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the only hope of man for salvation. Thus Paul writes: Our fathers" did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was. Christ;" 1 Cor. x. 3, 4.
3. The third state of the church: is the most splendid and perfect, and began with the appearance of our Saviour, when the truths of the gospel, beginning at himself, were preached by the apostles through all the world, and were sealed by the blood of innumerable multitudes of martyrs. In this state, the church is founded on the perspicuous doctrines of the gospel, and supported by ordinances; and, according to the apostle, she is not under the law, but under grace, Rom. vi. 14; and now we are not taught by hidden predictions and dark types, "but we all, with open face behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord;" 2 Cor. iii. 18. This state will continue till the end of time, "when he (Jesus Christ) shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; and when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority, and power;" 1 Cor. xv. 24.
Of the persecution of the Church,
The church of Jesus Christ has always been per
secuted, and shall be persecuted until the end of time, though there is no possibility of her ever being over
1. As the church, which contains the true faith in herself, began at the foundation of the world, so she at the same time began to be persecuted; because between truth and superstition, piety and impiety, virtue and vice, there exists an eternal and irreconcileable war. The first Cain slew his innocent brother Abel, and all persecutors "have gone in the way of Cain;" Jude 9. From Cain there sprung up a wicked race, and from Seth a righteous race, who, in holy writ, are denomi-nated sons of God; Gen. vi. 2. The former were always inveterate enemies to the latter; but they were destroyed by the deluge, and the church was preserved in the ark from the overwhelming waters of the deep.
After the flood, as mankind began to multiply upon the earth, the number of the wicked increased, and appear to have been headed by the wicked posterity of Ham; Gen. ix. 25. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, passed through the fire of temptations and difficulties, and were thereby purified. Lot also suffered among the Sodomites, Joseph from his brethren, the Israelites from the Egyptians, Moses from the Israelites, and David from Saul. All the prophets bore
opposition and reproach; yet they were all virtuous and holy men of Israel, though they fed on the bread of sorrow, and drank the cup of bitterness. In a word, the blood of the righteous began to flow at Abel, and ended at John the Baptist, the harbinger of gospel blessings; Matt. xxiii. 35, and xiv. 10.
All these were in Old Testament times. And under the new dispensation, the Saviour himself has marked out this most holy course, and, through his own divine nature, has rendered sacred to all ages the saving bearing of the cross. He began his life in persecution, continued it amid the greatest poverty, defamation, and revilings, and ended it upon the cross. The disciples followed their Master, and were sent by him into the world as lambs amongst wolves. They say of themselves, that they were accounted as the off-scouring of all things, and were "a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men;" 1 Cor. iv. 9, 18. But the blood of the apostles was a prolific seed, which unexpectedly produced a rich harvest of Christians, though they themselves were all slain like sheep, and were gathered like wheat.
The Roman emperors, and all the rulers of the world, opposed them with their whole might. In the history of the church, we find ten such
persecutions. 1st, In the time of Nero; 2d, Of Domitian; 3d, Of Trajan; 4th, Of Adrian; 5th, Of Antoninus; 6th, Of Severus; 7th, Of Maximinus; 8th, Of Decius; 9th, Of Valerian; and 10th, In the time of Dioclesian, The heart trembles, when one reflects on those awful tortures which the Christians suffered during the time of the above mentioned persecutions. They accounted it a light matter to be deprived of their honours and estates. They were condemned in exile to work in the mines, beaten with rods, their teeth and eyes were pulled out, their tongues cut out, and they had their hands and feet cut off; moreover, they were sewed up in the skins of animals, and thrown to wild beasts to be devoured; after having every joint dislocated in the rack, they were hung upon crosses; sewed up in sacks, they were thrown into the water; they were burnt by fire, buried alive, stoned to death, shut up in red hot bulls of brass, tortured to the bones and to the vitals: boiling pitch or lead were poured down their throats, they were thrown over precipices, and cut in pieces, How dreadful such sufferings! Every kind of torture which the cruelty of man could invent was inflicted upon them.
Here; as we proceed, it is necessary to remark, the unconquerable constancy of the martyrs in
midst of torments; because they suffered all these things with the greatest magnanimity, and were not in the least confounded in presence of their tormentors; which strongly proves the great superiority of the truths of Christianity. This open persecution continued till the days of Constantine the Great. The edicts which commanded the persecution of the Christians, were abolished in the time of this pious Emperor; but secret persecutions did not cease, such as the godly have at all times to endure from the wicked. Farther, what had the Christians not to suffer every where, from the frequent irruptions of the unbelieving nations, by whom they were harassed and murdered? Exclusive of these, the church of Christ, in the course of a few ages, again beheld the flames of persecution kindled against her, when, at the internal division of the eastern and western churches, the East was conquered by Mohammed, the oppressor of Christianity, and the West fell under the yoke of the most superstitious Pope.
Of internal Persecution.
Togetherwith the above mentioned persecutors, who properly may be styled external, there were also internal persecutors, of whom St John writes,
They went out from us, but they were not of