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peculiar circumstances in which they were placed who framed and used them. When the Go(pel was addressed to the Gentiles, after the resurrection of Christ, however widely they differed from the Jews in other things, they perfectly agreed with them in their opposition to it. The latter had formed themselves into various sects, each of which had its peculiar dogmas, strongly tinctured with the spirit of error. Besides the common and capital mistake respecting the Messiah, which blinded them all, and prevented them from finding his prophetic characters fully answered in Jesus of Nazareth; the greater part of them shewed a superior fondness for human traditions rather than divine institutions. The Romans, who had lwallowed the religion of all other nations, had not incorporated the Jewish system with their grand Catholicon however, although they had reduced Judea into the form of a Roman province. They were obliged to give a practical demonstration, that the Lord God of Israel cannot admit of any partner, or competitor, in his glory and service. On this account, they detested the Mosaic system, as far as they knew it. They imagined, the religion of Jesus was equally unsocial: Hence we find them sometimes confounding the Christians with the Jews; and detesting the former for the very fame reason they abhorred the latter. But this did not hinder both Jews and Romans from conipiring to crush the doctrine of Christ Cruci
fied and Glorified, ■ which is the centre of the Gospel. And the deadly feuds which obtained between the Jewish sects seem, to have been forgotten by their union in persecuting the followers of Jesus. The Sadducees, who held much the fame rank among them, as the deists among us, coincided with the philosophers of Athens and Rome, in opposition to the doctrine of a Resurrection, whether of Ghrist or his people. These men considered this doctrine as worthy of the keenest satire. The philosopher laughed in secret at the superstition of the priest and populace, while he publicly professed to revere the vilest deities; and most profound veneration for the most trifling, not to fay impious ceremonies. They were full as much masters of dissimulation as any of our moderns, who profess the established religion of their country, while there is scarce an article of it which they believe. They were at less pains, at least, to undeceive their 'fellow-worshippers in this matter. Nor were the Jews more sincere, though better instructed thah the heathen. But, as it frequently happens, the left persons are holy, and the more they arc estranged from working righteousness, they trust the more unto their own merit; and are less sensible of their infinite need of a righteousness better than their own: So, in this instance, both went about to establish a righteousness of their own; the one, as U were, by the works of the Mosaic lav/j the o
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.