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So that this is out of doubt, that this religion, and these scriptures have always been malignantly opposed in the world.
The only question that remains, is, What it is that has made :
this opposition ? Whether or not it has been good or bad : Whether it be the wickedness and corruption of the world, or not, that has done this But of this there can be no greater doubt than of the other, if we consider how causeless this cruelty has always been, who the opposers have been, and the manner in which they have opposed. The opposition has chiefly been from Heathenism and Popery ; which things certainly are evil. They are both of them very evil, and the fruits of the blindness, corruption, and wickedness of men, as the very Deists themselves confess. The light of nature shows, that the religion of Heathens, consisting in the worship of idols, and sacrificing their children to them, and in obscene and abominable rites and ceremonies, is wickedness. And the superstitions, and idolatries, and usurpations of the church of Rome, are no less contrary to the light of nature. By this, it appears that this opposition which has been made against the church of God, has been made by wicked men. And with regard to the opposition of the Jews in Christ's and the apostle's times, it was in a most corrupt time of that nation, when the people were generally become exceeding wicked, as some of the Jewish writers themselves, as Josephus and others, who lived about that time, do expressly say. And that it has been mere wickedness that has made this opposition, is manifest, from the manner of opposition, the extreme violence, injustice, and cruelty, with which the church of God has been treated. It seems to show the hand of malignant infernal spirits in it. Now what reason can be assigned, why the corruption and and wickedness of the world should so implacably set itself against this religion of Jesus Christ, and against the scriptures, but only that they are contrary to wickedness, and consequently are good and holy 2 Why should the enemies of Christ, for so many thousand years together, manifest such a mortal hatred of this religion, but only that it is the cause of God : If the scriptures be not the word of God, and the re
ligion of the church of Christ, be not the true religion, then it must follow, that it is a most wicked religion; nothing but a pack of lies and abominable delusions, invented by the enemies of God themselves. And if this were so, it is not likely that the enemies of God, and the wickedness of the world, would have maintained such a perpetual and implacable enmity against it. (2) It is a great argument that the Christian church and its religion is from God, that it has been upheld hitherto through all the opposition and dangers it has passed through. That the church of God and the true religion, which has been so continually and violently opposed, with so many endeavors to overthrow it, and which has so often been brought to the brink of ruin, and almost swallowed up, through the greatest part of six thousand years, has yet been upheld, does most remarkably show the hand of God in favor of the church. If we consider it, it will appear one of the greatest wonders and miracles that ever came to pass. There is nothing else like it upon the face of the earth. There is no other society of men that has stood as the church has. As to the old world which was before the flood, that was overthrown by a deluge of waters; but yet the church of God was preserved. Satan’s visible kingdom on earth was then once entirely overthrown ; but the visible kingdom of Christ never has been overthrown. All those ancient human kingdoms and monarchies of which we read, and which have been in former ages, they are long since come to an end. Those kingdoms of which we read in the Old Testament, of the Moabites, the Ammonites, the Edomites, &c. they are all long ago come to an end. Those four great monarchies of the world have been overthrown, one after another. The great empire of proud Babylon was overthrown by the Persians; and then the Persian empire was ovorthrown by the Greeks; after this the Grecian empire was overthrown by the Romans; and, finally, the Roman empire fell a sacrifice to various barbarous nations. Here is a remarkable fulfilment of the words of the text with respect to other things, even the greatest and most glorious of them: They have all grown old and have vanished away : “The moth has eaten them up like a garment, and the worm has eaten them like wool ;” but yet God’s church remains. Never were there so many and so potent endeavors to destroy anything else, as there have been to destroy the church. Other kingdoms and societies of men, which have appeared to be ten times as strong as the church of God, have been destroyed with an hundredth part of the opposition which the church of God has met with ; which shows, that it is God who has been the protector of the church. For it is most plain, that it has not upheld itself by its own strength. For the most part it has been a very weak society. They have been a little flock: So they were of old. The children of Israel were but a small handful of people, in comparison of the mamy who often sought their overthrow. And so in Christ's time, and in the beginning of the Christian church after Christ’s resurrection, they were but a remnant : Whereas the whole multitude of the Jewish nation were against them. And so in the beginning of the Gentile church, they were but a small number in comparison with the Heathen, who sought their overthrow. And so in the dark times of Antichrist, before the Reformation, they were but a handful; and yet their enemies could not overthrow them. And it has commonly been so, that the enemies of the church have not only had the greatest number of their side, but they have had the strength of their side in other respects. They have commonly had all the civil authority of their side. So it was in Egypt: The civil authority was of the side of the Egyptians, and the church were only their slaves, and were in their hands ; and yet they could not overthrow them. And so it was in the time of the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes: The authority was all on the side of the persecutors, and the church was under their dominion ; and yet all their cruelty could not extirpate it. And so it was afterwards in the time of the Heathen Roman government. And so it was in the time of Julian the apostate, who did his utmost to overthrow the Christian church, and to restore Heathenism. And so it has been for the most part since the rise of Antichrist : For a great many ages, the civil authority was all on the side of Antichrist, and the church. seemed to be in their hands.
