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ble characteristic of Mr. Palmer's work. It has been increased, perhaps, by the correction of one or two slips of a hasty pen, in this edition ; and the minute differences, of statement or opinion, in some of the editor's additional notes, will show how thoroughly he shared in the author's anxiety to be really useful-an end to be attained, in a work like this, only by the most scrupu. lous adherence to truth. If error as to fact be found in the book now presented to the reader, it has escaped not only the attention of the learned and indefatigable author, but the close examination of his humble and grateful fellow labourer,

W. R. W. Baltimore, December 11th, 1840.

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A COMPENDIOUS

Ecclesiastical mistorn.

CHAPTER I.

INTRODUCTION.

The history of the world impresses the reflecting mind with the universal tendency of human institutions to decay and dissolution. Whether we contemplate the fate of man himself, or of illustrious empires raised by virtue, cemented by wisdom, but destroyed by luxury and sin, we trace in all the operation of that sentence of death which once passed on all men, and to which all that is merely human must bow.

· But in the history of the Church we view not only the working of the law of death, but the counteracting tendency of the Spirit of life, sustaining man amidst his infirmities, elevating him above all that is carnal and terrestrial, and im. pressing on his actions and his destinies the stamp of eternity. Empires, superstitions, and philosophies, have faded away, but true religion continues always to exist; and as it came in the beginning from above, so at the end of all things it shall return thither again. The patriarchs and the prophets, the law and the gospel, preached to mankind the same religion, which was expanded and developed as the fullness of time

We now behold the fulfilment of what the patri. archs desired to see; we enjoy the reality of those things which the law of Moses foreshadowed; we worship the God of Abel and of Abraham, and serve him with their faith.

drew on.

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And as the true religion has always been essentially the same, so has it ever had to contend with the same inclination of the human heart. That inclination was awfully exempli. fied in the days of Noah, when "all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth ;” and that patriarch's family were alone found just. It was still more wonderfully manifested in the rebellions and backslidings of the children of Israel. It is again seen in the description which Scripture gives of the fallen state of Jew and Gentile, when the Son of God came to save a perishing world. And who, that reflects on the exhortations and predictions addressed to Christians by the Lord and his disciples, can fail to perceive that the same evil tendency of the human heart was always to remain, even in the state of grace, and to form the chief danger and trial of the Church of God?

The life of a true Christian, as described in Scripture, con. sists of self-denial, of warfare against the inclinations of nature, of prayer and watchfulness under the deepest consciousness of infirmity, of labour to walk under the guidance of the Spirit of God, with objects, tastes, and desires, altogether different from those of the natural man. It was the sovereign will of God, that those who are saved should be fitted for their glorious inheritance by the discipline of this rough and narrow way; but few, even of the best men, have passed through it without many grievous failures : all have come short of the glory of God, and all have need of serious and frequent repentance. Many, who profess to be disciples, have altoge. ther turned away to the broad and beaten track; and, as our Lord teaches that some should hear the word with joy, but in time of temptation should fall away; that others should permit it to be snatched from them by the assaults of the devil, or to be choked beneath the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches; he adds, that in that day many shail begin to say, “ We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou

1 Rom. i. ii.

1

hast taught in our streets ;” and that his reply shall be, “I know you not whence ye are: depart from me,

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work ers of iniquity.” The kingdom or Church of Christ is, in.

. deed, compared to a field in which tares grow with the wheat, and to a net which was let down into the sea, and gathered of all kinds both bad and good. Such was to be the mingled state of the Christian Church, comprising not only evil men, but good men, subject to infirmities, errors, and sins.

Nor was the Church only to be tried by inward failings; it was to pass through the furnace of affliction and persecution from without. The saints in heaven are described as “they that came out of great tribulation;" and as the Captain of our salvation was made perfect through sufferings, so it was fitting that the Church, which is His Body,' should be baptized with the baptism of his afflictions; and accordingly his pro. misé was, “In the world ye shall have tribulation : but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

There was still a subtler danger in store for the Church, connected indeed with the desires of the natural man, but raised and stimulated by the Author of evil. False Christs and false prophets were to arise, and to show great signs; insomuch that, if it were possible, they should deceive the very elect.& Damnable heresies were to be secretly introduced :: false teachers and antichrists, carried away by the desire of a godless pre-eminence, were to subvert the faith of the unstable. 10 As the apostle said, “ There must be heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.

Such were to be the infirmities, such the dangers of the Church; and had she been left alone, and unaided amidst them all, “ the waters had overwhelmed her, the stream had

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i Luke xiii. 26, 27. 2 Matt. xiii. 24-30, 37-43. 3 Matt. xiii. 47-50. 4 Rev. vii. 14. 5 Heb. ii. 10.

6 Col. i. 24. 7 John xvi. 33. 8 Matt. xxiii. 24.

92 Pet. ii. 1. 10 Acts, xx. 30; 1 Tim. iv. 1; 2 Tim. iii ; 1 John ii. 18, iv. 3. 11 1 Cor. xi. 19.

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