Has not the Catholic church been sometimes more, sometimes less visible? David Dickson

Quest. VI. Hath not the catholic church been sometimes more, sometimes less visible?

Yes; Rom. 11:3, 4; Rev. 12:6, 14.

Well then, do not the Papists err, who affirm, That the church hath been, is, and shall be most gloriously visible to all the whole world, far and nigh?

Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, Because the church of God in the prophet Elijah’s time was brought to that pass, that he thought none remained but himself, 1 Kings 19:10; Rom. 11:2-4.

2nd, Because for a long time Israel was without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without the law, 2 Chron. 15:3.

3rd, Because the Lord often complains that his church and people have forsaken him, have not known him; that the faithful city hath become a harlot, that scarce a man could be found to do justice and follow truth; all which is inconsistent with that glorious condition of the visible church which the Papists dream of, Isa. 1:3, 4; Jer. 2:29; 5:1.

4th, Because in the time of the ten persecutions the visible church was much obscured and darkened. And after these storms were over, arose the Arians, who did so much trouble the church of Christ, as is clear from history.

5th, Because two wings were given to the woman, that is, to the church of God; two wings, I say, of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to hide herself, Rev. 12:14.

6th, Because the apostle Paul did foretell that general defection and apostacy of the visible church, mentioned in 2 Thess. 2:3.

7th, Because Christ hath foretold that before his second coming he shall scarce find faith on the earth, Luke 18:8.

8th, Because the church of God is always liable to trouble and persecutions while it sojourneth in this world; but troubles and persecutions do much obscure the brightness and splendour of a visible church, Luke 21:17; John 16:2; Ps. 129:1-3.

– David Dickson, Truth’s Victory Over Error, or, the true principles of the Christian religion, stated and vindicated against the following heresies, viz. Arians…Vaninians, &c. The whole being a commentary on all the chapters of the Confession of Faith, by way of question and answer: in which, the saving truths of our holy religion are confirmed and established; and the dangerous errors and opinions of its adversaries detected and confuted, Glasgow, Scotland, John Bryce [1764], p. 217

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