And not only has the strength of the enemies of the church been greater than the strength of the church, but ordinarily the church has not used what strength they have had in their own defence, but have committed themselves wholly to God. So it was in the time of the Jewish persecutions before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans; and so it was in the time of the Heathen persecutions before Constantine ; the Christians did not only not rise up in arms to defend themselves, but they did not pretend to make any forcible resistance to their Heathen persecutors. So it has for the most part been under the Popish persecutions; and yet they have never been able to overthrow the church of God; but it stands to this very day.
And this is still the more exceeding wonderful, if we consider how often the church has been brought to the brink of ruin, and the case seemed to be desperate, and all hope gone, and they seemed to be swallowed up. In the time of the old world, when wickedness so prevailed, as that but one family was left, yet God wonderfully appeared, and overthrew the wicked world with a flood, and preserved his church. And so at the Red Sea, when Pharaoh and his host thought they were quite sure of their prey ; yet God appeared, and destroyed them, and delivered his church. And so was it from time to time in the church of Israel, as has been shown. So under the tenth and last Heathen persecution, their persecutors boasted that now they had done the business for the Christians, and had overthrown the Christian church ; yet in the midst of their triumph, the Christian church rises out of the dust and prevails, and the Heathen empire totally falls before it. So when the "Christian church seemed ready to be swallowed up by the Arian heresy; so when Antichrist rose and prevailed, and all the world wondered after the beast, and the church for many hundred years was reduced to such a small number, and seemed to be hidden, and the power of the world was engaged to destroy those little remainders of the church ; yet they could never fully accomplish their deVol. II. 2. R.
sign, and at last God wonderfully revived his church in the time of the Reformation, and made it to stand as it were on its feet in the sight of its enemies, and raised it out of their reach. And so since, when the Popish powers have plotted the overthrow of the Reformed church, and have seemed just about to bring their matters to a conclusion, and to finish their design, then God has wonderfully appeared for the deliverance of his church, as it was in the time of the Revolution by King William. And so it has been from time to time ; pres– ently after the darkest times of the church, God has made his church most gloriously to flourish. If such a preservation of the church of God, from the beginning of the world hitherto, attended with such circumstances, is not sufficient to show a divine hand in favor of it, what can be devised that would be sufficient : But if this be from the divine hand, then God owns the church, and owns her religion, and owns that revelation and those scriptures on which she is built ; and so it will follow, that their religion is the true religion, or God's religion, and that the scriptures, which they make their rule, are his word. (3) We may draw this further argument for the divine authority of the scriptures from what has been said, viz. that God has so fulfilled those things which are foretold in the scriptures....I have already observed, as I went along, how the prophecies of scripture were fulfilled : I shall now therefore single out but two instances of the fulfilment of scripture prophecy.  One is in preserving his church from being ruined. I have just now shown what an evidence this is of the divine authority of the scriptures in itself considered : I now speak of it as a fulfilment of scripture prophecy. This is abundantly foretold and promised in the scriptures, as particularly in the text : There it is foretold, that other things shall fail, other kingdoms and monarchies which set themselves in opposition, should come to nothing : “The moth should eat them up like a garment, and the worm should eat them like wool.” And so it has in fact come to pass. But it is here. foretold, that God’s covenant mercy to his church should con