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The fucility of divorces-annongst the Roinans, in that abandoned age, (the age iḥ which our Saviour made his appearance,) rendered married persons careless of obtaining or practisiag those virtues which render domestic life tranquil and delightful. The education of children was utterly neglected by parents, who often met together with a scheme of separation in both their thoughts. Marriage, instead of restraining, added to the violence of, irregular desire; and, under a legal name, became the vilest and most shamcless prostitution. The married state fell into disreputation and conteinpt, and it becaine necessary to force men, by penal laws, into a society where they expected no secure or lasting happiness,. It was in a good time, therefore, that our Saviour abolished a practice which had been one of the most fertile sources of these disorders. The bonds of the marriage union were by him rendered almost indissoluble, and the cords of love were drawn as close as possible. Robertson's Sermon on the Propagation of the Gospel, 1775. See Adultery and Crimes.
One cannot help observing, what is confirmed by innumerable instances in the Roman story, that the freedom of a ,divorce, which was indulged without restraint at Rome to the caprice of either party, gave no advantage of comfort to the matrimonial state, but on the contrary seems to have encouraged rather a mutual perverseness and obstinacy; since, upon any little disgust or obstruction given to their follies, the expedient of a change was ready always to flatter them with the hopes of better success in another trial; for there never was an age or country where there was so profligate a contempt and violation of the nuptial bond, or so much lewdness and infia delity in the great of both sexes, as at this time in Rome, (i.e. in Cicero's consulship:) Middleton's Life of Cicero, vol. ii. p. 171.
Is not this nearly the state of Great Britain at this period?
One may with some probability suppose, that, in the decrease of the waters of the DELUGE, fishes of several kinds would be left upon mountains, where their bones and shells are still found; and that others would sink with the waters, below the broken surface of the earth, to several depths, where their shells and bones also are now found. But it is not probable that the deluge could dissolve the earth into a fluid state to any depth, and that bones and shells of fishes and other animals should there. by become soft; and, being mixed with the substance of stone reduced to a Auid matter, should by degrees harden and petrify, as we see them at this day. A deluge has no natural tendency to produce these effects; nor are any such effects intimated to have been then wrought by the miraculous power of God, which brought the deluge upon the earth. So that the fore-mentioned phænomena may be better accounted for from the chaos which preceded the creation or formation of the earth. This chaos Wis an unformed Auid mass, covered with water to a considerable depth at least; and, when t'ie water was separated by raising the earth above it, bones and shells: of fishes aid other animals, which were dissolved and mixed with the chaotic matter before the
formation of the present earth, would naturally be laid in the tops of mountains, and also within the earth, and would there harden in and with the earthy substance, and - petrify as they are found. And the angels
, so called in Scriptúre, might be the inta- bitants of the pre-existent orb or globe, now called the earth; who, having finished their time of trial and probation, were removed into other habitations; "the obedient and good spirits into purer celestial mansions, and the disobedient and evil spirits into
the dark abyss and lower regions of the air, to which they are confined. And we : seem to have taken their abodes on the earth, new formed and made à suitable habita; tion for us, who are to have our portion with them in the future státe." And this will
account for the disposition of angels in relation to us. Jackson's Chronol." vol. i. 1 p. 8, 9, 49, 50. ; ' ...'.'.
I Ou-Ting, the twentieth Chinese emperor of the second dynasty, who began bis reign 1305 before Christ, being young coming to the throne, intrusted the
as his .:"government to his prime miņister, and shut himself up for three years in a little house : built near his father's sepulchre; all which time he spent in study, and meditation,
and prayers to God to direct him how to reform and restore the empire to its dignity, s and to grant him the virtues proper to qualify him for that high station to which his - Providence had appointed him. During his retirement, he saw, in a dreAM,
DREAMa man presented him from heaven to be his prime minister. His attention was so fixed upon - him, and the features of his face were so strongly imprinted on his imagination, that ; he drew an exact portrait of him when he awoke. He related this dream to an assem
bly of his ministers when he returned to his palace, and shewed the picture to them i and sent several of them to inquire all aboạt for the person represented by the picture.
