« AnteriorContinuar »
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, she 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 with the peculiar system of the fect 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 tle 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 fail with the wind, down the current of vulgar prejudices; and to borrow the reputation of philosophy, to screen their system of divinity from ignominy.
Tie 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 was so dreadfully dangerous, that we need not greatly wonder, if the faithful overfeers of the Church used every lawful precaution to prevent it. This shews 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 fpecial fellowship.
THIRDLY, Should any enquire, What were the Effects of these Transactions ? We shall mention only two of them.
1. DISTINGUISHED HOLINESS in the lives and conversations of Christians. While the care and watchfulness of the Church excited her to bring all her members under solenın engagements, both in respect to their profeffion and conversation, her success bore sone 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 slaves to the torture (said he);-but I could discover nothing more than an absurd and exceslive superstition.”
2. ANOTHER Effect of these Transactions was Courage and Constancy in Death. Mr: Adam, in his controversy with Glas, gives us the following anecdote : " When he (Irenæus) was bishop of Lyons, in France, he brought his congregation under a solemn bond to adhere unto Christianity, not only in oppo. sition to Heathenism; but likeways to the many Sects and Heresies which then prevailed; and wrote unto the neighbouring bishops to do the same: Of which engagements he minds some of his friends, when they were going together to martyrdom *.” For which he quotes Eccl. Epit. p. 58. by I. S. Upon which Mr A: dam makes this reflection, “So that this Father looks as like an old Scatch Covenanter as any thing I can imagine.”
* See Adam's Review of Letters, p. 50.
WHICH OBTAINED IN THE
REFORMED CHURCHES ABROAD.
D URING the reign of Antichrist, the
Witnesses of Jesus prophelied in fack cloth, and were driven into corners ; nevertheless he still reserved unto himself a feed to do him service in the world. It were a task fufficiently worth while, to attend unto their Testimony, on the one hand; and unto. the image of divine ordinances, which the Man of Sin substituted in the place of Christ's institutions, on the other hand : As also to : trace this corruption unto its genuine source; but these things require more room than can be spared in this treatise.-1. I shall furvey the Testimony of the Waldenses and Bohemian brethren, who were a noble prelude of the Reformation.-II. I shall specify some of the ·most remarkable Federal Tranfactions which obtained in the Refornyed Churches themselves.
FIRST, I shall survey the TESTIMONY of the Waldenses and Bohemian brethren. The origin of the former has been involved in much obscurity among ecclesiastic historians: And a variety of circumstances have precluded me from investigating it with that care which the subject demands. I shall follow the narrative of Archbishop USHER, who understood the fubject as well as any man in his own, or our age; along with the account of F. Spanheim, F. F. and such authors as the reader shall find referred to in the notes. The most certain monuments respecting them, find them, in the twelfth century, associated under PETER WALDO, a wealthy merchant of Lyons, who gave up his fecular employment and commenced Divine, who translated, or caused to be translated, the holy Scriptures into the vulgar language; that is, both the Old and New Testament. This is a fillicient refutation of the Popish calumny, by which they are accused of the errors of the Mariclees, in reprobating the Old Testament: Yca, a certain inquisitor acknowlegeth, that " the vulgar among them had the greater part of the Old and New Testaments by heart *." I find two fummaries of their faithi preferved by USHER: One of them directed against the Church of Rome, and the other against the abominations of the Manichees, as in favour of the whole Christian fyítem. According 10
* REINERUS De Horcfi Waldensicum, cap. ii.