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Title: "Granny's Chapters" - (on scriptural subjects)
Author: Ross, Lady Mary
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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"GRANNY'S CHAPTERS"

(ON SCRIPTURAL SUBJECTS)

BY

LADY MARY ROSS.

=THE NEW TESTAMENT=,

WITH A SKETCH OF THE SUBSEQUENT HISTORY OF THE JEWS.

_NEW EDITION._

LONDON:

HATCHARDS, PICCADILLY.

1882.



PREFACE TO VOLUME IV.

The New Testament has been treated in a manner somewhat different to
that adopted in regard to the Books of the Old Testament.

The object has been, to sketch out the earthly Life of our Blessed
Lord, and to draw attention to a few important points.

It was obviously impossible to dwell particularly upon the details of
every Miracle, Parable, and Conversation, recorded by the Evangelists.
Nor was such a course necessary.

The language of the Gospels is so simple and clear, that details are
better read from Holy Writ itself.

That this volume may lead the young to a reverent study of our
Saviour's character, and an earnest endeavour to "follow the blessed
steps of His most Holy Life," is the earnest prayer of the Author.

MARY ROSS.

_November, 1871._



PART I.



Chapter I.--JOHN THE BAPTIST BORN.


We have now seen that the Sceptre had departed from Judah. The whole
country was subject to the Romans, who had appointed Herod to govern
it for them; and the time was now come when the blessed promises, that
"the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head," and that "in
the seed of Abraham all nations of the earth should be blessed," were
to be fulfilled by the coming of the Messiah, the Son of God, Jesus
Christ, our Saviour and Redeemer; born of a woman, that thus being as
Man upon the earth, He might suffer for man, and make that atonement
for man, which He could only make because He was the Son of God.
Unless the Messiah had been at once God and Man, He could have been no
Saviour for man; no mediator between a holy God and His sinful
creatures.

Very soon after the death of Herod's sons, Alexander and Aristobulus,
the last princes of the Asmonean family, the wonderful events related
in the New Testament began to take place. No doubt we are all well
acquainted with the story of the priest Zacharias, a good and holy
man, who, whilst performing his duty in the house of God, saw an Angel
standing on the right side of the altar of incense. Zacharias was an
old man, and his wife Elisabeth was also an old woman, and therefore
when the Angel told him that the Lord would work as great a miracle as
He had done in Abraham's case, and give a son to Elisabeth, as He had
given Isaac to Sarah, Zacharias must indeed have been greatly
astonished.

The Angel moreover told Zacharias, that this child, whom God would
give him, was to be named John; and that he should be in an especial
manner guided and protected by the Holy Spirit, for that he was to be
the messenger spoken of by prophets, as sent to prepare the way for
the Messiah, and give notice of His coming. Such particulars should
have overcome any doubts which Zacharias might at the first moment
have felt; but his faith failed him, and therefore, considering only
the impossibility of such an event happening without the special
interposition of the Lord, he, guided by sight and not by faith,
presumed to ask for some sign, to assure him that what the Angel spake
would really come to pass.

This sinful unbelief was punished, even whilst his faithless request
was granted; for Zacharias immediately lost the power of speaking, and
remained speechless for many months: but his unbelief was gone, and he
certainly made his wife Elisabeth acquainted with the promises and
directions spoken by the Angel.

About six months after this appearance of the Angel Gabriel to
Zacharias, He "was sent from God, unto a city of Galilee, named
Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the
house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary." The Angel told Mary,
that she had been chosen by the Almighty to be the mother of the
promised Messiah, whose birth was to be a miracle; inasmuch as He
would have no earthly father, but should be called the Son of God.
Gabriel also told Mary, that when she had brought forth her son, she
should call His name Jesus; that is, a Saviour. Mary was greatly
troubled when the Angel first spake to her, and when she expressed her
wonder and astonishment, He comforted her, and told her that her
cousin Elisabeth, the wife of Zacharias, was also about to become a
mother; adding, "For with God nothing shall be impossible." Mary's
faith now showed itself, and she said, "Behold the handmaid of the
Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." Meaning that she was
willing to serve the Lord in everything, and suffer whatever might
come upon her in consequence. For, as she had no husband whom she
could name as the father of her Child, she was liable to punishment.
When Joseph, to whom Mary was espoused, or promised in marriage, found
that she would have a Son, he was astonished, and had some thoughts of
putting her away from being his wife; but being a just, or good and
kind man, he meant to do this quietly and secretly, or "privily," so
as not to expose Mary to blame or punishment. But while he thought on
these things, behold the Angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a
dream, and told him not to fear about taking Mary to be his wife, for
that the Holy Spirit had worked a great miracle, and that Mary was to
be the mother of the promised Messiah; and as the Angel had said to
Mary herself, so He now repeated to Joseph, "she shall bring forth a
Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus; for He shall save His people
from their sins." Then all Joseph's doubts and fears were at an end:
he did as the Angel bade him, and thus was looked upon by men as the
father of Mary's holy Son, who had in truth no Father but God.

The Scripture tells us, "Now all this was done, that it might be
fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold
a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they
shall call his name Emmanuel; which being interpreted is, God with
us." That is, God taking the form and nature of man; living as man
amongst men; dying as man for men. "Emmanuel--God with us."

The next thing we read of is, that "Mary arose and went into the hill
country with haste, into a city of Judah" where Zacharias dwelt, that
she might talk over with Elisabeth all those wonderful things which
the angel Gabriel had said to her. "And she entered into the house of
Zacharias and saluted Elisabeth"; who, under the guidance of the Holy
Spirit, "spake out with a loud voice" words that must have greatly
comforted Mary. Elisabeth told her, that she was blessed among women
in being chosen for the mother of the Messiah, and said, "Whence is
this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" meaning
that she was not worthy of the honour of receiving in her house one
who was to be the mother of the Son of God. Elisabeth ended by
commending Mary for her faith and trust, saying, "blessed is she that
believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were
told her from the Lord."

Mary now uttered that beautiful hymn of praise, beginning, "My soul
doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour."
A hymn familiar to us all, as part of our Liturgy, or form of public
worship, used in our Churches. This hymn, called "The Magnificat," is
said or sung after the first Lesson in the Evening Service.

Mary abode with her cousin for about three months, and then returned
to her own home, at Nazareth, in Galilee. Not long after Mary's
departure, John the Baptist was born; "Elisabeth brought forth a son.
And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had showed great
mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her. And it came to pass, that
on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child," and give him a
name, as amongst us is done in Baptism; for Baptism in the Christian
Church, takes the place of Circumcision in the Jewish Church.

When the friends of Zacharias wished to give the infant his father's
name, Elisabeth spoke out at once, and said, "He shall be called
John." This surprised them so much, that they at once asked Zacharias
"how he would have him called." Zacharias immediately, by signs, asked
for a writing-table, or rather for a tablet, upon which to write, and
then wrote down, "His name is John. And they marvelled all." They must
have marvelled, or wondered, still more, when suddenly Zacharias
recovered his power of speaking; for "his mouth was opened
immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake and praised God." Now
he could tell all that had happened to him, and how his unbelief in
the Angel's promise had been punished by temporary dumbness. "And fear
came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were
noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judæa: and all they
that heard" these things "laid them up in their hearts": took notice
of them, and remembered them, "saying, What manner of child shall this
be!" The extraordinary events connected with the birth of John, made
all men believe that a child so born must be intended to do great
things during his lifetime. Zacharias, inspired by the Holy Spirit,
then uttered the hymn called "The Benedictus," sometimes said in our
Churches after the second Lesson in the Morning Service, instead of
the Psalm (c.), "Jubilate Deo," also belonging to our Liturgy. In this
hymn, Zacharias praised and blessed God for the coming of the Saviour;
and then, addressing the unconscious infant John, he foretold that he
should be the messenger to prepare the way of the Lord Jesus Christ,
and incline men to listen to, and believe in, Him.

Of John's infancy and childhood we are told nothing, except that he
grew in body, and waxed strong in spirit, and that "the hand of the
Lord was with him." "And he was in the deserts till the day of his
showing unto Israel." He passed a quiet and retired life, until he was
called upon to baptize the people, and point to the Son of Mary as the
Son of God; the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.



Chapter II.--BIRTH OF JESUS CHRIST.


Mary and her husband Joseph lived at Nazareth, a town in Galilee not
far from the lake of Tiberias, or Sea of Galilee; and the prophets had
declared that the Messiah should be born in "Bethlehem of Judah," a
small place to the South of Jerusalem, nearly a hundred miles from
Nazareth. That Mary should take such a long journey to a strange
place, instead of staying quietly at home until her Child was born,
was the most unlikely thing that could well be imagined. Here,
therefore, we again see how wonderfully the Lord rules all things, and
makes use of people who know nothing of Him, to do what He wills
should be done. God now made use of a heathen Emperor, to accomplish
His will, that Jesus Christ should be born in Bethlehem.

The Roman Emperor Augustus, in order to know what taxes he could lay
upon the different parts of his dominions, determined to take the
number of the people who were subject to him; and in order to do this,
he commanded that the name of every one should be written down. As
Judæa was now under the dominion of the Romans, all the inhabitants of
that country were obliged to put their names upon lists, prepared for
the purpose: but all belonging to the same tribe or family were to go
to one place, so that many of the Jews, who were scattered throughout
the country, had to travel a long way to the place appointed for the
registering of their tribe.

Amongst these were Mary and Joseph, who were both "of the house and
lineage of David"; that is, both were descended from David, who was of
the tribe of Judah; and therefore Bethlehem was the place in which
they must appear before the Roman officers, appointed to take down the
names of all the people, and register, or make lists of them. The
commands of the Roman Emperor were not to be disobeyed: and Mary and
Joseph set out upon their long and fatiguing journey. Upon their
arrival, they found the place so full of people come upon the same
business, that there was no room for them in the inn, and they being
poor, and not able to pay for better accommodation, were glad to lodge
in a stable; and here, it pleased God, that Jesus Christ, the Lord of
Life, the King of Glory, should be born: and Mary "brought forth her
first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in
a manger."

But though born in a stable, unnoticed and uncared for by men, the
Angels of God proclaimed the wonderful event to the Shepherds, keeping
watch over their flocks by night.

At that time, there was amongst the Jews, a general expectation that
the Messiah would soon appear upon earth: those who believed all that
God had made known by the prophets, seeing that the sceptre, or kingly
power, had departed from Shiloh, were daily looking for the fulfilment
of the blessed promise, and were ready to welcome the Saviour under
any circumstances: of this number were the Shepherds, who, when they
had heard the "good tidings of great joy," at once followed the
direction to go to Bethlehem: and when they found all things there,
exactly as the Angels had told them, they at once believed, and
acknowledged the Infant as their Saviour; and "made known abroad the
saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all they that
heard it wondered at those things which were told them of the
Shepherds." They wondered; but alas! too many of them only wondered,
and did not believe. The greater part of the Jews at this time had
forsaken their God, and had become careless about pleasing Him. They
expected a Messiah, but regardless of the prophets who had spoken such
different things, they had formed their own notions on the subject,
and looked for the Messiah to come as a king or conqueror, surrounded
with pomp and splendour. These men would not believe that a helpless
infant, born in a stable at Bethlehem, _could_ be the Son of God, the
promised Messiah, Who was to be the Saviour of the world: pride and
unbelief led them to reject the Lord, even from His birth. Mary, who
knew that her Son was no common child, marked everything that
happened; "she kept all these things, and pondered," or thought over
"them in her heart."

Jesus Christ came not only to be a sacrifice for sin, but also an
example of godly life; He was to fulfil all righteousness, and
therefore, though He came to do away with the ceremonial Law, and
establish a better covenant, He submitted to all the Ordinances of the
Law, just as if He had been a sinful mortal.

Thus on the eighth day He was circumcised, and publicly received the
name of Jesus, which had before been given to Him by the Angel
Gabriel. And again, in obedience to the Law, the infant Saviour was
brought by His mother to Jerusalem "to present Him to the Lord." We
have heard before, that among the children of Israel, the first-born
child, if a son, was especially dedicated to the service of the Lord;
though afterwards, the whole tribe of Levi was taken, "instead of the
first-born of all Israel." The same Law ordained, that after a certain
time, called "the days of her Purification," every woman to whom God
had given a son or daughter, should offer in sacrifice, a young lamb
and a turtledove or pigeon. But if she was too poor to be able to
bring a lamb, she was allowed to bring two turtledoves or pigeons
instead; and this sacrifice Mary brought with her Son, into the
temple. Then were fulfilled the prophecies, that the Lord should come
suddenly into His temple; and that the glory of the second temple
should exceed that of the first. At the Presentation of Jesus Christ
in the temple, a remarkable testimony to His being the promised
Messiah was given by the just and devout Simeon, to whom it had been
made known by the Holy Ghost, that he should not die until He had seen
the Lord's Christ. Full of faith, this old man was "waiting for the
consolation of Israel," the Messiah, Who was to save His people from
their sins. Guided by the Holy Spirit, Simeon was in the temple "when
the Parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for Him after the custom
of the Law." At once the Holy Spirit made known to the aged Simeon,
that in this infant he beheld the Saviour for whom he waited; "Then
took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now
lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word; for
mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the
face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of
Thy people Israel." We are told that Joseph and Mary marvelled at
those things which were spoken by Simeon; and we may be sure that Mary
treasured them up also in her heart, and looked upon her infant Son
with reverence, as well as love. Then Simeon blessed Mary, and warned
her of future suffering. Another testimony to the divinity of Jesus
Christ was then given by an aged widow, who coming into the temple "in
that instant, gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to
all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem." Nor did these aged
Jews alone bear testimony to the Messiah. The glorious light of the
Shechinah, the visible sign of the presence of God, which had not been
seen for many hundred years, until it appeared surrounding the Angels
who proclaimed the birth of Jesus to the Shepherds of Bethlehem, was
not seen by them alone. In far off countries, it was seen as a
remarkable star. The inhabitants of Chaldea, part of the once famous
Babylonian Empire, were at this time very learned in Astronomy: that
is, they studied the stars, and the motions of the heavenly bodies.
They worshipped the sun, because they thought that must be the best
representation of the Deity: had they known the real true God, the God
of Israel, they would not have worshipped any of His works, which He
had created and made. The wise and learned men of Chaldea were called
Magi, and many of them were princes and rulers in their various
tribes. Some of these Magi, generally supposed to have been three,
(though the Scripture says nothing as to their number,) saw a
wonderful star shining in the direction of Judæa. They at once
concluded that this star signified the birth of the king of the
Jews--and immediately they set off and travelled towards the land of
Judæa. And when they reached Jerusalem, they enquired, "Where is he
that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the East,
and are come to worship him." That is, in the Eastern land where they
lived, they had seen this star.



Chapter III.--FLIGHT INTO EGYPT.


To understand the question of the Magi, "Where is he that is born King
of the Jews?" a few words of explanation may be useful.

The expectation of a coming Messiah was not confined to the Jews:
through the long captivity of the Jews, the writings of the prophets
had become known throughout many lands, and there was therefore at
this time, in all the countries of the East, a general idea that a
King would shortly be born in Judæa, who should rule over all the
world. Balaam, who was well known in those countries of which we are
speaking, had said, "there shall come a star out of Jacob, and a
sceptre shall arise out of Israel"; hence it was generally believed,
that the appearance of some peculiar star in the Heavens, would inform
mankind of the birth of this mighty King. The Messiah, we must
recollect, was promised to Gentiles as well as to Jews; and therefore
all nations who had heard any of the prophecies concerning Him,
expected some benefit from the birth of this wonderful Being. Under
such circumstances, we can easily imagine that the Magi, who paid
such attention to the stars in general, should eagerly watch for the
appearance of one, which was to announce, that the long-looked-for
King was born in Judæa. Hence, when from their home in the East, they
beheld the glorious light of the Shechinah, shining in the direction
of the land of Judæa, they felt no doubt as to its meaning; and
without hesitation, they at once set off on their long journey, to
worship and do honour to the new-born King. The star had disappeared;
but the prophets had so plainly pointed out the land of Judæa as the
birthplace of the Messiah, that the Magi fearlessly and confidently
journeyed on to that country. When at length they reached it, they
naturally expected that so wonderful an event would be well known to
all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and that they should have no
difficulty in finding the abode of this glorious Child; therefore, as
soon as they arrived in the city, they asked, "Where is he that is
born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the East, and are
come to worship him." When Herod the King had heard these words he was
troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

The birth of Jesus Christ made known by Angels to the Shepherds, and
by them "made known abroad" among their neighbours and friends, the
humble of the land, does not seem to have been noticed by the rulers
and Priests living at Jerusalem. Their own Scriptures taught them that
the Messiah was to come; and they expected that His birth would be
immediately followed by Revolts and Wars, Earthquakes, Famine and
Plague; therefore they might well be "troubled," when they heard He
was actually come; though, if they had rightly believed and understood
the great blessing He was to bring to mankind, they would have
rejoiced at His coming, and thought all temporal sufferings easy to be
borne for His sake.

Herod was troubled; for though he was now an old man, and not likely
to live till a new-born Infant should grow up, yet he did not like the
idea of another king to interfere with him: he did not understand the
nature of the Messiah's kingdom, and thought only of a king who would
govern the country and the people, make laws, and impose taxes; he had
no idea of a King who was to reign over the hearts of men on earth,
and finally receive them into His kingdom in heaven.

Herod's behaviour on this occasion showed a strange mixture of belief
and unbelief. In common with the Jews in general, he believed that
the Messiah was to come; and he evidently believed that the Child,
whose birth had been made known by the star, was indeed the Christ. He
therefore called together the wise and learned men, well acquainted
with the Scriptures of the Old Testament, and asked them where the
Messiah should be born. The chief priests and Scribes at once declared
that Bethlehem was pointed out by the prophets as the birthplace of
Messiah; thus giving another proof, that the Infant just born in that
place, was the promised Messiah. So far Herod believed; but now his
unbelief was shown by his fancying for one moment, that if this Child
really was the Messiah, he could kill him, and so frustrate the
purpose for which he was sent by God.

It seems strange that any one believing as Herod did, that the Infant
whom the Magi were seeking was really the Messiah, should have thought
it possible to fight against God, and destroy His Anointed: but so it
was. Herod, under pretence of wishing to go himself and worship the
King of the Jews, begged the Magi to come and bring him word when they
had found the young Child; and he also asked them particularly about
the time at which the star had first appeared, that he might know what
would be the age of the Babe, whom he was determined to destroy. The
wise men, or Magi, departed, and though they had received no clear
directions from the inhabitants of Jerusalem, better help was at hand:
the star which they had seen in the East, now appeared to them again,
and even moved on before them: "when they saw the star, they rejoiced
with exceeding great joy," and followed it, until "it came and stood
over" the stable "where the young child was." "And when they were come
into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell
down and worshipped him:" at once they acknowledged him to be something
more than an earthly king--a Being entitled to worship. Then they gave
such presents as were given to kings. It was the custom in the East,
where presents were so much given, to proportion their value to the
rank and station of those to whom the gift was offered. Mary and Joseph
were poor and in a humble rank of life, and to their infant, therefore,
flowers or fruit, or something of little value, would have been a
sufficient gift. But in the Son of Mary, the Magi acknowledged the
long-promised Messiah; and to Him they gave the most valuable gifts,
suitable for a King to receive: "when they had opened their treasures,
they presented unto Him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh."
Thus the Lord provided Joseph with the means for taking proper care of
the young child and his mother. At Bethlehem, the place of his birth,
Jesus had now been worshipped as a King, both by Jews and Gentiles;
thus fulfilling prophecy, and showing that the Messiah was to be the
Saviour of Gentiles, as well as Jews. Our Church has appointed a day,
to be observed in remembrance of this first showing, or manifestation,
of Christ to the Gentiles. In common talk we call this day Twelfth Day,
and the custom of drawing for King and Queen is very old, and is
founded upon the visit of the Magi, or kings of the East to Bethlehem.
The name by which Twelfth Day is distinguished in our Prayer-Book is
the "Epiphany," a word which means "manifestation" or "showing"--the
manifestation of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles.

The wise men, not suspecting Herod's wicked purpose, would no doubt
have gone back to him as he desired, but "being warned of God in a
dream" not to return to Jerusalem, "they departed into their country
another way."

After the departure of the Magi, the Lord, Who knows the secrets of
all hearts, warned Joseph in a dream, that Herod would seek the young
child to destroy him. In obedience to the command then given to him,
Joseph "arose, and took the young child and his mother by night, and
departed into Egypt"; thus fulfilling a prophecy which had spoken of
that country, as the place where the Messiah should for a time dwell.
At this time, a great many Jewish families lived in Egypt, and
supported themselves by their own industry: there were so many of
them, that they divided themselves into companies, according to their
trades or occupations: there was a company of silversmiths, who
manufactured articles of gold and silver, set jewels, and made
ornaments to be worn; there was another company of weavers, who wove
threads of flax and silk, into linen and silk of which garments were
made; and so on. In short, every trade had its own company; so that if
a poor Jew came into any city inhabited by his fellow countrymen, he
always knew where to find those who carried on the trade which he had
learned: then he could join them at once, and so find work, and earn a
maintenance for himself and family.

Perhaps Joseph joined one of these companies of his countrymen; but
the presents given by the Magi, would for a long time supply him with
all that he needed.



Chapter IV.--THE INNOCENTS.


Herod anxiously expected the return of the wise men, with full
information as to where he might find the infant King of the Jews:
but, as day after day passed and they came not, he saw that they did
not mean to do his bidding. "Then was Herod exceeding wroth, and sent
forth his soldiers, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem,
and in all the coasts thereof,"--that is, in the neighbouring parts of
the country,--"from two years old and under, according to the time
which he had diligently enquired of the wise men." As much less than
two years had passed, since the wise men saw the star which heralded
the birth of the Messiah, Herod made sure that, by killing all the
little boys under that age, he should destroy the infant King of the
Jews, and so rid himself of any further anxiety.

Terrible was the distress and mourning amongst the poor Mothers, who
saw their infants torn from their arms and murdered! but their dear
babes were safe; taken from the dangers and troubles of this world, to
be for ever happy in the presence of God: "for they are without fault
before the throne of God."

Our Church sets apart three days, immediately after Christmas Day, in
remembrance of three classes of Martyrs. A Martyr is one who suffers
in the cause of duty, and will die rather than give way: those who
thus suffered for Christ, and would die rather than offend or forsake
Him, are called Martyrs. "The Innocents," as the murdered babes of
Bethlehem are called, suffered death for Jesus's sake; but, of course,
they had no will in the matter; they were too young: these were the
first Martyrs.

The day after Christmas Day is called "St. John the Evangelist's Day":
St. John was, when Jesus grew up, one of His disciples: he dearly
loved his Master, and was ready to die for Him, but he was not called
upon to give up his life, though he suffered much for Jesus's sake.
The day following "St. John's Day," is called "St. Stephen's Day": St.
Stephen was the first who willingly gave up his life for the sake of
Jesus Christ. Thus we have three classes of Martyrs commemorated in
our Church: Martyrs in Deed only--the Innocents; Martyrs in Will
only--St. John; Martyrs in Will and in Deed--St. Stephen.

But to return to our history. Herod was guilty of a great sin; and,
in spite of all his wickedness, the Child Jesus lived and was safe.

It is said that Antipater, who had caused the death of Mariamne's
sons, advised his father to slay the infants of Bethlehem. Antipater
was a bad man, and, as he was very anxious to be King of Judæa
whenever Herod should die, he wished to destroy one who might, as he
feared, dispute the kingdom with him: no doubt he rejoiced when the
cruel deed was done, concluding that Jesus had perished, and that he
was now sure of the throne: but he was disappointed; for very shortly
afterwards he in some way displeased his father, who at once caused
him to be put to death. It is dreadful to think of the numbers of
persons killed by Herod's orders, but Antipater was the last; for five
days afterwards Herod himself died.

This Herod, called Herod the Great, left four sons living--Archelaus,
Herod Antipas, Philip, and Herod Philip. There are three other Herods
also mentioned in Scripture--Herod Agrippa, and his brother, also
called Herod, who were sons of Aristobulus, and consequently grandsons
of Herod the Great; and, afterwards, a son of Herod Agrippa, called by
the same names as his father, Herod Agrippa. As it is difficult always
to know which Herod is spoken of, the Table below will be useful to
refer to.

                                         1.
                                   Herod the Great.
                                         |
                +------------------------+---------------+
                |               2.                       | 3.
                |         Herod Antipas.            Herod Philip.
                |
        Sons of Aristobulus.
        +------------------+
        | 4.               | 5.
    Herod Agrippa.         Herod.
          |
          | 6.
    Herod Agrippa.

After the death of Herod the Great, Archelaus became governor of the
provinces of Judæa and Samaria, and Herod Antipas ruled over the
province of Galilee, under the title of Tetrarch: but upon this
subject we must say a little more before we go on with the history of
Jesus Christ.

When Herod died, he left a Will, in which he declared his wish, that
his son Archelaus should be king over the greatest part of his
dominions: but as the whole kingdom was subject to the Romans, this
could not be done without the Emperor's leave. Before Archelaus could
go to Home to ask this permission, there was a great disturbance
amongst the Jews in Jerusalem, in consequence of Archelaus refusing to
grant some request: they assembled in great numbers in the Courts of
the Temple, and behaved in such a riotous and disorderly manner, that
Archelaus ordered his soldiers to attack them, and 3,000 men are said
to have been killed on this occasion; a piece of cruelty which
probably disinclined the Emperor Augustus to give Archelaus as much
power as his father Herod the Great had had; at any rate, Archelaus
only succeeded in being made Governor of Judæa and Samaria, with the
promise, that if he acted so as to give the Emperor satisfaction, he
should have the title of King: but instead of obtaining this, he
behaved so ill, that a few years afterwards he was deprived of all
power, and banished to a city in Gaul, where he died.

Returning to the history of our blessed Lord, we find that after the
death of Antipater and Herod, the Angel appeared to Joseph in Egypt,
saying, "Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into
the land of Israel, for they are dead which sought the young child's
life." The Angel did not name any particular place for the young Child
to go to, but the Messiah was not to stay long out of the Holy Land,
given to Abraham and his descendants, as a heritage for ever. When
Joseph, with Mary and the holy Child, got back into the land of
Israel, he found that "Archelaus reigned in the room of his father";
that is, he was Governor of Judæa; fearing his cruelty, he was afraid
to take the young Child and his mother there, and the Lord, by means
of a dream, warned him to go into the land of Galilee, which was under
the government of Herod Antipas.

Joseph in consequence made choice of Nazareth in Galilee as a
dwelling-place, and there the Lord Jesus Christ lived till he grew up
to be a Man, and was ready to begin the work which He came into the
world to do. During all these years, up to the time when Jesus was
thirty years old, we are told nothing of what He did, except His
questioning the priests in the temple, when He was twelve years old.
Twelve was the age appointed for the young Jews to begin to keep the
Feasts and Fasts prescribed by their Law; and accordingly, Jesus, who
came to fulfil all righteousness, accompanied Mary and Joseph to
Jerusalem on this occasion: but after all the ceremonies had been
observed, He, unknown to them, remained behind, and going into the
temple astonished the priests and learned men by His questions, His
knowledge of the Scriptures, and the way in which He spake: no wonder
that all who looked upon Him merely as a human being, should be
astonished. When Mary missed her Son, she and Joseph returned to
Jerusalem, where "after three days they found Him in the temple,
sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them and asking them
questions." To His mother's gentle rebuke, "Son, why hast thou thus
dealt with us?" the holy Child made that answer at once referring to
His divine nature, and to the work for which He had left His Father's
kingdom, "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" They
understood not fully then His meaning; but Mary "kept all these
sayings in her heart."

But Jesus had now done all that was to be done for many years, as to
His great work; and therefore, though He knew Himself to be the Son of
God, He submitted to His earthly parents: He went "down with them, and
came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them"--thus in His first work,
setting us the great example of obedience to parents--an example which
all of us must carefully and cheerfully copy. No sin, not even the
least approach to it, was found in Him: one act of disobedience would
have prevented His making atonement for us. And this perfect Being so
loved us, His sinful creatures, as to die for us: let us love Him; and
show our love by trying to copy His example in all things; beginning
with obedience to our Parents, and all whom they set over us.



Chapter V.--BAPTISM OF JESUS.


How gladly should we all learn something of our Saviour's early life;
of His childhood; of the pursuits of His youth and manhood! But these
things are hidden from us, and whatever legends may exist respecting
such matters, we must remember that Scripture has not revealed to us
any knowledge of these things. For the eighteen years following His
questioning the learned men in the temple, one entry suffices--"And
Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and
man." As partaking of the human nature, His body grew gradually to
its full size and strength, enduring, no doubt, pain and sickness, so
inseparable from mortality: in this, all who are born into the world
follow His example, whether they will or no; but are all careful to
"increase in wisdom, and in favour with God and man"? And yet this is
what all may do. These words again set the Saviour before us, as an
example to be diligently followed: by prayer and study of the
Scriptures, we shall obtain from God, that heavenly wisdom which will
make us wise unto salvation; that practical wisdom, by which we shall
walk daily in a manner pleasing to God; so shall we, day by day, grow
in favour with our heavenly Father, and with all men whose approbation
and favour is worth securing.

Of John the Baptist's early life we have not even one glimpse afforded
us, beyond the notice "that the child grew, and waxed strong in the
spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his showing unto
Israel." In silence and solitude was the wonderful son of Zacharias
prepared for his work: the Spirit of the Lord was upon him, and under
its blessed influence he became strong to do, and suffer.

For thirty years did the Sons of Mary and of Elisabeth wait patiently,
unnoticed, till the time came when they were to enter on the work
appointed for each. At that time, Herod Antipas (one of the sons of
Herod the Great) was tetrarch or governor of Galilee, while his
brother Philip was tetrarch of Ituræa, and of other parts of the
country lying to the East of the Sea of Galilee and the river Jordan.

Archelaus, as we have already said, had for his misconduct been
banished by the Romans into Gaul, and the province of Judæa was
governed by a Roman, called Pontius Pilate. Augustus Cæsar, who was
the Emperor of Rome when Jesus Christ was born, died when our Lord was
about fourteen years old; and another Emperor, called Tiberius Cæsar,
ruled over the vast possessions of the Romans, when Jesus and His
forerunner John the Baptist, entered upon their public ministry.

The Bible tells us, that at this time Annas and Caiaphas were high
priests: by the Law of Moses, the Jews could only have one high priest
at a time, and when once appointed, he continued to hold that high
office as long as he lived; but when the Romans took possession of the
Holy Land, they appointed the high priest at their pleasure--often
depriving one of the office, in order to bestow it upon another. Annas
was high priest for eleven years, and then the Roman Governor
deprived him of the office, and made Caiaphas, who had married the
daughter of Annas, high priest in the place of his father-in-law.

According to the will of the Romans, therefore, Caiaphas was actually
high priest at this time; though, according to the Law of Moses, he
had no right to be so, as long as Annas was alive. No doubt the more
devout Jews, who wished to keep their Law, looked upon Annas as their
high priest; whilst those who were careless and indifferent, and
wished rather to please the Romans, acknowledged Caiaphas: for this
reason St. Luke speaks of them both as high priests.

We must remember that John was born a few months before Jesus, to "go
before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways," consequently he was
the first to appear in public. He went first as a Messenger, to
prepare the people to listen to the Messiah: John came, and called
upon all men to repent of their sins and wickedness, to leave off
doing wrong, and to do such things as God commanded them to do. John
also invited the people to be baptized. Baptism was a rite or ceremony
in use amongst the Jews before this time, by way of admitting
strangers into their Church: for instance, if any Gentiles wished to
join the Jews, and worship God as they did, they were baptized, or
washed with Water; and after this ceremony, they were looked upon as
new creatures, fit to be admitted into the Jewish Church.

The Jews, by baptizing the heathen, admitted them into their Church,
into a new religion; John called upon the Jews to be baptized, because
they were to change their religion, and become members of a Church,
which should have Christ for her head. The Jews baptized persons who,
according to their Law, were unclean, in order to purify them; but
John called upon those, who according to the Law were clean already,
to come to him and be baptized, in order to show, that all who would
belong to Christ must purify their hearts, and obey the spirit as well
as the letter of all the commandments.

This distinction between the letter and the spirit of any commandment,
must be carefully and constantly borne in mind, by every Christian.

For example, the Sixth Commandment says, "Thou shalt do no murder";
therefore all, who do not actually kill a fellow creature, may be said
to obey the _letter_, or exact _words_, of this commandment; but to
obey the spirit, we must never do anything wilfully to hurt our
neighbour in any way; we must, on the contrary, do all the good we
possibly can to our fellow creatures.

To make this plainer, suppose a mother to say to her children, "You
may go out, but it is so hot that you must not run about": the
children go out, and then amuse themselves by jumping--they have
obeyed the letter of their mother's commands, for they did not _run_,
but they have broken the spirit--she wished them not to heat
themselves,--that was the spirit and meaning of the precept; and that
they have broken, just as much as if they had run about.

The Jews must have well understood, that when John the Baptist called
upon them to be baptized as if they were unclean, he meant to show
them that the Messiah required men to be holy, far beyond what they
then were; and great numbers of the people listened to his teaching,
and went out unto him, and were baptized of him in the river Jordan,
confessing their sins.

"And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of
Galilee to Jordan unto John to be baptized of him. But John forbad
him, saying, I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to
me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for
thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered
him." John spake of the baptism administered by him, as "the baptism
of repentance for the remission of sins"; meaning that those who
repented and were baptized, would have their sins forgiven and done
away with, so that they would no longer be looked upon as guilty. John
knew that Jesus was perfectly holy, and had no need of the baptism of
repentance, so necessary for mere mortals. John had also told those
who came to him to be baptized "with water unto repentance," that they
still needed another baptism from the Son of God; even the gift of the
Holy Spirit, without which no man could please the Lord. He told them,
"there cometh one mightier than I after me, whose shoes I am not
worthy to bear,"--"the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to
unloose,"--"He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost."

In Eastern countries, the visitors to princes and great men, took off
their shoes, that is, the sandals or slippers worn upon the feet, and
left them at the door, whilst they went barefooted into the presence
of the prince. The fastenings or latchets of these shoes were often
undone by a slave, who also held the shoes till his master again
required them. Thus to unfasten or bear the shoes of another,
signified being his servant, ready to do any service that might be
required. John therefore meant, that He who was to come after him was
so greatly his superior, that he (John) was not worthy even to do for
Him the lowest offices required from a slave. No wonder that with such
feelings, John objected to Jesus being baptized by him, who was in
every respect so far His inferior; and who, like all other human
beings, had need of the Holy Spirit which God alone could give.

But amongst the Jews, those who were admitted to perform the office of
Priest were always anointed and baptized; and, as Jesus came to be our
great High Priest, it was necessary that He should observe this form,
as He had undergone the rite of circumcision. He came to fulfil all
righteousness, to do all that was right, and then to suffer
punishment, as if He had been sinful instead of sinless. To make
atonement for the sin of man, it was necessary that He Who made it,
should obey and fulfil perfectly the whole Will of God, and then
suffer, "the just for the unjust." Only so could atonement be made:
this Jesus explained to John, and then the Baptist no longer hesitated
to baptize with water the sinless Son of God.



Chapter VI.--JESUS TEMPTED OF THE DEVIL


"And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the
water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the
Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: and, lo,
a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well
pleased." The Three Persons in the Holy Trinity were thus at once made
manifest, or shown to John the Baptist: before Him, under the form of
Man, stood God the Son: God the Holy Ghost came down from heaven in a
bodily form, with a gentle motion like that of a dove, and rested upon
the Son of God: God the Father was not made visible to the eyes, but
His voice was heard, declaring Jesus to be His Son, the promised
Messiah, the Saviour of the world.

After His baptism, Jesus was, by the appointment of His Father, "led
by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil." It
was necessary that Jesus should gain a victory over the great enemy of
mankind, and show that the Devil had no power to lead Him to do evil.
Since Adam fell, no human being had ever so completely resisted the
Devil as to _deserve_ the favour of God; thus no one had ever earned
eternal life even for himself. Jesus came to make atonement for the
sin of countless millions: but He could not have made satisfaction for
the sins of others, if He had in the least thing given way to the
Devil. Therefore He must fight and conquer, or the work which He came
to do must have remained for ever undone.

In Scripture, Jesus Christ is called the second Adam: "the first Adam
is of the earth, earthy, the last Adam is the Lord from heaven." The
first Adam was created holy and good, but he was tempted by the Devil
and sinned; "so by the disobedience of one man came death, for in Adam
all die." All who bear the same nature, must share the punishment due
to that sinful nature. But the Holy and Eternal Son of God took upon
Himself the human nature of man, and became subject to the like
infirmities, but without sin. Thus was atonement made--"in Christ
shall all," who give themselves to Him, "be made alive": "thus by man
came also the resurrection of the dead." The Devil exerted all his
power to lead Jesus to do something which would displease God, and
destroy the blessed work of redemption. Taking advantage of Jesus
being hungry and faint after long fasting, the Devil gently proposed
that He should turn some stones into bread, and thus at the same time
supply His own wants, and give a convincing proof that He was indeed
the Son of God, as He had been just declared to be.

We are ready enough to take any excuse for doing what we wish to do;
and by this means we often fall into the snare which Satan so cleverly
spreads for us. But Jesus thought of nothing but how to do the Will of
His Father completely and entirely. He had been led into the
wilderness by the Spirit of God, and it was the Will of His heavenly
Father that He should now be enhungered. Jesus was therefore
determined to leave the matter entirely in the hands of God. This is
what we should all do, rather than try to help ourselves by doing
anything that we fear may displease God.

Satan next wanted Jesus to throw Himself down from the roof of the
temple into the court below, where the people were assembled, and thus
show them at once that He was the promised Messiah, the Son of God, of
whom David had written, God "shall give His angels charge over thee,
to keep thee; and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any
time thou dash thy foot against a stone." But Jesus, still bent upon
doing His Father's will, answered from Scripture, "It is said, Thou
shalt not tempt the Lord thy God," meaning that no one must run into
unnecessary danger, to try whether God will preserve him: this is
tempting Providence, and is sinful. To do our duty in spite of danger
is trusting God, and is right: but to run into danger just to please
ourselves, expecting that God will preserve us, is presumptuous and
sinful.

Satan made a last attempt to get Jesus to bow down to him, by
promising to give Him power over all the kingdoms of the world; but
Jesus was content to have only what God saw fit to give Him, and
replied, "Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship
the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve."

The battle was over; the victory was gained: as Man, Jesus had been
tempted; as Man, He had resisted the Devil. He had fought and
conquered, and thus could go on with His blessed work, which He never
could have accomplished, had He at this, or any other time, given way
in the least degree to the Devil. For the first time since the
Creation, Satan found himself defeated: against our blessed Saviour he
could not prevail, as he had done against Adam and his descendants; He
departed therefore: we are told, "Then the Devil leaveth Him, and,
behold, angels came and ministered unto Him." The Father sent His
Angels to minister to His Son; that is, to serve Him; to supply those
wants to which, as Man, He was subject. No doubt they brought Him food
of which His human nature stood greatly in need.

We have seen how Jesus resisted the Devil; each time using the very
words of Scripture, which forbade Him to do as the Tempter proposed.
The Devil is constantly tempting every human being to sin, by
suggesting that they had better follow their own wishes and
inclinations, instead of denying themselves, and trying in all things
to please God. We should therefore bear in mind, that we possess the
same Scriptures, and far more; since we have now our Saviour's own
words whilst He was upon earth, and also the letters of His Apostles:
and then, when we are tempted to do what is wrong, let us remember
what the Scriptures say, and obey _that_, instead of following our own
wills. The young are never too young to begin to resist the Devil,
who has temptations suited to every age and condition: if you feel
disinclined to obey your Parents cheerfully, remember that the Bible
says, "Children obey your Parents in all things": let all inclination
to dispute with one another be driven away by the recollection of the
precept, "Be ye kind one to another."

The direction, "Speak every man truth with his neighbour," should
strengthen you to resist every temptation to hide a fault, by saying
what is not true, or even by keeping silence, or doing anything to
deceive another. The fault into which so many young people fall, of
being idle and careless about their lessons, would best be checked by
calling to mind the precepts, "Be not slothful in business," and
"Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily as unto the Lord." These, and many
like precepts, warn us to conquer faults of which we are apt to think
too lightly; not seeing that they are temptations set before us by the
Devil, who strives to destroy our souls. But it is also written,
"Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you." Begin at once to resist
him with all your strength--struggle against your own will and
inclinations, which will too often incline you to yield to his
suggestions. Fight manfully as long as you live upon earth; praying
always for help from God, without Whom ye can do nothing. If thus
steadily and heartily you endeavour to renounce the Devil and all his
works, with all the sinful lusts of the flesh, and do everything to
please God, you will hereafter receive your reward in Heaven for Jesus
Christ's sake.

After the Baptism and Temptation of Jesus Christ, He began His work
amongst men, by declaring to them the blessed truths of the Gospel.

The first men who became disciples, or followers of Jesus Christ, were
Andrew and John, who were already disciples of John the Baptist. "The
next day," after the Baptism of our Lord, "John stood and two of his
disciples; and looking upon Jesus as He walked, he saith, Behold the
Lamb of God!" The Priests and Levites, as well as all the people of
the Jews, knew that lambs were daily offered up as an atonement for
sin, but that the blood of these creatures could never wash out the
stain of sin, nor obtain its forgiveness. They were quite aware that
these sacrifices were only offered up as a type, or sign of the
Messiah; for Whose coming they looked, to make atonement for the sin
of the whole world. John the Baptist had repeatedly told his disciples
that he was not himself the Messiah, but was the messenger to prepare
his way before Him. When, therefore, John the Baptist exclaimed,
"Behold the Lamb of God," Andrew and John at once understood, that
this was indeed the long-looked-for Messiah, the true Lamb of God, Who
was to take away the sins of the whole world. "The two disciples heard
him speak, and they followed Jesus." Jesus asked them, "What seek ye?"
At once acknowledging Him to be their Master, the disciples asked Him,
"Rabbi, where dwellest thou? He saith unto them, Come and see. They
came and saw where He dwelt, and abode with Him that day; for it was
about the tenth hour." That is, it was about two hours before sunset.

Andrew next went in search of his own brother Simon Peter, and "saith
unto him, We have found the Messiah." Simon Peter at once believed
these glad tidings, and went with Andrew to Jesus, who received him
kindly. The next day Philip, who lived in the same town as Andrew and
Peter, and had no doubt often talked with them of the promised
Saviour, also became a follower of Jesus; and he likewise brought a
friend called Nathanael, of whom we must say something more.



Chapter VII.--THE FIRST MIRACLE.


Nathanael, who was brought to Jesus by Philip, was one of those devout
Jews who had studied the writings of Moses and the prophets, and was
in consequence anxiously expecting the coming of the promised Messiah.
Philip went and told him that the Messiah was really come at last, and
that he himself had seen the wondrous Being, of whom Moses and the
prophets had written; and that He was no other than Jesus of Nazareth,
the son of Joseph. Now at that time the inhabitants of Nazareth did
not generally bear a good character, and were not therefore held in
esteem by their fellow countrymen; and besides, Nathanael had learned
from the Scriptures, that Christ should be born in Bethlehem; hence he
doubted the possibility of Jesus being the promised Redeemer, and
asked in a tone of incredulity, "Can there any good thing come out of
Nazareth?" Philip, whose faith was firm, gave the best answer which
ever can be given to those who doubt the testimony of others, "Come
and see"; certain that if Nathanael were to see and talk with Jesus,
he would be convinced that He was indeed the Messiah.

Nathanael, who was willing and anxious to learn the truth, laid aside
all prejudice, and went to Jesus; and fully was he rewarded for his
willingness to learn. When Jesus saw Nathanael coming unto Him, He
spoke in a manner which surprised the latter, and made him ask,
"Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that
Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee." It
seems that Nathanael, following a custom amongst the devout Jews, had
gone into a quiet, retired part of his garden, to meditate and pray.
Here he knew that no human eye could see him, and therefore the words
now spoken by Jesus convinced him that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed
the promised Messiah; he doubted no longer, but without hesitation,
exclaimed, "Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God, Thou art the King of
Israel." Jesus, pleased with Nathanael's willing faith, told him that
he should see greater proofs of His being indeed the Son of God, the
promised Messiah. The word Rabbi means a "teacher having authority."
Andrew and Peter, James and John, of whom we have heard as the first
disciples of Christ, did not at this time remain with Him as his
constant attendants, but returned to their own occupation as
fishermen: they all lived at Bethsaida, a town on the northern coast
of the sea of Galilee.

The next event which we have to notice, is the first miracle worked by
Christ, at Cana in Galilee, where with those who had already become
his disciples, He attended a marriage feast. Here, when wine was
wanted, Jesus performed His first miracle, by turning water into wine.
Thirty years had now passed away since the birth of Christ; the
Shepherds, and others who had seen or heard the wonderful things which
took place at that time, had probably ceased to think much about them;
or if they thought of them, it was probably to wonder what had become
of the Holy Babe, Who had been declared by Angels to be "Christ the
Lord." Such a miracle as that now worked at Cana, would be talked of
far and wide; and those who remembered the birth of Mary's Son at
Bethlehem, would have no difficulty in believing that Jesus Christ was
that wondrous Child. To all who were inclined to listen to Jesus,
miracles were a confirmation of their faith; for these wonderful
displays of supernatural power plainly showed Him to be the Son of
God; yet in spite of such unmistakable signs, few of the Jews accepted
Jesus as their expected Messiah. The poorer people, the lower
classes, who benefited mostly by his miracles, "heard him gladly," for
a time, at least; though at the period of His crucifixion their voices
called out, "Crucify him, Crucify him!"

When we read the account of Christ's life and miracles, it does seem
most extraordinary, that throughout His career on earth, very few of
the higher class of Jews, or of the Priests and those best acquainted
with the Scriptures, would acknowledge Him. But we must remember that
they had made up their minds, in spite of all that the prophets had
said to the contrary, that the Messiah was to come as an earthly King
and Conqueror, surrounded with pomp and splendour: this idea they
would not give up: they were not like Nathanael, willing to be taught,
and they could not bear the idea that a poor man, born in a humble
rank of life, and only distinguished from other men by his holiness,
should be their Messiah. Besides this, the greater part of the Jews
had by this time grown careless about their religion; they still
observed the outward forms and ceremonies ordered by the Law, but they
did not obey the command given through Moses, to love the Lord their
God with all their heart: they did not wish to be holy, as Jesus
plainly told his disciples they must be. He went about preaching the
Gospel of the Kingdom, that is, telling all men that they must repent
of all their sins, and leave off doing wrong, and try to please God in
everything, if they would hereafter be received into the Kingdom of
Heaven. Such doctrine was very displeasing to the Jews, and therefore
they were determined not to own such a Teacher as their Lord: thus
they rejected the true Messiah, whilst they pretended to be anxiously
looking out for His coming.

Not very long after the miracle at Cana, we are told that "the Jews'
Passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem." The Law of
Moses commanded, that at this feast every male among the Jews, should
appear before the Lord in His holy temple; and Jesus, Who was to set
an example of perfect obedience to all the commandments of God,
journeyed from Capernaum up to Jerusalem, to keep the feast in the
place which the Lord had chosen. When Jesus went up to this Passover,
He drove the buyers and sellers out of the temple, an action repeated
on a future occasion. At this time St. John says, that Jesus "found in
the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers
of money sitting: and when he had made a scourge of small cords, He
drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and
poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; and said
unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my
Father's house a house of merchandise."

It is not meant that these animals, or the money changers, were in the
_building of the temple itself_, but in one of the courts surrounding
it.

So many creatures were required for sacrifices, that it was a great
convenience for persons coming from a distance, to be able to buy what
they wanted on the spot; and therefore it had long been the custom for
traders to establish themselves outside of the outer Court of the
temple, to supply the worshippers with oxen, sheep or doves. Then
again, people coming from a distance, might bring their money in a
large sum, and then they would want to have it changed for coins of
less value; just as we might carry a sovereign, which would give us no
trouble to carry, and then get it changed into shillings, when we
wanted to spend it. Some Jews also, who came to the temple from time
to time, lived in foreign countries, and they would naturally bring
the money of those countries, which would be of no use in Judæa; and
they would therefore wish to change their foreign money into the money
current amongst the Jews. For these reasons the money changers were
most useful; and they therefore established themselves with the
traders, outside the temple Courts.

But the Priests, as well as the people, became careless about obeying
God perfectly, or worshipping Him in a proper manner and honouring His
house; and therefore, at length, these money changers and sellers of
cattle, established themselves in the Court of the Gentiles, and so
carried on their trade within the sacred precincts of the temple. This
outer Court, in which the money changers and those who sold oxen,
sheep, and doves appear to have established themselves, was the Court
of the Gentiles; and was intended for the use of devout persons, who,
though not willing in all respects to imitate the Jews, were to
worship the One True God. In this Court also, all Jews who happened to
be _unclean_, performed their devotions, as they were not then allowed
to go into the inner Court. There were very many things which caused a
Jew to be looked upon as unclean, without any fault of his. Illness, a
death in the house, nursing the sick; and many other things, rendered
a man "unclean," and unfit to enter the inner Court. Under these
circumstances, there were always many unclean Jews, worshipping God
in the Court of the Gentiles; and the presence of the traders and
money changers was a great disturbance to both Jews and Gentiles; for
they could not attend properly to their prayers, in the midst of all
the noise and confusion made by the buyers and sellers. This wrong
state of things Jesus put an end to, by driving all these traders out
of the temple courts; telling the people not to make the house of God
a house of business, a place for buying and selling.

The disciples of Jesus who witnessed his conduct on this occasion,
remembered that David, speaking of the Messiah Who was to come, said,
"The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up," words that meant, that
Jesus would not allow any dishonour or disrespect to be shown to the
House of God.

By saying to the people, "Make not my Father's house a house of
merchandise," Jesus plainly declared himself to be the Son of God; and
the Jews so understood His words, though they would not own him to be
the Son of God, but immediately asked, "What sign showest thou unto
us, seeing that thou doest these things?" that is, What proof can you
give us that you are what you say, and that you have any right to turn
these people out of the Court of the temple?

Had this question been asked in a proper spirit, from a real desire to
know for certain, in order that they might worship Jesus as the
Messiah, they would no doubt have received a plain and direct answer.
But they had no intention of following and obeying Jesus as their Lord
and Master, and only wished to find excuses for not believing in Him;
therefore our Lord, Who knew all the thoughts in their hearts,
answered them in a very remarkable way, giving them a sign which would
hereafter prove Him to be indeed the Son of God.



Chapter VIII.--NICODEMUS COMES BY NIGHT TO JESUS.


To the question, What sign showest thou unto us, seeing that thou
doest these things? Jesus answered, "Destroy this temple, and in three
days I will raise it up." These words were a prophecy: Jesus "spake of
the temple of his body," and thus declared that His own body would be
killed, but that after three days He would rise to life again.

The Jews, thinking only of the building before their eyes now,
exclaimed in astonishment, "Forty and six years was this temple in
building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?" It had taken Herod
forty-six years to repair and beautify the second temple, and the Jews
might well doubt its being done in three days: they thought of nothing
further, and were probably quite satisfied that Jesus had now said
what could not possibly be. But the disciples felt sure that these
words of their Lord had some hidden meaning, though they did not
understand what: they therefore remembered them; and after their
accomplishment their faith was strengthened; for we read, "When
therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he
had said this unto them; and they believed the Scripture, and the word
which Jesus had said."

All Scripture, as we know, was written for our instruction, and
therefore we must always think what we can learn from it: now the
clearing of the temple court by Jesus teaches us two great lessons:
first, that we must never use the House of God for any purpose but
that for which it is intended. Now, to us, our Churches are the house
of God; and if we do not use them as we ought, we sin as did the Jews.
Of course, we cannot make them a house of merchandise as the Jews did;
but if we are thinking of our business, or our pleasure, or anything
else, instead of attending to what is going on, we are not using the
house of God in a proper manner. Our Churches are set apart for the
worship of God as much as the Temple was; and if we do not worship God
when we go for that purpose, we displease our heavenly Father.
Everything belonging to God must be treated with reverence, and
honoured by being used according to His Will. In this way, therefore,
we must reverence and honour His day, His house, and His word. You
will thus see that being careless and inattentive at Church is a great
sin. God sees your heart, and knows all your thoughts, so that if you
are thinking of something else, though you may be sitting still and
thus _appear_ good to man, He will be displeased.

In all the prayers you must join heartily: when the Lessons are read,
you will generally be able to understand them. When the Clergyman
begins to preach his Sermon, try to understand what he says: if you
really cannot understand his sermon, then think about some person
mentioned in Scripture, as Adam, Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon,
Samuel, and many others, and consider what they did to please or
displease God; or say over your hymns and texts to yourself: this will
prevent your thoughts from wandering off to your business, or
pleasures, or any such things. In the house of God, you must _think_
of _nothing but_ God, and how to please Him.

Now let us talk of the other lesson, which we are to learn from what
Jesus did.

Jesus spake of His body as a temple; and St. Paul tells us, that all
who love and follow Christ are so joined together in Him, that they
are like stones joined together to build up a holy temple, for an
habitation of God through the Spirit. As Christians baptized in the
Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, we have all become stones or
parts of that holy temple the Church of Christ; members or parts of
His body: for the Scripture calls the Church of Christ His body. Now
as long as we are obedient and faithful members of Christ's body, the
Church, the Holy Spirit will bless and help us: but if we give way to
our own sinful feelings, we bring bad passions into this holy temple,
the Church of Christ, and "defile," or make it unclean, as the Jews
defiled the temple built by hands by bringing oxen and sheep into its
courts. St Paul warns us of the consequence of such sin: "If any man
defile the temple of God, him will God destroy."

But further, the same Apostle St. Paul teaches each one of us to look
upon our own body as a temple, for the abode of the Holy Spirit. Now,
as a temple is devoted to the service of God, so we must employ our
bodies in serving Him, and doing His will. The temple must not be
defiled; so we must try hard to keep all naughty tempers out of our
hearts. Disobedience, passion, quarrelsomeness, idleness--in short,
all the faults you can have--are evil things which defile the temple,
and render it unfit for the abode of the Holy Spirit. If you try to
resist evil, the Holy Spirit will help you to do so; but if you give
way to bad passions, and allow the Devil to govern you, you will
grieve the Holy Spirit of God, and at last _force_ Him to leave you to
follow your own ways. To be left to follow your own evil ways is the
most dreadful thing that can happen to you. Pray to God, and try to
have Him always for your friend.

We have said that during our Saviour's ministry on earth, few of the
higher class of Jews became His disciples; but there was one
remarkable exception, in the case of a man named Nicodemus, whose
conversation with our blessed Lord is particularly instructive. We
read in the Gospel of St. John, "There was a man of the Pharisees,
named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: the same came to Jesus by night,
and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from
God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be
with him." Nicodemus was a man of sense, and the miracles of Jesus had
convinced him; for he felt certain that no one but the Son of God, the
Messiah, could do such things. He was willing to acknowledge this; but
afraid of the ridicule or reproaches of his friends, he came to Jesus
by night, that no man might know of his visit. Christ, who is very
merciful, did not refuse to listen to Nicodemus, but began to show him
that there must be some proof of faith in a holy life. So when
Nicodemus declared his belief that Jesus came from God, "Jesus
answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a
man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus, not
understanding the real meaning of these words, "saith unto him, How
can a man be born when he is old?" meaning that it was impossible for
a man who had been born many years before, again to become a baby.
"Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born
of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of
the Spirit is spirit." Jesus meant that, as to the body or flesh, no
man could of course be born again; but that by the help of the Holy
Spirit, the man's nature might be changed so that he would become
holy, trying in all things to please God: such a change in the
character, temper, and disposition might be compared to a new birth;
and without such a complete change, no one could enter into the
kingdom of God. Such teaching might well cause Nicodemus great
surprise; and Jesus said unto him, "Marvel not that I said unto thee,
Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou
hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and
whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." In
these words our Saviour warns Nicodemus, that a man's conduct only can
show whether he has been born of the Spirit: just as we cannot see the
wind, but we know that it blows, because we hear the noise it makes,
and see its effects in the way the trees and other things are blown
about.

Nicodemus, in astonishment at all he heard, now said, "How can these
things be?" and then Jesus told him how necessary it was to have faith
when hearing of heavenly things, since it is impossible for man to
understand how the great works of God are done. At this time Jesus
uttered that remarkable prophecy, comparing His crucifixion to the
setting up of the Brazen Serpent in the wilderness; saying, "And as
Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of
man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish,
but have eternal life." When the children of Israel were dying from
the effects of the bites of the fiery flying serpents, those who so
believed the words of Moses, as to look up at the brazen serpent, were
saved at once from the death of the body. When all the children of men
were dying from the effects of sin (the bite of that old serpent the
Devil), all who would in faith look up to the cross of Christ, and
believe in Him, would be saved from the far more dreadful death (or
eternal misery) of the soul. And then our Saviour went on to speak of
the great love of God, as shown by His giving His Son to die for man.

"After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of
Judæa; and there he tarried with them, and baptized. And John also was
baptizing in Ænon, near to Salim, because there was much water there":
here many of the people came to John, and were baptized. Some of those
who came to him, seem to have been rather distressed or surprised that
Jesus was drawing men away from him; and they said, "Rabbi, he that
was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou bearest witness, behold, the
same baptizeth, and all men come to him."

John immediately reminded his hearers, that he had always told them
that he had only come as the messenger of Christ to prepare His way,
and that now that Christ was come, his ministry was ended, and he had
only to rejoice in the success of his Heavenly Master. He himself was
but a man, "of the earth, earthy"; but of Him whose messenger he was,
he said, "He that cometh from above, is above all." Moreover, John
said, "He must increase, but I must decrease." Jesus had just begun
His work, which would go on and increase; John's work was finished,
and he himself would not long remain on earth.

And so it was; for very shortly afterwards, John the Baptist was shut
up in prison by Herod Antipas, the governor of Galilee.



Chapter IX.--JOHN PUT INTO PRISON.


Herod Antipas, one of the sons of Herod the Great, was governor of
Galilee: Philip, another of them, was governor or tetrarch of Itruria.
The word "tetrarch" means the governor of a certain portion of a
kingdom. The land of Palestine being subject to the Romans, they had
divided it into portions; and the governors of each portion were
styled tetrarchs. Philip had a wife called Herodias, a bad woman, who
behaved ill to her husband, and at length left him, and became the
wife of his brother Herod. Now this was a great sin on the part of
Herod, as well as that of Herodias, and John the Baptist reproved them
for it: this holy man was not afraid to speak the truth, though doing
so was sure to bring trouble upon himself, for Herod was a proud man,
who would not like to be told of his faults, and Herodias would be
much more angry.

But John had been sent by God the Father to prepare the way of the
Lord, by teaching His Will to men, and exhorting them to repentance
and amendment of life: this John was determined to do, undismayed by
any fear of what man might do to him; and therefore he told Herod,
that it was not lawful, not allowed by the Law of God, that he should
thus take his brother's wife to be his wife.

The consequence was, that John was immediately put into prison.
Herodias, who hated him for reproving her, would gladly have had him
put to death; but she could not yet prevail on Herod to consent to so
wicked an act.

There seems to have been two reasons which made Herod unwilling to put
his prisoner to death. In the first place, many of the Jews looked
upon John as a prophet and a teacher sent by God; and Herod feared
that there might be some riot amongst the people, in which case the
Romans might accuse him of having misgoverned the country, and suffer
him to be no longer governor. The other reason was, that although
Herod was angry with John, he could not help seeing that he was a good
and holy man; so much so, that he listened to his advice on many
points, though he would not act according to it, in the matter of
Herodias. Even after John was cast into prison, Herod often "sent for
him, and heard him gladly, and did many things."

Well would it have been for Herod, if he had done _all_ things
according to John's advice.

"Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee,
preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God": preaching, that is, the
good tidings of how sinful man might enter into the kingdom of God,
from which the Fall of Adam had shut him out. "Repent ye and believe
the Gospel," was the sum of his preaching: true repentance would make
men leave off sinning; and belief in the Gospel would lead them to
strive to be holy, out of love for the Saviour, who was come upon
earth to deliver them from eternal misery.

He preached the Gospel of the kingdom of God to all who would hear
him; they naturally told others; so that "there went out a fame of him
through all the region round about." Besides this, "Jesus taught in
their synagogues." Synagogues were buildings in which the Jews
assembled to pray to God, and to hear the holy Scriptures read and
explained. The use of synagogues began after the return of the Jews
from their captivity in Babylon; and in our Saviour's time there were
great numbers of them, not only in towns and villages, but all over
the country: some writers tell us, that wherever there were ten
grown-up men, able to form a congregation, the Jews thought it right
to build a synagogue.

It would be well if Christians had in this matter followed the example
of the Jews; for unhappily there are not now nearly enough Churches in
our land, so that there are great numbers of men, women, and children
in England, who could not go to Church if they wished to do so,
because there is not room enough for them. This is very sad, and we
should always be ready to give our money to help in building Churches,
which are so much wanted all over the country.

The Synagogues were generally built close to rivers and brooks, so as
to have water at hand for all the ceremonies of purification: it was
right in the Jews to observe these outward ceremonies, but it would
have been better for them if they had remembered, that they were only
ordered, to show the necessity of purifying the heart and life from
sin. Let _us_ remember this, and pray to God, "Make me a clean heart,
O God."

The daily service in the Synagogue, consisted of prayers and the
reading of a portion from the books of Moses, which was afterwards
expounded or explained: on the Sabbath days, a second portion of
Scripture, from the writings of the Prophets, was read in addition. A
certain number of wise and serious men, were chosen to be Rulers of
each Synagogue; that is, to settle all matters concerning it, and to
arrange the services, and appoint the readers. The readers were
usually some of the Scribes; but strangers were often allowed to read
and expound the Scriptures in their place, and any one who was looked
upon as a prophet, would be eagerly listened to. To show their
reverence for the Scriptures, the Jewish doctors stood up whilst they
read the daily portions, and then sat down, whilst they explained the
meaning to their congregation. Whenever any person among the Jews set
himself up as the founder or leader of a party, by teaching any
peculiar doctrines, he was allowed by the Rulers to explain these
doctrines publicly in the Synagogues; so that all men might have an
opportunity of hearing his opinions, and judging whether such a
teacher spoke according to the Scriptures, and ought to be listened
to, and followed. In consequence of this custom, Jesus Christ, and in
after times His Apostles also, were allowed to read and expound in the
Synagogues.

Every considerable synagogue, that is, every one so situated as to
have a large congregation, had attached to it an academy, or school
for elder children, who here studied the Scriptures under the guidance
of the Rabbis. But unfortunately, with the Scriptures, which are the
Word of God, these Rabbis instructed the Jewish youth in the
traditions of man. "Traditions" were sayings and doctrines which had
never been written down, but had merely been told by word of mouth
from father to son, and had thus been handed down through many
generations. Many of these traditions, which had some truth in them at
first, had become sadly altered by thus being told by one to another;
so that some of them were, in our Saviour's time, quite contrary to
the commandments and precepts of God.

Other traditions again had been entirely invented by men, and were not
deserving of any attention; but the Jews received them all, and looked
upon them as equal in authority, or rather as superior, to the Holy
Scriptures themselves.

The Rabbis who taught in the academies attached to the synagogues, sat
in the midst of their scholars, who all stood round them.

We have said, that "When Jesus had heard that John was cast into
prison, he departed into Galilee," preaching and teaching throughout
the country. "And leaving Nazareth," which had been the home of His
childhood, "he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea
coast (of the lake of Tiberias), in the borders of Zabulon and
Nepthalim." Thus was fulfilled the prophecy spoken by Esaias, that is
Isaiah, "The land of Zabulon and the land of Nepthalim, by the way of
the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; the people which sat
in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and
shadow of death light is sprung up." In the holy Scriptures, the word
"darkness" constantly means ignorance and sin; whilst "light" is used
to express the contrary, as knowledge and goodness. The people of
Galilee were ignorant and sinful, but the Gospel of Jesus Christ was
as a light to drive away this darkness, by teaching men to believe in
their Saviour, and obey the Will of God. This blessing was now
brought, as the prophet Isaiah had foretold, to the country round
about Capernaum.

From this time, Capernaum seems to have been the home of Jesus Christ;
as far, at least, as he could be said to have a home, when His whole
life was spent in moving about the country from one place to another,
"teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the Gospel of the
Kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease
among the people."

In the Four Gospels you must look for the full account of the
miracles, parables, and conversations of our blessed Saviour; here
many of them will be only briefly mentioned.

In passing on one occasion from Judæa into Galilee, "He must needs go
through Samaria." His disciples being gone into the town to buy food,
Jesus asked a woman of Samaria who came to draw water from the well,
to give Him to drink; and He took this occasion to tell her, that it
signified little in what place men worshipped God, if they worshipped
Him properly "in spirit and in truth," that is, truly and sincerely,
in faith; and he ended by telling her plainly that He was the Messiah,
expected by Samaritans as well as by Jews. In consequence of what
passed between our Lord and this woman, many of the Samaritans
believed in Him as the Christ, the Saviour of the world.

Jesus appears to have remained at Samaria for two days; and we may be
quite sure that during that time He preached "the Gospel of the
Kingdom" to all who would hear His words.

Next we hear of another miracle worked at Cana, where He had changed
the water into wine. A certain nobleman, whose son was sick at
Capernaum, came to Him to implore His help: this nobleman believed
that Jesus could heal his son, and his faith was rewarded by having
his child restored to health. After this, Jesus "came to Nazareth,
where he had been brought up; and as his custom was, he went into the
synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was
delivered unto Him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had
opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit
of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the
Gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to
preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the
blind; to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the
acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it
again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that
were in the synagogue were fastened on him," eagerly expecting the
explanation of this passage of holy writ. Jesus told them, that this
prophecy was now fulfilled in Him; and when they hesitated to believe
in "Joseph's son," and seemed to wonder why He did not work miracles
there, He reminded them that miracles were worked, and always had been
worked, just according to the pleasure of God, who often chose the
most unlikely persons to work his miracles upon. His words made all
who were in the synagogue very wrath; "and they rose and thrust him
out of the city, and led him unto the brow (or edge) of the hill
whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong,"
and so put an end to his life and his preaching; but not yet, and not
so, was the Son of man to die. He therefore worked a miracle to save
himself, and "passing through the midst of them, went His way."



Chapter X.--CALLING OF SIMON AND OTHERS.


The number of Christ's disciples increased, but it was necessary that
He should have a certain number of faithful men constantly with Him,
to be witnesses of all that He said and did whilst on earth; so that
they might teach "the Gospel of the Kingdom" to others, when he should
have returned to His Father in Heaven. To this end, therefore, when
walking by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus bid the two brothers, Simon
called Peter, and Andrew, leave their occupation of fishermen, and
follow Him wheresoever He should go; telling them that He would make
them fishers of men: meaning, that as by putting their nets into the
sea, they had hitherto brought fish to land; so now, by preaching the
Gospel, they should bring men to the kingdom of Heaven. Jesus did not
speak in vain: "straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.
And when he had gone a little farther thence, he saw James the son of
Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their
nets. And straightway he called them; and they left their father
Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him." A
miracle quickly confirmed the faith of these four disciples. The
people, who had gathered round our Lord to hear his words, so pressed
upon Him, that He entered into Simon's ship, and from thence taught
the people. When He had spoken to them for some time, "he said unto
Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a
draught." Now Peter, who had been toiling all night, which is the best
time for catching fish, knew that there was little chance of taking
any then; but the command of his Master was enough for him. His
obedience was rewarded by a wonderful draught (or take) of fishes,
which greatly astonished Simon and Andrew, as well as their partners,
James and John. Peter, seeing the wonderful works of God, felt that he
was utterly unworthy even to be the servant of so glorious a Being,
and falling at Jesus's knees, he exclaimed, "Depart from me; for I am
a sinful man, O Lord!" But Jesus encouraged him, and repeated His
promise, that His disciples should by their preaching of the Gospel
bring the hearts of men to love and obey the Lord, for "he said unto
Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they
had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him."

From henceforth these four disciples, who had been especially called,
became the constant attendants of our Lord. Three of them, Simon,
James, and John, were more particularly favoured; for they are
mentioned as being with the Lord on many occasions, when His other
disciples were not with Him; thus they were witnesses of all the
wonderful events in His life.

After the calling of Simon and his companions, Jesus went with them
into Capernaum; "and on the Sabbath day he entered into the synagogue
and taught." Jesus did not talk to the people, as many of the Scribes
did, about ceremonies and traditions; but he tried to draw their
thoughts away from such comparative trifles, and fix them upon the
Lord God Almighty--upon His goodness and mercy, and upon the necessity
of faith and love producing perfect obedience to His holy Will. Jesus
spake of holiness and righteousness in a way that they had never
before heard; and he spake also in a tone of authority as One who had
a right to command. He told them that he was indeed the Son of God,
and that he spake unto them in the name of the Lord God of Israel: He
warned the impenitent and disobedient, that they would bring eternal
misery upon themselves, while He promised eternal happiness to all who
would believe and obey. No wonder that His hearers were astonished at
such teaching, from one who appeared to be merely a man like
themselves. But to convince them that they might safely believe in
Him, Jesus, even in the synagogue, healed a man who had a spirit of an
unclean devil, so that "the people spake among themselves, saying,
What a word is this? for with authority and power he commandeth the
unclean spirits, and they do obey him. And immediately the fame of him
went out, and spread abroad throughout all the region, into every
place of the country round about Galilee."

"And when they were come out of the synagogue, Jesus with James and
John entered into the house of Simon and Andrew: here the mother of
Simon's wife lay sick of a fever." The poor woman's friends besought
Jesus for her; He took her by the hand; the fever left her at once;
and then, instead of being weak, as people naturally are after a
fever, her health and strength returned at once, and "immediately she
arose and ministered unto them." The news of so wonderful a cure,
increased the fame of Jesus.

The wonderful cures performed by Jesus brought many to ask His help.
"And when the even was come," that is, as soon as the Sabbath was
over,--for the Jews reckoned their Sabbath to begin at sunset, or
about six o'clock on Friday evening, and to end at the same hour on
Saturday night,--as soon, therefore, as the Sabbath was past, "all the
city was gathered together at the door, and they brought unto him all
that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils: and he
cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick."
Thus were fulfilled the words spoken, 700 years before, by Esaias the
prophet, who said, "Himself took our infirmities, and bare our
sicknesses."

This prophecy was doubly fulfilled: first, by healing sicknesses and
diseases, Christ, during his lifetime, took away the consequence of
the punishment of sin; secondly, by His death upon the Cross, He took
away sin, and procured forgiveness and salvation, for all who seek it
in the way appointed by Him.

"And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out,
and departed into a solitary place and there prayed." Having taken
upon Himself the form and nature of man, Jesus now set His disciples
an example of what prayer ought to be. It is a blessed thing to be
allowed to pray to God--to tell Him of all our joys and sorrows--and
to beg Him to bless us, and make us able to do well, whatever work He
may give us to do. We sinful creatures have also another thing to pray
for; and that is, forgiveness of our sins for Jesus Christ's sake, and
such true repentance, as will make us try every day to do His holy
Will better and better. For all these blessings we should constantly
pray: but you must remember, that it is quite possible for you to
kneel down every morning and evening and repeat the prayers which you
have learnt, and _yet never really pray one bit_.

Prayer is speaking to God, and begging Him to give us what we stand in
need of, both for our souls and bodies. Now, amongst ourselves, it is
thought very rude and disrespectful, to speak to any person without
thinking of what we are saying: and what should we think of a person
who went into the presence of an earthly king, to ask some great
favour, and then spake in a careless, indifferent manner, without
seeming to know or care what he was asking for? We should all blame
such a person; and think that he did not deserve to have his petitions
granted. What must it be, then, to speak to the Lord God Almighty, the
King of Kings, in such a manner? Then, again, if you really wanted
your Parents to do anything for you, or give you anything, you would
not ask them carelessly, as if you did not care whether they said
"Yes" or "No"; you would beg and pray earnestly with all your heart.
Now this is what you should do when you say your prayers to God, your
heavenly Father, Who can give you all you need on earth; and can
besides, put His holy Spirit into your heart, and give you eternal
happiness hereafter. Try, then, always to pray from your heart, and
never allow yourself to repeat words carelessly, as if prayer was a
task, to be got through as soon as possible. Such prayers can never
please God; on the contrary, by praying in such a way we commit a
great sin; for we take God's holy Name in vain, every time we kneel
down to say our prayers. Written prayers are useful as helps; but you
should also try of your own self to ask God to forgive you for any
naughty things you have done, and help you to do better: God does not
care what words we say, if our hearts really pray.

Jesus, you will observe, got up before it was light, and went into a
quiet place, where he could pray without interruption. He would rather
give up His night's rest, than not have time to pray to His heavenly
Father; and we must remember, that as He had taken upon Him the nature
of man, He was just as liable to be tired and sleepy as we are; and
therefore, He suffered as much from giving up his night's rest as we
should do; let His conduct, therefore, be an example to us.

