Owen - BX9315 O81

vi PRE "will build my Church, because Peter had said, Thou " art Christ, the Son of the living God. Upon this ¡i rock, which thou hast confessed, will I build my w church. For Christ himself was the rock on which " foundation Peter himself was built. For other foun- w dation can no man lay, save that which is laid, which u is Jesus Christ." CHAP. II. Against this rock, this foundation of the church, thepersonof Christ, and the faith ofthe church concerning it, great- opposition hath been made by the gates of hell. Not to mention the rage of the Pagan world, endeavouring by all effects of violence and cruel- ty, to cast the church from this foundation; all the heresies wherewith from the beginning, and for some centuries ofyears ensuing, it was pestered, consisted in direct and immediate oppositions unto the eternal truth concerning the person of Christ. -'Some that are so es- teemed indeed, never pretended unto any sobriety but were mere effects of delirant imaginations; yet slid even they also one way or other derive from an hatred unto the person of Christ, and centred therein, Their be- ginning was early in the church, even before the writ- ing of the Gospel by John or his. Revelations, and in- deed before some of Paul's epistles. Andalthough their beginning was but small, and seemingly contemptible, yet being full of the poison of the old serpent, they dif- fused themselves in various shapes and forms, until there was nothing left of Christ, nothing that related unto him, not his natures, divineor human, not their, pro -. perties nor actings, not his person, nor the union of his natures therein, that was not opposed and assaulted by them; especially so soon as the gospel had subdued the Roman empire unto Christ, and was owned by the rulers of it, the whole world was for 'some ages filled with "uproars, confusion, and scandalous disorders a- bout the person of Christ, through the, cursed opposi- tions spade- thereunto by the gates of hell. Neither had the church any rêst from these conflicts for about five hundred years. But near that periodof time, the power -of truth and religion. beginning universally to decay among the outward professors ofthem, Satantook advantage to make that havock and destruction of the church, by superstition, false worship, and profaneness of life, which he failed of in his attempt: against the person of Christ, or the doctrine of truth concerning it. it would be a tedious work, and it may not be of FACE. much -profit unto them who are utterly unacquainted with things so long past and gone, wherein they seem to have no concernment, to give a specimen of the seve- ral heresies, whereby attempts were made against this rock and foundation of the church; unto those who have inquired into the records ofantiquity, it would be alto- gether useless; for almost every page of them at first view presents the readers with an account of some one or more of them. Yet do I esteem it useful, that the very ordinary sort of Christians should, at least in general, be acquainted; with what bath passed in this great con- test about the person of Christ from the beginning: for there are two things relating thereunto, wherein their faith is greatly concerned. For, first, there is evidence given therein, unto the truth of those predictions ofthe scripture, wherein this fatal apostacy from the truth, and opposition unto the Lord Christ, are foretold: and, secondly, an eminent instance of his power and faithful- ness, in the disappointment and conquest of the gates of hell in the management of this opposition. But they have been all reckoned up, and digested into methods of time and matter, by many learned men of old, and of late, so that I shall not in this occasional discourse, represent them unto the reader again. Only I shall give a brief account of the ways and means, whereby they who retained the profession of the truth, contend- ed for it unto a conquest over the pernicious heresies wherewith it was opposed. The defence of the truth from the beginning, was left in chargeunto, and managed by the guides and rul- ers of the church in their several. capacities. And by the scripture it was that they discharged their duty, con- firmed with apostolical tradition consonant thereunto. This was left in charge unto them by the great Apostle, Acts xx. 28, 29, 30, 31. 1 Tim. vi. 13, 14, 2 Tim. ii. 1, 2, 15, 28,,00 "` %chap. iv. 1, 2, 3, 4. And wherein any of them failed in this duty, they were reproved by Christ himself Rev. si. 14, 15,.20. Nor were private believers in their places and capacities, either unable for this, duty, or exempt from it, but discharged them- selves faithfully therein, accordingunto commandment given unto them, 1 John ii 20, 27. chap. iv. 1, 2, 5. 2 John8, 9. All true believers in their several sta- tions, by mutual watchfulness, by preaching or writ- ing, according unto their calls and abilities, effectual- iy used the outwardmeans for the preservation andpro-