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principal nation of the Reformation, is very much over-run, and they prevail more and more. Thus much concerning the opposition that Satan has made against the Reformation.
III. I proceed now to show what success the gospel has had in these later times of the Reformed church. This success may be reduced to three heads: 1. Reformation in doctrine and worship in countries called Christian; 2. Propaga tion of the gospel among the Heathen; 3. Revival of religion in the power and practice of it.
1. As to the first, viz. reformation in doctrine, the most considerable success of late has been in the empire of Muscovy, which is a country of vast extent. The people of this country, so many of them as call themselves Christians, professed to be of the Greek church; but were barbarously ignorant, and very superstitious, till of late years. Their late Emperor Peter the Great, set himself to reform his dominions, took great pains to bring them out of their darkness, and to have them instructed in religion. To that end, he set up schools of learning, ordered the Bible to be printed in the language of the country, made a law that every family should keep the holy scriptures in their houses, that every person should be able to read the same, and that no person should be allowed to marry till they were able to read the scriptures. He also reformed the churches of his country of many of their superstitions, whereby the religion professed and practised in Muscovy is much nearer to that of the Protestants than formerly it used to be. This emperor gave great encouragement to the exercise of the Protestant religion in his dominions. And since that, Muscovy is become a land of light, in comparison of what it was fifty years past.
2. As to the second kind of success which the gospel has lately had, viz. its propagation among the Heathen, I would take notice of three things.
(1.) The propagation of the gospel among the Heathen here in America. This American continent, which is very great part of the world, and, together with its neighbouring seas adjoining, takes up one side of the globe, was wholly unknown to all Christian nations till these latter times. It was not known that there was any such part of the world, though it was very full of people; and therefore the devil had this part of the world as it were secure to himself, out of the reach of the light of the gospel, and so out of the way of molestation in his dominion over them. Here the many nations of Indians worshipped him as God from age to age, while the gospel was confined to the opposite side of the globe. It is probably supposed, from some remaining accounts, that the occasion of first peopling America was this: that the devil, being alarmed and surprised by the wonderful success of the
gospel the first three hundred years after Christ, and by the downfall of the Heathen empire in the time of Constantineand seeing the gospel spread so fast, and fearing that his heathenish kingdom would be wholly overthrown through the world-led away a people from the other continent into America, that they might be quite out of the reach of the gospel, that here he might quietly possess them, and reign over them as their god.-Many writers intimate, that some of the Indian nations, when the Europeans first came into America, had a tradition among them, that their God first led them into this continent, and went before them in an ark.
However, it is certain that the devil did here quietly enjoy his dominion over the poor Indians for many ages. But in later times God has sent the gospel into these parts, and now the Christian church is set up here in New England, and in other parts of America, where before had been nothing but the grossest heathenish darkness. Great part of America is now full of Bibles, and full of at least the form of the worship of the true God and Jesus Christ, where the name of Christ before had not been heard of for many ages, if at all. And though there has been but a small propagation of the gospel among the Heathen here, in comparison of what were to be wished for; yet there has been something worthy of notice.There was something remarkable in New England, both at first and of late, and in other parts of America, among many Indians, of an inclination to be instructed in the Christian religion.
However small the propagation of the gospel among the Heathen here in America has been hitherto; yet I think we may well look upon the discovery of so great a part of the world, and bringing the gospel into it, as one thing by which divine providence is preparing the way for the future glorious times of the church, when Satan's kingdom shall be overthrown throughout the whole habitable globe, on every side, and on all its continents. When those times come, then doubtless the gospel shall have glorious success, and all the inhabitants of this new-discovered world shall become subjects of the kingdom of Christ, as well as all the other ends of the earth. În all probability, providence has so ordered it, that the mariner's compass, (which is an invention of later times, whereby men are enabled to sail over the widest ocean, when before they durst not venture far from land,) should prove a preparation for what God intends to bring to pass in the glorious times of the church, viz. the sending forth the gospel wherever any of the children of men dwell, how far soever off, and however separated by wide oceans from those parts of the world which are already Christianized.
(2.) There has of late years been a very considerable pro
pagation of the gospel among the Heathen in the dominions of Muscovy. I have already observed the reformation which has lately been among those who are called Christians there but I now speak of the Heathen. Great part of the vast dominions of the Emperor of Muscovy are gross Heathens. The greater part of Great Tartary, a Heathen country, has in later times been brought under the Muscovite government; and there have been of late great numbers who have renounced their Heathenism, and have embraced the Christian religion.
(3.) There has been lately a very considerable propagation of the Christian religion among the Heathen in the East Indies; particularly, many in Malabar have been brought over to the Christian Protestant religion, chiefly by the labours of certain missionaries sent thither to instruct them by the King of Denmark, who have brought over many Heathens to the Christian faith, and have set up schools among them, and a printing press to print Bibles and other books for their instruction, in their own language, with great success.
3. The last kind of success which I shall notice, is the revival of the power and practice of religion. And here I shall take notice of but two instances.