In the morning, "Simon and they that were with him," (the three other
disciples already called,) missed their Master, "and followed after
him. And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for
thee." No doubt, as soon as it was day, all they that had any sick in
their families, brought them to be healed, and were disappointed at
finding only the disciples.

After this, "Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their
synagogues, and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, and healing all
manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. And his
fame went throughout all Syria; his wonderful cures were heard of in
neighbouring lands, and they brought unto him all sick people and
those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic
(or mad); and he healed them." And there followed him great multitudes
of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and
from Judæa, and from beyond Jordan.



Chapter XI.--THE LEPER HEALED.


We read so often in the Gospels, of Jesus casting out devils and
unclean spirits, that it may be as well to say something on this
subject, as in these days there is nothing of the kind. We know that
the Devil has ever been the greatest enemy of mankind, trying to
destroy the souls and bodies of men. In the Old Testament, we read of
diviners, enchanters, wizards, sorcerers, and magicians, who were all
persons wicked enough to try to have communication with evil spirits;
and we also read that the children of Israel were commanded to put all
such to death. But it seems that when men would persist in doing the
Devil's work by sinning against God, the evil spirits were allowed to
have power over their bodies, as they had, by listening to his
temptations, given him power over their souls. Certain it is, that in
the time of our Lord, the evil spirits had some extraordinary power
over the bodies of some men; entering into them as it were, and making
them do things hurtful to themselves and others. Such people are
spoken of as "demoniacs," or as being "possessed of devils" or
"unclean spirits."

Most likely the reason why God allowed the Devil to have power over
the bodies of men, was to show the people the reality of a "ghostly
enemy"; and to remind them, that if they allowed the Devil to get into
their hearts and make them serve him, they would be unfit ever to go
into the kingdom of God. The sad state in which these poor demoniacs
were, was a sort of sign of the dreadful condition in which all the
descendants of Adam must for ever have continued, if the Son of God
had not come down to destroy the works of the Devil, and free the
souls of men from his power.

When Jesus cast the devils and unclean spirits out of the _bodies_ of
men, it was a plain proof that His power was greater than theirs; and
that he could, therefore, most certainly deliver the _souls_ of men
from the power of their enemy.

Evil spirits were thus allowed to show their power, in order more
clearly to manifest, or show forth, the great power and glory of the
Son of God, Whom even the devils were bound to obey: they were,
moreover, forced to bear witness to the fact that He _was_ the
Messiah, for on many occasions they cried out, "Thou art Christ, the
Son of God."

When we read of these unhappy men who were possessed by devils, let us
remember that the same evil spirit is watching to destroy us; and that
though he has now no power over the bodies of men, he tries to get
possession of our hearts, and unless we resist him steadfastly, he
will succeed. To encourage us to fight against the Devil, we must
remember that he has no power over our souls but what we give him, by
wilfully sinning against God. Powerful as our enemy is, our Friend
and Saviour is vastly more powerful; and He will bless and keep all
who do resist the Devil, and strive to obey and serve God faithfully.

The next miracle mentioned, was the cure of a leper. Both Jews and
Gentiles looked upon leprosy as a type of sin; that is, as being to
the body, what sin is to the soul: the leprosy first shows itself in a
little spot, but quickly spreads, and covers the whole body with
sores. Sin begins in some act of disobedience; not being resisted, one
sin leads to another, till the whole heart is filled with evil
passions.

The leper was considered unclean, and was not allowed to live amongst
God's people, nor enter into the Courts of the Temple; typifying that
sin is hateful in the sight of God, and that those who persist in it
cannot enter into the kingdom of Heaven.

The leprosy was looked upon as incurable by any human means, and
therefore whenever a leper was healed, it was attributed to an
especial exertion of the Divine power. In like manner, God only could
take away the guilt and punishment of sin, and cleanse the heart of a
sinner.

The Leper, who went to Jesus beseeching Him, knew that no human skill
could heal his disease; but believing Him to be the Son of God--the
Messiah, he "fell on his face worshipping Him, and saying, Lord, if
Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean."

Pleased with the man's faith, Jesus touched him, and said, "I will; be
thou clean: and immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was
cleansed. And Jesus saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man:
but go thy way, show thyself to the priest, and offer for thy
cleansing those things which Moses commanded for a testimony unto
them." The Levitical Law declared, that the priests were to be judges
in all cases of leprosy. Any one suspected of having this dreadful
disease, was to be examined by the Priest: if the Priest pronounced
his disease to be leprosy, he was at once considered unclean, and cut
off from all communication with his fellow men. In like manner, if it
pleased God to take away the disease, the leper was to go again to the
Priest to be examined, and if he pronounced him to be cured, the poor
man was then considered clean, and restored to the society of his
fellow creatures.

When our Lord dismissed the leper, He told him to "offer those things
which Moses commanded." The ceremony of cleansing, to be observed by
every one who had been cured of leprosy, was as follows:--Two live and
clean birds were to be taken, with cedar-wood, hyssop, and other
things; one of these birds was to be killed over a brook of running
water, and its blood received in an earthen vessel: the living bird,
with the other things mentioned, was to be dipped in the blood of the
dead bird, and the leper was afterwards to be sprinkled with the
blood. This was to show, as all sacrifices were intended to do, that
sin and uncleanliness could only be done away with, by shedding the
blood of the innocent and clean: and thus pointing out to all men,
that the blood of Jesus Christ, the spotless lamb of God, could alone
wash away the sin of man.

The living bird was then to be let loose in the open fields, to
signify that the leper now cleansed from his plague, was free to go
where he would amongst his fellow men. This was the ceremony which
Jesus bade the leper observe, and he was not to mention his cure until
all was accomplished. For this there appear to have been two reasons:
in the first place, Jesus did not wish His ministry to be disturbed,
by the excitement which the knowledge of such a miracle would create
amongst the people, who on several occasions desired to make Him their
king even on earth. In the second place, the Priests were so
obstinately prejudiced against our Lord, that they would have been
very unwilling to pronounce the leper to be clean, had they known how
his cure had been effected: but when once they had declared him to be
healed, they could not unsay their own words.

The healing of this leper, was the plainest proof that Christ could
give of His being indeed the Son of God; for there was a tradition
universally believed by the Jews, that when the Messiah should come,
He would cure the leprosy.

The leper did not keep silence, but began to publish it abroad, and so
much the more went there a fame abroad of him: and great multitudes
came together to hear, and "to be healed of their infirmities;
insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter the city," without
exciting that attention, which at present He wished to avoid: and "He
withdrew himself into the wilderness and prayed": but even here, "they
came to him from every quarter."

"And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was
noised that he was in the house. And straightway many were gathered
together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so
much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them." When we
read of the multitudes who crowded to hear Jesus, it does seem sad
that so few profited by what they heard: let us try not to be only
"hearers of the word, but doers also."

One day, when Jesus was thus teaching, with Pharisees and doctors of
the law, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judæa, and
Jerusalem, sitting by, a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed which
was borne of four, was brought to be healed.

The palsy is a sad disease, which often takes away the use of the legs
and arms, and renders the poor sufferer perfectly helpless; nor can
the physician restore the use of the limbs.

Those who had brought this poor man on a kind of litter, sought means
to bring him into the house, and lay him before Jesus: and when they
found that they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they went
upon the house-top, and uncovered the roof where he was; and when they
had broken it up, they let the poor man down through the tiling with
his couch, into the midst of the multitude, before Jesus. The Jewish
houses, as we must remember, were only one story high; and in the flat
roof was an opening, leading directly to the room below.

This opening was closed by a flat door; but it seems that when they
had uncovered the opening, by removing the trapdoor, the aperture was
not large enough for the litter to pass through it; and therefore they
broke up some of the roof, so as to enlarge the opening, and when they
had done this, they fastened ropes to the four corners of the sick
man's bed, and so let him down at Jesus's feet. The trouble they had
taken to bring to Him a man, who, as they well knew, could not be
cured by any human creature, showed that those who brought him,
believed that Jesus was indeed the Son of God, able to heal all manner
of diseases. And they received the blessing sought in faith.



Chapter XII.--CALLING OF MATTHEW.


When Jesus saw the faith of those who had brought the man sick of the
palsy, He said, "Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee."
These words offended the Scribes (or Doctors) and the Pharisees who
were sitting there; and they said within themselves, or thought, "This
man blasphemeth," that is, He takes to himself a power which no human
being can possess, for "Who can forgive sins, but God alone?" Here
they were right: no _man could_ forgive sin, nor with a word take away
the diseases consequent upon sin.

The Scribes and Pharisees do not appear to have even spoken their
thoughts to each other, but Jesus, by the Spirit of God which was in
Him, perceived that they so reasoned within themselves; "and knowing
their thoughts, He answering, said unto them, Why reason ye these
things, and think evil in your hearts?" that is, why do ye think evil
of Me, and condemn Me as guilty of blasphemy, because I have spoken
such words? Then Jesus asked them, "Whether is it easier to say to the
sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and
take up thy bed and walk?" Thus Jesus reminded the Scribes and
Pharisees, that to heal a man sick of the palsy was as impossible for
a man, as to forgive sin; and that therefore He who could do such
things, must be indeed the Son of God: and he instantly gave this
proof of his being the Messiah, saying, "But that ye may know that the
Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins"--no more _words_ were
necessary, the sentence was ended by an action; for turning to the
sick of the palsy, he saith, "I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy
bed, and go thy way into thine house. And immediately he rose up
before them, and took up the bed whereon he lay," that is, the
mattress, rolled it up, "and went forth before them all, and departed
to his own house, glorifying God." Had the Pharisees and Scribes been
really anxious to know the truth, praying to God to show it to them,
this miracle must indeed have convinced them that Jesus was the
Messiah; but their hearts were hardened against believing in a
Messiah, who did not come as a king in earthly power and glory.

But whilst the Scribes and Pharisees would not believe the evidence of
their own eyes, the poorer people were less obstinate. When they saw
the poor sick man walk away completely cured, the multitude were all
amazed at such a wonderful proof of the power of God. "And they said,
We have seen strange things to-day: we never saw it on this fashion:
and they glorified God, which had given such power unto men." Perhaps
some of these people became real and true followers of Christ: but
many of them, notwithstanding all they had seen, did not like to give
up their sins, so as to become holy, as Christ's disciples must be.
We think it strange that men could see such miracles, and not believe
and follow Jesus: but do we do everything that He bids us? and yet we
_know Him_ to be the Son of God, the Saviour of the world. Let us take
care that we do not love our sins, so as to make us unwilling to be
true followers of Jesus Christ.

After these things, we read that as Jesus was walking by the Sea of
Galilee, He saw "a man, a publican named Levi," also called Matthew,
"sitting at the receipt of custom." A publican was a tax-gatherer; one
who was appointed by the Romans to collect the taxes which they
required the inhabitants of Judæa to pay. The Jews disliked paying
taxes very much, because it was a mark of their being under the
dominion of Gentile rulers: and therefore they hated all publicans or
tax-gatherers. In general, too, the bad characters and ill conduct of
these men did not tend to make men like them: the Romans were in the
habit of farming out the taxes; that is, they appointed some person
who was willing to give them a certain sum of money, and take his
chance of what taxes he could collect. If the taxes he collected did
not amount to as much as the sum he had paid to the Romans, of course
he was the loser: if, on the contrary, the taxes came to more than
what he had to give to the Romans, he was the gainer: thus the
publicans, having paid a large sum of money for the privilege of
collecting the taxes, were anxious to collect as much as possible, in
order to have more for themselves: and so they often oppressed the
people, by making them pay more than was right; and of course the
people could not like those whom they found so troublesome and unjust,
and therefore they hated the whole class of tax-gatherers.

Levi, or Matthew, of whom we are speaking, was a Jew, who had taken
the office of tax-gatherer under the Romans: his particular business
seems to have been to receive the money, which every person who
carried goods across the Sea of Galilee was obliged to pay as a tax to
their Roman masters. Matthew was sitting in his appointed place for
the receipt, or receiving, of "custom," that is, of the tax which it
was the custom to pay on landing, when our Lord passed by and saw him.

The Pharisees and Scribes looked upon all publicans, whether they were
Jews or not, as heathens, unfit to be even spoken to: they would not
even try to make them better, as they chose to think that God had
quite cast them off. Jesus taught a very different lesson, and showed
that God is ready to receive all who will repent of their sins and
follow Him. Jesus, who sees what thoughts and feelings are in the
heart of every one, made choice of Matthew as a fit man to be one of
His constant attendants, and therefore, when he saw him sitting at the
receipt of custom, "He said unto him, Follow me. And he left all, rose
up, and followed him." At once, without doubt or hesitation, Matthew
left all and followed Jesus: now, Jesus calls all of us when we are
baptized; but how few of us try to follow Him really and truly? We
might perhaps think that it was wrong of Matthew thus to leave his
business and go away, because then the people who crossed the sea
would not pay the tax required by the Romans: but as he had paid money
to the Romans for the situation, they would not be cheated out of the
tax: he himself would be the only sufferer. If this had not been the
case, he _would_ have been wrong to go away before some other person
was appointed in his place: for the Bible teaches us, that we must do
our duty to man fairly and faithfully, in whatever state of life we
are. By doing our earthly business honestly and well, we serve God: if
our business takes up too much of our thoughts, and makes us forget
God and neglect His worship, then we must give up our business; for we
should always think _first_ of pleasing God.

The next event we hear of in our Saviour's life is, that with His
usual obedience to the Law, He went up to Jerusalem to keep a "feast
of the Jews": most probably the feast of Tabernacles; a feast
celebrated in the Autumn, as a thanksgiving for the harvest or
in-gathering of corn, grapes for wine, and all other fruits of the
earth: this feast was also intended to remind them of the journeyings
of their forefathers in the wilderness, where they lived in booths or
tents for forty years; and therefore they were to keep it, by dwelling
for seven days in booths, made of the branches of trees.

It seems that by the Sheep Gate, on the eastern side of Jerusalem,
there was a pool of water, in which at a certain time of the year God
showed His almighty power, by the miraculous cure of any sick person,
who, after the troubling or stirring up of the water, first stepped
into the pool. By this pool was a building, having five porches,
through which the unclean went down to wash in the pool. This building
was properly called Bethesda, a Hebrew word, meaning the House of
Mercy; and the pool was from it called the pool of Bethesda. Jesus
visited this place, where, in the porches, "lay a great multitude of
impotent folk," that is, people who were unable to help themselves on
account of blindness, or of diseases which took away the use of their
legs and arms. These poor creatures were waiting for the moving of the
waters; each hoping that he might be the one to get first into the
pool, and be cured. Amongst these was a certain man, who had been
unable to walk for thirty-eight years. Jesus chose this man as the
object of a miracle, and saith unto him, "Wilt thou be made whole?"
The poor man, thinking only of the pool, told the Lord that he had no
chance of being healed, for he had no friends to help him; and that
long before he could drag himself to the water, some other person was
sure to step in and secure the blessing. Jesus then "saith unto him,
Rise, take up thy bed, and walk."

Whether this poor man had heard of Jesus before, we do not know; but
he at once showed his faith, by _trying_ to do, what he knew he _could
not_ do, unless he received some miraculous help from God. How
delighted he must have been, when he found that a perfect cure was the
reward of his faith and obedience!

It was on a Sabbath day that this miracle was worked; and the Jews,
probably the Scribes and Pharisees, found fault with the man, saying,
"It is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed on the Sabbath day." This
was so far true, that in the Law it was written, "Take heed to
yourselves, and bear no burden on the Sabbath day"; and the Pharisees,
and others who were fond of adding to the outward observances of the
Law, and of keeping traditions, reckoned a man guilty of breaking the
Law, if he even carried anything in his hand on the Sabbath day. When
the Jews blamed this man, he answered very properly, that he could not
be wrong in obeying the commands of one who had showed that he had
power from God, by healing him of his disease. The Jews allowed that a
prophet had power to excuse men from the strict observance of the
Sabbath; and, as Jesus had proved Himself to be more than a prophet,
they could say no more on that subject; but wishing to have something
to find fault with, they asked the man, "What man is that which said
unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk?" This question the man could not
answer, for he "wist not who it was, for Jesus had conveyed Himself
away" after working the miracle at the pool of Bethesda.



Chapter XIII.--THE PHARISEES' PRETENDED ZEAL FOR THE SABBATH.


The man whom Jesus had healed at the pool of Bethesda, seems to have
made the first use of his restored power by going into the House of
God, to thank and praise Him for having been made whole. Jesus,
finding him in the temple, bade him remember the cure which had been
worked upon him, and show his gratitude by forsaking all his sins and
leading a holy life, so that he might not bring upon himself far more
terrible sufferings than any which he could feel upon earth. The man
now understood who had cured him, and went "and told the Jews that it
was Jesus which had made him whole": evidently believing that Jesus
was the Messiah, and that His command was quite sufficient to justify
a man for doing that which was not strictly lawful on the Sabbath day.
The Jews, however, would not allow this: therefore did they "persecute
Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the
Sabbath day."

Jesus, then, in a conversation of which St. John gives us an account,
tried to convince the Jews that He was indeed the Messiah, and as
such, _had_ authority even to heal on the Sabbath. On this occasion He
gave the Jews advice that all of us should listen to and follow; for
He said, "Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal
life: and they are they which testify of me." The Jews believed that
the Scriptures of the Old Testament, which were all that at that time
were written, were indeed the Word of God, and that they showed them
how to obtain eternal life: Jesus therefore bids them read and study
them honestly and carefully, and that they would then see that He must
be the Messiah, of whom those Scriptures testify or speak. We know
that the New Testament as well as the Old, is the Word of God; and
that it shows us the way to eternal life. Let us then obey our Lord's
command, and search the Scriptures, that we may learn His will in
order to do it.

Jesus also told the Jews, that Moses, whom they pretended to obey
exactly, wrote of Him; and that if they really believed Moses, and
wished to obey the Law, they would acknowledge Him to be indeed the
Messiah, of whom Moses and all the prophets had written. All that
Jesus said, does not seem to have had any effect; for on the next
Sabbath, something of the same kind happened. The disciples who were
following Jesus through the corn-fields, being hungry, began to pluck
the ears of corn, rubbing them in their hands, to take off the husk,
and eating them as they went. It might seem to us that the disciples
had no right to take ears of corn which did not belong to them, but
this was, under the circumstances, allowed by the Law of Moses, or the
Levitical Law: a hungry man, who was passing through standing corn,
might pluck the ears with his hand to satisfy his wants, though he was
forbidden "to move a sickle unto his neighbour's standing corn."

The Pharisees, who were constantly watching for an opportunity to find
fault, now asked Jesus, why He allowed his disciples to do what was
not lawful for them to do on the Sabbath day.

For very many years the Jews had neglected to observe the Sabbath in a
proper manner, and this neglect of a positive command, had been one
cause of the destruction of their kingdom, and of all the misery they
afterwards suffered. Now their descendants had gone into another sin,
and instead of making the Sabbath a day of rest from worldly cares,--a
day to be devoted to the service of God, and to thinking of all His
mercies,--they made so many rules as to what might or might not be
done, that the most common and necessary actions, such as healing the
sick, or saving the life of an animal, came to be looked upon as
unlawful, and therefore sinful. Jesus reminded the Jews who thus
blamed His disciples, that David was not considered to have broken the
Law of Moses, because once, when pressed by hunger, he and his
followers had eaten the shewbread, which it "was not lawful to eat,
but for the priests alone." He also told them, that no one accused the
Priests of breaking the Law, because on the Sabbath day they, in
performing the temple services, did things in themselves forbidden on
that holy day. Jesus ended by declaring, that "the Sabbath was made
for man, and not man for the Sabbath": that is, that the Sabbath was
meant for the benefit of mankind, as well as for the glory of God, and
not to be an oppressive burden; and that the Son of man was Lord also
of the Sabbath, and had therefore power to dispense with its rigorous
observance; and that if they had understood the meaning of God's
words, "I will have mercy and not sacrifice," they would not have been
so ready to blame His disciples, as if they had been guilty of a
crime, merely because, to relieve the pangs of hunger, they had
plucked a few ears of corn on the Sabbath day.

On another Sabbath, Jesus went into a synagogue and taught: and
behold, there was a man whose right hand was withered; that is, his
hand was so shrunk and dried up, that he could make no use of it. The
Scribes and Pharisees, thinking it likely that Jesus would heal this
man in spite of its being the Sabbath day, watched him; that they
might find an accusation against him. "But he knew their thoughts" and
purposes, and said to the man with the withered hand, "Rise up, and
stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth" in the sight
of all the people in the synagogue. "And the Scribes and Pharisees
seeing this, asked him, Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath days? that
they might accuse him." One party of Jews, in their mistaken zeal for
the strict observance of the Sabbath, had come to the extraordinary
decision, that no one might comfort the sick or mourning on that day;
though another party did permit the people to prepare medicine, and to
perform any service which was required for the actual preservation of
life. Instead of answering a question only put for the purpose of
having something to accuse Him of, Jesus said unto them, "I will ask
you one thing; Is it lawful on the Sabbath days to do good or to do
evil? To save life or to destroy it?" for He knew that they wished to
destroy Him, whilst He only wanted to do good to a suffering human
creature. Whatever might be their wishes, they could not openly
declare that it was more lawful to do evil than good; therefore they
made no answer, but held their peace. "And he said unto them, What man
shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall
into a pit on the Sabbath-day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it
out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is
lawful to do well on the Sabbath days." To such words the Jews could
make no answer. Jesus, grieved to see the hardness of heart that
prevented the Pharisees believing in Him, and made them angry instead
of glad, to see a fellow-creature relieved; "looked round about on
them with anger, and saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand":
the man had faith to try, and the power to do so was given to him; "he
stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other."
Then the Pharisees, almost beside themselves with anger, are said to
have been filled with madness; and they went forth, with the
Herodians, and straightway held a council against him; and communed
one with another, what they might do to Jesus, and how they might
destroy him. It is sad to think that all the proofs of our Saviour's
power, only made the Pharisees and others more and more anxious to put
Him to death.

When we read such accounts as these, let us be thankful for our
Sabbaths, and try to keep them holy; spending our time in worshipping
God, in learning our duty, and in doing good to others. Above all, let
us take particular care to be holy on this holy day; and not to do the
least wrong thing, on a day which is called the Lord's Day.

The time was not yet come for Jesus to give up His life, and
therefore, knowing that the Pharisees sought to destroy Him, He
withdrew Himself from Jerusalem, and went with his disciples into
Galilee "to the sea; and a great multitude followed him" from all
parts, even from beyond Jordan; and also many of the inhabitants of
Tyre and Sidon, having heard what great things Jesus had done, came
unto him. As many as had plagues or diseases "pressed upon him for to
touch him," and he healed them all. "And unclean spirits, when they
saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of
God." Thus was fulfilled what had been said 700 years before by the
prophet Isaiah, who declared that when the Messiah should come to set
up a new Law, even the Gospel, He would use no force nor violence, but
do it entirely by kindness; and by showing an example of kindness and
forbearance to the weak, encouraging them to become better. The
prophet's words, put into his mouth by God, were, "Behold, my servant,
whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased; I
will put my spirit upon him; and he shall show judgment to the
Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his
voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking
flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.
And in his name shall the Gentiles trust."

An _example_ of goodness and holiness and kindness, has more effect
than all that can be _said_ on the subject. By the piety and good
conduct of the followers of Jesus, men were led to take the same part,
and thus by the blessing of God, has the Gospel spread over the earth.
All Christians should remember this, and try to show by their conduct
that they are followers of Jesus. Even children can set an example to
other children, either for good or evil: but if they do it for evil,
they are doing the work of the Devil.



Chapter XIV.--THE APOSTLES CHOSEN.


As Jesus was to live only for a short time on earth, it was needful
that He should leave behind Him others who should carry on His work,
and preach the Gospel after His death. But if these men were to repeat
to others the words which Jesus had spoken, and show them the
wonderful things which He had done, it was necessary that they should
be constantly with their Lord, so as to be able to bear witness as to
all that He had said or done.

During the time that our Saviour had been teaching and healing the
sick, many persons had become His followers, besides those whom He had
especially called to be His disciples. From amongst the number of
those who had become disciples, twelve were now to be chosen, to be in
constant attendance upon their Master, that they might, after his
death, bear witness to His life, and actions, and teaching.

The night before this choice was to be made Jesus "Went out into a
mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God." Thus He
set us an example of the way in which we should prepare ourselves for
any important work we have to do; and that is, by asking guidance and
help from our heavenly Father.

"And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples whom he would;
and they came unto him: and of them he chose twelve (whom also he
named Apostles) that they should be with him, and that he might send
them forth to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses, and to
cast out devils." He ordained twelve--Simon (whom he also named Peter)
and Andrew his brother; and "James the son of Zebedee, and John the
brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons
of thunder; and Philip, and Bartholomew; and Matthew, and Thomas; and
James the son of Alphæus, and Judas Thaddæus, the brother of James;
and Simon the Canaanite, called Zelotes; and Judas Iscariot, which
also betrayed him."

We have already seen how Andrew, Simon Peter, James and John the sons
of Zebedee, Philip, and Matthew, were called in the first instance to
be the disciples of Jesus: Bartholomew, who was also ordained an
Apostle, is supposed to be the same person spoken of as Nathanael, who
being brought to Jesus by Philip, at once acknowledged Him to be the
Son of God, and became one of His disciples. Of the other five
apostles, we know nothing previous to their being now chosen: to the
name of one, there is a terrible distinction, "who also betrayed him";
and in the three accounts of this event, written by different writers,
he is thus pointed out as "the traitor." Of the twelve Apostles, five
have left us valuable records of our Saviour's life and teaching.

You will remember that in the Bible we have Four Gospels; that is,
four different accounts of our Lord's sayings and doings whilst on
earth, and of the Gospel which He came to teach. The first of these
was written by Matthew, about five years after the death of Jesus
Christ. The Gospels "according to St. Mark and St. Luke," were written
about twenty-seven years later: St. Luke was a disciple of Christ's
before His crucifixion, and St. Mark was probably one also, but
neither of them was an Apostle. As the Gospel of St. Matthew gives an
account of the birth of Jesus Christ, St. Mark's says nothing on the
subject, but begins with the public appearance of John the Baptist;
whilst, on the contrary, that of St. Luke gives many particulars
omitted by St. Matthew. St. John, who lived to be 100 years old, did
not write his Gospel until sixty-four years after the death of Christ:
he seems to have written it, in order to tell us many things not
mentioned in the former Gospels, particularly the conversations and
discourses of our Lord: and he repeats very little of what is recorded
by the other Evangelists, as we call those who wrote the Gospels. Out
of the four Evangelists, two were Apostles also, and two were not. St.
Luke has also left us another very valuable record, of the acts done
by the Apostles after our Saviour's death: this is the only history of
all that the Apostles did and said, and it is called "The Book of the
Acts of the Apostles." Before St. John wrote his Gospel, he wrote what
is called "The Book of the Revelation of St. John," being an account
of visions vouchsafed him, and prophecies made known to him, whilst in
banishment in the isle of Patmos, on account of his religion.

St. John also wrote three of the Epistles, or Letters, which form part
of the New Testament. Peter wrote two Epistles, James and Jude, or
Judas Thaddæus, each one: but the greater number of the Epistles were
written by St. Paul, who did not become a disciple or follower of
Jesus until after the crucifixion.

The Jewish Rabbis preferred to take as their pupils and disciples,
rich and learned men; but, as we have seen, Jesus chose poor and
ignorant men, to show that learning was not necessary to enable men to
understand the Gospel; for that its truths are so plain, that even the
most ignorant person, who in his heart loves God, can understand the
Gospel, and learn how to please God.

Multitudes of the people continued to come to Christ, to hear him, and
to be healed of their diseases: he healed them all, and also tried to
show them how they ought to behave, in order to obtain the blessing of
God. Seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain, and there
spake all the words which we call the "Sermon on the Mount": an
account of this Sermon is given to us both by St. Matthew and St.
Luke. All Christians should study it, and try to obey it: even
children can understand a good deal of it, if they will try.

When Jesus "had ended his sayings," and was come down from the Mount,
"he entered into Capernaum, where at this time He worked the miracle
of healing the Centurion's servant." A Centurion, amongst the Romans,
was the captain or commander of 100 men. This Centurion, though he was
himself a Gentile, was kindly disposed towards the Jews, and had at
his own expense built a synagogue for their use: he also believed in
Jesus as the Son of God; and did not doubt that at His word the
disease of which his servant was dying would at once be removed:
therefore, not thinking himself worthy even to speak to the Lord, he
sent unto Him the elders of the Jews; probably the elders belonging to
the synagogue he had built. Jesus immediately went with these elders;
but when they got near the Centurion's house, some of his friends came
at his desire, to beg that Jesus would not trouble himself to come,
for if He would only speak the word, his servant would be healed. It
would seem that the Centurion himself quickly followed the last
messengers; and he received the reward of his faith, for his servant
was healed, and at the same time Jesus told those about Him, that the
Centurion had shown more faith than He had found amongst the Jews; and
that many Gentiles would through their faith be received into the
Kingdom of Heaven, whilst many of the Jews would be shut out, on
account of their wilful unbelief.

The next miracle we hear of, was the bringing to life of the widow's
son, who was being carried out of Nain to be buried, when Jesus came
to the gate of that city. "And there came a fear on all" who saw these
things: "and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen
up among us; and that God hath visited his people." These people
rightly felt, that the Doer of such things must indeed be the Messiah:
and this saying was spread abroad, not only throughout all Judæa, but
throughout all the region round about. "And the disciples of John"
went to him in prison, where he had been, as we have heard, put by
Herod; "and shewed him of all these things." "Now when John had heard
in the prison the works of Christ, he, calling unto him two of his
disciples, sent them to Jesus," telling them to say, "Art thou he that
should come, or do we look for another?" John did not send to ask this
question for his own satisfaction; he knew well enough that Jesus was
indeed the Messiah that "should come," and that no other was to be
looked for: but he wanted to strengthen the faith of his own
disciples, and convince them that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, and
that they must follow Him.

"When the men" whom John had sent "were come unto" Jesus, "they said,
John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should
come? or look we for another?"

This question our Lord did not immediately answer, in words, at least;
but "in the same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues,
and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind, he gave sight."

Then Jesus, answering the question put to Him by the disciples of
John, said unto them, "Go your way, and tell John what things ye have
seen and heard; how that the blind receive their sight, and the lame
walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear; the dead are raised
up, and the poor have the Gospel preached unto them." The Jews all
knew perfectly well, that the doing of all these wondrous miracles was
to be a sign to point out the Messiah, for the prophets had declared
that He should do them. Now these things were being done every day,
and therefore it was quite clear, to all who were not determined not
to believe, that he who did them was the promised Messiah, the Son of
God. All who heard what Jesus now said must have understood Him to
mean that He was the promised Messiah, and that they need not look for
another.



Chapter XV.--JESUS IN SIMON'S HOUSE.


When the Baptist's messengers were gone away, Jesus spake to the
multitude about him; telling them that John was the messenger spoken
of by the prophet Malachi--the Elias, who was to come before the
Messiah. He also told them, that John the Baptist was more than a
prophet, but that the humblest follower of Christ might become greater
than he was. Many other things spake Jesus unto the people: those who
were humble, and felt that they were sinners, gladly accepted the
offer of forgiveness, on the condition of repentance; but the
Pharisees and Scribes, who thought themselves righteous, neglected His
gracious offers of mercy.

It seems that before Jesus left Nain, where He had raised the widow's
son, a Pharisee named Simon "desired him that he would eat with him.
And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat." Whilst
he sat, or rather reclined upon a couch, as was the custom at meals in
those days, a woman, well known to have been a great sinner, came "and
stood at his feet behind him, weeping; and began to wash his feet with
tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his
feet, and anointed them with the ointment" which she had brought.

The Pharisees considered themselves too holy even to touch any person
whom they looked upon as a sinner: when, therefore, the master of the
house saw that Jesus allowed this woman to touch Him, he said within
himself (or thought), "This man, if he were a prophet, would have
known what manner of woman this is that toucheth him, for she is a
sinner." Meaning, that if Jesus had known how greatly this woman had
sinned, He would not have allowed her to touch Him. But Jesus did know
all, and _more_ than the Pharisee knew; for He knew that this woman,
however sinful she had been, was now truly sorry for her sins, and
anxious to lead a better life; and such truly penitent sinners He was,
and is, always ready to receive. Jesus therefore, knowing what Simon's
thoughts were, spake to him, and told him a little parable, to show
him that this poor woman, whom he so despised, had given proofs of
greater love towards Himself than Simon had done; and He ended by
turning to the repentant woman, and saying the comforting words, "Thy
sins are forgiven." With what joy must the poor sinner have heard
these words! But we are not told what her feelings or words were; we
are only told, that "they that sat at meat with him began to say
within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also?" They might
easily have known that He could be none other than the Son of God, the
Messiah; but they would not own as such a poor man who went about
amongst publicans and sinners.

That He did show such love towards sinners, is our greatest comfort;
for we are all sinners, and stand greatly in need of His mercy.
Knowing how the Pharisees were offended by His words, He only repeated
His assurance to the woman in other words; saying, "Thy faith hath
saved thee; go in peace." Her faith had brought her to Jesus; and
those who come to Him in faith and penitence, He will in no wise cast
out.

In the parable which Jesus spake to Simon, reference is made to two
customs of the Jews: one, washing the feet, or making the servants
wash the feet, of every guest, to remove the dust which must settle on
the feet during the shortest journey; the other, the custom of
welcoming a distinguished guest with a kiss, as a sign of respectful
attention and love.

Jesus continued to go throughout the country of Galilee, "preaching
and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve
were with him, and certain women, which had been healed of evil
spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven
devils, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna,
and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance." These
women, one of whom, at least, had been delivered from bondage to
Satan, having "substance," that is, some property of their own, seem
to have been constant attendants upon our Lord, and to have supplied
His temporal wants. Jesus so devoted himself to the work He had
undertaken, that from the constant thronging of people around Him, He
had not time "so much as to eat bread."

At this time there was brought to Jesus a wretched object, a man
possessed with a devil, who was also blind and dumb: "and he healed
him," so that the man who had been blind and dumb both saw and spake.
The multitudes marvelled, saying, "It was never so seen in
Israel"--never before had such things been done in the land of Israel;
and therefore the multitude rightly felt, that He who could do such
wonderful things must be a very different Being from any of their
teachers, or from the prophets or holy men of old.

Seeing the wonderful miracles worked by Jesus, "all the people were
amazed, and said, Is not this the Son of David?"--that is, is not this
Man, who can cast out devils, the Messiah of David's seed, so long
promised to our fathers and to us?

These people saw the truth; but the Scribes and Pharisees laboured
hard to prevent their accepting Jesus as the promised Messiah: and
they immediately declared, that the evil spirits were only cast out by
the permission of Beelzebub, or Satan, the prince of the devils; and
that therefore, so far from proving Jesus to be the Messiah, these
miracles showed that He was under the power of the Devil, and that no
one ought to listen to His teaching. This was dreadful blasphemy; and
might have drawn upon them the immediate wrath of God: but instead of
punishing them, Jesus tried to show them and all the people, how
foolish it was to suppose that the Devil would fight against himself,
and undo his own work. But when people are determined not to listen to
those who warn them of their sins, and point out their duty, they will
believe, or pretend to believe, anything however foolish, that gives
them an excuse for not listening to good advice.

Jesus warned the Pharisees, that speaking of the work done by the Holy
Spirit of God as being done by the Devil was a most fearful sin; and
one for which there could be no forgiveness.

Jesus also told the people, that if the heart of a man was not full of
faith and love, it would be as impossible for him to do anything
pleasing to God, as it would be for a bad tree to bring forth good
fruit; for the quality of the tree is known by its fruits; and the
heart of man is known by his conduct and actions.

Certain of the Scribes and Pharisees, asked Jesus to give them a sign
of His being indeed the Son of God. This was displeasing to the Lord,
for His miracles were a sufficient sign of His having come from
Heaven; and from the writings of their own prophets, the Jews should
have understood, that the promised Messiah whilst on earth would be in
a humble condition, and be finally put to death for the sins of His
people. Jesus therefore told the Scribes and Pharisees, that no
further sign of His being the Messiah would be given, than the sign of
the prophet Jonas, or Jonah. "For as Jonas was three days and three
nights in the whale's belly, so shall the Son of Man be three days and
three nights in the heart of the earth." The meaning of this was, that
the only further sign they could expect as to His being the Messiah,
would be that one, of which Jonas was a type (or sign): for that as
Jonas, though buried in the whale's body, came out alive; so He would
be buried in the ground for three days, and then rise up again to live
for ever. Then Jesus took occasion to show the Pharisees, that they
were more sinful in the eyes of God than the men of Nineveh, "because
_they_ repented at the preaching of Jonas," whilst the Scribes and
Pharisees refused to listen to Him, who was far greater than Jonas.

Many other things Jesus said unto the people, teaching them also by
parables. One parable spoken at this time was that of the Sower.
Afterwards, when they were alone, the disciples asked Jesus the
meaning of this parable, which He immediately explained: teaching them
that many may hear the Gospel, and receive no benefit from it; either
because they listen carelessly; or because, having listened, they have
not faith to hold its doctrines fast when temptations and trials come;
or because they allow the cares and pleasures of life to take up too
much of their hearts, and so prevent their serving God properly. None
of these will be the better for hearing the Word: but those who listen
to it with a sincere and honest intention of obeying it, and pray to
God for grace to do so, striving at the same time to root out all
those sinful feelings and passions which, like stones and thorns,
prevent their bringing forth the fruit of good works; those, and those
only, will bear fruit pleasing unto the Lord.

Let us learn from this parable to listen attentively to the Word of
God, and try to do whatever it bids us.

Other parables, which seem to have been delivered at this time, are
those of the Tares, the Grain of Mustard Seed, and the Leaven: "and
with many such parables spake he the word unto them"; "and when they
were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples," and added the
parables of the Hidden Treasure, the Goodly Pearl, and the Net. "And
it came to pass when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed
thence."

After this, Jesus went down to the Lake of Gennesareth, "and said
unto his disciples, Let us go over unto the otter side of the lake."
"And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him." And
there were also with him other little "ships." "And they launched
forth."



Chapter XVI.--STILLING THE TEMPEST, ETC.


The Lake of Gennesareth, or Sea of Galilee, is a large body of water;
and the River Jordan, which runs through it, causes at all times a
considerable motion in the centre of the lake; when the wind blows
strongly from the S.E., and meets the current of the river, the sea
becomes so rough, that any small vessels are in the greatest danger,
and in this way many are lost. We read, that as they sailed, Jesus
fell asleep. We must remember, that for our sakes Jesus had become
subject to all the pains of hunger, fatigue, cold, &c.; well might He,
therefore, be tired out with his continual labours, for He never
spared Himself, or consulted his own ease or comfort; but was always
at work, going from one place to another, doing good to others. What a
difference between Him and us! For we are unwilling to deny ourselves
in the least thing for the sake of saving trouble to others; nor are
we willing to give up our own wills, even for the sake of pleasing
God.

Whilst Jesus and his disciples were now crossing the Lake of
Gennesareth, "there came down a storm of wind on the lake," and a
"great tempest in the sea," "insomuch that the ship was covered with
the waves," and was filled with water, and in great danger of sinking.
"And Jesus was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow."
The disciples knew where to look for help; they were in jeopardy or
danger, so they "came to Him and awoke him, saying, Master, carest
thou not that we perish? Lord, save us: we perish!"

The fears of the Apostles were at this time stronger than their faith;
they should have felt that sleeping or waking their Lord could
preserve them through every danger. For this they were blamed, for "he
saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?" but He had
compassion on their weakness, for "he arose, and rebuked the winds and
the raging of the water: and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And
the wind ceased, and there was a great calm." After a great storm the
waves naturally continue rough for some hours, but now at a word the
waters of the lake became at once smooth and still. This sudden
ceasing of the storm filled the Apostles, accustomed as they were to
see wonderful works done by Jesus, with astonishment and awe. We are
told, that "the men marvelled, and they feared exceedingly, and said
one to another, What manner of man is this? for he commandeth even the
winds and the water, and they obey him." Such a miracle must have
strengthened the faith of the disciples, and convinced them more and
more, that he who could do such things, was indeed no mere man, but
the Son of God, the Ruler of the universe, to whom all things do bow
and obey. The voyage was now over; the ship reached the shore; and
Jesus and His disciples came into the country of the Gadarenes, or
Gergesenes, where Jesus immediately performed another miracle, on a
man possessed with devils, exceeding fierce. Jesus, pitying the
condition of this unhappy man, commanded the unclean spirit to come
out of him. Then the devil who spake in this poor demoniac, cried out,
"What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God?
Art thou come hither to torment us before the time? I beseech thee,
torment me not." Even the devils acknowledged Jesus to be the Messiah;
and knew well that in the end of the world, all evil spirits would be
driven away into misery and darkness; but he now asks Him not to
interfere with his power before that time. To such a request Jesus
could not, of course, listen: and the devils, finding that they must
leave the poor man whom they had so long tormented, then besought Him
that He would at least suffer them to go away into a herd of swine,
which were feeding nigh unto the mountains, a good way off from them.
"And Jesus said unto them, Go." No sooner was the permission given,
than the evil spirits entered into the swine, and the whole herd ran
violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters:
and they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the
country; and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils.

Pigs were unclean animals, and it was therefore sinful of any Jew to
keep them: if the owners of these swine were Jews, they were justly
punished for their disobedience. Perhaps the Gadarenes were not Jews,
and kept these swine to show that they did not regard or obey the Law
of Moses; if so, it was well for them to see that the Lord God of the
Hebrews could force men to obey His commands. When we read what
happened as soon as the evil spirits took possession of the swine, we
should remember the dreadful fate of all who suffer themselves to be
led or guided by the Devil. There is no escape for them; the swine
could not help themselves, but the Devil has no more power over us now
than we choose to give him. If we resist him, he will not harm us; he
will try, and we may have to fight hard, but if we do, we shall be
more than conquerors through Jesus Christ.

We read that the keepers of the swine fled, and told how they had been
destroyed, and how the demoniac had been healed. The men of the city,
grieved at the loss of their property, and probably afraid that if
Jesus remained amongst them the same sort of thing might happen again,
besought Him to depart out of their coasts: a request in which the
whole multitude of the Gadarenes joined. They had better have besought
Him to remain, and teach them what they should do. It is a dreadful
thing to wish God to leave us undisturbed in our sins! The man who had
been delivered from the power of the Devil, wished, on the contrary,
to go away in the ship with Jesus and his disciples; but he was told
rather to go home to his friends, and tell them what great things the
Lord had done for him. And he did so, and declared through all the
country what great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did
marvel.

After this, Levi, or Matthew, made a feast for Jesus in his own house;
and a great company of Publicans, and of others, and of sinners, sat
down together with Jesus and his disciples. The Scribes and Pharisees
took occasion to find fault with this, and asked the disciples, "How
is it that your Master eateth with publicans and sinners?" But Jesus
told them, that it was to do good to sinners that He was come upon
earth: He reminded them that it was only sick people who had need of a
physician, and that those who thought themselves well, would not send
for one; and that it was the same with Him, for He was come as a
Physician to heal the souls of the sick, and that therefore He must go
amongst those who, feeling themselves to be sinners, wished for
pardon. The Pharisees thought themselves righteous, and therefore they
did not feel the need of a Saviour. After these things, Jesus appears
to have returned into his own city, that is, to Capernaum, where He
had taken up His abode, at those times when He was not occupied in
going about the country.

Here a ruler of the synagogue, named Jairus, came to entreat Jesus to
go and heal his little daughter, who was dying. Jesus immediately went
with him, and on the way He cured a poor woman, whose faith was strong
enough to make her believe that if she did but touch the hem of His
garment she should be made whole. Her hopes were not disappointed, and
Jesus commended her faith. While Jesus was yet speaking with her,
messengers came from the ruler's house to tell him that his daughter
was even now dead. The Lord, however, bid Jairus not to be afraid, for
that if he would only believe, his child should still be made whole.
No doubt the miracle that Jairus had just witnessed strengthened his
faith, and the result was, that his little daughter was restored to
life. On quitting the house of Jairus, two blind men followed our
Lord, who gave them sight; and He also enabled a dumb man to speak, by
casting out the devil which possessed him. The multitudes were filled
with wonder in seeing things which had never been so seen in Israel;
but the Pharisees again declared, "He casteth out devils through the
prince of the devils."

Jesus continued to teach, and to preach, and to heal sicknesses and
diseases, in spite of the unbelief of the people; for though they all
marvelled, and some doubtless became his disciples, many rejected Him,
saying, "Is not this the carpenter's son?" meaning that a man in such
a humble condition of life could not be the Messiah. After this, Jesus
gave his Apostles a more solemn charge or commission for the work they
were to do. For He called the twelve together, and gave them power
against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of
sickness, and all manner of disease; and then He sent them forth two
by two to preach the Gospel, and to heal the sick. The Gospel was to
be first offered to the Jews, and therefore Jesus now commanded the
twelve, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the
Samaritans enter ye not, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house
of Israel." And as ye go say, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Jesus also bade the twelve not to make any provision of money or food
for their journey, but to depend on the charity of those to whom they
should preach: promising a blessing to those cities where they would
be well received. Many other things did He say unto them at this time:
and when He "had made an end of commanding His twelve disciples, He
departed thence, to teach and to preach in their cities."

And the twelve also departed, and went through the towns, preaching
the Gospel, that men should repent. And they cast out many devils, and
anointed with oil many that were sick, healing them everywhere.



Chapter XVII.--DEATH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST.


We must now return to the history of John the Baptist; he was about
this time put to death by Herod, who, as we have already seen, had
thrown the Baptist into prison to please Herodias, who was angry with
him because he had reproved her and Herod for their sins. But this
wicked woman was not satisfied with the imprisonment of this holy man;
she wanted to destroy him, and watched for an opportunity of doing so.
It is a terrible thing to determine in one's heart to do a wicked
action: it is bad enough to give way to temptation, and so sin against
God, but to make up one's mind to break His commandments, is far
worse.

After John the Baptist had been in prison for some months, Herod's
birthday came round; and to celebrate this event, the king made a
great feast to the officers of his household, and the chief men in
Galilee. On this occasion, Salome, the daughter of Herodias, came in
and danced before Herod and his guests, in order to amuse them. This
was a very old custom among the kings of the East at that time, though
to us it seems a very strange and bad custom. Herod and those who sat
with him, were very much pleased with the damsel's dancing; and Herod,
very rashly and foolishly, made a solemn promise, that he would, as a
reward, give her anything she liked to ask for. "And she went forth,
and said unto her mother, What shall I ask?" Herodias had probably
expected something of this kind; at any rate, she had an answer ready,
and said, "The head of John the Baptist". It does not seem that Salome
was astonished at this advice, or that she was at all unwilling to
follow it: for she returned straightway with haste unto the king, and
said, "I will that thou give me by and by in a charger, the head of
John the Baptist". A charger was a large dish or tray: in some
countries, even to this day, when the king orders a great man to be
beheaded, the head is brought to him afterwards, to show that his
commands have been obeyed. Such a request as Salome now made,
startled even Herod himself: we read that "the king was exceeding
sorry; yet for his oath's sake, and for their sakes which sat at meat
with him, he would not reject her." He therefore sent an executioner,
who cut off John the Baptist's head in the prison, and brought it to
Salome, who gave it to her mother. This history teaches us many
things: first, although it is the duty of children to obey their
Parents, they must obey God before them: thus, if Parents are
unhappily so wicked as to tell their children to do anything that God
has forbidden, they must please God rather than their Parents.
Children should, be very thankful when they have Parents who will
never wish them to break the Lord's commandments. Another thing we
learn is, to be careful how we make promises. A solemn promise once
made ought to be kept, however inconvenient it may be to keep it; and
therefore we should never promise positively to do anything, unless we
are quite sure that we can do it. But though it is displeasing to God
that an oath should be broken, it is still more displeasing to Him
that it should be kept, when it can only be done by committing some
positive act of sin. Herod made a rash oath, and to keep it, he was
guilty of the murder of a good and holy man.

Although Herod was angry with John, he had a high opinion of his
holiness and goodness, and would not willingly have put him to death:
but amongst men it was considered shameful to break an oath; and
Herod, caring more for the praise of men than the praise of God,
sacrificed John the Baptist at the request of a bad woman.

When the disciples of John heard of their master's death, they came to
the prison, and took up his body and laid it in a tomb, and went and
told Jesus.

After this, Herod heard of the fame of Jesus, and of all the wonderful
things that He had done, and he was greatly troubled, and knew not
what to think. Some people said, "That John was risen from the dead;"
others, "That Elias, who was expected to come before the Messiah, had
appeared;" and others, "That one of the old prophets was risen again."
Amongst these different opinions, Herod was greatly perplexed: like
most of the Jews of high rank, Herod belonged to the sect of the
Sadducees, who denied that the body would rise again, or the soul live
for ever. He would not, therefore, willingly allow the possibility of
John the Baptist having returned to life; but his fears got the better
of his opinions. His conscience told him that he had done wickedly in
putting to death a true servant of God, and therefore, when he heard
that there was One going about the country working miracles, he feared
that John had returned to life, armed with power to punish all who had
ill-treated him.

Herod, disturbed by all he heard of Jesus, questioned his servants who
told him these things, and said, "John have I beheaded; but who is
this of whom I hear such things?" He could get no satisfactory answer,
and his guilty conscience drove him to the conclusion, "It is John
whom I beheaded; he is risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works
do shew forth themselves in him." "And he desired to see Jesus."
Herod's desire to see Jesus, does not appear to have been gratified
until just before our Lord's death; and then the king derived no
profit from the interview. Herod had had plenty of opportunities for
learning the truths of the Gospel from John the Baptist. He would not
make use of them. Our Lord has told us, that if we do not make a good
use of all the opportunities given to us, He will take from us the
blessings we will not use. In our country, the young are blessed with
innumerable opportunities of learning their duty to God: make a proper
use of them, and do not force the Lord to take them away, and leave
you in wilful ignorance and sin.

The Feast of the Passover was now drawing near: the second Passover
which had occurred, since our Saviour had entered on his public work.
For this Feast, our Lord went up to Jerusalem; and on His way, He fed
5,000 people with five loaves and two small fishes; and after they had
all eaten as much as they wanted, pieces enough were left to fill
twelve baskets; although the whole quantity of loaves and fishes, if
they had at first been broken into pieces, could not probably have
filled one of these baskets. In working this miracle, Jesus taught us
never to waste anything; he said, "Gather up the fragments that
remain, that nothing be lost." Let us remember that many things that
we do not want, may be useful to others, and that nothing should be
wasted. Children should be careful not to ask for more food than they
are sure they can eat, for that is wasteful.

The people, who had been fed in such a wonderful manner, now said,
"This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world":
meaning the Messiah, spoken of by all the prophets, and whose coming
was expected about this time. Having come to this conclusion, the
people, according to their mistaken ideas, that the Messiah was to be
an earthly sovereign and conqueror, determined to make Him king over
the land of Judæa. But Jesus desired only to rule the hearts of men;
"When, therefore, he perceived that they would come and take him by
force to make him a king," He sent His disciples by ship unto
Bethsaida, and having dismissed the multitude, He went up into a
mountain alone to pray.

A storm of wind overtook the disciples in the midst of the lake, and
then it was that Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. If the faith
of the disciples had been strong, they would have felt that it was as
easy for Jesus to walk on the water, as to work any other miracle; but
they could not believe it was Him, and "they cried out for fear." The
Lord, in His mercy, spake straightway unto them, saying, "Be of good
cheer; it is I; be not afraid." "And Peter answered, and said, Lord,
if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And He said, Come."
Peter at once obeyed; but his faith was not strong enough to carry him
through this trial: for a little while he walked on the water to go to
Jesus, but when he found himself in the midst of raging waves, with a
boisterous wind howling around him, his faith failed, and he was
afraid. But he had not forgotten where to look for help; and finding
himself beginning to sink, he cried out earnestly, "Lord, save me."
Immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said,
"Oh thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?--why didst thou
doubt my power and my will to save thee?" No sooner had Jesus with
Peter come into the ship, than the storm ceased, and immediately the
ship was at the land whither they went. They were sore amazed: but
"they came and worshipped Him saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of
God."



Chapter XVIII.--THE WOMAN OF TYRE.


In the land of Gennesaret again, the people flocked to Jesus to be
healed of their diseases: and when Jesus returned to Capernaum, many
followed Him: and the Lord spake to them and told them that they only
came to Him because they had seen His miracles, and more particularly
because they had partaken of the loaves and fishes; and He warned
them, that they had better seek those far greater spiritual
blessings, which the Son of Man could give them. Many things He said
unto them, trying to persuade them to believe in Him, as the Messiah
the Son of God.

What our Lord said, displeased those who were not really willing and
anxious to be taught their duty, in order to do it: and in
consequence, many of those who had been reckoned amongst His
disciples, "went back and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus
unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?" Peter, in the name of the
rest, immediately declared his faith in Jesus Christ as the Messiah,
saying, "Lord to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal
life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son
of the living God." Believing this, Peter declared that whatever
happened, they would hold fast to Him, and obey Him: let _us_ make the
same determination; and obey the Word of the Lord, whether it tells us
what we _like_ or not. Jesus now showed, that He knew the hearts of
all men; for alluding to Judas He answered, "Have I not chosen you
twelve, and one of you is a devil?" thus teaching Peter not to be too
hasty in answering for other men, since even in so small a number as
the twelve, there was one whose heart was not really devoted to Him.

The Pharisees with certain of the Scribes came together unto Jesus,
and blamed Him for not observing all the "traditions of the elders."
Then Jesus explained to the Pharisees, that all their washings and
outward performances could never please God, unless they also loved
and served Him, and put away all their sins.

In one of those journeys which Jesus was constantly taking, He went
to that part of the country bordering on Tyre and Sidon. Here a poor
woman, a Gentile, came to Him, and prayed Him to heal her daughter, who
had an unclean spirit. This woman, living on the borders of the land of
Judæa, had doubtless heard that the Messiah was expected; and she was
certainly convinced that Jesus was that Messiah, and that He had power
even to cast out devils. This poor woman now came to Jesus, and cried,
"Have mercy on me, O Lord, Thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously
vexed with a devil." At first Jesus took no notice of her, and answered
her not a word. The poor woman continued her supplications, but still
in vain; this greatly surprised the disciples, who were used to see
their heavenly Master listening to the prayers of all who were in
distress: they were grieved also for this poor creature, who followed
them, crying out for mercy; and therefore they begged their Lord to
"send her away," that is, to grant her petition, that she might go away
in peace. Jesus answered, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the
house of Israel." The benefits of Christ's teaching and miracles, were
at first to be offered to the Jews, the chosen people of God; and this
woman, being a Gentile, had no claim to share them. The whole nation of
the Jews, scattered without any ruler or shepherd, might well be called
"lost sheep"--sheep who had strayed from their Shepherd, even from God,
and who must be lost unless they were brought back to Him. The
Scriptures often speak of the people of God, as his sheep: and sinners
are compared to sheep, who, instead of following their shepherd, have
gone astray. In the Confession, which forms part of our Morning
Service, we say, "We have erred and strayed from Thy ways like lost
sheep." In the East, sheep were not driven by the shepherd as with us,
but followed him: remembering this fact will be a help towards
understanding many passages of Scripture, especially some in the Gospel
written by St. John. The poor woman continued to implore mercy; and
coming nearer to the Lord, "She fell down and worshipped him, saying,
Lord, help me!" Jesus now answered, and said, "Let the children first
be filled; for it is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast
it to dogs."

The Jews looked upon every nation except their own as "unclean"; and
likened them to dogs, which are unclean animals. Jesus Himself did not
look upon the Gentiles as dogs, but He spoke thus to try the faith of
the woman, and to show those who were about Him, that faith in Him
would save Gentiles as well as Jews.

The Lord's reply to the Syrophenician woman would have disheartened
most, and offended many; but she was too much in earnest to be
repulsed easily: she was quite willing to own that the Gentiles were
not _worthy_ to be looked upon, as in any way equal to the children of
Israel, God's peculiar people: she knew she had no _claim_ to the
mercy of the Lord; but still, hoping to share it, she reminded Jesus,
that even the dogs were allowed to pick up the crumbs which their
masters did not need: she believed that in Jesus there were help and
mercy for every living creature, and that He could heal the Gentiles,
without taking any blessing from the Jews; therefore, she at once
answered, "Truth, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the
children's crumbs." Jesus was no longer silent: pleased with her
faith, He said aloud, "O woman, great is thy faith: for this saying,
be it unto thee even as thou wilt: go thy way: the devil is gone out
of thy daughter." Even as He spake the words, the unclean spirit was
cast out: "And her daughter was made whole from that very hour;" so
that when the mother, who at once went home, "was come to her house,
she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed."

This poor Gentile woman is an example to us, to go on praying
earnestly to God, although He may see fit not at once to grant our
petitions. When we know that we are asking right and proper things, we
must pray on in faith, and wait patiently. We should pray that the
Devil, and all the bad feelings and thoughts he puts into our hearts,
may be cast out of us, and of those we love. For this we must go on
praying earnestly: Jesus granted the prayer of the Syrophenician woman
because of her faith; and if we have faith like hers, He will most
certainly answer our prayers: but we must watch and fight, as well as
pray: for, if we encourage the Devil to abide in our hearts, we cannot
expect that the Lord will cast him out.

After this miracle, Jesus, "departing from the coasts of Tyre and
Sidon, came unto the Sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts
of Decapolis." Here we are told, that He cured one who was deaf and
had an impediment in his speech, and that "great multitudes came unto
him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and
many others, and cast them down at Jesus's feet; and he healed them:
insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak,
the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and
they glorified the God of Israel." They glorified and praised God with
their words, because of the wonderful things they had seen; but few of
them, it is to be feared, glorified Him in their hearts, by becoming
His disciples.

At this time, Jesus, having compassion upon the multitude, who had
been with him for three days, listening to His words, and were now
faint for want of food, fed 4,000 men, besides women and children,
with seven loaves and a few little fishes: this time, seven baskets
were filled with the pieces left, after everybody was satisfied.

Soon after the feeding of this multitude, Jesus "entered into a ship
with his disciples, and came into the coast of Magdala, into the
parts of Dalmanutha," to the S.E. of the Sea of Tiberias. "And when
his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take
bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf."
Jesus, who lost no opportunity of impressing His lessons on His
disciples, now "said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of
the Pharisees, and of the Sadducees, and of the leaven of Herod." By
leaven, our Saviour here means the doctrines and opinions taught by
the Pharisees and Sadducees; doctrines very different from His, for
they looked upon religion as consisting mostly in outward forms and
ceremonies; whilst, in their hearts, they indulged all manner of evil
passions. Jesus desired to teach His disciples, that, if they in any
way followed the doctrines of the Pharisees or Sadducees, they would
soon become quite unfit to be His disciples; just as leaven quite
alters the nature of the dough with which it is mixed. At first, the
disciples did not understand their Lord's meaning, and thought that He
was reproving them for having forgotten to bring any bread with them.
But Jesus reproved them for their want of faith, in being uneasy about
a supply of needful food, after seeing the miracle worked with seven
loaves and a few small fishes: and he said, "How is it that ye do not
understand, that I spake it not to you concerning bread? Then
understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of
bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees."

Jesus then cometh to Bethsaida, where he healed a blind man; not all
at once, but first allowing him to see objects indistinctly, and then
restoring his sight, so that he saw all things clearly. What happened
in the case of this man's bodily sight, happens generally as regards
our spiritual sight, that is, our understanding of spiritual things.
Even in common learning, we do not all at once acquire knowledge; it
comes by little and little, as we strive to gain it. So our
understanding of things spiritual is a gradual work, carried on in our
mind, by the Holy Spirit working _with_ us; but we must work, and
strive, and pray, that we may grow wise unto salvation.



Chapter XIX.--THE TRANSFIGURATION.


"And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Cæsarea
Philippi:" that is, into the country and towns round about Cæsarea
Philippi, a town some miles to the north of the Sea of Galilee. The
name of this city had been Paneus; but Philip, governor of that part
of the country, repaired and beautified its houses and other
buildings, and added more, so making quite a new and large city, which
he called Cæsarea, in honour of Tiberius Cæsar, who became Emperor of
Rome about fourteen years after the birth of Jesus Christ. There was
another town called Cæsarea, on the Mediterranean Sea; and to
distinguish between the two, that which Philip had beautified was
called Cæsarea Philippi. Like most of the flourishing cities mentioned
in the Bible, Cæsarea Philippi has been completely destroyed; and
amongst its ruins there is a little village, consisting of twenty
miserable huts, inhabited by Mahometans, for the Holy Land now belongs
to the Turks, who are not Christians.

This little village is called Paneas or Baniass. The walls of the
great city can be distinctly traced. Whilst they were on this journey,
Jesus "asked his disciples, Whom do men say that I, the Son of man,
am?" They told Him that some thought Him John the Baptist; others,
that He was Elias; others, that He was Jeremias, or some other of the
old prophets, risen again from the dead. Jesus then put the still more
important question, "But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter
answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."

The Apostles were thoroughly convinced by all that they had seen and
heard, that Jesus was indeed the expected Messiah. No doubt they had
often talked over the matter together, and now, in the name of all the
rest, Peter, always first and foremost when anything was to be done,
declared most positively and unhesitatingly their belief in Jesus, as
being at once God and Man. Jesus then pronounced Peter to be blessed
in having such faith. Then He told him, that the fact of His being the
true Messiah was the rock upon which His Church was to be built: that
is, that it was only by depending and resting upon this truth that men
could become his followers, and form a Church. Jesus also told Peter,
that He would give unto him the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and
power to unbind or unloose. By which He seems to have meant, that
Peter would have power to open the way for the Gentiles to join the
Church of Christ; and that he should have power to declare how far the
Laws of Moses must be kept or dispensed with; that is, what things
were lawful or unlawful.

After the disciples had declared, through the mouth of Peter, their
firm belief that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, He began to speak to
them of His sufferings and death; but the Apostles could not easily
give up the idea held by the Jews in general, that the Messiah was to
establish a kingdom upon earth; and Peter therefore expressed his
belief, that such terrible things could not happen to the Lord. For
this, Peter was severely blamed by Jesus, who told him, that by
objecting to the way appointed by God for the salvation of man, He was
in reality doing Satan's work, and was an "offence" or hindrance in
his Master's way.

At this same time Jesus taught those around Him the duty of
self-denial; the necessity of giving up everything we most value, and
bearing any pain or trouble, rather than do the least thing contrary
to the Will of God. He said, "If any man will come after me," to be my
disciple, "let him deny himself" the indulgence of his own will, "and
take up his cross daily"; bearing cheerfully all those daily troubles
and anxieties which may be called crosses, and "follow me"; follow in
all things my example, for I came not to please myself, but to do the
Will of God. Jesus also impressed upon them the fact, that the soul
was of infinitely more value than the perishing body, and that our
first object must be to secure the salvation of our souls, at any
cost, for "what" (said He) "shall it profit a man, if he shall gain
the whole world, and lose his own soul?"

About a week after this, what is called the "Transfiguration" took
place. St. Matthew, St. Mark, and St. Luke all give an account of this
event: the place where it occurred was probably Mount Tabor, which
lies a little to the S.W. of the Lake of Galilee: into this mountain
Jesus went up, taking with Him Peter, and James, and John his brother.

The brief account of the Transfiguration is, that whilst Jesus was
praying in the Mount, the disciples fell asleep: suddenly, when they
awoke, they saw a wonderful and glorious sight--"Jesus was
transfigured before them": that is, His appearance was entirely
changed; "his face did shine as the sun," and "his raiment became
shining," "exceeding white," and "glistening." Nor was He alone; for
"behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias;
who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should
accomplish in Jerusalem." All that the three disciples now heard,
should have convinced them that Jesus must indeed die, and that His
death would give the very strongest proof of his being really the Son
of God, the promised Messiah. The disciples would further learn, that
everything which Moses and the prophets (represented by Elijah) had
taught, was intended to prepare the Jews to believe in Jesus, and
follow Him.

Peter, dazzled and confused at the wonderful scene before him,
exclaimed, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if thou wilt let us
make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one
for Elias." Peter seems to have had an idea, that Moses and Elijah had
returned to remain on earth; and that if three tents were set up, they
might abide with Jesus in the Mount, where he and the other disciples
might be constantly with them. But as we read, "He wist not what to
say, for they were sore afraid." Whilst Peter yet spake, an answer
came; "a bright cloud overshadowed them," "and they feared as they
entered into the cloud;" "and behold a voice out of the cloud, which
said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him."
And when the disciples heard it, knowing it to be the voice of God,
"they were sore afraid, and fell on their face." "And when the voice
was past, Jesus, was found alone;" "and he came and touched the
disciples, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. And when they had
lifted up their eyes, they saw no man save Jesus only." Moses and
Elias had disappeared; whilst the voice of God had plainly declared,
that as the people of God had hitherto obeyed Moses and the prophets,
they were in future to look to Jesus only, the Messiah of Whom Moses
and the prophets did write. The old dispensation of the Law had passed
away; but the new dispensation of the Gospel had taken its place, and
would last for ever.

That the Law of Moses, even as regarded ceremonial observances, should
ever be abolished or done away with, was what the Jews could not or
would not believe. Even many years after the Resurrection of Jesus, we
read, that many thousand Jews who believed in Christ were also zealous
for the Law, that it should still be observed. It was not, therefore,
at this time suitable to speak to the Jews in general of the abolition
of the Law of Moses; and therefore as Jesus came down from the
mountain with His disciples, He "charged them, saying, Tell the vision
to no man, until the Son of man be risen from the dead." "And they
kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which
they had seen:" "questioning one with another what the rising from the
dead should mean." It was at this time, that in answer to a question
from His disciples, whose thoughts were naturally full of what they
had just seen, Jesus told them that the Elias spoken of by the
prophets, as coming to prepare the way before Him, was not Elijah
himself, as many supposed, but John the Baptist, who had already been
put to death; and that the Son of man must in like manner suffer
death.

When Jesus was come down from the mount, He found the disciples, who
had not accompanied Him, surrounded by a great crowd, and the Scribes
questioning, or disputing with them. A man, whose only child was
possessed of an evil spirit, had brought him to the disciples, begging
them to cast out the devil; "but they could not." This failure of the
Apostles gave the Scribes an opportunity of trying to persuade the
people, that the power of Jesus was not so great as His disciples
taught; and most likely what they said made the poor father doubt the
power of Jesus, in whose name he had expected the Apostles to heal his
son. When Jesus heard all that had passed, He lamented the perverse
want of faith, which prevented men from believing in Him. Then He said
to the man, "Bring thy son hither." Even whilst He was coming, the
Devil gave a proof of his power over this poor child; and still more
to convince all who stood round, that the boy really was possessed by
a devil, and could not be cured by any human means, Jesus asked his
father some questions on the subject: He then told the poor man, that
if he could really and truly believe, there was nothing too difficult
for God to do. The father did believe; but fearing that his faith was
weak, and that he had sinned in allowing the Scribes to raise a doubt
in his mind, he "cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help
thou mine unbelief!" This was enough, and "the child was cured from
that very hour."



Chapter XX.--JESUS GOES TO THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES.


When the disciples were alone with their Master, after the miracle of
casting the devil out of the child, they naturally asked, Why, as He
had given them authority to cast out evil spirits, they had not in
this case been able to do so? Jesus told them plainly, that it was
because their faith was weak; for that no miracle would be too hard
for them if they had a lively and increasing faith, or "faith as a
grain of mustard seed." This was an expression in common use amongst
the Jews, to signify something very _very_ small, because the mustard
seed was the least of all seeds. But when sown in the ground, the
plant grows from it quickly, and spreads in every direction, so as to
become quite a large plant: and thus it was very properly compared to
faith, which should always be increasing and growing stronger. Jesus
ended by reminding His disciples that, though He had given them
permission to work miracles, they would not have power to do so,
unless they prayed earnestly for it, and tried to lead holy lives.

After this, Jesus and His disciples passed through Galilee, on their
way to Capernaum. Again He spake to them of His sufferings, His death,
and His rising again on the third day. Still they did not understand:
they were exceedingly sorry to hear of such things as likely to befall
their beloved Master, but they did not like to ask any questions on
the subject. How little they yet understood the real nature of
Christ's kingdom is plain; for at this time "there arose a reasoning
(or disputing) among them, which of them should be greatest": as if
they still expected Jesus to be a king on earth, and appoint them to
places of trust and honour under Him.

When they were come to Capernaum, they, whose business it was to
collect the tribute-money for the service of the temple, "came to
Peter, and said, Doth not your Master pay tribute? He saith, Yes."
Jesus afterwards showed Peter, that He, being the Son of God, was
_not_ called upon to pay this tribute; for that earthly kings do not
take tribute from their own children, but only of their subjects, or
of strangers. Jesus, however, would not give the Jews any pretence for
saying, that He taught His disciples to be careless about the temple
and its worship, or to disobey the laws of the country; and therefore
He now worked a miracle, to provide the tribute-money required from
Him and His disciples.

When they were quietly in a house together, Jesus spake to the
disciples about their dispute by the way, as to who should be
greatest; and told them that all who wished to be really and truly His
disciples and followers must be humble and meek and obedient, as
little children _ought_ to be.

Many other things Jesus taught His disciples: and He told them a
parable (Matt. xviii. 13), to show us, that if we wish God to forgive
us our sins, we must be always willing to forgive those who have
offended against us.

After these things, Jesus chose out from those disciples who
constantly followed Him seventy persons; and desired them to go two
and two together, and enter into the cities which He meant by and by
to visit, and prepare the people to listen to Him. These seventy were
disciples, but none of them were Apostles: all the Apostles were
disciples, and are generally so called in Scripture; but all the
disciples were not, of course, Apostles. To these seventy, Jesus gave
many directions as to what they were to do and teach.

Jesus was at this time in Galilee; but as the time for keeping the
Feast of Tabernacles was drawing near, the brethren, or rather near
kinsmen of Jesus, begged Him to go into Judæa, and let all the people,
who would then be assembled in Jerusalem, see His works. They said,
"If thou do these things, show thyself unto the world. For neither did
his brethren believe in him." To a certain degree, His kinsmen did
believe in Jesus; but like the Jews in general, they expected that the
Messiah would be great and powerful upon earth, publicly acknowledged
and worshipped by all nations: and when they saw Jesus in such very
different circumstances, they had not faith enough to feel quite sure
that He was indeed the Messiah: they therefore wanted Him to take this
opportunity to make Himself known, by working miracles at Jerusalem:
this open display of His power would, they thought, strengthen the
faith of all who were already His disciples, and force the great men
among the Jews, as well as all the strangers collected together, to
acknowledge Him as the Messiah.

Jesus, who in all things sought only to do His Father's will, told
those who wished Him to go up at once to the Feast of Tabernacles
that it was not yet time for Him to do so: that, instead of receiving
Him as the Messiah, worldly men, who thought but little of God, would
all be against Him, because He showed them their sinfulness. But He
told His brethren, and those about Him, to "go up unto this feast."
After they were gone, our Lord followed them, privately taking His
journey through the country on the other side of the Jordan. Again the
people resorted unto Him, and He taught them as He was wont: "and
great multitudes followed him, and he healed them there." It is likely
that the Jews, expecting Jesus to go up to this feast, had laid some
plot for taking Him on His way: but it was not yet time for Him to lay
down His life, and therefore He thus avoided the danger; setting us an
example, not to run unnecessarily into danger, when we can avoid doing
so without neglecting any duty.

Meantime, the Jews assembled at Jerusalem for the Feast of
Tabernacles, seem to have been disappointed at not seeing Jesus there;
and enquired, "Where is he?" And "there was much murmuring among the
people concerning him: for some said, He is a good man: others said,
Nay; but he deceiveth the people. Howbeit no man spake openly of him,
for fear of the Jews." The people had seen His miracles, and heard His
teaching; but all that they knew of His condition in life was so
unlike what they had expected of the Messiah, that they could not make
up their minds to acknowledge Him as the Son of God. They could not
understand all He said, for He spake of spiritual things,--things
belonging to the kingdom of heaven, which can be understood only by
those who give their whole heart to God. Some of these people, seeing
His holiness, allowed that He was a good man. Others objected to His
being called "good," because He tried to make people acknowledge Him
as the Messiah, which, according to their ideas, was deceiving the
people. But even those who were most inclined to believe in Him, dared
not speak openly in His favour, for fear of displeasing the Jewish
rulers, who were violently opposed to Him.

