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thcr, as it we're, by the works of the law of nature, written, on their hearts. The Philosopher and the Pharisee were alike enemies to the blessedness of the man unto whom GoD
IMPUTETH RIGHTEOUSNESS WITHOUT
Works. To combat these principles, to conquer these prejudices, was the work of the Apostles and. first preachers of the Gospel j when, ai.Ied by the Hcly Ghost, they first planted the Gospel Churches. We need not be surprized, though the cunning, but cruel priesthood, addrefled the fears of the Roman Senate to procure a decree for crushing the kingdom of heaven in the bud ;—they could not fail to represent every innovation in religion as fatal to the State; and the Christian religion, in particular, as calculated to" convulse it to its lowest base. Nero, the hater of mankind, readily believed that the followers of Jesus entertained as great an enmity against their species as hipjfself; or he was glid of this specious pretext to cover his own malicious designs. "Thus, all the pafllons,all the interests of men, fought for idolatry: How powerful is interest when it can cover itself with the pretext of religion or patriotism!" Thus the followers of Christ had to sustain the furv, endure the mockery, and confute the errors of the whole world; as these were < >ihed in the Roman Empire. The idolatrous priesthood, having called in the aid of the sword to support their falling cause, it raged, with infernal fury, against every one who professed faith in the name of Jesus; but the more it raged, the more then number and fortitude enercafed. Before the end of tbe fir it centur\, there was not a province of the empire in which there were not multitudes of converts to the new religion. The faith and patience of the faints overcame the craft and cruelty of their persecutors. The assured hope of a glorious resurrection, which was brought to light by the Gospel, supported them under all the miseries of life, and death itself, in all the hideous forms in which it was presented. Philosophy also found itself attacked by the first preachers of the Gospel, as to her notions of a Deity, and the creation of the universe; for they delivered the Mosaic system in its simplicity, without verging towards the fabulous traditions of the Jews, on the one hand; and the vain conceits of Epicurus or Aristotle, on the other.
These things are sufficient to account fof the various articles which formed the Creed of the primitive Church. If we apply them, we will find, that each article was laid in opposition to some error then prevalent, and eminently suited unto the condemnation of it. The first article of almost every Creed, for example, was aimed not only against the general Polytheism of the nations; but also against the absurd notions of two principles*, the one p-ood and the other evil. The next asserth ed ed tli'e creation of the Universe, in opposition to the advocates for the eternity of it. The article respecting the Messiahihip of the Lord Jesus Christ:, in opposition to tile Jews, who looked for another; as also, those false Christs "who then obtruded themselves on the world. The doctrine of hys Sonfhip was ever maintained, in opposition to all the malice of the Jews, who persecuted him to the death, because he laid claim to that high character, and so made himself equal with God. The doctrine of his Crucifixion stood always in contrast with "that of legal righteousness: And the doctrine of his Resurrection and future glory was equally necessary, as a comfort to his people in suffering; he being the first fruits of them who slept: As also, in regard of the opposition made to it by the Jews denying the fact, oii the one hand; and the Philosophers, Freethinkers, and Sadducees, who denied the possibility of it, on the ether. The doctrine of his Dominion was not only necessary, to exclude every strange lord; but also as a badge of loyalty among all who named his name. And the assurance of this article preserved his institutions in their purity and simplicity r as longas it was entertained by his followers.
From this specimen it is plain, that those
articles which formed the Creed of the primi-1
the .Church were the p R F. S £j*t T R V T H in
* Ffff that that age,—The Word Of Christ's PatiEnce; and the Testimony of his followers.
But when the Church began to spread abroad, and stand forth as the pillar and ground of Truth, Hie was far from being secure from the attacks of her enemies. A species of them, still more formidable than any yet mentioned, began the attack within her own walls. These were such of the heathen Philosophers as had embraced the profession of Christianity ;—they endeavoured to blend divine mysteries wkh the peculiar system of the sect, to which they belonged: And temporizing Christians, who sought to trim the inspired system into an accommodation with the dogmas of the heathen religion. The former tried to spoil religion through philosophy; and the latter through vain deceit. They began to be weary of contending against the multitude, and striving against the stream of opposition to which the former Christians had been exposed: They thought it easier, by much, to sail with the wind, down the current of vulgar prejudices; and to borrow the reputation of philosophy, to screen their system of divinity from, ignominy.
The Church was in danger of this infection as early as the days of the Apostles; but it raged with far more fury afterwards. The
mixture fixture was so dreadfully dangerous, that we need not gready wonder, if the faithful overseers of the Church used every lawful precaution to prevent it. This (hews the propriety of keeping persons, who fought admission into the church, so long in the state of catechumens; as also of the diligence they used, "both in instruction and examination, before they admitted them to actual membership, and special fellowship.
THIRDLY, Should any enquire, What were the Effects of these Transactions? We shall mention only two of them.
1. Distinguished Holiness in the Hvqs and conversations of Christians. While the care and watchfulness of the Church excited her to bring all her members under solemn engagements, both in respect to their profession and conversation, her success bore some proportion to her diligence. Their enemies were obliged to acknowledge their innocence and purity in all things, except in their obstinacy in cleaving to the Truth. Pliny seems forced to own their innocence in all things, excepting with respect to their God: "I put two female staves to the torture (saidhe);—but I could discover nothing more than an absurd and exceslive superstition."
Fff f 2 2. Another