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Athens against idolatry, they mocked. other time he was stoned, imprisoned and scourged. Such was their rage against him, that they said he cught not to live any longer.
The next verse opens this matter more fully to our view. “ The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers took counsel against the Lord, and against his anointed.”
The terms kings and rulers signify persons clothed with different degrees of power and authority; the former are supreme, the latter subordinate. They united in their opposition to Christ.
You are desired to bear in mind, that this prediction was delivered about one thousand years before the coming of Christ. Its accomplishment hath been exact, so far as the present age of the world. Much yet remains as to the latter part of it.
The kings of the earth set themselves, i. e. in opposition against the Lord, meaning Jehovah; and against his anointed, meaning Jesus Christ, who is often spoken of in the word of God by this phrase.
Let us now compare prophecy and event together in this part of it.
The first instance of this kind we have in Herod, and in Pilate the Roman governor. You recollect that the former was so much opposed to him that he murdered many infants, that he might be sure to cut off Jesus Christ. Pilate arraigned, tried, condemned him, and delivered him over to the Jews and soldiers, to kill him.
You are sensible that the text was literally fulfilled during the ten persecutions under the Ro.
man emperors. The first was under the cruel Nero; the second by Domitian ; the third by Tra. jan. I might mention all the names of those Roman kings or emperors, who set themselves against the Lord's anointed, or his cause in gene. ral; but it is not necessary to my present purpose.
These persecutions lasted about three hundred years; during which period, thousands of Christo ians were put to death. This was under Rome Pagan. Afterward the most cruel persecutions were carried on by Rome Christian, so called.
“ The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord, and against his anointed.” The following state. ment of facts will farther show the exact accom.
plishment of this prophecy. “There was a strong - conspiracy between James II. the king of England,
and Louis XIV. of France, who were both papists, to extirpate the northern heresy, as they called the protestant religion, not only out of England, but out of Europe ; and had laid their schemes so as to be almost sure of their purpose. But just as they were about to put them into execution, God in his providence suddenly dashed all their schemes in pieces by the revolution, at the coming in of king William and queen Mary.'
After this there was a plan laid to accomplish the same thing by bringing in the popish pretender in the latter end of queen Anne's reign ; which. also was defeated by Providence.
The emperor of Germany declared war against the duke of Saxony because he favoured Luther and his friends. The king of Spain maintained a long war with Holland and the Low Countries, on the same account.
În Holland, there have been shocking persécutions under the Spanish government. In France, at different times; especially under Louis XIV. who was a most bloody man. In England, in the reign of bloody queen Mary; and in Scotland, in queen Mary's days. Ireland too has had her share in the persecutions of the church. In the reign of Charles I. of England, above one hundred thousand protestants were cruelly put to death. In Italy too the same horrid cruelties have been exercised towards the Lord, and towards his anointed.
By this short sketch of facts it appears, that the text, delivered many hundreds of years past, has been literally fulfilled, as it respects the combination of kings and rulers against the Lord and the cause of Christ.
And these cruel persecu. tions have been carried on in those very countries, which are now the seat of wars and desolations; the Lord hath given them blood to drink in their turn.
We may now look back and trace the progress of error, and departure from the faith, from the beginning, and learn how they have been gradually preparing for the present state of things in the world.
The persecutions of the church, and the corruptions of Christianity, have been long foretold with such clearness, that they have always been expected. The issue of these things hath been also foretold.
We have observed already, that at first Jews and Gentiles opposed the cause of Christ ; him they apprehended, condemned and crucified. His followers were treated in the same manner, in different ages, and in different countries.
A departure from the faith began in the apos
And after Rome pagan became Christian, which was when Constantine was converted to Christianity, she soon became corrupt. Errors were introduced, and fatal controversies took place among them. A hierarchy was soon established among the clergy, and primitive Christianity was greatly corrupted. Popery, with all its errors and with all its horrors, sprang up in the world, and spread with a surprising rapidity. Many things which did not belong to Christianity, being found among those who were called Christians, brought it into disrepute. The superstitions and fooleries of the Romish church, and the ignorance in which the common people were held, had an immediate tendency to make deists. This was actually the case, till at length Christianity was viewed as a mere human invention, an engine of state to keep the ignorant world in awe.
Deism increased surprisingly, till at length thousands of mankind, in different nations, threw off all regard to religion.
Thus the abuses of mankind and the corruptions of Christianity led to the infidelity which now prevails in the world, and is openly avowed by a great body of men.
Such have been the causes which in a course of ages have brought the state of religion in the world to what you see it to be.
The tyrannies exercised over the souls and bodies of men, have also tended to awaken their resentments, and to produce the convulsions that are now among the nations.
A diffusion of political knowledge hath helped on the matter. And when once mankind are let loose, there is no knowing
where or when they will stop. They who set out right, have lost sight of their first principles, and overleaped the bounds of reason, and of true Tational liberty.
• God is now making himself known,' says an ingenious writer, by the judgments which he executeth in the earth. He is now, by the works of his providence, giving the ultimate and that which will be the all-convincing evidence of the truth of the scriptures. There is but a little period to come, compared with the past, in which infidelity will dare speak its sentiments. All considerate and good people see this already ; and though there be some infidels against growing light, Infinite Wisdom permits them to rise up for two purposes : first, to fulfil more bloody judgments on apostate Christendom than men of good hearts would wish to be instrumental of executing, although they know them to be just ; and secondly, that by their avowed principles, practice, and the end to which Providence will bring them, they may be a warning to future ages against infidelity. God teaches by experi
Within the conclusion of a century from this time, it will not be disputed what was meant by prophetic Babylon. Her great wickedness will be illustrated to universal knowledge by her great plagues. It will also appear that infidelity was the instrument prepared by God for her punishment; that this infidelity naturally sprung out of her own corruption, or rather was the last stage of antichristian apostacy; and that having consumed itself and the
it birth, the judgments of God are finished. A new era will take place. Through the instruction of past