The Feast of Tabernacles lasted for eight days; and in the middle of
it Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, and immediately "went up into the
temple, and taught." His teaching greatly astonished all the learned
men, who knew that He had never been taught in any of the schools of
the Scribes; and they wondered how He could know so much of the books
of the Law and of the Prophets. Jesus told them plainly, that what He
taught He had learnt not from man, but from God Himself; and He
further said, that if any man were really desirous to do the Will of
God, he would be enabled to believe that all He taught was true. Other
things He said; but though His teaching might incline some of the
people to believe, they had got some idea that, when the Messiah came,
nothing would be known of His parents; and therefore they settled that
it was impossible He could be that Messiah. "We know this man whence
he is; but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is." Jesus
tried to show them that they were in error; for though they knew where
He was born, as man, and who His earthly parents were, this should not
prevent their believing that He was indeed sent by God, and had
another nature and being, of which they knew nothing. "Many of the
people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more
miracles than these which this man hath done?" They doubted whether
any one could do _more_ than Jesus had done: if not, then the only
reasonable conclusion would be, that He _must_, indeed, be the Christ,
the promised Messiah.

The Rulers of the Jews heard of these things said by the people, and
they would gladly have prevented His speaking any more to them: and
they sent officers to take Him: but in vain, for the time appointed
for His death was not yet come, and therefore the Lord kept Him in
safety, and would allow no man to hurt Him. Moreover, Jesus plainly
told them, that He should remain in the world a little longer, because
it was the Will of His Father that He should do so; and that then He
should go back to His Father, who had sent Him from heaven to preach
the Gospel upon earth. But the Jews did not understand His meaning;
and when He said, "Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me; and where
I am, thither ye cannot come," they said one to another, "Whither will
he go, that we shall not find him?" "What manner of saying is this
that He said?"



Chapter XXI.--RETURN OF THE SEVENTY.


"In the last day, that great day of the feast," when there was a holy
convocation, or assembling of the people, Jesus stood up, and invited
all men to believe in Him, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,
which He compared to "living water"--water that would wash away all
their sins, and give life and strength to their souls: just as a good
drink of pure water, given to a man who is fainting with fatigue and
thirst, will revive him, and give him fresh strength and spirit for
his work.

Again was there "a division among the people because of him": some
said, "Of a truth, this is the Prophet"; others, more plainly, "This
is the Christ"; whilst others, influenced by their false ideas, asked,
"Shall Christ come out of Galilee? Hath not the Scripture said, That
Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem,
where David was?"

They were right; the Scriptures did say so: but had the people with an
earnest desire endeavoured to learn the truth, they would have found
that in Jesus, these words of Scripture were fulfilled, although
Nazareth, in Galilee, had accidentally been His dwelling-place.

Again, the Chief Priests and Pharisees, fearing His influence with the
people, sent out officers to take Jesus; and when these returned
without Him, they were asked, "Why have ye not brought him?" The
officers, though sent out for that very purpose, could not bring
themselves to lay violent hands on one to whom they had listened with
astonishment; and they now answered, as their reason for not having
brought Him in as a prisoner, "Never man spake like this man." The
Pharisees, in their wilful blindness and hardness of heart, reproached
the officers for being also "deceived," as they called it; and
reminded them that none of the rulers, or learned men, had believed in
Jesus, and that as to the people, they were ignorant; adding the most
unwarrantable assertion, "This people, who knoweth not the Law, are
cursed."

The Pharisees, who were very proud of their own knowledge, not only
despised all who were unlearned, but believed that _only_ the learned
would enjoy happiness after death, whilst the ignorant would be
miserable. They mistook knowledge for religion. But the Gospel teaches
a very different lesson; worldly knowledge is good and useful, and
those who have the means, do well to acquire it; but it cannot take a
man to heaven, nor will ignorance of it, keep any man _out_ of heaven.
A knowledge of our own sinfulness, of the Salvation brought by Jesus,
and a consequent endeavour to please Him in all things, is the only
knowledge that is really necessary as far as our Souls are concerned.
Without _this_ knowledge, the most learned man can never gain
admittance into heaven; with it, the most ignorant will be received
into the kingdom of God.

One of the councillors present on this occasion was Nicodemus, who,
being a believer, had come to Jesus secretly, in the night, for fear
of the Jews: he now ventured to speak in behalf of Jesus, showing that
it was not according to their Law to condemn any one as teaching what
was wrong, or untrue, until they had heard what he had to say for
himself. His words had no effect but to make the other members of the
council ask him, "Art thou also of Galilee?"--that is, art thou one of
those who have the folly to believe in this Galilean. "Search and
look" in the Scriptures, for they will show that "out of Galilee
ariseth no prophet."

Nothing more was at this time said or done, and the Pharisees probably
broke up the council in anger, vexed at not having got Jesus into
their power. "Every man went unto his own house."

Jesus now went unto the Mount of Olives, or Mount Olivet, where He
doubtless passed part of the night in prayer. This Mount rose about
half a mile east of Jerusalem, and the brook Kedron ran between it and
the city. It took its name from the number of Olive trees which grew
upon it; they were cultivated for the purpose of extracting oil from
the fruit. On this Mount there were several villages: Bethphage was on
that side farthest from Jerusalem; and on the side nearest to the
city, stood the village of Gethsemane. The word Gethsemane means "the
place of oil presses"; which shows that the people of the village were
occupied in squeezing the oil out of the olives that were brought down
from other parts of the Mount. It was up the Mount of Olives that King
David went weeping, when the rebellion of Absalom had forced him to
quit Jerusalem.

After spending the night on the Mount of Olives, or in one of its
villages, Jesus, early in the morning, "came again into the temple,
and all the people came unto him; and he sat down and taught them."

The Scribes and Pharisees, always trying to find some cause of
complaint against Him, now brought a woman who had committed a sin,
for which the Law of Moses pronounced death to be the punishment: they
now asked Jesus, whether this woman should be stoned or not. If Jesus
condemned the woman to death, they could accuse Him to the Romans of
trespassing upon their authority: if He acquitted the woman, they
could hold Him up to the people as acting contrary to the Jewish Law.

But Jesus knew the wickedness of their hearts, and that in the sight
of God, their guilt was as great, if not greater, than that of this
woman; therefore He gave them no answer, but "He that is without sin
among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And they which heard it,
being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one." None of
these Scribes or Pharisees could dare to pronounce themselves free
from sin, therefore they all retired. Then Jesus dismissed the woman
with the warning, "Go, and sin no more."

At this time, Jesus spake many things to all who came into the temple
to hear Him. He spake to them of His death: He told them that if they
were really the children of Abraham, spiritually as well as by natural
descent, they would do the works of Abraham: and that if God were
their Father, as they pretended, they would love Him, who was the Son
of God; but that they were, in fact, the children of the Devil, who
was a liar from the beginning. During these discourses, "many believed
on him"; but many others would gladly have "laid hands on him": and
when at length, in answer to their questions, Jesus declared unto
them, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am,"
their rage could no longer be repressed: "then took they up stones to
cast at him": but "his hour was not yet come" to die, and therefore
"Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the
midst of them, and so passed by," disappointing the malice of His
enemies.

After this, the seventy disciples, whom Jesus had sent out to preach
and to teach in the different cities, "returned again with joy,
saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name."
He then told them, that this need not surprise them, since God had
begun to destroy the power of Satan: and He also told them, that they
had a far greater cause for joy than the subjection of evil spirits;
even that they had been chosen to be the servants and children of God,
and were thereby set in the way that would, if they walked steadily in
it, bring them to everlasting life.

The parable of the Good Samaritan was now told by Jesus to one of the
Scribes, or Lawyers, who came and asked Him a question: not from any
real desire to learn, but from a wish to make our Lord say something
that he could find fault with. To his question, "Master, what shall I
do to inherit eternal life?" he expected that Jesus would make an
answer not quite agreeing with the Law of Moses: but our Lord at once
showed him that His teaching was the same as that of Moses; for He
asked him, "What is written in the Law? How readest thou?" "And he
answering, said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,
and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy
mind; and thy neighbour as thyself." These words, taken from the Books
of Deuteronomy and Leviticus, were repeated twice every day in the
synagogue service, as a short statement of all that the Law was
intended to teach; that is, Love to God and Man. These same words were
written on some of the Phylacteries, or strips of parchment which the
Jews wore on their foreheads, and on the left wrist. Most likely, the
Lawyer who questioned Jesus had these very words written on his
Phylactery; and that Jesus pointed to the words when He asked, "How
readest thou?" The Gospel, as well as the Law, teaches us to love God
and Man; and shows us, that those who really and truly do so are sure
to find favour with God, who can alone admit us to eternal life. The
Scribe's answer was right, under the Gospel as well as under the Law:
and Jesus therefore replied, "Thou hast answered right: this do, and
thou shalt live": by obeying the words of Moses, he would, through the
tidings made known by the Gospel, inherit eternal life. May these
words be written in all our hearts, and may we make them the guide of
all our actions.



Chapter XXII.--THE LORD'S PRAYER.


The answer which Jesus gave, as to loving God with all the heart, and
his neighbour as himself, did not silence the Lawyer: he, "willing to
justify himself," being anxious to prove that he was a just and
righteous man, now asked, "Who is my neighbour?" The Jews had in many
points altered or explained the Law, to suit their own feelings and
wishes; and they would not look upon any man as a neighbour, unless he
were of their own religion.

This Lawyer had probably always been kind to his Jewish brethren, and
if our Lord had, as he expected, told him that his neighbour meant one
of his Jewish brethren, he would have been able to boast that he had
obeyed this command. But very different was our Saviour's teaching:
instead of giving him a direct answer, He in a beautiful parable
taught him and us, that any fellow creature who needs our help, is our
neighbour in the sight of God: even though he be an enemy, or one
hated, as the Jews hated the Samaritans.

The Lawyer could not but own that the Samaritan in the parable had
best obeyed the commandment of Moses; and in answer to the question,
"Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that
fell among thieves?" he said, "He that showed mercy on him." "Then
said Jesus unto him, Go and do thou likewise," that is, copy this
example; and look upon every man that needs your help as a neighbour
and brother, whom you are to love; and take care that your love is not
in word and tongue only, but in deed and in truth.

Journeying through the land of Judæa with His disciples, Jesus
"entered into a certain village"; this was Bethany, on the eastern
side of the Mount of Olives: "and a certain woman named Martha
received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which
also sat at Jesus's feet and heard His word. But Martha was cumbered
about much serving." Both these sisters loved the Lord, though they
showed it in a very different way: Mary, delighted to have such an
opportunity of listening to His teaching, sat at His feet to learn all
that He might teach her; Martha, anxious to show her pleasure at
receiving Jesus as her guest, appears to have busied herself in
preparing a feast in His honour. Presently, tired with her exertions,
and fearing that all might not be ready, "she came to him, and said,
Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone?
bid her therefore that she help me." But instead of doing this, Jesus
rebuked Martha for thinking too much of worldly matters, instead of
giving her mind to the "one thing needful" for the salvation of man:
that one thing was faith in Jesus as the Son of God; such faith, as
would produce piety and holiness; and that as Mary had chosen that
good part, she must not be disturbed, but that Martha would do well to
follow her example. When, therefore, Martha asked that Mary might be
bid to help her, "Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha,
thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is
needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be
taken away from her."

Now, from this little history we should all learn this lesson: that
though worldly business must be done, and well done, too, it must not
take up too much of our thoughts and hearts, and so make us careless
in our religious duties: to please and serve God in every way is the
one thing needful for us.

On one occasion, when Jesus had been praying, according to His
constant custom, "when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him,
Lord, teach us to pray as John also taught his disciples." Jesus then
gave them that beautiful prayer, called the Lord's Prayer, because the
very words of it were dictated by the Lord Himself, in whose name we
pray unto God, the Father Almighty. The Prayer begins by acknowledging
God to be "Our Father"; and these words should ever remind us of two
things: that as "our Father," all we His children are bound to love
and obey Him; and, secondly, that we must love all our fellow
creatures as brethren, seeing that we are all the children of one
Heavenly Father.

Next we pray, "Hallowed be Thy Name"; in which words we ask that all
men everywhere may hallow, or treat as holy, His name, His word, His
day, and all things that belong to Him.

By "Thy Kingdom come," we ask that all mankind may become Christians,
and so be brought into the Lord's kingdom on earth: also, that we, and
all who are Christians, may have the kingdom of God in our hearts;
that is, may obey, and love, and serve Him with all our hearts; so
that when we die we may be admitted into His glorious kingdom in
heaven. Further, we pray, that the Will of God may be done by man on
earth, as perfectly and entirely as it is done by the Angels in
heaven. Let us remember that the sole object and work of the holy
Angels is to do the Will of God; and that therefore we, who use this
prayer, must always try to do the same, and not think of doing what
will only please ourselves.

The next petition of the Lord's Prayer is, "Give us this day our daily
bread." By these words we ask for all things which are needful both
for our souls and bodies: the body needs daily food to preserve it in
life, and make it strong to do its work; the Soul also wants food, to
nourish and increase the spiritual life; and render it more active in
the service of God. The word of God, Prayer, religious teaching, all
the services of our religion, are the food of the Soul; by the proper
use of which, the love of God will be more and more shed abroad in
our hearts, producing the fruit of holy obedience, and devotion to His
service.

Next we pray, that God will forgive us our sins, on condition that we
forgive all those who have sinned against us. When we consider how
dreadful will be our condition, if God does _not_ forgive us, we
should be very careful never to indulge angry, revengeful feelings
against those who have injured us. Nothing that man can do to us, can
be as bad as what we have done against God; and therefore we may well
forgive our fellow creatures; and we _must_ do so, if we would obtain
forgiveness of our heavenly Father.

We then ask the Lord not to suffer us to give way to temptation, but
to keep us from all evil; to keep our bodies in safety, and above all
to keep our souls from the great evil of sin, from the power of our
ghostly or spiritual enemy, the Devil, who is always watching to do us
harm. We end the Lord's Prayer by declaring our firm belief, that God
is able to do all that we can ask or think.

Now we often _say_ the Lord's Prayer with our lips, but do we really
say it with our hearts, wishing and striving to gain what we are
asking for? This we should all do; and besides this, throughout the
day, we must each of us try to _do_ those things that we pray may be
done. We must each of us try to reverence and obey our heavenly
Father; to be satisfied with whatever He gives us for our bodies; to
take every opportunity of feeding our souls, by learning all we can
about Him, and praying earnestly for His grace. We must also try to
keep down all angry feelings, and be kind to those who are unkind to
us; and we must watch over ourselves continually, and strive to resist
the Devil, and practise self-denial, that we may not fall into sin.

The Lord's Prayer teaches us what things we ought to ask of God; and
we may do so more particularly in our own words; God is well pleased
when we do so.

After giving His disciples this beautiful form of words, to be a model
for all their prayers, Jesus exhorted and entreated them to pray
earnestly for the help of the Holy Spirit: and told them to go on
praying, and not to be discouraged, because they did not immediately
receive those things for which they asked; for that the Lord would
hear their prayers, and "give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him."
"And as Jesus spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him;
and he went in and sat down to meat." The word here translated "dine"
means to eat the first meal of the day, and so ought rather to have
been called breakfast. The Jews were accustomed to have only two
regular meals in the day: breakfast, or dinner, as it is here called,
about twelve of the middle of the day; and supper, which was the
principal meal, in the evening, after the heat of the day was past.
The Pharisees were very particular about washing before they sat down
to meals, and this one who had besought the Lord to eat with him,
"marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner."

The Lord took this opportunity of teaching, that no outward washings
can be pleasing in the sight of God, if the heart be full of sinful,
evil passions: no outward forms and observances of any kind, can ever
please God, unless those who do such things really love God, and try
to do their duty and please Him in everything. Many things also Jesus
said, rebuking the Scribes and Pharisees.

He likewise spake to the people who crowded to hear Him, and warned
them to fear God rather than man; for though men might kill their
bodies, they had no further power. "And one of the company said unto
him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with
me."

It would seem that this brother had acted very unkindly, if not
unjustly, in not sharing with his brother the money left by their
father; and the one who felt himself aggrieved came, hoping that Jesus
would interfere. But Jesus answered, "Man, who made me a judge or a
divider over you?"--meaning, that He was not come upon earth to act as
a Judge or Magistrate in settling such matters, but to teach men their
duty to God. He then took this occasion to warn his hearers against
covetousness, or the too eager desire for riches, or for any of the
good things this world can give: bidding them rather be contented, and
try to please God by doing good with what they have. Covetousness is,
as we are elsewhere told, idolatry,--and truly, if our hearts are set
upon riches, pleasures, or anything else, they will be drawn away from
God.



Chapter XXIII.--HEALING OF THE MAN BORN BLIND.


Much did the Lord say upon the subject of covetousness; an evil
passion which, if indulged, must draw the heart more and more from
heavenly things to things of the earth; saying unto them, "For where
your treasure is there will your heart be also."

Jesus, then, in a short parable, showed the necessity of constantly
watching, that we may not be found unready whenever we are summoned to
die.

Many other things Jesus said, and continued to teach through the
cities and villages: on one occasion He raised the indignation of the
ruler of a synagogue, because He had healed a poor woman, who was
"bowed down by a spirit of infirmity," which she had had for eighteen
years.

But Jesus rebuked those who blamed Him, and so spake that "All his
adversaries were ashamed; and all the people rejoiced for the glorious
things that were done by him."

"And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or
his parents, that he was born blind?"

Some of the Jews seem at this time to have taken up an idea held by
the heathen, that, after the death of a man, his soul was sent into
another body; and that the souls of bad men even went into the bodies
of animals.

Another false notion of the Jews was, that any one who was a great
sufferer upon earth must have been a greater sinner than others, who
did not so suffer: an idea quite contrary to all the teaching of
Jesus. With these two ideas in their minds, some of those who had
become followers of Jesus, asked him, whether this blind man was born
so, as a punishment for sins he had committed in another body; or
whether his blindness was a punishment for the sins of his parents.
Jesus immediately answered, that it was neither for one nor the other
of these causes, that this man was born blind; but that God in His
wisdom had allowed it to be so, "That the works of God should be made
manifest in him." Jesus then, in a very remarkable manner, gave sight
to the blind man; clearly proving that it was the power of God only,
and not the means used, which had effected his cure: and He also
enabled the blind man to show his faith, by making the final
restoration of his sight, depend upon his obedience to the command,
"Go, wash in the pool of Siloam: he went his way therefore, and
washed, and came (back) seeing."

"The neighbours and they which before had seen him that he was blind,"
were much surprised; and began questioning whether he were indeed the
same man, or one like him; but he quickly put an end to all doubts,
and said, "I am he."

Then, in answer to their questions, he told them the exact manner in
which this cure had been effected, by "a man that is called Jesus":
for at this time, he had no knowledge of Jesus as the Son of God, the
promised Messiah. Whether from a good or bad motive we do not know,
but "they brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind." And
it was the Sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes.
Then the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He
said, "He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see." The
Pharisees could not deny the miracle; but immediately some of them
raised the objection, "This man is not of God, because he keepeth not
the Sabbath day." Others, however, less determined to disbelieve even
the testimony of their own senses, said, "How can a man that is a
sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them. They say
unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened
thine eyes?" The blind man, though still ignorant of the real
character of Jesus, felt that He was most certainly more than a common
man, and said, "He is a prophet."

But the Jews now affected to disbelieve that the man had ever been
blind, and called his parents, asking them, "Is this your son, who ye
say was born blind? how then doth he now see? His parents answered
them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born
blind: but by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened
his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for
himself. These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews,"
who "had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was the
Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue." His parents,
therefore, not wishing to bring this punishment upon themselves,
merely bore witness to the fact that he was their son who was born
blind: as to the rest, they told the Jews to let him speak for
himself. "Then again called they the man that was blind, and said
unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner."
That is, they called upon the man, who had been healed, to acknowledge
that Jesus was merely a sinful mortal, and had in reality no part in
his cure, which was the work of the God of Israel alone. The man,
however, would by no means allow this: "He answered and said, Whether
he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I
was blind, now I see." This answer by no means pleased the Jews, and
again they asked, "How opened he thine eyes?" He answered them, "I
have told you already, and ye did not hear (or believe): wherefore
would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples? Then they
reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses's
disciples. We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we
know not from whence he is." All the doubts and disputes of the
Pharisees, so far from shaking the faith of this man, seem to have
strengthened it; and now, fearless of consequences, he spake out
boldly the words of common sense, and said, "Why herein is a
marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath
opened mine eyes. Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any
man be a worshipper of God and doeth His will, him he heareth. Since
the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one
that was born blind. If this man were not of God, he could do
nothing."

The answer of the man who had been born blind, made the Pharisees very
angry. They could not contradict what he said; but they were
determined not to allow that Jesus came from God, and as they chose to
believe that this man was a greater sinner than other men because he
had been born blind, they immediately cried out, "Thou wast altogether
born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out:" that is,
expelled him from the synagogue, as they had resolved to do to any one
who should confess that Jesus was the Christ. This casting out of the
synagogue, or excommunication, was a very severe punishment; there
seem to have been three degrees of it. In the first instance, the
person under sentence of excommunication was forbidden to enter a
synagogue, or to join in the services of the temple; and he was to be
looked upon as no longer belonging to the chosen people of God. After
such a sentence had been passed, no Jew would speak to, or have any
intercourse with, the excommunicated person: this was the sentence now
passed upon the man who had been so wonderfully healed. In the second
degree of excommunication, the loss of property was added to the
former sentence; all the goods possessed by the excommunicated person
were taken from him, and given to the service of God. The third degree
of this terrible punishment ordained the death of the unfortunate
wretch, who had already been cut off from all his friends, and
deprived of his property. When Jesus heard that the blind man had for
His sake been cast out, He appears to have gone in search of him; "and
when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son
of God?" The man, in doubt as to the real nature of Him who had healed
him, and anxious to know the truth, "answered and said, Who is he,
Lord, that I might believe on him?" Jesus, ever ready to teach those
who heartily seek to learn the truth, plainly answered, and "said unto
him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee."
All doubts now vanished; "and he said, Lord, I believe. And he
worshipped him." We may surely hope that this man, to whom the Lord
had given both spiritual and bodily sight, became a true and sincere
disciple of Jesus.

After this, Jesus blamed the Pharisees for not believing in Him
themselves, and for trying to prevent others from doing so either.
Then He spake of Himself as the good Shepherd; comparing the people to
a flock of sheep. The meaning of what Jesus now said, was, that He who
came to teach the people the way of salvation is the only good
Shepherd; and that all who do not come to them in the way appointed by
God, teaching as He has commanded, are like thieves and robbers; who
only come to do mischief in the flock, and must be shut out; just as
the porters, who took care of the sheep brought up to be sold for
sacrifice, would not let any but the rightful owner enter into the
sheepfold.

Jesus plainly declared Himself to be the good Shepherd, who would lead
the Jews to salvation, if they would follow Him, as the sheep in those
Eastern countries follow their Shepherd, when he calls them. Alluding
to the Gentiles, Jesus also said, that He had other sheep whom He
would also by means of the Gospel bring into His fold, the Church of
Christ on earth; and hereafter into His heavenly fold in heaven.

All that our Lord now said, made a great impression upon some of His
hearers; and again caused a division of opinion among the Jews. Those
who were disposed to believe in Him were reproached by others, who,
foolishly as well as blasphemously, said, "He hath a devil, and is
mad; why hear ye him?" Others, who did not allow prejudice to blind
their common sense, reasonably answered, "These are not the words of
him that hath a devil,"--no man possessed with a devil could speak
such good and beautiful words; and then they referred to the recent
miracle, in proof that the Lord could not be under the influence of
Satan in any way; for they asked, "Can a devil open the eyes of the
blind?" No more appears to have been said: we will hope that many went
away determined to follow Jesus, but many, no doubt, hardened their
hearts and continued in unbelief.

We next hear of Jesus being at Jerusalem, for "the feast of the
dedication, and it was winter." This Feast of the Dedication had been
appointed by Judas Maccabeus, in remembrance of the cleansing of the
temple, and devoting it again to the proper worship of God, after it
had been profaned by the heathen. By attending this Feast, Jesus set
us an example to keep solemn days appointed by man, in order to offer
up thanksgiving to God for particular mercies. The Feast of the
Dedication took place in the month which answers to our December.



Chapter XXIV.--JESUS'S LAST JOURNEY TO JERUSALEM.


"And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was
winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch:" that is,
in a porch or colonnade, which stood on the same spot where Solomon's
porch had formerly stood; for the temple which existed in our
Saviour's time was the one built by the Jews, after their return from
their captivity in Babylon. The Jews came round about Jesus whilst He
was in this porch, and most unreasonably accused Him of keeping them
in doubt, as to whether He was the Messiah or not; saying, "If thou be
the Christ tell us plainly." Jesus in answer told them, that all the
works which they had seen would have convinced them of that fact, if
they had not been obstinately determined not to believe: and then,
when He did plainly declare that He was the Son of God, by saying, "I
and my Father are one," "the Jews took up stones again to stone him";
telling Him that they did so, because He had spoken blasphemy in
making Himself, or saying that He was, the Son of God. In spite of
all He could say, they persisted in their unbelief; and when He again
referred them to His works as proving Him to be really the Son of God,
"they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand, and
went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first
baptized." "Many resorted," or went out to him, there: those who had
before listened to the teaching of John the Baptist, could not but see
that He was greater than the Baptist; for as they truly said, "John
did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true.
And many believed on him there."

It seems to have been at this time, that those about our Saviour asked
Him, "Lord, are there few that be saved?" whereupon our Lord bid them,
"strive to enter in at the strait gate," by which He meant, that if
any one really wished to go to heaven, he must try with all his might
to walk in the path of holiness, by resisting the Devil and giving up
his own will or wishes, to do whatever would please God.

The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get
thee out, and depart hence: for Herod "will kill thee." The answer
that Jesus made meant, that neither Herod nor any other man could put
Him to death before the time appointed by God for His death; but that
when the proper time came, He should perfect or finish His work by
dying. He added, moreover, that He must return to Jerusalem to die,
"for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem."

By the Jewish Laws, a prophet could only be judged by the Sanhedrim,
or great Council of the Jews at Jerusalem. Jesus then lamented over
the troubles which he foresaw would fall upon Jerusalem, because the
Jews would not come to Him for safety.

Again we hear of a miracle of healing performed on the Sabbath day,
when Jesus cured a man of the dropsy. At the same time, He spake
various parables to the people, and taught them many things. Amongst
the parables now spoken, were those of "the Prodigal Son" and "the
Unjust Steward": the first of these was intended to teach the Jews,
that they who had always been the chosen people of God, did wrong to
be angry because the Gentiles were admitted to share their privileges;
and also to show that, although the Pharisees would have nothing to
say to those whom they looked upon as sinners, God was more merciful,
and would receive and bless sinners who were truly penitent. The
parable of "the Unjust Steward" was intended to teach all men, that
they ought to use as much diligence in seeking for spiritual
blessings, as they would make use of in regard to temporal blessings.

Shortly after this, we read of little children being brought to the
Lord, who received them kindly, and blamed those who would have kept
them from Him.

The parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus the beggar, was now told: an
awful warning to all who lead a life of luxury and self-indulgence,
denying themselves nothing.

"And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be
received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem."

The appointed time being near, Jesus now began His last journey to
Jerusalem, in the course of which He said many things to His disciples
and the people in general, speaking often in parables; and He told His
disciples plainly that He was going up to Jerusalem, not to become an
earthly king, as they still hoped, but to be ill treated and put to
death. During this time Jesus healed the ten lepers, only one of whom,
and he was a Samaritan, "returned to give glory to God" for his cure.
To him our Lord spake the comfortable words, "Arise, go thy way: thy
faith hath made thee whole." Then a certain young Ruler came, and
asked Jesus, "Good Master, what good thing shall I do that I may have
eternal life." Jesus first shows him, that he must not look upon Him
as man only, but as God; and then tells him that, to enter into
eternal life, he must keep all the commandments and precepts of God;
and then, when the young man "went away sorrowful," Jesus warned His
followers of the danger of letting the love of riches draw their
hearts from God.

Another remarkable parable spoken by Jesus at this time was that of
the labourers in the vineyard. This parable taught two lessons; first
it showed to the Jews as a nation, that though they might be said to
have been labourers, from the time that they were first chosen by God,
they ought not to be envious and angry, because the Gentiles were now,
at the eleventh hour, called also to be the servants of God. The Jews
in general could not bear the idea of any other people sharing with
them, privileges, which they considered to belong to themselves alone;
and many of Christ's discourses and parables were meant to correct
this wrong feeling. The second lesson taught by this parable comes
home to every individual; and shows, that though those are most
blessed who from their childhood have truly served God, or, as it is
called, "worked in the vineyard," still, _all_ who, at any age, so
truly repent as to go and work, obeying the Word of God in everything,
will be graciously received by the Lord of the vineyard; and must not
therefore be despised by their fellow labourers, who were called at an
earlier age. Jesus next received a message from Martha and Mary, the
sisters of His friend Lazarus, saying, "Lord, behold he whom thou
lovest is sick." When, after a delay of two days, Jesus "saith to his
disciples, Let us go into Judæa again"; they reminded Him that the
Jews had of late sought to kill Him, and that He had better not go
back. But Jesus told them, that as long as it was day, that is, His
time for working, He was safe anywhere. He explained to them that
Lazarus was now dead, and that He was going to wake him out of the
sleep of death. The faith of the disciples seems to have been weak,
but their love was strong, for all agreed in Thomas's proposal, "Let
us also go, that we may die with him." "And as they went on their way,
Jesus took again the twelve disciples apart, and began to tell them
what things should happen unto him"; speaking plainly of being
betrayed, delivered unto the Chief Priests, mocked, spitefully
entreated, spitted on, scourged, and put to death by the Gentiles, and
rising again the third day. But "they understood none of these
things": so little idea had they of the literal meaning of our Lord's
words, that at this very time, James and John, the sons of Zebedee,
came with their mother, to beg that they might sit, one on His right
hand and the other on His left hand, in His kingdom.

In earthly courts, to be nearest the king's person, was a mark of
dignity and favour; and, misunderstanding still the nature of Christ's
kingdom, the sons of Zebedee made this request, to the indignation of
the other Apostles; who did not see why two of their number should be
favoured so far beyond the rest. But Jesus rebuked them all; and told
them, that His followers must not seek for power and greatness as the
Gentiles did; for that those who were humble and meek were most
pleasing to God. And He bid them, and all Christians in all times,
follow His example; reminding them, that although he was Lord of all,
He came on earth to serve men, and give His life for them.

Passing through Jericho, Jesus, when he came near the town, gave sight
to two blind men, who were sitting by the wayside begging. Hearing an
unusual bustle, as of many people passing by, they asked what it
meant; and being told that "Jesus of Nazareth passeth by," they,
believing in His power, cried out earnestly, "Have mercy on us, O
Lord, thou son of David:" and this prayer they continued to repeat,
although many of those who accompanied Jesus "rebuked them, that they
should hold their peace," and not trouble Him with their cries.

In the Gospel accounts of this miracle, St. Mark and St. Luke only
mention the healing of one blind man; but St. Matthew tells us there
were two. St. Matthew, who was one of the twelve Apostles, was present
on this occasion, so we may be sure that he saw two blind men healed.
St. Mark and St. Luke, writing many years afterwards, only mentioned
one of these men, who seems to have been the most known amongst the
Jews: for St. Mark speaks of him by his name, "Bartimæus," as if those
for whom he wrote would know the man, and therefore think more of the
miracle, about which they could also ask him. Perhaps, too, Bartimæus
is more particularly mentioned, because his faith was greater than
that of his companion; for St. Mark tells us, that Jesus said to him,
"Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole." However that may be,
these blind men cried to Jesus for mercy, and "Jesus had compassion on
them, and touched their eyes: and their eyes received sight, and they
followed him," "glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it,
gave praise unto God."

"And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho": and now he gave
another lesson to the Pharisees, against despising any of their fellow
creatures.



Chapter XXV.--ZACCHÆUS AND LAZARUS.


At Jericho "there was a man named Zacchæus, which was the chief among
the Publicans, and he was rich." He had already heard much of Jesus,
and now "he sought to see Jesus, who he was; and could not for the
press," or crowd of people who surrounded the Lord, for Zacchæus was a
short man, or "little of stature." Being really anxious to see Jesus,
Zacchæus did not content himself with merely _wishing_, and
_regretting_; but he took some trouble to accomplish his object, and
met with his reward. We read that Zacchæus "ran on before, and
climbed up into a sycamore tree," under which Jesus must pass; and by
this means nothing could prevent his seeing the Lord.

The sycamore tree here spoken of, is also called the Egyptian fig; the
leaves are like those of the mulberry tree, but the fruit resembles
the fig, in size, shape, and taste.

Jesus, who knows all things, saw the heart of Zacchæus, and knew that
he was willing to become a true disciple; and none such will He ever
overlook. Therefore, "when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and
saw him, and said unto him, Zacchæus, make haste, and come down; for
to-day I must abide at thy house." Most joyfully did Zacchæus obey: he
had taken some trouble merely to see Jesus, and now he would have the
privilege of listening to His words. But many of the Jews who were
present were offended and displeased, because Jesus took such notice
of a man belonging to a class, whom they, in their self-righteous
spirit, condemned as unworthy to associate with them; "they all
murmured, saying, That he was gone to be a guest with a man that is a
sinner." Zacchæus, seeing that Jesus was blamed for noticing him,
thought it right to show that whatever his sins might have been, he
was now truly penitent, and determined to undo as much as possible any
wrong he had done to his fellow creatures, in making them pay more
taxes than were justly due: so he stood up, "and said unto the Lord,
Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give," that is, I will from this
time give, "to the poor, and if I have taken anything from any man by
false accusation," (or over-taxing,) "I will restore him fourfold":
that is, I will give him back four times as much as he has lost,
through any fault of mine. This was true repentance, springing from
faith, and as such it found favour with God. "And Jesus said unto him,
This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a
son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that
which was lost."

Zacchæus had shown himself to be, spiritually, as well as by descent,
a son of faithful Abraham; and as such he and his family were to
receive that salvation, which Jesus came to bring to those who would
turn from their sins and be saved.

At this time, "Jesus spake a parable; because he was nigh to
Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should
immediately appear." By this parable of the nobleman, who went into a
far country to receive a kingdom, and then returned to judge his
servants for the use they had made of the talents which he had given
them, Jesus showed that although He was Lord of all, He must leave
this world for a time, and return again to judge His servants, before
His kingdom could be visibly established,--before the kingdom of God
could appear in glory.

It is very easy to understand the meaning of this parable: we all,
that is, all the men, women, and children, who have ever been born,
are sent upon earth that we may serve God, and show our love to Him,
by doing His will in all things; and in doing all the good we can to
others. Some have greater means and opportunities of doing good than
others; such means and opportunities, as riches, wisdom, health,
leisure, &c., are the "talents" entrusted to us; and we are to use
them in the service of God, and not for our own pleasure only. Some
have more of these "talents" than others; but all of us have
opportunities of being useful, if we are ready to practise
self-denial, and give up our own pleasure, wishes, and ease, in order
to do little acts of kindness to others, in obedience to the word of
God. If we do not do our duty to God and man to the best of our power
whilst we are on earth, the Lord will be angry with us, as the king in
the parable was with the "wicked servant," who had kept his talent
"laid up in a napkin," instead of using it so as to make a proper
return to the Master, who had given it to him.

When Jesus reached Bethany, Lazarus had already been buried four days.
Bethany was a village about two miles from Jerusalem; "and many of the
Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their
brother." It was a custom amongst the Jews for friends and relations
to come in this way to the house where any one had died, and there to
mourn and lament, with particular ceremonies, for seven days. We have
no such custom; but when any one is in trouble, we should do all we
can to comfort and help: even in all the little troubles and vexations
which daily happen to those around us, we should try to do anything we
can to help them. The best rule in this, as in all other matters, is
to observe the precept, "Do unto others as you would wish them to do
unto you." That is, think how you would feel if the same misfortune,
trouble, or vexation, fell upon you; and thus try and feel for others:
then think what you would wish to be done for you in a like case, and
do the same for them. Show that you are sorry for them, by doing any
little act of kindness that is in your power, without thinking of
yourself,--your own wishes, pleasure, or convenience. Even children
can do this; and the sooner they begin to do so, the more will they
grow in favour with God and Man.

The beautiful story of the raising of Lazarus is to be read in St.
John's Gospel (ch. xi.).

Martha's faith seems to have been weak; for though she believed that
Jesus could have saved her brother's life had He come in time, she
certainly did not believe that He could now restore him to life.

Mary, too, seems only to have thought that Jesus could have kept
Lazarus from dying; but her faith was stronger than Martha's, for she
made no objection to the taking away the stone that lay upon the cave
in which Lazarus was buried.

Jesus here sets us an example of feeling for others: He saw the great
sorrow of Martha and Mary, and, although He was going to remove the
cause of their grief, yet He felt for them in their distress--"Jesus
wept." What a comfort to all who are in trouble upon earth, to know
that their Lord in heaven feels for them, and will hear their prayers
for help and comfort; though He will not answer them in the same way
that He answered the prayers of Mary and her sister.

"Many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which
Jesus did, believed on him. But some of them," determined not to
acknowledge Him as the Messiah, "went their ways to the Pharisees, and
told them what things Jesus had done."

The Chief Priests and Pharisees immediately called together the
members of the Sanhedrim, or great Council, and said, "What do we? for
this man worketh many miracles." They could not deny that Jesus had
worked many miracles; for multitudes of the people had seen, and been
benefited by them. To the question, "What do we?" or rather, what
shall we do? We might reasonably expect the answer, We will
acknowledge Him as the Messiah, the Son of God; but, no: they did not
say this; on the contrary, their only thought was to prevent others
from believing in Him. Rightly did they judge, "If we let him thus
alone, all men will believe in him": but they added, "and the Romans
shall come and take away both our place and nation." In their
blindness as to the spiritual nature of the Messiah's kingdom, these
Jews thought, that if they acknowledged Jesus, the Roman Emperor would
consider them as rebels, wishing to set up a temporal kingdom, and
would send his armies to destroy them utterly. Far better would it
have been for these unhappy men, if they had _only_ considered the
proofs before them, and acknowledged Jesus to be the Messiah, without
fearing what man could do unto them. In a few years moreover, the very
evil which they so wickedly strove to avoid did come upon them: their
nation was totally destroyed, the people scattered over all lands, and
the temple burnt to the ground.

No doubt there were many different opinions amongst the members of the
Sanhedrim, for, after much discussion, "one of them, named Caiaphas,
being the High Priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing
at all, nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should
die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this
spake he not of himself; but being High Priest that year, he
prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; and not for that
nation only, but that also he should gather in one the children of God
that were scattered abroad."



Chapter XXVI.--JESUS IN THE HOUSE OF SIMON THE LEPER


The speech made in the Sanhedrim by Caiaphas, meant a great deal more
than he did, when he _used_ the _words_. Caiaphas meant, that if there
were any chance of offending the Romans, it would be better at once to
put one man to death, than to bring destruction upon the whole nation.
But St. John bids us take notice that, without intending it, Caiaphas
thus proclaimed the blessed plan of salvation through the atonement,
which, by the death of One, would be made for all mankind.

Caiaphas was the "High Priest that same year." By the appointment of
God, a man who once became High Priest continued to be so as long as
he lived; but the Romans forced the Jews to alter many of their
customs, and it had been so in regard to the office of High Priest,
which was now seldom held by the same person for more than a year.

What Caiaphas said, seems to have decided the Sanhedrim as to what
should be done; and the only question that remained was, how it should
be done: how the death of Jesus could be safely managed, without
causing a disturbance amongst the people, who might not be willing to
see one who had worked such miracles for their good, put to death.
This required consideration on the part of the Sanhedrim: "and from
that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death."

Jesus, knowing that His time was not fully come, went with His
disciples into a small city, situated among the mountains in the
wilderness of Judah, which lay on the borders of the Dead Sea. We
read, "Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went
thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called
Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples." "And the Jews'
Passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to
Jerusalem before the Passover, to purify themselves": that is, to
observe certain forms and ceremonies, without which no man was looked
upon as fit to partake of this holy feast.

This was the third Passover which had occurred since Jesus began His
public teaching; the last of which He was to partake. It was fitting
that "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world," should
be sacrificed at this solemn season. The Feast of the Passover was
kept in remembrance of the deliverance of the Children of Israel from
death, by the blood of the paschal lamb; but it was also a type, or
sign, of a greater deliverance to come; when through the shedding of
the blood of the Lamb of God, all mankind would be delivered from a
far more terrible death. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is called
"our Passover."

The Jews who now assembled in Jerusalem, to prepare themselves for the
approaching Feast, naturally spake to each other of Jesus, whom all
must have heard of, and whom many had, no doubt, seen. They sought for
Jesus amongst those who were purifying themselves, and not finding
Him, spake to each other, saying, "What think ye, that he will not
come to the feast?" Many of them probably thought, that Jesus would be
afraid to show Himself in public; for "both the Chief Priests and the
Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he
were, he should show it, that they might take him."

Mean time Jesus was calmly preparing to finish the work given to Him
of the Father, by delivering Himself up to death; that through Him all
men might have life. Till the time was fully come, Jesus remained with
His disciples in the wilderness. "Then six days before the Passover
Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he
raised from the dead." It is probable that at this time Jesus abode in
the house with Lazarus and his sisters; but we read of Him as being
"in the house of Simon the leper," a man whom our Lord had, no doubt,
cured of leprosy; where "they made him a supper." Lazarus was one of
the guests who "sat at the table with him," "and Martha served";
helped the giver of the feast to entertain and wait upon Jesus.

An event now took place, which is spoken of by St. Matthew, St. Mark,
St. Luke, and St. John; though it is rather differently told by each,
some mentioning circumstances of which the others take no notice: so
much so, that some people have thought that they speak of different
events; but it seems much more probable that they all allude to the
same event, and therefore it will be so considered now.

The circumstance which happened at the supper given to Jesus in the
house of Simon, (distinguished from others of that name by being still
called the Leper, though now no longer one,) must be related according
to what is generally believed.

"Mary having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard, very precious
and very costly, brake the box, and poured it on his head as he sat at
meat, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her
hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment." Thus
did Mary show her love for the Lord. "But when his disciples saw it,
there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why
was this waste of the ointment made? Then saith one of his disciples,
Judas Iscariot, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment
sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?"

Judas Iscariot, under pretence of wishing to give the money to the
poor, blamed Mary for thus wasting the ointment; and some of the other
disciples seem to have held the same idea, and "they murmured against
her."

A Roman penny, the money here spoken of, was worth about 7-1/2_d._ of
our money; so the cost of this box of ointment was about 9_l._: and
probably some of the disciples, not understanding the meaning of
Mary's action as afterwards described by Jesus, really thought it
would have been well to give that sum away in charity. But this was
not the case with Judas, for St. John adds, "This he said, not that he
cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and
bare what was put therein." The joint stock of money, out of which the
necessaries of life were purchased for Jesus and his Apostles, was
trusted to the care of Judas, who was a thief, and took money out of
the common bag for his own private purposes. If so large a sum as
three hundred pence were to be added to the common stock, Judas would
be able easily to take some without being found out; especially if he
pretended that he had given it to the poor. Let us, as the Bible bids
us, beware of covetousness even in the smallest matter. This feeling
indulged in the heart is a great sin; and it constantly leads to the
breaking of the eighth commandment as well.

When Mary was blamed for what she had done, the Lord defended her,
saying, "Let her alone,"--do not blame her,--"why trouble ye her? she
hath wrought a good work on me. For ye have the poor with you always,
and whensoever ye will ye may do them good; but me ye have not always.
She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body
to the burying. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body,
she did it for my burial."

It was the custom among the Jews to anoint the bodies of the dead
before burial, with perfumes and spices: this was also a custom of
other nations, and the Egyptians had a manner of anointing, or
embalming, the body, so that it would keep its shape, and not turn to
dust, as it would otherwise do. Bodies so prepared are called mummies;
and many have been found, which have been in that state for 3,000 or
4,000 years.

When Jesus said that Mary "had anointed his body to the burying," He
meant, that she had done an action which was significant of His
approaching death; but, of course, neither she nor the disciples
understood it as such. He also declared, that so far from deserving
blame, what she had done should be for ever remembered to her praise:
"Verily, I say unto you, Wheresoever this Gospel shall be preached
throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be
spoken of for a memorial of her."

Whilst Jesus was still in the house of Simon, much people of the Jews,
knowing He was there, came not only to see Him, "but that they might
see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead." Such a miracle
had naturally been much talked of; and the Chief Priests, fearing the
effect it might have on the people's mind, consulted whether they
could not "put Lazarus also to death, because that by reason of him
many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus."

The next day,--that is, five days before the Passover,--the people
that were assembled at Jerusalem for the feast, "when they heard that
Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees, and went
forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna; Blessed is the King of Israel,
that cometh in the name of the Lord." The word "Hosanna" is made up of
parts of two Hebrew words, which mean "_Save now_." It was a word
commonly used by the people to express their joy upon solemn
occasions.



Chapter XXVII.--CHRIST'S ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM.


Then Jesus sent forth two of His disciples, with directions where to
find a colt, the foal of an ass, upon which He purposed to ride into
Jerusalem. The disciples did as they were directed, and "cast their
garments upon the colt, and they sat Jesus thereon": and He rode
towards Jerusalem, accompanied by many of the people who had been with
Him in Simon's house, and "that was with him when he called Lazarus
out of his grave." These were soon met by those who, with palm
branches in their hands, had come from Jerusalem. "And as they went, a
very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down
branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way." Casting
garments, branches of trees and flowers on the ground, for Kings and
Conquerors to tread upon, was a mark of honour and welcome in the
Eastern nations; and it was a fitting homage to Him, Who is King of
Kings, and the Conqueror of Sin and Death.

"And when He was come nigh the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of
the disciples, and the multitudes that went before, and that followed,
began to rejoice, and praise God with a loud voice, for all the mighty
works that they had seen; and cried, saying Hosanna to the Son of
David--Hosanna in the highest. Blessed be the King that cometh in the
name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest."

"All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken" 400
years before "by the prophet" Zechariah, saying, "Tell ye the
daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting
upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass."

At the Feast of Tabernacles, it had long been the custom for the
Jewish people to sing Hosannas, and also to carry in their hands
branches of palm or other trees, in honour of the Messiah whom they
were expecting; and by receiving Jesus as they now did, the multitudes
did, in fact, acknowledge Him to be that expected Messiah--at once God
and man--the King spoken of by the prophets; promised by the Almighty.

No other king ever entered Jerusalem in this manner, which had been
foretold by the prophets; and therefore what had now happened, ought
to have convinced all the Jews that Jesus Christ was indeed the
Messiah: but nothing will convince those who are obstinately
determined not to believe, and even now, "some of the Pharisees from
among the multitude," who chose to think it was blasphemy to give
Jesus, a man, the honour due to the Messiah, "said unto him, Master,
rebuke thy disciples." But instead of doing so, Jesus "answered and
said unto them, I tell you that, if these should, hold their peace,
the stones would immediately cry out." By this answer, Jesus plainly
told the Pharisees, that so far from meriting a rebuke for speaking
_blasphemy_, all that the people had said was so pleasing to God, that
if they were prevented from saying it, the Almighty would, even by a
miracle, raise up others to glorify His name, by proclaiming this
wonderful truth. Nothing, however, could overcome the obstinate
unbelief of the Pharisees. They "said among themselves, Perceive ye
how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him."

They could not but own, that in spite of all they had done, the people
did believe Jesus to be the Messiah; but this had no other effect than
to make them the more anxious to put Him to death. Mean time Jesus
rode on; "And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over
it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day,
the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from
thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies
shall cast a trench about thee, and keep thee in on every side, and
shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and
they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou
knewest not the time of thy visitation." The meaning of what Jesus now
said is, that it would have been a happy thing for the inhabitants of
Jerusalem, if while He was with them they would have believed on Him,
for then He would have given them peace and happiness. And He wept in
pity, whilst He foretold the utter destruction that would come upon
the city, as a punishment to the Jews for refusing to believe in Him,
and receive Him as the Messiah.

Everything that Jesus foretold, came to pass exactly a few years
afterwards, when the Romans laid siege to Jerusalem, and made a
trench, and a wall with strong towers all round the city, so as to
prevent the inhabitants getting any help. The consequence was, that
the want of food caused the most dreadful suffering and misery. When
at last the city was taken, the Romans did destroy it so completely,
that it might truly be said, that one stone was not left upon another.

"And when Jesus was come into Jerusalem," accompanied by multitudes,
waving palm branches, and singing Hosannas, "all the city was moved,"
or filled with astonishment, saying, "Who is this? And the multitude
said, This is Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee. And Jesus
went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and
bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers,
and the seats of them that sold doves, and said unto them, It is
written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have
made it a den of thieves."

Very soon after our Lord's baptism, He thus cleared the temple for the
first time (Ch. VII.); then He blamed the people for making His
Father's house a house of merchandise; now he tells them that they
have made it like a den of thieves. There have always been people
wicked enough to break the eighth commandment. In the land of Judæa,
there were then many lawless men, who, instead of working to gain an
honest living, went about the country robbing their fellow creatures,
and so living on what they could get. These robbers joined together in
bands, and took up their abodes in hollow places in the sides of the
mountains, called dens or caves. These dens generally had a small
entrance, but inside were of different sizes: they had no light but
what came in through the entrance hole; but the inhabitants could burn
lamps or torches to give them light, and of course they were quite
sheltered from wind and rain. The robbers used to leave their
hiding-places at night, and prowl about to take whatever they could
find. Even if they met with cattle or sheep unguarded, they drove them
away into their dens, where they kept all manner of things which they
had stolen; and therefore when the court of the temple was filled with
oxen and sheep, and other animals, it might well be compared to a den
of thieves. Nothing like this can happen in our days; but let us
remember that Jesus referred to the words of the prophet Isaiah, "Mine
house shall be called an house of prayer for all people": Jesus blamed
the people for profaning the temple, and not making the proper use of
it: we are guilty of this sin, if we do not make a proper use of our
churches, and behave reverently when we are in them. Let us all be
careful to make our churches houses of prayer, by joining devoutly in
the prayers, and listening attentively to all that we hear there:
unless we do this, we shall sin against God by not hallowing His Name;
and He will be as much displeased with us, as He was with the Jews for
their desecration of the temple.

The blind and the lame came to Jesus in the temple; "and he healed
them. And when the Chief Priests and Scribes saw the wonderful things
that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying Hosanna
to the Son of David; they were sore displeased, and said unto Him,
Hearest thou what these say?" meaning that He should stop these
children from so speaking: instead of that, Jesus again plainly
declared Himself to be the Messiah spoken of by the prophets, by
applying to what had now taken place, the inspired words of David; for
we read, that "Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of
the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?"

"And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at
the feast." The Greek language was very much spoken at this time, and
the Jews called all foreigners who spoke it, Greeks: many of these
persons had been converted, or turned, from the worship of idols to
that of the one True God: but as they were not really Jews, they could
only be admitted to worship in the Court of the Gentiles. These men
wished to see Jesus, and expressed their wish to Philip--"Philip
cometh and telleth Andrew; and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus."

Our Lord in His answer, declared that the time was now come, when His
power and glory should be shown, not to the Jews alone, but to all
nations upon earth. But He also said, that before He could be
glorified, He must die; just as a corn or grain of wheat must be put
into the ground and die, or rot, before it could bring forth fruit and
fulfil its purpose: and then He warned His disciples, that any man
who really desired to serve and follow Him, must be ready to give up
everything he most values, and even to part with his life, if
necessary, for the service of God.

Jesus in his human nature must have shrunk from suffering as a man;
though firmly resolved to suffer the utmost agony for our sakes. He
would not, therefore, ask God to save Him from the approaching trial,
because He had come into the world for the express purpose of going
through it, in order to purchase the salvation of man.



Chapter XXVIII.--THE VOICE FROM HEAVEN.


At this time Jesus saith, "Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I
say? Father, save me from this hour; but for this cause came I unto
this hour. Father, glorify thy name." By these last words Jesus
expressed His willingness to give Himself up entirely to God, that God
might do with Him whatever would be for His own praise and glory. This
same feeling of perfect resignation and self-denial should also govern
us in all things. Jesus spake these words, and "then came there a
voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify
it again. The people therefore that stood by, and heard it, said that
it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him."

One of the most ancient signs, or tokens, of the presence of God was a
voice from heaven, uttering words that could be heard by man. The Jews
called such a voice "the Bath Col," which means the "Daughter of the
Voice." It was often a deep, loud sound, attended, as in this case,
with thunder; and many would not now believe it to be anything more.
Others, who knew that their fathers of old had been spoken to in this
way, acknowledged it to be the voice of an angel.

Jesus told those around Him, that this Voice came to show them that He
was the true Messiah.

Many other things spake He unto them; but although they had seen so
many miracles done by Him, yet they believed not that he was the
Messiah; thus fulfilling the words spoken by Isaiah the prophet.
"Nevertheless, among the chief rulers also many believed on him but,
because of the Pharisees, they did not confess him, lest they should
be put out of the synagogue. For they loved the praise of men more
than the praise of God."

The fear of man bringeth a snare. Never let us be tempted, for fear of
man, to say or do the least thing which we know to be displeasing to
God.

In the evening, Jesus again left Jerusalem, and lodged in Bethany,
with the twelve disciples.

We are now come to the last week of our Saviour's life: we call it
"Passion Week," because of His sufferings and death, which are often
spoken of as "His Passion." The Sunday that begins this Holy Week is
often called Palm Sunday, in remembrance of Christ's riding into
Jerusalem, accompanied by multitudes carrying Palm branches; but in
our Prayer Book it is only called "The Sunday next before Easter."

On this first day of the week, Jesus, after He had finished speaking
to the people in the temple, went out to the little village of
Bethany. Now the next morning, answering to our Monday in Passion
Week, Jesus and His disciples returned into the city. On the way "he
hungered, and seeing a fig tree by the way side having leaves, he came
to it, if haply he might find any fruit thereon; for the time of figs
was not yet,"--that is, it was not yet time for the figs to have been
gathered, and therefore a tree which looked so flourishing ought to
have had fruit upon it. But there was none; nothing, but leaves only.
"Then Jesus said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for
ever. And his disciples heard it."

And they came to Jerusalem, and went into the temple. It appears that,
though driven out at the time, the buyers, and sellers, and
money-changers had again established themselves in their former
places. Again did our Lord cast them out, reminding them that His
house was to be a house of prayer only: and this time we are told,
that He "would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through
the temple." Jesus remained in the temple teaching the people, who
"were very attentive to hear him." "And the Scribes, and the Chief
Priests, and the chief of the people heard it, and sought how they
might destroy him"; but they could do nothing openly for fear of the
people, who were "astonished at his doctrine," and evidently inclined
at this time to believe in Him as the Messiah.

The next morning, answering to Tuesday in Passion Week, Jesus and the
twelve again returned to Jerusalem; and "as they passed by, they saw
the fig tree dried up from the roots. And when the disciples saw it,
they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away! And
Peter, calling to remembrance" (what had happened the day before),
"saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is
withered away! And Jesus, answering, saith unto them, Have faith in
God." Then He went on to speak to them of the necessity of having
faith; and told them that, if their faith were strong, the most
difficult things would become easy for them to do. He also told them
to pray earnestly in faith; for that the faithful never pray in vain:
but He again warned the disciples, that if they asked God to forgive
their sins, they must truly forgive all who had in any way offended or
hurt them; saying, "For if ye do not forgive, neither will your
Father, which is in heaven, forgive your trespasses."

The fate of the fig tree teaches two lessons. In the first place, it
was a warning to the Jews, who made a great show of their religion,
and were very particular in performing all the outward forms and
ceremonies which could be seen by men, and lead them to believe that
those who did such things must be really good and religious men. Thus
they were like the fig tree, with its green leaves making a good show
to the eye. But the Jews, with all their outward show, did not do the
Will of God: they did not bring forth the fruit of good works, and so
their whole religion was valueless, and was to be put an end to by the
destruction of the temple. Here again they were like the fig tree,
which, in spite of its flourishing leaves, bore no figs, and being
therefore useless, was to wither away.

But from all this we may learn an important lesson for ourselves. We
should each compare ourselves to this fig tree, and consider whether
we bear fruit, or have only a show of leaves. Leaves would be outward
observances; such things as can be seen of men. Going to Church, even
reading the Bible and saying our Prayers, may be looked upon as
leaves, because they can be seen and known by others: but, if under
these good leaves there is no fruit of obedience, kindness,
self-denial, and holiness,--in short, if we are not trying to please
God by growing better and better day by day, where is the fruit?

If, in spite of our Bible and our prayers, we follow our own wills,
and indulge our own naughty tempers and feelings, then we are like the
barren fig tree; and in the end, like that, we shall be rejected by
our Lord in heaven. Let each of us often ask our own conscience this
question, Am I a good or bad fig tree? Have I only leaves, or do I
bear fruit also?

At this time Jesus taught daily in the temple; and on one occasion the
Chief Priests and the Scribes and the elders of the people "spake unto
him, saying, Tell us by what authority thou doest these things? And
Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing,
which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I
do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it? was it from
heaven, or of men? Answer me."

This question greatly perplexed those to whom it was put. They saw
plainly, that if they acknowledged that John the Baptist was sent by
God, Jesus would justly say, Why then did ye not believe him, when he
told you I was the Messiah? On the other hand, they were afraid to say
that John had no authority from God, because all the people looked
upon him as a prophet, and would be ready to stone any one who said
that he was not. "And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot
tell whence it was." They had not asked the question from any real
wish to know, for they would not speak what they felt to be the truth,
because it would show that they were wrong. Under such circumstances,
"Jesus answering saith unto them, Neither do I tell you by what
authority I do these things."

But our Lord did not leave them without an answer, if they would have
laid it to heart; for, in the parable of the man who bid his two sons
"go work to-day in my vineyard," He showed them plainly, that, in
spite of all their profession of religion, they did not do what God
had bade them, and therefore they would lose His favour; whilst the
Gentiles, and all who repented and became the obedient sons of God,
would go into the kingdom of heaven before them.

"Then began he to speak to the people another parable" of the
householder; who, after planting a vineyard and doing all that was
necessary to make it produce good wine, sent first his servants and
then his son to receive the fruits: but instead of making the proper
return, the servants were ill-used, and the son killed. The people, on
being asked what the lord of the vineyard would do to such men,
answered, "He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let
out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the
fruits in their due season." Jesus then showed them, that this
parable exactly described what the Jewish nation had done; and He
said, "Therefore I say unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken
from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof."
Jesus also spake another parable, wherein the kingdom of heaven is
said to be like unto a certain king, which made a marriage feast for
his son. This parable taught the same lesson; that if people will not
come to God when He calls them, He will deprive them of the blessings
they do not value. At the end of this parable, the king is represented
as sending away into punishment a man who had not on a wedding
garment. This is to warn us, that though the Lord has now given to
Christians the blessings refused by the Jews, it is not enough to be
called a Christian: each one of us must be really and truly a
Christian in heart and life; clothed, as it were, with faith, love,
obedience, and holiness, as with a wedding garment: without this, no
man can enter into Christ's Church in Heaven.



Chapter XXIX.--DISCOURSES ON THE TUESDAY.


In the parable of the Marriage Feast just spoken of, we read that when
the invited guests refused to come, beggars were compelled to come in
from the highways; now, though this may seem to us a strange thing, it
would not appear so to those who heard this parable, as it was
according to the customs of the East.

Even now, the Arab princes often dine in the open air before their
dwellings, and invite all that pass, even beggars, to share their
meal: these guests sit down and eat, and when they have done, return
thanks and go away.

Another custom of those times is also referred to in this parable:
kings and great men, when they made a feast, provided garments or
robes to be lent to any guests who came without a proper dress for the
occasion. As every man who needed it could have a garment if he asked
for it, there was no excuse for any person who sat down _without_ one.
The man spoken of in the parable, could have had a wedding garment if
he had sought for it; and so we read that he "was speechless," had
nothing to say in his own defence, and was cast from the presence of
the Lord.

So it is with us; God will give faith, and love, and strength to keep
His holy Word, to all who ask, and seek: therefore, if we are not
covered with the garment of faith and holiness, it will be our own
fault that we are not allowed to sit down with the righteous in the
kingdom of Heaven.

The righteousness of Christ is the real wedding garment of believers;
and this will cover and save all, whose faith is true and lively; such
as will show itself in their words and deeds.

The Pharisees and Scribes saw that these parables were spoken against
them, to show them how wrong they were; and this made them the more
angry, and the more desirous to destroy Jesus. Being afraid to do this
openly by violence, they "took counsel (or consulted together) how
they might entangle him in his talk": that is, get Him to say
something which would either offend the people, or give them a
pretence for accusing Him to the Roman governor of teaching the people
to rebel against the authority of Cæsar.

They, therefore, sent forth certain of their own disciples, with the
Herodians; spies, which should feign themselves just and good men,
anxious to learn the truth by asking questions; whilst all the time,
they hoped He would say something to enable them to "deliver him unto
the power and authority of the governor." The Herodians here spoken
of, seem to have been a party amongst the Jews, who were very
favourable to the Romans; and thought they had the best right to
appoint the kings and governors of Judæa. This party took its rise in
the time of Herod the Great.

These Herodians, though Jews themselves, had been quite ready to join
with Herod, when, to please the Romans, he set apart temples for the
worship of their false gods: by such means they had got into great
favour with the Romans, as also with Herod the Great and all his
family.

The Pharisees and Herodians then came to Jesus, and having first
declared their belief, that no fear of man would prevent His telling
them plainly what was the Will of God, they said, "Tell us therefore,
What thinkest thou, Is it lawful to give tribute unto Cæsar, or not?
Shall we give or shall we not give?"

The Romans had laid a tax upon Judæa when it became a Roman province:
the Jews hated this mark of subjection, and the Pharisees taught, that
as the Jews were God's chosen people, they ought not to pay tax or
tribute to any foreign power. The Herodians held the contrary opinion;
and some of the Jews followed them. Cæsar was a common name or title
given to all the Roman Emperors, who had each their own particular
name besides. Augustus Cæsar was Emperor of Rome when Jesus Christ was
born; and, at the time we are speaking of, Tiberius Cæsar was the
Emperor. If, to the question now asked, Jesus should answer, "Do not
pay tribute," the Herodians would be offended, and would get the Roman
governor to punish Him. If, on the other hand, Jesus should declare
that it was lawful and right to pay tribute, the greater part of the
Jewish people would be very indignant, and perhaps stone Him at once:
at any rate, He would lose their favour, so that they would not oppose
His destruction. Thus the Pharisees felt confident that Jesus must
fall into the snare. "But Jesus perceived their wickedness; and
knowing their hypocrisy, said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Show me
the tribute-money," that I may see it. "And they brought unto him a
penny"--a Roman coin, equal to 7-1/2_d._ of our money, having upon it
the image or figure of the Emperor's head, with some words, called the
superscription, round it: just as our money has the Queen's image upon
it, and writing also. "And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and
superscription? They say unto him, Cæsar's. Then saith he unto them,
Render therefore unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's; and unto God
the things that are God's." Thus teaching, that their duty to God as
His people, did not interfere with their duty to the Romans as
temporal rulers. The Pharisees could not take hold of such words:
"they marvelled at his answer, and held their peace, and left him, and
went their way." Let us remember that with us also, our duty to God
will not interfere with our duty to man: on the contrary, those who
most love God, will best do their duty as Parents and Children, Kings
and Subjects, Masters and Servants, Friends and Neighbours.

The Pharisees having been put to silence in the matter of the
tribute-money, another party or sect amongst the Jews, who did not
believe in the future resurrection of the dead, came to Jesus, hoping
also to entangle him in his talk. These Jews, who were called
Sadducees, asked our Lord a question, which they thought it would be
impossible for him to answer: but Jesus showed them, that only their
own ignorance and inattention to what was written in their Scriptures,
made them find any difficulty as to the resurrection of the dead: and
He told them most plainly, that all the dead should certainly rise
again; and that those who were worthy to live in Heaven, should "be
as the angels of God." Some of the Scribes, who were present, agreed
to the truth of all that Jesus spake, and said, "Master, thou hast
well said."

But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to
silence, they were gathered together. Then one of them, which was a
Lawyer, one of the Scribes, came, and having heard them reasoning
together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, "asked him a
question, tempting him"; that is, hoping that His answer might give an
opportunity of finding fault with Him.

Before we speak of the question now asked, it is necessary to
understand, that at this time the Scribes and Pharisees had taken up
an opinion, that it was quite impossible for anybody to observe all
the precepts and commandments contained in the Law of Moses; and that,
therefore, every man might choose out one or two, and that if he
observed these perfectly, he would be forgiven for not keeping the
others. This was, of course, quite contrary to the teaching of
Scripture, where we learn that all men must do their very best to keep
the whole law of God, and do His Will in all things. The Pharisees
having thus settled that they need only keep one Commandment, the
question was, which it should be: some considered that the ordinances
as to sacrifices were the most important; others thought attention to
the wearing of phylacteries was the chief thing. No doubt it was much
easier to attend to such outward observances, than to keep the temper
in order and practise self-denial; but no outward service can please
God if the heart is not right. As the Scribes and Pharisees were
constantly disputing amongst themselves, as to which of the
Commandments it was most important to keep, this Lawyer now asked
Jesus, "Master, which is the first commandment of all?" which is the
great commandment in the law? "And Jesus answered him, The first of
all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:
and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all
thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is
the first and great commandment." This answer could not be found fault
with; for it agreed exactly with what Moses had said. But Jesus did
not stop here. He knew that the Pharisees behaved with great
unkindness to their Jewish brethren, who did not hold the same
opinions as they did; and that they actually hated all their fellow
creatures of a different religion: He therefore told them, that there
was a second commandment, of almost equal importance to the first, and
_both_ must be kept. He said, "And the second is like unto it, namely
this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other
commandment greater than these. On these two commandments hang all the
Law and the prophets": meaning, that these two commandments contain
all that the Law and the prophets had taught, and that any man who
kept these, would indeed, keep the whole Law.

Just as in our Catechism we say, that from the Commandments of the Law
we learn two things: our duty towards God, and our duty towards man:
nor can they be separated; he who really does love God with heart, and
mind, and soul, and strength, will try in all things to please Him,
and will not willingly break the least of His commands.

He who so loves his fellow creatures, as to do them all the good he
can, and treat them as he would himself wish to be treated, will
certainly never injure any one in his person or his property; nor even
be unkind to him, in word or deed.

The Scribe who had asked the question, "tempting him," appears to have
been more honest than many of his brethren: he felt the truth of our
Lord's words, and at once "said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said
the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: and
to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and
with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his
neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and
sacrifices. And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said
unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God." Jesus meant, that
this Scribe was not far from being a true believer and disciple, and,
we may hope, that he did become a sincere follower of the Lord, and an
inheritor of the kingdom of Heaven.

"And no man after that durst ask him any question." Seeing how all had
failed to entangle Jesus in his talk, the Pharisees appear to have
given up asking questions, which only gave Him an opportunity of
showing His wisdom and holiness.



Chapter XXX.--WEDNESDAY--JUDAS COVENANTS TO BETRAY JESUS.


Whilst the Pharisees, who had asked questions in the hope of finding a
fault, were gathered together, Jesus in His turn questioned them: He
"asked them, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto
him, The son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in
spirit call him Lord? for David himself said by the Holy Ghost, in the
Book of Psalms, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,
till I make thine enemies thy footstool. David therefore calleth him
Lord; if David then call him Lord, how is he his son?" The Pharisees
could make no answer to this, without contradicting what David had
said; or acknowledging that Christ, though in one sense the son of
David, was more, and must be the Son of God spoken of by David and all
the prophets. Therefore "no man was able to answer him a word, neither
durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions. The
common people heard him gladly," however, not being so prejudiced
against Him.

Jesus at this time reproved the Scribes and Pharisees for their pride
and hypocrisy; and for their observance of outward forms only, whilst
they did not even try to act according to the real meaning and spirit
of the Law of Moses. Jesus also told his disciples and the multitude,
that though they ought to observe and do whatever the Scribes (whose
business it was to explain and teach the Law) showed them that they
ought to do, they must be careful not to follow their example: "The
Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses's seat; all therefore
whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye
after their works: for they say and do not." Other things Jesus said
at this time (Matt xxiii., Mark xii., Luke xx.), and he ended with
again lamenting over the misery which Jerusalem was bringing upon
herself, by refusing to receive Him, the Lord of Life and Glory: and
He reminded His hearers, that He would have saved them had they been
willing. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and
stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered
thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her
wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you
desolate." Jesus was teaching in that part of the temple where stood
the chest, into which those who came to worship, put gifts of money,
to be used for the service of the temple.

"And Jesus sat over against the treasury. And he looked up and beheld
how the people cast money into the treasury; and many that were rich
cast in much. And there came also a certain poor widow, and she threw
in two mites, which make a farthing." There was a curious law at this
time amongst the Jews, forbidding any one to put into the treasury so
small a sum as _one_ mite: this poor widow therefore put in the
smallest sum she could. Many who saw her, most likely despised her
offering; and thought that such a paltry sum was not worth giving. But
He who seeth the heart, judged very differently: "He called unto him
his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, that this
poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the
treasury: for all these have of their abundance cast in unto the
offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all that she had,
even all her living."

The difference was, that the rich men had given large sums, of which
they would not feel the loss: but the poor widow had practised the
greatest self-denial, in order to do something for the service of God.
She had to work hard to gain money to buy necessary food, and by
giving all she had at this time, she would be obliged to go without a
meal. Without self-denial, we cannot please God: and we can all
practise self-denial, though it seems very hard to do so. If we give
up our own wishes, and practise self-denial, in the most trifling
things, though men may not know it at all, God does: and if He sees
that we do it _because_ He has bid us deny ourselves, He will be
pleased with us.

Our Lord now departed from the temple, and as he went out "his
disciples came to him, for to show him, the buildings of the temple";
that is, to draw His attention to the strength of the walls, and the
size of the stones used in building it; as if they thought it almost
impossible that one stone should not be left upon another. But Jesus
again assured them that the temple, as well as the city, should be
utterly destroyed.

Jesus then spake of the misery that would come upon the Jews, when the
destruction of their city should take place. From this, He went on to
speak of the end of the world, which must surely take place some day
or other: and He warned them, that as no man could know when this
event would take place, it was necessary that every one should be
prepared to meet their God.

Let us remember this: let each one of us try to live every day as if
it was to be our last. Many things He spake, to enforce the duty of
watching, so as to be always ready.

In order to impress more strongly upon His disciples the dreadful
consequence of not being ready, when the Lord should come to judge the
world, Jesus told them the parable of the Ten Virgins, five of whom
were wise, and five foolish. These latter were shut out from the
marriage; and Jesus showed how this parable applied to all men, by
saying, "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour
wherein the Son of man cometh."

Again, to show them the necessity of being found at the last day,
doing the will of God, and improving the talents committed to our
care, Jesus told His disciples another parable of the Servants and the
Talents; greatly resembling one spoken before, as given by St. Luke,
chap. xix. He likewise showed His disciples, that though here all men
seem to go on much alike, so that it is often difficult to know who
are really serving God with all their hearts, and who are not, there
will be no difficulty in the last day, when the godly and the ungodly
shall be as easily divided, "as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the
goats": and that while the Lord would take the one to live with Him
for ever, the others should go away into everlasting punishment. Jesus
also declared, that one way of gaining the favour of God, was by doing
acts of kindness and self-denial, to help our suffering fellow
creatures.

All these discourses, which followed the last cleansing of the temple,
seem to have been uttered on the Tuesday in Passion Week. "And in the
day time he was teaching in the temple; and at night he went out, and
abode in the mount, that is called the mount of Olives;" at Bethany,
as is generally believed. We have now come to the Wednesday in Passion
Week, two days before the feast of the Passover, called also the feast
of unleavened bread. Jesus, to prepare His disciples for what was
about to happen, said unto them, "Ye know that after two days is the
feast of the Passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be
crucified."

"Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the
Passover. Then assembled together the Chief Priests and the Scribes,
and the elders of the people" (who had long sought to destroy Jesus),
"unto the palace of the High Priest, who was called Caiaphas, and
consulted how they might take Jesus by craft and put him to death,"
without causing any uproar among the people. If once they could
contrive to deliver Him up as a prisoner to the Roman governor, there
would be no possibility of His being rescued by the people.

The Priests and elders were now offered help from an unexpected
quarter. "Then entered Satan into Judas, surnamed Iscariot, being of
the number of the twelve." Judas had probably taken offence at what
Jesus said, when Mary anointed His feet: he was a bad man, without any
real love for his Master; and instead of fighting against the sinful
lusts or desires of his own heart, he indulged them, and so let the
Devil enter in, and lead him to betray the Lord. "And he went his way
unto the Chief Priests, and communed with them how he might betray him
unto them. And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will
deliver him unto you? And when they heard it they were glad, and
promised to give him money. And they covenanted (or agreed with him)
for thirty pieces of silver." Thirty shekels or pieces of silver
(worth about 3_l._ 11_s._), was the sum which Moses had commanded to
be paid by the owner of any beast, which had by accident killed the
slave of another man: thus, in every respect, did Christ take upon Him
the form and condition of a servant or slave.

