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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 general; but it is not necessary to my present purpose. These persecutions lasted about three hundred years; during which period, thousands of Christians 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 accomplishment 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.
In Holland, there have been shocking persecutions 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 persecutions 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 apostolic age. 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 rational 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 experience. 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 parent that gave it birth, the judgments of God are finished. A new era will take place. Through the instruction of past experience, and the pouring out of the Hol Spirit, righteousness and peace will fill the earth. All the prophecies describe this succession of events. The past and present fulfilment of them must remove from wise minds, all doubts concerning the future.” We pass to confider the next verse in the text, which is the language of the combined enemies of Christ and his church. “Let us break their bands, and cast their cords from us.” These words are a daring and impious declaration of the enemies of Christ, that they will reject his law and contemn his gospel. It is as if they had said, we will not have this man to reign over us. This they did : “he came to his own, and his own received him not.” By bands and cords are meant those things that unite them to Christ and to one another; love to Christ and his cause, which animated them amidst all their sufferings. Their enemies attempted, by threatenings on one hand, and promises on the other, to make them deny their Master; but they chose death rather than such a shameful and wicked conduct. The last verse now comes under consideration. “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.” These words are David's, and teach us that Jehovah, who sitteth in the heavens, observes and controls all the events that take place on earth. He beholds the rage of the heathem, the combination of wicked kings and rulers against his church, and laughs at them, and will finally have them in derision, They are his instruments to execute his purposes;