William Bradford Institute
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Early Settlement of America

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Proof That the Church is Often Obscured


by Francis Turretin


Proof That the Church is Often Obscured: From the Condition of the
Old Testament Church.

Our opinion is confirmed by various reasons. The first is drawn from
the condition of the church under the Old Testament, under which it
is evident that she was not rarely obscured and destitute of all
splendor (which can easily be demonstrated by her various
intervals). Who can deny that she was without splendor before the
flood, when all flesh had corrupted its way (Gen. 6:12), and in the
flood when reduced to eight souls, she was included in the ark? In
the time of Abraham before his call from Ur of the Chaldees, she lay
concealed in a paternal family given to idolatry (Jos. 24:1, 2).
What was the splendor of the church in Egypt, where she was so long
a captive without any form either of a state or of a sacred
ministry? What was her splendor under the judges, when after the
death of Joshua the Israelites, having left the God of their
fathers, went after other gods (Jdg. 2:7; 3:8, 12), concerning which
times Azariah says, "Now for a long season Israel hath been without
the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law" (2 Ch.
15:3)? What appearance and splendor did the church have in the time
of Elijah, when he thought that he was left alone to worship God (1
K. 19:10); God in the meantime consoling him with this-that he had
preserved seven thousand believers known to himself alone who had
not bowed the knee to Baal? What splendor had the Jewish church
under Ahaz, Manasseh, Ammon and other wicked kings under whom the
sacrifice was interrupted by law, the gates of the temple closed, an
altar built after the form of those of Damascus by Uriah the high
priest and idolatry introduced everywhere (as we read in 2 K. 16:11,
12, 14; 2 Ch. 28:3, 4, 24, 25)? And if we come down to the
Babylonian captivity, where was the splendor of the church after the
city had been razed, the temple polluted, the sacred vessels taken
away, sacrifice abolished, the worship of God interrupted (which
could not be performed except at Jerusalem) and the people brought
into the most direful servitude? Hence the pious most mournfully
lamented that the prophets and all the signs had been taken away
(Ps. 74:9). In fine, what appearance and prominence could the church
have had under the most dreadful persecutions of Antiochus and his
successors, mentioned in the book of Maccabees and by Josephus (JW
1.30-40 [Loeb, 2:16-23]). In that time, Paul says believers "were
stoned...were slain with the sword...being destitute...tormented,
they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; in deserts, and in
mountains and in caves of the earth" (Heb. 11:37, 38).

Institutes of Elenctic Theology, vol. 3, p. 49


 

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