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But the historian states, that the beginning of this Church displeased the devil. They were, consequently, persecuted by the Romanists, and were compelled to disperse among the mountains, in the depths of winter. And in order to prevent themselves from being tracked in the snow by their persecutors, they used to walk one behind the other, and the hindermost of them to haul the bough of a tree along to obscure their track. It appears that this people were horribly persecuted and destroyed, and all their ministers taken away, so that they were, in this respect, destitute. But they assembled at a place in the mountains, and there chose, by common suffrage, certain persons whom they called elders. This thing being done at the several places, those persons so elected formed a synod, at a place in the wilderness, where they ordained ecclesiastical laws, by which they were to be governed.
But the question arose, what shall we do for ministers ? but after debate it was resolved that they would inquire of the Lord, by casting the lot, whether a presbyter could ordain a presbyter without a bishop. And after seeking to the Lord, by prayer, fasting, and tears, they obtained, as they supposed, from Him, by scrutiny of the lot, a decision that it was lawful for a presbyter to ordain presbyters, and thus secure to the next generation a Gospel ministry. Thus did the Moravians, whose conduct proves, that their idea of succession was not by them esteemed as absolutely essential to constitute a legal ministry. .
It appears that these Moravians were a similar kind of Christians with the Waldenses ; for at this time,
they had in common council agreed to become joined with each other, and so become one Church; but were, by the papist's persecutions, prevented at that time. The premeditated union appears to have been amicably desired by both the Moravians and Waldenses.
After these, came the famous Wickliffe, and next to him came Jerome of Prague, in 1414, and these, not long after, were followed by Martin Luther, who was aided by the amiable and able Melancthon. And in 1525, a Lutheran establishment was erected throughout a greater part of the German Empire, and the yoke of Rome broken off.
But to these were added, in following years, Calvin, Erasmus, Cranmer, Lambert, Coverdale, Hooper, Rogers, and a host of others, who are now in the heavens above, who aided in shaking off from the consciences of deceived men, the chains of hell, which had been imposed by mercenary wretches, in the form of councils, conclaves, and conventions.
But by the labours, preaching, sufferings, and martyrdoms of many, a great and effectual door was opened, through which this healing and saving river, poured again its glorious and widening flood upon the nations.
These, as so many commanders of as many fleets, rode sublimely upon the pelucid waters of this river of life, which was now become a 'river, in which thousands might swim ; waters which could not be passed; which is, in fact, the very river that is now pouring its healing flood over all countries, at the present time,
and is carrying its light, life and health, to these very desert places, seen of Ezekiel, in the vision, and healing them of their vanities, and will eventually flow into the great sea of the Millennium, when righteousness shall cover the earth, as the waters do the great deep, and all the fishes, i. e. all the inhabitants of the earth shall be righteous.
Here, the multitudes of the deep, their different species and kinds, are used by the prophet as symbols to represent the different kinds of men, who are distinguished from each other by their staturt, shape, complexion, language and manners. And as the great sea is the habitation of the former, according to their kinds, so is the dry land that of the latter, according to their kinds. Now, as an immense river, possessing salubrious qualities, of the highest possible degree, is here supposed as flowing into a vast ocean of stagnant and unhealthy waters, which is thereby healed and made more prolific, and the fishes of that ocean become better in consequence; therefore, such a supposed river is taken by the prophet as a symbol of the river of life, which he saw had begun to flow at Abraham, and from thence was enlarging, and would continue to enlarge, till its golden waves should finally dash over all the face of the globe, as once the great deluge overwhelmed it, and was, probably, a type of that event. Thus shall be healed, (agreeing with the symbol) all nations whom these waters shall finally embrace, as the ocean does its fishes. To this sense, agrees the 10th verse of the 47th Chapter of Ezekiel, latter clause. “ Their fish shall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many," so that whatever description of men, with respect to stature, language, or manners, who may then exist, are eligible to the sanctifying effects of this water of salvation. So cried the Lord Jesus, when once at a feast of the Jews, “ If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink," and again, “ 'The water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water, springing up into everlasting life.” Thus we argue, that if a portion of this river shall be in the soul of each saint, “ a well of water springing up into everlasting life," then indeed, there will exist the integral parts of a sea of righteousness, in all such as have part in the Millennium. And as particles of water are the integral parts of an ocean, when amalgamated together, so will be each individual saint, at that day, an integral part of that sea of righteousness, which is to cover the globe, as the waters do the great deep.
“And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live; and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh.”—Ez. xlvii. 9.
And thus was finished the fourth measurement of the river, which was, from the beginning of those years of darkness above noticed, and was found to be a thousand cubits, or years, from thence, to where these wa. ters became spread into many rivers, encompassing the whole earth with their glorious flood, as once the general deluge covered the globe fifteen cubits and upwards above all hills.
We have now followed the angel, and the prophet who saw this river measured, from the fountain to the sea, and believe it applies with great beauty and fitness to the four dispensations; namely, from Abraham to the finishing of the first temple by Solomon ; from thence to the birth of Christ; from Christ to the beginning of the dark ages; and from that period to the end of the next century, when the Millennium will commence; which will exactly accomplish the four dispensations from Abraham till that time, so distinctly shown to the prophet, as comprehending four thousand cubits, or years.
Having now presented the reader with the prophet's views, which I presume to call his expectations of the universal glory and knowledge of the Messiah's kingdom, I shall next proceed to adduce other evidence, that the Jews expected such a day, found in the writings of their Rabbins, whose expectations of it seem very clear.
But before I proceed with these, I shall notice the eleventh verse of the same Chapter, where the prophet Ezekiel has given his account of the above noticed river. The verse is as follows: “ But the miry places thereof, and the marshes thereof, shall not be healed , they shall be given to salt.” From which it is evident that Ezekiel saw, in his vision, that there would be some places whither this great river should not flow, called marshes and miry places. This, at first sight, would seem an objection to the doctrine intended to be promulged in this work, namely, that the water of the river of gospel life shall flow over the whole earth. This difficulty we proceed to remove.