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assert it with effrontery, and to flatter his adherents with being the favourites of heaven, and he will be followed.*

The persecutions which have been carried on against religion are grievous to humanity, and equally repugnant to justice and to good policy: but they are not in the least surprising. There was not a truth more prominent in our Saviour's addresses to his followers than this, that, having received his word, the world would hate them; because they were not of the world, as he was not of the world. When he sent them forth to preach the gospel, it was as sheep among wolves; and they were treated accordingly. When he took leave of them, previously to his death, he left them his peace, as knowing that, in the world, they should have tribulation. All this was no more than might be expected; for if it be the character of true religion that it sets itself against every vicious propensity of the human heart, it is natural to suppose that every one who is under the dominion of such propensity will feel averse from true religion, and from those who adhere to it. The manner in which mankind have stood affected towards godly men has been nearly uniform from the beginning. Cain slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous. Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, mocking: as he that was born after the flesh then persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Why was Jerusalem a burdensome stone to the nations? Why were they continually forming leagues to root out its remembrance from the

* Men are much more easily deceived in these matters than in the ordinary concerns of life. If a London Merchant were to open warehouses in different parts of the city, and make it his business to traduce the characters and commodities of all other merchants; if his opposition were directed especially against men of probity and eminence, whose situations were contiguous to his own; in fine, if the only traders in the kingdom who could obtain his good word were certain agents whom he had stationed in different parts of the country for the purpose of retailing his wares; would not his designs be evident? He might puff, and pretend to have the good of the public much at heart; but the public would despise him, as a man whose object was a for. tune, and whose practices evinced that he would hesitate at no means to accomplish his end. Yet, in religion, such deceptions may be practised with

success.

earth? The same spirit that was discovered by Edom, Moab, and the children of Ammon towards Israel, was apparent in Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem, and their companions, towards Judah; and the part acted of the Horonite, the Ammonite, and the Arabian, was afterwards re-acted, with additional zeal, by Herod and Pontius Pilate, and the governors and people of Israel. Those who could agree in nothing else could agree in this. The persecutions of pagan and papal Rome, and of all who have symbolized with her, have been only 'a continuation of the same system: and the descriptions which deistical historians give of these works of darkness, notwithstanding their pretended regard to religious liberty, bear witness that they allow the deeds of their fathers, and inherit their dispositions. The same malignant spirit which was discovered by the heathens toward the ancient Israelites, is discoverable in all the writings of unbelievers toward that people to this day. It is true, they are more reconciled to the modern Jews; and for a very plain reason: they feel them to be near akin to themselves. Herod and Pilate were made friends by the crucifixion of Christ. Since that time, the old enmity has been transferred to believing Gentiles, who, being grafted into the Jewish olive, and partaking of its advantages, partake also of its persecutions: and by how much the Christian church, at any period, has exceeded the Jewish in purity and spirituality, by so much more fierce has the wrath of a wicked world burned against it.

After all the pains that unbelievers take to shift the charge of persecution, and lay it at the door of Christianity, it is manifest, to an observant eye, that there is a deep-rooted enmity in all wicked men, whether they be Pagans, Papists, Protestants, or Deists, towards all godly men, of every nation, name, and denomination. This enmity, it is true, is not suffered to operate according to its native tendency. He who holdeth the winds in his hands, restrains it. Men are withheld by laws, by policy, by interests, by education, by respect, by regard founded on qualities distinct from religious, and by various other things. There are certain conjunctions of interests, especially, which occasionally require a temporary cessation of hostilities; and it may seem on such occasions as if wicked men were ashamed of their animosities, and were all on a sudden

become friendly to the followers of Christ. Thus, at the revolution in 1688, those who for more than twenty years had treated the non-conformists with unrelenting severity, when they found themselves in danger of being deprived of their places by a popish prince, courted their friendship, and promised not to persecute them any more. And thus, at the commencement of the French revolution, Deists, Catholics, and Protestants, who were engaged in one political cause, seemed to have forgotten their resentments, all amicably uniting together in the opening of a place for protestant worship. But let not the servants of Christ imagine that any temporary conjunction of interests will extinguish the ancient enmity. It may seem to be so for a time; and all things being under the control of providence, such a time may be designed as a season of respite for the faithful; but when self-interest has gained its end, if other worldly considerations do not interpose, things will return to their former channel. The enmity is not dead, but sleepeth.