Judas having consented to sell the life of his Master for thirty
shekels, "from that time sought opportunity how he might conveniently
betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude." It is a
terrible thing when a man is so hardened, as to watch for an
opportunity of committing a crime! That, indeed, is wilful sin. The
next day, Thursday, was "the first day of unleavened bread, when they
killed the Passover. The disciples came and said unto Jesus, Where
wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the Passover?
And He sendeth forth two of his disciples, Peter and John, saying, Go
ye into the city; and behold when ye are entered into the city, there
shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: follow him into the
house where he entereth in; and say ye to the good man (or owner) of
the house, The Master saith unto thee, My time is at hand; I will keep
the Passover at thy house: Where is the guest chamber, where I shall
eat the Passover with my disciples? And he will show you a large
upper room furnished and prepared: there make ready for us. And his
disciples went forth and came into the city, and found as He had said
unto them: and they made ready the Passover." What a strengthening of
the Apostles' faith this must have been: He who could thus foretell
all, even the most trifling events, must be God indeed. The blessed
thought that God knows and governs all things, should make us trust in
Him, and do our duty without any fear of the consequences.



Chapter XXXI.--MODE OF CELEBRATING THE PASSOVER.


In order to a better understanding of all that the Gospels tell us of
the Last Supper, it will be well to see how the Jews at that time kept
the Passover.

In the first place, on the day when the Paschal Lamb was to be killed
and eaten, the Jews were to put away out of their houses all leaven or
yeast, and live for a whole week on cakes made of unleavened dough:
hence the Feast of the Passover was also called the "Feast of
unleavened bread."

1. When the guests were assembled in the evening to eat the Passover,
the ceremonies began, by the master of the house giving to each one a
cup of wine mixed with water, saying at the same time, "Blessed be He
that created the fruit of the vine": then they all gave thanks and
drank the wine.

2. All the guests after drinking the wine, washed their hands; and
then the three things ordered by the Law of Moses, were placed on
the table before the master of the house. These three things were,
the Paschal Lamb roasted whole; two cakes of unleavened bread; and
a dish of bitter herbs. To these were added the remains of the
peace-offerings offered the day before, and some other meats; also a
thick sour sauce, intended to remind the Jews of the bricks made by
their forefathers in Egypt.

The master of the house, or whoever took the direction of the feast,
then ate, and gave to each of the guests a small piece of lettuce; at
the same time blessing God for the fruits of the earth; afterwards
each person present, ate a bit of the unleavened bread dipped in the
bitter herbs.

3. In the third place, all the dishes were taken off the table, and
the children, who were not of age to keep the feast, were called in:
the meaning of the Feast was then explained to them, in obedience to
the commandment of the Lord, spoken by Moses, saying, "And it shall
come to pass when ye be come to the land which the Lord will give you,
and your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service?
that ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord's Passover, Who
passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when He
smote the Egyptians and delivered our houses."

4. After the young people had been duly taught, the supper was, in the
fourth place, again set upon the table. Each person then, in turn,
lifted up the bitter herbs and the unleavened cakes, and afterwards
joined in declaring, that they ate them in remembrance of the bondage
in Egypt, and the deliverance from it: then they praised God, by
singing the 113th and 114th Psalms; and having blessed the Lord, a
second cup of wine was drunk.

5. In the fifth place, the guests again washed their hands; and then
the master of the family took the two unleavened cakes, broke one of
them into pieces, and placed the broken pieces on the top of the whole
cake: after this, he blessed it; and each person taking one of the
broken pieces with some of the bitter herbs, dipped them into the sour
sauce, and ate them; they then blessed God again. Thanks were now
given over the remains of the yesterday's peace-offering, and some of
that eaten. The next step was to give thanks over the Paschal Lamb, of
which all partook. The Passover Feast was now, in fact, finished; but
the Jews made the supper last longer, by eating any other food they
liked; always taking care to _finish_ by swallowing a little morsel of
lamb, as after partaking of that, they were not supposed to eat
anything more that night.

6. In the sixth place, the hands were washed for the third time; and
the master of the house said a blessing over a third cup of wine,
which was then drunk by each guest. This third cup of wine was
commonly called the "Cup of Blessing." A fourth cup of wine was then
mixed with water; and over this, certain Psalms, from the 115th to
118th inclusive, were sung; and then a prayer concluded the whole
ceremony.

This was the manner in which the Jews kept the Passover Feast, when
Jesus ate it with His disciples. When Jerusalem was destroyed, the
Jews who were forced to go and live in other lands, could not
sacrifice the lambs in a proper manner; and therefore they used to put
a bit of unleavened bread under a napkin, and keep it for a last
mouthful, instead of the morsel of lamb.

In the impossibility of continuing to carry out the ordinances of the
Ceremonial Law, after the death of Jesus, we see the Hand of God,
fulfilling His Word.

The Passover was a type of Christ--signifying the deliverance of His
people from bondage to the Devil. When Christ had come, and once for
all made atonement as the Lamb of God, a ceremony to _prefigure_ His
sacrifice was out of place. Another rite was instituted, "in thankful
remembrance of His death." But the Jews, who would not believe that
Christ was the true Passover, endeavoured, and still do endeavour, to
observe that Law which He has done away with.

"And in the evening Jesus cometh with the twelve, and when the hour
was come, he sat down, and the twelve Apostles with him." Then He told
them plainly that this was the last Passover He should eat on earth;
saying, "With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you
before I suffer; for I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof,
until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God." Then when Jesus, as
Master of the family, had given the first cup to the disciples, "He
gave thanks and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: for I
say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the
kingdom of God shall come." Jesus being the true Lamb of God, now
about to be sacrificed for the deliverance of His people, would not
Himself partake of things, only appointed as _signs_ or _types_ of
what He was to accomplish by the sacrifice of Himself. When the
supper, or some part of it, was ended, there arose some strife or
dispute amongst the disciples, as to "which of them should be
accounted the greatest."

For this Jesus gently rebuked them; and then, wishing to set them an
example of humbleness and kindness, "He riseth from supper, and laid
aside his garments; and took a towel and girded himself:" that is, He
took off His robe or upper garment, and then bound His other garments
round him with a towel, as was usually done by those who served, or
waited upon others. "After that he poureth water into a basin and
began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel
wherewith he was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter;" but he,
believing that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, could not bear the idea
of His acting a servant's part, and objected, saying "Lord, dost thou
wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest
not now; but thou shalt know hereafter." These words should have
overcome all doubts and scruples; but in his anxiety and zeal for what
he considered to be the glory of the Lord, Peter quite lost sight of
his own duty, which was to be obedient in all things, and hastily
exclaimed, "Thou shalt never wash my feet."

Peter was quickly recalled to a sense of his fault, for "Jesus
answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me." Such a
declaration might well alarm Peter, who really loved his Lord, and
wished to serve Him; and in his zeal he rushed into the opposite
extreme, and cried out, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and
my head." But true and perfect obedience is _doing exactly_, as _we
are told_, neither more nor less; and of this Peter was reminded by
Jesus, who "saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash
his feet, but is clean every whit."

But these words of our Lord had a further meaning. By washing their
feet, Jesus meant to teach His disciples, that as washing with water
was necessary to cleanse the body, so holiness and purity were
necessary to cleanse the soul: and that as through Him alone they
could receive the latter, He now used that "outward and visible sign"
as a type, or proof, of "the inward and spiritual grace" He would give
to them. By washing the feet _only_, Jesus signified, that those who
through faith and repentance were by His mercy cleansed from their
sins, and redeemed from the curse by His sacrifice, would only in
future need to be cleansed from such sins, as the weakness and frailty
of man cause him daily to fall into: just as a guest, who after making
himself clean to come to a feast, would only need, on his arrival, to
wash off the dust which must settle on his bare feet during his walk.

To the words thus spoken to Peter, Jesus added, "And ye are clean, but
not all": for knowing the hearts of all, He thus showed that the sin
of Judas was not hid from Him: the disciples naturally would not
understand these words, except Judas, whose conscience ought to have
reproached him. "After Jesus had washed their feet, and had taken his
garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I
have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so
I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also
ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example,
that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto
you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent
greater than he that sent him."

These words are too plain to require much comment. Washing the feet,
was looked upon as the business of the lowest servant; and by taking
such an office upon Himself, the Lord and Master of all, Jesus taught
the disciples and all of us, that it can never be beneath us to do any
kind office in our power, to help our fellow creatures. Let us ever
remember, that Jesus Christ came upon earth not only to be a
"sacrifice for our sins," but also "an ensample (or example) of godly
life"; and that it is our duty as well as our happiness, to try in
everything to follow His example where He has set us one; and in other
matters, to think _how_, under the circumstances, _He would have been
likely_ to act, that we may do the same. This is, indeed, to follow
Christ; and so following we shall enter into His kingdom in Heaven.



Chapter XXXII.--THE LAST SUPPER.


"And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said, Verily, verily, I say unto
you, that one of you which eateth with me shall betray me: behold, the
hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table." The disciples,
hearing this, "began to be exceeding sorrowful, and to enquire among
themselves, which of them it was that should do this thing: and one by
one, they asked him, Lord, is it I? and another said, Is it I?"

It was well for the disciples to be sorrowful, and fearful of doing
wrong. When we hear of sin committed, we should never say or think, "I
am sure _I_ should not do this, or that"; because we do not know what
we might do, if we were tempted as others have been. Let us, on the
contrary, when we hear of others falling into sin, watch and pray the
more earnestly, that we may never be led to do anything which we know
to be wrong.

In answer to the question asked by each one of the disciples, Jesus
repeated what He had said, that one of them should betray Him; and
"said unto them, It is one of the twelve that dippeth with me in the
dish; the same shall betray me." And then He told them that, although
He came on earth on purpose to die, yet the man who sinfully betrayed
Him would bring upon himself the utmost wrath of God. "The Son of man,
indeed, goeth as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the
Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not
been born. Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom
he spake." But though eleven of the disciples knew not the meaning of
their Lord's words, there was one who could have had no doubt upon the
subject--one who had sold himself to do evil, and was only waiting for
a convenient opportunity to execute his wicked purpose. Even now he
might have taken warning, and given up his guilty purpose; but no: he
had listened to the Devil, and his heart was hardened against Jesus.

According to the custom in those times, when people did not _sit_ as
we do to their meals, but lay upon couches, so that one guest leant
upon the one next to him, John, who was next to Jesus, was leaning on
Jesus's bosom. John is always spoken of as "the disciple whom Jesus
loved"; showing that he was, as a man, especially dear to his Master,
in consequence of which, doubtless, his place at supper was next to
that of Jesus.

Simon Peter, always eager and active, now beckoned, or made signs, to
John, "that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake. He then,
lying on Jesus's breast, saith unto him, Lord, who is it? Jesus
answered, He it is to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it.
And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son
of Simon. And after the sop Satan entered into him,"--that is, gained
more entire possession of his soul; as will always be the case when we
once listen to the Devil. What our Lord said to John does not appear
to have been heard by any of the other disciples. Judas himself now
dared to ask, "Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast
said,"--which was a most solemn form of saying "Yes." Jesus then said
unto Judas, "That thou doest do quickly." Judas immediately left the
company, and went out.

Even then the other disciples do not seem to have understood that
Judas was the traitor. St. John tells us, that "no man at the table
knew for what intent he spake this unto him. For some of them thought,
because Judas had the bag (or common purse), that Jesus had said unto
him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or that
he should give something to the poor."

There were still sacrifices needed for the remaining days of the
feast.

After Judas was gone out, Jesus told the disciples that, as in His
life He had glorified the Father, He was now about to glorify Him
still farther by his death. Then he bade them love one another, as He
had loved them: and this He called "a new commandment," because the
love of His followers for one another, was to be something very
different from what the Jews taught and practised.

Jesus then warned Peter, that Satan would tempt him, but that He had
prayed for him that his faith might not entirely fail, although he
would fall into sin: and He charged him, when he should have recovered
himself, to strengthen the faith of others. Peter had not yet learned
the lesson of humility, which would have made him distrust himself. He
knew that he loved his Master, and therefore he fancied, that for His
sake he could bear and do anything. Instead, therefore, of being
filled with fear at this warning, he exclaimed, "Lord, I am ready to
go with thee both into prison and to death." And Jesus said, "I tell
thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day before that thou shalt
thrice deny that thou knowest me."

The Jewish day was reckoned from one sunset to another. The Passover
was always eaten in the evening; and thus a new day was beginning when
Jesus spake these words.

Jesus next asked the disciples, whether they had lacked or wanted
anything when He sent them to teach throughout the country, taking
with them neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes. They answered, that
they had wanted for nothing. "Then said he unto them, But now, he that
hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip; and he that
hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. For I say unto
you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he
was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me
have an end,"--an end or object,--that is, everything which the
prophets had spoken concerning the circumstances of our Saviour's
Passion, was intended to fulfil some especial purpose, and therefore
all must be exactly fulfilled. In answer to what Jesus said, the
disciples "said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto
them, It is enough."

Simon Peter appears still not to have understood that his Master's
death was at hand, for "he said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou?
Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but
thou shalt follow me afterwards." Peter was not to die with his Lord;
but he did afterwards follow Him indeed, for he was crucified some
years after, in the reign of the Emperor Nero. Peter, as usual in his
zeal and self-confidence, lost sight of the fact, that his duty was to
believe and acquiesce without questioning and gainsaying: he needed
the severe lesson he received afterwards, to teach him this. Now, in
his love for his Master, "he said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow
thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake. Jesus answered him,
Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto
thee, The cock shall not crow till thou has denied me thrice."

We now come to a very important event in the life of our Saviour,
namely, His instituting another Feast, or Ceremony, to take the place
of the Passover. The Passover was a means of reminding the Jews of a
past bodily deliverance, and also of keeping them in remembrance of
the promised Messiah, who _was to come_, and deliver them from
spiritual bondage.

When the Messiah had actually come and finished His work, it would no
longer be right to keep the Passover, as given to Moses. Jesus
therefore, in doing away with this Feast, gave to His disciples
another, which was for ever to remind men of all He had done for them.
This Holy Feast we call "The Lord's Supper," "The Eucharist," or
giving of thanks, "The Communion" of His blessed body and blood. "The
Lord's Supper" is one of the Two Sacraments which Christ hath ordained
in His Church. The other is Baptism, whereby we are admitted into
Christ's Church. This is only partaken of once; just as in the natural
world a child can only be born once. The Lord's Supper, on the
contrary, should be partaken of constantly; just as we daily eat and
drink to keep ourselves alive. But children do not partake of this
Sacrament until they are old enough to understand its nature, and to
fight for themselves against the world, the flesh, and the Devil.

The Four Gospels do not give us exactly the same account of what took
place at the institution of the Lord's Supper. Some mention one thing,
and some another; and therefore it is difficult to say _the order_ in
which the events took place: that is however, of little consequence,
since we are sure that everything they do tell us, did happen during
the Last Supper which Jesus ate with His disciples.

"As they were eating,"--probably at that part of the Feast when the
master of the family broke one of the unleavened cakes (see 5, p.
123),--"Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to
the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body, which is given
for you: this do in remembrance of me."

They were to look upon this bread as the body of Christ, sacrificed
for them; and in the same spirit they were to eat bread in a solemn
manner, from time to time, in remembrance of all the blessings which
Jesus purchased for mankind, by giving up His body, or His human life,
for our redemption.

"Likewise also, after supper, he took the cup,"--probably that one
called the Cup of Blessing (see 6, p. 123),--"and when he had given
thanks, he gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it: and they all
drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new
testament. This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed
for you and for many, for the remission of sins."

The wine in the cup was to be taken as a memorial, or remembrance, of
that New Covenant, or agreement, made between God and man, by the
shedding of that precious blood wherewith the Saviour blotted out our
sins.

The Old Covenant of works, made by God with the Children of Israel,
was now done away with. The New Covenant of Grace was to take its
place. In this New Covenant, God promised, that as Jesus bore our
punishment, and washed out our sins with His atoning blood, we for His
sake should be looked upon as righteous, because He was righteous: our
part of this New Covenant being to repent and forsake our sins, and
have such faith in Christ as will constantly show itself by our trying
to please Him, and prove our love by doing His will.



Chapter XXXIII.--JESUS IN THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE.


Our blessed Lord loved His disciples to the end; and in order that
they might remember all the blessings secured to them by His death on
the Cross, He appointed the "outward and visible sign," of eating
bread and drinking wine, which were to figure, or represent to their
minds, His body and blood thus given for them: but not given for them
_only_, but for all mankind; and therefore it is just as necessary for
all Christians to remember these things.

We consequently find, that ever since that last Supper, when Jesus
said, "Do this in remembrance of me," Christians _have_ constantly
done the same thing, that Christ then commanded His disciples to do.
We, as members of Christ's Holy Church, continue to receive bread and
wine in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, in token of our belief,
that the body of Jesus was broken and His blood shed for us; and that
we thereby hope, "that our sinful bodies may be made clean by His
body, and our souls washed through His most precious blood."

When you are of an age to partake of the blessed Sacrament of the
Lord's Supper, you will learn more about it: mean time do not forget
that it was appointed by Jesus Christ, only a few hours before He made
that sacrifice of Himself, which we commemorate, or remember, in this
solemn service.

After the institution of the Lord's Supper, Jesus told His disciples
(John xiv.) that though He was about to leave them, it was for their
good that He should go; because then the Holy Spirit would come upon
them, to teach and comfort them: and that if they believed in Him, and
followed in the way that He had already pointed out, they should abide
with Him in heaven. He likewise declared, that all who professed to
love Him must show their love by keeping His commandments. Jesus,
having spoken these things, said, "Arise, let us go hence." And when
"they had sung an hymn," according to the custom at the Passover,
where Psalms were sung after the fourth cup of wine, Jesus came out,
and went, as he was wont, "to the Mount of Olives; and his disciples
followed him."

Here again Jesus spake many things to the disciples--(John xv., xvi.).
He compared Himself to a vine, and His disciples to the branches. He
is the root, without which there can be no tree: as long as the
branches remain part of the tree, they receive nourishment from the
root, and bring forth fruit: but if the branches are cut off, and so
separated from the root, they wither and die, and are of no use except
to be burned. In the same way all who will be His disciples, must by
faith abide in Him as their root; doing His will, copying His
example, and so bringing forth the fruit of good works to the glory of
God.

Amongst other things, Jesus spake to the disciples of prayer; and
promised that God would give them whatsoever they should ask in His
Name. He also warned them, that if they faithfully followed His
precepts and obeyed His commands, they would in this world meet with
troubles, and be cruelly treated and even killed, by those who would
not believe in Him. The enemies of Jesus, those who knew not Him Who
sent Him, would persecute His faithful servants for their Master's
sake. Having warned His disciples that they must suffer for the sake
of their faith, Jesus bid them fear nothing so long as they continued
to love and serve Him: for whilst they did so, God would bless and
comfort them, and finally take them to Himself in heaven. "In the
world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome
the world." Now all that Jesus said to His disciples was meant for
_all_ His followers in all times, even unto the end of the world.

Such promises and hopes have supported the "noble army of martyrs,"
who in the early ages of the Church suffered tortures, and died the
most cruel death, rather than give up, or even _pretend_ to give up,
their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The same spirit should be in us:
we are not called to martyrdom as were the holy men of old; but should
the Lord allow it to be so again, should we be ready so to suffer for
our religion? But let us ask ourselves another question, of more
practical importance at the present time: Are we willing to give up
_anything_ for the sake of pleasing Jesus? Do we give up our own
wishes and pleasures to please Him, Who bids us deny ourselves? Do we
try to conquer our evil tempers, passions, and inclinations, because
He has said, "Resist the Devil"? If we have anything like the spirit
which guided the martyrs, we shall force ourselves to be attentive and
industrious, when we feel careless and idle: obedient, when we feel
wilful and perverse; kind and generous, when we feel selfish: gentle
and patient, when we feel cross and irritable; and so on. This is no
easy task; no easy life. But we must remember Christ's warning, that
those who will be His faithful servants, _must_ meet with difficulties
and hindrances in their way. Let us then pray for the Holy Spirit, to
teach, and guide, and support us; so that, our hearts being filled
with faith and love, we "may never be ashamed to confess the faith of
Christ crucified, and manfully to fight under his banner, against sin,
the world, and the devil, and to continue Christ's faithful soldiers
and servants unto our life's end."

When Jesus had said these things, He lifted up His eyes to Heaven, and
prayed to His Father, to support Him through the coming trial; so that
He might glorify the Father, by securing the salvation of men. Then
Jesus prayed for the disciples who did already believe in Him, and
besought that they might be kept in His faith and love, and enabled to
teach others all that He had taught them.

Our Lord also prayed for all who should in after times learn true
religion from the teaching or writings of the Apostles, and so become
one of them, by having the same faith, the same wish to glorify God by
obedience to His holy Will. For all who do thus join themselves to
Him, Jesus prayed that they may be with Him in heaven. Our blessed
Lord thus prayed for us, and for all His followers in every age: and
He still prays for us, and intercedes for us in heaven. All Christians
are now one body, of which Christ is the Head; one vine, of which
Christ is the root; one flock, of which Christ is the Shepherd.

We call this body the Church of Christ; by Baptism we are taken into
this Church, and made part of this body; therefore, we must try always
to know and do the Will of our Head.

When Jesus had ended His prayer, He saith unto the disciples, "All ye
shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will
smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered
abroad. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into
Galilee."

By being "offended," Jesus meant that they would be afraid to own Him
as their Master, and would forsake Him: but to show them that He would
not punish their weakness by casting them off for ever, He told them
where they might see Him again, after He should have risen from the
dead.

Notwithstanding the warnings already received, Peter was still full of
self-confidence, and "answered and said unto him, Though all men shall
be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended." Why should
Peter have thought himself more likely than others to do right? Why
should any of us think so? Whenever we do thus depend upon ourselves
to do right, we are almost sure to fall into sin, for the Devil takes
advantage of our pride and self-conceit, to tempt us; and then God
frequently leaves us to ourselves, that from our fall we may learn by
painful experience our exceeding weakness and sinfulness. Jesus now
showed Peter, that though he thought himself so safe, he would do
worse than his fellow disciples; for "he saith unto him, Verily I say
unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow
twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Jesus said unto him, Verily, I
say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny
me thrice. Peter spake the more vehemently, and said unto him, Though
I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee in any wise. Likewise
also said all the disciples."

Poor Peter little knew himself! No doubt he and all the disciples felt
what they now said: but if men would bear in mind their weakness and
proneness to sin, they would never feel _sure_ of not doing wrong; but
would watch and pray, so that the Devil may get no advantage over
them. "When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his
disciples" from the place on the Mount of Olives, where they were,
"unto a place called Gethsemane, over the brook Cedron, where was a
garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples. And Judas also
knew the place, for Jesus oft-times resorted thither with his
disciples." Having entered into this garden with the eleven disciples,
Jesus saith unto eight of them, "Sit ye here while I go and pray
yonder. And he taketh with him Peter, and James and John, the two sons
of Zebedee, and when he was at the place" to which he had intended to
go, "he began to be sorrowful, and sore amazed, and to be very heavy."

Now began the mysterious, and most bitter part of our blessed Lord's
sufferings for sinful man. What those sufferings were, we do not
exactly know: they were not bodily, but spiritual; his soul suffered
such agony, as we can form little idea of: we only know that sin, the
sin of man, _our sin_, caused His sufferings; and that the holy and
righteous Lord now bore for our sakes, all the agony that is the fruit
of sin. It seems likely that at this time the Devil and his evil
spirits again attacked Jesus, and tried by every means in their power
to prevail upon Him not to finish His work, even the salvation of man,
but to spare _Himself_, and leave His guilty creatures to the fearful
consequences of their sins. In His agony, prayer was our Lord's
refuge; and feeling the necessity of being alone with God, that He
might freely pour out His soul before Him, "he saith unto the three
who accompanied him, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death:
tarry ye here and watch with me." Thus He asked them to help Him with
their prayers; setting, in His human nature, an example for all men to
follow. Then, knowing the power and malice of the Devil, Jesus added a
caution to pray for themselves, that they might not be led into sin,
by any temptation which should come upon them; "he saith unto them
Pray, that ye enter not into temptation."



Chapter XXXIV.--JESUS BETRAYED.


When Jesus had cautioned Peter, James and John, to watch and pray, "he
went forward a little, and was withdrawn from them about a stone's
cast, and kneeled down and prayed"; in the earnestness of His prayer,
"he fell on his face on the ground, and prayed that, if it were
possible, the hour might pass from him." It was not the death upon the
cross which Jesus prayed might pass from Him: human martyrs have borne
bodily sufferings and cruel deaths, supported by the grace of God; and
though in His human nature Christ might well shrink from the pain of
Crucifixion, He was ready to give His body for our redemption.

But his sufferings in the garden of Gethsemane, were far beyond what
any human being could suffer, or than we can understand. His heavenly
Father saw fit to let Him suffer for a time, all the unspeakable agony
which the just anger of God can lay upon the impenitent soul. And we
may well believe that this agony was a hundred-fold increased for Him,
Who was thereby to redeem countless myriads of souls. And might not
this terrible agony be increased, by the foreknowledge that, in spite
of His tremendous sacrifice, men would reject Him as a Saviour, and
persevere in sin; until by their impenitence, they too would share
those horrible agonies which for a time were laid upon Him, that by
enduring them, He might save all men from so terrible a condition?
When we thus consider of what nature Christ's sufferings in the garden
of Gethsemane were, we can fully understand the prayer, that such an
hour might pass from Him. But mark His inconceivable love, as shown in
the words, "if it were possible"; that is, if man's redemption could
possibly be secured without his passing through such dreadful agony;
if that were _not_ possible, then He was willing even to undergo that
awful and mysterious extremity of suffering.

Let us not pass on without taking a practical lesson from what has
been said: what made our Lord undergo such agony for us? Love. Then,
if He so loved us, what should be our feelings towards Him? Love.
Truly, love; sincere, heartfelt love; love that will show itself. But
how? Hear His own words, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." This
let us ever strive to do; and so, through the mediation of Jesus,
shall we escape those agonies, which for us He endured in the garden
of Gethsemane.

Jesus prostrate on the ground, prayed in the agony of His soul, and
said, "Abba, Father--O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass
from me: all things are possible unto thee: if thou be willing, remove
this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine be done." All
through this dreadful scene of agony, our blessed Lord sets us an
example of perfect submission to His Father's Will, however much that
Will may be contrary to our wishes and desires: this example we should
do well to follow, in every time of trouble. We may pray, that God
will, if He sees fit, remove from us the affliction or sorrow which we
feel or fear; but, at the same time, our hearts must be perfectly
submissive to His Will, and willing to continue to bear the suffering,
should He not see fit to take it away from us. In this spirit our Lord
in His human nature prayed to God; but though God saw fit to let Him
for a time suffer all the agony which sin brings on man, He did
vouchsafe to send Him some comfort, in this bitter time of trial; for
"there appeared an angel unto Him from heaven, strengthening him," to
complete His work.

"And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as
it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he
rose up from prayer, he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them
sleeping from sorrow."

Had they obeyed the words of their Lord, to watch and pray, their
sorrow would not at such a time have made them sleep. But they had
failed to do this; and Satan, who _is_ ever watchful, had doubtless
taken advantage of this, and tempted them to sit thinking sorrowfully
of all that was coming upon their beloved Master, instead of obeying
His command, to watch and pray. Overcome with such sad thoughts, they
fell into a sort of stupor or heavy sleep, and were thus found by
Jesus when He returned to them. He awoke them, and "said unto them,
Why sleep ye? Simon, sleepest thou? What, could ye not watch with me
one hour?" Peter had but lately declared his readiness to do some
great thing, to give up his life for Jesus; and now he fails in doing
a little thing, merely praying for one hour. This is another proof of
man's weakness, and of the danger of self-confidence. Again our Lord
repeated the needful warning, "Watch ye, rise and pray, that ye enter
not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is
weak." Our Lord, who knew the weakness of man's nature, was thus
merciful to the failing of His disciples: but let us remember, that
the more we are convinced of the weakness of the flesh, and how it
hinders the spirit, the more earnestly must we strive to overcome it,
and be led by the spirit only.

"And Jesus went away again the second time, and prayed, and spake the
same words, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me
except I drink it, thy will be done. And when he returned, he found
them asleep again (for their eyes were heavy), neither wist they what
to answer him. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the
third time, saying the same words."

"Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now,
and take your rest; it is enough, the hour is come: behold the Son of
man is betrayed into the hands of sinners."

By this Jesus meant, that they had lost the opportunity of watching
with Him; they could no longer show any kindness by praying for Him:
He would no longer ask them to do this, for the time was come, when He
was to be given up to His enemies. Jesus did not mean that the
disciples were actually to lie still and sleep; for He added
immediately, "Rise up, let us go; lo, he that betrayeth me is at hand.
And immediately, while he yet spake, Judas, one of the twelve, having
received a band of men and officers from the Chief Priests and
Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns, and torches, and weapons."
Upon reading this passage, if we think at all, it must appear strange
that as the moon was at the full, it should have been necessary to
take lanterns and torches, as the light of the full moon in those
countries, is far too bright to need any other. But travellers tell
us, that in fact the light of the full moon only made the garden of
Gethsemane _darker_, for it is situated on the slope of the Mount of
Olives, away from the moon; that is, the moon at the time of the
Passover rises behind the Mount of Olives, and thus casts the shadow
of the mountain upon the garden of Gethsemane; so that whilst all
surrounding parts were lighted up, there was complete darkness amongst
the trees in the garden of Gethsemane. Judas, well knowing this, had
been careful to procure lanterns and torches, to render the execution
of his purpose easy; and now, leading the way, he cometh, "and with
him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the Chief Priests,
and the Scribes, and the elders of the people. Now he that betrayed
Him had given them a token," whereby the servants of the High Priests
might surely know which was Jesus. Judas had told them, "Whomsoever I
shall kiss, that same is he; take him, hold him fast, and lead him
away safely." A kiss was in those times a common form of salutation;
and a sign or token of respect and regard: Judas Iscariot now made use
of it for a very different purpose.

"And as soon as he was come," with his band, into the garden, "he went
before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him. And forthwith he
came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him. And Jesus said
unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Judas, betrayest thou the
Son of man with a kiss?" Jesus did not ask this question because He
needed to be told; but in order to give Judas another warning against
the sin he was about to commit.

The officers did not immediately lay hold upon Jesus; we can well
believe that His calm and dignified behaviour, and His question to
Judas, struck them with awe.

But Jesus, knowing all things that should come upon Him, now showed
his readiness to do his Father's Will: for "he went forth and said
unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus
saith unto them, I am he." As soon then as He had said unto them I am
He they went backward, and fell to the ground: whether in fear or out
of respect, we are not told; but in any case their behaviour made it
clear that the Saviour's sacrifice was a voluntary act; for He could
certainly, even as a man, have escaped. "Then asked he them again,
Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered, I have
told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their
way." Even at such a moment, Jesus took care for His disciples, that
they might not suffer with Him: "that the saying might be fulfilled
which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me I have lost none."

By this time, the officers seem to have recovered from their surprise
and alarm: "Then came they and laid hands on Jesus, and took him." The
disciples now seem to have thought that it was time for them to use
the two swords, which they had brought for the deliverance of their
Master. "And behold one of them which were with Jesus, Simon Peter,
having a sword, stretched out his hand and drew his sword, and struck
a servant of the High Priest's and smote off his ear; the servant's
name was Malchus." "And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far."
These words seem to have been addressed to the Roman soldiers, who
would naturally be made very angry by such an occurrence taking place;
therefore he asked for their forbearance; though he at once removed
the cause of complaint--"for he touched the ear of the wounded man,
and healed him."



Chapter XXXV.--JESUS TAKEN BEFORE ANNAS AND CAIAPHAS.


After He had healed Malchus, Jesus said unto Peter, "Put up again thy
sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish
with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and
he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how
then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? The cup
which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?" Here Jesus
plainly declares that He _gave_ Himself to fulfil the Scriptures,
which declared, that in no other way could man be redeemed from the
curse of the Law. His sufferings and death were the means appointed by
the Father for the redemption of man; but His sufferings and death
were voluntary--no man could _take_ His life unless He chose to give
it. He _could_ have saved Himself, but then His work would have been
unfinished, and mankind for ever lost. Therefore was He willing to
drink the cup which His father had given Him. "In that same hour Jesus
answered and said unto the Chief Priests and captains of the temple,
and to the multitudes, and to the elders, which were come to him, Are
ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me?
I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on
me: ye stretched forth no hands against me: but the Scriptures must be
fulfilled; this is your hour and the power of darkness."

Here, again, Jesus showed that those who came against Him, could only
succeed because the time was now come, when they were allowed to
execute their wicked purposes, "that the Scriptures of the prophets
might be fulfilled."

Jesus Christ had now given Himself into the hands of His enemies: the
disciples seeing this, and being perhaps afraid of sharing His fate,
did the very thing they had lately thought impossible when their Lord
had warned them of it. "Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled."
"Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus,
and bound him, and led him away to Annas first; for he was
father-in-law to Caiaphas, which was the High Priest that same year."

It has already been said that the Romans had made Caiaphas High Priest
instead of Annas. Annas had filled that office for eleven years, and
ought to have continued in it as long as he lived: but the Romans, who
had no regard to the Jewish Law, had made this change.

The Jews, however, had a great respect for Annas as their rightful
High Priest; and in spite of the Romans they still considered and
treated him as such; and therefore, in the first place, they took
Jesus before him, that he might advise them as to what was next to be
done.

As they were on their way, leading their prisoner, "there followed him
a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body":
this young man felt sufficient interest in Jesus to follow Him; "but
when," for some reason which we are not told, "the young men" who
guarded the Lord, "laid hold on him," he gave a further proof of the
fear which now prevailed amongst all the disciples and followers of
Jesus; for "he left the linen cloth" upon which they had laid hold,
"in their hands," and so escaping, "fled from them naked."

This young man seems to have been clothed in the manner common to the
poorer sort of people in those days. Even in later times travellers
tell us, that in some places the Arabs only wear a large blanket or
sheet, wrapped round them in a peculiar manner; and that the same
thing is done in some parts of Palestine also. Annas, it would seem,
sent Jesus at once to Caiaphas; no doubt fear of the Romans who had
unlawfully deprived him of his dignity, prevented his exercising that
authority, which by the law of God still belonged to him, and to him
only: so he sent Jesus away at once. "Then they took him, and led him
away to Caiaphas the High Priest. (Now Caiaphas was he, which gave
counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for
the people)." Jesus was then brought into the High Priest's house,
where were assembled with him all the Chief Priests and Scribes;
evidently waiting for the return of those whom they had sent out,
under the guidance of Judas Iscariot, to take Jesus. Mean time, Peter
and John had so far recovered themselves, as to venture to follow
Jesus at a distance: for they really loved their Master, and were
anxious to learn what would become of Him. "And Simon Peter followed
Jesus afar off, unto the High Priest's palace, and so did another
disciple: that disciple was known unto the High Priest, and went in
with Jesus into the palace of the High Priest." "That disciple" here
spoken of, was John, who himself gives us the account of the matter.
He was in some way known to Caiaphas, and was therefore allowed to go
into the palace. "But Peter stood at the door without." John, who had
been admitted into the High Priest's palace, was not one of those
selfish people who care only for their own comfort: he thought of
Peter standing outside, and went out and spake unto the young woman,
who, according to the custom of the Hebrews, kept the door or acted as
porter; and in consequence she "brought in Peter," who joined the
servants and attendants: "and when they had kindled a fire in the
midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among
them, and warmed himself at the fire; and sat with the servants to see
the end."

Though the month Abib, which answers to our April, is very much warmer
in Palestine than it is here, still the nights are often very cold;
and a gentleman who travelled in Galilee tells us, that even in the
month of May, an Arab chief who entertained him, had a fire lighted in
a ruined building for them to sit by, because it was cold.

The fire now kindled by the attendants, though in the same hall, was
no doubt at some distance from that part where Jesus was standing
before the High Priest; whilst John, being known to Caiaphas, was
probably standing much nearer to his beloved Master.

"The High Priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his
doctrine. Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever
taught in the synagogue and in the temple, whither the Jews always
resort; and in secret have I said nothing"; that is, He had said
nothing in secret contrary to what He had taught in public, and
therefore instead of now answering such questions, Jesus referred
Caiaphas to those who, having heard Him, were able to bear witness as
to what He had said. "Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me,
what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said. When he had
thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the
palm of his hand (or with a rod which he held in his hand), saying,
Answerest thou the High Priest so?" Jesus quietly rebuked this man,
showing that if he had said or done what was wrong, the officer should
have accused Him of it in a proper way, and not have struck Him,
contrary to the law, which forbids any one to be treated as guilty
until proved to be so. "Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil,
bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou me?"

The Jews knew very well that they could not ask the Romans to put
Jesus to death, unless they could find some fault to lay to His
charge: they must get persons to witness or declare, that He had done
things for which He deserved to die; and they well knew that no one
could with truth do this. Therefore, "the Chief Priests, and elders,
and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus to put him to
death; but found none" to answer their purpose: "yea, though many
false witnesses came, yet found they none," whose testimony would be
sufficient: "for many bear false witness against him, but their
witness agreed not together." No man could be put to death unless two
witnesses gave testimony as to his guilt: if witnesses speak the
truth, their testimony must be the same: but naturally when witnesses
tell lies, one will say one thing and one another, and therefore the
words of these men who spake against Jesus, "agreed not together."

The sin of the Chief Priests and elders was very great; they _sought_
for false witnesses: unhappily, there never is any difficulty in
finding men who care so little for what is right, that for a bribe or
reward they are ready to tell lies; but if liars are the children of
the Devil, what must those be who _encourage_ them, and almost force
them to speak untruly? "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy
neighbour," is one of the commandments: let us be very careful not to
break this commandment, even unintentionally. We may not _mean_ to say
what is _not_ true, and we may not _mean_ to make mischief; but we
shall certainly do both, unless we are very careful always to repeat
_exactly_ what we see or hear, _adding_ nothing, and _leaving out
nothing_. Even the manner or tone of voice in which anything is said
or done, makes a difference. For instance, things may be done or said
in fun, and there may be no harm in them; but if you repeat them, as
if they were done or said in earnest, they may appear very wrong; and
so you will cause people to be blamed, and thought ill of, when they
do not deserve it.

There is, perhaps, no commandment which we all break more frequently
than the ninth--not wilfully; few, it is to be hoped, would act so
wickedly as to do that; but from carelessness: by chattering about
other peoples' concerns; repeating things when we are not _sure_ they
are true; telling tales; and so on. Our God is a God of truth: we are
told that He loves truth in the inward parts, that is, in the heart;
and therefore if we love Him, we shall always speak the truth from the
heart, and be very careful to tell the whole truth, and nothing but
the truth, even in the smallest matters. The perfect truth that God
requires, forbids deceit of all kinds. We may deceive others by our
actions, and even by our silence; but let us ever remember, that all
deception is in the eyes of God as the sin of lying, that sin which is
an abomination to the Lord.



Chapter XXXVI.--JESUS CONDEMNED BY CAIAPHAS.


"At the last came two false witnesses." They did not mean to speak the
truth; all that they wished was to please the Priests, who, far from
desiring them to speak truly, only wanted something to be said, which
would give them an excuse for having Jesus put to death. The two
witnesses who now came before them, furnished them with the pretence
they sought for: these men "bare false witness against him, saying, We
heard him say, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it
in three days. I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and
within three days I will build another made without hands."

Now this is an instance of bearing false witness, by misrepresenting
the words spoken, and twisting their meaning to something which they
were never intended to express. We have read that Jesus did say in
reference to His own body, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I
will raise it up." The Jews did not understand what He meant; but
that did not justify these witnesses in what they now said, for Jesus
had _not_ said, "I _will_ DESTROY this temple," nor had He said one
word of "_building_." These witnesses meant to make it appear, that
He had said that He would destroy the temple so dear to the Jews, and
that in three days He would _build_ another. "But neither so did
their witness agree together." The Priests and elders were, however,
too anxious to condemn Jesus, to be particular about that; for to
speak disrespectfully of the temple was looked upon as blasphemy,
and blasphemy was a crime to be punished with death. Blasphemy is
really speaking disrespectfully of the Majesty and Power of the
Almighty--Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and ascribing to man that
power which belongs to God alone.

After these two false witnesses had spoken, "the High Priest arose,
and stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, and said unto him,
Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?"

Our Lord would make no reply to charges which even His enemies must
have known to be false; and therefore He "held his peace, and answered
nothing. Again the High Priest asked him, Art thou the Christ, the Son
of the Blessed? I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us
whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God."

To "adjure" was to call upon a person to speak the truth in the Name
of God. Any one so _adjured_ was looked upon as bound by the most
solemn oath to speak the whole truth. When, therefore, the High Priest
called upon Jesus in this solemn manner to say whether He really was
the promised Messiah, the Son of God, our Lord kept silence no longer;
but in an equally solemn manner answered the question, adding words
spoken by the prophet Daniel--words always understood by the Jews to
be a prophecy respecting the Messiah: therefore, by applying this
prophecy to Himself, Jesus declared most plainly that He was indeed
the Messiah. In His answer to the High Priest, as to whether He was
the Christ, the Son of the Blessed God Almighty, Jesus used the Jewish
form of saying that what had been stated was true. "Jesus saith unto
him, Thou hast said"; and then He added, "I am: nevertheless I say
unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right
hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven."

"Then the High Priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken
blasphemy." The High Priest had asked his solemn question without any
intention of believing the answer: he must have felt sure what the
answer would be, and therefore he had asked the question, that he
might be able to accuse Jesus of claiming for Himself, a man, the
honour due to God alone. To show his grief and horror at such a
dreadful sin as blasphemy, he, according to the Jewish custom, rent
his robe.

Then appealing to those around him, Caiaphas asked, "What further need
have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What
think ye?"

There could be no doubt of the answer to such questions. The Priests,
and Scribes, and elders were bent upon destroying their victim; and
gladly seizing the opportunity now given them by the High Priest,
"They answered and said, He is guilty of death,"--that is, He is
guilty of a crime which the Law of Moses orders to be punished with
death. "And they all condemned him to be guilty of death."

The Priests and elders had now accomplished their work, as far as they
were concerned; but its final execution did not rest with them. Judæa
was a Roman province, and as such the Jews could put no man to death
without the permission of the Roman governor, who was at that time
Pontius Pilate. To obtain Pilate's consent was the next step to be
taken; and that the Jews determined to set about as soon as possible
in the morning. It was now about midnight of the Thursday--the day on
which Jesus had eaten the last Supper with His disciples. Some six or
seven hours must pass before Jesus could be taken before Pilate, and
this time the Jews occupied in ill using and mocking our innocent and
holy Lord.

The Priests and elders having passed sentence upon Jesus, now left Him
in the hands of the attendants and soldiers, who, as we have said,
passed the rest of the night in ill treating Him. "And the men that
held Jesus mocked him and smote him: and some began to spit on him,
and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him,
Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee? and the
servants did strike him with the palms of their hands."

To spit upon a person, was the greatest affront and indignity that
could be offered by one man to another: it signified the utmost scorn
and contempt. Then, in mockery of our blessed Lord's claim to be the
Messiah, the Son of God, He was blindfolded, and then desired to show
His divine power, by telling the names of those who struck Him on the
face. It is most painful to think of Jesus being so treated: for our
sakes He bore meekly and patiently this savage treatment. He might
with one word have put an end to it, and struck dead those who thus
insulted Him. But these indignities were a part of the cup appointed
for Him by the Father, and this cup He was ready to drink to the last
drop, for the redemption of man. Should we not love the Lord in heart
and in deed, for all that He has done and suffered for us?

"And many other things blasphemously spake they against him." Thus
passed the hours of this terrible night.

All this time Peter sat in some part of the Palace; "and there cometh
one of the maids of the High Priest, the damsel that kept the door,
unto Peter: and when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked
earnestly upon him," as if trying to remember where she had seen him
before. Then she said to those around, "This man was also with him";
and, referring to Peter himself to confirm her statement, she asked,
"Art not thou also one of this man's disciples?" We may well believe
that Peter was horrified at the treatment he had seen inflicted upon
his Master; and most probably, in spite of all Jesus had said, Peter
was disappointed at His not taking some signal measures to check His
persecutors. This for a time weakened his faith, and made him fearful
that if he confessed himself to be a disciple, he might bring upon
himself similar treatment, to that which Jesus was silently and calmly
undergoing. In his perplexity and fear, therefore, he committed a
fearful sin; for in answer to the damsel's question, "Art not thou
also one of this man's disciples?" "he saith, I am not." But the
damsel was not convinced, and presently said, "And thou also wast with
Jesus of Nazareth, of Galilee." One departure from truth is sure to
lead to another: and now Peter even pretends not to understand what
she can possibly mean by charging him with being one of Christ's
disciples: thus "he denied him before them all, saying, Woman, I know
him not. I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest."

Perhaps Peter now hoped that he had silenced his accusers, and should
be left in peace; but he was shortly undeceived. "The servants and
officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold:
and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed
himself. They said therefore unto him, Art not thou also one of his
disciples? He denied it, and said, I am not. One of the servants of
the High Priest, being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off," seems,
however, to have recognized Peter as the person who did this act, and
saith, "Did not I see thee in the garden with him?" What had been
denied before was not likely to be confessed now. "Peter then denied
again; and he went out into the porch; and immediately the cock crew."

These three denials,--first, to the damsel; secondly, to the servants
and officers; and thirdly, to the kinsman of Malchus,--which are
related in the different Gospels, all took place much at the same
time, and are therefore to be looked upon as one act: thus we see how
every word spoken by Jesus on the subject of Peter's denial came true.
He said that before it was time for the cock to crow at all, Peter
would have denied Him three times; and this he had done, and the
warning voice of the cock had been heard for the first time.

If we resist the Devil, he will flee from us: if we give way to one
temptation, we shall be more likely to fall again: so it was with
Peter. "When he was gone out into the porch, after a little while
another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man,
I am not. And another maid saw him, and began to say to them that
stood by, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. This is one of
them." Peter now added to his sin, "for he denied with an oath, I do
not know the man,"--thus calling upon God as a witness to the truth of
what he was saying. This was Peter's second denial of his Lord and
Master.

About an hour afterwards, when it was nearly three o'clock in the
morning, Peter seems to have been again in the hall, where the
soldiers were waiting with Jesus, until it should be time for them to
take Him before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor. Here the third
denial took place.

Before we go further, some little explanation is necessary. You know
that in different countries, as in France, Spain, China, &c., the
people speak different languages; so that without learning one
another's language, the natives of different countries cannot talk to
each other. But even in different parts of the same country, the
people often pronounce their words in such a different manner as to
make it almost a different language, so that the "dialect," or manner
of speaking, in one province, would be hardly understood in another
province of the same country. Even in England we have something of the
same kind; and if you were to hear the people of Yorkshire or of
Somersetshire talking to each other, you would not understand much of
their conversation.



Chapter XXXVII.--PETER'S THIRD DENIAL.


When Peter had returned into the hall where Jesus still was, another
man "confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was
him: for he is a Galilean." The Jews, who were natives of Galilee,
used a different dialect to that of the inhabitants of Judæa; and this
man, having heard Peter speak, at once perceived that he was a
Galilean, and doubtless the follower of Jesus. But Peter at once said,
"Man, I am not": he would not even now allow that he was a Galilean;
but the fact was too plain; for his manner of speaking betrayed or
showed that he was certainly a native of Galilee. They that stood by
could not therefore be deceived, and said again to Peter, "Surely thou
also art one of them, for thou art a Galilean: and thy speech agreeth
thereto, for thy speech bewrayeth (or betrayeth) thee." Peter now went
still further in his denial, and added to his sin; for getting
frightened and angry, he allowed himself to use language sinful in
itself. "Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the
man: I know not this man of whom ye speak. And immediately, while he
yet spake, the cock crew; the second time the cock crew. And the Lord
turned and looked upon Peter."

What a look must that have been! a look of reproach for Peter's sin;
of grief for his sad fall mixed with love for His weak and erring
follower. Such as it was, it went straight to Peter's heart; bringing
all things to his memory, and making him feel deeply the sin he had
committed against One, whom he did truly love; though under
temptation, he had acted very contrary to what that love demanded from
him. But the Saviour's look awakened all Peter's better feelings: "And
Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how that he had said unto him,
Before the cock crow thou shalt deny me thrice. Before the cock crow
twice thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept;
he went out and wept bitterly."

Peter's tears were tears of true repentance: we know this, because in
future we find him no longer confident in himself, and boasting of his
love, but humble, and looking to God for strength; whilst he devoted
his life to doing his Master's work, never letting the fear of man
prevent his declaring the truth, as it is in Jesus.

When we blame Peter for denying the Lord, let us remember that he
sinned, _because_ he trusted too much in himself, and did not watch
and pray as he ought to have done. This is a warning to us, not to do
as he did. But let us also remember, that having sinned, he repented
truly; and showed his repentance, by his changed conduct during the
rest of his life. Here is an example for us to follow.

This terrible night was over at last. "And straightway in the morning,
as soon as it was day" (about four o'clock in the morning of Friday),
the Chief Priests seem to have called the whole Council of the
Sanhedrim together, to consult what was next to be done to secure
their object: "they took counsel against Jesus to put him to death.
And they led him into their council, saying, Art thou the Christ? tell
us." Jesus had already answered this question before Caiaphas, and
knowing their motive in repeating it, "he said unto them, If I tell
you, ye will not believe. And if I also ask you, ye will not answer
me, nor let me go." Jesus would not, however, allow them to suppose
that He denied being the Messiah: and He therefore repeated the words,
which they chose to call blasphemy, saying, "Hereafter shall the Son
of man sit on the right hand of the power of God. Then said they all,
Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am.
And they said, What need we any further witnesses? for we ourselves
have heard of his own mouth."

"Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was
condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of
silver to the Chief Priests and elders, saying, I have sinned in that
I have betrayed the innocent blood." Some feelings of sorrow and
remorse for having given up an innocent man to be put to death, now
led Judas to bring back the "reward of iniquity," and at once to
confess his own sin, and bear witness to the innocence of Jesus.
Perhaps he had a hope of thus saving Jesus from the fate which awaited
Him: if so, Judas soon learnt, what many have learnt before and since,
that it is easy to do wrong, but by no means easy to undo the wrong
when done. Many of us, in a moment of passion or self-will, commit
acts which embitter our whole future lives. Let the young beware, lest
they bring upon themselves such life-long misery; they may truly
repent and mourn, and God, for Jesu's sake, may forgive the sin; but
the act itself, and its bitter consequences, can never be undone.

The Priests and elders cared not whether Jesus was innocent or guilty,
so as they could treat Him as if He _were_ guilty. His holy life, His
heavenly teaching, showed them their own sinfulness, and therefore it
was _because_ He was good, that they sought to destroy Him. Neither
did they care for Judas's sufferings: they had gladly profited by his
sin, and given him the reward agreed upon: now that they had got from
him all that they wanted, they cared not what became of the miserable
sinner. And this is often the case amongst men, who to gain something
they want, persuade others to do wrong. Those who have sinned to help
them, may afterwards be filled with remorse and misery; but they will
meet with neither help nor pity from those who led them into sin. Like
the Priests, they will say, What is that to us?

In vain did Judas look for pity from his partners in guilt; the
unfeeling answer of the Priests was, "What is that to us? see thou to
that." Had Judas repented truly, he would, like Peter, have gone out
and wept bitterly, and sought forgiveness of his Lord; but, unable to
bear the feeling of remorse which lay heavy upon his heart, he
committed a crime for which there is no repentance: "he departed, and
went and hanged himself, and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the
midst, and all his bowels gushed out." What may be the exact meaning
of this passage, it is difficult to say; but it is certain that Judas
perished in some remarkable and dreadful manner.

After Judas had departed from the Council, leaving the money behind,
"the Chief Priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful
for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood."

The Jews considered it unlawful to put into the treasury of the
temple, any money which had been got by taking away life. The
executioners, whose duty it was to put criminals to death, were not
allowed to make any offering to the treasury, because the money that
they gained was looked upon as the price of blood. These Priests, who
were ready to break a positive commandment by putting an innocent
person to death, would not break the Law in a small matter.

The fact is, that by this time the religion of the Jews had become a
mere form: they made a great fuss about observing ceremonies and
customs, which required no self-denial; but they did not care to obey
the Will of God, when it interfered with their own wishes and
inclinations. They had had no scruple in buying the life of an
innocent man, but they would not put the price of his blood into the
treasury. So "they took counsel," or consulted together, as to what
should be done with the silver pieces, "and bought with them the
potter's field, to bury strangers in." By "strangers" was probably
meant Jews, who came from distant parts of the country, or from some
of the nations through which Jews were scattered: these people had, of
course, no burial-place of their own in Jerusalem, and therefore this
field was bought, in order that any foreign Jews, who died in the
city, might be buried there.

The potter's field lay to the S.E. of Jerusalem, on the other side of
the brook Gihon. From this time, this field was called "Aceldama," a
Hebrew word, meaning the Field of Blood: now the Christians in those
parts call it "the holy field."

This buying of the field, was foretold 457 years before, in the time
of Ezra. "Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the
prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price
of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value;
and gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me."

This prophecy is not, however, to be found in the book which we call
by the name of Jeremiah, but in that of Zechariah (xi.), another of
the prophets. The Jews had an old custom of dividing the Scriptures of
the Old Testament into three parts. The First Part, called "the Law,"
contained the books of Moses and those of Kings and Chronicles: the
Psalms formed the Second Part: and the Third Part contained the
writings of the prophets. As this Third Part began with the prophecies
of Jeremiah, the whole division was often called by his name; and thus
any words spoken by another prophet, might be said to be in Jeremy or
Jeremiah.

The Priests and the whole Council of the Sanhedrim had condemned Jesus
to death, for what they called blasphemy; and the next step was to get
Pilate's permission to execute the sentence. "And the whole multitude
of them arose, and bound Jesus, and when they had bound him, they led
him away from Caiaphas unto the Hall of Judgment, and delivered him to
Pontius Pilate the governor: and it was early," probably about five
o'clock in the morning. "And they themselves went not into the
Judgment Hall lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the
Passover."

These Jews were _preparing_ to eat the Passover, in the evening of
that day, Friday; but Jesus and His disciples had eaten it the evening
_before_; that is, on Thursday. This difference needs some
explanation. We divide our year into 12 months, some of 30 days, and
some of 31, whilst, as a general rule, February has only 28. The earth
on which we live goes round the sun in 365 days and 6 hours, all but a
few minutes. By "the day" we mean 24 hours, or what we call a day and
a night. Our 12 months, therefore, contain the 365 days; but the extra
hours are unaccounted for. Now in four years the 6 extra hours amount
to 24--another day: and therefore every fourth year February has an
additional day to provide for them. The year in which February has 29
days is called "Leap Year," because we seem to leap over a day. For
instance, suppose Christmas Day to be on Saturday one year, it would
naturally fall on Sunday the next year: but if it were Leap Year, it
would leap over Sunday and fall upon Monday instead. Our year is
called a Solar Year, because it is regulated by the course of the
earth round the sun, and _Sol_ is the Latin word for the Sun.

The Jews, on the contrary, divided their year according to the course
of the Moon, which goes round the Earth in something more than thirty
days. Theirs was a Lunar Year, because _Luna_ is Latin for the moon.

The twelve months amongst the Jews had not the same fixed number of
days every year, because they reckoned the month to begin when the new
moon first appeared. This practice often led to mistakes, so that what
ought to have been the 14th day of any month was frequently called the
15th, or the 13th. Something of this kind seems to have taken place at
this time: so that whilst Jesus and His disciples ate the Passover on
the evening of the right day, the 14th of Nisan or Abib (answering to
the end of March with us), many of the Jews celebrated the feast on
the next day, calling that the 14th, though it was, in reality, the
15th.



Chapter XXXVIII.--JESUS SENT BY PILATE TO HEROD.


Whatever might be the cause, it is plain that the Priests and elders
were preparing to keep the Passover, on the evening _after_ that on
which Jesus had eaten it with His disciples: and that lest they should
be defiled and rendered unclean according to the Law, they would not
enter the Judgment Hall, which was full of Roman soldiers. Any Jew who
(in one of the many ways) became unclean, could not partake of the
Feast of the Passover: and it was even held, that upon occasions of
such peculiar holiness, mixing with the Gentiles or heathens, made a
Jew unclean; therefore, to avoid all risk, they went not in. They did
not consider that all the laws about purity and uncleanness, were only
meant to show the necessity of being pure and holy in thought, word,
and deed; and that their persecution of an innocent being, rendered
them far more unclean in the sight of God, than any ceremonial
defilement could possibly do. But it was ever so; they paid more
attention to outward forms than to real holiness and goodness. Let us
beware never to fall into the like fatal sin.

As the Jews would not go into the Judgment Hall, "Pilate then went out
unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man?"
Instead of naming any crime of which their prisoner had been guilty,
the Jews merely answered, "If he were not a malefactor, we would not
have delivered him up unto thee. Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye
him, and judge him according to your law." This was not at all what
the Jews wanted, and they "therefore said unto him, It is not lawful
for us to put any man to death."

Some writers think that the Jews were _not_ deprived of the power of
putting to death criminals found guilty according to their law; but
that at the time of this holy feast, it was _not lawful_ for them to
put any man to death. In any case, in all this we see the hand of
God; "that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake,
signifying what death he should die."

"And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting
the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Cæsar, saying that he
himself is Christ a king."

In answer to Pilate's desire to know the crime of which they accused
Jesus, the Jews said not one word about blasphemy, for which alone the
Sanhedrim had condemned Him to be deserving of death: they knew very
well that Pilate would take no notice of such a charge as that, for
he, being a heathen, would care for none of these things; and
therefore, by a very false representation of what Jesus _had_ said,
they now tried to make Pilate believe that Jesus claimed to be king of
Judæa; and that He endeavoured to pervert or turn the nation from
paying any obedience to the Emperor of Rome. Such a charge as this
could not be disregarded by a Roman governor; for the Romans would not
tolerate anything like revolt or sedition in their conquered
provinces. "Then Pilate entered into the Judgment Hall again, and
called Jesus, and Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor
asked him, saying, Art thou the king of the Jews? Jesus answered him,
Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?"
The meaning of this question was, Dost thou ask this question of
thyself, from a real wish to know whether I am the Messiah so long
expected by the Jews? or have others laid it to my charge as a crime,
that I have declared myself to be that Christ their king? "Pilate
answered, Am I a Jew?" meaning that as he was not a Jew, he was not
likely to know or care whether Jesus was the Messiah or not; and then
he called upon Jesus to tell him for what crime He had been delivered
up by His own countrymen, who had thus plainly shown that they did not
believe Him to be their Messiah. "Thine own nation and the Chief
Priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?" Jesus in
his answer, showed Pilate, that, declaring Himself to be a king, could
be no crime against the Roman Emperor, as He neither claimed nor
sought for power upon earth: if He had done so, His followers would
have fought for Him. "Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world:
if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I
should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from
hence. Pilate, therefore, said unto him, Art thou a king then?" that
is, dost thou really mean that thou art a king? "Jesus answered, and
said unto him, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born,
and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness
unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice."

Jesus here states again the nature of His kingdom. It was founded only
upon truth. His conquests were to be only over falsehood and sin. He
came into the world on purpose by His words to bring men to believe
all that God had said, and to do His Will in all things; such were to
be His subjects. He came to win the _hearts_ of men, and rule and
govern them. Such a kingdom could in no way interfere with the
dominion of Cæsar, or any other earthly sovereign. On the contrary,
those whose hearts are ruled by Christ, will be the most obedient
subjects to the powers that be.

Pilate was evidently convinced by the words of Jesus, that He could in
no way be found guilty of stirring up the people to disobey Cæsar, but
before he told the Jews this, he put to our Lord the question, "What
is truth?" that is, what dost thou mean by that truth, which will make
every one hear Thy words. Had Pilate asked this important question
with a sincere desire to _know_ the truth, it would have been a happy
day for him; for the truth which Jesus would have taught him, is the
only thing to give real happiness in life or death. But Pilate did not
even wait for an answer, for when "he had said this, he went out again
to the Jews, and saith unto the Chief Priests and to the people, I
find no fault in this man; I find in him no fault at all." Thus did
the Roman governor, a heathen, bear witness to the blamelessness of
our blessed Lord; but the Jews, determined on the death of their
victim, would by no means accept such a sentence. It is plain from all
that follows, that though Jesus remained in the Hall, He was so placed
as to be able to hear all that was said outside.

"And the Chief Priests accused him of many things: but when he was
accused of the Chief Priests and elders, he answered nothing. Then
said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness
against thee? And he answered him to never a word. And Pilate asked
him again, saying, Answerest thou nothing? Behold how many things they
witness against thee. But Jesus yet answered nothing: insomuch that
the governor marvelled greatly."

Men are in general eager enough to say all they can in their own
defence, especially when conscious of their innocence: well,
therefore, might Pilate be astonished at the calm and dignified
conduct of one accused of so many crimes; and whom even he held to be
guiltless. But our Lord's behaviour was thoroughly consistent with His
character, and with His work. When He had an opportunity of declaring
the great truth that he was the Son of God, the Messiah, then He spake
boldly before the Priests and the Council, as well as to Pilate: but
now, when the Jews were saying all manner of evil falsely against Him,
He treated their charges with the silent contempt they deserved. But
this seems to have increased the rage of His accusers, "and they were
the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching
throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place."

It was true that Jesus had taught throughout the whole land of Judæa:
but the Jews wished to make Pilate believe that his object was to stir
up the people to rebellion against Cæsar, and other crimes: whereas
all He did was to stir up the people to believe in Him as the Messiah,
and to turn to God with all their hearts, and keep His commandments.
Pilate was greatly perplexed what to do; he could not but see that
Jesus was innocent, and he had not strength of mind to do his duty
conscientiously, without any fear of what man could do unto him: he
was, therefore, too glad of an opportunity of throwing the
responsibility of passing sentence upon another; and when he heard the
Jews thus speaking of Galilee, "he asked whether the man were a
Galilean." In Galilee our Lord had dwelt from childhood, and as a
resident in that province, He was subject to the authority of Herod
Antipas, appointed by the Romans to be king of Galilee. "And as soon
as Pilate knew that he belonged unto Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him
to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time," in order to
keep the Passover Feast. Herod being acquainted with the Jewish
religion and customs, would be better able to judge between Jesus and
His accusers; and thus his opinion might help Pilate in deciding upon
the case.

Herod Antipas (who had caused John the Baptist to be beheaded) was, we
are told, exceeding glad to see Jesus: he had long been desirous to
see One, of whom he had heard many things; "and he hoped to have seen
some miracle done by him."

It does not seem that Herod wished to see Jesus from any good motive,
or from any desire to _learn_ of Him, but simply out of curiosity: he
was, therefore, disappointed. Jesus worked no miracle, neither would
He give any account of what He had done and taught. Herod "questioned
with him in many words; but he answered him nothing. And the Chief
Priests and Scribes stood and vehemently accused him," as they had
done before Pilate. Herod was probably provoked by our Lord's silence:
at any rate, he allowed Him to be ill treated, and himself joined in
showing contempt for His claims to be a king: for in ridicule, "Herod
with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked, and arrayed him in
a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate."



Chapter XXXIX.--JESUS CONDEMNED.


St. Luke tells us, that "the same day Pilate and Herod were made
friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves."
"Enmity" means just the contrary to friendship: Pilate and Herod had
quarrelled, as the different governors throughout the Roman provinces
were very apt to do. The Bible does not tell us the cause of this
enmity; but from other histories we learn, that some time before this,
Pilate had dedicated some shields of gold to the Emperor Tiberius, and
placed them in the palace called Herodium, built by Herod the Great.
The Jews looked upon this as an insult to their religion, and with
Herod's permission, sent messengers to Rome, to petition the Emperor
to order these shields to be removed. This caused a quarrel between
Herod and Pilate: but when the latter, not wishing to help the Jews in
condemning Jesus, sent Him to Herod, the king, considering this as an
acknowledgment of his authority, was pleased; and willing again to
become friends with the Roman governor.

The Herodium was a very large palace, consisting of two separate
buildings, one called Cæsareum and the other Agrippeum: it stood near
the temple. It is probable that Pontius Pilate inhabited one of the
buildings, and Herod the other, so that Jesus was not long gone.
Pilate, seeing that Herod had pronounced no sentence against Jesus,
was still more unwilling that He should die: he was, however, too much
afraid of the people to act as a just Judge should have done, and set
the prisoner at liberty; so he thought that, if he offered to punish
Him in some way, he might satisfy the Jews, and yet save the life of
his innocent prisoner: to propose to punish Him at all was unjust; but
even this expedient availed nothing, as we shall see. Herod having
sent Jesus back, it was necessary that Pilate should take some further
steps. "And Pilate, when he had called together the Chief Priests and
the rulers and the people, said unto them, Ye have brought this man
unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and behold, I, having
examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching
those things whereof ye accuse him. No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you
to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him. I will
therefore chastise him, and release him."

There was a custom amongst the Jews at this time, that at the Feast of
the Passover the Jews might claim any one of the criminals then under
sentence of death for their crimes. Whoever the Jews chose was to be
set at liberty: this custom appears to have been introduced by some
Roman governor of Judæa, in order to gain favour with the Jews; who
were thus allowed to choose one amongst the prisoners to be pardoned.

"Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a
prisoner, whom they would; and they had then a notable prisoner,
called Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection
with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection. And the
multitude, crying aloud, began to desire Pilate to do as he had ever
done unto them. (For of necessity he must release one unto them at the
feast.)"

"Therefore, when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them,
Ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the Passover:
Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is
called Christ? Will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of
the Jews? For he knew that the Chief Priests had delivered him for
envy."

The Roman governor saw truly that it was to gratify private passions
alone, that the Chief Priests had brought Jesus before him; and,
hoping that the people might be more just, he offered them a choice
between Jesus and one of the greatest criminals then in prison: a man
who had committed the very crime, which the Priests pretended that
Christ was trying to stir up the people to commit; who, in the
prosecution of his designs, had committed the murder; and who was also
a robber: his evil deeds had been many; and many must have suffered
from his wickedness and violence. Well might Pilate hope, that the
contrast between such a man and Jesus, Whose whole life had been spent
in going about doing good, would have inclined the people to demand
His liberty, and leave Barabbas to the fate he had so justly deserved.
But no; "the Chief Priests and elders persuaded the multitude that
they should ask Barabbas and destroy Jesus. And they cried out all at
once saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas."

One reason why Pilate strove anxiously to release Jesus was, that
during the night his own wife had some remarkable dreams concerning
our Lord: what they were, we are not told; but they had convinced her
that He was an innocent and righteous man, and that it would be a sin
to allow any harm to befall Him. Therefore, "when Pilate was set down
on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou
nothing to do with that just man": nothing, that is, in the way of
punishing or harming Him; "for I have suffered many things this day in
a dream because of him."

"Pilate the governor therefore, willing to release Jesus, answered and
spake again to them, and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye
that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. Then cried they all
again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. And Pilate answered and
said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do with Jesus
which is called Christ? unto him whom ye call King of the Jews? And
they cried out again, Crucify him; they all say unto him, Crucify him,
Crucify him, Let him be crucified." Pilate made another effort to save
Jesus, by reminding the people of His innocence; and in answer to
their savage cry, "Crucify him, Crucify him," he "said unto them the
third time, Why? what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of
death in him: I will therefore chastise him and let him go. And they
cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him. And they were instant
with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices
of them and of the Chief Priests prevailed." Pilate could stand out no
longer; the people showed symptoms of breaking out into a riot, which
at that moment would have been a serious matter; as there were an
unusual number of Jews assembled for the Passover, and Pilate had not
soldiers enough to keep order, if the people should make a
disturbance. If anything like a riot had occurred, the Emperor
Tiberius would probably have considered Pilate to blame; and would
certainly have deprived him of his office, and most likely of his life
also. Pilate had not that fear of God, which admits no fear of man;
neither was his wish to save Jesus strong enough to make him risk his
life to deliver Him. As a heathen, the life of one man would seem to
him of little consequence; but whilst he gave way to the clamours of
the Jews, he performed a symbolical action, whereby he testified that
Jesus was innocent, and that he, Pilate, did not consent to His death,
though forced to allow it. For "when Pilate saw that he could prevail
nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed
his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of
this just person; see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and
said, His blood be on us, and on our children." Fearful words in the
sense in which they uttered them! meaning, that if Jesus was innocent,
they were quite willing that the punishment for putting him to death
should rest upon them and upon their children. Little did they foresee
how dreadful would be that punishment; and how severely they and their
descendants would suffer, in consequence of the crime they were
wilfully committing. In one sense, we may all pray that "His blood may
be on us and on our children"; even as the blood of the paschal lamb
upon the door-posts turned aside the visit of the destroying angel.

In regard to Pilate's action on this occasion, we must recollect that
it was ordered by the Law of Moses, that if a man were found dead in a
field, and it was not known who or what had killed him, the elders of
the nearest city should sacrifice a heifer, or young cow, with
particular ceremonies: after which they should wash their hands over
the slain beast, and declare solemnly before God, that they had had no
hand in the death of the man, and that they knew not by what means he
had met his death. In imitation of this custom, Pilate now washed his
hands; meaning thereby to show that, if Jesus were put to death, he
was no party to His death. But even in this Pilate was mistaken; for
to allow a bad action to be committed, when we can prevent it, is to
incur the guilt of it. As governor, Pilate might have refused to allow
Jesus to be slain, and it was his duty to do so: had a riot followed,
he could have been in no way guilty in the sight of God: but Pilate,
being a heathen, did not consider the matter in this light. Do not
many Christians, who should know better, act upon the same principles
as those which influenced the Roman governor? They know some
particular act to be wrong, and yet it seems so expedient, so likely
to be useful in some way or other, that they do it. Then, again, they
perceive that they ought to do something which may bring trouble upon
themselves, or displease some one whose favour they wish to gain, and
therefore they leave such action undone.

"Pilate, willing to content the people," and put an end to the tumult,
"gave sentence that it should be as they required. And he released
unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom
they had desired."



Chapter XL.--JESUS CONDEMNED BY PILATE.


"Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him." This was a very
unnecessary piece of cruelty practised by the Romans; whose custom it
was to scourge, or whip with cords, every criminal condemned to death.
We must now think of our blessed Lord, with His back all cut and
bleeding from the stripes laid upon Him, aching and smarting all over;
then we must remember that this was the punishment of _our_ sins,
which He bore, and that, "with his stripes we are healed." Shall not
such thoughts stir us up to show our love for Him, Who, out of His
wondrous love for us, bore all these tortures? "And when Pilate had
scourged him, he delivered Jesus to their will, to be crucified."

"Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus, and led him away into
the common hall, called Prætorium"; where fresh insults and sufferings
were inflicted upon the holy Jesus, the Messiah: for "they call
together the whole band of soldiers," and in mockery and ridicule for
His having styled Himself a king, "they stripped him" of his own
clothes, "and put on him a scarlet or purple robe," (for the same word
signifies both colours,) and then made a crown or wreath, by twisting
together some branches of a prickly plant. "And when they had platted
a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right
hand," to represent the sceptre, carried by kings. When the soldiers
had thus arrayed our Lord, in ridicule of His claim to be a king, they
went a step further, and in derision, "they bowed the knee before him,
and worshipped him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!"
Not satisfied with this mockery, "they smote him with their hands. And
they spit upon him," to show the greatest possible degree of hatred
and contempt; "and took the reed, and smote him on the head"; thus
driving the thorns into Him, and so increasing His sufferings. All
this He bore for us; and all He asks in return is, that we should take
Him for our King, so as to let Him reign in our hearts, and rule our
lives. Pilate made another attempt to save the life of Jesus; he
probably hoped, that if the people saw Him bleeding and suffering,
they would feel pity, and be ashamed of so treating a man, declared to
be innocent, and known to all as going about doing good. "Pilate
therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him
forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came
Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And
Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!"

The Priests, however, were determined that nothing should save the
life of their victim, and "therefore, when the Chief Priests and
officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, Crucify him."
Pilate finding all his efforts vain, and being still afraid to offend
the Jews, "then saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I
find no fault in him." As if he had said, If you are determined to
crucify Him, do it; but remember it is not my doing, "for I find no
fault in him."

"The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die,
because he made himself the Son of God." The Jews now changed their
ground of accusation, and simply named the sin of blasphemy, as the
cause for which their Law required our Lord's death.

"When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid": the
heathen governor had clearly seen that Jesus was no common man: if He
were put to death for declaring Himself to be the Son of God, He would
probably suffer for saying what was _true_; and though Pilate, as a
heathen, had no knowledge of the nature and power of the Lord God
Almighty, he was afraid to crucify One, whom he believed to be the Son
of God. Hesitating and perplexed, Pilate "went again into the Judgment
Hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no
answer. Then saith Pilate, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not
that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?
Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except
it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto
thee hath the greater sin."

