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This empire is spoken of as much the strongest and greatest of any of the four : Dan. ii. 40. And the fourth king. dom shall be strong as iron; forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things : And as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces, and bruise." So also Dan. vii, 7. 19.23,

The time that the Romans first conquered and brought under the land of Judea, was between sixty and seventy years before Christ was born. And soon after this, the Roman em, pire was established in its greatest extent į and the world continued subject to this empire henceforward till Christ came, and many hundred years afterwards.

The nations of the world being united in one monarchy. when Christ came, and when the apostles went forth to preach the gospel, did greatly prepare the way for the spreading of the gospel, and the setting up of Christ's kingdom in the world. For the world being thus subject to one government, it opened a communication from nation to nation, and so opportunity was given for the more swiftly propagating the gospel through the world. Thus we find it to bę now ; as if any thing prevails in the English nation, the communicațion is quick from one part of the nation to another, throughout all parts that are subject to the English government, much easier and quicker than to other nations, which lare not subject to the English government, and have little to do with them. There are innumerable difficulties in travelling through different nations, that are under different indepen. dent governments, which there are not in travelling through different parts of the same realm, or different dominions of the same prince. So the world being under one government, the government of the Romans, in Christ's and the apostles! times, facilitated the apostles travelling, and the gospel's spreading through the world.

XVIII. About the same time learning and philosophy were risen to their greatest height in the Heathen world. Thc time of learning's flourishing in the Heathen world was prin. cipal in this period. Almost all the famous philosophers that we have an account of among the Heathen, were after

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the captivity into Babylon. Almost all the wise men of
Greece and Rome flourished in this time. These philoso-
phers, many of them, were indeed men of great temporal
wisdom ; and that which they in general chiefly professéd
to make their business, was to inquire wherein man's chief
happiness lay, and the way in which men might obtain happi-
ness. They seemed earnestly to busy themselves in this in-
quiry, and wrote multitudes of books about it, many of which
are still extant. And they were exceedingly divided in their
opinions about it. : There have been reckoned up several
hundreds of different opinions that they had concerning it.
Thus they wearied themselves in vain, wandered in the dark,
not having the glorious gospel to guide them. God was
pleased to
human wisdom, and to try the extent of their own understand-
inge to find out the way to happiness, before the true light
came to enlighten the world ; before he sent the great Proph-
et to lead men in the right way to happiness. God suffered
these great philosophers to try what they could do for six
hundred years together ; and then it proved, by the events of
so long a time, that all they could do was, in vain ; the world
not becoming wiser, better, or happier under their instruc-
tions; but growing more and more foolish, wicked, and miser-
able. He suffered their wisdom and philosophy to come to
the greatest height before Christ came, that it might be seen
how far reason and philosophy could go in their highest as-
cent, that the necessity of a divine teacher might appear be-
fore Christ came. And God was pleased to make foolish the
wisdom of this world, to shew men the folly of their best wis-
dom, by the doctrines of his glorious gospel, which were above
the reach of all their philosophy. See 1 Cor. i. 19, 20, 21!"

And after God had showed the vanity of human learning, when set up in the room of the gospel, God was pleased to make it subservient to the purposes of Christ's kingdom, as an handmaid to divine revelation; and so the prevailing of learning in the world before Christ came, made way for his coming both these ways, viz, as thereby the vanity of human wisdom was shuwn, and the necessity of the gospel appeared ;

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and also as hereby an handmaid 'was prepared to the gospel ; for so it was made use of in the Apostle Paul, who was famed for his much learning, as you may see Acts xxvi. 24, and was skilled not only in the learning of the Jews, but also of the philosophers, and improved it to the purposes of the gospel ; as you may see he did in disputing with the philosophers at Athens, Acts xvii. 22. &c. He by his learning knew how to accommodate himself in his discourses to learned men, as appears by this discourse of his : And he knew. well how toʻimprove what he had read in their writings; and he here cites their own poets. And now Dionysius, that was a philosopher, was converted by him, and, as ecclesiastical history gives us an account, made a great instrument of promoting the gospel. And there were many others in that and the following ages, who were eminently useful by their human learning in pro: moting the interest of Christ's kingdom.

