God by Christ's blood, during that period of the Church's prosperity, than ever had been before, from the beginning of
the world to that time." President Edwards "Attempt to promote Agreement in Prayer," &c.
The sufferings of the Church, during the first three centuries under the Roman Emperors, were exceedingly severe - Christians
were continually exposed to the hatred and violence of their Pagan neighbors. Private citizens and subordinate
magistrates loaded them with callumny, spoiled them of their property, and grievously harrassed them throughout the whole
of that period; but there were ten wasting persecutions instigated and inflicted by the express authority of the Emperors.
The first was by Nero, which began about A.D. 67; second by Domitian, A.D. 90; third by Trajan, A.D. 100;
fourth by Hadrian and Ant. Pius, A.D. 126; fifth by Ant. Philos. and L.A. Verus, A.D. 168; sixth by Severus A.D. 208;
seventh by Maximinus, A.D. 236; eight by Decius, A.D. 251;
ninth by Gallus and Volusianus, A.D. 258; tenth under Dioclesian, A.D. 300.
Some of these succeeded each other by very short intervals, and were enforced with the most savage barbarity. But fierce
and dreadful as they proved, they have been greatly exceeded by the deliberate, systematic, and protracted cruelty of papal
Rome. During a considerable portion of the long period in which that idolatrous and apostate Church has prevailed, she
may be truly represented as drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. Pope Julius, in
seven years, was the occasion of the slaughter of 200,000 Christians. The massacre in France cut off 100,000 in three
months. In the persecution of the Albigenses and Waldenses, 1,000,000 lost their lives. From the beginning of the Jesuits
till 1580 - 900 000 perished. The duke of Alva put 36,0000 to death. The inquisition, in thirty years, destroyed 150,000. -
In Ireland, 300,000 were destroyed. And how many have been massacred in other persecutions in France and Piedmont,
in the Palatinate and Hungary, none can fully estimate;
besides those that have been in the gallies, or that have fled.
[See Fleming on the rise and fall of the Papacy.]
Surely the Church of Christ may say, If it had not been the Lord who was on our side when men, actuated by such principles,
and clothed with such power, rose up against us, then they had swallowed us up quick; then the waters had overwhelmed us
Blessed be the Lord who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth!
EVERY new society we consider as a new additional ally stirred up in defence of the cause of God; and in its meetings
and its proceedings we see a new army raised for Christ, and going forth to fight the battles of their Lord. When this
spirit becomes general (as we trust it will) through the Christian Church, there will be a large and noble army of spiritual
warriors to carry the conquests of Immanuel through every Pagan and Mahometan country. In a word, here is a confirmation of
what has been often suggested of late, that we behold the dawn of a more glorious day than the world has yet seen."
Evang. Mag. Vol. viii. Nov. 1800.
The Church hath seen her worst Days.
HATH the Church survived her severest trials? Or, are scenes of adversity, beyond what she hath ever experienced,
yet in reserve for her? In these inquiries Christians are deeply interested, and their sentiments much divided. Many good
and great men entertain serious apprehensions of approaching evils, and cannot divest themselves of anxious fears, that
the gloom will actually thicken at the close, that the number of believers will be greatly diminished, errors overwhelm
the Church, the true religion be reduced to an extreme point of depression, previous to that enlargement of the Redeemer's
kingdom we have contemplated. Others, on the contrary, conceive the worst to be past; and whatever temporal
afflictions in the impending dispensations of Providence may await individual believers or Churches, that truth and
righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost will more abundantly prevail, and true religion in its purity and power,
from this day prosper in the world, vastly beyond what has ever been heretofore known.
It would be gratifying to the Lord's people to see the arguments on both sides of this question fairly stated. The subject
is worthy of a minute and impartial discussion. If some pious writer, who is equal to the talk, would carefully investigate