Imagini ale paginilor
[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


WORK OF REDEMPTION. [PERIOD HI. ise, "That the gates of hell shall not prevail against his church."

(5) The last kind of opposition that Satan has made to the Reformation is by corrupt opinions. Satan has opposed the light of the gospel which shone forth in the Reformation with many corrupt opinions, which he has brought in and propagated in the world.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

And here in the first place, the first opposition of this kind was by raising up the sect of the Anabaptists, which began about four or five years after the Reformation itself began..... This sect, as it first appeared in Germany, were vastly more extravagant than the present Anabaptists are in England. They held a great many exceeding corrupt opinions. One tenet of theirs was, That there ought to be no civil authority, and so that it was lawful to rebel against civil authority. And: on this principle, they refused to submit to magistrates, or any human laws; and gathered together in vast armies, to defend themselves against their civil rulers, and put all Germany into an uproar, and so kept it for some time.

The next opposition of this kind to the Reformation was that which was made by enthusiasts. Those are called enthusiasts who falsely pretend to be inspired by the Holy Ghost as the prophets were. These began in Germany, about ten years after Luther began the Reformation; and there arose various sects of them who were exceeding wild and extravagant. The followers of these are the Quakers in England, and other parts of the British dominions.

The next to these were the Socinians, who had their beginning chiefly in Poland, by the teaching of two men ; the name of the one was Lalius Socinus, of the other Faustus Socinus. They held that Christ was a meré man, and denied Christ's satisfaction, and most of the fundamental doctrines of the Christian religion. Their heresy has since been greatly propagated among Protestants in Poland, Germany, Holland, England, and other p`aces.

After these arose the Arminians.
Holland about 130 years ago.
a Dutchman, whose name was

These first appeared in They take their name from Jacobus Van Harmin, which,

[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors]


turned into Latin is called Jacobus Arminius; and from his name the whole sect are called Arminians. This Jacobus Arminius was first a minister at Amsterdam, and then a professor of divinity in the University of Leyden. He had many followers in Holland. There was upon this a synod of all the Reformed churches called together, who met at Dort, in Holland. The synod of Dort condemned them; but yet they spread and prevailed. They began to prevail in England in the reign of Charles I, especially in the church of England. The church of England divines before that, were almost universally Calvinists; but since that, Arminianism has gradually more and more prevailed, till they are become almost universally Arminians. And not only so, but Arminianism has greatly prevailed among the Dissenters, and has spread greatly in New England, as well as Old.

Since this, Arianism has been received. As I told you before, Arianism, a little after Constantine's time, almost swallowed up the Christian world, like a flood out of the mouth of the serpent which threatened to swallow up the woman..... And of late years this heresy has been revived in England, and greatly prevails there, both in the church of England, and among Dissenters. These hold that Christ is but a mere creature; though they grant that he is the greatest of all crea


Again, another thing which has of late exceedingly prevailed among Protestants, and especially in England, is Deism. The Deists wholly cast off the Christian religion, and are professed infidels. They are not like the Heretics, Arians, Socinians, and others, who own the scriptures to be the word of God, and hold the Christian religion to be the true religion, but only deny these and these fundamental doctrines of the Christian religion: They deny the whole Christian religion. Indeed they own the being of God; but deny that Christ was the son of God, and say he was a mere cheat ; and so they say all the prophets and apostles were: And they deny the whole scripture. They deny that any of it is the word of God. They deny any revealed religion, or any word of God at all; and say that God has given mankind no VOL. II. 2 P

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

other light to walk by but their own reason. These sentiments
and opinions our nation, which is the principal nation of the
Reformation, is very much overrun with, and they prevail

more and more.

Thus much concerning the opposition that Satan has made against the Reformation.

3. I proceed now to show what success the gospel has more fately had, or what success it has had in these later times of the Reformed church. This success may be reduced to these three heads: f. Reformation in doctrine and worship in countries called Christian: 2. Propagation of the gospel among the Heathen : 3. Revival of religion in the power and practice of it.