XIX. Just before Christ was born, the Roman empire was raised to its greatest height, and also settled in peace. About four and twenty years before Christ was born, Augustus Caesar, the first Roman emperor, began to rule as emperor of the world. Till then the Roman empire had of a long time been a.commonwealth, under the government of the senate': But then it became an absolute monarchy. This Augusus.Caesar, as he was the first, so he was the greatest of all the Roman emperors : He reigned in the greatest glory. Thus the pow. er of the heathen world, which was Satan's visible kingdom, was raised to its greatest height, after it had been rising higher and higher, and strengthening itself more and more from the days of Solomon to this day, which was about a thousand years. Now it appeared at a greater height than ever it appeared from the first beginning of Satan's heathenish kingdom which was probably about the time of the building of Babel. Now the heathen world was in its greatest glory for strength, wealth, and learning.

Cod did two things to prepare the way for Christ's coming, wherein he took a contrary method from that which human wisdom would have taken. He brought his own visible people very low, and made them weak ; but the heathen, that

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were his enemies, he exalted to the greatest height, for the
more glorious triumph of the cross of Christ. With a small
number, in their greatest weakness, he conquered his
mies in their greatest glory. Thus Christ triumphed over
principalities and powers in his cross.

.
· Augustus Cesar had been for many years establishing the
state of the Roman empire, subduing his enemies in one part
and another, till the very year that Christ was born; when all
his enemies being subdued, and his dominion over the world
seemed to be settled in its greatest glory. All was established
in peace ; in token whereof the Romans shut the temple of
Janus, which was an established symbol among them of there
being universal peace throughout the Roman empire. And
this universal peace, which was begun that year that Christ
was born, lasted twelve years, till the year that Christ disputed
with doctors in the temple.

Thus the world, after it had been, as it were, in a continual
convulsion for so many hundred years together, like the four
winds striving together on the tumultuous' raging ocean,
whence arose those four great monarchies, being now estab-
lished in the greatest height of the fourth and last monarchy,
and settled in quietness; now all things are ready for the birth
of Christ. This remarkable 'universal peace, after so many
ages of tumult and war, was å fit prelude for the ushering of
the glorious Prince of Peace into the world.

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Thus I have gone through the first grand period of the whole space between the fall of man and the end of the world, viz. that from the fall to the time of the incarnation of Christ; and have shown the truth of the first proposition, viz. That from the

fall of man to the incarnation of Christ, God was doing those things that were preparatory to Christ's coming, and were forerunners of it.

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IMPROVEMENT.

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BEFORE I proceed to the next proposition, I would make some few remarks, by way of improvement, upon what has been said under this:

I. From what has been said, we may strongly argue, that Jesus of Nazareth is indeed the Son of God, and the Saviour of the world, and sð that the Christian religion is the true rea ligion, seeing that Christ is the very person so evidently pointed at, in all the great dispensations of Divine Providence, from the fall of mani, and was so undoubtedly in so many instances foretold from age to agė, and shadowed forth in a yast variety of types and figures. If we seriously consider the course of things from the beginning, and observe the motions of all the great wheels of Providence from one age to another, we shall discern that they all tend hither. They are all as so many lines, whose course, if it be observed and accurately followed, it will be found that every one centres here. It is SÔ very plain in many things, that it would argue stupidity to deny it. This therefore is undeniable, that this person is a divine person, sent from God, that came into the world with his commission and authority, to do his work, and to declare his mind. The great Governor of the world, in all his great works before and since the flood, to Jews and Gentiles, down to the time of Christ's birth, has declared it. It cannot be any vain imagination, but a plain and evident truth, that that person that was born at Bethlehem, and dwelt at Nazareth, and at Capernaum, and was crucified without the gates of Jerusalem, must be the great Messiah, or anointed of God. And blessed are all they that believe in, and confess him ; and miserable are all that deny him. This shews the unreasonableness of the Deists, who deny revealed religion, and of the Jews, who deny that this Jesus is the Messiah foretold and promised to their fathers.

Here it may be some persons may be ready to object, and say, That it

may be, some subtle, cunning men contrived this history, and these prophecies, so that they should all point to

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