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vernments; and not only so, but they seemed to have the church in their hands. The Christians who were under their command, never took up arms to defend themselves; they armed themselves with nothing but patience, and such like spiritual weapons; and
this mighty power could not con. quer, but, on the contrary, Christianity conquered them. The Roman empire had subdued many mighty and potent kingdoms; they subdued the Grecian monarchy, though it made the utmost resistance; and yet they could not conquer the church, which was in their hands; but, on the contrary, were subdued, and finally triumphed over by the church.
3. No other sufficient cause can possibly be assigned for this propagation of the Gospel, but the power of God.
Here was a great and wonderful effect; and this effect was not without some
What other cause can be devised but the divine power? It was not the outward strength of the instruments employed in it. At first the Gospel was preached only by a few fishermen, who were without power and worldly interest to support them. It was not their craft and policy that produced this wonderful effect; for they were poor illiterate men. It was not the agreeableness of their story to the nosions and principles of mankind. This was no pleasant fable: a crucified God and Savior was to the Jews 'a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness. It was not the agreeableness of their doctrines to the dispositions of men ; for nothing is more contrary to the corruptions of men than the pure doctrines of the Gospel. This effect, therefore, can have proceeded from no other cause than the
of God; and if the power of God was thus exercised
to cause the Gospel to prevail, then the Gospel is his word; for surely God does not use his almighty power to promote a mere imposture and delusion.
4. This success is agreeable to what Christ and his apostles foretold. Matt. 16:18. “Upon this rock will I build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” John, 12:24. “Verily, verily, 1 say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground, and die, it abideth alone : but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." And ver. 31, 32. “ Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." John, 16: 8. " When he (the Comforter) is come, he will reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment—because the prince of this world is judged.”
So the apostle Paul, 1 Cor. 1:21-28, declares, that after the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleascd God, by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe ;" and that God chose " the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are." - If any man foretells a thing, very likely in itself to come to pass, from causes which can be foreseen, it is no great argument of a revelation from God but when a thing is foretold which is entirely contrary to the common course of things, and yet comes to pass just agreeable to the prediction, this is a strong argument that the prediction is from God. Thus the consideration of the manner of the propa
gation and success of the Gospel during the time which has been spoken of, affords great evidence that the Scriptures are the word of God.
FROM THE TIME OF CONSTANTINE TO THE RISE
I am now to show the success of Christ's redemption from the overthrow of the Heathen Roman empire, in the time of Constantine the Great, till the rise of Antichrist. And in order to a more clear view of the great works of God in it, and our seeing the glory of them, it will be necessary, as in the foregoing periods, to consider not only the success itself, but the opposition made to it.
I. The opposition. Satan, the great red dragon, after so sore a conflict with Michael and his angels for the greater part of three hundred years, was at last entirely routed and vanquished; so that he was cast down, as it were, from heaven to earth. Yet he does not give over his opposition to the woman, the church of Christ, concerning which all this conflict had been; but is still in a rage, renews his attempts, and has recourse to new devices against the church. The serpent, after he is cast out of heaven to the earth, casts out of his mouth water as a flood, to cause the woman to be carried
the flood. The opposition he made to the church of Christ, before the rise of Antichrist, was princi. pally of two kinds. It was either by corrupting the church of Christ with heresies, or by new endeavors to restore Paganism.
1. After the destruction of the Heathen Roman empire, Satan infested the church with heresies. Though there had been so glorious a work of God in delivering the church from her Heathen persecutors, and overthrowing the Heathen empire; yet the days of the church's travail not being ended, and the set time of her prosperity (which was to succeed the fall of Antichrist) not being yet come, the peace and prosperity which the church enjoyed in Constantine's time was but very
short. It was a respite, which gave the church a time of peace and silence, as it were, for half an hour, wherein the four angels held the four winds from blowing, till the servants of God should be sealed in their fore. heads. But the church soon began to be greatly infested with heresies; the two principal, and most injurious of which were the Arian and Pelagian.
The Arians began soon after Constantine came to the throne. They denied the doctrine of the Trinity, and the divinity of Christ and the Holy Ghost, maintaining that they were but mere creatures. This heresy increased more and more in the church, and prevailed like a flood which threatened to overthrow all, and entirely to carry away the church, insomuch that before the close of the fourth century, the greater part of the christian church were become Arians. Some emperors, the successors of Constantine, were Arians; so that being the prevailing party, and having the civil authority on their side, they raised a great persecution against the true church of Christ; so that this heresy might well be compared to a flood out of the mouth of a serpent, which threatened to overthrow all, and quite carry away the woman.
T'he Pelagian heresy arose in the beginning of the next century. It began with one Pelagius, who was born in Britain: his British name was MORGAN. He denied original sin and the influence of the Spirit of God in conversion, and held the power of free will, and many other things of like tendency; and this heresy for a while greatly infested the church. Pelagius' principal antagonist, who wrote in defence of the orthodox faith, was St Augustine.
2. The other kind of opposition which Satan made against the church, was in his endeavors to restore Paganism. His first attempt was by Julian the Apostate.
Julian was nephew to. Constantine the Great. When Constantine died, he left his empire to three sons; and after their death, Julian the Apostate reigned in their stead. He had been a professed Christian, but he fell from Christianity, and turned Pagan; and therefore is called the apostate. When he came to the throne, he used his utmost endeavors to overthrow the christian church, and set up Paganism again in the empire. He put down the christian magistrates, and set up Heathens in their room. He rebuilt the heathen temples, set up the heathen worship, and became a most notorious persecutor of the Christians. He used to call Christ, by way of reproach, the Galilean. He was killed by a lance in his wars with the Persians. When he saw that he was mortally wounded, he took a handful of his blood and threw it up towards hea