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kated Micaiah, its prophesying no good concerning them.

The Scriptures are a mirror in which we fee not only individual characters, our own and others; but the state of things as they move on in the great world. They shew us the spring-head whence all the malignant streams of idolatry, atheism, corruption, persecution, war, and every other evil originate; and by shewing us the origin of these destructive maladies, clearly instruct us wherein must consist their cure.

It has already been observed * that Christian morality is summed up in the love of God and our neighbour, and that these principles, carried to their full extent, would render the world a paradife. But the Scriptures teach us that man is a , rebel against his Maker; that his carnal mind is enmity against God, and is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be ; that instead of loving God, or even man in the order which is required, men are become lovers of their own felves, and neither God nor man are regarded but as they are found necessary to fubferve their wishes.

This single principle of human apostacy, supposing it to be true, will fully account for all the moral disorders in the world ; and the actual existence of those disorders, unless they can be better accounted for, must go to prove the truth of this principle, and, by consequence, of the Christian fyftem which refts upon it.

We are affected in considering the idolatry of so great a part of the human race; but we are not furprised at it. If men be deftitute of the love of

Part I. Chap. III.

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God, it is natural to suppose they will endeavour to banish him from their thoughts, and, provided the state of society will admit of it, from their worship; fubftituting gods more congenial with their inclinations, and in the worship of which they can indulge themselves without fear or controul.

Neither are we surprised at the practical atheism which abounds among unbelievers, and even among nominal Christians, in European nations. If the ftate of things be such that gross idolatry is inadmiffible, still, if aversion to God predominate, it will fhew itself in a neglect of all worship, and of all serious conversation, or devout exercises ; in a wish to think there is no God, and no hereafter ; and in endeavours to banish every thing of a religious nature from society. Or, if this cannot be, and any thing relating to such subjects become matter of discussion, they will be fo explained away as that nothing shall be left which can approve itself to an upright heart. The holiness of the divinc character will be kept out of fight, his precepts disregarded, and morality itself made to con-fist in fomething destitute of all true virtue.

We are not surprised at the corruptions which Christianity has undergone. Christianity itself, as we have already seen, foretold it, and the doctrine of human depravity fully accounts for it. When the Christian religion was adopted by the state, it is natural to suppose there wculd be great numbers of unprincipled men who would profess it; and where its leading characters in any age are of this description, it will certainly be corrupted. The purę doctrine of Christ is given up in favour of Tome flesh-pleasing system, the boly precepts of

Christian morality are lowered to the standard of ordinary practice, and the worship and ordinances of Christ mingled with superstition, and modelled to a worldly temper. It was thus that Judaism was corrupted by the old pharisees, and Christianity by the papal hierarchy.

The success which evil men and foducers meet with in propagating false doctrine, is no more than may be expected from the present state of things, So long as a large proportion of the profeffors of Christianity receive not the love of the truth, error will be certain to meet with a welcome reception. The groffest impostor has only to advance a fystem suited to corrupt nature, to affert it with effrontery, and to flatter his adherents with being the favourites of heaven, and he will be followed.*

The perfecutions which have been carried on against religion are grievous to humanity, and equally repugnant to justice and to good policy: but they are not in the least surprising. There was not a truth more prominent in our Saviour's addresses to his followers than this, that having rea ceived his word, the world would hate them! because they were not of the world, as he was not of the world. When he sent them forth to preach the gospel, it was as feep among wolves ; and they were treated accordingly. When he took leave of them previous to his death, he left them his peace as knowing that in the world they should have tribulation. All this was no more than might be expected : for if it be the character of true religion that it sets itself against every vicious propensity of the human heart, it is natural to suppose that every one who is under the dominion of such propensity will feel averse to true religion, and to those who adhere to it. The manner in which mankind have stood affected towards godly men has been nearly uniform from the beginning. Cain flew his brother. And wherefore flew he him? because his own works. were evil, and his brother's righteous. Sarah faw the son of Hagar the Egyptian mocking: As then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Why was Jerusalem a burdensome stone to the nations? Why were they continually forming leagues to root out its remembrance from the earth? The fame fpirit that was discovered by Edom, Moab, and the children of Ammon towards Israel, was apparent in Sanballat, Tobialı, Geshem, and their companions, towards Judah ; and the part acted by the Horonite, the Ammonite, and the Arabian, was afterwards re-acted with additional zeal by Herod and Pontius Pilate, and the governors and people of Israel.

* Men are much more easily deceived in these matters than in the ordinary concerns of life. If a London merchant were to open a warehouse in different parts of the city, and make it his business to traduce the characters and commodities of all other merchants; if his opposition were directed especially againg men of probity and eminence, whose situations were contiguous to his own; in fine, if

2 the only traders in the kingdom who could obtain his good word were certain agents whom he had stationed in different parts of the country for the purpose of retailing his wares, Would not his designs be evident ? He might puff, and pretend to have the good of the public much at heart ; but the public would despise him as a man 'whose object was a fortune, and whose practices evinced that he would hesitate at no means to accomplit his end. Yet such deceptions may be practised in religion with sudcess,

Those who could agree in nothing else could agree in this. The perfecutions of pagan and papal Rome, and of all who have symbolized with her, have been only a continuation

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of the same system: and the descriptions which deiftical historians give of these works of darkness, notwithstanding their pretended regard to religious liberty, bear witness that they allow the deeds of their fathers, and inherit their dispositions. The fame malignant spirit which was discovered by the heathens towards the ancient Ifraelites, is discoverable in all the writings of unbelievers towards that people to this day. It is true they are more reconciled to the modern Jews, and for a very plain reason: they feel them to be near a-kin to themfelves. Herod and Pilate vere made friends by the crucifixion of Christ. Since that time the old enmity has been transferred to believing gentiles, who, being grafted into the Jewish olive, and partaking of its advantages, partake also of its perfecutions : and by how much the Christian church at any period has exceeded the Jewish in purity and spirituality, by so much more fierce has the wrath of a wicked world burned against it.

After all the pains which unbelievers take to shift the charge of persecution, and to lay it at the door of Christianity, it is manifest to an observant eye that there is a deep-rooted enmity in all wicked men, whether they be pagans, papists, proteftants or deists, towards all godly men, of every nation, name and denomination.

This enmity, it is true, is not suffered to operate according to iis native tendency. He who holdeth the winds in his hand, restrains it. Men are withheld by laws, by policy, by interests, by education, by respect, by regard founded on other than religious qualities, and by various other things. There are certain conjunctions of interests, especially, which occafionally require a temporary ceffation of hostilities;

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