Finally: the wars which, from the earliest period of history, have desolated the earth, grievous as they are to a feeling mind, contain in them nothing surprising. The scriptures, with singular propriety, describe the world as a great sea, which is ever casting up its mire and dirt; and great conquerors as so many wild beasts, which, in succession, rise from its troubled waters, and devour the inhabitants of the earth.* Nor is this all: they describe not only the fact, but the cause of it. Wars among men, as has been already stated, have their immediate causes in the lusts which war in their members: but, besides this, the scripture leads us to a cause more remote, and of still greater importance. They denominate the sword of war, the sword of the Lord, and constantly intimate that it is one of those means by which he pleadeth with all flesh. A part of the curse entailed on men for their departure from the living God, consists in this, that, till they return to him, they shall not be able for any length of time, to maintain amity among themselves. It appears to be one of those laws by which God governs the world, that, PEOPLE ENGAGED IN AN EVIL CAUSE, HOWEVER

+ Part I. Chap. VII.

* Dan. vii.

HARMONIOUS THEY MAY BE IN THE OUTSET, SHALL PRESENTLY BE AT VARIANCE. Thus it was between Abimilech and the men of Shechem, as Jotham had forewarned them in his parable. Though at first they appeared to rejoice in each other; yet, in a little time, fire came out from Abimelech, and devoured the men of Shechem, and fire came out from the men of Shechem, and devoured Abimelech.* Such is commonly the issue of all unprincipled confederacies, traitorous conspiracies, illegal combinations, and illicit amours. Union, in order to be lasting, requires to be cemented with honor. Where this is wanting, however appearances may for a while be flattering, all will prove transitory: mutual jealousies will produce mutual enmities, which are certain to issue in confusion and every evil work. These remarks are no less applicable to the whole human race, than to particular parts of it. Men have revolted from God; and yet think to live in harmony among themselves. God, in just judgment, appears to have determined the contrary; and that, till they return to him, they shall be given up to an evil spirit towards each other, and to the ravages of a succession of ambitious leaders, who shall destroy them in great numbers from the face of the earth. It is morally impossible, indeed, that it should be otherwise; for the same principle which induces them to renounce the divine goverment, dissolves the bands of human society. Supreme self-love is the origin of both, and is sufficient to account for all the disorder in the universe.

Candid reader, review the subject of this chapter. In the last, we traced the agreement of the holy scriptures with historic fact; in this, we have seen their correspondence with living truth, or with things as they actually exist, in the mind and in the world. Similar arguments might also have been drawn from the characters of believers and unbelievers. Not many wise, not many mighty, not many noble were called in the early ages of Christianity; and it has been the same in every age. To the Jews the gospel was from the first a stumbling-block, and to philosophers foolishness; and such it continues to this day. The existence of the Jews as a distinct people, their dispersion, their attachment to the Old Testament, and

* Judges ix.

rejection of the New, their expectation of a Messiah, their acknowledgment of the truth of the historical facts concerning our Lord, the malignity of their spirit; in a word, their exact resemblance, even at this remote period, to the picture drawn of them in the New Testament, are facts which cannot be controverted. Judge impartially: Is there any thing in all this that bears the marks of imposture? A connoisseur will distinguish between paintings taken from life, and such as are the works of mere imagination. An accurate judge of moral painting will do the same. If the scriptures gave false descriptions of men and things, if they flattered the vices of mankind, or exhibited the moral state of the world contrary to well-known fact, you would conclude them to be a work of falsehood. On the other hand, if they speak of things as they are; if conscience echo to their charges, and fact comport with their representations, they must have been taken from life and you must conclude them to be what they profess to be a work of truth. And, since the objects described are many of them beyond the ken of human observation, you must conclude that they are not only a work of truth, but, what they also profess to be-The true sayings of God.

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