Jesus meant to tell Pilate, that no earthly Ruler or Governor could
have power to put Him to death, unless it had been the Will of God,
who dwells in Heaven above, that He should suffer whatever the Jews
chose to do to Him. The Jews had cruelly and unjustly persecuted Him,
and in spite of His acknowledged innocence, had treated Him as the
worst of malefactors: and therefore Jesus told Pilate, that the sin of
the Chief Priests and others in insisting upon His death, was far
greater than the sin of Pilate in giving way to them, in order to
prevent a tumult amongst the people.

The words spoken by Jesus, His whole conduct and manner, so totally
unlike that of a guilty person, convinced Pilate more and more, that
He had _not_ "spoken _blasphemy_" in declaring Himself to be the Son
of God; and "from thenceforth he sought to release him."

To prevent the escape of their innocent victim, the Jews now returned
to their original charge of treason and rebellion against the Roman
Emperor, "and cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not
Cæsar's friend; whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against
Cæsar." Tiberius, who at that time was Emperor of Rome, was a
suspicious and cruel tyrant; and would have punished with death any
governor, supposed to have spared the life of a man, who had set
himself up to be a king in any of the Roman provinces. Pilate,
therefore, did not dare to give the Jews any excuse for thus
complaining of him to Tiberius: so "when he heard that saying, (If
thou let this man go, thou art not Cæsar's friend,) he brought Jesus
forth," from the Judgment Hall into which the Jews would not enter,
"and sat down in the judgment seat, in a place" outside, "that is
called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. And it was the
preparation of the Passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith
unto the Jews, Behold your king! But they cried out, Away with him,
away with him, crucify him! Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify
your king? The Chief Priests answered, We have no king but Cæsar. Then
delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified."

As St John's account of the hour at which the crucifixion took place
appears to differ from that named by the other Evangelists, it may be
well to explain why St. John says, "the _sixth_ hour," and St. Mark
"the _third_."

St. Matthew, St. Mark, and St. Luke, speak according to the Jewish
mode of computing time. The Jews reckoned the day to begin at one
sunset, and end at the next; so that their night came before the day,
instead of after, as with us. From sunset, (about 6 o'clock of our
time,) they divided the night into four equal portions or watches, of
three hours each. The First from 6 o'clock P.M. to 9 o'clock; the
Second from 9 P.M. to 12 o'clock, or midnight. The Third watch, called
also the First Cock Crowing, ended at what we call 3 o'clock A.M.; and
the Fourth and Last, called the Second Cock Crowing, at our 6 o'clock
A.M. The next hour after 6 o'clock was called the 1st hour, and so on;
the 3rd hour answered, therefore, to our 9 o'clock A.M.: and this was
the hour at which St. Mark states that they crucified Jesus. It must
be remarked, that the Jews also divided their day into four portions,
calling each by the name of the hour at which it began: thus the 3rd
hour, being the beginning of a portion, would include the other two
hours in that portion. In this manner, the 3rd hour, our 9 o'clock,
would include the 4th and 5th hours, or our 10 and 11 o'clock. Then
the 6th hour, answering to our 12 o'clock mid-day, would extend to 3
o'clock, the 9th Jewish hour, and so on.

St. John, on the other hand, reckoned the time according to the Roman
and Asiatic mode, still used by us. Thus the day, as spoken of by him,
began at midnight; and therefore, his 6th hour was our 6 o'clock in
the morning, or 6 o'clock P.M. But the Romans also divided their time
into watches of three hours each, speaking of the whole three hours
under the name of the hour with which the watch began. Thus the 6th
hour, or 6 o'clock A.M., would include all the time up to 9 o'clock,
which according to the Romans was the 6th hour, and according to the
Jews the 3rd hour.

St. John further says, that it was "_about_ the sixth hour when they
crucified him"; now _about_ may mean a little before, or a little
after, the time mentioned; and therefore, we find that all the
Apostles mean the same thing; viz., that Jesus was crucified soon
after 9 o'clock in the morning.

The following table may help us to understand clearly the time at
which the different events happened; beginning with the Passover,
which Jesus ate with His disciples:--

    --------------------+---------------------+-----------------------
                        |                     |
        Our Time.       |    Jewish Time.     |       Events.
                        |                     |
    Thursday, probably  |                     |
    about 5 o'clock.    | Evening.            | Jesus eats the
                        |                     |     Passover.
    --------------------+---------------------+-----------------------
    6 o'clock P.M.      | End of Day.         |
    7    "    "         | First Night Watch.  | Jesus on the Mount of
                        |                     |   Olives.
    8    "    "         |                     |
    --------------------+---------------------+-----------------------
    9 o'clock P.M.      | Second Night Watch. | Jesus in Garden of
                        |                     |     Gethsemane.
    10   "    "         |                     | Betrayed by Judas,
                        |                     |    and taken to Annas.
    11   "    "         |                     | Taken before Caiaphas.
    --------------------+---------------------+-----------------------
    12 o'clock Midnight.| Third Watch.        | Peter's First Denial.
                        | First Cock Crowing. | Jesus condemned by the
                        |                     |    Priests.
    1 A.M. Friday.      |                     | Abused by the
                        |                     |      Attendants.
    2  "    "           |                     | Peter's Second Denial.
    --------------------+---------------------+-----------------------
    3 o'clock A.M.      | Fourth Watch.       | Peter's Third Denial.
                        | Second Cock Crowing.|
    4    "     "        |                     | Jesus condemned by
                        |                     |   the Sanhedrim.
    5    "     "        |                     | Taken before Pilate.
    --------------------+---------------------+-----------------------
    6 o'clock A.M.      | Romans' 6th Hour.   | Jesus sent to Herod.
                        |                     | Returned to Pilate.
    7    "     "        | Jews' 1st Hour.     | Crowned with thorns.
    8    "     "        |   "   2nd Hour.     | Delivered to be
                        |                     |       crucified.
    --------------------+---------------------+-----------------------
    9 o'clock A.M.      | Jews' 3rd Hour.     | Jesus crucified.
    --------------------+---------------------+-----------------------



Chapter XLI.--JESUS CRUCIFIED.


In reading the account of our blessed Lord's condemnation, it may seem
strange to us that Pilate was ready to receive Him so early as five
o'clock in the morning; though we can understand the Priests and the
Sanhedrim sitting up all night, to accomplish their wicked purpose.
But we must remember, that the Jews were at all times ready to make
disturbances; and that as very great multitudes came into Jerusalem
for the Passover, those who were in authority were obliged to be very
watchful, so as to check the first symptoms of a riot: and no doubt
they were doubly watchful now, remembering that when Jesus rode into
the city, a few days before, all the people accompanied Him, shouting,
and declaring Him to be that King, the promised Messiah. "And they
took Jesus, and led him away. And after that they had mocked him, they
took off the purple from him, and put his own clothes on him, and led
him out to crucify him. And he, bearing his cross, went forth into a
place called the place of a skull, which is called, in the Hebrew,
Golgotha."

It was the custom of the Jews and Romans never to put condemned
persons to death within the city walls. Golgotha was a hill outside
the city, set apart for executions, and was, of course, an unclean and
polluted place. It is thought that the name Golgotha was given to this
hill because, in shape, it resembled a head or skull; and that for the
same reason, the Romans called it Calvary: the Latin word so
translated, meaning the same as the Hebrew word Golgotha.

The Romans compelled those who were to undergo the terrible death by
crucifixion, to carry their own cross to the appointed place. Thus we
find Jesus "bearing his cross": but when we remember how our blessed
Lord had passed the whole night, we shall not be surprised that He had
no strength to carry a heavy cross of wood up a hill. Most likely He
fell under the load; and those who led Him out saw, that faint and
weary as He was, it was impossible for this part of His sentence to be
carried out, and therefore, "they laid hold upon one Simon, a
Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country: him they compelled
to bear his cross. And on him they laid the cross, that he might bear
it after Jesus."

"And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which
also bewailed and lamented him."

Many of these, doubtless, had benefited by His miracles of healing,
either in themselves or in their children; and all were grieved to see
such cruelty practised upon One, who had ever gone amongst them doing
good.

Jesus, always mindful of others, and foreseeing the dreadful
sufferings that would come upon the city in consequence of His death,
"turning unto them, said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but
weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, the days are
coming in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren" (that is,
the women who have no children to suffer). "Then shall they begin to
say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. For if
they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?"

This is figurative language, meaning that the calamities about to fall
on Jerusalem would be so dreadful, that the Jewish women, who
considered it a great misfortune to have no children, would then be
thankful, and considered blessed because they had none: and that, in
the impossibility of escaping from their miseries, all people would be
glad if the mountains could fall and crush them.

Then Jesus reminded them, that if a green tree is quickly burnt up, a
dry and withered one will be burnt much more quickly. In the
Scriptures, good men are often compared to green and flourishing
trees; and bad men to dry and barren ones. The meaning of our Lord was
therefore, If God in His wisdom sees fit to let Me, who am holy and
righteous in His sight, suffer such things as ye have seen; what think
ye will He do to the wicked and unrighteous?

Jesus was not crucified alone: it seems that at this time there were
two criminals sentenced to a similar death. "And there were two other,
malefactors, led with him to be put to death." In reading these words,
we must be very careful to pause at the comma after other, because the
meaning is, "and there were two other (persons, who were) malefactors,
led with him," &c.

Malefactors mean persons that have done evil. St. Matthew tells us
that these men were thieves: probably some of those robbers who
troubled Judæa at that time, carrying off cattle and whatever they
could lay their hands upon, and often killing those who tried to
defend their property. These men were justly condemned to death in
punishment of their sins, and they were now led out to be crucified
with the innocent and holy Jesus. The prophet Isaiah, speaking seven
hundred years before of the Messiah, had said, "He was numbered with
the transgressors"; "and he made his grave with the wicked." He was,
indeed, "numbered," or considered to be one of the transgressors, fit
only to share the fate of such. Literally was Isaiah's prophecy
fulfilled, when Jesus was led out with two malefactors to die with
them.

"And when they were come to the place, which is called Golgotha, they
gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted
thereof, he would not drink. And they gave him to drink wine mingled
with myrrh: but he received it not." St. Matthew mentions the vinegar
and gall; St. Mark, the wine and myrrh. Some people have thought that
both mean the same thing; but it is most probable that two separate
mixtures were offered to Christ at this time.

The Jews always gave wine, with myrrh in it, to the criminal about to
be executed, to stupefy him, and make him less able to feel pain. The
first draught of vinegar and gall was probably offered to Jesus in
mockery. Any one expecting the usual stupefying draught, would be
disappointed at getting another instead. Jesus submitted for our sakes
to every suffering and insult inflicted by His persecutors, therefore
He tasted the mixture; but when the stupefying draught was offered,
"he received it not"; for He would do nothing to lessen His appointed
sufferings, nor to render Him less able to pray to God.

"And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there
they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and
the other on the left, and Jesus in the midst." "And the Scripture was
fulfilled which saith, And He was numbered with the transgressors."

Crucifixion was not only a most painful death, but it was also looked
upon as a very shameful one; only to be awarded to the vilest
criminals, in order to show contempt and hatred. Sometimes the
criminal was merely bound to the cross with ropes, and there left to
die of hunger and exposure. But our Saviour was actually nailed to the
cross, according to the words spoken by King David, one thousand years
before, "they pierced my hands and my feet."

The manner of crucifixion was as follows: the cross of wood being laid
upon the ground, the poor victim was laid upon it; and his arms being
stretched out along the cross bar, a great nail was driven through the
hollow of each hand into the wood: the feet were then crossed over
each other upon the perpendicular part of the cross, and then a very
long nail was forced through both into the wood beyond. There appears
to have been under the feet a small ledge of wood, just to support
them. The poor victim being thus made fast to the wood, the cross was
raised up, and placed upright in a hole already prepared to receive
it. The torture felt by the unhappy sufferer was most intense: the
ledge beneath the feet did not prevent the weight of the body hanging
from the hands, nailed to the upper part of the cross. The agony of
such a position was beyond all that we can conceive; and this agony
often lasted many hours, before death put an end to suffering.

Such was the death Christ endured for us. Surely no one can think of
all Jesus suffered at this time, without feeling the deepest grief,
and shrinking with horror from the idea that we could have joined His
enemies. And yet the Word of God tells us that, if we persist in sin,
we "crucify the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame."

We can all understand, that if we have taken a great deal of trouble,
and put ourselves to inconvenience and even to pain, in order to do
good to some person, it would be very grievous to see that person not
a bit better or happier than he would have been, had we _not troubled_
ourselves about him. Then let us remember that Jesus Christ suffered
and died that we might be taken into heaven. But we cannot go into
heaven, unless we forsake our sins and try to obey God: if, therefore,
we will not take the trouble to resist the Devil, all that Jesus has
done and suffered will be of no use to us. Let us take care that He
has not suffered in vain: let us pray for faith; that true and lively
faith which will constrain us to repent, and love, and obey.

Now let us turn our thoughts again to Jesus hanging on His cross,
between those upon which the two thieves were fastened.

It was the custom of the Romans, to cause a list of the crimes for
which a malefactor was condemned, to be carried before him, or
fastened to the instrument of his punishment. This was called his
"accusation."

In compliance with this custom, "Pilate wrote a title, and set up over
his head his accusation written, and put it on the cross. And the
writing was in letters of Greek, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE
JEWS; and in Latin, THE KING OF THE JEWS; and in Hebrew, THIS IS JESUS
THE KING OF THE JEWS. This title then read many of the Jews: for the
place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was
written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin"; so that all strangers who
did not understand Hebrew might also read this "accusation."



Chapter XLII.--CHRIST ON THE CROSS.


The Chief Priests were by no means satisfied with the superscription
written by Pilate, for they persisted in believing that Jesus had no
_right_ to be called King or Messiah. "Then said the Chief Priests of
the Jews to Pilate, Write not, the King of the Jews; but that he said,
I am king of the Jews": an alteration which would have made it appear
that He had been justly punished by the Romans, for claiming a power
to which no one had any right in the Roman provinces.

"Pilate answered, What I have written, I have written." This was a
common mode of expression, meaning that a thing was done, and could
not be undone. Probably Pilate wrote this title on purpose, knowing
that the Jews would not like it; for he was displeased with them for
forcing him, as it were, to do what he felt to be wrong: at any rate,
in this title he declared a blessed truth: even that the King of the
Jews, the long-expected Messiah, the Son of God, was actually hanging
on the cross, atoning for the guilt of man, and purchasing our pardon
by the sacrifice of Himself. Let us remember this with such
thankfulness and gratitude, as will lead us to love, so as to obey.

Whilst Jesus was hanging in agony upon the cross, He prayed for those
who had so cruelly persecuted Him. He had often taught the lesson of
loving our enemies, and doing them good whenever we have the
opportunity; and now He set us a most wonderful example of that love
which we are to show to them. "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them;
for they know not what they do": well might He say of those who had
delivered Him to be crucified, "they know not what they do." Little
did they indeed consider the sin they were committing; still less did
they know what blessings their sin would bring upon all mankind. But
their ignorance was in a great degree wilful, and wilful ignorance
must always be a great sin: they had, therefore, much need that Christ
should pray for them, as now He did.

By law, the executioners had a right to the clothes of their victim;
and accordingly we read, "Then the soldiers, when they had crucified
Jesus, took his garments and made four parts, to every soldier a part;
and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top
throughout." "They said, therefore, among themselves, Let us not rend
it, but cast lots for it whose it shall be. And they parted his
raiment and cast lots, that the Scripture might be fulfilled which
saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did
cast lots. These things, therefore, the soldiers did:" according as
David had spoken in the 22nd Psalm.

Thus having finished the work of crucifixion, the soldiers, "sitting
down" at the foot of the cross, "watched him there. And the people
stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He
saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of
God." Had Jesus, indeed, been the worst of criminals, mocking or
deriding Him thus, whilst He hung in agony upon the cross, would have
been a most cowardly and brutal act: but these insults were borne
patiently by One, who with a word could have silenced these mocking
tongues, and have confounded all, by coming down from the cross, and
leaving man's redemption for ever unfinished. Blessed be God, that no
taunts or mockings could so move Him, Who suffered all for our sakes.

We cannot wonder, that following the example of the Jewish priests and
rulers, the heathen "soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and
offering him vinegar," or a light wine drunk by the common people,
"and saying, If thou be the King of the Jews, save thyself. And they
that passed by reviled him, and railed on him, wagging their heads,
and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in
three days, save thyself, and come down from the cross. If thou be the
Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the Chief Priests
mocking him, with the Scribes and elders, said among themselves, He
saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let
him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted
in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I
am the Son of God. Let Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from
the cross, that we may see and believe."

Would they have believed, if Jesus had indeed come down from the
cross? No; their hearts were hardened in wilful unbelief, and their
words were empty mockery. One great truth, however, the Chief Priests
unknowingly proclaimed, when in mockery they cried out, "he saved
others, himself he cannot save": truly the choice lay between the two;
Jesus could not save Himself and us. For our salvation an atonement
must be made: the only effectual atonement was the death of Jesus, He
might have saved Himself from this, and left us to perish. Blessed be
God for the love, that endured to the end, and thus saved us.

We are told, that even "they that were crucified with him, reviled
him"; joining in the abuse now heaped upon him; but without provoking
one word of reproof or complaint. No doubt the behaviour of our Lord
at this time must have gained the admiration of many, and convinced
them that He who now hung upon the cross was no mere man. The Lord
certainly saw fit to touch the heart of one of those who were
crucified with him, for while "one of the malefactors which were
hanged," continued to rail "on him, saying, If thou be the Christ,
save thyself and us," the other, answering, rebuked him, "saying, Dost
not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? and we
indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this
man hath done nothing amiss." Here was true repentance; an
acknowledgment of the justice of the punishment inflicted, coupled
with a declaration of the innocence of Him, whom the dying thief now
believed to be indeed the Son of God, the promised Messiah. In
Christ's agony and humiliation, the penitent malefactor looked to Him
as the King of the Jews, the Saviour of mankind; and in the strength
of his new-born faith, "he said unto Jesus, Lord remember me when thou
comest into thy kingdom": he felt the true nature of Christ's kingdom:
and Jesus, who knows the hearts of all "said unto him, Verily I say
unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise." What blessed
words for the poor penitent thief to hear! May each one of us, when we
are dying, have the comfort of believing, This day shall I be in the
kingdom of the Lord: but unless our actions during life have shown
that we do belong to His kingdom on earth, we cannot feel this
comfort.

"Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother, and his mother's
sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene." Mary's sorrow
at witnessing the suffering of her Son, must indeed have been, as if a
sword had pierced through her own soul, as Simeon had foretold, when
three and thirty years before she had carried the Holy Babe into the
temple, to do for Him according to the law. Mary, the wife of Cleophas
or Alphæus, was the mother of James called the Less, to distinguish
him from James the brother of John, the son of Zebedee. The Apostles
had, as we have seen, fled away; but John, who had followed Jesus to
the High Priest's palace, now stood with the women beside the cross.
Even in the midst of all His agony, Jesus could think of others: He
felt for the misery and desolation of His mother, and was anxious to
provide for her future comfort; thus He set a double example, showing
children that they should never cease to love and honour their
parents; and teaching us all, never to let our own troubles or
sorrows, whatever they may be, make us unmindful of the sufferings of
others.

"When Jesus, therefore, saw his mother, and the disciple standing by
whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then
saith he to his disciple, Behold thy mother!" By these words, He bade
His mother look for comfort to His beloved disciple; bidding him treat
her for the future as if she were his own mother. Faithfully was this
last commandment obeyed, "And from that hour that disciple took her
unto his own home."

Jesus had now been hanging on the cross for three hours, suffering the
extreme of bodily agony; but the worst was not yet over. It was the
sixth hour, or twelve o'clock,--mid-day, as we call it,--when an event
took place, which must have greatly alarmed all men. Without any
apparent cause, "the sun was darkened"; "when the sixth hour was come,
there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour." During
these three hours of darkness, we have reason to believe that Jesus
was allowed to feel the full weight of God's wrath against sin. All
the misery deserved by sinful man was in some wonderful and mysterious
way laid upon Him, so that in some incomprehensible manner, He, holy
as He was, tasted the bitterness of that death from which by His
agonies He delivered man. What His sufferings really were, we know
not. God grant we never may! But for the time He felt as if His Father
had cast Him off for ever. What a dreadful thing must sin be, since it
could not be forgiven without such terrible agony, as for three hours
was endured in silence by our blessed Lord; and at length wrung from
Him that heart-rending cry, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken
me?" Let us, for whose redemption He thus felt the wrath of God, watch
and pray, that His sufferings may not have been in vain for any one of
us.



Chapter XLIII.--JESUS DIES.


Three hours of agony beyond what we can imagine passed slowly away;
and then, "at the ninth hour, Jesus cried with a loud voice, Eli, Eli,
lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why
hast thou forsaken me?"--the very words which stand, at the beginning
of the 22nd Psalm, wherein David foretells many things that would
happen at this time. "Some of them that stood by," not understanding
Hebrew, "when they heard the words spoken by Jesus, said, Behold, he
calleth Elias. After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now
accomplished," and that His release was at hand, "that the Scripture
might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full
of vinegar: and straightway one" of the by-standers, more humane than
the others, "ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and
put it upon hyssop, and put it on a reed," with which he raised it
high enough "to put it to his mouth, and (so) gave him to drink. The
rest said, Let be; let us see whether Elias will come to take him
down."

The common drink of the Roman soldiers was "posea," a poor kind of
wine, often called vinegar, but not like what we mean by vinegar. This
"posea" was now offered to Jesus. "When Jesus therefore had received
the vinegar, he said, It is finished." All was now accomplished; every
prediction uttered by the Prophets concerning the Messiah, had been
fulfilled; the Redemption of man was completed. Let the cost of that
Redemption make us give ourselves to our Redeemer, to be His faithful
followers and servants.

"Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, said, Father, into
thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he bowed his
head, and gave up the ghost,"--he yielded up his life, according to
his own words, "I lay down my life for the sheep. No man taketh it
from me, but I lay it down of myself." The sacrifice was voluntary,
otherwise it could have availed us nothing. Jesus died: His spirit
departed from the body; and His last words prove that the mysterious
suffering had passed away, that He again felt the comfort of His
Father's love, and that He was no longer forsaken.

The Almighty God now again bore testimony to the Divine nature of Him
who had just yielded up his human life: heaven and earth alike
testified that this was indeed the Son of God. During the time of His
deepest agony, "the sun was darkened"; now that He had given up the
ghost, "the earth did quake, and the rocks rent, and the graves were
opened. And behold the veil of the temple was rent in twain, in the
midst, from the top to the bottom."

The veil which divided the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple,
was a thick curtain, something like a worked carpet. The tearing of
this down the middle was a very significant action, showing that the
death of Jesus had done away with all the ceremonial observances
established by the Law of Moses. A new Covenant, the Covenant of
Grace, was now to replace the old Covenant of Works.

The Holy of Holies was looked upon by the Jews as a type of heaven;
and only the High Priest was allowed to enter into it. Christ died to
open the way into heaven to all mankind, whether Jews or Gentiles;
thus the veil was rent, to show that through the mediation of Jesus,
all might have access to God the Father.

"Now when the centurion which stood over against him, watching Jesus,
and they that were with him, saw the earthquake, and those things that
were done, and that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, they
feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God."

The Roman centurion had witnessed many executions, and the wonderful
events attendant upon this one had convinced him of the truth of all
that Jesus had said; "and he glorified God, saying, Certainly, this
was a righteous man." The very people, who had been persuaded by the
Priests to ask for the release of Barabbas and the crucifixion of
Jesus, now shared the feelings of the centurion; for we read that "all
the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things
which were done, smote their breasts," in token of remorse and grief,
"and returned."

"And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from
Galilee," "among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James
the Less and of Joses, and Salome" "the mother of Zebedee's children,"
"and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem," "stood
afar off, beholding these things."

The ninth hour, after which our Saviour breathed His last, answers to
our 3 o'clock P.M., and a new day, according to the Jewish mode of
reckoning, would begin at 6 o'clock P.M. As Jesus was crucified on
Friday morning, the day now about to begin, was the Sabbath; and being
the Sabbath in the Passover week, it was a particularly solemn, or
"high day," to be observed with special reverence. On the morrow after
that Sabbath, the Jewish people, according to the ordinances of the
Mosaical Law, were accustomed to assemble in the temple, bringing with
them, as a thank-offering to the Lord, a sheaf of corn, the "first
fruits" of the harvest, which began at this season of the year. At the
same time, particular sacrifices were to be offered, all in
thanksgiving to Him who giveth us the fruits of the earth in due
season.

Crucifixion, as we have said, was often a lingering death: and
sometimes, to hasten the end, the legs of the poor wretches hanging
upon the cross were broken. The beginning of the Passover Sabbath was
now fast approaching: it was not lawful, according to the Jewish Law,
for any criminal who had been hanged, to be left hanging all night;
that is, beyond the close of the day of their execution. The bodies of
criminals who had been executed, were usually buried without any form
or ceremonies; but sometimes, at the earnest entreaty of the family,
they were allowed to take the body, and bury it with funeral honours.

The Jewish priests and rulers were very particular in observing all
outward rites and ceremonies, even when they had just been guilty of a
fearful sin; and "therefore, because it was the preparation," the time
for preparing for the coming Sabbath, "that the bodies should not
remain upon the cross on the sabbath day (for that sabbath day was an
high day)" the Jews "besought Pilate that their legs might be broken,
and that they might be taken away. Then came the soldiers, and brake
the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him.
But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was dead already, they
brake not his legs: but one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his
side, and forthwith came thereout blood and water": this water, proved
that the heart had been actually pierced, so that none could doubt
that Jesus was really and truly dead. It was very necessary that the
fact of His death should be clearly established, so that men might
afterwards have no doubt as to His "Resurrection from the dead."
Amongst those who saw the water and blood flowing from the wound made
by the spear, was the beloved disciple, St. John; for in his Gospel,
he tells us, "And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true:
and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe." In this
treatment of the body of Jesus by the Roman soldiers, two prophecies
concerning our Saviour, the true Paschal Lamb, were fulfilled. "For
these things were done, that the Scripture should be fulfilled, A bone
of him shall not be broken," and "They shall look on him whom they
pierced."

"And after this, when the evening was come, because it was the
preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, there came a rich
man of Arimathæa, a city of the Jews: named Joseph, an honourable
counsellor," who "had not consented to the counsel and deed of them"
in putting Jesus to death. "He was a good man, and a just: who also
himself waited for the kingdom of God: being a disciple of Jesus, but
secretly, for fear of the Jews." Anxious to save the sacred body of
Him in Whom he believed, from further injury or insult, this man
"came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus:
and besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus."

Arimathæa, supposed to be the same as Rama, where Samuel dwelt in the
time of Saul, lay to the N.W. of Jerusalem, on the way to Joppa.
Joseph, as a man of wealth and influence, must have been known to the
Roman governor, who would be willing to oblige him, especially in such
a matter, since he himself was convinced that Jesus was no malefactor.
His only hesitation arose from his doubt as to whether Jesus was at
that time dead; "Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling
unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while
dead. And when he knew it of the centurion, Pilate gave him leave; and
commanded the body to be delivered to Joseph." Joseph having obtained
Pilate's leave to remove the body of Jesus, "bought fine linen" to
wrap it in, according to custom. "He came therefore," and with the
help of others, "took the body of Jesus" down from the cross.

"And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen
cloth: there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by
night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred
pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen
clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury." This
was all that the time allowed to be done then, in the way of
embalming.

"Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in
the garden a new sepulchre, and Joseph laid the body in his own new
tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock, wherein was man never yet
laid." It was a custom in those days, for the rich, with whom Christ
was to be in his death (as Isaiah had said), to form their tombs, by
having a sort of small room cut out of the solid rock; leaving a
narrow door, which was the only possible way by which any one could go
in or out. This door or entrance was always closed by a large stone.
Within the room or cave, was a sepulchre or sepulchres, in which the
body was laid. In such a sepulchre "they laid Jesus therefore, because
of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand: and
the sabbath drew on." And they rolled a great stone to the door "of
the sepulchre, and departed."



Chapter XLIV.--JESUS RISES FROM THE SEPULCHRE.


"And Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of Joses, and the women also
which came with him from Galilee, followed after" Joseph and
Nicodemus, "and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid." And
they returned and prepared spices and ointments, in order that the
process of embalming, hastily begun by Joseph and Nicodemus, might be
properly finished after the Sabbath should be past. Having made their
preparations, they "rested the sabbath day, according to the
commandment."

By comparing the accounts of all that happened after Jesus was laid in
the tomb, we find that though the greater number of the women went
away, as has been said, two of them remained watching the spot which
now contained the body of Him whom they so loved and reverenced: for
we read, "And there was Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (the mother
of James and Joses) sitting over against the sepulchre." There they
stayed, probably till the Sabbath had begun, when, of course, it was
too late for them to prepare their share of spices, without breaking
the fourth commandment.

"Now the next day that followed the day of the preparation" (this
seems to mean in the beginning of the Sabbath, soon after 6 o'clock on
Friday evening, just after the burial of our Lord), "the Chief
Priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, Sir, we
remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three
days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made
sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal
him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the
last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said unto them, Ye
have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went,
and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch."

Thus did the Lord make these Priests and Pharisees bear witness to
Christ's resurrection. It was little likely that the Apostles would
make any attempt to carry off the body, and still less likely that
they could succeed in any such an attempt; but what was now done
rendered it _impossible_; for there was no way of carrying the body
out of the sepulchre but through the door, which was closed by a heavy
stone, and was now watched by a guard of soldiers, who would not allow
any one even to touch the stone, which could not be moved without
making much noise. It was essential that there should never be any
doubt as to the fact of Christ's having risen from the dead, and
therefore His very enemies were made to furnish the strongest proofs
of His resurrection. Thinking they had made the sepulchre sure, they
went away to rest on the Sabbath. But

    Vain the stone, the watch, the seal,
    Christ has burst the gates of Hell;
    Death in vain forbids His rise,
    Christ hath opened Paradise.

Jesus laid in the grave all through the Sabbath, from 6 o'clock on
Friday evening to 6 o'clock on Saturday evening. The Sabbath was now
past; the first day in the week, called by us Sunday, was begun. "And
when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of
Joses, and Salome," who had not had time to make any preparations
before the Sabbath, set out from their homes to go to the sepulchre;
and they "had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint
him." But while they were on their way, "behold, there was a great
earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came
and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His
countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: and for
fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men."

The time and circumstances of Jesus's rising from the dead, are veiled
in mystery. He had evidently left the sepulchre before the stone was
rolled away. All that we know is, that Christ rose, and was the "first
fruits of them that slept"; and He rose on the day when the first
fruits of the harvest were presented in thankfulness to the Lord God
Almightly. His resurrection secured ours; and, as a sign that it did
so, "many bodies of the saints which slept arose out of the graves
after his resurrection, and went into the city, and appeared unto
many." The graves were opened when Jesus gave up His life on the
cross: when He arose, the bodies which lay in them arose also,
testifying to His triumph over death and the grave.

Wonderful indeed were all the events which took place at this time! In
their several accounts of what happened after our Saviour had risen,
some of the Evangelists mention one thing, and some another; but as
clever men, who have considered the subject, show us how all the
events mentioned must have followed one another, we shall keep to
their account.

We have said that before the earthquake took place, Mary Magdalene and
the other Mary, accompanied by Salome, who had joined them, set out to
go to the sepulchre: knowing that it was closed by a great stone, they
naturally, as they drew near, "at the rising of the sun, said among
themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the
sepulchre?" Of the watch set there, they probably knew nothing. But on
coming close, this difficulty was at an end, "for when they looked,
they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great." Very
probably Mary Magdalene was the first who observed this fact, for St.
John speaks especially of her, and says, "The first day of the week
cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre,
and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre."

Here you must understand, that the Hebrew sepulchres had two
divisions, or chambers. The inner division, or chamber, in which the
body was laid, was separated from the outer division by a door,
closed, as we have heard, by a large stone. The outer chamber, or
porch, had an open door, or entrance.

As soon as Mary Magdalene and her companions came near, they could
see, through the open entrance of the outer chamber, that the door of
the inner chamber was also open, and that the great stone, which they
had seen placed there after Jesus was laid in the tomb, had been
taken away: but they did not see either the stone itself or the angel
sitting upon it, on the right-hand side of the door; as this could not
be seen without going into the porch, or outer chamber. As soon, then,
as Mary Magdalene saw, through the open entrance of the porch, that
the stone was rolled away from the door of the inner chamber, or
sepulchre, she, concluding that some persons, either friends or
enemies, had opened it, and carried away the body of Jesus, "runneth,
and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved,
and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the
sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him."

After Mary Magdalene had left them, the other Mary and Salome went
into the outer division, and, "entering into the sepulchre" (that is,
into the porch), "they saw a young man sitting on the right side,
clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And the
angel answered, and said unto the women, Fear not ye; be not
affrighted; for I know that ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was
crucified: He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the
place where the Lord lay; behold the place where they laid him."
Having thus assured these women that the Lord was indeed risen from
the dead, the angel bade them make the good tidings known to others,
saying, "But go your way quickly, tell his disciples and Peter that he
is risen from the dead, and that he goeth before you into Galilee:
there shall ye see him, as he said unto you; lo, I have told you. And
they departed quickly from the sepulchre, with fear, and fled; for
they trembled and were amazed: neither said they anything to any man."

These women were so confused and overpowered with surprise, fear, and
joy, that they scarcely knew what to say or do: so they told no man
what they had seen or heard as they went along, but "with great joy
did run to bring his disciples word" of what the angel had said.

It must have been a great comfort to Peter to hear that he had been
particularly mentioned by name, as it showed that Jesus had not cast
him off, but still looked upon him as a disciple, notwithstanding his
sin in denying his Lord and Master.

It seems that when the disciples saw their Lord condemned and
crucified, they must have forgotten all that He had told them as to
His rising again; and, instead of going early to the sepulchre on the
third day, they appear to have remained at home, mourning and
lamenting His death. Now, however, Mary Magdalene's tidings must have
brought their Lord's words to remembrance. "Peter therefore went
forth, and that other disciple (John), and came to the sepulchre. So
they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and
came first to the sepulchre. And he, stooping down and looking in, saw
the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in." The clothes in which the
body had been wrapped were there; but the body itself was gone. No
angel was now to be seen, nor did the disciples know that one had been
seen at all; for Mary Magdalene had left the sepulchre before her two
companions went into the porch of the sepulchre.

"Then cometh Simon Peter, following John, and went into the sepulchre,
and seeth the linen clothes lie, and the napkin that was about his
head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a
place by itself." This circumstance was very important. If the body of
Jesus had been _stolen away_, either by friends or enemies, they would
have carried it away as it was, and not waited to unwind the linen
clothes, and more especially not to have folded the napkin up and laid
it in a separate place. The astonishment of Peter when he saw the
burial clothes thus lying in order caused John also to go into the
sepulchre: "and he saw and believed." "For as yet they knew not the
Scripture, that he must rise again from the dead."



Chapter XLV.--CHRIST APPEARS TO MARY MAGDALENE.


The Apostles appear to have come to the sepulchre, without any idea
that the Lord had risen from the dead. They had not understood rightly
what the prophets had said of the death and rising again of the
Messiah; nor had the words of the Lord, though He had told them
plainly that He should die and rise again the third day, prepared them
for what had happened.

When John examined the tomb, he saw that the body of Jesus must, in
some miraculous way, have slipped out of the linen clothes, leaving
them lying in such perfect order: "he saw, and believed" that Jesus
was indeed risen. "For as yet they knew not the Scripture, that he
must rise again from the dead." Up to this time they had not rightly
understood this Scripture; and John's faith now rested on what he had
_seen_, not, as it should have done, upon the Word of God. Peter and
John, having satisfied themselves that the body of Jesus was no longer
in the sepulchre, "went away again unto their own home," before Mary
Magdalene, who had followed them, reached the sepulchre for the second
time: she arriving after they had left, would naturally be
disappointed at not hearing their opinion, as to the disappearance of
the body of Jesus. She was grieved that any one should have carried
Him away; and this, added to the recollection of what she had
witnessed in the sufferings and death of Jesus, so disturbed Mary,
that she "stood without at the sepulchre weeping. And as she wept, she
stooped down, and looked into the (inner) sepulchre, and seeth two
angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the
feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. And they say, Woman, why
weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my
Lord, and I know not where they have laid him." So little did Mary
expect the Lord to rise again to life, that even the sight of angels
sitting by His open tomb, did not convince her that the body had not
been removed to another place. She was soon to know the truth; for
"when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus
standing." But it pleased the Lord to appear to her in such a form,
that at first she knew not that it was Jesus. This was the first
appearance of Jesus Christ after His resurrection; for, as St. Mark
tells us, "Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week,
he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven
devils." "Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest
thou? She, supposing Him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if
thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I
will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary." This one word, spoken
in the tone she had been accustomed to hear, removed all doubts and
fears: now she sees and knows that it is indeed Jesus restored to
life, who stands by her. We can imagine with what surprise and joy
"she turned herself" quickly towards her Lord, "and saith unto him,
Rabboni; which is to say, Master." From what follows, we may suppose
that in her exceeding gladness, Mary would have laid hold upon the
Lord to detain Him; for "Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am
not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto
them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and
your God."

By these words, He seems to have meant that the time was not quite
come for Him to ascend into heaven; and that Mary need not therefore
hold Him, as if she was afraid of not seeing Him again; but, on the
contrary, that she should at once go and remind His disciples of all
that He had before told them, about His going to His Father, and not
leaving them comfortless; because if He left them, He would send the
Holy Ghost to teach and guide them. The message thus sent by Jesus,
should remind us all, that the Lord God Almighty is indeed our God; a
kind and loving Father to _all_ who believe in His beloved Son, so as
to love and obey Him.

Mary Magdalene set out immediately to tell "the disciples that she had
seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things unto her." On her
way it seems that she fell in with the other Mary and Salome, who had
fled from the sepulchre at the sight of the angel. The three women now
went on together. "And as they went to tell his disciples, behold,
Jesus met them, saying, All hail." "All hail" signified Welcome; it
was a common mode of expressing pleasure at meeting. Mary and Salome,
who had heard from Mary Magdalene that the Lord was indeed alive
again, were neither astonished nor frightened at His appearance; but,
filled with joy and love, they fell at His feet; "they came and held
him by the feet, and worshipped him." "Then said Jesus unto them, Be
not afraid; go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there
they shall see me." The action of holding His feet, showed fear that
the Lord would at once disappear; but He bids them have no fears, for
that, on the contrary, He would meet His disciples in Galilee. But
before that, He appeared also to His Apostles.

Whilst the women were on their way to tell the disciples all they had
seen and heard, "behold some of the watch came into the city, and
showed unto the Chief Priests all the things that were done." We have
heard how, when the angel of the Lord descended, those who were
guarding the sepulchre were so terrified, that they "became as dead
men,"--unable to move, or know what to do. When they came to
themselves, they would see that the sepulchre was empty; whilst they
well knew that no human power could have removed the body. They went
therefore, and told those who had set them to watch, how vain all
their precautions had been. The Chief Priests immediately called the
Council together: "and when they were assembled with the elders, and
had taken counsel," or consulted amongst themselves what they had best
do to prevent their countrymen from believing in the resurrection of
Christ, "they gave large money unto the soldiers, saying, Say ye, His
disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. So they
took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is
commonly reported among the Jews until this day."

Great indeed was the wilful unbelief of the Jews, if they could for
one moment believe such an absurd story, as the Priests and elders had
bribed the soldiers to tell. Amongst the Romans, death was the
punishment for any soldier who went to sleep whilst upon guard: yet,
in spite of this, men were required to believe, that sixty soldiers,
and their commander, were all so fast asleep, that the noise which
must have been made by moving the stone, did not even awake one of
them. Besides, if they had all been asleep, how could they have known
that the disciples had been there?

The Chief Priests and elders knew that this story was false; and we
may be quite sure that Pilate and those in authority did not believe
it, or the soldiers would not have escaped punishment: but the Romans
did not care what the Jews believed on the subject: and the soldiers,
being heathens, and therefore careless about speaking the truth, took
the money offered by the Council, and in return told what they knew to
be a lie. Even up to this day, the Jews, of whom there are many
thousands scattered in different parts of the world, believe the story
invented by the Chief Priests; and instead of acknowledging Jesus as
the Messiah, still look for Christ's coming. It seems to us quite
impossible that any one should disbelieve in Jesus Christ being the
promised Messiah; but unhappily it is so. Let us pray to God that He
will take from the Jews all blindness and hardness of heart, and bring
them into the Christian Church.

Now let us return in thought to the sepulchre, where, after the
departure of Mary Magdalene, and of the other Mary and Salome, another
party of women arrived. These were the women which came with Him from
Galilee, and who, after seeing where the body of Jesus was laid, went
away immediately to prepare spices and ointments, and then rested on
the sabbath day. "Now upon the first day of the week, very early in
the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which
they had prepared, and certain others," that is, some other women
came, "with them." These women had had a longer way to come than Mary
Magdalene and her companions, and therefore, although they set out as
soon as the Sabbath was past, they did not reach the sepulchre until
some time after them: although it was still early. "And they found the
stone rolled away from the sepulchre." This circumstance would
naturally cause them no surprise, as they would conclude that the
disciples or others had reached the sepulchre before them, and were
already engaged in the work of embalming the body, in which they were
come to assist.

But their surprise was to come; for "they entered in, and found not
the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass as they were much
perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining
garments: and as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the
earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He
is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was
yet in Galilee, saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the
hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again."
The sudden appearance "of two men in shining garments," alarmed the
women; who at once knew them to be angels. Then the angels reproved
these women for the want of faith, which had made them expect to find
amongst the dead, One whom they ought to have known must be alive, if
they had remembered and believed what He Himself had formerly told
them. When the women heard the words of the angels, they remembered
the words of Jesus, "and returned from the sepulchre, and told all
these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest." But the eleven had
already heard these wonderful tidings from Mary Magdalene and Joanna,
and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them,
which told these things unto the Apostles, as they mourned and wept
for the death of their Lord.



Chapter XLVI.--JESUS APPEARS TO THE DISCIPLES.


The testimony of so many different witnesses had not yet convinced the
Apostles: when they had heard that "Jesus was alive, and had been seen
of Mary Magdalene, they believed not. And when the other women came
with their testimony," their words seemed to the Apostles as "idle
tales, and they believed them not."

Still all that they heard was not without some effect; for Peter was
anxious to visit the sepulchre again: "Then arose Peter, and ran unto
the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by
themselves." But he saw nothing more; "and he departed, wondering in
himself at that which was come to pass." We learn from the Scriptures
that Peter was the first of the Apostles who did see the Lord after
His resurrection; but how and when this meeting took place, we are not
told; and it is most likely that it took place now, whilst Peter was
returning from his second visit to the sepulchre, "wondering in
himself at that which was come to pass." What joy it must have been to
Peter, to see that his Lord and Master was indeed alive, and to be
able to receive forgiveness for the sin he had committed, in denying
all knowledge of Him. What passed between our Lord and Peter on this
occasion, is not written down in either of the Gospels; but we may be
sure that Jesus spake kindly and lovingly to Peter. It is no wonder to
find that ever afterwards, Peter devoted himself heartily to the
service of God. After this interview with Peter, Jesus appeared to two
of the disciples, who were not also Apostles: "he appeared in another
form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country." To
Peter, Jesus probably appeared in His own person, so as to be
recognized at once: on the occasion of which we are now to speak, He
concealed Himself under the form of a "stranger." St. Luke tells us,
that two of the disciples went that same day, (the first day of the
week,) to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about
three-score furlongs; that is, about seven miles and a half, for eight
furlongs make a mile. And, very naturally, "they talked together of
all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that, while
they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went
with them. But their eyes were holden, that they should not know him.
And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that
ye have one with another, and are sad?" Jesus asked not such questions
for His own information, but to enable Him to show the truth to the
disciples, who were surprised that any person, even a stranger, should
be ignorant of the wonderful events which had happened. "And one of
them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a
stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to
pass there in these days? And he said unto them, What things? And they
said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet
mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: and how the
Chief Priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death,
and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which
should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to-day is the third
day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women of our
company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; and
when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also
seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. And certain of
them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as
the women had said: but him they saw not." In this account of the
matter, given by these two to a stranger, as they supposed, we see the
state of doubt and perplexity in which all the disciples were: a
little more faith would have set their minds at rest: but it is
evident that though, whilst He lived they had believed Jesus to be the
true Messiah, who should redeem Israel, His death and burial had so
far shaken their belief, that they could not at once feel sure that He
had risen from the dead, though they could not altogether reject that
idea.

When these two disciples had ended their account, they must have been
somewhat surprised at being reproached for their unwillingness to
believe all that their Prophets had spoken concerning the Messiah; for
Jesus, still in His character of a stranger, "said unto them, O fools,
and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken"! And
then He reminded them, that the Scriptures had expressly said, that
Christ must suffer death on earth, before He could enter into glory in
heaven: saying, "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and
to enter into his glory?" that is, ought not these very things which
trouble you to have happened just as they have done, to fulfil the
Scriptures, and to show that this was indeed the promised Messiah.

When Jesus had shown the two disciples that want of faith alone caused
their perplexity, He graciously went on, "and beginning at Moses and
all the prophets, he expounded (or explained) unto them in all the
Scriptures the things concerning himself. And they drew nigh unto the
village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone
further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is
toward evening, and the day is far spent." No wonder these disciples,
whose faith must have been strengthened by the explanations of their
unknown companion, were unwilling so soon to part with one so learned
in the Scriptures; and, as it was near evening, they urged Him to go
in and abide with them for the night. At their earnest entreaty, "he
went in to tarry with them." Emmaus, where our Lord now was, was a
village about seven or eight miles to the west of Jerusalem; the
dwelling-place, probably, of the two disciples whose guest He was.
"And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread and
blessed it, and brake, and gave to them." Jesus probably did what He
had done at the last Passover Supper, when He appointed Bread and Wine
to be taken and received, in "continual remembrance of the sacrifice
of the death of Christ, and of the benefits which we receive thereby."

At any rate, by this act, Jesus made Himself known to Cleopas and his
companion: "their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he
vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not
our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and
while he opened to us the Scriptures?" They had felt great interest
in the conversation and teaching of the stranger, and now they seem
to feel that all he had said should have shown them that One Who thus
taught could be no other than the Lord Himself. Their next thought
was to tell these great and glad tidings to the rest of the
disciples; and though it was drawing towards night, and they had
already had a long walk, "they rose up the same hour, and returned to
Jerusalem,"--setting us a good example not to let any personal
inconvenience prevent us from doing anything that we feel it is our
duty to do. When they reached Jerusalem, they "found the eleven
gathered together, and them that were with them, saying, The Lord is
risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon." Peter had by this time
related how the Lord had spoken to him, and his testimony had
convinced his fellow disciples that their Lord had indeed risen from
the dead. Cleopas and his companion now bore witness to the same
fact, and "told what things were done in the way, and how he was
known of them in breaking of bread." But some of the disciples do not
seem to have been convinced even yet, for St. Mark says of these two,
"they went and told it unto the residue, neither believed they them."

"Then the same day at evening," (nearly 6 o'clock,) still being the
first day of the week, "when the doors were shut where the disciples
were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus: as they thus spake,
Jesus stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto
you." Notwithstanding all that had already past, it seems that the
greater part, at least, of the disciples could not believe that this
was really and truly the Lord, in the same body as He had borne before
His death: "they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they
had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why
do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it
is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and
bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them
his hands and his feet, and his side. Then were the disciples glad
when they saw the Lord."

Doubts, however, still lingered in the minds of some, and these our
Lord graciously condescended to remove; for "while they yet believed
not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?
And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and an honeycomb. And he
took it, and did eat before them. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace
be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so I send you. And when
he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye
the Holy Ghost: whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto
them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained."

"Remit" here means _forgive_; sins remitted are sins forgiven. To
"retain" means just the contrary--not forgiven sins; "retained" means
sins that are not forgiven, of which the guilt still rests upon those
who have committed them. Jesus did not, of course, mean that His
Apostles, or any human being, had power to forgive or remit the
smallest sin committed against God; none can forgive sin, but God
only. But our Lord meant, that when, by the teaching of the Apostles,
poor sinners should be brought to believe the Gospel and repent, they,
the Apostles, might safely declare unto them the blessed truth, that
their sins are forgiven, and done away with, for the sake of all that
Jesus Christ has done for us.

But in the same way, the Apostles must warn all who will not believe
and repent, that their sins cannot be forgiven; but that their guilt
remains, and must hereafter meet with due punishment.



Chapter XLVII.--UNBELIEF OF THOMAS.


"But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when
Jesus came." As soon as they met again, "the other disciples therefore
said unto him, We have seen the Lord." Thomas, however, was so
convinced that it was impossible for Jesus to appear again in His own
body, that he declared that he would not believe, unless he actually
_saw_ that it was the very same body which had been crucified:
therefore, "he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the
print of the nails, and put my finger into the print," or hole made by
"the nails, and thrust my hand into" the wound made by the spear in
"his side, I will not believe."

This want of faith was wrong: Thomas knew that the other Apostles
would not say anything that they did not believe to be true; and it
was impossible that all the ten, should have merely _fancied_ that
they had seen and talked with their beloved Lord and Master.

Thomas was now left for one whole week in his unbelief; and a good
many of the disciples, who had not themselves seen Jesus, took his
view of the matter: though the ten Apostles, and a great number of the
disciples, were convinced that Christ was indeed risen.

"And after eight days again," that is, on the first day of the next
week, "the disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came
Jesus, the doors being shut," so that He could not possibly have come
into the room that way, "and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be
unto you."

The disciples were probably at supper, for St. Mark says, "he appeared
unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their
unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which
had seen him after he was risen." To "upbraid" means to reproach: all
had deserved reproach for their slowness and unwillingness to believe
the testimony of others, but to Thomas such upbraiding was principally
addressed: but whilst he reproved, Jesus also showed mercy: for "then
saith He to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands: and
reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not
faithless, but believing." Thomas had now received the proofs which he
had demanded; he saw and was convinced that Jesus had indeed,
according to the Scriptures, risen in his own human body from the
grave. "And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.
Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast
believed: blessed are they, that have not seen, and yet have
believed." These are comfortable words for all Christians who believe
without seeing: and we may indeed thank God for the unwillingness of
this Apostle to believe, as it afforded a still further testimony to
the reality of the Resurrection.

It seems that the next appearance of Jesus Christ was to a large
number of His disciples at once. We read, "Then the eleven disciples
went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed
them." Here many other disciples must have joined them; for another
part of Scripture tells us, that "he was seen of above five hundred
brethren at once." "And when they saw him, they worshipped him; but
some doubted." It appears probable that at first, Jesus showed Himself
at a great distance, so that some could still hardly believe that He
was the Lord. "But Jesus came and spake unto them." We may imagine how
all doubts were removed at once, and with what joyful gladness the
disciples acknowledged Him now, as the long-expected Messiah. "After
these things, Jesus showed himself again to the disciples at the sea
of Tiberias." It seems that the Apostles had so little idea of the
nature of the work they were from henceforth to do, that they had
returned to their usual occupation of fishermen. "There were together
Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in
Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.
Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We
also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship
immediately; and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning
was now come, Jesus stood on the shore; but the disciples knew not
that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any
meat?" meaning, have ye now taken any fish. To this question, put, as
they supposed, by a man, the disciples "answered him, No. And he said
unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall
find." It seems probable that the disciples now began to have some
suspicions as to the true nature of Him, who gave them this direction,
since no mere man could have foretold the result of their casting the
net in one particular spot. "They cast, therefore, and now they were
not able to draw it, for the multitude of fishes." This completely
convinced the disciples; "therefore, that disciple whom Jesus loved,
saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now, when Simon Peter heard that it
was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,)
and did cast himself into the sea," eager to swim quickly to the land
on which his beloved Master stood. The word "naked," in this place,
only means that Peter had not his outer garments on--only the inner
one he wore whilst fishing; and this he girt on, bound close round
him, that it might be no hindrance whilst he swam. "And the other
disciples came in a little ship (or boat), for they were not far from
land, but as it were two hundred cubits (about 120 yards), dragging
the net with fishes. As soon then as they were come to land, they saw
a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. Jesus saith
unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. Simon Peter
went up (to help), and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an
hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was
not the net broken. Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine." The word
here translated _dine_, means rather breakfast, the first meal of the
day, for it was now early morning.

"And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that
it was the Lord. Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them,
and fish likewise."

St. John, in his account of this meeting of Jesus and His disciples at
the sea of Tiberias, says, "This is now the third time that Jesus
showed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the
dead." It is the third appearance mentioned by St. John; and it was
the third time that Jesus had appeared to the Apostles, when all or
most of them were together; and this is probably what St. John meant.
The first of these appearances, was to the ten on the day of His
Resurrection, when Thomas was not with them; the second took place on
the first day of the next week, when all the eleven were assembled;
and the third, was the one of which we have just been speaking at the
sea of Tiberias. Of Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene and the other
women, to Peter alone, to the two disciples on their way to Emmaus,
and to "above five hundred brethren at once," John makes no mention.
St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Corinthians, speaking of the appearing
of Jesus after the Resurrection, says, "He was seen of Cephas, then of
the twelve: after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at
once: after that, he was seen of James, then of all the Apostles." Now
none of the Gospels gives an account of any special appearance to
James: we may therefore conclude that we are not told of every
appearance vouchsafed to His disciples, during the time that Jesus
remained on earth after His Resurrection; though enough are related,
to prove the reality of that blessed fact.

We may remark, that "Cephas" is a Greek word, meaning the same as
Peter, that is, a rock, or stone; and that as St. Paul was writing to
the inhabitants of a city of Greece, he called Simon Peter by his
Greek name: by "the twelve," the body of the Apostles is meant, though
at that time there were, in fact, only eleven of them.

When the Apostles had eaten their meal of fish and bread, to which
they had been invited by the Lord, a remarkable conversation took
place. We read, "So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter,
Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?"--that is, dost
thou love me more than these other of my disciples love me? You will
remember how before the Crucifixion, Peter, in his self-confidence,
declared, that though all the other disciples should forsake Jesus, he
never would, but would die for Him if necessary: but his grievous fall
had shown him his own weakness; and now, so far from boasting of his
greater love, he humbly replied, "Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love
thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs." By lambs and sheep, our
Saviour meant all his people, young and old: all, who should believe
in Him, and so belong to His Church, or flock, as it is often called.

This mode of speaking of the people of God, as of a Flock, consisting
of sheep and lambs, is very common throughout the Scripture. David
pleading for his people, who were suffering from pestilence in
consequence of his sin in numbering them, says, "But these sheep, what
have they done?" The same idea is often repeated in the Psalms, and in
the Prophets; and in our Liturgy, or Church Service, we confess that
we "have erred and strayed like lost sheep."

Peter would well understand this figurative manner of speaking. The
question was repeated: "Jesus saith to him again the second time,
Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord;
thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He
saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?
Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou
me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest
that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep." Three times
had Peter denied his Lord; three times now had he been asked, Lovest
thou me? Well might he be grieved at the remembrance of that sin,
which could have cast a doubt upon the love he bore his divine Master:
deeply did he feel the rebuke which he had deserved. Humbly, without
making any professions, did he appeal to Him, who knows all hearts, to
judge whether he loved Him. Peter's love for Jesus was both strong and
sincere, and his whole future life bore witness to its strength and
sincerity, until he did indeed lay down his life for his Master's
sake. Let us take Peter for our example, and try, by every action of
our lives, to show that we do love and wish to please our God and
Saviour.

After this Jesus said to Peter, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When
thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou
wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy
hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou
wouldest not. This spake he, signifying by what death he should
glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow
me." About thirty years after this time, in the reign of the Emperor
Nero, Peter was crucified at Rome by the heathens, because he tried to
make them Christians; he stretched out his arms on the cross, and
another bound him and carried him to execution. Faithfully did Peter
obey his Master's command, "Follow me"; for he went about teaching
after His example, until He died by the same death. But in his death,
Peter gave a further proof of humility; for considering himself
unworthy even to die in the same way as Jesus had done, he begged to
be crucified with his head downwards; and this request was granted.
Death for the sake of our religion is called martyrdom, and those who
so suffer, are martyrs.



Chapter XLVIII.--JESUS TAKEN INTO HEAVEN.


We are not told that Peter made any remark upon what Jesus told him,
"signifying by what death he should glorify God:" we only read, "Then
Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved, following;
which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he
that betrayeth thee?" This you will remember was John, one of the sons
of Zebedee; the same John who alone gives us any account of what
passed on this occasion. "Peter, seeing him, saith to Jesus, Lord, and
what shall this man do?" Jesus, instead of satisfying Peter's
curiosity, gave him an answer, which should teach us all, that we must
not seek curiously to know things hidden from us; and that the great
point is, for every man to follow Christ by faith and practice, and
not to concern himself too much about others; any further than by
setting a good example, and using what influence he may have over
others, for a good purpose.

In answer to Peter's question, "Jesus saith unto him, If I will that
he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me. Then went
this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not
die," but should _tarry_, or remain alive upon earth, until the
Saviour should come again to judge the world. There was no ground for
the disciples to form such a mistaken notion; for as St. John truly
says, "yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, if I will
that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?"

Jesus then appeared again to His Apostles at Jerusalem, and gave them
His last directions as to their conduct, when He should have left them
to return to His Father in heaven. "Being assembled together with
them, (he) commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem,
but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard
of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized
with the Holy Ghost, not many days hence." In these words, Jesus
reminded the disciples of His frequent promises to send upon them the
Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to be their guide; and He bade them wait
in Jerusalem, until this promise should be fulfilled. "And he said
unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet
with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in
the law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning
me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the
Scriptures," and see how exactly His death and resurrection had
accomplished everything prophesied of the Messiah. "And (he) said unto
them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to
rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of
sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at
Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send
the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of
Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high."

Such were our Lord's last directions to the Apostles whom He was about
to leave; and either immediately after this conversation, or a few
days later, "he led them out as far as to Bethany," where He purposed
to take His final leave of them on earth. The Bethany here meant, was
not the actual village of that name, which was about two miles from
Jerusalem, but a part of Mount Olivet, or the Mount of Olives, nearer
to the city. The Mount Olivet began about 5 furlongs (little more than
half a mile) from Jerusalem: the first tract or part of the Mount was
called Bethphage, and in this tract was the village bearing that name:
another portion of the Mount went by the name of Bethany, and in that
tract was the village of Bethany. Jesus led his Apostles to the spot
where the tract of Bethany joined that of Bethphage. "When they
therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt
thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?"

The Apostles had not yet a clear idea of the spiritual nature of
Christ's kingdom, nor of the time which was to elapse, before it
should be established upon earth; and they seem even to have thought
that now, when by His rising from the dead He had proved Himself to be
the Messiah, the King of the Jews, He would at once restore them to
their former state of prosperity, and make Judæa again an independent
kingdom. Jesus reproved them for asking such a question, and "said
unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which
the Father hath put in his own hand." There are, indeed, many things
said of future blessings in store for the Children of Israel; but
_how_ or _when_ God will give them, is one of the secret things, which
are at present hidden from us. After reproving His disciples for undue
curiosity as to future events, Jesus calls their attention back to
matters more nearly concerning themselves; namely, to the work which
they were now to do, in bearing witness of all that He had done, and
in teaching men everywhere the blessed truths of the Gospel; and for
this important and arduous task, Jesus again promises them that divine
help, without which man can do nothing good. Therefore, he said unto
them, "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come
upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem, and in
all Judæa, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."

"And he said unto them, All power is given unto me in heaven and in
earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the
name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching
them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. Go ye into
all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that
believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not
shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my
name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it
shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall
recover. And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the
world."

By being baptized, those who heard the Gospel preached, showed their
faith in Christ, and their determination to follow His precepts and
commands: and by Baptism, God gave them grace and strength to do so.
By Baptism, we are now received into Christ's Church--we become
Christians. In the time of the Apostles, of course, the grown-up
people were baptized: when they had heard the Gospel preached, and
believed that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, they
would repent of all their sins, and try to serve and obey Him; and
then they would be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son,
and of the Holy Ghost; to show that they _did_ mean to dedicate, or
give themselves up, to the service of God: and He, in return, would
pour out upon them His Holy Spirit, to enable them to do so.

But God, who is a merciful Father, does not require His creatures to
wait for the blessings of Baptism, until they are old enough to
understand and value them; and therefore amongst Christian nations,
Infants are baptized long before they can either believe or repent,
and so they become the children of God--lambs of His flock; and
receive His blessing before they have sense to know anything about it.
When they are old enough, they must learn to know what great blessings
were given to them by Baptism, and what solemn promises were made for
them--promises which they are bound to keep, if they would partake of
the benefits, and live with Jesus hereafter in heaven. In our own
strength, no one can keep these promises entirely; but we must
continually _strive hard_ to do so, and above all pray without
ceasing, that we may be strengthened to do it.

After Jesus had given His Apostles commands to preach the Gospel to
every creature, and to baptize all who were willing, He told them, as
we have read, that they should have power to work miracles, in order
to prove to all men that they really were the chosen messengers of
God, giving His messages to His people: for if they were able to cast
devils out of the bodies of men, to heal the sick, to speak languages
which they had never learned, and to take up venomous serpents, or
drink poison without suffering any harm, it would be quite plain that
God was with them; since only by His special grace could a man do any
of these things.

"And when he had spoken these things, he lifted up his hands, and
blessed them. And it came to pass while he blessed them, he was parted
from them, and a cloud received him out of their sight, and (he was)
carried up into heaven." "So then, after the Lord had spoken unto
them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of
God."

"And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven, as he went up, behold
two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of
Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is
taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have
seen him go into heaven."

From the question asked by these angels, it would seem that even now
the Apostles could hardly believe that their beloved Lord was gone
from their sight for ever, upon the earth. They are therefore
reminded, that their "gazing up" is useless; but that a day shall come
when He shall return to earth: but then it will be as a judge, to pass
sentence of happiness or misery upon every living creature. We know
not how soon that awful day may come; let us therefore watch and pray,
that we may find mercy before our judge--the Saviour of all who so
believe in Him, as to love Him and keep His commandments.

The words of the angels recalled the disciples' minds to earth, and to
the work which their Master had left them to do. "And they worshipped
him, and returned to Jerusalem, from the mount called Olivet, with
great joy. And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing
God."

"And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with
them, and confirming the word with signs following." Not immediately,
however; but in these words St. Mark, as it were, sums up the future
history of the Apostles; stating how they at once set to work to
fulfil the commandments given to them by Jesus Christ.

Here, then, the History of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ must end;
and we cannot do better than close it with the words of St. John
himself, speaking of our Lord's miracles: "And many other signs truly
did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in
this book: but these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is
the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing, ye might have life
through his name."

St. John ends his account of His Master's life and death with the
following words: "This is the disciple which testifieth of these
things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is
true. And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which,
if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world
itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen."



PART II.



Chapter I.--THE GIFT OF THE HOLY GHOST.


After the Four Gospels, there is in the New Testament a book called
"The Acts of the Apostles," which gives us an account of the principal
acts, or doings, of some of the Apostles, after the Lord was taken
from them. This Book of Acts was written by St. Luke, who also wrote
one of the Four Gospels; and it is the only Scriptural account we have
of what the Apostles said and did, though we gather a few more
particulars from the Epistles, or letters written by the Apostles
themselves, to the brethren in different places.

The Book of Acts furnishes us with much that has been said of the
Ascension, or "_going up into heaven_," of Jesus Christ. We have
already heard that the Apostles returned to Jerusalem with "joy,"
which might seem strange when one they so dearly loved had just been
taken from them. But they had indeed cause for joy: they had seen
their Lord suffer and die, to purchase pardon for sinners; they had
seen Him come to life again, thus showing that He had indeed made a
sufficient atonement for all: and now they had beheld Him received up
into heaven, proving that, for His sake, all His true disciples might
follow Him: "where I am, there shall ye be also." Great therefore was
their joy, and they showed it in the most fitting manner, by being
"continually in the temple, praising and blessing God."

The first thing we have an account of after their return from Mount
Olivet to Jerusalem is, that, "when they were come in, they went up
into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and
Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew (called also Nathanael), and
Matthew, James the son of Alphæus (known to us as the Less), and Simon
Zelotes, and Judas (or Jude) the brother of James." The word "Zelotes"
means full of zeal, or eagerness; and this Simon was probably so
called, because he was eager in doing the work of God. St. Matthew
speaks of him as "Simon the Canaanite"; and it is supposed that he
was a native of the city of Cana, in Galilee. Here we find the eleven
Apostles all together: and they "continued with one accord in prayer
and supplication, with the women, and with Mary the mother of Jesus,
and with his brethren": waiting for the promised outpouring of the
Holy Spirit.

During this time, Peter proposed, that from amongst the disciples who
had accompanied them all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out
among them, they should choose one to take the place of Judas
Iscariot, and be with them a witness of the Resurrection of Christ;
thus making the number of the Apostles twelve, as it had been at
first, by the Lord's appointment. Peter's suggestion was at once
followed. "And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was
surnamed Justus, and Matthias," both of whom appeared to be in every
way fit for the office they were to fill; and then, not trusting in
their own judgment, "they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest
the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen,
that he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which
Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. And
they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was
numbered with the eleven apostles."

The mode of deciding doubtful matters by lot had been appointed by the
Law of Moses; and was, at the time we are speaking of, a solemn way of
seeking the Will of God, who directed the lot as He saw fit.

Matthias, now chosen to be an Apostle, was probably one of the
seventy, whom our Lord during His life sent out by twos to teach the
people, and work miracles, in order to prepare the way for Him. It is
believed that Matthias first went about teaching in Judæa, and that he
afterwards travelled eastward, where he met with cruel treatment from
the barbarous nations of Asia. With great labour and suffering, he did
convert many of the heathens to Christianity; but at last he was put
to death for the sake of Jesus. But these things did not, of course,
happen until many years after Matthias was chosen to fill up the
number of the Apostles.

Jesus had remained on earth for forty days from the day of His
resurrection; and during that time He showed himself at different
times to His disciples. The day on which He rose from the grave we
call "Easter Day," from an old word, meaning "to rise." The Apostles
kept a feast every year afterwards on that day, in memory of this
glorious event; and our Church teaches us also to observe Easter as a
season of especial joy.

In consequence of Christ having risen on the First Day of the week,
the disciples, and all Christians since their time, have observed that
day as a day of holy rest, and called it the Lord's Day: this is
Sunday, which amongst us is dedicated to the special service of God,
instead of the Seventh Day, or Jews' Sabbath, our Saturday.

Forty days after Easter Day, Jesus went up, or "ascended," into
heaven; and our Church keeps that day holy, and calls it "The
Ascension Day," because "ascension" means going up.

For ten days after the Ascension, the disciples, who had seen their
Lord ascend, remained quietly at Jerusalem, praising God for all that
had been done, and praying continually both in private and in public.
Another great feast of the Jews was now drawing near: this feast is
spoken of under different names in the Old Testament, and we must now
say something about it.

In the Law of Moses, the Jews were, as has already been said,
commanded to offer up a sheaf of corn on the day after the Sabbath
which followed the Feast of the Passover; that is, on the first day of
the week, after the Passover week. This sheaf was offered up as a
thank-offering at the beginning of harvest, for they began to cut the
barley (the first corn crop) immediately after the Passover.

Seven weeks after this beginning of harvest, the Jews were to keep one
of the three great feasts, ordained by the Mosaical, or Levitical Law.
This great feast was called "The Feast of Weeks," because it was
observed seven weeks after that of the Passover: seven weeks were
called "a week of weeks," because seven days make a week, and there
were seven times seven days in the Feast of Weeks. It was also called
"The Day of First Fruits," because it was then the time to begin to
gather in the other crops and productions of the ground; and in
thankfulness for all these fruits of the earth, a new meat offering
was offered unto the Lord.

The Jewish Rabbis also called this great feast, "The Day of the Giving
of the Law," because the Law was given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai,
fifty days after the Children of Israel ate the first Passover in
Egypt; and this feast, as we have said, was kept on the fiftieth day
after the Feast of the Passover. In the New Testament this feast day
is called "The Day of Pentecost": because in Greek, "Pentecost" means
fiftieth, and as we have said, the Jews were to number fifty days from
the morrow after the Passover Sabbath, and then to keep this great
feast.

As Jesus rose on the morrow after the Passover Sabbath, our Easter Day
(or Easter Sunday), the fiftieth day, would again be on the first day
of the week, Sunday with us: seven weeks or fifty days from the
blessed day on which our Lord rose from the grave, and ten days after
His Ascension.

This Day of Pentecost, distinguished already as a day of rejoicing and
thanksgiving for many blessings, temporal and spiritual, and called
"The Feast of Weeks," "of First Fruits," and of "The Giving of the
Law," was now chosen by God as the day on which the promised gift of
the Holy Spirit was to be poured out upon the Apostles, to their great
spiritual benefit, as well as to that of all who were to look to their
teaching, for the knowledge of what Jesus Christ has done for sinners.

We read in the Book of Acts, "And when the day of Pentecost was fully
come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there
came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled
all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them
cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them." Fire
was looked upon by the Jews as a sign of the presence of God. And
those upon whom these tongues of fire descended, were at once "filled
with the Holy Ghost": a visible and miraculous sign immediately
followed, for they "began to speak with other tongues," that is, in
strange and foreign languages, which they had never learnt, "as the
Spirit gave them utterance."

Thus were accomplished the promises of Jesus, to send the Comforter
upon His Apostles, and that they should be baptized with the Holy
Ghost.

The power of speaking strange languages was a most valuable gift,
enabling the Apostles to obey the command "to teach all nations,"
which they could not have done had they not been able to make
themselves understood by all men.

One miracle had, as a punishment, confounded the language of men, so
that they ceased to have intercourse with each other: now another
miracle mercifully removed this barrier, so that all nations might
hear from the Apostles the glad tidings of salvation--the Gospel of
our Lord Jesus Christ.

At the time when the Holy Ghost descended so miraculously upon the
Apostles, "there were dwelling at Jerusalem, Jews, devout men, out of
every nation under heaven." By "devout men," is meant worshippers of
the one true God: these were mostly Jews, either from having been born
so, or from having turned from idolatry to follow the religion of the
Jews. These Jews were scattered over the face of the world; and
wherever they went, they endeavoured to make proselytes: the Feast of
the Passover would naturally bring numbers of them to Jerusalem, to
add to those who dwelt in the city. "Now when this," that had happened
to the Apostles, "was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and
were confounded (or astonished beyond measure), because that every man
heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed, and
marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which
speak Galileans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein
we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, (or Persians), and
the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judæa, and Cappadocia, in Pontus,
and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya
about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and
Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of
God."

Most of the countries here mentioned are parts of what we call Asia:
but in the New Testament, when Asia is spoken of, it seems to mean
only the parts about Lydia; that part of Asia, in short, known to us
as Asia Minor, which borders on the Archipelago, or Ægean Sea. Libya,
as well as Egypt, was a part of Africa. One of the kings of Egypt,
Ptolemy Lagus, the father of that Ptolemy who employed seventy-two
learned men to translate the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, did place a
good many captive Jews in Cyrene, and other parts of Libya. The
descendants of these people, and the proselytes they had made, were
amongst the number of Jews gathered together to the city of Jerusalem
at this time.



Chapter II.--THE LAME MAN HEALED BY PETER AND JOHN.


When the multitude of Jews from all parts of the earth, heard twelve
poor ignorant men of Galilee, able to speak easily in many different
languages, which they had most probably never even heard spoken
before, "they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to
another, What meaneth this?" The great truths of the Gospel thus
proclaimed, must indeed have startled them, for they could not but
perceive that God was with these men in a very remarkable manner. Some
of them, unwilling to believe the words spoken by the Apostles, tried
to make out that they had been drinking so much wine, that they did
not know what they were talking about, and ought not, therefore, to be
listened to. "Others mocking said, These men are full of new
wine,"--as if being drunk, could make any man speak a real language,
of which, in his sober moments, he knew nothing.

It was of the greatest importance that all men should clearly
understand that the Apostles were really and truly the messengers of
God, and that the Holy Spirit had been wonderfully given to them, to
enable them to teach all nations: and therefore, when the accusation
of being drunk was brought against them, they stood up, and Peter, no
longer timid and fearful as to what man might do to him, lifted up his
voice, and spake boldly to the assembled multitude. It is most
probable that all this took place in some part of the temple.

Peter began by declaring to the people, that he and his fellows were
not drunk, reminding them that it was only the third hour of the day.
The third hour, nine o'clock in the morning with us, was the time
appointed for service in the temple, and the pious and devout Jews did
not eat nor drink _anything_ before they attended it. Then Peter told
his hearers, that what they had now seen, was only the fulfilment of
the prophecies, that the Lord would pour out His Spirit upon all
flesh. Then he went on, and spake to them of many solemn things, and
of the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth; and how David,
whom all the Jews acknowledged to be a prophet, had declared
beforehand those things which had happened unto Jesus. Peter also told
the people, that "this Jesus, being by the right hand of God exalted"
into heaven, "and having received of the Father the promise of the
Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear": and
he ended his discourse with these plain and fearless words, "Therefore
let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that
same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ."