(1) As to the first, víz. Reformation in doctrine, the most considerable success of the gospel that has been of late of this kind has been in the empire of Muscovy, which is a country of vast extent. The people of this country, so many of them as call themselves Christians, professed to be of the Greek church; but were barbarously ignorant, and very superstitious till of late years. Their late Emperor Peter the Great, who reigned till within these twenty years, set himself to reform the people of his dominions, and took great pains to bring them out of their darkness and to have them instructed in religion. And to that end, he set up schools of learning, and ordered the Bible to be printed in the language of the country, and made a law that every family should keep the holy scriptures in their houses, and that every person should be able to read the same, and that no persons should be allowed to marry till they were able to read the scriptures. He also reformed the churches of his country of many of their superstitions, whereby the religion professed and practised in Muscovy, is much nearer to that of the Protestants than formerly it used to be. This emperor gave great encourage. ment to the exercise of the Protestant religion in his dominions. And since that, Muscovy has become a land of light, in comparison of what it was before. Wonderful alterations have been brought about in the face of religion for the better within these fifty years past.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

(2) As to the second kind of success which the gospel has lately had, viz. its propagation among the Heathen, I would take notice of three things.

[1] The propagation there has been of the gospel among the Heathen here in America. This American continent on which we live, which is a very great part of the world, and, together with its neighboring seas adjoining, takes up one side of the globe, was wholly unknown to all Christian nations till these later times. It was not known that there was any such part of the world, though it was very full of people; and therefore here the devil had the people that inhabited this part of the world as it were secure to himself, out of the reach of the light of the gospel, and so out of the way of molestation in his dominion over them. And here the many nations of Indians worshipped him as God from age to age, while the gospel was confined to the opposite side of the globe. It is a thing, which, if I remember right, I have somewhere lit of, as probably supposed, from some remaining accounts of things, that the occasion of the first peopling Amer ica was this, that the devil, being alarmed and surprized by the wonderful success of the gospel which there was the first three hundred years after Christ, and by the downfal of the Heathen empire in the time of Constantine; and seeing the gospel spread so fast, and fearing that his Heathenish kinge dom would be wholly overthrown through the world, led away a people from the other continent into America, that they might be quite out of the reach of the gospel, that here he might quietly possess them, and reign over them as their god. It is what many writers give an account of, that some of the nations of Indians, when the Europeans first came into America, had a tradition among them, that their god first led them into this continent, and went before them, in an ark.

Whether this was so or not, yet it is certain that the devil did here quietly enjoy his dominion over the poor nations of Indians for many ages. But in later times God has sent the gospel into these parts of the world, and now the Christian church is set up here in New England, and in other parts of America, where before had been nothing but the grossest


Heathenish darkness. Great part of America is now full of Bibles, and full of at least the form of the worship of the true God, and Jesus Christ, where the name of Christ before had not been heard of for many ages, if at all. And though there has been but a small propagation of the gospel among the Heathen here, in comparison of what were to be wished for yet there has been something worthy to be taken notice of..... There was something remarkable in the first times of New England, and something remarkable has appeared of late here, and in other parts of America among many Indians, of an inclination to be instructed in the Christian religion.


And however small the propagation of the gospel among the Heathen here in America has been hitherto, yet I think we may well look upon the discovery of so great a part of the world as America, and bringing the gospel into it, as one thing by which divine providence is preparing the way for the future glòrious times of the church; when Satan's kingdom shall be overthrown, not only throughout the Roman empire, but throughout the whole habitable globe, on every side, and on all its continents. When those times come, then doubtless the gospel, which is already brought over into America, shall have glorious success, and all the inhabitants of this new discovered world, shall become subjects of the kingdom of Christ, as well as all the other ends of the earth; and in all probability providence has so ordered it, that the mariner's compass, which is an invention of later times, whereby men are enabled to sail over the widest ocean, when before they durst not venture far from land, should prove a prepara

tion for what God intends to bring to pass in the glorious times of the church, viz. the sending forth the gospel wherever any of the children of men dwell, how far soever off, and however separated by wide oceans from those parts of the world which are already Christianized.

(2) There has of late years been a very considerable propagation of the gospel among the Heathen in the dominions of Muscovy. I have already observed the reformation which there has lately been among those who are called Christians there: But I now speak of the Heathen. Great part of the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« ÎnapoiContinuă »