They found, in a village, a man named Fu-Yue, a mason by trade, whose face hit the portrait to the very life. He was immediately carried to court, and presented to the emperor; who asked him several questions relating to government and political affairs, to all whịch Fu-Yue gave very wise answers. Upon which, the emperor
, admiring the man, made him his prime minister, and he proved a very able statesman. Jackson's Chronology, vol. ii. p. 463.
CONSECRATIONEM DEORUM sic fieri novimus, ut imperatore, qui' referendus in Deos et consecrandus erat, vita functo, pyram in tabernaculi formam construerent quod auro et ebore, signisque et tabulis pictis exornatum mirifice, alio desuper breviori, usque ad tertiam contignationem erigebant, aquila cum omnium odorum aggestu in summo culmine locata; lectoque constrato purpura et auro, in quo defuncti effigies
jacebat;senatus, equester ordo, ac viri triumphales, quique amplissimos honores ... gesserant, procedentes lectum deferebant in pyram, cum carmine et hymnis, omni
busque humanis divinisque aggestis honoribus. Demum incensa pyra, cum vapore et 9.- fumo aquila: agitata, e summo culmine tabernaculi aëra petiisset, religio incussa fuit,
ipsius animam per inane coelum petiisse, ipsumque defæcato quod mortale erat et caducum, in numero cælestium, et concilio Deorum recipi et haberi. Quam consecrationem apotheosin Græci nuncuparunt. Qui deinceps inter Divos pro Deo colebatur. Alex. ab Alexand. lib. vi. c. 4.
The very state of the whole world, immediately before Christianity took place, doth seem by the special Providence of God to have been prepared. For we must know that the countries, where the Gospel was first planted, were for the most part subject to the Roman empire. The Romans use was, commonly, when by war they had subdued foreign nations, to make them provinces, that is, to place over them Roman governors, such as might order them according to the laws and customs of Rome. And, to the end that all things might be the more easily and orderly done, a whole country being divided into sundry parts, there was in each some one city whereinto they about did resort for justice. Every such part was termed a DIOCESE. Howbeit the name diocese is sometimes so generally taken, that it containeth not only more such parts of Providence, (perhaps it should be provinces,) but even more provinces also than one; as the diocese of Asia containing eight, the diocese of Africa seven. — The other dioceses were inferior to the principal one, as daughters unto a mother-city. Thus, in Macedonia, the mother-city was Thessalonica; in Asia, Ephesus; in Africa, Carthage. The governors, officers, and inhabitants, of those mothercities, were termed, for difference sake, metropolites, i. e. to say, mother-city mén; than which nothing could have been devised more fit to suit with the nature of that form of spiritual regiment under which afterwards the church should live. Hooker's Eccles. Pol. book vii. sect. 8. Vide Bishop.
The devil, or the tempter, was the first and great Antichrist, who was to have perpetual enmity with the seed of the woman, and to wage continual war with the saints, and often to prevail to the bruising their heel. Sherlock on Prophecy, p. 302.
Archbishop Newcome, the late primate of Ireland, speaks thus on the DEMONIACS mentioned Mark, v. 13, in his Life of Christ, p. 308, note n. “ From this action of the madmen, and the violence of the swine when they precipitated themselves into the sea, as if the madness had been transferred, the demons are said, in popular language, to have gone out and entered into the swine. That the madness was actually transferred we need not assert. The physical manner in which a miracle was wrought is a needless subject of discussion. It must be observed that those who are called demoniacs spake and acted according to their own ideas, as if they had really been possessed; as, in modern times, those, who attributed natural diseases to the power of witchcraft, supposed that the terrors of their minds and the pains of their bodies were caused by the immediate agency of persons, who, from the belief and prejudices of
the age, were constantly haunting their imaginations. - It did not belong to our Lord's department, as a religious instructor, to correct the physical errors of the Jews, and therefore he used the common phraseology on the subject of demoniacs." See also Paley’s Evidences, vol. iii. part 3, c. 2. p. 110.
Quere. Does not this very learned writer, by these words, virtually deny the real possession of evil spirits ? - Is not this more properly a religious than a physical error? And therefore was it fit for him, (i. e. Christ) as a religious Instructor, to let then reinain deceived in so important a point?