(1.) There has been not long since a remarkable revival of the power and practice of religion in Germany, through the endeavours of an eminent divine there, August Herman Frank, professor of divinity at Halle in Saxony. Being a person of eminent charity, the great work that God wrought by him, began with his setting on foot a charitable design. It began only with his placing an alms-box at his study door, into which some poor mites were thrown, whereby books were bought for the instruction of the poor. And God was pleased so wonderfully to smile on his design, and so to pour out a spirit of charity on that occasion, that he was enabled in a little time to erect public schools for the instruction of poor children, and an orphan-house for their supply and instruction. At last, near five hundred children were maintained and instructed in learning and piety by the charity of others; and the number continued to increase more and more for many years. This was accompanied with a wonderful reformation and revival of religion, and a spirit of piety, in the city and university of Halle; and thus it continued. Which also had great influence in many other places in Germany. Their example seemed remarkably to stir up multitudes to their imitation.
(2.) Another thing, which it would be ungrateful in us not to notice, is that remarkable pouring out of the Spirit of God which has been of late in this part of New England, of which we, in this town, have had such a share. But it is needless for me particularly to describe it, seeing you have so 48
lately been eye-witnesses of it, and I hope multitudes are sensible of the benefit. Thus I have mentioned the more remarkable instances of the success which the gospel has lately had in the world.
IV. I proceed now to the last thing proposed to be considered, relating to the success of Christ's redemption during this space, viz. what is the present state of things now in the world, with regard to the church of Christ, and the success of his purchase. And this I would do, by showing how things are now, compared with the first times of the Reformation.-And, 1. I would show wherein the state of things is altered for the worse; and, 2. How it is altered for the better.
1. I would show wherein the state of things is altered from what it was in the beginning of the Reformation, for the worse; and it is so especially in these three respects.
(1.) The Reformed church is much diminished. The Reformation in former times, was supposed to take place through one half of Christendom, excepting the Greek church; or that there were as many Protestants as Papists. But now it is not so; the Protestant church is much diminished. Heretofore there have been multitudes of Protestants in France; many famous Protestant churches were planted all over that country, who used to meet together in synods, and maintain a very regular discipline. The Protestant church of France was a great part of the glory of the Reformation. But now it is far otherwise; this church is all broken and scattered, and there are now but very few protestant assemblies in all that kingdom. The Protestant interest is also greatly diminished in Germany. There were formerly several sovereign Protestant princes, whose successors are now Papists; as, particularly, the Elector Palatine, and the Elector of Saxony. The kingdom of Bohemia was formerly a Protestant kingdom, but is now in the hands of the Papists. Hungary was formerly a Protestant country; but the Protestants there have been greatly reduced, and in a great measure subdued, by persecutions. And the Protestant interest has no way of late remarkably gained ground of the church of Rome.
(2.) Another thing wherein the state of things is altered for the worse compared with the former times of the Refor mation, is the prevailing of licentiousness in principles and opinions.-There is not now that spirit of orthodoxy which then prevailed; there is very little appearance of zeal for the mysterious and spiritual doctrines of Christianity; and they never were so held in contempt, as they are in the present age; and especially in England, the principal kingdom of the Reformation. In this kingdom, those principles on which the power of godliness depends, are in a great measure exploded, and Arianism, Socinianism, Arminianism, and Deism, prevail,
and carry almost all before them. History gives no account of any age wherein there was so great an infidel apostacy of those who had been brought up under the light of the gospel; never was there such a disavowal of all revealed religion; never any age wherein there was so much scoffing at and ridiculing the gospel of Christ by those who have been brought up under the gospel-light.
(3.) Another thing wherein things are altered for the worse is, that there is much less of the prevalency of the power of godliness, than there was at the beginning of the Reformation. A glorious out-pouring of the Spirit of God accompanied the first Reformation, not only to convert multitudes in so short a time from Popery to the true religion, but to turn many to God and true godliness. But now there is an exceeding great decay of vital piety; yea, it seems to be despised, called enthusiasm, and fanaticism. Those who are truly religious, are commonly looked upon to be beside their right mind; and vice and profaneness dreadfully prevail, like a flood which threatens to bear down all before it.But I proceed now to show,
2. In what respects things are altered for the better from what they were in the first Reformation.
(1.) The power and influence of the Pope is much diminished. Although, since the former times of the Reformation, he has gained ground in extent of dominion; yet he has lost in degree of influence. The vial which in the beginning of the Reformation was poured out on the throne of the beast, to the great diminishing of his power and authority in the world, has continued running ever since. The Pope, soon after the Reformation, became less regarded by the princes of Europe than he had been before; and so he has been since less and less. Many of the Popish princes themselves seem now to regard him very little more than they think will serve their own designs; of which there have been several remarkable proofs and instances of late.
(2.) There is far less persecution now than there was in the first times of the Reformation. Some parts of the Protestant church are at this day under persecution, and so probably will be till the day of the church's suffering and travail is at an end, which will not be till the fall of Antichrist. But it is now in no measure as it was heretofore. There does not seem to be the same spirit of persecution prevailing; it is become more out of fashion even among the Popish princes. The wickedness of the enemies of Christ, and the opposition against his cause, seem to run in another channel. The humour now is to despise and laugh at all religion; and there seems to be a spirit of indifferency about it. However, so far the