These words seem to have had a great effect on the people, for "when
they heard this, they were pricked in their heart," that is, their
consciences told them that they had greatly sinned in putting Jesus to
death; and now, feeling their need of help and guidance, they "said
unto Peter and to the rest of the Apostles, Men and brethren, what
shall we do?" The answer was ready: "Then Peter said unto them,
Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ
for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy
Ghost. For the promise is unto you and to your children, to all that
are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with
many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves
from this untoward generation,"--that is, separate yourselves from the
unbelieving and sinful multitude, and so save yourselves from the
wrath of God, which will rest upon all impenitent sinners.

The success of Peter's words, proving the reality of the power given
to them by the Holy Spirit, must have been a great encouragement to
the Apostles to continue their labours, in humble confidence that the
same help would be ever with them. We read, "Then they that gladly
received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added
unto them," to the company of disciples, "about three thousand
souls"--a large number. Nor was it a momentary feeling that actuated
them, for we read, "And they continued stedfastly in the Apostles'
doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers";
that is, they continued to listen to the blessed truths taught by the
Apostles of the forgiveness of sins for Jesus Christ's sake, partaking
with them of the Lord's Supper in remembrance of His death, and
joining in earnest prayer for grace, to enable them to serve God
acceptably. "And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs
were done by the Apostles." Those who saw such miracles performed,
were more and more convinced that the Apostles were the messengers of
God; and they would naturally fear to offend the Almighty God, Whose
power was thus shown, and of Whose goodness the Apostles spake.

"And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and
sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every
man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the
temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat
with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour
with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as
should be saved." Those who now became Christians, devoted themselves
and all their possessions to the service of God: content with food for
the supply of their daily wants, their whole object was to do the work
of God with "singleness of heart"; that is, with a heart wholly filled
with love towards Him, and to their fellow creatures for His sake,--a
heart whose single purpose it was to do the Will of God. No wonder
that those who acted in such a manner, found favour with all the
people, and that their example was followed, so that many were daily
added to the Church, or body of believers in Jesus Christ.

We read just now, that those who believed had all things common, and
sold their possessions so as to make one common fund, out of which the
daily wants of each were supplied. Thus those who had goods and riches
gave them up; and those who had none were supplied out of their
abundance.

This giving up of all private property by the rich, so that the poor
believers might be supported, was necessary at that time: for the
poorer class of people on becoming Christians, would get neither
employment nor help from their Jewish brethren; nor would they receive
any part of those sacrifices offered in the temple, which were devoted
to the relief of the poor. But however desirable this arrangement was
then, it was not _commanded_; it was a sacrifice made willingly by the
rich, for the benefit of the poorer brethren. In these days, to have
everything in common would be impossible; but though we are not called
upon to do this, we _are_ called upon and _commanded_ to help others;
and to deny ourselves, and sacrifice our own wishes, that we may be
able to do good to our fellow creatures; and thus show our love for
Jesus, Who says, "If any man seeth his brother have need and shutteth
up his compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" And
again, "To do good and to distribute forget not, for with such
sacrifices God is well pleased." Many other passages of Scripture
teach us the same lesson, and it is summed up as it were in the
command, "Do unto all men as ye would they should do unto you."

The next act we hear of as done by the Apostles is, that "Peter and
John went up together into the temple, at the hour of prayer, being
the ninth hour." There were three fixed times for public prayer in the
temple: the third hour (or 9 o'clock in the morning), when the morning
sacrifices were offered; the sixth hour, that is, 12 o'clock or noon;
and the ninth hour, 3 o'clock in the afternoon, when the evening
sacrifices were offered. The gates of the temple were the favourite
resorts of cripples, who caused themselves to be carried to them, that
they might beg for money from those who were continually passing and
re-passing. Peter and John, going up to prayer in the middle of the
day, saw a poor man who had been lame ever since he was born, and
"whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called
Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple." When
this man begged of the Apostles they said unto him, "Look on us." The
man readily gave heed unto them, and did as they told him, "expecting
to receive something of them"; and so he did, though not of the kind
he expected. "Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such
as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise
up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and
immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he,
leaping up, stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple,
walking, and leaping, and praising God." When the people saw this man,
whom they had long known as a helpless cripple, "walking, and praising
God," they were naturally full of wonder and amazement. "And as the
lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran
together unto them, in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly
wondering."

This porch was, you must remember, a sort of colonnade or piazza,
built over the same spot on which that built by Solomon in the first
temple, had stood. When Peter saw such a number of people assembled,
he spake to them, and said, "Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this?
or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or
holiness we had made this man to walk?" And then he told them, that
this cripple was made whole, because he had faith in Jesus Christ, who
was truly the Son of God the promised Messiah, though they had refused
to believe in Him, and had forced Pilate to crucify Him. But that,
although they had preferred a murderer, and had killed Him Who was the
Prince of Life, God had raised Him from the dead; as all the Apostles
could bear witness, and that in His name and by His power alone, was
this miracle worked. Peter then went on to say, that they did not know
what they were about when they persecuted Jesus even unto death; and
that if now, they would repent, and believe all that the Apostles
could tell them of Jesus Christ, their sins should be "blotted out."
And he reminded them, that Moses, and all the prophets since his time,
had spoken of the coming of Christ; and that to them, as the
descendants of the Children of Israel with whom the first covenant was
made, God had now sent His son Jesus Christ, to bless them, in turning
away every one from his iniquities. Peter and John were not long left
to preach undisturbed to the people: for "as they spake unto the
people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees,
came upon them, being grieved that they taught the people, and
preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid
hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now
eventide." The captain of the temple was one of the Priests, who
directed and looked after all the guards and watches of the Priests
and Levites, who were appointed to keep the temple from being in any
way profaned. Before the death of Jesus, the Scribes and Pharisees
were His chief enemies; but now that His disciples declared and taught
that He had risen from the dead, the Sadducees became the most violent
opposers of the Apostles, who taught the doctrine of the Resurrection.



Chapter III.--ANANIAS AND SAPPHIRA.


Although the Priests and the Sadducees did for the time put a stop to
Peter's discourse, they could not undo the effect which it produced;
for we read, "Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and
the number of the men was about five thousand."

The next day Peter and John were taken before the Sanhedrim, where
Annas, the High Priest, and Caiaphas, with many others, were
assembled. "And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By
what power, or by what name, have ye done this?" Peter, filled with
the Holy Ghost, immediately told the members of the Council, that the
lame man was healed solely and entirely by the name or power of the
very Jesus of Nazareth, Whom they had crucified, Whom God had raised
again from the dead. And further he told them, that Jesus, Whom they
had rejected, was the corner stone as it were, the foundation of
Christ's Church; and that none who would not believe in Him could be
saved; saying also, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for
there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must
be saved."

The boldness of the Apostles in thus speaking, greatly astonished
their hearers; especially as they "perceived that they were unlearned
and ignorant men." Unlearned and ignorant according to the ideas of
the world, but full of the best knowledge and wisdom; for by the Holy
Spirit, they had been taught those things which make men wise unto
salvation. All the learning in the world, although very useful and
desirable, will be of no value in the day of death; but the wisdom
which is from above, will then prove an inestimable treasure. Many who
are ignorant of everything but what the Bible teaches them, will then
be found more _truly wise_, than those who have spent their lives in
acquiring knowledge, without searching the Scriptures.

The Priests and elders might well marvel; they knew the Apostles to be
unlearned fishermen, and they despised them as being Galileans; "and
they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. And
beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say
nothing against it." They saw that Peter and John were two of those
who had always followed Jesus whilst He was on earth, and now it was
certain that they had worked a great miracle: they could not deny
this, for there, by the side of the two Apostles, stood the very man
whom they had healed: a man well known to all at Jerusalem, as having
never been able to stand upon his feet since he was born. The Priests
and elders could not say the man was _not_ healed; and therefore, as
they were determined _not_ to acknowledge the power of Jesus, they
were in difficulty as to what they could do to the Apostles. "But when
they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred
among themselves, saying, What shall we do to these men? for that
indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them, is manifest to all
them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. But that it
spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them,
that they speak henceforth to no man in this name."

It is sad to hear of rulers who were only anxious to prevent the
people from believing in the truth! How truly did they bring upon
themselves the sentence pronounced by our Lord, when he said, "Woe
unto you lawyers, for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye
entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye
hindered."

Having made up their minds what to do, the members of the Council sent
again for the Apostles: "And they called them, and commanded them not
to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John
answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God
to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but
speak the things which we have seen and heard." The Jews, who
professed to obey the Law given to Moses by God, could not possibly
say that it was right to obey man rather than God; and the sudden and
complete cure of this man, who was above forty years old, had given
such a proof that the Apostles acted under the immediate direction of
the Almighty, that the Priests knew not what to say or do.

"So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding
nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men
glorified God for that which was done. And being let go, they went to
their own company, and reported all that the Chief Priests and elders
had said unto them." And when they heard that, they lifted up their
voice to God, and praised Him Who had done such great things, and had
accomplished every word that David and the prophets had spoken
concerning the Messiah, the holy child Jesus, against whom "both Herod
and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were
gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel
determined before to be done."

And then the disciples prayed the Lord to grant them grace to speak
the truth boldly, undismayed by the fear of man; and to continue those
signs and wonders, which proved them to be acting by his special
direction.

They were comforted and encouraged by an immediate answer to their
prayers: for "when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they
were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost,
and they spake the word of God with boldness. And with great power
gave the Apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and
great grace was upon them all." They had well and fearlessly used the
grace already given to them, and therefore the Lord increased the
gift, and strengthened them still further for their work.

"And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one
soul": united together in perfect love and harmony; believing the same
truths, and having the same object in all they did; namely, that of
bringing all men to serve and obey the Lord. Even as to worldly
matters, as we have said, the same unity or oneness of feeling
prevailed, "neither said any of them that ought of the things which he
possessed was his own; but they had all things common. Neither was
there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of
lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that
were sold, and laid them down at the Apostles' feet: and distribution
was made unto every man according as he had need."

At this time the Church of Christ, that is, the company of believers,
was joined by a man who afterwards took a great share in the work of
the Apostles: we read, "And Joses, who by the Apostles was surnamed
Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a
Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and
brought the money, and laid it at the Apostles' feet." This Joses had
either been born in the isle of Cyprus, which lies in the eastern part
of the Mediterranean Sea, or he had lived there so long, that it was
quite like his native country. As a Levite, he could never at any time
have had any inheritance of land in Judæa; but of course a Levite
might _buy_ land in foreign countries, or even in Judæa itself,
particularly now, when the distinction into tribes was almost lost.
Joses had land probably in Cyprus, and being convinced that Jesus was
the Messiah, he determined to join the company of believers, and
devote his future life to the service of God and man, by preaching the
Gospel to others. He therefore gave up all that he possessed, and was
henceforth content to receive merely what was necessary for his food
and raiment, like the poorest disciple. His joining them, was a great
comfort and encouragement to the Apostles in their work, and they
therefore surnamed him Barnabas, which means the Son of Consolation.
By the name of Barnabas, he is always spoken of in Scripture.

Soon after Barnabas had joined the Apostles, a fearful punishment fell
upon a man named Ananias, and his wife Sapphira, who also sold some
land, and then brought part of the money they had received for it,
pretending that they had brought the whole. When Ananias laid "a
certain part at the Apostles' feet," he _acted_ a lie, though he did
not speak one; and for the lie in his heart, Peter reproved him,
reminding him that he was not obliged to sell his land, and that
after he had sold it, he could have done as he pleased with the money;
but that to pretend he had brought the whole price, when he had only
given a part, was a grievous sin; for, said Peter, "thou hast not lied
unto man, but unto God." Immediately the wrath of God was shown in an
awful manner. "Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and gave up the
ghost: and the young men arose, wound him up" in grave clothes, "and
carried him out, and buried him," "and great fear came upon all them
that heard these things." We must observe also, that Ananias showed a
great want of faith: had he believed that the Apostles were really
filled with the Holy Ghost, he could not have expected to hide the
truth from them: in lying to the Apostles he had lied unto God; but in
fact all lies _are_ a sin against God.

About three hours after the burial of Ananias, his wife Sapphira, not
knowing as yet what was done, came in. What she said we are not told;
but we read, "And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the
land for so much?" Her answer was a lie, for "she said, Yea, for so
much;" not, however, stating how _much more_ they had received for the
land. "Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed
together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them
which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee
out. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the
ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying
her forth, buried her by her husband. And great fear came upon all the
church, and upon as many as heard these things." Well might fear come
upon all who heard of these two, struck dead in their sin! Let us also
fear, lest we likewise fall into the same condemnation; for though
liars may not now be struck dead with the lie on their lips, we know
that the Devil is the father of lies, and that "all liars shall have
their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, prepared
for the Devil and his angels." When we read such awful words, let us
remember that we may be guilty in the sight of God, without telling a
direct falsehood. All deceit and hypocrisy; holding our tongues when
we ought to speak the truth; and telling _part_ of the truth; are as
displeasing in the sight of God as direct lies. We must speak and do
the truth from our hearts; never attempting in any way to deceive
others, or even to allow them to believe what we know is not true.

The Apostles, in spite of the threats of the Sanhedrim, continued to
preach to the people in Solomon's porch, doing many signs and wonders
among the people, who "magnified," or thought much of them; "and of
the rest durst no man join himself to them." After such a warning as
that given in the case of Ananias and Sapphira, no one who was not
really and truly willing to devote himself entirely to the service of
God, would dare to pretend to do so.



Chapter IV.--APPOINTMENT OF DEACONS.


The Apostles continued to teach the people, "and believers were the
more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women. Insomuch
that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on
beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by
might overshadow some of them. There came also a multitude out of the
cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which
were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one."

The Priests and elders were much displeased at the Apostles having
such influence over the people, who, witnessing the miracles worked by
them in the name of Jesus, naturally believed in them, and in Him
whose servants they were.

"Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which
is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, and
laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison."
In the morning the High Priest called the Council together, "and sent
to the prison to have them brought" up for trial. But the officers
sent, returned, "saying, The prison truly found we shut with all
safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors; but when we
had opened, we found no man within." And so indeed it was; for after
the Apostles were shut up in prison, "the angel of the Lord by night
opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, Go, stand
and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life. And
when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the
morning, and taught." Thus, whilst the keepers did not even know that
their prisoners were gone, they were fearlessly preaching the Gospel
in the temple, in obedience to the Lord's command.

When the members of the Council heard that the Apostles were no longer
in the prison, they could not help feeling that a miracle had been
worked for their deliverance; and they dreaded the consequence of this
fresh proof that the Lord was with them. Greatly perplexed, the High
Priest, and the captain of the temple, and the Chief Priests, debated
amongst themselves, and "doubted of them whereunto this would grow."
Whilst the Priests and elders were thus considering the matter, "came
one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are
standing in the temple, and teaching the people."

This proof of the determination of the Apostles to obey God rather
than man, without fear of the consequences, must have added to the
perplexity of the Council, and increased their difficulty as to how
they should deal with these men, whom the people loved, and were ready
to defend against all who should attempt to hurt them. Wishing again
to speak to the Apostles, they gave orders accordingly. "Then went the
captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they
feared the people, lest they should have been stoned." Nor was there
any occasion to use violence, for the Apostles had no idea of
resisting: they were ready to bear witness to the Lord Jesus before
the Council, as well as in every other place. "And when they had
brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest
asked them, saying, Did not we straitly command you, that ye should
not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with
your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us,"--that
is, to make the people treat them as if they were guilty of murder,
for having put Jesus to death. Peter and the other Apostles repeated
their declaration, that they must obey God rather than men; and then
they plainly told the Priests and elders that they had indeed killed
Jesus Christ, the Messiah; and that the God of Israel had raised Him
from the dead, to be the Saviour of all who would believe and repent:
and they further said, that God had appointed them to bear witness of
all things which Jesus had said and done; and that the Holy Ghost, by
whose help they worked miracles, was also a witness to the truth of
all that they taught to the people. "When they heard that, they were
cut to the heart"; but it was not a right sort of grief; for, instead
of believing the Apostles' words, and so turning to the Lord, they
"took counsel to slay them," that they might no longer preach the
Gospel of Jesus Christ.

One of the members of the Sanhedrim was a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a
very learned man, much looked up to by all the Jews for his great
wisdom. This man stood up, and having commanded the Apostles to be
taken away for a short time, he spake to the other members of the
Council, "and said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to
yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men." Then he
reminded them, that on two former occasions, when false teachers had
for a time led many of the people even to rebel against their rulers,
it had ended in the false teachers being slain, and their followers
dispersed, so that no evil consequences had arisen. He therefore
advised that the Apostles should be left alone; "for," said he, "if
this counsel or this work be of men" (an invention of men only), "it
will come to nought: but if it be God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest
haply ye be found even to fight against God." Gamaliel evidently began
to think that what the Apostles said might be true, and that
therefore, in persecuting them, the Jews might be fighting against
God. To fight against God is to resist His will, to try to prevent
what He wills from being done. This is folly as well as sin; for the
Will of God must be done, and we "cannot overthrow it." Let us try to
bring our Wills into subjection and agreement with the Will of God:
where His Will contradicts our hopes and wishes, let us yield at once,
and pray that we may at all times be able to say from our hearts,
"Father, not my Will, but Thine be done." Those who through life
resist, and fight against the Will of God, will be forced at last to
submit to it, to their eternal misery.

The other members of the Council agreed to follow the advice of
Gamaliel; but they did not do so without making another attempt to
frighten the Apostles from continuing their work. "And when they had
called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should
not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go." These commands had,
of course, no more effect upon the Apostles than the former threats.
"And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that
they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name." They felt it
an honour to suffer for the sake of Him, Who had suffered so much for
them, and were only strengthened in their determination to show their
love, by faithfully doing the work which their beloved Master had
given them to do. "And daily in the temple, and in every house, they
ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ."

We have seen that the Believers, or Disciples, forming the Church of
Christ, had at this time all things in common; and, as their numbers
increased, it became impossible for the Apostles to divide the money
to every person according to their need, without neglecting the more
important work of preaching the Gospel to every creature. They had not
time to do both things properly. We read: "And in those days, when the
number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the
Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in
the daily ministration." We must remember that "Grecians" were not the
inhabitants of Greece, as the word might seem to signify. The Hebrews
here spoken of were of course Jews, natives of Judæa, now become
believers in Christ, or Christians. But, as has been already said,
there were Jews established in all lands, who had been born, and
always lived, there. Numbers of these had also become Christians, and
had now joined the Apostles' company at Jerusalem. These persons were
called "Grecians," "Hellenists," or "Hellenistic Jews," because in the
countries to which they belonged the Grecian language was spoken.
These "Grecians," living amongst foreigners, had lost all knowledge of
the Hebrew language, in which the Old Testament was originally
written; so that they made use of the Greek translation of the
Scriptures. _Hebrews_, then, were Jews of Judæa, who had become
Christians; _Grecians_ were Jews born in foreign lands, who had become
Christians. The natives of Greece were called Greeks.

It seems that the Grecians thought their poor were not so well
attended to as those of the Hebrews, and so they were dissatisfied,
and a murmuring arose. The Apostles considered amongst themselves how
to remedy this matter; then, calling the multitude of the disciples
together, they explained that it was not reasonable to expect them to
leave their special work of teaching, to attend to worldly matters;
and they said, "Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men
of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may
appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to
prayer, and to the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the
whole multitude." Such a wise and sensible arrangement could not fail
to meet with approval; and it was immediately put in execution. Of
the seven men thus chosen (called by us Deacons), there are only two,
of whose particular acts we read in Scripture. These are, a man named
Philip, and Stephen, of whom it is especially said, that he was "a man
full of faith and of the Holy Ghost." These men, chosen from amongst
themselves by the "multitude of disciples," were then "set before the
Apostles," who approved of the choice; "and when they had prayed" for
a blessing upon the step now taken, "they laid their hands on them,"
thus consecrating, or solemnly appointing, the Deacons to their work,
and passing on to them by this significant action some of their own
power and authority; for, although these seven men were to take care
of the poor, and see that the common funds were properly distributed,
they were also to help in preaching, and even to baptize those whom
they should convert.

The _word_ "deacon" is not in the Book of Acts; but in the Epistles,
Deacons are spoken of as persons appointed to help the Apostles, and
serve under them. In the Church now, when a young man is first
admitted to be what is called a clergyman, he is said to be a deacon:
afterwards he becomes a priest; but every man must be a deacon
_before_ he can be a priest. The new arrangement now made as to
deacons, appears to have answered well, for we read that "the word of
God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem
greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the
faith,"--that is, they came to believe the things spoken by the
Apostles, and to acknowledge Jesus to be the Messiah; and then they
were obedient, and _did_ those things which the Gospel required.

Faith must always produce obedience. If it does not, it is not true
faith, acceptable to God; nor will it avail us anything. Let us ever
remember, that faith is a root from which must spring all manner of
good works, the fruits of faith. If it does not produce these fruits,
it is of no more value than the root of an apple-tree, when the tree
bears no apples.



Chapter V.--THE FIRST MARTYR, STEPHEN.


"And Stephen," (the Deacon,) "full of faith and power, did great
wonders and miracles among the people." His success among the people
stirred up enemies against him.

Every considerable synagogue among the Jews, had an academy or school
belonging to it, where young persons were instructed by the Rabbis:
and it would seem that Stephen visited different synagogues, and tried
to convince the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. "Then there arose
certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the
Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians (Jews from parts of
Africa), and of them of Cilicia and of (other parts of) Asia,
disputing with Stephen," and trying to contradict him; but as Stephen
spake as the Holy Spirit guided him, "they were not able to resist the
wisdom and the spirit by which he spake." When these Rabbis found that
they could bring no proofs against the truth of what Stephen taught,
"they suborned (or bribed) men, which said, We have heard him speak
blasphemous words against Moses, and against God"--an accusation as
false as the similar one brought against our blessed Lord Himself. By
this false charge, the people and the elders and the scribes were
stirred up against Stephen, and they "came upon him, and caught him,
and brought him to the council." Stephen now stood before the
Sanhedrim, and the Rabbis "set up false witnesses, which said, This
man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place,
and the law: for we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth
shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses
delivered us." Stephen had, no doubt, taught that the ceremonial part
of the law, given to keep the people in mind of the promised Messiah,
need no longer be observed, since the Messiah _had_ come in the person
of Jesus of Nazareth. Probably, too, he had warned the Jews, that the
temple, and even Jerusalem itself, would shortly be destroyed, because
the inhabitants refused to acknowledge Jesus to be the Messiah. We
have seen before, how easy it is to give to true and good words a
false and bad meaning, if people are wickedly bent upon doing so. The
Lord God Almighty now seems to have given a remarkable sign, that this
man now accused of blasphemy, a sin directly against God Himself,
was, on the contrary, one of His favoured servants, and under His
peculiar care and protection: for we read that, "all that sat in the
council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the
face of an angel." To compare in this way the face of a man to that of
an angel, was a Jewish way of saying, that there was something more
than commonly pleasing and majestic in the countenance of such a man;
and most likely the Lord now gave to Stephen's face, some particularly
bright and holy look, so as to fill all who beheld it with surprise.
The false witnesses, having made their accusation, "Then said the high
priest, Are these things so?" Instead of answering as to the
accusations of blasphemy, Stephen endeavoured to show his hearers how
mistaken they were in their ideas of the Messiah; and how differently
they would act, if they would consider all that had been told to
Abraham and the rest of their forefathers, by God Himself. To this
end, Stephen reminded them of how God had called Abraham out of his
own land to be the father of the Children of Israel, giving him many
precious promises, and establishing with him and his seed the Covenant
of Circumcision in token of their being His peculiar people. Then
Stephen spake of Isaac and of Jacob, and of the twelve patriarchs; and
of how Joseph had been sold into Egypt, and was in time followed by
his Father and Brothers and their descendants; who remained in Egypt
four hundred years, according to what the Lord had told Abraham. Then
Stephen spake of the cruel treatment endured by the Children of
Israel; and how, in His own appointed time, God had wonderfully
preserved the infant Moses to be the deliverer of His chosen people.
He reminded them of the unwillingness of the Hebrews to listen to
Moses, although appointed by God for this very purpose; and then he
said, "This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and
a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the
hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush. He brought them
out, after that he had shewed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt,
and in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness forty years."

All these things were well known to the Jews, who held Moses in great
reverence: and Stephen now reminds them, that it was this very Moses
himself who prophesied concerning the expected Messiah, "A prophet
shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto
me; him shall ye hear." Then proceeding with his history, Stephen
shortly noticed the giving of the Law; the idolatry and other sins of
the Children of Israel, which caused them to wander for forty years in
the wilderness, and caused the Almighty even then to warn them of a
future punishment for forsaking Him, "I will carry you away beyond
Babylon." Stephen then spake of "the tabernacle of witness," set up in
the wilderness by the command of God, as a sign or token of the
Covenant made between Him and His people. This tabernacle, he reminded
them, had been brought by their fathers under the leading of Joshua,
(for the word Jesus here used means Joshua,) into that land which had
hitherto been "the possession of the Gentiles"; and that, about four
hundred years after, David, "who found favour before God," "desired to
find," or build, a more suitable tabernacle for the God of Jacob. "But
Solomon built Him an house."

Having thus mentioned the temple, Stephen took occasion to remind
them, that though it had pleased the Lord to manifest His glory in the
temple, and promise in a certain way to be present there, yet "the
Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the
prophet (Isaiah), Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what
house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my
rest? Hath not my hand made all these things?" Stephen spake with
proper respect of the temple, whilst he tried to show the Jews that
they now thought too _much_ of the temple, which was only a building
set up in honour of the Lord God Almighty; and too _little_ of Him, in
Whose honour and for Whose worship it had been set up.

It seems probable that when Stephen spake of the temple, the Council
interrupted him, and showed their determination not to listen to his
teaching: for he now changed his tone entirely, and severely
reproached them, saying, "Ye stiffnecked (or obstinate) and
uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost:
as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your
fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of
the coming of the Just One (the Messiah); of whom ye have been now the
betrayers and murderers." Stephen also charged them with not having
kept the Law which was given to them by God Himself, through the
disposition or ministry of angels; in that they had not received
Jesus, Who was the _object_ of that law. This plain speaking made the
members of the Council, and all who were present, quite furious
against Stephen. "When they heard these things, they were cut to the
heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth." Their rage had no
effect on Stephen: supported by the Holy Spirit, by whose inspiration
he had spoken, he had no fear of death: all his hope and trust were in
heaven. Stephen was destined to be the first martyr; and now to
strengthen his faith, and the faith of those who were still to remain
and do their work on earth, it pleased the Lord to show to Stephen a
glorious vision, as a proof that their crucified Master was really, as
He had said, at the right hand of God in Heaven; and that having done
everything exactly as He had predicted, He would most assuredly also
fulfil the gracious promise, to "be with them alway even unto the
end." Stephen, as we read, "being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up
stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing
on the right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened,
and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God." These words, so
full of comfort and encouragement to his fellow labourers, raised the
fury of the unbelieving Jews to the highest pitch: "Then they cried
out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears," that they might hear
no more of what they considered blasphemy. Nor was this all; without
waiting for a trial, they at once "ran upon him with one accord, and
cast him out of the city, and stoned him." "And they stoned Stephen,
calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he
kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to
their charge." Like his blessed Master, he prayed for them that did
the wrong--setting us an example that we should forgive injuries, and
pray for them which despitefully use us and persecute us. When Stephen
"had said this, he fell asleep." The death of a faithful follower of
Christ is but a sleep, from which he will awaken in the presence of
the Lord. Thus died the first martyr; "and devout men," that is, true
believers, "carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation
over him"; as well they might, when they thought of their own loss.

In reading this history, let us remember that this same Jesus, Whom
Stephen saw at the right hand of God, still liveth there, to make
intercession for us.

When Stephen was stoned, "the witnesses laid down their clothes at a
young man's feet, whose name was Saul."

Those persons, upon whose witness or testimony any man was executed,
were, by the law, required to cast the first stone; thus, as it were,
taking upon themselves the guilt of murder, if they had become
_false_ witness. The witnesses who had accused Stephen of blasphemy,
prepared to do their part by taking off their long upper robes, so as
to have freer use of their arms: the garments thus taken off, were
placed under the charge of some one who had also been active in
getting the victim condemned.

Saul was a young man, neither poor nor ignorant: he was a Jew, born at
Tarsus, a city in Cilicia; and under the care of Gamaliel, (who had
advised that the Apostles should be let alone,) he had been strictly
brought up as a Pharisee, and was filled with an intense hatred of all
who believed in Jesus. He "was consenting unto the death of Stephen,"
anxious for it. Nor was he satisfied with one victim: for he took an
active part in "the great persecution of the church," which arose in
Jerusalem at this time. The violent behaviour of the Jews, scattered
abroad throughout the regions of Judæa and Samaria, "all the disciples
except the Apostles." How it happened, that the Apostles were allowed
to remain in peace at Jerusalem, we do not know; but it was needful
that they should for the present remain there, to direct and govern
the affairs of the Church, and bring more believers into it; and
therefore the Lord protected them in Jerusalem, that the Gospel might
first be fully preached to the Jews, as had been appointed.

Mean time, by driving so many disciples out of Jerusalem, the Jewish
rulers did the very thing they wished to prevent: for wherever these
disciples went, they did not cease to speak of the Messiah; thus
spreading the knowledge of the Gospel over the country, and bringing
many believers into the Church.

Saul mean time was active against the truth: hunting out believers in
their own houses, that they might be punished: "he made havoc of the
church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed
them to prison."



Chapter VI.--CONVERSION OF SAUL.


The deacon Philip, having left Jerusalem in consequence of the
persecution after the martyrdom of Stephen, "went down to the city of
Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord
gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the
miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice,
came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with
palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in
that city."

There was, however, in Samaria at that time, a man named Simon Magus,
who pretended himself to be the expected Messiah. The Scripture says
of him, that he used sorcery and bewitched the people. We know that
before the coming of the Lord Jesus, evil spirits had a power which He
took from them, of getting possession of the bodies of men: and as has
been said before, it seems that bad men had sometimes dealings with
evil spirits, by whose help they did things which otherwise they could
not have done. But any one who did seek to have dealings with evil
spirits, was guilty of a very great sin: such unlawful deeds were
strictly forbidden by the Law; those who were guilty of them, were
called magicians, sorcerers, wizards, witches, &c., and were, by the
command of God, to be put to death. Simon had for some time deceived
the people of Samaria by his arts; but when Philip preached to them of
Jesus Christ and His kingdom, they believed his words, and "were
baptized, both men and women." Simon himself also believed that Jesus
of Nazareth was the true Messiah, and he likewise was baptized in the
Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, though he was still
far from understanding the true nature of the religion taught by
Philip. "When he was baptized, he continued with Philip," and
"wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done." The
account of all that had been done by Philip at Samaria, soon reached
Jerusalem; and the Apostles sent Peter and John to finish the work so
well begun, for although Philip had taught and baptized the people, he
had no power like the Apostles, to bestow the gift of the Holy Spirit.

When Peter and John were come down, they prayed for the converts "that
they might receive the Holy Ghost: (for as yet he was fallen upon none
of them; only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). Then
laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost."

Simon now showed how little he understood of the things of God; for
when he "saw that through laying on of the Apostles' hands the Holy
Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, Give me also this
power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost."

Peter reproved Simon very severely for having thought it possible
that the gifts of God could be bought with money; and told him, that
although he had received the outward form of Baptism, it was quite
plain that he was no true believer in Jesus Christ, but was still in
bondage to Satan. He then called upon him to repent truly of all his
wickedness, and especially of the fearful sin of which he was now
guilty, and pray to God, Who could alone forgive the thought of his
heart.

Peter's words alarmed Simon, who now besought Peter's help, "and said,
Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have
spoken come upon me."

When Peter and John had testified to the truth of all that Philip had
taught, they returned to Jerusalem; and as they went, they "preached
the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans."

After these things had passed, Philip was directed by God to go into a
desert part of Judæa, lying between Joppa and Gaza, to meet an officer
belonging to Candace, the queen of a country called Ethiopia. This
man, who held the important office of treasurer, had become a Jew, and
was a sincere worshipper of God as far as his knowledge went. He had
taken a long journey in order to worship God in the temple, after the
manner of the Jews: and now returning homewards, he was sitting in his
chariot studying the Scriptures. "Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go
near, and join thyself to this chariot." Philip obeyed, and heard him
read that part of the prophecy of Isaiah which saith, "He was led as a
sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so
opened he not his mouth: in his humiliation his judgment was taken
away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from
the earth." Philip asked him, "Understandest thou what thou readest?
And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me?"

Being earnest in his desire to learn, this officer was rejoiced to
meet with some one who seemed likely to give him the guidance he
needed; and so "he desired," or entreated "Philip, that he would come
up and sit with him" in his chariot, and explain the passage of
Scripture which he had just read.

"And the eunuch (or officer) answered Philip, and said, I pray thee of
whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself or of some other man? Then
Philip," guided by the Holy Spirit, "opened his mouth, and began at
the same Scripture, and preached unto him Jesus": showing him that
these words were spoken of the promised Messiah; and that Jesus of
Nazareth, whom the Jews had so lately crucified, was indeed the
Messiah spoken of by the Prophets: and he doubtless spake of Baptism,
in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, as
the appointed means of admission into the Church of Christ: for "as
they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch
said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And
Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And
he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."
This was enough. "And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and
they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he
baptized him." Philip had now done the work which he had been sent to
do. "And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the
Lord caught away Philip," who was thus conveyed in some miraculous way
to a place called Azotus, "so that the eunuch saw him no more: and he
went on his way rejoicing," that he had been instructed in the Gospel,
and admitted into the Church of Christ by Baptism. This Ethiopian
officer was a true convert, and no doubt his future life proved him to
be so.

Philip mean time found himself in a miraculous manner at Azotus, and
from thence journeyed northward, and "preached in all the cities, till
he came to Cæsarea," where his home was.

The next event recorded in the Book of Acts, is the wonderful
conversion of Saul, who was suddenly, by the mercy of the Lord,
changed from being an enemy to all the followers of Jesus, into a true
believer, and an active and zealous preacher of the truth as it is in
Jesus.

We have already heard of Saul as a persecutor, making havoc of the
Church at Jerusalem, after the death of Stephen. We now learn from the
Book of Acts, that, "breathing out threatenings and slaughter against
the disciples of the Lord," he "went unto the High Priest, and desired
of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues," giving him authority
"that if he found any of this way," any believers in Jesus, "whether
they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem." The
High Priest was no doubt too glad to give this power to one who would
execute it zealously; and Saul set out on his journey, which turned
out very differently from what he expected and intended.

For when "he came near Damascus, suddenly there shined round about him
a light from heaven: and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice
saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" Saul's answer
to this question, shows that he was even now convinced that the voice
was none other than the voice of God; for he said, "Who art thou,
Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest: it is hard
for thee to kick against the pricks." This seems to have been a Jewish
expression, meaning that it was useless for any persons to resist an
authority and power, which they could have no hope of overcoming, for
that they would only hurt and injure themselves; just as any person
kicking against thorns, would tear and injure himself, instead of
harming the thorns. Saul's heart was indeed touched and changed by the
Holy Spirit, and willing to obey the commands of Him whose followers
he had so cruelly persecuted; "he trembling and astonished said, Lord,
what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and
go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do." "And
Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no
man": the excessive brightness of the vision he had seen, had deprived
him of his sight, and he arose from the earth blind and helpless. "And
the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice,
but seeing no man." They had heard and seen something of what Saul had
done; enough to make them unable to speak from astonishment and awe:
they had heard a voice, but did not understand the words spoken, and
seeing no man, they were perplexed as to whence the voice came. Now,
however, seeing their master was blind, "they led him by the hand, and
brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and
neither did eat nor drink." We can well imagine how Saul passed these
three days in meditation and earnest prayer to the Lord, who had so
mercifully called him to be a true believer. His continued blindness
did not shake his faith, or lessen his love; on the contrary, they
increased more and more; and soon he had his reward, for the Lord
showed him in a vision that his sight should be restored to him. There
was residing in Damascus at this time a certain disciple, one of the
believers in Jesus, "named Ananias: and to him said the Lord in a
vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord,"--which meant,
Here I am, ready to obey Thee, and do whatever Thou shalt bid me do.
"And the Lord said unto him, Arise and go into the street which is
called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called
Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, and hath seen in a vision a
man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he
might receive his sight." This direction rather startled Ananias, who
well knew Saul of Tarsus to be the bitter enemy of Jesus Christ, and
of all who believed in Him: therefore, "Ananias answered, Lord, I have
heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at
Jerusalem: and here he hath authority from the Chief Priests to bind
all that call upon thy name." But the Lord forbade Ananias to make any
further objections, since it was his duty simply to believe and obey;
and He said unto him, "Go thy way," do as I command thee. At the same
time, the Lord in His mercy encouraged Ananias, by making known His
purpose concerning Saul; saying, "for he is a chosen vessel unto me
(that is, a messenger), to bear my name," or to bear witness of the
things belonging unto God, "before the Gentiles, and kings, and the
Children of Israel: for I will shew him how great things he must
suffer for my name's sake."

Ananias hesitated no longer, but went to the house pointed out to him,
"and putting his hands on him, said, Brother Saul, receive thy sight:
and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized." After
this, Saul at once joined the Church, or company of believers at
Damascus, and "straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that
he is the Son of God." All that heard him preach were greatly amazed,
knowing with what a very different purpose Saul had come to Damascus.
From other parts of Scripture we learn, that Saul did not at this time
stay long in Damascus, but went away into Arabia, where he stayed
quietly for three years; no doubt studying the Scriptures, and
preparing for the great work he was to do amongst the Gentiles. After
that, he returned to Damascus, about Anno Domini 38; that is,
thirty-eight years from the year in which Jesus Christ was born.



Chapter VII.--SAUL JOINS THE CHURCH AT JERUSALEM.


Syria, of which Damascus was the capital, had become a Roman province
about sixty-three years before the birth of Christ. Whilst Saul was in
Arabia, Aretas, the king of that country, went into the land of Judæa,
to fight against Herod Antipas, who had married the daughter of
Aretas, and then treated her very ill. Herod was defeated in a
battle, and then he applied for help to the Emperor Tiberius, as
supreme ruler of Judæa. Tiberius commanded his general Vitellius to
chastise Aretas for his attack upon Herod, and bring him to Rome,
alive or dead. Whilst Vitellius was at Jerusalem preparing to execute
this order, Tiberius died; and Vitellius marched his army into winter
quarters. Aretas took advantage of this, and attacked the city of
Damascus, which he took, and kept possession of for some time. Saul,
as has been said, returned to Damascus whilst Aretas still held
possession of it. By his preaching, he confounded the Jews which were
at Damascus; for strengthened more and more by the Holy Spirit, he
spake of Jesus of Nazareth, "proving that this is very Christ." Not
knowing how to answer him, and fearing the effect of such preaching,
the Jews, after many days were fulfilled, "took counsel to kill him."
From another part of Scripture we learn, that the governor set over
the city of Damascus by Aretas, took part with the Jews, and caused
the gates to be watched night and day, to kill Saul, should he attempt
to leave the city, before the Jews had accomplished their purpose. But
all these plots were, by the mercy of God, made known in some way to
Saul. The disciples of course knew that the Lord could work a miracle,
to save one who was chosen to be a preacher of the Gospel; but they
also knew that it is the duty of man in all cases, to take proper
means for his own safety: and trusting that the Lord would bless their
efforts, "they took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a
basket." Saul being thus outside the walls, without passing through
the gates, journeyed on to Jerusalem.

At that time, people living in one city, knew very little of what was
going on in others at a distance; and the war between Herod and
Aretas, would naturally have cut off even the usual communication
between Jerusalem and Damascus. If the Chief Priests and other members
of the Sanhedrim, had heard any rumour of Saul's wonderful conversion,
they would of course try to keep such a matter secret. These things
account for the fact, that the Apostles in Jerusalem had never heard
of the change that had taken place in Saul, whom they remembered as
consenting to the death of Stephen, and then going to Damascus to
persecute the believers. Three years had now passed since that time,
and the Apostles probably thought that during that period, Saul had
been actively employed in trying to prevent the spreading of the
Gospel.

"And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed (or attempted) to
join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and
believed not that he was a disciple." Barnabas, however, in some way
had become acquainted with the circumstances concerning Saul: he
therefore "took him, and brought him to the Apostles, and declared
unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken
to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of
Jesus." This was sufficient; on the testimony of Barnabas, the
Apostles gladly received Saul as a fellow labourer, and from that time
"he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. And he spake
boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus," especially endeavouring to
convince the Grecians, or foreign Jews. But instead of listening to
Saul, "they went about to slay him"; which, when the "brethren knew,
they brought him down to Cæsarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus," his
native place in Cilicia. The removal of Saul at this time, seems to
have had a good effect; for we read, "then had the churches rest
throughout all Judæa and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and
walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost,
were multiplied."

Leaving the history of Saul for awhile, the Book of Acts gives us some
account of Peter's labours: he went from place to place, spreading the
knowledge of the Gospel everywhere. At Lydda, a very large village not
far from Joppa, "he found a certain man named Æneas, which had kept
his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy. And Peter said unto
him, Æneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed.
And he arose immediately," the palsy leaving him and his strength
returning, as Peter spake these words.

The news of what had happened at Lydda soon reached Joppa; and the
disciples who dwelt there, sent unto Peter, desiring that he would not
delay to come to them. The cause of their sending for the Apostle, was
the death of a certain disciple, a woman "named Tabitha, which by
interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and
almsdeeds which she did": her kindness and charity had made her to be
loved by all, and her death therefore caused great grief to those who
had benefited by her kindness. Peter obeyed the summons of the
messengers; he "arose and went with them. When he was come" to Joppa,
"they brought him into the upper chamber," where they had laid the
body: "and all the widows stood by, weeping, and shewing the coats
and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them." But Peter
put them all out of the chamber, and then "kneeled down, and prayed."
After this, turning to the body, he said, "Tabitha, arise. And she
opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up. And he gave her
his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and
widows, presented her alive. And it was known throughout all Joppa;
and many believed in the Lord," in Whose name, and by Whose power,
Peter had worked this great miracle.

It has been said of this Tabitha, that "by interpretation her name was
Dorcas." This good woman was a _Grecian_, or foreign Jewess, and as
such, her name was Tabitha, which means an "antelope"--a very graceful
animal of the deer kind, having very beautiful eyes. It was a common
practice amongst the Arabs, and other nations of Asia, to give to
female children the names of such animals as were particularly
admired. The Jews, instead of calling Tabitha by what was _to them a
foreign_ name, called her Dorcas; because that word, in their
language, meant antelope. Therefore, Dorcas was the Jewish
interpretation of Tabitha.

Peter did not leave Joppa again immediately after the restoration of
Dorcas; on the contrary, "he tarried many days in Joppa, with one
Simon a tanner."

The Gospel had by this time been preached freely to the Jews in
Jerusalem, and throughout Judæa, Samaria, and Galilee; and the time
was now come for it to be preached to the Gentiles also. Peter was
accordingly chosen by God to begin this work, about A.D. 40. We are
told, "There was a certain man in Cæsarea called Cornelius, a
centurion of the band called the Italian band, a devout man, and one
that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the
people, and prayed to God alway." The Italian band, was a company of a
thousand Roman soldiers, acting probably as a guard to the Roman
governor of Judæa, whose usual residence was at Cæsarea, a city of
great importance.

Cornelius was one of the centurions, or captains, of the Italian band:
he was a Gentile, who had already given up idolatry, and become a
sincere worshipper of the God of Israel: but as he had not observed
all the forms and ceremonies required by the Law, the Jews did not
look upon him as one of themselves. Such persons were called
"Proselytes of the Gate"; and although they were allowed to dwell
among the Jews, they were looked upon as unclean.

Cornelius had brought all his household to worship the One True God:
he was constant in prayer; and he showed his love for God, by charity
to man for His sake.

Such a devout man was well pleasing to the Lord, Who now called him to
a "knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus." Cornelius being engaged
in prayer about the ninth hour of the day, one of the times especially
appointed for prayer in the temple, saw in a vision an angel of God,
who told him that by his prayers and his alms (signs of faith and
obedience), he had found favour with God. The angel then bade him send
to Joppa for Simon Peter, saying also, "he shall tell thee what thou
oughtest to do." We may be sure that Cornelius received this divine
message with joy and thankfulness, and he immediately sent "two of his
household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him
continually"--men upon whom he could thoroughly depend, to Joppa, to
fetch Peter. On the morrow, as these messengers drew near to Joppa,
the Lord, by means of a vision, prepared Peter to receive them. About
the sixth hour Peter went up upon the house-top to pray, where he
would be quiet and undisturbed. "And he became very hungry, and would
have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance," or kind
of fainting fit. In this state he had a vision; and "saw heaven
opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a
great sheet, knit (or fastened together) at the four corners, and let
down to the earth." In this vessel, which is compared to a large
sheet, were "all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild
beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air"--many of these
creatures being unclean, according to the Jewish Law. "And there came
a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill and eat. But Peter said, Not so,
Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean. And
the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath
cleansed, that call not thou common. This was done thrice: and the
vessel was received up again into heaven." Although Peter was a true
follower of Jesus Christ, he had not yet got over his Jewish
prejudices; but like the rest of his countrymen, looked upon the
Gentiles as unclean, and thought that it was as great a sin for a Jew
to keep company with a Gentile, as it would be for him to eat any of
the unclean animals, which the Lord forbade him to touch. The vision
now sent to Peter, plainly showed him that Jesus did not wish his
followers to observe any longer the ceremonial Law; and above all,
that in preaching the Gospel, no distinction was to be made between
Jew and Gentile. No man was to be looked upon as unclean, since it was
the Will of God that _all_ should come to the knowledge of the truth,
and be joined together in one body, the Church.

This vision greatly astonished Peter, and perplexed him: but while he
"doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean,"
the whole matter was made plain to him. By this time "the men which
were sent from Cornelius" had reached Joppa, and having made inquiry
for the house of Simon the tanner, they now "stood before the gate,
and called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were
lodged there:" and "while Peter thought on the vision," trying to
discover what it might mean, "the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three
men seek thee. Arise therefore, and get thee down," to hear wherefore
they are come, and "go with them," as they will ask thee, "doubting
nothing"--having no doubts or fears upon the subject, but feeling sure
that you are doing right by going with them,--"for I have sent them."



Chapter VIII.--PETER AND CORNELIUS.


Having received the direct commands of God by the Holy Spirit, "Peter"
at once "went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius;
and said, Behold, I am he whom you seek; what is the cause wherefore
ye are come? And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and
one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the
Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his
house, and to hear words of thee. Then called he them in, and lodged
them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain
brethren from Joppa accompanied him. And the morrow after they entered
into Cæsarea." Cornelius, knowing at about what time his messengers
might be expected back, had called his friends together to receive
Peter, whom he was anxiously expecting to come with his servants. "And
Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and
near friends. And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell
down at his feet, and worshipped him." Thus did the centurion show his
joy and gratitude after the manner of the Gentiles, who often did pay
to their fellow creatures that degree of reverence and worship due to
God alone; and Cornelius, looking upon Peter as the especial servant
of God sent to him by the interposition of an angel, might naturally
on his appearance fall into this error. Peter, however, at once
checked such an expression of the centurion's feeling; teaching him,
that the worship due to God must never be given to any man under any
circumstances; so, when Cornelius fell at his feet, "Peter took him
up, saving, Stand up; I myself also am a man. And as he talked with
him, he went in, and found many that were come together. And he said
unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is
a Jew to keep company or come unto one of another nation; but God hath
shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore
came I to you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for." Having
thus given an account of himself, Peter very naturally added, "I ask
therefore for what intent ye have sent for me?" Cornelius at once gave
to Peter an account of the vision that had been vouchsafed to him, and
in consequence of which he had sent for him; and added, "and thou hast
well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present
before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God."

Peter, as a Jew, had been brought up to believe that the favour of God
was confined to the descendants of Abraham; but he now openly
expresses his conviction, that no such line of separation existed,
saying, "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is
accepted with him:" a doctrine very displeasing to the unbelieving
Jews, but most comforting to the Gentiles, who were no longer shut out
from the favour of God, now that all distinction between Jew and
Gentile was done away with by the preaching of the Gospel. Peter then
spake to Cornelius and his friends of Jesus; of His Life, Death,
Resurrection, and of the commandment which He had given to His
Apostles "to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he
which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead;" and
Peter ended his discourse by repeating the great Gospel truth, "that
through faith in Jesus all may receive remission or pardon of their
sins."

Even while Peter was speaking, the Lord gave a signal proof that there
was indeed, in His sight, no difference between Jew and Gentile,
amongst those who believed the Gospel, and became followers of Jesus;
for "the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word," that is,
the Gospel as now preached by Peter; and the Spirit enabled "them to
speak with tongues," that is, to speak foreign languages, as in the
case of the Apostles on the Day of Pentecost: for this instance of
mercy they did magnify and praise the Lord.

"And they of the circumcision," the Jews who had become believers, and
had now accompanied Peter from Joppa to Cæsarea, "were astonished,
because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the Holy Ghost," in
this plain and unmistakeable manner.

"Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not
be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?" Peter
justly felt, that these Gentiles, who had so evidently been made
partakers of "the inward and spiritual grace of Baptism," might be
safely allowed to receive "the outward visible sign." "And he
commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed
they him to tarry certain days" at Cæsarea, that he might yet further
instruct them in the doctrines of the Gospel.

Peter no doubt complied with this request, and we may be sure that he
dwelt on the necessity of holiness in all the followers of Jesus, and
exhorted his hearers to constant and earnest prayer to Him, from Whom
come all good gifts, and without Whose help man can do no good thing.

"The Apostles and brethren that were in Judæa, heard that the Gentiles
had also received the word of God," without at the same time hearing
under what circumstances Peter had gone amongst them to preach it.

"And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the
circumcision,"--that is, those Jews who, although they had become
disciples, still thought that the Law of Moses was to be obeyed in all
its ceremonies, and that the Gospel should be preached to Jews
only,--blamed, or "contended with Peter, saying, Thou wentest in to
men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them." Peter, instead of being
angry, that he, one of the Apostles appointed by Christ, should be
thus called to account by those whose duty it was to learn of him,
quietly "rehearsed (or repeated) the matter from the beginning, and
expounded it by order unto them," beginning with his own vision at
Joppa, and ending with the baptism of Cornelius and his friends, in
consequence of the pouring out of the Holy Ghost upon them; saying, in
regard to this subject, "Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how
that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be
baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like
gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, what
was I, that I could withstand God?"

"When they heard these things, they held their peace," ceased to blame
Peter, seeing that he had only done as God directed him: and being now
convinced that it was indeed the Will of the Lord that the Gospel
should be preached to all nations, they "glorified God, saying, Then
hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life."

All who believe in Jesus Christ themselves, will always rejoice when
others are brought to do so too: Christians will ever show their love
for Jesus, by doing all in their power to bring others to know and
love Him: and whatever else we may be able to do, let us always
remember to pray for them, and to ask God to let "His knowledge cover
the earth as the waters cover the sea."

One thing more we should remark, as it teaches us a useful lesson in
our dealings with our fellow creatures; and that is, how often
disputes and quarrels would be avoided, if we followed Peter's
example; and, instead of being angry when we are unjustly blamed, were
to take it patiently, and then quietly explain all the circumstances
which have caused the misunderstanding. But instead of that, amongst
us, whether children or grown-up people, if one makes a false
accusation, or casts undeserved blame upon another, that other too
often feels provoked and angry, and answers sharply; one sharp cross
answer leads to others; and so on, until there is a regular quarrel,
whereby both parties sin against God: and all this might have been
prevented by a few quiet gentle words of explanation. Let us remember,
"that a soft answer turneth away wrath," and that the "beginning of
strife is as when one letteth out water,"--we cannot tell where it
will stop.

The Lord bids us live peaceably with all men: let us try to do so,
striving never to provoke others, nor to be provoked by them.

We have seen that, after Stephen's death, most of the disciples left
Jerusalem, and "they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution
that arose about Stephen, travelled as far as the country of
Phenice," or Ph[oe]nicia, to the N.W. of Judæa, and to the isle of
Cyprus, and to the town of Antioch in Syria, which lay about twelve
miles from the sea, having the river Orontes running through it. To
all these distant parts the disciples travelled, "preaching the word
to none but unto the Jews only," who happened to be in those different
places. "And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when
they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians," the Jews born in
foreign lands, preaching the Lord Jesus. The people of Cyprus, and of
Cyrene on the coast of Africa, spake the Greek language; and
therefore, could make themselves understood by the Grecians, who knew
nothing of Hebrew, the language in which the other disciples preached.
"And the hand of the Lord was with" all them that preached; and "a
great number believed, and turned unto the Lord."

"Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which
was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as
far as Antioch," to ascertain the truth of what the Apostles had
heard, and to confirm the faith of those who had turned to the Lord.
Barnabas was now numbered with the Apostles, and exercised like
authority; "for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of
faith." When he came to Antioch, and had seen how by the grace of God
so many were truly converted, he "exhorted them all, that with purpose
of heart they would cleave unto the Lord": that is, that they would
continue steadfast in the faith, and determine to devote themselves
entirely, body and soul, heart and mind, to the service of the Lord.
The preaching of such a man could not fail to have its effect; for he
was full of the Holy Ghost; and so we read that "much people was added
unto the Lord."



Chapter IX.--PETER DELIVERED FROM PRISON.


Barnabas, finding that there was plenty of work to be done at Antioch,
"departed to Tarsus, for to seek Saul," that he might come and help
him. "And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it
came to pass that a whole year they assembled themselves with the
church" (that is, joined in the assemblies of the believers), "and
taught much people,"--converting, we may be sure, Gentiles as well as
Jews. Scripture tells us here, "And the disciples were called
Christians first in Antioch." Some people have thought that this name,
in which we glory, was given to the disciples by their enemies, in
scorn of them as followers of Christ; but it is far more likely that
it was given them by Saul and Barnabas, under the direction of the
Holy Spirit.

Up to this time, the Jewish converts were called amongst themselves
"disciples," "believers," "saints"; and all together, "the Church."
Their enemies called them "Nazarenes," "Galileans," or the "men of
this way." Now that there were so many of them, it was quite necessary
that they should be distinguished by some peculiar name; and what name
could be more appropriate, than one which marked them as the followers
and disciples of Jesus Christ--believers in the Messiah, the Anointed,
through Whom alone they, and all mankind, could receive pardon of
their sins? Let us, whilst we glory in the name of Christians, take
care that we are not so in name _only_. All who are joined to Christ,
or made part of His body the Church, by Baptism, are now called
Christians. The cross is the sign, or symbol, of the Christian faith.
In Baptism, the figure of the cross is made on the forehead of the
person baptized, to signify that he, or she, is now entered as a
faithful soldier and servant of Christ; and that this service is to be
continued as long as life lasts.

This shows us what each one of us should be,--"a faithful soldier,"
fighting against all the enemies of our Lord, which are the Devil and
his evil angels, our own bad passions and desires, and every kind of
sin: and "a faithful servant," studying to know his Master's Will,
that he may do it thoroughly, whatever suffering or trouble it may
bring upon himself. Let us seriously consider whether we are such
Christians, really and truly trying to serve and please God. If we are
_not_, the name of Christian will be of no use to us. Jesus Himself
says, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the
kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in
heaven." Let each one of us pray earnestly to God, that for the sake
of His blessed Son, Jesus Christ, He will give us the help of the Holy
Spirit, so that we may become true Christians in the sight of Him, by
Whom all our thoughts, words, and actions are known.

In order to understand perfectly all that the Bible tells us, it is
necessary to mention a few circumstances connected with the history of
the Jews, which are not written in the Scriptures, but are told us by
a man called Josephus, himself a Jew, who lived at this time, and has
left us an account of all that he saw and heard amongst his
countrymen. We have already heard that Herod the Great, who slew the
infants of Bethlehem, had many descendants, who all bore the same
name, and several of whom are spoken of in Scripture. Some account has
already been given of them. Aristobulus, one of the unfortunate sons
of Herod the Great and Mariamne, left two sons: one named Herod
Agrippa, called also the Elder, to distinguish him from his own son,
named also Herod Agrippa; and another son, also called Herod, who
became King of Chalcis. Herod Agrippa the Elder lived for some years
quietly at Rome, as a private person, and was in favour with Tiberius,
who became Emperor of Rome A.D. 14. But some persons having accused
Herod, whether truly or falsely we cannot say, of wishing for the
Emperor's death, he was put into prison, where he remained until
Tiberius died, about four years after the Crucifixion of Jesus.
Caligula, who became Emperor at the death of Tiberius, A.D. 37, made
Herod Agrippa king over Iturea and some neighbouring parts of the
country.

Pontius Pilate had ceased before this to be Governor, or Procurator,
of Judæa. A riot, or disturbance, had taken place amongst the people
of Samaria. Pilate put a stop to it; but he afterwards treated the
people with such extreme severity, that the Roman Emperor deprived him
of his government, which he had held for about ten years. Pilate was
banished to Vienne, a place in Gaul (as France was then called), and
there he killed himself.

About the same time that Pilate was deprived of his office, Herod
Antipas was also deprived of his. Herod Antipas, the second son of
Herod the Great, was the tetrarch, or governor of Galilee, who put
John the Baptist to death, and who, with his men of war, mocked and
ill treated our blessed Lord, Who was sent to him by Pilate. A few
years after the death of Jesus, Herod wished to make himself king of
Judæa; and he was in consequence deprived of his government, and
banished into Spain, also a Roman province, where he died miserably.
So soon did punishment fall upon these two bad men, who had sinned
against the Lord Jesus Christ.

Caligula, who made Herod Agrippa king over some parts of Syria and
Palestine, was anxious to be looked upon and treated as a god; and of
course his heathen subjects did not much care whether he were so
considered or not. But although the Jews had refused to believe in the
Messiah, they had, ever since the return from the Captivity, a horror
of worshipping anything but the Lord God Almighty, the God of Abraham.
When, therefore, Caligula ordered that a gilt statue of himself, as a
god, should be set up in the temple, all Judæa was filled with horror;
and for several weeks the people ceased from following their usual
occupations, and the country towards Mount Carmel was crowded with
people in mourning. The Roman governor of Syria, charged to set up
this statue, seeing the distress of the people, kindly listened to
their entreaties, that he would wait a little before he executed this
dreadful order. The Jews then applied to Herod Agrippa the Elder, who
happened to be in Rome; and he, with great difficulty, persuaded
Caligula not to insist upon setting up this statue.

When Claudius became Emperor, A.D. 41, he added the provinces of Judæa
and Samaria to Herod's dominions, so that he governed the whole land
of Palestine, bearing the title of king.

The trouble that the Jews were in under Caligula, prevented their
thinking so much of persecuting the Christians; and thus the Church of
Christ had a little rest, and went on increasing. But now that Herod
Agrippa had become King of Judæa, it was different; for he, seeing the
number of Christians increasing in a most extraordinary manner, was
fearful that they might rebel, and refuse to obey him as their king:
therefore we read, "Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth
his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the
brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the
Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also." Herod was anxious to
gain favour with his Jewish subjects; and there was no more certain
way of doing so, than by persecuting the Christians. Having therefore
killed one of the sons of Zebedee, he determined to take Peter, who
was one of the chief amongst the Apostles. "Then were the days of
unleavened bread"--that is, the Feast of the Passover was now drawing
near; and the preparation for that Holy Sacrifice had already begun,
by the putting away of leaven out of every Jewish house, according to
the Law of Moses. "And when Herod had apprehended Peter, he put him in
prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep
him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people," with
the intention, no doubt, of slaying him, as he had already slain
James. Four soldiers formed a quaternion; four quaternions therefore
were sixteen men, who were especially appointed to guard Peter. "Peter
therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of
the church unto God for him": and the prayers of the saints were more
effectual than all the precautions taken by Herod.

It was customary with the Romans to fasten a prisoner to his keeper by
a light chain, which went round the wrist of each; thus rendering it
impossible for the prisoner to move without the knowledge of his
keeper. For greater security, Peter was thus bound to two of the
soldiers.

During the night before the day on which "Herod would have brought
Peter forth, he was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two
chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. And, behold,
the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison:
and he smote Peter on the side," (to awaken him,) "and raised him up,
saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands,"
(without disturbing the keepers). "And the angel said unto him, Gird
thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto
him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me." Peter did as he was
told; but all this time he was not aware that he was really free, but
thought he was merely dreaming: he "wist not that it was true which
was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. When they were
past the first and the second ward," (different parts of the prison,
without being perceived by any of those who kept the doors,) "they
came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to
them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one
street; and forthwith the angel departed from him." His miraculous
work being now accomplished, the angel left Peter to go on his own
way. The departure of his heavenly guide seems to have aroused Peter
to the reality of what had happened; he no longer thought he had seen
a vision. "And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of
a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out
of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of
the Jews. And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house
of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark." This Mark, whose
name was also John, was the writer of the Gospel bearing his name:
his mother was sister to Barnabas, and her house was no doubt a place,
where the Christian brethren often met for the purpose of prayer; and
now, although it was not yet daylight, "many were gathered together
praying." Probably they had spent the night in prayer for the
deliverance of Peter. "And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a
damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda. And when she knew Peter's voice,
she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter
stood before the gate."

The faith of the brethren was not strong enough to make them at once
believe in such a wonderful answer to their prayers. They knew that
Peter was securely shut up in prison; and so, when Rhoda suddenly
announced that he was standing at the door, they said unto her, "Thou
art mad"; thinking that she did not know what she was saying: and when
she insisted "that it was even so," they could not then believe that
it really was Peter himself, but said, "It is his angel," or spirit.
"But Peter continued knocking"; thus showing that it was no spirit,
but a real living being: "and when they had opened the door, they were
astonished." Peter would not allow them to express their astonishment,
but "beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace," (that is,
making a sign unto them not to speak,) he "declared unto them how the
Lord had brought him out of the prison." When he had finished the
wonderful recital, he said, "Go, shew these things unto James, and to
the brethren."

Though in many respects all the Apostles were upon an equality, it was
necessary that some one of them should have the particular direction
of the affairs of the Church at Jerusalem; and James seems to have
held this office. The other Apostles therefore gave him an account of
their labours, and of anything remarkable which took place. This
James, called "the Less," to distinguish him from James the son of
Zebedee, is sometimes spoken of as "the Lord's brother," though there
is every reason to believe that he was not his brother, but the nephew
of His mother Mary. In those times, such near kinsmen as first
cousins--that is, the children of brothers and sisters--were often
called brethren. If the mother of Jesus had had any other children, it
would not have been necessary for our Lord to commend her to the care
of His beloved disciple John, whom He bade her to look upon as a son.

James is always considered as the first Bishop: he was Bishop of the
Church in Jerusalem; and he remained in that city, whilst the other
Apostles travelled from place to place, preaching the Gospel to all
people. Peter was anxious that James, and all the brethren, should
know what had happened to him, that they might bless God for answering
their prayers in such a wonderful manner, and that their faith might
be strengthened, by seeing how able and willing the Lord is to
preserve His servants, and defend them from all enemies, as long as He
has any work for them to do upon earth.



Chapter X.--SAUL AND BARNABAS CALLED TO PREACH TO THE GENTILES.


After giving his message for James, "Peter departed, and went unto
another place," where Herod's officers would be less likely to look
for him, than in a house where the Christians were in the habit of
meeting.

Nor did Peter remain in Jerusalem, where he would at any moment be
liable to be discovered: what he did is not quite certain, but there
is good reason to believe that he went to Rome, and preached the
Gospel to Jews and Gentiles; so as to found, or begin, the
establishment of a Christian Church in that city. It is also believed
that Mark went with Peter, and that he then wrote his Gospel, for the
use of the Christian converts at Rome.

When Herod found that Peter had actually escaped out of prison, he
caused all the keepers of the prison to be put to death.

After this, he "went down from Judæa to Cæsarea, and there abode."

From other writings we learn, that Herod went to Cæsarea at this time,
for the purpose of celebrating a festival in honour of Claudius Cæsar,
who had become Emperor of Rome a year or two before, in A.D. 41. We
also learn that the people of Tyre and Sidon had in some way or other
offended Herod, who was intending to make war upon them. The idea of
war greatly alarmed the inhabitants of Ph[oe]nicia, because they got
the chief part of their wheat and honey, and other provisions, from
the land of Judæa; and of course if there were a war, such supplies
would be stopped, and a famine would be the consequence. We read in
the Scripture, that "Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and
Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus
the king's chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their
country was nourished by the king's country." Herod, at the request of
Blastus, consented to receive the messengers sent from Tyre and Sidon.
"And upon a set day," a day appointed for the purpose, "Herod, arrayed
in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration" (or long
speech) "unto them." What Herod said, we do not know; but Josephus
tells us that he wore on this occasion a magnificent robe of silver
tissue, and that the sun shining upon it, made it look so dazzlingly
bright and beautiful, that the people cried out, Forgive us for having
only paid honour to you as a mortal king: from this time we shall look
upon you as being far superior to mortals! Instead of reproving them
for thus setting up a mortal man as being equal to God, Herod was
pleased with this speech; but he had soon cause to repent of his pride
and folly: for before he left the theatre, or public building in which
such assemblies took place, he was seized with most dreadful pains in
his stomach, so that in his agony he exclaimed, "I whom ye have called
a god am now going to die a miserable death." The king was then
carried to his palace, where he died after five days of fearful
suffering: a warning to all, who allow others to treat them as if they
were beings superior to their fellow-men.

None of this is told us in the Bible: all that we read on this subject
in the Book of Acts, is, that Herod "made an oration. And the people
gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. And
immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God
the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost."

Herod died about A.D. 44, lamented by the Jews, whose favour he had
gained by his persecution of the Christians: the Roman soldiers, on
the contrary, rejoiced at his death, and spake against him, which made
the Jews very angry. This bad feeling now raised between the Roman
soldiers and the Jews, was one cause of the troubles and disturbances
which soon followed: for from this time until Jerusalem was destroyed,
twenty-six years later, the land of Judæa never enjoyed any real rest
or quiet. How could the blessing of God, which can alone give peace
and happiness, rest upon a people who had so fearfully sinned against
God, by their rejection of the Messiah, His Son Jesus Christ.

Herod Agrippa the Elder, of whose death we have just spoken, left
three children: a son, bearing his own name of Herod Agrippa; and two
daughters, Bernice and Drusilla, both mentioned in Scripture.

Herod Agrippa the Second, or Younger, was only seventeen years old
when his father died; and his dominions were therefore placed under
the care of a Roman governor; but afterwards he was allowed to rule
over a part of them, and to take the title of king: and upon the death
of his uncle, Herod king of Chalcis, the Emperor Claudius allowed this
Herod Agrippa to succeed to his kingdom. Nero, who became Emperor of
Rome, A.D. 54, added to the dominions already possessed by Herod
Agrippa the Second, in the land of Judæa. We shall hear of him again
in the Book of Acts. Both Drusilla and Bernice were bad women:
Drusilla married Azizus, king of the Emesians; but Felix, a Roman, who
afterwards became governor or procurator of Judæa, persuaded her to
leave her husband, and become his wife. Of this Felix we shall hear
more by and by, after he became the governor of Judæa.

We must now go back to the history of Saul and Barnabas, whom we left
at Antioch preaching the Gospel, and bringing into the Church many
converts, who were then called Christians.

Whilst Barnabas and Saul were still at Antioch, preaching the Gospel
of Jesus, there "came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. And there
stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified (or foretold) by (the
direction of) the Spirit that there should be great dearth (or famine)
throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius
Cæsar," who was at that time Emperor of Rome. The word here translated
"world," sometimes means the Roman Empire, and sometimes only the land
of Judæa. In this case, it appears to mean Judæa only; for the dearth
seems to have been confined to that country: and Josephus, speaking of
this dearth in the reign of Claudius, tells us, that large quantities
of corn were sent up to Jerusalem from the neighbouring provinces,
which could not have been the case if the dearth had been felt in them
also. On the announcement of the distress about to come upon their
brethren in Judæa, "the disciples" at Antioch, "every man according to
his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt
in Judæa." By this we learn, that the custom of having all things in
common had not been followed at Antioch. Most probably by this time it
had been given up altogether; for now that the numbers of Christians
had so largely increased on all sides, the plan of having all things
in common would be no longer desirable, or even practicable. Each
Christian of Antioch determined then to give what he could for the
relief of their fellow Christians in Judæa; "which also they did, and
sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul," who
immediately set out from Antioch, to take the money thus collected to
the elders of the Church at Jerusalem. These two Apostles stayed in
Jerusalem for some months; probably about a year. We learn from
another part of the Book of Acts, that during this stay at Jerusalem,
Saul had a very remarkable vision. He was praying in the temple, when
by the power of God he fell into a trance. Whilst he was in this
state, his bodily senses suspended as it were, and his mind more alive
to spiritual things, Jesus Christ appeared to him, and said, "Make
haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not
receive thy testimony concerning me." It surprised Saul to be told
that the Jews of Jerusalem would not believe him: they knew how he had
formerly persecuted the Christians, and therefore his change of
opinions would, he thought, have great weight in convincing them of
the truth of what he now taught them: therefore he answered, and said,
"Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them
that believed in thee: and when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was
shed, I was also standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept
the raiment of them that slew him."

To man, these things might seem to make Saul the most fit person to
convince his countrymen, but not so with God, Who had chosen Saul
especially to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. In answer to his
pleading, therefore, Jesus now gave this positive command, "Depart:
for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles." This was enough,
and from henceforth Saul became a distinguished preacher to the
Gentiles. "And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they
had fulfilled their ministry," (that is, the work which they came to
do,) "and took with them John, whose surname was Mark," who had before
this accompanied Peter to Rome.

Barnabas and Saul therefore went back to Antioch, but they did not
long remain there.

"Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and
teachers," who joined with Barnabas and Saul in preaching the Gospel.
"As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said,
Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called
them." In what way the Holy Ghost spake, we are not told; but in some
way or other the Lord made known His Will to His faithful servants,
whilst they were engaged in the performance of their religious duties.
The work unto which Barnabas and Saul were now called, was that of
preaching the Gospel, not to Jews only, or even to Proselytes of the
Gate, but also to the idolatrous Gentiles, so as to bring them to
leave their false religion and become Christians. Although the
appointment of Barnabas and Saul to this work was direct from God, yet
outward forms were to be observed in dedicating them to it, and solemn
prayers offered up for their success. In this matter, no doubt the
prophets and teachers acted by the direction of the same Spirit which
had bade them separate, or set apart the two Apostles for this
particular work. "And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their
hands on them, they sent them away."

Barnabas and Saul now set out on their first journey, about A.D. 45.
"So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia,"
a port at the mouth of the river Orontes, a little to the west of
Antioch; "and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. And when they were at
Salamis," a city in the eastern part of the island, "they preached the
word of God in the synagogues of the Jews"; for though they had a
positive commission to preach to the Gentiles, they were not to
neglect the Jews, but preach the Gospel first to them, if they would
but listen to it. "And they had also John (or Mark) to their
minister,"--to help in their ministry or work.



Chapter XI.--SAUL'S NAME CHANGED TO PAUL.


Having preached the Word at Salamis, Barnabas and Saul, with Mark,
journeyed on, proclaiming their good tidings in every village. "And
when they had gone through the isle," they came unto Paphos, the chief
city, situated on the western coast of Cyprus. Here the "deputy of the
country," that is, the magistrate or governor appointed by the Roman
Emperor, resided: this deputy, whose name was Sergius Paulus, was
himself a Roman and a heathen; but he was "a prudent man," that is, a
man of good sense and understanding; therefore, when he heard of
Barnabas and Saul teaching new and wonderful doctrines, he was
anxious to hear and judge for himself as to their truth: he therefore
"called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God."
But Sergius Paulus had with him, as his friend and adviser, a Jew,
whose name was Bar-jesus: he was also called Elymas, because he was
looked upon as a sorcerer or magician, and the word "Elymas" means
something of that sort. This man, who pretended to be a prophet, and
to have power to work miracles, did not at all wish that Christianity
should spread; and seeing that the Roman governor was inclined to
believe what the Apostles taught, he contradicted them, "withstood
them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith." For this
conduct Saul reproved him severely, pronouncing upon him a heavy
punishment: we read, "Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled
with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, and said, O full of all
subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all
righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the
Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou
shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there
fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to
lead him by the hand. Then the deputy, when he saw what was done,
believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord." He saw that
the Apostles were far superior to Elymas, who could not save himself;
and he at once believed all that they taught, convinced that God was
indeed with them.