The excellent Abbé Pluche reduces the whole gods (i. e. HEATHIEN DEITIES) of antiquity to certain statues, or emblematical figures, set up in public places in Egypt, by way of almanac, to warn the people of seed-time and harvest, or like heralds to proclaim peace and war. Our learned and unwearied traveller, Dr Pocock, cireumscribes them to a few of the first Egyptian kings; the Abbé Banier to real historical persons, or dead men deified; and the greater part, Vossius, Bochart, Huet, and of late M. Fourmont, will have the gods to be Scripture-worthies, and their legends to be llebrew tales misunderstood. But mythology is a vast and curious compound, a labyrinth through whose windings no one thread can conduct us. The primary great gods represent its principal parts, (i. e. the universe,) the numerous inferior train exhibit either the under-parts of the world and their influences, or they belong to human passions and transactions as connected with them. The rest are men, adopted into the number of gods and frequently blended with the original deities. To imagine all these can be reduced to one class, and their infinite relations, explications, applications, and misapplications, through succeeding ages of different taste, and distant nations of different manners, can be traced and laid open by any one, however ingenious, system, is believing an impossibility.---- We may observe a certain progression from purity to star-worship, from star-worship to polytheism, and thence to the grossest Idolatry. Blackwell's Mythology.
The best explanation of Christ's DESCENT into hell is this, that our blessed Saviour's reasonable soul, the better and immortal part of his humanity after a true and proper separation by death, went into a place appointed for the common mansion of departed souls, and there continued until the time of its reunion with the body, which was then in the grave, and hereupon underwent a proper resurrection. This informs us of the real existence of our Saviour's human soul, in opposition to the Arians and Apollinarians, who denied the full perfection of Christ's humanity, and asserted that there was no occasion for a rational soul, since the office of that was abundantly supplied by the powerful inhabitation of the Deity. And what became of it after its dissolution? for, since the creed has told us so much concerning the disposal of his body, it is but reasonable to suppose that some notice should be given us of his rational and inmortal U 2
part; and, consequently, that his descending into hell, which are the only words that can have any relation to it, can properly admit of no other construction. Stackhouse
The place called hell
, to which it is said in our creed our Lord descended, must be some place below the surface of the earth. For it is said that he descended, that is, he went down to it. But, although the hell to which our Lord descended was indeed below, it is by no means to be understood of the place of torment. The word, in its natural import, signifies only that invisible place which is the appointed habitation of departed souls, in the interval between death and the general resurrection. (Sée Hogea, p. 40, note n.) That such a place must be is indisputable. That he should go to this place was a necessary branch of the general scheme and project of redemption, which required that the divine Word should take our nature upon him, and fullll the entire condition of humanity in every period and stage of man's existence. The same wonderful scheme of humiliation, which required that the Son should be con-ceived, and born, and put to death, made it equally necessary that his soul, in its intermediate state, should be gathered to the souls of the departed saints. - That the invisible place of their residence is the hell to which our Lord descended is evident from the terms of his own promise to the repentant thief upon the cross, “ Verily, I say unto thee, to day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.” It was not heaven; for to heaven our Lord ascended not till after his resurrection. It was tio place of torment; for to any such place the name of Paradise never was applied. It could be no other than the region of repose and rest, where the souls of the righteous - abide în joyful hope of the consummation of their bliss. - I will offer only this general obseryation, that the interpretation, which I have given of this article of our * creed, is the only literal interpretation that the words will bear, unless we would admit the extravagant assertion, as to me it seems, of the venerable Calvin, that our blessed Lord actually went down to the place of torment; and there sustained, horrible to think or mention! the pains of a reprobate soul in punishment.
In those very remarkable words, 1 Pet. iii. 18, 19, 20, taken in their most literal and obvious meaning, we find not only a distinct assertion of the fact that “ Christ descended into hell" in his disembodied spirit, but moreover a declaration of the business upon which he went thither, “ being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the spirit.”
By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison, which sometime were disobedient.” It is hárdly necessary to mention that “ spirits” here can signify no other spirits than the souls of men. The apostle's assertion, therefore, is this; that Christ " went and preached to souls of men 'in prison.” The invisible mansion of departed spirits, though certainly not a place of penal confinement to the good, is nevertheless, in some respects, a 'prison. (See Hosea, 13.) The original word, however, in this text of the apostle, imports not of necessity. so much as this, but merely a place of safe-keeping; for so this passage might be ren