, what may further be said in support of them.

[ocr errors]




1 EP. JOHN ii. 18.

Ye have heared that Antichrist shall



AMONG the more remarkable prophecies Struos concerning the Christian Church, there are several, which describe the rise, progress, and downfal of a certain Power, represented under various symbols or images, and distinguished by many appellations; but more especially known by the name of ANTICHRIST.

These prophecies come now, in the order of this Lecture, to be considered. The subject

« ForrigeFortsæt »