We have read, "then Saul, who also is called Paul"; and we find that
from this time he is never again spoken of in Scripture by the name of
Saul. As the Bible does not tell us _why_ his name was changed, we
cannot be sure; but there are several reasons which may have caused
the change. First, Sergius Paulus was the first idolatrous Gentile
mentioned as having become a Christian, and it is very probable that
the Apostle had the name of Paul (which is the same as Paulus) given
to him, in remembrance of this act of mercy shown to the Gentiles by
God. Then, again, the Jews, particularly those who like Paul were not
born in the land of Judæa, often had a Roman as well as a Hebrew name
given to them; and they called themselves by either, according to the
custom of the people amongst whom they went. Some persons think that
the Apostle now chose the name of Paul, which means "little" or
"weak," instead of that of Saul, meaning "beloved" or "desirable."
Paul was now humble; he felt that he was weak, and that whatever he
might be able to do, could be done only by the power of the Holy
Ghost, directing and helping him. But whatever the cause may be, it is
certain that from this time he is always called Paul--a name much more
pleasing to the Gentiles, amongst whom he was appointed to teach, than
the Hebrew appellation of Saul. The remaining chapters of the Book of
Acts give us the account of the Five Journeys made by this Apostle, in
order to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles: of the other Apostles we
hear but little. We generally speak of the Apostles and Evangelists as
_St._ Peter, _St._ John, _St._ Paul, _St._ Matthew, _St._ Luke, &c.
"Saint" means good and holy; and we may well call the Apostles so, to
distinguish them from other men; for they were holy men, inspired and
guided in a peculiar way by the Holy Ghost, and we should, therefore,
speak of them and think of them with reverence; remembering, that by
their preaching and writings, we, and all mankind, have learnt the
blessed tidings of salvation through Jesus Christ. St. Paul was now on
his first journey, in company with St. Barnabas; and St. Mark was with
them. From Paphos they sailed to Perga, in Pamphylia, a country in the
southern part of Asia Minor. The Scripture tells us that here John, or
St. Mark as we call him, "departing from them, returned to Jerusalem."
Why he did this, we are not told; but from what we read in other parts
of Scripture, we are sure that he did wrong. He was a young man, and
probably he was discouraged by the idea of all the difficulties and
hardships which the Apostles must meet with. After the departure of
St. Mark, St. Paul and St. Barnabas travelled northward into the
province of Pisidia, where there was also a town called Antioch,
built, like Antioch in Syria, by Seleucus Nicanor, who was king of
Syria after the death of Alexander the Great. Seleucus gave the name
of Antioch to these cities, in memory of his father Antiochus. When
the Apostles came to Antioch in Pisidia, they "went into the synagogue
on the sabbath day, and sat down. And after the reading of the law and
of the prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying,
Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the
people, say on." We have already learnt that the Jews were required to
set up a synagogue, in any place where ten men could meet for public
worship; and that every synagogue had its rulers: men respectable both
from age and character, who directed the services, and had some
authority over other members of the congregation. On the Sabbath
morning, two lessons were appointed to be read: one out of the Law, or
Books of Moses; the other from the writings of the Prophets: on
week-day mornings, the Law only was read. After these Lessons had been
read, it was customary for some Teacher or Rabbi to preach or speak to
the people: and if any strange teacher or learned man happened to be
present, he was often called upon by the rulers of the synagogue, to
perform this part of the service. Even if the rulers of the synagogue
at Antioch in Pisidia, knew nothing before this of the Apostles, they
would see at once that they were Rabbis or Teachers, because they "sat
down," which was customary for all belonging to this class: probably,
too, they sat down in the seats expressly set apart for the Doctors
and Teachers.

Being invited by the rulers of the synagogue to "say on," if they had
"any word of exhortation for the people," the Apostles gladly seized
the opportunity of speaking to them of Jesus, and exhorting them to
believe in Him. "Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand," to
draw the attention of the congregation, "said, Men of Israel, and ye
that fear God, give audience," that is, listen to my words. By the
"men of Israel," St. Paul meant Jews born of Jewish parents, the real
descendants of Abraham: by "ye that fear God," he meant proselytes
from the Gentiles who had adopted the Jewish religion, though they
were not Jews by birth. Both equally needed to be taught the Gospel,
and St. Paul, calling upon both to listen, spake of the bringing of
the Children of Israel out of Egypt; of the mercy of God shown to them
in their wanderings, in spite of all their sins; and of their final
settlement in the land of Canaan. He then mentioned their government
by Judges, until, at the wish of the people, God gave them a king in
the person of Saul, who was succeeded by David, a man favoured by the
Lord. St. Paul then went on to explain that God had, according to His
promise, raised up from David's seed or descendants, a Saviour in the
Lord Jesus Christ, to whom John the Baptist had borne testimony; but
that the Jews and their rulers had put Him to death: thus fulfilling
the prophecies, though, if they had attended to their meaning, they
would have understood that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah. St.
Paul then proceeded to show that God had fulfilled all His promises,
as written in the Psalms or elsewhere, by raising Jesus from the dead;
adding, "Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that
through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by
him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye
could not be justified by the law of Moses." None could be justified,
or accounted righteous by the law, because none could keep all its
commandments and ordinances; but those who believed in Jesus as their
Saviour, would for His sake, be _looked_ upon as righteous. Having
thus preached to the congregation the great Gospel truth of remission
of sins, St. Paul warned his hearers not to disregard his words, lest
the sentence pronounced by one of their prophets, "Behold, ye
despisers, and wonder, and perish," should fall upon them.

The words of St. Paul made an impression upon some part of his
hearers; for when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the
Gentiles, that is, the Jewish proselytes from the Gentiles, besought
that these words might be preached to them again. Many of the Jews and
religious proselytes also followed Paul and Barnabas, when the
congregation was broken up, and were persuaded by the Apostles to hold
fast the blessed truths, which by the grace of God they had learnt.

The fame of St. Paul's preaching, mean time, spread rapidly, "And the
next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word
of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with
envy," fearing lest the Gospel, which they rejected, should be
believed by others; and therefore they "spake against those things
which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming." Then Paul
and Barnabas plainly told these Jews, that they had begun by preaching
the word of God to them, because such was the Will of God; but, as
they wilfully refused the salvation thus offered to them, they should
now, in obedience to the same God, turn to the Gentiles, and bring the
heathens into the Church of Christ, Who was to "be for salvation unto
the ends of the earth." The Gentiles, the idolatrous Gentiles, who now
for the first time forsook their idols, as well as those who had
already turned from idolatry to worship the God of the Jews, were very
glad when they heard this, "and glorified the word of the Lord"; and
many of them believed. This made the Jews very angry, and they
"stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the
city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled
them out of their coasts." The devout and honourable women were female
proselytes of rank, who had great influence over the lower classes in
the city. By their false accusations, the unbelieving Jews managed to
stir up the higher class of citizens and the rulers of the city, to
persecute the Apostles and drive them out of their country. "But they
shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium,"
a town to the S.E. of Antioch, in the province of Lycaonia. We must
remember, that when Jesus first gave commandment to His Apostles to go
and preach to the Jews, He told them that when they left any house or
city, where the people refused to hear them, they were to shake off
the dust of their feet, to show that they would have nothing more to
do with them: just as the Jews, who looked upon the dust of heathen
lands to be polluted, shook it off their garments, to signify that
they had nothing to do with such idolaters. But the disciples, who
were left at Antioch, "were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost."
They rejoiced in the knowledge of those blessed truths which they had
learnt from the Apostles; and the Holy Ghost was abundantly shed upon
the members of the infant Church at Antioch, encouraging and assisting
them to increase in faith and righteousness of life.



Chapter XII.--ST. PAUL'S FIRST APOSTOLIC JOURNEY.


"And it came to pass in Iconium, that Paul and Barnabas went both
together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great
multitude of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed. But the
unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil
affected against the brethren." Still the Apostles abode there for a
long time, speaking boldly; the Lord bearing testimony to the truth of
what they taught, by the miracles He enabled them to work.

"But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the
Jews, and part with the Apostles." The result was, that the Apostles
were in danger of being stoned, by the joint attack of the heathens,
and the Jews and their rulers. But being aware of their danger, "they
fled unto Lystra," a town to the S.E. of Iconium, "and there they
preached the Gospel."

At Lystra there was a certain man who had been lame from his birth,
and had never walked, being "impotent in his feet." "The same heard
Paul speak," and believed. Paul, "perceiving that he had faith to be
healed, said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet." The
people, seeing such a wonderful cure effected at the bidding of the
Apostle, immediately thought that he and Barnabas were two of their
imaginary gods; and cried out, "The gods are come down to us in the
likeness of men. And they called Barnabas, Jupiter," who was their
chief god; "and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker."
Mercurius, or as we call him Mercury, was the god of eloquence;
supposed to enable people to speak well: he was considered to be a
constant attendant upon Jupiter. "Then the priest of Jupiter, brought
oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with
the people," to the gods whom they supposed had honoured them with a
visit. Oxen and bulls were sacrificed to Jupiter; garlands of flowers
were placed on their heads, and the priests also wore garlands. Every
heathen city was placed under the protection of some particular deity,
called its tutelary god; whose temple or statue was set up before the
city gate. The tutelary god of Lystra was Jupiter, the statue of
"which was before the city."

The Apostles were dreadfully distressed at the idea of such things
being done in their honour; and "they rent their clothes, and ran in
among the people, crying out, and saying, Sirs, why do ye these
things? We also are men of like passions with you"; and then they went
on to tell them, that they were come on purpose to teach all people to
give up worshipping idols and believing in vain gods, and to turn
instead to the One only God, who made all things, and caused the
fruits of the earth to grow for the food of man; and Who, though in
times past he had suffered all nations to walk in their own ways, had
now sent His messengers, the Apostles, to teach men better things.

With difficulty the Apostles prevented the people from doing sacrifice
unto them.

These people, who had been ready to worship the Apostles as gods, were
soon led into a contrary extreme: for certain Jews came from Antioch
and Iconium, who probably told the people of Lystra, that Paul and
Barnabas were only magicians and sorcerers; and that though they had
by their wicked arts healed one cripple, they were just as likely to
do harm to their fellow creatures as good. These men, "persuaded the
people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing
he had been dead. Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he
rose up, and came into the city." The Lord had work for him to do, and
now restored him to life. What had now happened, was a warning to Paul
to remain no longer at Lystra; "and the next day he departed with
Barnabas to Derbe," another city of Lycaonia, not far from Lystra.
"And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught
many," they, trusting in the protection of God, went again to Lystra,
and to Iconium, and Antioch, to strengthen the faith of those whom
they had already converted to Christianity; "confirming the souls of
the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith"; and
showing them that those who would enter into the kingdom of heaven,
must expect many troubles upon earth. The Apostles then appointed
elders to look after and direct the affairs of every Church, or body
of Christians in those towns, and with prayer and fasting, they
commended them to the protection and blessing of "the Lord, on whom
they believed."

St. Paul and his company then journeyed through Pisidia and Pamphylia:
"and when they had preached the word in Perga," the chief city in
Pamphylia, "they went down into Attalia," a sea-port to the S. W. of
Perga, "and thence sailed to Antioch," in Syria. This ended St. Paul's
first Apostolic Journey, which had occupied rather more than one year.
At Antioch they had been appointed to their work; and the protection
and grace of God had been prayed for to enable them to perform it.
They had now accomplished their work, and therefore they "gathered the
church together," and told all that they had done, or rather "all that
God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto
the Gentiles"--that is, how, by their preaching, God had given to the
idolatrous Gentiles an opportunity of becoming true believers, and
members of the Church,--an opportunity of which great numbers had
gladly taken advantage.

No doubt all the believers in Antioch rejoiced greatly when they heard
of the success which had attended the Apostles' preaching; for all who
know and love God themselves, are anxious that others should do so
also.

St. Paul and St. Barnabas abode for some time with the disciples at
Antioch: probably for about two years. Towards the end of this period,
the Christians at Antioch were disturbed by the mistaken teaching of
certain men who came down from Judæa. These men, who were Jews, had
belonged to the sect of the Pharisees, and though now converted to be
Christians, they could not yet believe that all the ceremonial part of
the Law of Moses was to be entirely done away with: therefore, when
they were come to Antioch, they "taught the brethren, and said, Except
ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved."

Such teaching, so very different from that of the Apostles, caused
great distress in Antioch, where most of the believers had either been
proselytes of the gate, only worshipping the Lord God of Israel, but
not observing any of the ceremonies commanded by the Law of Moses; or
else idolaters, until they became Christians. All these converts had
been truly taught by St. Paul and St. Barnabas, that if they believed
in Jesus so as to obey His word, that was quite sufficient; and that
they would be as acceptable in the sight of God, as if they had been
Jews from their birth, keeping the whole Law perfectly. The Christians
of Antioch therefore might well be frightened and distressed, at being
now told that they could not obtain the salvation promised by the
Gospel, unless they kept all the ordinances of the Mosaic Law: in
short, that if they wished to be saved, they must be Jews as well as
Christians. The Apostles of course opposed these Jewish teachers, and
tried to convince them that the Gospel was all-sufficient; and that
Christ's disciples had but to follow their Master's teaching. They do
not seem, however, to have succeeded, and the perplexity of the
Christians continued. "When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small
dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and
Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto
the Apostles and elders about this question"--that is, to ask James
and the elders of their Church, to decide, whether the Jewish teachers
or the Apostles were to be believed.

Just before this time, we learn from other histories, that there had
been great troubles amongst the Jews in Judæa. A famine had afflicted
the country,--probably that which Agabus had foretold. This had been
followed by riots. In the year 48 (A.D.), a Roman soldier, who cared
nothing for the religion of the Jews, and did not look upon the temple
as a holy place, profaned it in some way, and thus made the Jews very
angry. A great tumult was immediately raised, and several thousand
Jews were crushed or trampled to death, in the narrow ways leading to
the temple; and other disturbances followed.

These things are not mentioned in the Bible, but it is well to note
them, as they show us how the punishment of the Jews as a nation, was
continually felt, from the time when they filled up the measure of
their guilt, by crucifying their Messiah.

It was in the year 49 (A.D.), that St. Paul and St. Barnabas left
Antioch for Jerusalem, in order to consult the Church there, as to the
necessity of keeping the Law of Moses.

We read in the Book of Acts, that "being brought on their way by the
church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the
conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the
brethren. And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of
the church, and of the Apostles and elders, and they declared all
things that God had done with them. But there rose up certain of the
sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to
circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses." This
last passage is not very clearly put: the last verse is what the
Apostles _said_ as to the reason of their coming to Jerusalem.

The meaning of the whole passage is, that St. Paul and St. Barnabas
explained to the Church all that it had pleased God to do by means of
their preaching, and how great numbers of the Gentiles had become
Christians, and were serving God faithfully: but that certain of the
sect of the Pharisees which believed, had disturbed them by saying,
that it was needful that they should be circumcised like the Jews, and
keep all the ceremonies and ordinances commanded by the Law of Moses.

James and the other elders of the Church, having heard all that St.
Paul and St. Barnabas had to say, saw that it was very necessary to
settle a question, which was of the greatest importance to the
converts from the Gentiles. And they "came together for to consider of
this matter," and decide upon what message should be sent back to
Antioch.

When the Apostles and elders of the Church began to talk over the
matter, there was much difference of opinion amongst the brethren:
some being inclined to agree with the Pharisees, that the Law of Moses
ought to be observed; others thinking that the Gospel was to be
_instead_ of the Law, and not added to it.

This gave rise to a great deal of discussion and argument; each side
advancing their own opinions, and trying to persuade the other party
to agree with them. This went on for some time, till at last, St.
Peter, who was present, stood up, and gave his opinion upon the
matter.



Chapter XIII.--DECISION OF THE CHURCH AS TO OBSERVING THE MOSAICAL
LAW.


"And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and," alluding
to the affair of Cornelius, "said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know
how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles
by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe." He then
reminded them, that the Holy Ghost had been visibly poured out upon
those Gentile converts, showing that in the eyes of Him Who seeth the
heart, they were as acceptable as the Jewish converts; and that
therefore it could not be necessary for them to observe the ceremonial
part of the Law, which Jesus came to do away with. The Jews themselves
had never kept the Law so perfectly as to deserve the favour of God;
and now that Jesus had delivered them from the observance of that Law,
why should the Gentiles be required to observe it. "Now therefore,"
Peter asks, "why tempt ye God," why provoke ye Him to anger in
opposing His Will, "to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples,
which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe
that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved,
even as they."

Such words from St. Peter, who was well known to have been formerly of
a different opinion, could not fail to produce an effect upon his
hearers, who now listened quietly and patiently to what was told them
by St. Paul and St. Barnabas. "Then all the multitude kept silence,
and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and
wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them."

When these two Apostles had ended their history, and "held their
peace," James, the ruler and director of the Church, declared it to be
his opinion, that it was most certainly the Will of God, that the
Gentiles should be received into the Christian Church _without_ being
required to keep the Law, as the Jewish teachers had insisted; and
that this had been the intention of the Lord from the beginning, and
had been accordingly foretold by the prophets. "Wherefore," said he,
"my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the
Gentiles are turned to God: but that we write unto them, that they
abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from
things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every
city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath
day."

This speech of St. James requires a little explanation. The Law of
Moses required that animals used for food should be killed in a
particular way; and a Jew was to be considered as unclean, if he ate
any meat not prepared in this manner. Much of the meat eaten by the
Gentiles, was the flesh of animals offered in sacrifice to their false
gods, or idols: to eat of such food polluted a Jew,--that is, made him
unclean. Now, an idol was in reality nothing, nor did it signify how
food was prepared, if it was eaten with thankfulness. But at that time
there were very many Jewish converts who had long kept the Law of
Moses, and held that to eat of meat offered to idols, or of the flesh
of animals "strangled," instead of being killed as the Law required,
did pollute a man, and render him unclean. St. James therefore
considered, that for the present, it would be better for the Gentile
converts to abstain from animal food, prepared in a different way from
what the Jews thought lawful, that they might not offend them; and
that they might, moreover, show that they had given up offering any
sacrifices to idols. St. James therefore thought it well, in excusing
them from most of the observances of the Law, to caution the Gentile
converts not only to keep themselves free from all manner of sin, but
also to avoid every appearance of idolatry. The reason which St. James
gives for this decision is, that as the Law of Moses was read every
Sabbath day, and reverenced by all the Jewish converts, it was better
not to disregard such ordinances, though in themselves they were
matters of indifference. What St. James said was approved of by the
other members of the Church.

"Then pleased it the Apostles and elders, with the whole church, to
send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and
Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among
the brethren: and they wrote letters by them," bidding the Gentile
converts at Antioch not to be troubled by the teaching of the Jewish
teachers, saying, "For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to
lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; that ye
abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things
strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye
shall do well. Fare ye well."

In this letter, St. Paul and St. Barnabas are spoken of as "beloved,"
"men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus
Christ": and the Christians of Antioch are told, that Judas and Silas
have been sent, in order that they might explain more fully what had
been written on the subject, about which St. James and the Church at
Jerusalem had been consulted. Sending these two brethren was a very
wise measure. Had St. Paul and St. Barnabas returned alone, the Jewish
teachers might have raised a question, as to how far they, being
interested in the matter, could be trusted to deliver any messages
correctly; but Judas and Silas, having nothing to do with the affair,
must be regarded as unprejudiced witnesses as to what they had heard
in Jerusalem.

Judas and Silas are both called Prophets. "The Prophets" appear to
have been a class of teachers who were inspired to foretell future
events, as well as to preach the Gospel; but they had not so much
power and authority as the Apostles. Then, again, there were other
teachers, who were not Prophets. God gave different gifts and powers
to different men, according to the work He appointed for them to do.
It is the same now: we have not all the same power, but each one of us
should try to do _all_ we _can_ to serve God, and do good to our
fellow creatures.

The letters being written, and delivered to Judas and Silas, the
Apostles were dismissed, and "came to Antioch: and when they had
gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle: which
when" the Christian brethren "had read, they rejoiced for the
consolation" it had given them, in the assurance that they were by no
means called upon to keep the whole Law of Moses.

Judas and Silas made themselves very useful at Antioch; for they
"exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them" in the
faith. "And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in
peace from the brethren unto the Apostles" in Jerusalem. But one only
availed himself of this permission: for "it pleased Silas to abide
there still," and therefore he remained in Antioch with St. Paul and
St. Barnabas, "teaching and preaching the word of the Lord." Many
other teachers also helped them; and thus another year passed away.

We next read that, "some days after, Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us
go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached
the word of the Lord, and see how they do." This was a very good
thought: another visit from the Apostles would be a great comfort to
the Christians of Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, and other places; and
especially to the elders of those Churches, who would be glad to have
their advice on many subjects. St. Barnabas was very willing to go;
but now a dispute arose, which caused the separation of these two
Apostles; for "Barnabas determined to take with them Mark," his
nephew; "but Paul thought not good to take with them" one who had left
them on their first journey as soon as they landed in Pamphylia; "and
went not with them to the work," of preaching to the Gentiles in Asia
Minor.

Differences of opinion will arise amongst the best of men, and so far
there was nothing wrong in the conduct of the Apostles: but, alas!
instead of seeking counsel from God, and settling the matter
peaceably, Scripture tells us that "the contention was so sharp
between them, that they departed asunder one from the other." It is
sad to hear of these two holy men parting from each other in anger;
but it is a warning to us to keep a strict watch over all _our_ words,
that we may not fall into that strife, which is so displeasing in the
eyes of God. Let us always remember that no dispute or quarrel, can be
carried on unless both parties give way to sinful feelings.
Differences must arise; and even if we feel it our duty not to give up
our own design, we can, by gentleness, forbearance, and self-denial,
prevent any "sharp contention," even though we may thus be obliged to
offend our adversary. Where no principle of right is concerned, we
should give up our own wishes for the sake of "living peaceably with
all men," as the Gospel enjoins us to do.

St. Paul was afraid to trust St. Mark: he had failed once; and perhaps
the Apostle was too stern in his condemnation of his fault, and too
unwilling to believe in his repentance. St. Barnabas, on the other
hand, from his nearer connexion with St. Mark, felt that he might now
be trusted; and he was probably angry with St. Paul for not also
believing this. A little calm and quiet talk might perhaps have
settled the matter; or, at any rate, might have led to an amicable
separation, instead of "a sharp contention," which parted them
asunder.

However it was, this unhappy dispute was overruled for the good of the
Church; because by going separately, these two zealous Apostles could
visit many more places than they could have done, had they continued
to journey together. We must remember also, that though these Apostles
were for the moment angry with each other, these feelings did not
last; and, some years afterwards, we find St. Mark the companion of
St. Paul.

At the time of which we are now speaking, however, "Barnabas took
Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus." How long he stayed there, or where he
went afterwards, we are not told; but we may be sure that, wherever he
went, his words strengthened the faith of believers, whilst he
laboured to bring fresh converts into the Church.

"And Paul chose Silas" to accompany him on his Second Apostolic
Journey, "and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the
grace of God. And he went through Syria and" the neighbouring province
of "Cilicia, confirming the churches." He then went northward into
Lycaonia; and at either Derbe or Lystra he found a young man, called
Timotheus, or Timothy, one of the believers, who was well spoken of by
other Christians in those parts, because they saw that in all things
he tried to obey Jesus, and follow His example. The mother of Timothy
was called Eunice, and his grandmother Lois. Both these women were
Jewesses, but had become Christians many years before. Eunice then
married the father of Timothy, by birth a Greek, but then a proselyte
of the gate, worshipping the God of Israel, but not observing the Law
of Moses. As soon as the little Timothy was old enough to learn, his
mother Eunice had carefully taught him the things of God, and
instructed him in the faith of Jesus Christ: so that now, by the
blessing of God, he was a true Christian.

Many children are taught nothing while they are young, and know no
more of God and Jesus Christ than if they were heathens. We must pity
and pray for them; and children who have the blessing of being early
taught these things, should show their thankfulness, by trying to
_learn_ and _do_ all that the Gospel teaches. No teaching can _make_ a
child _love_ and _serve_ God; but no one can love or serve Him unless
they learn how to do so. Therefore children should pay the greatest
attention to all that is taught from the Bible and Prayer Book,
praying to God that the Holy Spirit may help them to do whatever they
see to be right.



Chapter XIV.--PAUL AND SILAS AT PHILIPPI.


Timothy had paid attention to the teaching of his mother, praying for
grace to perceive and know what things he ought to do; and striving
earnestly to fulfil the same: and now, St. Paul, seeing that such a
young man would be most useful in preaching both to Jews and Gentiles,
"would have him to go forth with him" on his journey: and he "took and
circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for
they knew all that his father was a Greek."

As the son of a Jewess, Timothy would be supposed to have been
circumcised; and the Jews, finding that this was not the case, and
knowing that his father had been a heathen, would probably have been
unwilling to listen to him; and thus his usefulness would have been
sadly interfered with. Circumcision, in Timothy's case, was
_unnecessary_, but there was nothing _wrong_ in it; and therefore, to
avoid giving offence to the Jews, St. Paul acted as we have heard.
Taking Timothy with him, St. Paul now continued his journey. "And as
they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to
keep, that were ordained of the Apostles and elders which were at
Jerusalem," that is, the decrees concerning the observance of the Law
of Moses by the Gentiles. And so were the Churches established in the
faith, and increased in number daily.

After preaching the Gospel in Phrygia and Galatia, St. Paul and his
companions would have gone into other parts of Asia Minor, but the
Spirit of God made it known to them, that they were not to do so: they
went therefore to Troas, a sea-port quite in the northern part of the
Archipelago. Here St. Paul's little band of followers was increased,
for St. Luke joined them; and from this time, in relating what
happened, St. Luke writes "we" and "us," showing that he was one of
those concerned in the events he describes. Besides writing the Book
of Acts, St. Luke wrote the Gospel which bears his name. We know
nothing of St. Luke, except that he was a Jew and a physician: he was
probably a native of Antioch, in Syria. St. Luke tells us that, at
Troas, St. Paul saw in a vision a man of Macedonia, who stood and
prayed him, saying, "Come over into Macedonia, and help us." St. Paul,
rightly looking upon this as a call from God, immediately embarked on
board a ship, and sailing by the island of Samothracia, landed at
Neapolis, a sea-port of Thracia. Macedonia had once been a separate
kingdom, but the Romans, who had in the Apostles' time got possession
of all that country called Greece, had divided the whole into two
great parts: one of these contained Macedonia, Thessaly, and Epirus,
but went by the name of Macedonia: the other division, called Achaia,
contained the rest of Greece, including the Peloponnesus.

From Neapolis St. Paul proceeded to Philippi, which was "the chief
city of that part of Macedonia," and a Roman colony: that is, it was
peopled or inhabited by the descendants of Romans, who had been placed
there by Julius Cæesar and by the Emperor Augustus. The place had got
the name of Philippi long before, from Philip then king of Macedonia,
who repaired the buildings of the city, and added many handsome new
ones. Philip was the father of Alexander the Great, a famous king, of
whom we read much in ancient history. Both Philip and Alexander lived
and died more than 300 years before Jesus Christ was born.

St. Paul and his companions remained some time at Philippi; and St.
Luke says, "on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side,
where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the
women which resorted thither."

Besides the synagogues, or buildings for public worship, the Jews had
also, in every place where they took up their residence, smaller
buildings or oratories, to which people might constantly resort for
the purposes of prayer. These oratories were generally built in the
fields, or by the side of a stream. To one of these oratories, close
to the city of Philippi, St. Paul and his companions went, that they
might speak of the Lord Jesus Christ, to those who went there to
worship the Lord God of Israel. Amongst their first converts was "a
certain woman named Lydia," a native of the city of Thyatira, in Asia
Minor, but resident in Philippi for the purposes of trade. Scripture
says, she was a "seller of purple": what this may mean, we do not
exactly know; but it probably means, that she sold some fine materials
for female dress. At any rate, she had become a "proselyte of the
gate," and worshipped God: and the Lord "opened her heart," so "that
she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul," with a
sincere desire to learn; and in consequence became a real convert to
Christianity, inducing all the members of her family to follow her
example. "And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought
us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into
my house, and abide there." Eager to show her sincerity by _doing_
something for the service of God, she now anxiously sought to be of
use to the messengers of Jesus for their Lord's sake; and entreated
them to take up their abode in her house.

St. Luke adds, "And she constrained us"--that is, so urged and
entreated, as to force them to do as she wished. We now read, "And it
came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a
spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by
soothsaying."

This damsel seems to have been a slave, who, being possessed by an
evil spirit, spake in a mysterious way, foretelling future events: and
as the heathens were great believers in such things, many of them
consulted this unfortunate girl, and gave her money for exercising her
powers. This money went to her masters, to whom she thus brought much
gain. The Lord now chose this damsel, to give a proof that He can
constrain even evil spirits to bear testimony to the truth of Christ's
religion; for St. Luke says, "The same followed Paul and us, and
cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which
shew unto us the way of salvation."

The damsel at Philippi, though under the influence of the evil spirit,
was constrained by a higher power to bear evidence to the truth of
doctrines, calculated to overthrow the empire of Satan. "And this did
she many days. But Paul, being grieved" to see her under the dominion
of an evil spirit, "turned, and said to the spirit, I command thee in
the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same
hour": thus putting an end to all future soothsaying. "And when her
masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone," they were greatly
enraged, and "caught Paul and Silas and drew them into the
market-place unto the rulers, and brought them to the magistrates,
saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, and
teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to
observe, being Romans." Such an accusation was sure to gain immediate
attention from the magistrates, or governors of the city, as the
Roman Emperors were very severe in any cases of rebellion or
opposition, in their distant provinces: and though there was at that
time no express law against Christianity, there was a law requiring
all persons to worship the gods of the country; and Christianity was,
of course, opposed to all idolatrous practices. Covetousness, or a
sinful love of money, is, we are told, the root of much evil: the
masters of the damsel cared not how much St. Paul preached the Gospel,
as long as it did not interfere with their gains; but as soon as it
did, they raised an outcry against the Apostles. Now let us remember
that covetousness, or an eager desire for our own gain, whether of
riches, honours, or pleasures, is just as great a sin now, as it was
when the Scriptures were first written; and let us try never to let
any thoughts of our own advantage or gain, lead us to _do_ or _allow_
what we know to be wrong; or _prevent_ our doing what we feel is
right. These men succeeded in their persecution of Paul and Silas, for
"the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates,"
without further consideration, "rent off their clothes," preparatory
to their being scourged, "and commanded to beat them. And when they
had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging
the jailor to keep them safely." The jailor, having received so
special a charge, determined to keep it: and therefore "thrust them
into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks"--a
machine fixed to the floor, having round holes just to go round the
ancles, so that when it was shut upon them, it was quite impossible
for the poor prisoners to move. Now imagine the sufferings of St. Paul
and his companion: bleeding and smarting from the severe wounds made
by the scourge, and their feet so confined, that they could get no
ease by any change of posture! We might expect to find them lamenting
over their terrible sufferings, or, at least, praying to God to
deliver them. But the Scripture tells us, "And at midnight Paul and
Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God": their faith was great; they
rejoiced to suffer for the sake of Jesus, and they praised God for all
His wondrous works: they sang from their hearts with loud voice, and
the other "prisoners heard them." No doubt such joyful songs, from the
lips of those whom they knew to be in pain, surprised their fellow
prisoners, who had soon a greater cause for astonishment. The prayers
and praises of Paul and Silas went up to God: "And suddenly there was
a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were
shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's
bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his
sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and
would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been
fled." The jailor knew full well, that if the prisoners under his
charge had escaped from prison, he would surely be put to death by the
Roman magistrates; and, to avoid the disgrace of such a death, he was
about to kill himself. Being a heathen, he did not know, as Christians
do, that it is a fearful sin to put an end to our own lives: and
therefore, rather than be punished for a fault of which he was not
guilty, he prepared to kill himself. "But Paul," knowing his
intention, "cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for
we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came
trembling." Having thus convinced himself that his prisoners were
indeed still in the prison, the jailor felt at once that the Apostles
were certainly holy men, the messengers of God. No doubt he knew that
for preaching the Gospel they had been cast into prison, and the
wonderful things which he had now seen, convinced him that all they
had said was true: therefore he "fell down" on his knees "before Paul
and Silas, and brought them out" of prison, "and said, Sirs, what must
I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and
thou shalt be saved, and thy house." What blessed words! and then they
doubtless explained to him that the faith here spoken of, meant such a
belief in Jesus, as would lead to repentance for all sin so
displeasing to Him, and make men strive to do all in their power to
please Him: for to believe the Gospel, means to do all that the Gospel
teaches. Such, no doubt, was the Apostles' teaching, as "they spake
unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house." The
jailor showed his gratitude to the Apostles by doing all he could for
their relief and comfort: for "he took them the same hour of the
night, and washed their stripes." "And when he had brought them into
his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God
with all his house." Convinced and truly converted from the errors of
idolatry to a belief of the truth as it is in Jesus, the jailor of
Philippi with his family were at once admitted as members of the
Christian Church; he "was baptized, he and all his, straightway."



Chapter XV.--ST. PAUL LEAVES PHILIPPI.


It would seem that the magistrates of Philippi, upon thinking calmly
over the matter, felt that they had acted hastily and unjustly, in
commanding two men to be scourged and put into prison, without a
trial; for we read, "And when it was day, the magistrates sent the
serjeants," officers under their command, to the jailor, "saying, Let
those men go." The keeper of the prison, well pleased to receive such
an order, told this to Paul, saying, "The magistrates have sent to let
you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace. But Paul said unto" the
serjeants who stood by, "They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being
Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out
privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out."

Now in order to understand all this, we must remember that the Romans,
who thought themselves greatly superior to any other people in the
world, were very jealous of their power and privileges as citizens of
Rome. Thus, if a Roman citizen was ill treated, the Roman Government
would severely punish any one who had dared to ill treat him. All
persons whose parents were natives and citizens of Rome, were looked
upon as _free-born_ citizens; and enjoyed from their birth, all the
rights and privileges given by the Roman Government to her subjects.

Persons not born of Roman citizens, if they had done good service,
either by fighting for Rome, or in any other way, were often rewarded
by receiving the _Freedom of the City_; that is, by being looked upon
and treated as Roman citizens, and having an equal share in all the
privileges and benefits, granted to such Romans as _were_ free-born.

St. Paul was not a native of Rome, nor were his parents; for they were
Jews, settled at Tarsus, in Cilicia: probably some of his ancestors,
his grandfather or great-grandfather, had served in the Roman armies,
and been rewarded for some great service, by receiving the freedom of
the city: after which, all his descendants would be looked upon as
free-born citizens of Rome.

The Roman Emperors sometimes allowed strangers to _buy_ the
privileges: the Emperor Claudius did so: and for a large sum of money
allowed people to have _for themselves_ the privileges of a Roman
citizen--a great advantage in those days, as the rulers of every
Roman province were bound to protect every Roman citizen in it, and
not suffer any one to be ill treated. To scourge and imprison a Roman
citizen, without having first _proved_ him to have been guilty of some
great crime, was an offence which the Roman Government punished most
severely; and therefore, we find that when the serjeants went back,
and "told these words unto the magistrates, they feared, when they
heard that they were Romans. And they came and besought them" not to
report the treatment they had received, "and brought them out" of
prison, "and desired (or entreated) them to depart out of the city."

We may be quite sure that St. Paul neither valued nor used the
privileges of a Roman, further than they could serve to the glory of
God. In this case, many of the people who had seen him and Silas
beaten and cast into prison, would naturally think that they must have
done something wrong: this would prevent the people from listening to
what they taught. It was necessary, therefore, that St. Paul should
show clearly that he had _not_ deserved any punishment; and that the
magistrates themselves acknowledged, that they had sinned in treating
him in such a manner. St. Paul, by his conduct, plainly proved his
innocence of all offence. "And they went out of the prison, and
entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren,
they comforted them, and departed."

Of course the brethren were very sorry to lose St. Paul; but now that
he had established a Church at Philippi, they could go on without him,
whilst his teaching was much wanted in other places: and consequently,
he and Silas journeyed on to the south-west. "Now when they had passed
through Amphipolis and Apollonia," preaching the Gospel no doubt,
though we hear nothing as to their success, they went to Thessalonica,
an important city of Macedonia, and one in which many Jews resided;
for there was a synagogue there. "And Paul, as his manner was, went in
unto them" in their synagogue, "and three sabbath days reasoned with
them out of the Scriptures": showing that those holy writings,
prophesied both the sufferings and the rising again of Christ the
Messiah; and then plainly telling them, "this Jesus, whom I preach
unto you, is Christ," the promised Messiah, of whom your Scriptures
speak.

"And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of
the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a
few." As usual, the Jews were more bitter against the Gospel than the
Gentiles; and we read that "the Jews which believed not, moved with
envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort,"--men of
no principle, ready at any time to do any mischief which came in their
way: by the help of these men, the Jews "gathered a company, and set
all the city on an uproar, and assaulted (or attacked) the house of
Jason," where they supposed the Apostles to be, "and sought to bring
them out to the people," who, in their excited state, would probably
have put them to death without further inquiry.

Jason was one of those who had become a Christian, and he appears to
have shown hospitality to the Apostles, and lodged them in his house;
though the mob did not find them there, when they assaulted the house.
"And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren
unto the rulers of the city, crying, These (men) that have turned the
world upside down are come hither also; whom Jason hath received: and
these all do contrary to the decrees of Cæsar, saying that there is
another king, one Jesus. And they troubled the people and the rulers
of the city, when they heard these things." But the rulers could find
no cause to punish Jason or the other brethren that were dragged with
him before the judgment seat, so "they let them go," "when they had
taken security of them." What this "security" was, we do not know;
probably some promise not to entertain the Apostles, nor to rebel
against the Roman Emperor.

By "turning the world upside down," the accusers of Jason meant, that
what the Apostles taught was so different to anything ever heard of
before, that it would quite alter everything, and make the world no
longer like the same place. This, let us remember, is exactly what the
Gospel was meant to do.

It was not considered advisable for the Apostles to remain longer at
Thessalonica, where the people were too much enraged to listen to
them; and therefore, "the brethren immediately sent away Paul and
Silas by night unto Berea."

There was a synagogue of the Jews also at Berea, whither, when it was
neither useful nor safe for them to remain at Thessalonica, Paul and
Silas were sent; "who coming thither went into the synagogue of the
Jews. These were more noble (more liberal-minded and unprejudiced)
than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all
readiness of mind, (listened willingly to the teaching of the
Apostles,) and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things
were so": they compared the teaching of St. Paul with the written
word of the Old Testament, in order to see whether they were justified
in believing all he taught them. The consequence of this was, that
many of the Jews believed; "also of honourable women which were
Greeks, and of men, not a few." But when the unbelieving Jews of
Thessalonica, heard that the people of Berea were listening to St.
Paul and becoming Christians, some of them came down on purpose to try
and put an end to his preaching. They easily found plenty of
unbelieving Jews and Gentiles ready for mischief, and stirred them up
to make a riot: the brethren now acted as those at Thessalonica had
done, and fearing for the Apostle's safety, immediately "sent away
Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode,"
still in Berea.

Two or three of the brethren went with St. Paul to guard him from
danger. We read, "And they that conducted Paul brought him unto
Athens," either by sea or by land; "and receiving a commandment," that
is, a message, from him "unto Silas and Timotheus," bidding them "for
to come to him with all speed, they departed" to return unto Berea;
leaving St. Paul alone at Athens.

Athens was the chief city of Achaia, the other province which, with
Macedonia, formed what the Romans then called "Greece." Athens long
before this had been a powerful and famous city: it was founded, or
begun to be built, by a king called Cecrops, who came over from Asia
during the time that the Israelites were in bondage in Egypt, before
Moses was born. In the course of time Athens became, as we have said,
a great and powerful city; full of beautiful temples and other
buildings: some of these are even standing now; and a great many ruins
are to be seen, all showing how magnificent the city must once have
been.

In St. Paul's time, Athens, like most other cities and countries in
the known world, was under the dominion of the Romans; and the
Athenians, or inhabitants of the city, were quite devoted to the
worship of false gods: we are told that there were more idols to be
seen at Athens, than could be found in any other place.

Now while St. Paul waited at Athens, for Silas and Timotheus to join
him, "his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given
to idolatry." Grieved at the state of the Athenians, the Apostle felt
eager to try and teach them better things: "his spirit was stirred in
him; therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with
the devout persons," proselytes of the gate, "and in the market daily
with them that met with him"; who must have been for the most part
Gentiles, or heathen idolaters. The market, as has been explained, was
a public place, where people met for business of all kinds; and to
talk to each other upon any subjects of importance.

There were at this time in Athens, a great many wise and clever men,
fond of learning: such men were called "Philosophers." These
philosophers held different opinions; some believing one thing, some
another; and as they each wished to bring people over to join them,
they constantly spake in the market-place, explaining their doctrines,
and persuading men to believe in them.

Two chief sects (or parties) of these philosophers, were the
Epicureans and the Stoics. The Epicureans thought that the gods were
only so in name, and that there was no Divine Power whatever to rule
over the world; therefore they held, that the wisest thing was, for
every man to do exactly what he liked best, and only to think of his
own pleasure, as long as he lived.

The Stoics believed, that there were gods who ruled all things in the
world so completely, that man became a mere machine, not answerable
for his own conduct; so that he could never be said to do right or
wrong: thus they taught, that the only real wisdom was to learn to
bear with _indifference_ whatever the gods caused to happen to them,
whether it was what men call good or evil, happiness or misery.

Both these "systems of philosophy" (or sets of opinions), were equally
contrary to all that St. Paul was appointed to teach. We read, "Then
certain of the Epicureans, and of the Stoics, encountered him." But
when they had heard, his teaching, "some said, What will this babbler
say?"-mocking the Apostle as if he had been talking nonsense, without
any meaning, just from a love of "babbling," or talking foolishly.
Others said, "He seemeth to be a setter-forth of strange gods: because
he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection." So little did all
their wisdom help them to understand spiritual things, that they
fancied the resurrection of which St. Paul spake, was some _female
deity_ called by that name, instead of understanding it to be an
action done by Jesus, whom St. Paul preached. The God of whom St. Paul
spake, was indeed a strange God unto the Athenian philosophers! but
instead of ill using the preacher, they, like sensible men, determined
to hear more on the subject.



Chapter XVI.--ST. PAUL BEFORE THE AREOPAGUS.


We have said that the Philosophers of Athens were desirous to hear
more of St. Paul's doctrines. "And they took him, and brought him unto
Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou
speakest, is? For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we
would know therefore what these things mean."

The Areopagus was a Court of Justice, the chief court in Athens; and
one of its duties was, to pay particular attention to all matters
relating to religion, or the worship of the gods. The members of this
Court met in a building erected upon a certain hill dedicated to Mars,
the God of War; and thence called Mars' Hill. St. Paul was now brought
before this Court, that he might give an account of the new doctrines
which he had begun to teach in Athens. The Athenians were so fond of
learning, that whenever they heard anything which they did not
understand, they were anxious to inquire into it, and see what it did
mean. To a certain degree this was right, for we should all try to get
as much knowledge as we can, as to good and useful things. But the
Athenians were too curious; for St. Luke tells us, that "all the
Athenians and strangers which were" in the city, "spent their time in
nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing": and from
other writers we learn, that the Athenians went from place to place in
order to meet others, and hear if there was anything new.

Now this love of change and novelty, or "new things," is a great
fault, and one which often leads us into sin.

If we are always wishing for some _new_ occupation or business, we
shall never do anything well: if we are longing and seeking for _new_
amusements, we shall not enjoy what we have: if children are always
wishing for _new_ toys, they will cease to care about the old ones.
Therefore all this desire for novelty and change will lead to
indolence, discontent, covetousness, and many other evil passions. Let
us remember that people who cultivate a contented spirit, are always
happy with whatever they have: discontented people are never happy;
whatever they have, they will still be wishing for something else: for
it is quite impossible for anybody to have everything he wishes for.

But we must go back to St. Paul, standing before the Court of
Areopagus, and desired there to give an account of his doctrines. The
Apostle, glad to have such an opportunity of preaching the Gospel
before the chief men in Athens, now stood up, and spake gently and
kindly. He began by telling them, that as he had gone about their city
looking at the different images to which they bowed down, and at the
different altars set up for the worship of those whom they called
gods, he had found one, bearing an inscription "TO THE UNKNOWN GOD."
This showed that they were "too superstitious," for to worship a God
of whom they knew nothing, was superstition rather than religion. This
ignorance, therefore, St. Paul now proposed to remove, so that the
Unknown God might no longer be so to them: "Whom therefore ye
ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you."

Before we proceed with what St. Paul said to the Athenians on this
subject, we will see how they came to dedicate an altar to "the
Unknown God."

Some time before this, there had been a plague or pestilence in
Athens; that is, a bad illness, which spread from one person to
another, until thousands of people died of it. In vain did the
Athenians pray to all their false gods to stop it: such prayers of
course _could_ have no effect, and the pestilence went on killing the
people. At last a number of sheep were taken to Mars' Hill, and there
set at liberty, to go wherever they pleased, followed by men,
appointed to watch them. Whenever one of these sheep laid down, it was
immediately sacrificed to "the propitious god." "Propitious" means
favourable, kind, willing to grant a request, or supply a want. The
sheep were thus sacrificed to that one amongst the gods, who would be
kind enough to put an end to the pestilence. Soon afterwards it did
please the Almighty to remove this terrible plague: the Athenians of
course attributed their deliverance to one of their gods; but as they
could not tell which one of them had been "the propitious god," they
set up this altar to "the Unknown God," who had come to their help in
the time of trouble.

We know very well that the Lord God Almighty can alone take away
disease and sickness, or any other trouble; and therefore, though the
Athenians did not mean it so, they had really dedicated this altar to
the One True God, of Whom St. Paul spake. Well therefore did St. Paul,
when speaking to them of the Unknown God, say, "Whom therefore ye
ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you."

St. Paul then told the Athenians, that He whom they worshipped as the
Unknown God, was the Lord Who had made the world and all things in it:
that He gave life and breath and all things to His creatures, and did
not require to be worshipped with sacrifices and gifts, as though He
needed anything at the hands of man. St. Paul said, also, that God had
made men, in order that they might love and serve Him as their Father:
and he reminded them, that one of their own poets had said, "For we
are also his offspring." The poet here meant, was one called Aratus:
he was born in Cilicia, but had probably lived and studied in Athens,
so that the Athenians considered him as one of their own poets, and
were well acquainted with his poem 'On the Heavenly Bodies'; from
which St. Paul quoted a line.

St. Paul proceeded to explain, that the Lord God Almighty, their
"Unknown God," was a very different Being to idols of gold, or silver,
or stone, made or "graven by art and man's device." And he told the
Athenians, that although the Lord God had hitherto forborne to punish
those, who in ignorance worshipped idols, that time was now past; for
now, said the Apostle, He "commandeth all men everywhere to repent:
because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world
in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained"; meaning the Lord
Jesus Christ, who shall come to judge the quick and dead: and as a
proof that God would do this, St. Paul mentioned that Jesus Christ
Himself had already risen from the grave, saying, "whereof he hath
given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the
dead."

When the Athenians heard St. Paul speaking "of the resurrection of the
dead," it seemed to them so impossible that a dead man should ever
come back to life, that they quite laughed at his words: "some mocked;
and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. So Paul
departed from among them"; apparently without having made any
impression upon his hearers: but it was not so, for in spite of the
unbelief and ridicule of many, we read, "Howbeit certain men clave
unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite,"
that is, a member of the court of Areopagus, "and a woman named
Damaris, and others with them." "After these things, Paul departed
from Athens, and came to Corinth"; another city of Achaia, in that
part of Greece which used to be called the Peloponnesus, or rather on
the isthmus which joined the Peloponnesus to the rest of Greece, and
took its name from this town. The situation of Corinth, with sea on
both sides, made it an important place for trade; because ships could
easily come there from different countries, to sell the merchandise
they brought with them, and buy such things as they wanted to take
home. By means of their trade, the inhabitants of Corinth had become
very rich; their city was flourishing; and many learned men resided in
it, when St. Paul now came there about A.D. 51. A little before this
time, the Roman Emperor Claudius, had for some reason or other,
banished the Jews from Rome. We do not know the reason, but it seems
likely that it was because there had been a famine in Rome, which the
people foolishly thought was the fault of the Jews, whom they hated;
and so to satisfy the people, and prevent any disturbance, Claudius
commanded all Jews to leave the city.

Among the Jews thus obliged to leave Rome, was a man named Aquila,
born in Pontus, a country to the N.E. of Galatia, on the Black Sea: he
was therefore one of the Jews called "Grecians," because, though his
parents were Jews, he was not born in the land of Judæa. When he was
obliged to leave Rome, Aquila and his wife Priscilla settled in
Corinth, where they greatly helped St. Paul. Whether they had become
believers before they left Rome or afterwards, we do not know; but
they were Christians when St. Paul came to Corinth, and were probably
known in some way to the Apostle, for he "came unto them. And because
he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by
their occupation they were tent-makers."

The Jews had a saying, that "Every man who does not teach his son some
trade, teaches him to be a thief"--in which there is a great deal of
truth; for if a man has learnt no trade by which he can support
himself honestly, there is great danger of his being tempted to obtain
a living by dishonest means. It was therefore the custom amongst the
Jews, even of the higher classes, who like St. Paul had been well
educated as to letters, to teach their sons some "craft" or
occupation, whereby they could, if ever it became necessary, earn
money to provide themselves with food and clothes, and such things as
are needful.

St. Paul had learnt the trade of tent-making; and he now abode with
Aquila and Priscilla, working with them for his daily bread, whilst
every sabbath he "reasoned in the synagogue, and persuaded the Jews
and the Greeks": trying, that is, to bring them to believe in Jesus
Christ.

At Corinth, St. Paul was joined by Silas and Timotheus, who had
remained at Berea when he was so suddenly sent to Athens: they had
afterwards returned to Thessalonica, from whence they now came to
Corinth, and gave St. Paul an account of what they had been doing
since he left them. In consequence of what he now heard from Silas and
Timotheus, St. Paul wrote an Epistle or letter to the Thessalonians,
who had become Christians.

In this letter, St. Paul tells the Thessalonians, how thankful he is
to hear that those who had become Christians, were trying to do all
that the Gospel taught them they ought to do: and then he assures
them, that he prays to God to give them more and more faith, and to
make them love Jesus better and better. Then the Apostle warned them
not to listen to any teachers, who might try to teach them anything
different to what he, and Silas, and Timothy, had already taught them.
St. Paul also told the Thessalonian Christians, that they must
endeavour to be good and holy; and he gave them many particular
directions for their conduct, one of which is, "Pray without ceasing."
The Apostle ends his letter with a prayer, that God will keep them
free from all sin both in body and soul. This letter of St. Paul's is
to be found in the Bible, where it is called, "The First Epistle of
Paul the Apostle to the Thessalonians."



Chapter XVII.--ST. PAUL FINISHES HIS SECOND APOSTOLIC JOURNEY.


After Timothy and Silas had joined St. Paul, he spake still more
plainly and decidedly to the Jews at Corinth, wishing to make them
follow the example of their brethren at Thessalonica: but when he
tried to convince them that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, they would
not listen to him, but "opposed themselves, and blasphemed." Then "he
shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own
heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles." St.
Paul meant by this, that if by their own obstinacy they _would_
provoke the Lord to punish them, he was not to blame, for he had tried
to teach them what was right: and that from henceforth he would
preach only to the Gentiles in Corinth, and have nothing more to say
to the Jews; and he shook his raiment, as a sign that he would have
nothing more to do with them. When St. Paul had thus spoken to the
Jews in their synagogue, "he departed thence," ceasing to preach in
the synagogue, "and entered into a certain man's house, named Justus,
one that worshipped God" as a proselyte of the gate, "whose house
joined hard to the synagogue." Most probably he had in his house some
large room, in which it was convenient for St. Paul to preach: and
here he converted many. "And Crispus, the chief ruler of the
synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the
Corinthians hearing, believed, and were baptized."

St. Paul was at this time greatly encouraged by a vision. We read,
"Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid,
but speak, and hold not thy peace: for I am with thee, and no man
shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this
city,"--many, that is, who, from hearing St. Paul, would become true
Christians. Thus encouraged, he continued in Corinth "a year and six
months, teaching the word of God among them."

During the eighteen months which St. Paul spent in Corinth, he appears
to have written "The Epistle to the Galatians," which was probably
written before that to the Thessalonians. St. Paul had, as we have
heard, preached in Galatia before he went into Macedonia. It seems,
however, that the Galatians had not continued steadfast in the faith;
and the Apostle now writes kindly, to express his surprise at their
having fallen away from the Gospel they had once received; warning
them seriously not to believe any doctrines contrary to those which he
had taught them: for that he had been chosen by the Lord in a
miraculous manner to be an Apostle, and the doctrines which he taught
to others he had received from God Himself. He also reminds the
Galatians, that no man could obtain salvation by the works of the Law,
since none could do them perfectly, and that it is through faith in
Jesus only, that all men, whether Jews or Gentiles, can be saved.
Before closing his Epistle, St. Paul gives a list of the works of the
flesh, or sinful nature of man, and of the works of the Spirit. This
list we shall do well to study, and also to take as addressed to
ourselves the Apostle's exhortation, "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall
not fulfil the lust of the flesh": remembering always, that "they
that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and
lusts."

From Corinth, at this time, St. Paul also wrote his Second Epistle to
the Thessalonians; expressing his thankfulness that in the midst of
persecutions they were increasing in faith; and he encourages them to
persevere, by reminding them of that day when Christ shall come to
judge the world, and reward the faithful with everlasting life. He
then begged those to whom he wrote, to pray that the Gospel preached
by him might be received by others as it had been by them; and he
prays for them, that the Lord will "direct their hearts into the love
of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ."

St. Paul was not allowed to rest undisturbed at Corinth, for when
Gallio was deputy-governor, or pro-consul, of Achaia, "the Jews made
insurrection with one accord against Paul; and brought him to the
judgment seat, saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God
contrary to the law,"--meaning their own law, the Law of Moses. St.
Paul was going to speak in answer to this charge, but Gallio
interrupted him, and told the Jews that if they had any wickedness, or
crime, to accuse St. Paul of, he must of course listen to the charge;
and adding, "but if it be a question of words and names, and of your
law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters." Gallio, a
heathen, despised both Jews and Christians, and cared nothing about
the Law of Moses, whether it were observed or not; therefore he would
not listen to the Jews: "and he drave them from the judgment seat."

"Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue,
and beat him before the judgment seat." Why the Greeks beat this Jew,
we are not told. Some think that Sosthenes was favourable to St. Paul,
and that on this account the Jews stirred up the heathens to treat him
in this way. But it seems more likely that Sosthenes was one of the
most bitter enemies of the Apostle, and had been particularly anxious
to get him punished; and that the Greeks thought that beating him
severely, would be the most likely way of putting a stop to any future
disturbance from the Jews.

However that might be, "Gallio cared for none of those things":
though, as governor and judge of a province, he was neglecting his
duty by allowing _any_ man to be treated in such a way. Soon after
this, St. Paul left Corinth for a time.

When St. Paul left Corinth, soon after the affair with Gallio, it
would seem that he went to the island of Crete, or Candia, and there
left one of his companions, called Titus, to direct the affairs of the
Christian Church in that country. We know nothing of Titus, except
that his parents were Gentiles, and that he was converted to
Christianity by St. Paul, who would not allow him to be circumcised,
lest it should be thought a proof of the _necessity_ of circumcision,
which the Church had declared to be _unnecessary_ for those heathens
who embraced the Gospel. Titus was highly esteemed by St. Paul, who
speaks of him as his "partner" and "fellow helper"; showing that he
greatly helped him in his work.

We do not exactly know where St. Paul went to from Crete: there is
reason to believe that in trying to return to Corinth he encountered a
storm, and was driven by the wind to the western coast of Greece, and
there shipwrecked, and forced to take refuge in the city of Nicopolis.
Here the Apostle determined to spend the winter, that he might preach
the Gospel to the inhabitants of Illyricum--a country to the north,
forming the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea. From Nicopolis he
appears to have written the Epistle to Titus, giving him directions as
to his own conduct, and telling him what sort of men he must choose to
help him in teaching the people of Crete. St. Paul also told Titus to
be very careful to teach all who became Christians, that they must try
to be good, and lead holy lives, following in all things the example
of the Lord Jesus Christ.

From Nicopolis, in due time, St. Paul went back to Corinth. In the
Book of Acts we read nothing of this little journey of St. Paul's. St.
Luke does not of course tell us everything that the Apostle did, and
he speaks as if he had remained at Corinth all the time. Speaking of
St. Paul's final departure from Corinth, St. Luke says, "And Paul
after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of
the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and
Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow." This vow
must either have been a vow of Nazaritism, already mentioned (vol. ii.
p. 108), which St. Paul had on some occasion taken in order to please
the Jews; or some other vow, which he had made in acknowledgment of
the goodness and mercy of God. Cenchrea was a small sea-port, not far
from Corinth; and from thence St. Paul and his company, with Aquila
and Priscilla, sailed to Syria; and then proceeded to Ephesus, a
large town in Lydia. Ephesus was particularly celebrated for its
beautiful and magnificent temple, erected in honour of the heathen
goddess Diana, and set apart for her worship. This Diana, one of the
pretended deities of the heathen, was supposed to rule all things
belonging to the chase--to be the goddess of hunting. The moon was
looked upon as a sign, or symbol, of Diana; and under this form she
was also worshipped.

St. Paul, as usual, preached in the synagogue at Ephesus, and
"reasoned with the Jews," who seem to have listened willingly, and
even wished him to stay on. But "when they desired him to tarry longer
time with them, he consented not; but bade them farewell, saying, I
must by all means keep this feast" (of the Passover) "that cometh, in
Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he
sailed from Ephesus. And when he had landed at Cæsarea, and gone up,
and saluted the church" at Jerusalem, and kept the Passover, "he went
down to Antioch," A.D. 54; thus ending his Second Apostolic Journey,
which had occupied about four years.

St. Luke has mentioned the places at which St. Paul made any long stay
during this time; but as we have already seen, he does not notice all
his short visits to other places. In the same way, St. Luke tells us
all the most remarkable events that took place during these four
years; but of course he cannot tell us _everything_ that the Apostle
did or said: just as the Gospels, though they tell us all things
needful for us to know, do not relate every word that Jesus said, or
every miracle that He worked; because, as St. John remarks, "if they
should be written every one of them, the world itself could not
contain the books that should be written."

After St. Paul had spent some time at Antioch, he began his Third
Apostolic Journey: "he departed, and went over all the country of
Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples,"--that
is, he went again to all those places where he had before established
Churches, or companies of believers, to see how they were going on,
and to encourage them to persevere in their endeavours to serve the
Lord faithfully. But in the mean time the Church at Ephesus was not
left without a teacher; for Aquila and Priscilla remained there, and
were no doubt of great use in reminding others of all that St. Paul
had taught them: and of one good work done by them St. Luke gives us
an account; for we read, "And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at
Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to
Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being
fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of
the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John."

Alexandria was a famous city, built by Alexander the Great, in the
north of Egypt, and celebrated for the many learned men who lived in
it. Apollos had there studied the Scriptures of the Old Testament, and
being "eloquent," able to speak well, he taught them diligently in
Ephesus. But he seems to have heard only of the Baptism of John, and
to have known only that men were to receive the baptism of repentance,
of which John spake, to prepare them for believing in the Messiah, of
Whom John was the messenger, or forerunner. But Apollos does not seem
to have understood that the Messiah had come, or to have known of His
promise, to give the Holy Spirit to those who would believe in Him and
be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy
Ghost. Apollos was fervent in spirit, full of zeal; and so, as far as
he knew, he taught diligently. "And he began to speak boldly in the
synagogue." When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, "they took him unto
them," probably to reside in their house, "and expounded unto him the
way of God more perfectly,"--that is, they explained all that he was
ignorant of; they spake to him of Jesus and of His Baptism, and showed
him that the sins of all who believed, and were baptized, would be
forgiven. Apollos listened gladly to the words of Aquila and
Priscilla, and then wished to go into Greece, to teach others the
things he had learnt. And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia,
the members of the Church at Ephesus wrote to those of Corinth, to
receive him into their company.

At Corinth, Apollos, by his earnestness and faith, "helped them much
which had believed through grace": nor was this all, "for he mightily
convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that
Jesus was Christ."



Chapter XVIII.--ST. PAUL AND THE SONS OF SCEVA.


We have said that St. Paul began his Third Apostolic Journey by going
again through Galatia and Phrygia: then, having passed through the
"upper coasts" of Asia Minor, he came again to Ephesus, after Apollos
had gone to Corinth. At Ephesus St. Paul now found certain disciples,
about twelve men, who had been taught by Apollos, before Aquila and
Priscilla had expounded to him the way of God more perfectly: to these
men St. Paul said, "Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?
And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be
any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye
baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism." Then St. Paul explained
to them that John the Baptist came to call all men to repentance, and
that his baptism was only meant to prepare the way for that of Jesus,
and to lead all men to believe in Him, and be baptized in the way
which He should appoint. "When they heard this, they were baptized in
the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon
them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and
prophesied." St. Paul, anxious to convert the Jews, spake boldly in
the synagogue for three months, "disputing and persuading the things
concerning the kingdom of God." But, as usual, many of the Jews were
determined not to believe; and not only rejected the truth themselves,
but spake evil of it, and abused it to the multitude, so as to try and
prevent their believing it either. St. Paul, seeing this, would teach
no longer in the synagogue; and "departed from them, and separated the
disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus"; that is, he
assembled all who were willing to listen to him, in a large room or
"school"--a name given to those buildings or rooms used for
instruction in any kind of knowledge. In the school of Tyrannus, who
was a teacher of some science, and probably a convert, St. Paul now
preached to all who would come and listen. "And this continued by the
space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the
word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks. And God wrought special
miracles by the hands of Paul: so that from his body were brought unto
the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from
them, and the evil spirits went out of them." They were healed by
merely touching those articles which the Apostle had touched. Such a
wonderful exercise of miraculous power must have drawn many to listen
to the teaching of one, who did such things; and no doubt many, who so
listened, became true Christians.

We must now say something of the unhappy state of the province of
Judæa at this time, of which the Bible gives no account. A Roman named
Felix had been made governor of Judæa A.D. 51, whilst St. Paul was at
Corinth: Felix treated the Jews cruelly, and ill-used them to such a
degree, as to drive them into open rebellion; and this, of course, led
to severe punishments and fresh cruelties. The whole country was in a
sadly disturbed state: robbers infested every part of it; men came
forward pretending to be the Messiah, for the Jews, who disbelieved in
Jesus Christ, still expected the coming of the promised Messiah;
murders and executions took place constantly: the High Priest was
murdered at the very altar, and many persons were killed in the
temple. In short, as Josephus writes, "God seemed to have abandoned
Jerusalem as a detested city, and to have sent the Romans, to punish
the Jews for their sin in rejecting and crucifying the Lord Jesus
Christ."

During this dreadful time of trouble, a Jew from Egypt came to
Jerusalem, and having persuaded many of the unhappy inhabitants of
Judæa to believe the lies he told them, he led an immense number of
them to the top of the Mount of Olives, promising that the Lord would
there work a great miracle, and deliver them and their country from
the hands of the Romans. Of course nothing of the kind took place.
Many of these wretched dupes were slain by the Roman soldiers, and the
rest fled away, in order to save their lives.

The land of Judæa was indeed in a sad state; the sufferings of the
Jews were terrible; but they had deserved them. Often and often had
they been entreated to repent and believe in Jesus, but they would
not; and now the mercy of God was forced to give place to His just
anger.

Let this be a warning to us Christians, never to force the Lord to
take away His mercy from us. If, by our obstinate impenitence and
continuance in sin, we force Him to punish us _as we deserve_, we must
perish miserably for ever. But God sees our hearts, and if we are
really sorry for our sins, and are earnestly trying to conquer
ourselves and resist our evil passions and desires, He will have mercy
upon us, and not be extreme to mark what is done amiss.

We have seen that St. Paul remained for two years in Ephesus,
converting many by his preaching and his miracles. His success as
usual raised the envy and anger of the unbelieving Jews, who were
anxious to draw the people away from the Apostle, by making them
believe that they could work miracles as well as St. Paul. The means
they took we shall shortly hear.

The Gentile inhabitants of Ephesus were much given to the study of all
the arts of magic, and were considered to be very clever in the
practice of them. We have already spoken of sorcery, witchcraft, and
magic: how far the professors of them were allowed to appear to do
wonderful things by these means, we do not know; but we do know, that
any attempt to have such communications with evil spirits was sinful
in the sight of God, and that the Jews were especially forbidden to
practice any such arts, or to hold communication with those who did
so. In spite of this, many of the Jews did follow these sinful
studies.

St. Luke says, "Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took
upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the
Lord Jesus," using that Sacred Name as they would have used any of
their magical spells or words. "Vagabond" means wandering; and we
generally use the word to describe idle, worthless people, who go
about begging or stealing, instead of working honestly to gain their
own living. "Exorcists" was only a name given to those who professed
to cast out evil spirits by the arts of sorcery.

"And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the
priests, which did so." The spiritual state of the Jews must indeed
have been sad, when the sons of a priest could be found thus wilfully
practising arts, upon which the sentence of death was pronounced by
the Law! These men, seeing that when St. Paul spake to the evil
spirits in the name of Jesus, they immediately left the bodies of
those whom they had possessed, wickedly determined to use that Holy
Name, in order to heal a man in whom was an evil spirit. And they
said, "We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth" to come out of this
man. "And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I
know; but who are ye?" The devils were forced to acknowledge the power
of Jesus, and that for His sake they must obey His servant Paul; but
they plainly told these Jews that they were in no way subject to them:
and they gave a strong proof of this, for "the man in whom the evil
spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against
them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded." Such an
event as this showed clearly that all power belonged to God alone, and
that all magical arts were useless, as well as sinful. "And this was
known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear
fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified,"--more
thought of, and treated with greater respect.

And many that believed, who had, before they became Christians,
practised magical arts, now convinced of their extreme sinfulness and
folly, "came and confessed, and shewed their deeds,"--expressing their
repentance for these former sins.

Nor was this all: "many of them also which (still) used curious arts"
saw the wickedness of such practices; and warned by what had happened,
showed their repentance by their acts; for they "brought their books
together, and burned them before all men." This was a great proof of
their earnestness to put an end to the use of magical arts in others,
as well as in themselves; for they did not attempt to sell these books
to others, but destroyed them. The books were very valuable, for "they
counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of
silver"--all this money these men were willing to sacrifice, in order
to please God. This is a _warning_ as well as an example to us, who
are too often unwilling to deny ourselves in anything, or make the
least sacrifice in order to please or obey our Lord.

"So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed,"--that is, the
blessed truths of the Gospel spread on every side, so that the numbers
of Christians increased daily.

St. Paul, who had now been nearly three years in Ephesus, began to
think of continuing his journey; and "purposed in the spirit, when he
had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying,
After I have been there, I must also see Rome." Just at this time, St.
Paul heard an unsatisfactory account of what was going on at Corinth.
We have seen that the Apostle had passed eighteen months in Corinth,
forming a Church there; and that Apollos had afterwards preached the
Gospel in that city with great success: but very soon afterwards,
false teachers rose up--that is, persons, who were not sufficiently
instructed themselves, fancied that they were able to teach others.
But, as they did not themselves understand the whole truth, they could
not teach it to others; and therefore their imperfect teaching created
great confusion, and unsettled the minds of many believers. Some of
these "false teachers" were converts from the Gentiles, who, having
been converted by Apollos, now called themselves his disciples; though
they mixed up with the truths he had taught them, many of the
doctrines and opinions of their philosophers. Some of these teachers
on the other hand, were converts from amongst the Jews, who would not
give up the idea that it was necessary to keep the whole Law of Moses,
observing all the forms and ceremonies ordained by it. These Jewish
Christians called themselves followers of Cephas, the Greek word for
Peter. These two sets of teachers, both teaching doctrines contrary to
the truths of the Gospel as delivered to the Corinthians by St. Paul,
made two parties in the Church, so that there were constant disputes
and great confusion. Mean time also, many of the native Corinthians,
who had joined the Church, began to return to the sinful ways and
practices they had followed when they were heathens.

This was the account that now reached St. Paul at Ephesus; and greatly
did it grieve him.

So he at once sent into Macedonia two of his company, Timotheus and
Erastus, that they might pass on to Corinth, and try to put an end to
all these evil doings: he himself remained at Ephesus a little longer.



Chapter XIX.--ST. PAUL AT EPHESUS.


We have said that St. Paul sent Timotheus and Erastus to Corinth:
Timotheus, or Timothy, has already been spoken of: of Erastus we know
nothing, but his name is mentioned in two of St. Paul's Epistles.

After Timothy and Erastus had left Ephesus, St. Paul received a
letter, written by those members of the Christian Church who had kept
steadily in the right way, and not been led astray by either of the
false teachers. This letter told St. Paul how much the Church was
disturbed by their mistaken teachers, and begged for his advice and
direction. In answer to this letter, St. Paul wrote a long one, called
"The First Epistle to the Corinthians." In this letter, St. Paul
blames the Corinthians for their disputes and differences of opinion;
reminding them that he, the Apostle and messenger of the Lord, had
taught them what was right; and that therefore they should have kept
fast to what they had learnt from him. He tells them, that as they
have all believed in one Lord Jesus Christ, they should live together
in peace, believing and doing the same things. Then addressing the
teachers who had done the mischief, St. Paul warns them, that if they
wilfully continue to teach false doctrines, God will certainly punish
them: and he exhorts all the members of the Corinthian Church to
listen to Timothy, whom he had sent on purpose that he might show them
the whole truth. The Apostle then gives the Corinthian brethren many
directions as to their personal conduct, in order that they might lead
holy lives on earth, such as would be pleasing to God, and tend also
to their own happiness.

In the Twelfth Chapter of this Epistle, St. Paul gives a beautiful
description of charity, that is, of love to God, and of love to man
for His sake: and he shows that those whose hearts are really full of
this charity, or love, will be gentle and humble, not thinking much of
themselves, or of their own comfort or pleasure; but being ready to
give up to others, striving to be kind to all, even to those who are
unkind to them. In another part of this Epistle, St. Paul speaks of
the resurrection of Jesus, and of the consequent certainty that all
men shall in like manner rise from the dead, though now they may not
understand how such a thing can be: and he therefore entreats the
Corinthian brethren, to keep steadily in the faith taught by the
Gospel, doing the work of the Lord always; remembering, that those who
do serve Him here in faith and love, will live with Him for ever
hereafter.

St. Paul ends his letter, by saying that he shall not come to Corinth
at present; but that he hopes to pass the winter with them.

It was spring when St. Paul wrote this letter, for he tells the
Corinthians, "I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost": and the Feast
of Pentecost took place about the month of May; so that there were now
a good many months before winter, when St. Paul hoped, with the
permission of the Lord, to tarry awhile at Corinth.

Before St. Paul left Ephesus, a great tumult took place in that city;
for, as St. Luke says, "there arose no small stir about that
way,"--that is, the people were stirred up against the doctrines of
Christianity, so as to make a tumult in the city. "For a certain man
named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana,
brought no small gain unto the craftsmen."

We have said, that the temple of Diana, at Ephesus, was a most
beautiful and magnificent building, and people came from all parts to
see this wonderful temple, and to worship before an image of Diana,
which was supposed by all the heathens to have been sent down direct
from heaven. Those who came from far distant places to worship in this
famous temple, were glad to carry away some remembrance of the
goddess; and strangers who only came out of curiosity, also bought the
"shrines," or little models of the temple, which the silversmiths at
Ephesus made: these "shrines" had a small image of Diana within them.
By these means, the craftsmen, or workers in silver, gained a great
deal of money; and the more they sold, the better it was for them.

St. Paul had of course taught all who listened to him, that Diana was
no goddess, only an imaginary being, and that it was very sinful to
worship or honour her in any way: those who believed him therefore,
would not buy these silver shrines, and consequently the silversmiths
found their trade very much fallen off. This great loss of money,
caused Demetrius, one of the chief silversmiths, to call together all
the craftsmen and workmen of the like occupation. When they were
assembled, he said to them, "Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have
our wealth. Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but
almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away
much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands:
so that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but
also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised,
and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world
worshippeth." This speech was well calculated to stir up the bad
passions of all who heard it; the craftsmen would be angry at the idea
of losing their wealth, whilst all the Gentiles at Ephesus, would be
indignant that their favourite goddess and her splendid temple should
be less thought of, and thus bring fewer people to Ephesus, to admire
and worship. This decrease in the number of strangers attracted to
Ephesus, would of course cause less money to be spent in the city,
which would be a great loss to the inhabitants generally. When,
therefore, those to whom Demetrius spake, "heard these sayings, they
were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the
Ephesians."

