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and Albigenses in the vallies of Piedmont and the south of France, and the Wickliffites in England. We have reason to believe, that all the persecuted professors in those times, with very few exceptions, were real Christians: for hypocrites, in general, leave the profession of religion, when there is neither personal safety, nor ease, nor honour, nor riches attending it.--Your next question is,
2. Which of all the numerous sects of Protestants is the true church? In answer, I need only ask you, which of the seven churches of the lesser Asia was the true church? You will reply, that most, if not all of them, were both praiseworthy and blameworthy. And so it is with regard to the churches of Christ in these kingdoms; though I fear too many of them are like the Laodiceans, who said they were rich and increased with goods, and had need of nothing, and knew not that they were wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked, The case is this: the church of Christ in these nations has long had peace; professors are in a sleepy frame; the enemy has sowed tares among the wheat; and there are many hypocrites in Zion. This is the calamity of God's children in this day; for they must have a cross to carry of some kind or other. That society of Christians, therefore, is most to be commended, whether it be great or small, where the laws of Christ are best understood and observed, and where the gospel is least corrupted by tradition, old wives' fables, and false glosses.—You further ask,
3. Whether Protestants do not stand in need of a center of union to supply the place of the bishop of Rome? I answer, the Redeemer is the only center of union to his people. They are entirely upon a level. There is no inferior among them; and as Christians, they have no superior but him who is the head of all principality and pop er. They are united to the Redeemer, and to each other, by their love to him, and to the truth which testifies of lum. He is their prophet to teach them, their priest to atone for their iniquities, and their king to rule over them. They dare not unite themselves to any otherhead, nor call any man master upon earth; for they have a master in heaven, their Lord and lawgiver, who only has dominion over his servants: and if any usurper of their Lord's authority should command them to break his laws, it bccomes them rather to lay down their lives than dishonour him by a base compliance. When the nations of this world put on the profession ofChristianity, the Antichristian spirit which had before worked secretly in a desire of preeminence, became rampant, and was as terrible as a dragon. From the moment that the clergy were raised by Christian kings (as they were called) to honour, wealth, and power, the history of the church has been little other than a history of the struggles of ambitious men. Every one wanted to Lord it over his brethren. But at length, after many struggles for wealth and power, the bishop of Rome obtained the ascendency, and became the center of union, the head of the great body of Antichrist, or of those men who called themselves Christians, though they possessed neither the truth nor the spirit of Christ. And although the bishop of Rome has lost his authority in several countries of Europe, yet his spirit and temper will reign, as long as a corrupt Christianity shall be propagated by a dignified clergy, who derive their power and authority from the kings of the earth. These are the spiritual merchants who are represented in the book of Revelation as trading in the souls of men, and when the judgments of God shall come upon Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots, on account of her having beea a scourge to God's people, these merchants who have been made rich by her, shall weep and wail on account of her destruction.
If you think it strange, my dear friend, that the ruling powers in every Christian nation, should have fallen into the same error of supporting a proud and mercinary clergy, and of suffering them to be briars and thorns in the sides of God's people, we can only say that it is agreeable to the divine prediction. In the book of Revelation, the kings of the earth are represented as having one mind, so far at least as to give their power and strength unto the beast. Ah, Eusebia, if I were a pope, or arch-bishop, or lord-bishop, knowing what I know, I should soon destroy the ensigns of my authority, and return to a private station, however mean and despicable that station might be:
But you will ask me, Why the Antichristian powers are represented as a beast? I answer, Because of their bloody, dreadful, and tyrannical rule and dominion. The Re
deemer, on account of his just, meek, and merciful gol'ernment, is represented as a lamb.
This Antichristian society, is also called the Man of Sin, to distinguish it from the New Man, or from the family of the Redeemer, who are created anew in Christ Jesus, or after the image of him who created them. This false church is represented as a Harlot, and the Mother of harlots, in opposition to the true church, which is the Bride, the Lamb's wife. Her illicit connexion with the kings of the earth is sometimes called the Alliance between Church and State. When the kings of the nations put on the Christian naine, their subjects, at their command, became Christians nominally likewise. We need not wonder that these people blended their heathenish customs and idolatry with a nominal Christianity, nor that their priests should graft their former ambitious, covetous, and murderous practices on their new religion. This church, therefore, is represented as a woman riding upon a scarlet-coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns, denoting the powers the earth by which she was supported. And the woman, it is said, wts arrayed in furfile, and in scarlet colour, and svas decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls ; and she had a golden cupi in her hand, full of abominations and filthiness of her fornicarion ; end upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon' the great, the mother of harlots, and abominations of the earth.
And I saw, says the apostle, the woman druiken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus į and when I saw, I wondered with great admiration. Rev. xvii. 4.-6. And well might the apostle wonder, a Christian persecuting church being one of the most monstrous things in nature.
Pray, Eusebia, tell me, what churches have been drunken with the blood of the saints beside national churches; or what church upon earth has upon its forehead the mark of that mysterious Babylon, except those who are in spiritual alliance with the kings of the earth. The time will come, when those kings shall hate the false church, and shall make her desolate and naked; that is, shall resume the possessions with which they have endowed her. It is then the friends of Jesus may expect that prophecy to be accomplished in their favour, wherein
it is foretold by Isaiah, that kings shall be their nursingfathers, and queens their nursing-mothers; which prophecy seems to denote, that the civil powers will be so far influenced by the Spirit of God in their favour, as to protect them in their undoubted right of worshipping the great Lord of all, agreeably to the rules prescribed in his word.
Lastly, I ought to remind my friend, that there are more numerous and more important differences among those who have popes or kings for the bond of their union, than there are among the followers of the Lamb; for, in fact, the latter have all drunk into one spirit, and their differences are either about words, or are otherwise comparatively small.-In your last question you ask,
4. Whether it is not necessary that there should be public interpreters of Scripture ? I answer, it is necessary; and such are God's gifts to his church. He only can make his servants able ministers of the New Testament. Therefore our Lord commands his followers to pray the Lord of the harvest, that he would send labourers into his harvest. But observe my friend, that all such are taught of God; and that a college (as human nature now stands) is not well calculated to teach our youth Christianity : for experience shows, that a great number of youth trained up together corrupt one another.
But, you tell me, Peter says, that no prophecy of the Scripture is any private interpretation. To this I answer, that the apostle's inference is sufficient to convince an unlearned reader that it is a wrong translation. Read the words in the following manner, and his reasoning will be just. Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of private impulse ; for firophecy came not of old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were inoved by the Holy Spirit. The apostle meant, that the prophets did not work up their minds into a ferment, or speak things at random, but that what they delivered was the mind of the Spirit of God, who inspired them to say what they did.
Your clergy say justly, that the church is the pillar and ground of the truth, and the only infallible interpreter of Scripture here below. The next thing which they adwance is, that they are the church. Then comes the inTerence; to wit, that their interpretation of Scripture is infallible. This is weak reasoning. The church, undoubtedly, is the best qualified of all human societies to interpret the Scriptures, because all its members are born of water and the Spirit, or the word and Spirit of God, and have been taught that which no man can teach his neighbour, whatever name they may go by among men, or however they may be despised and persecuted by that false church which is supported by the scarlet-coloured beast. You and I, my dear Eusebia, should have much to fear from that quarter, did we not know that greater is he that is in us, than he that is in the world. Fear not, my friend; these sons of Anak, formidable as they may appear, shall be bread for us: for if the Lord do indeed delight in us, because his Son has chosen us for the lot of his inheritance, we may be certain that he will give us that good land, the heavenly Canaan, though it is possible we may enter it through much tribulation, which is comparatively a matter of small importance. I know, Eusebia, that we have both reason to expect that we shall be disowned by our parents; but let us remember that we have a portion to live upon. Our Lord has told us that our heavenly Father knoweth we have need of food and raiment. That knowledge is our security. May he be our support, who clotheth the grass of the field, and feedeth the young ravens; then we shall never want any thing that is for our real advantage.
We shall be glad to hear how long you have entertained your present sentiments, and what method God took to give you divine knowledge. I believe that the poor man you have mentioned, and whom you appear so justly to esteem, is very able to instruct you in the fundamentals of our holy religion. Pray give my kind respects to him and his wife.
I am, my dear Eusebia,