What Demetrius had said to the craftsmen whom he had called together,
spread quickly throughout the city: "and the whole city was filled
with confusion"--the people were now ready for any mischief; and
meeting with two of St. Paul's companions, Gaius and Aristarchus, they
caught them, and "rushed with one accord into the theatre"--a large
building, in which public shows and games took place, and which was
also used for assemblies of the people, when any important occasion
brought them together. When St. Paul understood what had happened, he
would have gone also into the theatre to speak to the people; but the
disciples, fearing that they might do the Apostle some mischief,
suffered him not to go in. "And certain of the chief of Asia, which
were his friends," knowing that in the present excited state of the
people, St. Paul's life would be in danger amongst them, "sent unto
him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the
theatre."

The persons here spoken of as chiefs of Asia, were the rulers of the
provinces into which Asia Minor was divided: they were called
"Asiarchs," and were chosen from amongst the men of wealth and rank in
the different provinces. Their office was to direct all religious
ceremonies and solemnities; and to celebrate at their own expense,
public games in the theatre, in honour of the heathen gods. It seems
probable that at this very time, public shows and games were going on
in the city of Ephesus; and that some of the Asiarchs who were his
friends, feared that if St. Paul now went into the theatre, the people
might lay hold of him, and throw him to the wild beasts, whose fights
with one another were generally a part of all the public games. In
after times, very many Christians were cruelly given to be killed by
wild beasts, because they would not give up their religion, and bow
down to the false gods of the heathen. The tumult and disturbance in
the theatre at Ephesus became worse and worse. St. Luke tells us,
"Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly
was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come
together."

The greater number of those who were now assembled, and were loudest
in their cries against St. Paul, did not even know what had caused
this tumultuous meeting. They copied the example of others, without
attempting to find out whether they were right or wrong. This is too
often the case amongst ourselves; but we should be careful not to join
in blaming any person, merely because others do so, without taking
the trouble to find out whether they deserve blame or not. The Jews,
seeing the rage of the people in the theatre, did their best to turn
it all upon the Christians, and to show that they had taken no part in
teaching men to despise the goddess Diana: and they now put forward a
Jew named Alexander, that he might explain this to the assembly. "And
they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him
forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his
defence unto the people. But when they knew that he was a Jew," and
therefore no worshipper of Diana, they refused to hear him, "and all
with one voice (for) about the space of two hours cried out," over and
over again, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians."

The town-clerk, or principal magistrate of the city, succeeded at last
in stopping this senseless outcry and tumult; and so far appeased the
people, as to get them to listen to him. They were perhaps the more
inclined to do this, as they must have been tired of repeating this
cry for two hours, without knowing why.

As soon as the town-clerk was allowed to speak, he reminded the
people, that as it was well known to all men, that the Ephesians were
worshippers of the great goddess Diana, they need not be troubled by
anything St. Paul said; more especially as the image of Diana had come
down from heaven, and could not therefore be one of those idols, made
by the hands of men, against which the Apostle had spoken. Then he
went on to show them, that they had done wrong in seizing Gaius and
Aristarchus, whom they could not accuse of any crime whatever: they
were neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of the goddess,
and could not justly be taken before the magistrates; but if Demetrius
and his fellow workmen had injury to complain of, there were proper
courts of law, where such complaints would be heard and judged. But he
also told them, that if they wished to inquire into the doctrines
taught by St. Paul and his companions, it must be done in a very
different manner: a proper assembly must be called, of people who had
authority to judge of such questions; and then the matter must be
brought before them: and he ended by telling them, that they were in
danger of being punished for the uproar and confusion they had made,
for there was no cause for it, and therefore they would not be able to
give a satisfactory answer to the Roman governor, if he should call
them to account for what had happened.

When the town-clerk had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly. "And
after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples," to
take leave of them, "and embraced them, and departed for to go into
Macedonia."

From another part of the Bible, we learn that Timothy was now left at
Ephesus, to direct the affairs of the Church in that city. We are not
told what places St. Paul now visited in Macedonia, but no doubt he
went wherever he had been before, as well as to other places. From one
of these places in Macedonia, St. Paul wrote the First Epistle to
Timothy; directing him how to answer the Jewish teachers, who tried to
bring false doctrines into the Church at Ephesus. After giving Timothy
much advice as to what he was to teach to others, St. Paul ends his
letter by begging him to keep steadfast in the faith of the Gospel; to
avoid and flee from all sins; and to follow after righteousness,
godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness, that so he might, for
Jesus Christ's sake, receive eternal life.



Chapter XX.--ST. PAUL'S JOURNEY TO MILETUS.


During the time that St. Paul was journeying about in Macedonia, he
suffered much both from the unbelieving Jews and the infidels; for he
says himself, in one of his Epistles (2 Cor. vii.), "when we were come
into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every
side; without were fightings, within were fears." But in the midst of
his troubles, the Apostle had one great comfort, for Titus came to him
from Corinth, and brought him a very satisfactory account of the state
of the Church in that city.

A short time afterwards, he sent Titus back to Corinth, and by him he
sent his "Second Epistle to the Corinthians." Some of the teachers,
who had been reproved for disturbing the faith of the believers by
their mistaken teaching, had, in their anger at the reproof, spoken
ill of St. Paul himself. In this letter, therefore, St. Paul shows the
Corinthians that all he has done or said has been according to the
Will of God, and that therefore they may safely believe him rather
than any teachers, whose doctrines do not agree with what he had
taught them. Many other things he wrote; above all, entreating the
members of the Corinthian Church to keep steadily in the Faith of the
Lord Jesus Christ, and to strive to please God in all things, by
living in peace and holiness.

This Epistle St. Paul sent to Corinth by Titus, remaining himself a
little longer in Macedonia. "And when he had gone over those parts,
and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece, and there
abode three months." We are told nothing of what St Paul did during
these three months, but no doubt he visited Corinth amongst other
places; and we are quite sure that wherever he went he was doing the
work of the Lord. It seems that St Paul proposed to go by sea from
Achaia to Syria; but the Jews, who were as usual greatly vexed at the
success of his preaching, laid some plot to take or kill him, at the
port from which he must sail. Hearing in some way of this plot, St.
Paul "purposed," or determined, to return through Macedonia, and so
disappoint the malice of his enemies. Accordingly he went into
Macedonia, where he was joined by several of the brethren from
different cities in that province. And they "accompanied him into
Asia," together with some others who had come with him from that
country.

St. Paul appears to have merely passed through Macedonia at this time,
sending most of his company on before, for St. Luke says of them,
"These going before tarried for us at Troas,"--that is, they crossed
over into Asia, and waited at Troas until the Apostle should join them
there.

St. Luke and one or two others stayed with St. Paul, and we read, "And
we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and
came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days."
Whilst St. Paul was on his way through Macedonia at this time, he
wrote a long letter, called "The Epistle to the Romans," about the
year 58 (A.D.). In our Bibles, this Epistle stands first of all; but
the Epistles are not _chronologically_ arranged; that is, they are not
arranged according to the order in which they were written. If they
had been chronologically arranged, "The Epistle to the Galatians,"
written A.D. 51, would have stood first; then "The First Epistle to
the Thessalonians," also written A.D. 51; and next, "The Second
Epistle to the Thessalonians," A.D. 52; and that to "Titus," A.D. 53.
After these, the next in order would have been, "The First Epistle to
the Corinthians," A.D. 57, and "The First Epistle to Timothy," in the
same year; and "The Second Epistle to the Corinthians," A.D. 58, just
before St. Paul wrote that of which we are speaking, to "The Romans."

In this letter, St. Paul speaks both to the Jews and Gentiles; trying
to persuade both, that the only possible way of salvation for all
mankind was through Faith in Jesus Christ. He tells the Gentiles that
their learning and wisdom will not save them; and that even all their
moral virtues, such as truth, honesty, charity, and such like, will be
of no use without Faith: they must first believe in Jesus Christ, and
then do all these things, _because_ they are pleasing to Him. To the
Jews, the Apostle writes, that all their obedience to the Law of Moses
cannot save them, or give them eternal life; that the Law was only
given to prepare the way for Christ, Who had now made known that the
only way of salvation was through Faith in Him, and consequent
obedience to His holy Word. St. Paul also explained clearly, that
Adam's sin had made all men sinners; and that therefore all men
deserved the wrath of God; but that Christ, by His sufferings and
death, had undone the evil brought upon all mankind by Adam, and
purchased for them forgiveness and justification. Much more St. Paul
taught in this Epistle, and we have it to teach us now. The Epistles
are of the greatest use to us, for they explain and teach much, that
is not even mentioned in the Gospels.

From Troas, St. Paul determined to go on foot to Assos, another
sea-port town a little to the south; but at the same time he purposed
to send most, if not all, his companions to that place by sea. During
the seven days spent by St. Paul at Troas, he of course preached the
Gospel diligently; and, on the last occasion of his speaking to the
people, a very remarkable event took place, of which we must now read
the account given us by St. Luke in the Book of Acts.

"And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together
to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the
morrow."

The "breaking of bread" here spoken of, was the partaking of the Bread
and Wine which, on the night before His death, our blessed Lord
commanded to be received constantly by all His faithful followers, in
remembrance of His Body given, and His Blood shed, for our redemption.
This receiving of Bread and Wine we call "The Sacrament of the Lord's
Supper." The early Christians met to partake of the Lord's Supper on
the First Day of every week, the day on which Jesus rose from the
dead. On the night before St. Paul intended to leave Troas, the
disciples met together to partake with him, for the last time, of the
Lord's Supper, and to listen to his farewell counsels. Much had the
Apostle to say, and his hearers were anxious to learn of him, so that
he continued his speech until midnight. "And there were many lights in
the upper chamber, where they were gathered together." This upper
chamber was, on what we should call the third story, and, like all
Eastern houses, would have large windows opening even with the floor.
"Many lights," and a number of people, naturally made the room very
hot, so that the windows were wide open. "And there sat in a window a
certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and
as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down
from the third loft, and was taken up dead." The terrible death of
this young man would, of course, create much confusion and distress
amongst the assembled Christians. "And Paul went down, and fell on
him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is
in him." The Apostle did not ask God to bring Eutychus at once to
life, but he told the brethren that his life would come back, and that
they need not therefore grieve and distress themselves about him.
Those to whom St. Paul now spake had faith in God, Whose servant he
was, and therefore believed his words, and were content to wait the
Lord's time; and so they returned to the upper chamber, leaving the
lifeless body of Eutychus for a time, while St. Paul continued his
preaching. "When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread,
and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he
departed," and went at once on his way to Assos. The Apostle grudged
no labour done for the Lord; on the eve of a journey he gave up his
night's rest to preach the Gospel: Eutychus, who might probably never
have another opportunity of learning from him, had fallen asleep
instead of listening to the words of salvation. After St. Paul's
departure from amongst the brethren, the miracle which he had foretold
came to pass; for "they brought the young man alive, and were not a
little comforted." Comforted as to Eutychus himself, and comforted in
this additional proof, that St. Paul's words were indeed the words of
one under the especial direction and blessing of God Almighty, the
Lord of Life and Death. St. Luke now says, "And we went before to
ship, and sailed unto Assos, there intending to take in Paul: for so
had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot. And when he met with
us at Assos, we took him in, and came to Mitylene." This was the chief
town in Lesbos, one of the islands of the Archipelago: the whole
island is now called Metelin. St. Paul did not stop at Mitylene, for
we read that he and his company passed the island of Chios next day,
then that of Samos, and landed at Trogyllium, a town of Asia Minor, to
the S.W. of Ephesus; and next day they came to Miletus, still lower on
the coast, but directly to the south of Ephesus, from whence it was no
great distance. St. Paul knew that if he went to Ephesus, he should
find it difficult to get away again so soon as he wished; and
therefore he "had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not
spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to
be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost." But although he could not spare
time to visit Ephesus, he would not be so near without seeing some of
the elders of the Church, especially as he had something he wished
particularly to say to them. The chief ruler of the Church under St.
Paul was now journeying with him; for Timotheus, or Timothy, was
Bishop of Ephesus, and during his absence had left the care of the
Church to a certain number of elders, or chief men amongst the
believers. From Miletus, therefore, St. Paul "sent to Ephesus, and
called the elders of the church. And when they were come to him," St.
Paul spake to them. He reminded them, that he had freely preached unto
them the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in spite of all difficulties and
dangers; keeping back nothing that was profitable for them to know;
"testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance
toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." He then told them
that now, by the direction of the Holy Spirit, he was going up to
Jerusalem, not knowing what would happen to him there; except that the
Holy Ghost had made known unto him, that in every city bonds and
afflictions awaited him. But St. Paul then declared, that the prospect
of imprisonments and persecutions did not trouble him, for that he was
quite ready to give up his life also, if so he could best finish the
work which the Lord had given him to do: in the faithful service of
God he should finish his course, or end his life, with joy. The
Apostle then spake words grievous for the Ephesians to hear; saying,
"And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching
the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to
record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men; for I have
not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God." St. Paul had
thoroughly done his duty to the Ephesians, in showing them the way of
salvation; and if any of them failed to obtain it, such failure could
in no way be laid to him: he was "pure from the blood," the _spiritual
death_, of all men.



Chapter XXI.--ST. PAUL GOES UP TO JERUSALEM.


After reminding the elders of Ephesus of what he had done for them and
their countrymen, St. Paul exhorted them to take heed unto themselves,
and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost had made them
overseers, so as in all things to set a good example to others; and to
feed the Church, or nourish and strengthen the souls of the brethren,
with the blessed truths of the Gospel, the pure Word of Him Who had
purchased the Church with his own blood. He told them, that he was the
more anxious to exhort them to do this, because he knew that, after
his departing, wicked men, whom he likens to "grievous wolves," would
enter in among them, not sparing the flock, but leading the brethren
astray to the destruction of their souls. And not only this, but also
of their own selves men should arise teaching false doctrines,
speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Having
thus warned them, St. Paul entreated them to "watch," remembering that
for three years he had not ceased to warn them of these things. Again
the Apostle commended the Ephesians to the grace of God, which was
able to give them an inheritance "among all them which are
sanctified": and ended by reminding them that he had "coveted no man's
silver, or gold, or apparel"; but that he had maintained himself by
working with his own hands, setting them an example that they also
should "remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more
blessed to give than to receive." "And when he had thus spoken, he
kneeled down, and prayed with them all." St. Paul knew well that
without the blessing and help of God no good thing can be done; and
thus did he set an example to all men for ever, to ask His aid in all
their works.

"And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him,
sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should
see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship," in
which he was about to sail from Miletus; anxious not to lose sight of
him before it was absolutely necessary. It was natural and right that
the elders of Ephesus should be deeply grieved, at hearing that they
would never again in this world, see one who had been so much with
them, and from whom they had learnt so much. But had they duly
considered his words, they would not have sorrowed most of all on this
account, but for the troubles which were to fall upon their Church
from false and wicked teachers, who would lead many to forsake the
Gospel, and thus destroy them for ever.

Having taken a final leave of the elders of Ephesus, St. Paul and his
company sailed to the island of Coos, or Cos; then to another called
Rhodes; and from thence to the coast of Asia Minor, where they landed
at Patara, a sea-port of Lycia. Here they found a ship about to sail
into Ph[oe]nicia, and going on board, they passed near the isle of
Cyprus, and finally landed at Tyre, "for there the ship was to unlade
her burden." Finding disciples at Tyre, St. Paul stayed with them
seven days, teaching and exhorting them. St. Luke tells us that some
of these disciples "said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should
not go up to Jerusalem." This means that the Holy Spirit had made
known to these disciples, that great troubles and dangers awaited the
Apostle at Jerusalem; and therefore they tried to persuade him that he
should not go up at all. St. Paul, however, knew that it was his duty
to go to Jerusalem at this time, and therefore no fear of personal
suffering would keep him away: he was ready to undergo whatever God
saw fit to send. St. Luke then says, "And when we had accomplished
those days, we departed, and went our way; and they all brought us on
our way, with wives and children, till we were out of the city: and we
kneeled down on the shore, and prayed."

The brethren at Tyre were grieved to part with St. Paul, particularly
foreseeing that sufferings awaited him at Jerusalem. They accompanied
him to the sea-shore, where the ship waited for him. Their last act
sets us an example of what we should do in all times of sorrow and
anxiety. They would not part without praying to God; so they all knelt
down where they were, and prayed earnestly from their hearts. The Lord
will hear all such real prayers, wherever we say them, or whether we
are kneeling or not; but if we kneel down and repeat words without
caring or thinking about what we are saying, that is not such prayer
as the Lord our God has promised to hear. When St. Paul and his
companions had prayed with the Christians of Tyre, and taken leave of
them, they "took ship,"--that is, embarked on board the ship, whilst
the others "returned home again."

From Tyre St. Paul sailed to Ptolemais, and landing there, stayed one
day with the brethren. Ptolemais was a celebrated sea-port of Syria,
to the north of Mount Carmel. In the Old Testament, Ptolemais is
called Accho. It was situated in that part of the Land of Canaan given
to the Tribe of Asher; and it was one of those cities out of which the
Children of Israel did not drive the idolatrous inhabitants, as the
Lord had commanded them to do. You will remember the sin and trouble
that came upon the Land of Israel, in consequence of the disobedience
of several of the tribes, who, instead of entirely driving out the
Canaanites, let them continue to live amongst them; by which they were
afterwards led into sin, and suffered much misery in consequence.

The town of Accho was enlarged and beautified, after the death of
Alexander the Great, by the first of the Egyptian kings, called
Ptolemy; and the name of the city was in consequence changed to
Ptolemais. We now call it Acre, and you will find Acre often spoken of
in history.

St. Luke now says, "And the next day we that were of Paul's company
departed, and came unto Cæsarea: and we entered into the house of
Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with
him." We have heard of Philip as one of the seven deacons, (of whom
Stephen was another,) chosen to help the Apostles, by distributing
food and money to the believers, when they had all things in common;
and we have also heard of his being sent by the Spirit into the desert
between Jerusalem and Gaza, to teach the officer of Candace, queen of
Ethiopia; after which he returned to his home in Cæsarea. This Philip
must not be confounded with the Apostle of the same name, a native "of
Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter," unto whom our Lord said,
"Follow me." We do not call the deacon Philip an "evangelist," because
we only give that name to those four men who, by the inspiration of
God, wrote their several accounts of Christ's life and death; but St.
Luke might well call Philip so, because he preached the Gospel in
every place to which he was sent; and one who spreads the knowledge
of the Gospel by preaching it, was as much an "evangelist" as he who
spread it by his writing.

Philip had four unmarried daughters, to whom God had, in a miraculous
way, given His Holy Spirit, so that they "did prophesy." This was a
fulfilment of the ancient promise recorded by the prophet Joel, that
in the days of the Messiah the Spirit should be poured out upon their
sons and daughters, servants and handmaidens, so that they should
prophesy.

St. Paul stayed many days with Philip. We hear nothing of the work he
then did there; but St. Luke says, "And as we tarried there many days,
there came down from Judæa a certain prophet, named Agabus. And when
he was come unto us, he took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands
and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at
Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him
into the hands of the Gentiles." We have heard already of Agabus, as
one of the prophets who went from Jerusalem to Antioch, and foretold
the dearth, or famine, in consequence of which the Christians of
Antioch made a collection for the poorer brethren at Jerusalem, and
"sent it up by the hands of Barnabas and Saul," as St. Paul was at
that time called. Agabus, inspired by the Holy Spirit, now bore his
testimony to the dangers which threatened the Apostle at Jerusalem.
The consequence of this was, that St. Paul's companions themselves,
and "they of that place," (the brethren at Cæsarea,) "besought him not
to go up to Jerusalem"; and so avoid the dangers which threatened him
in that city.

Here we see that even our friends may tempt us to sin, and that we
must be careful not to yield to their entreaties when they would make
us do wrong. When we know what our duty is, we must not be prevented
from doing it, either by love to our friends or fear of our enemies.
It is often very hard and difficult to do right, when those we love,
ask and beg us not to do it. In this way, children are often led to do
wrong. Let us all, whether we are old or young, take care not to give
way to such temptations; and, above all, let us never so tempt others
to do wrong: let us never ask any one to do what is wrong, but, on the
contrary, do all we can to persuade all to do what is right and
pleasing in the sight of God. St. Paul knew that it was his duty to go
up to Jerusalem; and therefore when those about him entreated him not
to go, he answered, "What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart?
for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for
the name of the Lord Jesus."

Though the Apostle was firmly resolved to do his duty, and quite ready
to lay down his life for Christ's sake, if called upon to do so, it
grieved him to give pain to his friends; and therefore he reminds
them, that all their sorrow and weeping would but distress him more
and more--break his heart, as he expressed it, without in any way
changing his settled purpose to go up to Jerusalem.

When St. Paul had thus declared his unalterable determination, those
who had tried to persuade him not to carry it out, did what they
should have done at first: they left the whole matter in the hands of
God, for "when he would not be persuaded," they "ceased, saying, The
will of the Lord be done." Thus St. Paul's example had a good effect
upon the brethren.

St. Luke then says, "And after those days we took up our carriages,
and went to Jerusalem." The word "carriages" here does not mean
conveyances to take people from one place to another, but rather such
things as they _carried_ with them--their baggage, in short. Some of
the disciples from Cæsarea went with the Apostles. Amongst them was an
old disciple, a native of Cyprus, called Mnason, who appears at this
time to have had a house in Jerusalem, where St. Paul and his company
were to lodge. St. Luke tells us, "And when we were come to Jerusalem,
the brethren received us gladly. And the day following Paul went in
with us unto James; and all the elders were present. And when he had
saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought
among the Gentiles by his ministry. And when they heard it, they
glorified the Lord."



Chapter XXII.--TUMULT AT JERUSALEM.


St. James, and the elders of the Church at Jerusalem, glorified God,
upon hearing of the conversion of so many Gentiles by the teaching of
St. Paul, and then they "said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many
thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of
the law: and they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the
Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they
ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the
customs. What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together:
for they will hear that thou art come."

The elders feared, that St. Paul's coming to Jerusalem might cause a
disturbance amongst the Jewish converts; who, though Christians,
reverenced the Law, and could not bear that it should be neglected.
They had heard exaggerated accounts of what the Apostle had taught;
for he had never said that it was _wrong_ to observe and do the things
commanded by Moses, and that therefore they _ought not_ to do them. He
had only said, that it was not _necessary_ to keep the ceremonial Law;
and that it was _useless_ to do so, because no man could obtain
eternal life by any such outward acts. St. Paul's great object was to
make the Jews understand, that the Law given by Moses, was only meant
to be binding until the Messiah came; and that as Jesus had now
visited his people, the ceremonial part of the Law was done away with.
God no longer required it to be observed: therefore, if the Jews chose
still to observe it, they must not imagine that by doing so they would
now find favour with God: the only way to gain his favour was by
believing in Jesus Christ, and trying, out of love for Him, to obey
all the commands and precepts of the Gospel: all who thus strove to
please God, would find favour in His sight, whether they kept the
ceremonial Law or not. The Jewish converts at Jerusalem, not clearly
understanding what St. Paul had taught, were set against him; and as
they would be sure to meet together to discuss the matter, as soon as
they heard of his arrival, the elders now said to one another, "What
is it therefore?"--that is, what can be done to quiet the fears of
these Jewish brethren. The plan that the Apostles and elders now
proposed, was one that would show the Jews, that St. Paul did not
think it _wrong_ to observe the forms of the Law, though he taught
that it was not _necessary_ to do so. What this plan was, we shall
hear from what they now said to St. Paul, "Do therefore this that we
say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them; them take, and
purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may
shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they
were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also
walkest orderly, and keepest the law."

To understand this speech, we must remember that even in the time of
Moses, the Children of Israel were in the habit of showing their
piety, and their wish to serve God, by devoting themselves for a time
to the performance of special acts of worship; separating themselves
from their brethren, for the observance of certain forms and
ceremonies. A person who thus separated himself for a time from others
by a particular profession of religion, was called a Nazarite; and the
Lord Himself gave Moses directions, as to the outward forms and
ceremonies to be observed by every one, who should vow the vow of a
Nazarite. To take the vow of a Nazarite was a _voluntary_ act; that
is, it was at the choice of any person to take it: but once taken, the
person who had thus devoted himself to the special service of God, was
neither to drink wine, nor any of the drinks made from fruits or
honey: he was to drink water only, that his head might be cool and
clear, and better able to attend to his religious studies and
exercises. Then he was not to shave his head, nor to cut his hair;
neither was he to do any of the things usually done upon the death of
a relation, because such mourning for the dead would render him
unclean.

Some persons vowed themselves to be Nazarites for life; others only
for a certain number of years, months, or even days: and at the end of
the time, the Nazarite was to bring certain offerings unto the priest
to be presented to the Lord: then he was to shave his head at the door
of the tabernacle, and burn the hair in the fire which consumed the
peace offerings. After all the appointed ceremonies had been gone
through, the Nazarite was free from his vow, and might return to live
like other people. You will, I hope, remember Samson, who was a
Nazarite from his birth; and who fell into great trouble, because his
vow was broken, when his hair was cut off by Delilah.

Now at the time when St. Paul came to Jerusalem, there were four men
there, who had taken the vows of a Nazarite for a short time: their
time was nearly out, and the elders proposed that St. Paul should join
them in abstaining (or keeping) from such things, as they were
forbidden to do; and that he should "be at charges with them," that
is, pay for the sacrifices they must offer, before they could shave
their heads, and be free from their vows. The Jews looked upon it as
an act of piety, for any person to pay the expenses of those who had
taken the vow of a Nazarite.

We have now seen what the elders advised St. Paul to do, in order to
show the Jews that he was no _enemy_ to the Law of Moses, and did not
think it _wrong_ to observe its forms, if people liked to do so,
though it was unnecessary. And they added, "As touching the Gentiles
which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such
thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to
idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication": thus
repeating that decision of the Church, with which the teaching of St.
Paul agreed.

"Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them
entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of
purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one
of them." All this was done for the sake of peace, and to make the
Jews more willing to listen to St. Paul. Some people think it was not
right nor wise to act in this manner, because it might lead man to
believe, that the Law _ought_ to be observed in all its ceremonies,
and that St. Paul's practice did not quite agree with his preaching.
At any rate it had not the effect of satisfying the Jews; on the
contrary, it caused a serious disturbance. "When the seven days were
almost ended," some unbelieving Jews of Asia, who had persecuted St.
Paul in their own country, and were now come to Jerusalem for the same
purpose, "when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people,
and laid hands on him, crying out, Men of Israel, help: this is the
man, that teacheth all men everywhere against the people, and the law,
and this place." They declared that St. Paul, by his teaching, was
taking away from the Jews all their privileges as the chosen people of
God, and putting the heathen on an equality with them; that he taught
men not to respect the law, nor to reverence the temple; and that he
did not reverence it himself, but had polluted and defiled it; for,
said they, he "brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted
this holy place." This they said, because they had seen an Ephesian
convert, named Trophimus, in the city with St. Paul, and "supposed
that Paul had brought (him) into the temple"; which of course he had
not done: because, though he knew that the entrance of a true
Christian into the temple would not be displeasing to God, he knew
that it would greatly offend the Jews, if any one who had been a
Gentile, went any further than the outer court of the temple, set
apart for the Gentiles: and he did not wish to offend or vex the Jews
needlessly. We should never do anything to vex or grieve others,
unless it is our _duty_ to do it. Our duty we must do, whatever be the
consequence.

The Jews, who now tried to stir up the people against St. Paul,
succeeded to their utmost wish in raising a disturbance, for "all the
city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and
drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut. And as
they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of
the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar." The band here spoken
of, was the Roman garrison, or party of soldiers, posted in Jerusalem,
to keep the city in order, and prevent any kind of disturbance or riot
amongst the Jews. The chief captain of this band, at the time we are
speaking of, was a Roman named Claudius Lysias; "who," upon hearing of
the uproar, "immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down
unto them." They had not far to go, for the place in which they were
posted was the castle of Antonia, close to the north-west corner of
the temple. This castle, or strong tower, had been built by Herod the
Great: it was so high, that from the upper part, the soldiers on watch
could see what was going on in the two outer courts of the temple:
they would therefore have seen St. Paul dragged out of the temple by
an angry mob, and they would at once have taken these tidings to their
captain, who went down with all haste, and arrived in time to save the
Apostle's life; for the Jews feared the Roman soldiers, and when they
saw them, "they left beating of Paul"--that is, ceased to beat him.

"Then the chief captain came near, and took him, and commanded him to
be bound with two chains"; for as he naturally concluded that St. Paul
must have committed some crime, to make the Jews treat him in this
way, his first care was to secure him, that he might not run away, and
thus escape the punishment he deserved. We may be quite sure that the
Apostle would have made no attempt to escape; but that the Romans
could not know. When Claudius Lysias had secured his prisoner, he
"demanded who he was, and what he had done." To this question, no
reasonable answer could be given; for as St. Paul had not committed
any crime, no intelligible accusation could be brought against him:
and therefore, "some cried one thing, some another, among the
multitude": so that Claudius Lysias could make out nothing for
certain; "and when he could not know the certainty for the tumult, he
commanded him to be carried into the castle." The Jews, unwilling to
lose their victim, pressed after the soldiers who were leading him
away, eager to kill him. "And when he came upon the stairs," leading
up into the castle, "so it was, that he was borne," or carried, by
"the soldiers for the violence of the people. For the multitude
followed after, crying, Away with him." On the top of the stairs, the
Apostle was out of reach of his furious enemies; "and as Paul was to
be led into the castle, he said unto the chief captain, May I speak
unto thee?" These words were spoken in Greek, to the astonishment of
Claudius Lysias, who imagined that his prisoner must be a certain
Egyptian, or rather a Jew who had come from Egypt to Jerusalem, about
two years before this time. Giving out that he was a great prophet
sent by God, this man persuaded great numbers of people to go with him
to the Mount of Olives, promising, that they should see the walls of
the city fall down at his command: but he intended, with the help of
these people, to force his way into the city, and destroy the Roman
guards. This attempt was, however, prevented by Felix, the governor of
Judæa: many of these foolish people were killed, and the leader
himself fled into the wilderness, accompanied by a great number of
men, that "were murderers," or had committed other crimes which made
them liable to punishment. Josephus the historian tells us, that these
murderers were persons who, under pretence of religion, came up to
Jerusalem with daggers or short swords, concealed under their cloaks,
ready to do any act of violence. They were employed by Felix to murder
Jonathan the High Priest; and for this crime they of course received
no punishment. They afterwards made it a practice, to come up to
Jerusalem for all the feasts; and then, either by hiring themselves
out as assassins to those who wished to get rid of an enemy, or by
killing those against whom they had any grudge, they committed
numerous murders, even in the temple itself. The number of these
murderers became very considerable, and the Roman Government wished to
destroy them.



Chapter XXIII.--ST. PAUL BROUGHT BEFORE THE SANHEDRIM.


When St. Paul said in Greek to the Chief captain, "May I speak unto
thee?" he said, in answer, "Canst thou speak Greek? Art not thou that
Egyptian, which before these days madest an uproar, and leddest out
into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers? But Paul
said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a
citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto
the people." Claudius Lysias readily granted this request. "And when
he had given him licence, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with
the hand unto the people"; signifying that he had something to say, if
they would only be quiet and listen to him. The people were now
willing to hear him. "And when there was made a great silence, he
spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying, Men, brethren, and
fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you." It would seem
that many of those who had been crying out against St. Paul, had no
idea that he was himself a Jew, and able to speak to them in their own
beloved language; for "when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew
tongue to them, they kept the more silence." St. Paul then told the
people that he himself was born a Jew, and had been brought up in
Jerusalem by their famous teacher Gamaliel, who had taught him the
very strictest observance of the Law of Moses; and that he himself had
been so zealous for the Law, that he had at one time cruelly
persecuted the Christians, as the High Priest and all the elders of
the Jews could bear witness. Then he went on to give an account of all
that had happened to him on his way to Damascus, and how he had in
consequence become himself a believer in Jesus Christ. He also told
the people, that when he was afterwards in Jerusalem, the Lord had
appeared to him in a vision, and given him a positive command to go
and preach to the Gentiles, saying, "Depart: for I will send thee far
hence unto the Gentiles." Hitherto, the assembled multitude had
listened quietly to what the Apostle said, "they gave him audience
unto this word"; but when they heard him plainly declare, that it was
the will of God that the Gentiles should share His favour, which they
thought belonged only to themselves, they were filled with rage, and
would hear no more: they "lifted up their voices, and said, Away with
such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live":
and they cast off their upper garments, that they might be ready to
stone him, and threw dust up into the air, to show their hatred and
contempt.

The Arabs in these days have a custom like this; for when any person,
who is speaking in public, says anything they disapprove of, they
throw dust into the air, to show that they have no respect for the
speaker and do not believe what he is saying. St. Paul was now in
great danger of being torn in pieces, if the people, who stood raging
and shouting round the stairs on which he stood, could catch hold of
him. Claudius Lysias saw that the only hope of stopping the uproar,
was to take St. Paul out of sight of the enraged multitude. "And as
they cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the
air, the chief captain commanded him to be brought into the castle."
But he was as far as ever from knowing what the Jews accused St. Paul
of: he did not understand Hebrew, and therefore he had no idea of what
had been said; but he naturally thought, that it must be something
very wrong to put the people into such a rage. Seeing therefore, that
there was no other chance of learning the truth, he now determined to
have St. Paul beaten, according to the custom of the Romans, who
treated prisoners in this way, in order to make them confess what
crimes they had committed. Claudius Lysias therefore, after having had
the Apostle brought into the castle, "bade that he should be examined
by scourging; that he might know wherefore they cried so against him.
And as they bound him with thongs" to a pillar, as was usual in such
cases, "Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for
you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned?" The privileges
of a Roman, that is, of a Roman citizen, have been explained. The
centurion, who commanded the party of soldiers about to scourge the
prisoner, was fully aware of the danger of so treating one, who had in
any way obtained the freedom of Rome; and therefore, when he heard
such words spoken by his prisoner, he at once "went, and told the
chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest; for this man is a
Roman." Such a startling piece of intelligence, at once brought
Claudius to the spot where the prisoner stood bound with thongs to a
pillar, with the soldiers round ready to scourge him. "Then the chief
captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said,
Yea. And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this
freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born. Then straightway they
departed from him which should have examined him" by this torture: and
not only did the chief captain give up all idea of scourging St. Paul,
but he "also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and
because he had bound him."

Even binding a Roman citizen was unlawful, and for doing this Claudius
Lysias was liable to be punished. Nero, who had become Emperor of Rome
about four years before this time, on the death of Claudius, A.D. 54,
was a harsh and cruel tyrant; and though he would not have cared
whether St. Paul was tortured or not, he would have been very angry if
any of the laws concerning the Roman privileges had been broken; and
therefore Claudius Lysias had good reason to fear, that if St. Paul
complained of the treatment which he, a free-born citizen of Rome, had
received, the Emperor would cause him to be punished. If he had known
more of the precepts taught by Jesus, he would have felt sure that St.
Paul would have no wish to revenge himself in such a manner. The
Apostle made use of his rights as a Roman citizen to save himself from
a cruel punishment; because, if he had been scourged, it might have
led men to think that he must have been guilty of some crime to
deserve such a punishment; and it was necessary that the teachers of
the holy Word of God should appear blameless before all men.

The chief captain now took other measures for finding out what St.
Paul was accused of; and he summoned the Sanhedrim to meet, that they
might in a lawful manner examine and judge the prisoner, and so
ascertain whether there was any reason for the rage of the people
against him. We read, "On the morrow, because he would have known the
certainty wherefore he was accused of the Jews, he loosed him from his
bands, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to
appear, and brought Paul down, and set him before them. And Paul,
earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived
in all good conscience before God until this day."

Now that the Apostle was called upon to defend himself, he rightly
wished all men to understand, that he was no criminal deserving of
anger or punishment; but a man who had always tried to do what he
believed to be his duty in the sight of God: most truly could he say
that he had done this; for even when he persecuted the followers of
Jesus, it was under the mistaken idea that it was his duty to do so.
But the Jews were angry at his saying this, "and the high priest
Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth.
Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for
sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be
smitten contrary to the law? And they that stood by said, Revilest
thou God's high priest? Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he
was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of
the ruler of thy people."

The Apostle meant, that if he had known, or looked upon Ananias as
the High Priest, he would not have rebuked him in such words; because
a ruler of the people must be treated with respect, on account of his
office: but Ananias deserved the rebuke, for the Law commanded all who
ruled, or judged others, to do no unrighteousness or injustice
themselves; and Ananias broke the Law, and was guilty of very great
injustice in ordering St. Paul to be smitten in this way, before he
had been proved to be guilty of any crime. We must mention here that,
in fact, Ananias was _not_ the High Priest at this time. He had been
High Priest at the time of the famine, when Barnabas and Saul took
help to the poor brethren at Jerusalem; but after that, there had been
some disturbance between the Jews and Samaritans, and the Romans,
thinking Ananias to blame, deprived him of his sacred office, and sent
him as a prisoner to Rome: and though he was afterwards allowed to
return to Jerusalem, he was not restored to the office of High Priest,
to which another man, named Jonathan, had been appointed. This
Jonathan had been killed by the "murderers" hired by Felix the Roman
governor, and no other High Priest had as yet been appointed;
therefore there was, in fact, _no_ High Priest to be president, or
head, of the Sanhedrim. Under these circumstances, Ananias set himself
up as chief of the Council, and behaved in the unjust manner related.
St. Paul had only been a very few days in Jerusalem, and did not
perhaps know that Ananias had taken the office of High Priest upon
himself; or if he did know it, what he said would be a just rebuke to
him for having done so.

One other matter requires a few words, that is, the "whited wall," to
which St. Paul compared Ananias. We shall remember that our Saviour
said, "Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like
unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but
are within full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. Even so ye
also appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy
and iniquity." In the same manner St. Paul applied the comparison of
the "whited wall" of a sepulchre to Ananias, who pretended to judge
and rebuke another, whilst his own heart was full of all evil passions
and iniquity.

Let us remember, that each such passage of Scripture has a lesson for
us: all who only think of what men will say, and try to _appear_ good
in the eyes of their fellow creatures, without trying to love and
serve God with all their heart, and to do His will whatever men may
think of them, are no more pleasing in the eyes of our Lord, than were
the Pharisees, whom Jesus compared to "whited sepulchres."

Now we must return to the Council of the Sanhedrim, and hear what the
Apostle said in his defence. St. Luke says, "But when Paul perceived
that the one part (of his hearers) were Sadducees, and the other
Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a
Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the
dead I am called in question"--meaning that he was persecuted and
called to account, because he had taught that the dead would rise
again. "And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the
Pharisees and Sadducees: and the multitude was divided. For the
Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor
spirit; but the Pharisees confess both. And there arose a great cry:
and the scribes that were of the Pharisees' part arose, and strove,
saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath
spoken to him, let us not fight against God." These scribes spake
well: but unhappily they did not speak in sincerity, but only out of
contradiction and spite to the Sadducees, whom they hated. They were
quite as much opposed to St. Paul's preaching to the Gentiles, as any
other class of persons could be; and therefore it was hypocrisy to
pretend to believe that an angel had bid him do so. St Paul, moreover,
had said nothing of any angel speaking to him; but had plainly
declared that Jesus Christ had spoken to him: and this of course the
Pharisees could not allow, because they would not acknowledge Jesus
Christ to be the Messiah. They were, in fact, fighting against
God--the very thing which they pretended to be afraid of doing.

The Sadducees were very angry, and the whole Council became a scene of
the greatest confusion and violence; so that Claudius Lysias feared
for his prisoner's life; and being answerable for his safety, he sent
his soldiers to bring him back into the castle, where he would be out
of danger.



Chapter XXIV.--ST. PAUL SENT TO CÆSAREA.


We read in the Book of Acts, "And when there arose a great dissension,
the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces
of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force
from among them, and to bring him into the castle."

In the midst of the troubles and dangers with which he was now
surrounded, the faithful servant of God was not left without comfort
and encouragement; for we read, that "the night following the Lord
stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast
testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.
And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together, and bound
themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink
till they had killed Paul."

These men belonged to a party amongst the Jews, who were particularly
strict in the observance of all the forms and ceremonies of the Law;
and for their _zeal_ or eagerness in this matter, they were called
Zealots. These Zealots, quite overlooking the Moral Law, which
commanded "Thou shalt not kill," taught, that it was right to kill any
man who did not observe the whole of the Ceremonial Law: they
therefore made a practice of murdering, whenever they had an
opportunity, all whom they looked upon as enemies of the Law, without
waiting for any trial to decide whether or not they deserved
punishment.

The Chief Priest and elders, instead of trying to prevent such
wickedness, too often approved of the practices of the Zealots; as by
their means they got rid of many whom they feared and hated, and who
certainly could not justly have been found guilty of any crime, for
which they could have been put to death. These Jewish Zealots had
bound themselves by a curse to kill St. Paul; that is, they expressed
a wish that God would bring evil upon them, if they did not kill St.
Paul, before they ate or drank anything. Any such oaths are very
sinful at all times, even if the act we bind ourselves to do is a good
and righteous one, because it may not please God that we should do it:
man proposes, but God disposes; and we must be content with striving
to do what is right and useful, and leave the issue in His hands.

The Zealots, though they wickedly bound themselves by such an oath,
knew that there was no risk in any case of their being starved to
death, because any of their Rabbis could absolve, or set them free
from such oaths, whenever they did not find it convenient to keep
them.

There were more than forty of the Zealots which made this conspiracy
against St. Paul; and they, knowing that the Chief Priests and elders
would be only too glad to have the Apostle silenced in any way, went
to them to get their help in the execution of this wicked plot. They
told the Priests and elders how they had bound themselves by a curse
to kill St. Paul: and then said, "Now therefore ye with the council
signify to the chief captain that he bring him down unto you
to-morrow, as though ye would inquire something more perfectly
concerning him; and we, or ever he come near, are ready to kill him."

This was a plan very likely to succeed: Claudius Lysias would have
thought it very natural that the Sanhedrim should wish to examine St.
Paul quietly, which could not be done in the tumult and excitement of
the day before. He would, therefore, have sent his prisoner down with
a small guard of soldiers, sufficient to prevent his escaping: these,
the Zealots who would be lying in wait, could easily overpower by
their greater number, and thus they would have no difficulty in
murdering the Apostle. It is sad to think that priests and rulers,
whose duty it was to teach the people what was right, and to see that
every man was treated justly, should have agreed thus to entrap and
slay a man who had been guilty of no crime: but so it was, for they
consented to do their part in the proposed scheme.

The enemies of St. Paul must now have thought his destruction certain:
but they forgot that if the Lord was on the Apostle's side, all their
plots would come to nothing. And so it proved: for the Lord, Who had
work for His faithful servant to do, caused this plot to become in
some way known to a young man, the son of St. Paul's sister. We know
nothing of this young man; whether he was still a Jew, or had, as is
more probable, become a Christian: all we are told is, "And when
Paul's sister's son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered
into the castle, and told Paul."

We have now another example as to the duty of using all human means,
whilst humbly depending upon the blessing of God, without which all
our efforts are unavailing. St. Paul had the promise of God, that he
should live to preach the Gospel in Rome; therefore he was well
assured that the Zealots could not harm him. He also knew that the
Almighty could work a miracle for his deliverance; but he knew that to
depend upon such a display of Divine power, would be tempting God, not
trusting in Him. St. Paul felt, that the Lord, Who most generally
brings about events through human actions, had now given him the means
of saving his own life; and that it was his duty to make use of them,
in order to defeat the wicked plot contrived by the Zealots and the
Council.

When St. Paul had heard from his sister's son the plot laid for his
destruction, he "called one of the centurions unto him, and said,
Bring this young man unto the chief captain: for he hath a certain
thing to tell him. So" the centurion "took him, and brought him to the
chief captain, and said, Paul the prisoner called me unto him, and
prayed me to bring this young man unto thee, who hath something to say
unto thee. Then the chief captain took him by the hand, and went with
him aside privately, and asked him, What is that thou hast to tell
me?" Then the young man told him all that was proposed, and begged him
not to yield to the request of the Council. Having heard what he had
to say, "the chief captain then let the young man depart, and charged
him, See thou tell no man that thou hast shewed these things to me."
Claudius Lysias immediately took measures to save St. Paul, without
giving any cause or pretence for a disturbance, by refusing what would
appear to be a reasonable request from the Sanhedrim: and he
determined at once to send his prisoner out of the city, so that when
asked to produce him before the Council, he could truly say, that it
was no longer in his power to do so. We read that "he called unto him
two centurions, saying, Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to
Cæsarea, and horsemen three-score and ten, and spearmen two hundred,
at the third hour of the night; and provide them beasts, that they may
set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor," whose
residence was at Cæsarea. At the same time Claudius Lysias wrote a
letter to be given to Felix, by those who conducted St. Paul to
Cæsarea. "And he wrote a letter after this manner: Claudius Lysias
unto the most excellent governor Felix sendeth greeting. This man was
taken of the Jews, and should have been killed of them: then came I
with an army, and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman.
And when I would have known the cause wherefore they accused him, I
brought him forth into their council: whom I perceived to be accused
of questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge
worthy of death or of bonds. And when it was told me how that the Jews
laid wait for the man, I sent straightway to thee, and gave
commandment to his accusers also to say before thee what they had
against him. Farewell."

Now this letter was not quite a truthful account of what had
happened: Claudius Lysias told the story most favourably for himself,
by making it appear that he rescued St. Paul because he was a Roman
citizen; whereas he did not know that fact, till he was on the point
of scourging the prisoner--a circumstance of which he makes no
mention. In relating anything, either by word of mouth or by letter,
we should be very careful to state exactly what happened, whether it
is favourable to ourselves or not. Saying that he had given
commandment to the accusers to go down to Cæsarea with their
complaints, was different; because by the time the letter reached
Felix, the command would be given. Of course he could say nothing to
the Jews that evening, as it was needful to send the Apostle away
secretly; but we may be sure that the next day, when the Council
demanded that St. Paul should be brought before them for further
examination, this advice was given to them. The third hour of the
night was about nine o'clock in the evening, and "then the soldiers,
as it was commanded them, took Paul, and brought him by night to
Antipatris," a city about thirty-eight miles from Jerusalem, and
twenty-seven from Cæsarea. It had been rebuilt, like many other
cities, by Herod the Great, who called it Antipatris, after his father
Antipater.

Here St. Paul was quite out of reach of the Zealots who had banded to
kill him, and so large a guard was therefore quite unnecessary: so
that "on the morrow" the soldiers "left the horsemen to go with him,
and returned to the castle" of Antonia. The horsemen went on, "who,
when they came to Cæsarea, and delivered the epistle to the governor,
presented Paul also before him. And when the governor had read the
letter, he asked of what province" the prisoner was. And when he
understood that he was of Cilicia, "I will hear thee, said he, when
thine accusers are also come. And he commanded him to be kept in
Herod's judgment hall." Herod's judgment hall, in which Felix
commanded the Apostle to be kept till his accusers should come down,
was a large building erected by Herod the Great as a palace for
himself: part of it was afterwards made into a residence for the Roman
governor of Judæa; and part of it was used as a prison for prisoners,
not charged with any great or serious crime. Here, then, St. Paul was
kept for five days. "And after five days Ananias the high priest
descended," or went down to Cæsarea, "with the elders, and with a
certain orator named Tertullus, who informed the governor against
Paul."

An orator was a person who was able to make a good speech upon any
subject set before him. Many men made a business of this; that is, a
man who was able to speak well, would speak for others, who were not
able to do so, on condition of being paid for his services. Thus, if
any man were accused of a crime, he would get one of these public
orators to speak for him at the time of trial, and try to persuade the
Judge that he was innocent, whether he really were so or not. The same
sort of thing is done amongst us, by barristers--men who have made it
their business to study the laws of their country, in order to advise
and help others who are ignorant in such matters. The Jewish priests
and rulers were so very anxious that Felix should believe St. Paul to
be in the wrong, and condemn him accordingly, that they had engaged an
orator named Tertullus, to come and speak for them, and make the best
of their case; so as to persuade Felix to condemn St. Paul, and thus
gratify their malice.



Chapter XXV.--ST. PAUL ACCUSED BEFORE FELIX.


Tertullus "informed the governor against Paul,"--that is, he came to
Cæsarea for the express purpose of informing the governor of the many
and serious accusations, which the Jews brought against the prisoner.
The accusers being now come, Felix sat to judge the matter, and hear
what each party had to say. "And when he was called forth, Tertullus,"
in the name of the Jewish priests and rulers, "began to accuse" Paul,
"saying, Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very
worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence, we accept it
always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness.
Notwithstanding, that I be not further tedious unto thee, I pray thee
that thou wouldest hear us of thy clemency a few words."

Now Felix was a harsh and tyrannical governor; and though he had done
good service in freeing the country from the robbers which had
infested it, and in punishing impostors (like the Egyptian), he had
caused the High Priest to be murdered, and had often driven the Jews
into rebellion by his barbarous and unjust acts. In short, his whole
conduct created such disturbances in the land, and made him so hateful
to the Jewish people, that within two years of this time, they
petitioned the Roman Government for his removal; and Porcius Festus
was appointed governor instead of him. When therefore Tertullus, as
the mouthpiece of the Jews, spake in this way of the peace and quiet
they enjoyed under his excellent government, they were not expressing
their real true opinions, but were only saying what they thought would
please Felix, and make him more willing to do what they wished.
Tertullus having thus prepared the way, went on to bring his
accusations against St. Paul, saying, "For we have found this man a
pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews
throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes:
who also hath gone about to profane the temple: whom we took, and
would have judged according to our law. But the chief captain Lysias
came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our hands,
commanding his accusers to come unto thee: by examining of whom
thyself mayest take knowledge of all these things, whereof we accuse
him."

This speech was full of falsehood, inasmuch as it so misrepresented
what had happened, as to lead Felix to think that the prisoner before
him had proved himself a dangerous enemy to the Roman Government, and
that the chief captain had violently and unnecessarily interfered with
the peaceable exercise of the Council's rights, of examining into
those matters of which St. Paul was accused. The Jews, however,
assented, saying that these things which Tertullus had spoken were
true.

When Tertullus had thus informed Felix, the latter called upon St.
Paul to answer to these charges. Felix having now been governor of
Judæa for four or five years, knew something of the religion, laws,
and customs of the Jews, and was therefore the better able to judge in
these matters. "Then Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto
him to speak, answered, Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of
many years a judge unto this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer
for myself: because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet
but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship. And they
neither found me in the temple disputing with any man, neither raising
up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city: neither can
they prove the things whereof they now accuse me."

In these few words, the Apostle contradicted absolutely the charges
brought against him by his enemies. Felix, he knew, would understand
his wish of going to Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Pentecost, and
that, as he had only been in the city for twelve days, he could not
have done much to stir up the people to rebellion. Having thus
declared the falseness of the charges brought against him, the Apostle
went on to notice what was in fact the real cause of all the
persecution against him; and boldly said, "But this I confess unto
thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God
of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and
in the prophets: and have hope toward God, which they themselves also
allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the
just and unjust. And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a
conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men. Now after many
years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings. Whereupon
certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with
multitude, nor with tumult. Who ought to have been here before thee,
and object, if they had ought against me. Or else let these same here
say, if they have found any evil doing in me, while I stood before the
council, except it be for this one voice, that I cried standing among
them, Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by
you this day."

We cannot read this beautiful speech without wishing that each one of
us could say from our hearts, that we too are endeavouring so to live
and act, that our consciences may not reproach us with any wilful sin.
It was customary for the Jews, in whatever countries they might happen
to dwell, to send alms and offerings from time to time to Jerusalem;
and St. Paul had now, according to that custom, brought contributions
from the foreign Jews. We should notice the close of St. Paul's
speech, when he challenges the priests and rulers to say, whether any
fault whatever had been proved against him during his examination
before the Sanhedrim, unless they looked upon his having said, "that
the Jews persecuted him because he had preached the resurrection of
the dead," as a crime. St. Paul's accusers seem to have answered
nothing; they were unable to contradict him, for he had spoken nothing
but the truth, and had plainly shown that he was no "pestilent
fellow," nor mover of sedition among the people.

"And when Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of
that way, he deferred them, and said, When Lysias the chief captain
shall come down, I will know the uttermost of your matter. And he
commanded a centurion to keep Paul, and to let him have liberty, and
that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister or come
unto him." Felix, living at Cæsarea, where Cornelius, a Roman
centurion, had been so wonderfully converted, and where Philip the
deacon, and many other Christians resided, must have heard a good deal
about the doctrines of "that way" of worshipping the Lord; and he had
certainly found, that the Christians were better subjects, and
altogether better men, than the Jews. He would not therefore be
inclined to condemn St. Paul _because_ he was a Christian; and,
listening carefully to the accusations and defence just made before
him, he saw at once that the prisoner had not committed any crime
whatever, and that the whole affair arose from the hatred, which the
Jews bore to the followers of Jesus Christ. Instead, however, of
boldly pronouncing sentence one way or the other, he tried to pacify
the Jews by putting off the trial till Claudius Lysias, whom they had
accused of illegal violence, could come down; and mean time he
entrusted St. Paul to the care of a centurion, with orders not to
treat him as a prisoner. It must have been a bitter disappointment to
the Jews, to see the man whom they persecuted thus kindly treated.

We may also see the protecting hand of God overruling these events.
Had St. Paul been set at liberty, the Jews would doubtless have tried
to take his life; but under the watchful care of the centurion, he was
safe from their malice.

Whether Claudius Lysias ever did come down to Cæsarea, we are not
told; but it is quite clear that St. Paul was neither declared guilty
of any offence deserving punishment, nor set at liberty, which, as an
innocent man, he ought to have been.

St. Luke next tells us, "And after certain days, when Felix came with
his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him
concerning the faith in Christ." It has already been said that
Drusilla was one of the daughters of Herod Agrippa, who died miserably
at Cæsarea, as a punishment for allowing himself to be treated as a
god. Drusilla had been married to another man, but Felix had persuaded
her to leave her husband, and become his wife. This was a great sin in
both Felix and Drusilla. After the trial of St. Paul, the governor
appears to have left Cæsarea for a while; and when he came back,
bringing Drusilla with him, they both wished to hear more of the
doctrines of Christianity, and therefore they sent for St. Paul, that
he might talk to them "concerning the faith in Christ." St. Paul was
always ready to speak the truth boldly in the service of his heavenly
Master; and knowing that Felix was an unjust and unrighteous ruler,
and a man who at all times thought only of pleasing and indulging
himself, without caring what injury or suffering he inflicted upon
others, he took this opportunity of showing the sinfulness of such
conduct, and that those who persisted in it would be punished
hereafter, when Jesus Christ should come to judge the world. "And as
he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix
trembled"; for his conscience told him, that he was guilty of the very
sins for which the Apostle declared that the wrath of God would fall
upon the impenitent. Well would it have been for him, if the fear
which made him tremble, had made him at once anxiously inquire in true
penitence, What must I do to be saved? But, unhappily, he took another
course, too often followed amongst ourselves: he did not _like to
hear_ such things, and so he tried to put them away, and answered, "Go
thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call
for thee."

Even in worldly matters, it is a good maxim, never to put off till
to-morrow what ought to be done to-day. Infinitely more does it apply
to spiritual things; to repentance, to abstaining from what we feel to
be wrong, to making the sacrifice we know we ought to make, to doing
the duty which we perceive we ought to do. Never let us put off such
things, and thus quench the Spirit of God speaking in our hearts. If
we wilfully let one opportunity slip, we may never have another given
to us. There is no "season" so "convenient" for doing right as the
moment in which we feel what _is_ right. Felix stifled the voice of
conscience, which answered to St. Paul's teaching; and we have no
reason to believe that the convenient season ever came, for, though he
often talked with him after this, we hear of no good results from such
meetings; nor could any good results be expected, from a course in
which covetousness had so great a share; for one of the governor's
motives for keeping the Apostle still in some sort as a prisoner, was
the hope that he or his friends would purchase his liberty, by giving
money. But Felix ought to have felt, that St. Paul would never offer a
bribe, which it was very wrong for any Judge to take. However that may
be, we read, "He hoped also that money should have been given him of
Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener,
and communed with him."



Chapter XXVI.--ST. PAUL BEFORE FESTUS.


"But after two years, Porcius Festus came into Felix' room: and Felix,
willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound." Felix might now
at least have let the Apostle go, for he could no longer hope for any
advantage by leaving him still a prisoner. This governor had never
tried to please the Jews by a just and kind government: then he
preferred pleasing himself: now, that it does not interfere with his
own gratification, he was willing to do the Jews a pleasure, by
committing another sin, in the detention of an innocent man, whom he
well knew ought to have been set free long ago. The Bible says truly,
that "the fear of man bringeth a snare," and the same may be said of
the wish to please him, when we cannot do so without doing wrong or
neglecting our duty.

Felix gained nothing by thus sacrificing St. Paul, for the Jews of
Cæsarea followed him to Rome, and there made such complaints of him to
the Emperor Nero, that it was with great difficulty that Felix saved
himself from severe punishment. The new governor of Judæa, when he
"was come into the province," made in the first instance a very short
stay at Cæsarea, and "after three days" went up to Jerusalem. Of
course in this short time, he had not had leisure to hear anything
concerning St. Paul. The Jews of Jerusalem, therefore, gladly seized
this opportunity to try and prejudice Festus against St. Paul. "Then
the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul,
and besought him, and desired favour against him, that he would send
for him to Jerusalem," to be there tried. But they had another end in
view; even the same which the Zealots, with the approbation of the
Sanhedrim, had hoped to accomplish on a former occasion. The high
priest and the elders, knowing well that St. Paul could not be found
guilty of any crime, only besought Festus to have him brought to
Jerusalem, because they were determined to get rid of him, by "laying
wait in the way to kill him." But their wicked scheme was again
defeated, for "Festus answered, that Paul should be kept at Cæsarea,
and that he himself would depart shortly thither. Let them therefore,
said he, which among you are able, go down with me, and accuse this
man, if there be any wickedness in him."

And when Festus had been about ten days in Jerusalem, "he went down
unto Cæsarea; and the next day sitting on the judgment seat, commanded
Paul to be brought. And when he was come" before the judgment seat,
"the Jews which came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and laid
many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove.
While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews,
neither against the temple, nor yet against Cæsar, have I offended
anything at all." Festus quite saw that St. Paul had been guilty of no
offence towards the Roman Government, but that the whole matter
concerned the doctrines and customs of the Jewish Law; and that he, as
the Roman governor, had no cause to keep him prisoner, or trouble him
any further. "But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered
Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of
these things before me?" The Sanhedrim was the proper Court to try
questions concerning the Jewish Law. Festus knew nothing of the plots
to kill St. Paul, for he was a just man, and would not have
countenanced such wickedness. He could not order St. Paul to be tried
by the Sanhedrim, for the authority of that Court was not recognized
by the Romans; but probably with the view of convincing the Jews that
St. Paul had not offended against their Law, he proposed that the
Apostle should go up to Jerusalem to answer their charges.

"Then said Paul, I stand at Cæsar's judgment seat, where I ought to be
judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest.
For if I be an offender, or have committed anything worthy of death, I
refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these
accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Cæsar." As a
freeman of Rome, St. Paul could only be tried for any crime, by a
Court composed of Judges appointed by Cæsar; hence called "Cæsar's
judgment seat." Again, he declared that he was innocent of any offence
against the Jews, but that he had no wish to escape a lawful trial, or
any just punishment; but that if he were not found guilty of any
crime, no person had any right to put him in the power of men so well
known to be his enemies as the Jews were. He ended by making use of
another privilege belonging to a Roman citizen, that of appealing unto
Cæsar: after which he could only be tried at Rome, by persons
appointed especially for that purpose by the Emperor himself. A
freeman of Rome who had been tried anywhere and found guilty, could
then appeal to Cæsar, if he thought his sentence unjust. Or before
trial, if he suspected that his judge was not acting according to law,
he could thus appeal to the Emperor. An appeal to Cæsar was highly
respected by every person in authority, and any magistrate who, after
such an appeal, dared to punish a prisoner, would himself be liable to
severe punishment. This, and all the privileges of a Roman citizen,
were so much respected, that many years after this time, when the
Christians were persecuted by order of the Emperor Trajan, a Roman
called Pliny, whose duty it was to have all Christians put to death,
wrote a letter to the Emperor, in which, after speaking of the numbers
he had executed because they would not give up their religion, he
says, "There are others, guilty of similar folly, but finding them to
be Roman citizens, I have determined to send them to Rome." Perhaps
these poor creatures had appealed to Cæsar; at any rate, Pliny,
respecting their privileges, thought it safest to send them to Rome,
though there could be no doubt that the Emperor would immediately
order them to be put to death.

It was usual for a Roman President, or Judge, to have a small Council
of some of the chief Romans in the province, whose advice he could ask
in any doubtful matter. Festus had such a Council; for we read, "Then
Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou
appealed unto Cæsar? unto Cæsar shalt thou go." Thus did the Lord
overrule events to fulfil his words, "thou must bear witness also at
Rome." Before St. Paul could be sent off from Cæsarea, he was again
called upon to defend himself and declare his doctrines. St. Luke
says, "And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came unto
Cæsarea to salute Festus." This Agrippa and Bernice were both the
children of Herod Agrippa, and therefore Drusilla was their sister.
The Emperor Claudius had made Agrippa king of some of the Roman
Provinces in Asia, and had also given him some dominions in Judæa,
which had been added to by the present Emperor Nero. It was probably
to look after these dominions that Agrippa was now come into the
country, bringing his sister Bernice with him; and it was very natural
that they should go to Cæsarea to visit the governor. Festus, who was
evidently rather puzzled about St. Paul, as he could see no reason for
the accusations of the Jews, was glad to have an opportunity of
talking over the matter with one, who being himself a Jew, would know
the laws and customs of his own people, as well as those of the
Romans. Therefore, when Agrippa and Bernice had been at Cæsarea "many
days, Festus declared Paul's cause unto the king, saying, There is a
certain man left in bonds by Felix: about whom, when I was at
Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me,
desiring to have judgment against him. To whom I answered, It is not
the manner of the Romans to deliver any man to die, before that he
which is accused have the accusers face to face, and have licence to
answer for himself concerning the crime laid against him. Therefore,
when they were come hither, without any delay on the morrow I sat on
the judgment seat, and commanded the man to be brought forth. Against
whom when the accusers stood up, they brought none accusation of such
things as I supposed: but had certain questions against him of their
own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed
to be alive. And because I doubted of such manner of questions, I
asked him whether he would go to Jerusalem, and there be judged of
these matters. But when Paul had appealed to be reserved unto the
hearing of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept till I might send him
to Cæsar."

By "their superstition," Festus meant the religion of the Jews: for
the heathen always thus spake of it, and said, that "Moses was the
inventor of the Jews' superstition." The heathens saw that the Jews
believed in an Almighty power, of which they knew nothing, and did
certain things to obtain favour from the God they worshipped: this
they called Superstition, and no doubt they looked upon the Christian
religion in much the same light.

The term "Superstition," might much more properly be applied to the
belief and practice of the Romans themselves, with all their omens and
auguries, supposed to reveal the will of their imaginary gods; and
their sacrifices and ceremonies, in order to gain their favour.

At the time of which we are now speaking, the Jews _had_ indeed
introduced many superstitions into their religion; for they thought to
please God by outward forms and ceremonies, whilst they committed all
manner of sins, and rejected the Messiah.

The Christians were ready to give up all earthly joys and comforts,
and to suffer death, rather than act contrary to the religion which
they professed; and this the heathens looked upon as "foolishness."

Festus evidently thought that both Jews and Christians were very
foolish, to dispute upon such a subject as the life or death of Jesus;
for he neither knew nor cared about the doctrines of Christianity, and
the need of a Saviour. Little did the Roman governor conceive, that
the question concerning the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was one of
the greatest importance to all mankind, when he thus slightingly spake
of "one Jesus," "whom Paul affirmed to be alive." Had St. Paul been
accused of crimes, as the governor supposed would have been the case,
he would have known how to act: but when the accusations were only
about such matters as to the Romans were "foolishness," Festus was
perplexed and doubtful, as to the course which he ought to take; for
as these questions had caused disturbances in the country, they could
not be allowed to pass unnoticed by a Roman governor. And probably it
was as much to relieve himself from his perplexity as to please the
Jews, that he proposed to the Apostle to go up to Jerusalem.

All the Roman Emperors had the title of Cæsar, and they also all took
that of Augustus: but each one had his own particular name or names
besides: the "Augustus Cæsar" here spoken of, was the Emperor Nero.
Agrippa listened with interest to all that Festus told him of St.
Paul, and then said, "I would also hear the man myself"--a desire
which Festus was too happy to gratify. "To-morrow, said he, thou shalt
hear him."



Chapter XXVII.--ST. PAUL BEFORE AGRIPPA.


"And on the morrow, when Agrippa was come, and Bernice, with great
pomp, and was entered into the place of hearing, with the chief
captains, and principal men of the city, at Festus' commandment Paul
was brought forth." This "place of hearing" was probably some large
apartment in the palace where Festus lived, set apart for the governor
to receive, and give audience to, all persons who came to him on
business. This we must remember was no _trial_ of St. Paul; he could
now have no further trial till he reached Rome: there were now no Jews
present to make accusations against him; it was, in fact, only a
private examination of St. Paul's opinions, for the gratification of
king Agrippa. If the Apostle had now refused to speak, he could not
have been held guilty of disobedience; but he was always ready and
willing to give an account of the faith which was in him, and probably
he was particularly glad to have an opportunity of speaking of "Jesus
Christ, and Him crucified," before Agrippa, who, as a Jew, had learnt
from the prophets to expect the Messiah.

When all was ready, Festus opened the business, and explained the
matter to the assembly; who, with the exception of king Agrippa, and
perhaps a few of his attendants, were all heathens.

"And Festus said, King Agrippa, and all men which are here present
with us, ye see this man, about whom all the multitude of the Jews
have dealt with me, both at Jerusalem, and also here, crying that he
ought not to live any longer. But when I found that he had committed
nothing worthy of death, and that he himself hath appealed to
Augustus, I have determined to send him. Of whom I have no certain
thing to write unto my lord." (That is, no crimes or offences to give,
as a reason for his being tried at all.) "Wherefore I have brought him
forth before you, and especially before thee, O king Agrippa, that,
after examination had, I might have somewhat to write. For it seemeth
to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the
crimes laid against him. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art
permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand,
and answered for himself: I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because
I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things
whereof I am accused of the Jews: especially because I know thee to be
expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews:
wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently." Agrippa having been
brought up in Jerusalem, when his father Herod Agrippa lived there as
king of Judæa by permission of the Emperor Caligula, had been well
instructed in the Jewish law and customs; and at this time the Emperor
Nero had entrusted to him the government of the temple, and the care
of its treasury: he was also allowed to nominate the High Priest. St.
Paul, conscious of his own innocence, was glad to speak before one so
well able to judge of the truth of his words. Having bespoken a
patient hearing from the king, the Apostle continued, "My manner of
life from my youth, which was at first among mine own nation at
Jerusalem" (where he was brought up at the feet of Gamaliel), "know
all the Jews; which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify,
that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.
And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God
unto our fathers: unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly
serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope's sake, king
Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews."

The "promise" here spoken of, was that made by God Himself to Abraham
and the patriarchs, and repeated more plainly by the prophets, that
the Messiah should come upon earth, and by His rising from the dead,
prove the truth of the promise of a future life for all men. This
promise had always been believed, and its fulfilment looked for, by
all true Israelites. So far, then, there was no difference of opinion.
But the Apostle had been convinced, by unmistakable signs, that the
promise was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. For declaring that Jesus of
Nazareth was the Messiah, the hope of Israel, for whom the twelve
tribes had ever been looking, and that He had risen from the dead
according to the promise, St. Paul was "accused" and persecuted by the
Jews: some denying that there could be any resurrection at all;
others, who allowed that, denying that Jesus Christ had risen. Agrippa
as a Jew ought to have learnt from all the wonderful things that had
been done for his forefathers, that with God nothing was impossible;
whilst his study of the Jewish Scriptures should have taught him, that
the Resurrection was more than a possibility. St. Paul now, therefore,
speaking to him as a Jew, asks, "Why should it be thought a thing
incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?"

The doctrine of the Resurrection--or rather the great Truth that Jesus
Christ had really risen from the dead--was the one especial point of
St. Paul's teaching: because all by whom that was once acknowledged,
could not fail to see, that He was indeed the promised Messiah, worthy
of all the love and service His creatures could give Him.

Having spoken of the Resurrection, St. Paul went on to show Agrippa,
that what he now taught upon the subject was the more worthy of
belief, inasmuch as he himself had not been easily persuaded of this
truth, or inclined to join those who believed it. On the contrary, he
says, "I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things
contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth." Then, after telling
Agrippa how in consequence of this idea, he persecuted the followers
of Jesus, he described the wonderful manner in which he had been
brought to see that He _was_ the promised Messiah; and he mentioned
the peculiar charge given unto him by God, to go unto the Gentiles,
"to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from
the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of
sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith."
"Whereupon," continued the Apostle, "I was not disobedient unto the
heavenly vision: but shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at
Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judæa, and then to the
Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet
for repentance. For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and
went about to kill me. Having therefore obtained help of God, I
continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying
none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say
should come: that Christ should suffer, and that he should be the
first who should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the
people, and to the Gentiles." Strange indeed did these things sound in
the ears of the heathen governor; and without pausing to consider
whether they might not indeed be true, "Festus said with a loud voice,
Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad." Firm
and respectful was the reply to this charge, that he knew not what he
was saying: for he said, "I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak
forth the words of truth and soberness. For the king knoweth of these
things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none
of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a
corner." Agrippa, who could bear witness to the things spoken by Moses
and the prophets, must also have heard of the many wonderful acts done
by Jesus during His life; of the events attending His death; and of
the works since performed by His Apostles; and therefore St. Paul
refers to him, as able to bear witness that the words which had so
astonished Festus, were not the words of madness, but of sober truth.

Having thus replied to Festus, St. Paul, turning to Agrippa, said,
"King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets?" As a Jew, the king must
necessarily be a believer in all the Scriptures of the Old Testament;
therefore, without waiting for an answer, the Apostle added, "I know
that thou believest." He said no more, but his meaning was easy to
understand. Any one, who believing in the Scriptures of the Old
Testament, would carefully and honestly compare all that was written
concerning the Messiah with the Birth, Life, and Death of Jesus, must
perceive that He was indeed the promised Messiah, the Anointed, the
Christ.

It is clear by the answer, that the king did so understand the
question. "Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to
be a Christian." He could not deny the truth of what the Apostle had
said; his reason, if he would have followed its teaching to the end,
would have convinced him that the Gospel preached by St. Paul was the
gift of God; the continuation and ending, as it were, of the Law of
Moses; that it involved no _change_ of religion, but its completion or
_perfect state_, for that the Law had been given to prepare the way
for the Gospel. Just as St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Galatians,
wrote, "the Law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ."

It is probable that Agrippa felt much of this; why then did he not
become entirely, not _almost_, a Christian? Because he was not willing
to renounce the Devil and all his works, and the sinful lusts of the
flesh. His life and actions were very far from the purity and holiness
necessary in a real true Christian; he could not make up his mind to
endeavour to lead a new life, consistent with the profession of
Christianity; and therefore, though almost persuaded, he stopped
there.

To be _almost_ a Christian, is to be in a condition most displeasing
to the Lord; and yet there are many now, who professing to be members
of the Church of Christ, are, it is to be feared, in this sad state.
Let us watch and pray, that such may not be our case--remembering,
that if we are not daily striving with all our might, to keep our part
of the Baptismal Covenant, whatever it may cost us to do so, we are no
more than _almost_ Christians, who will never be received as good and
faithful servants by our heavenly Master.

Agrippa was not ready to live a life of self-denial, and therefore he
could only say, "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. And Paul
said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me
this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these
bonds."

St. Paul could not offer a better prayer for his hearers, nor for all
mankind who have ever lived upon earth, than that they should be true
and sincere Christians, like him in every respect, except in that of
being prisoners. The "bonds" here spoken of were the light chains upon
his hands, by which, as we have said, prisoners amongst the Romans
were usually bound to the soldier who had charge of them. St. Paul
bore no ill-will to those who had unjustly kept him so long a
prisoner; he only desired their good, expressing, in the words we have
just read, his solemn wish that they might become true Christians.



Chapter XXVIII.--ST. PAUL BEGINS HIS FOURTH VOYAGE.


St. Paul's solemn prayer for all who had listened to his words closed
the examination. "And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and
the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them: and when they
were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man
doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds." All who had heard St. Paul
speak, saw at once that he had been guilty of no offence against the
Roman Government: and Agrippa, who understood the Jewish law,
pronounced that there was no reason on that account either, to keep
him a prisoner. "Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have
been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Cæsar." Having done
so, no prisoner could be set at liberty, without the express command
of the Emperor.

Agrippa's opinion would incline the unprejudiced Jews not to believe
all that the priests and elders had said against St. Paul; and it
would make Festus write a favourable report of his case to Rome.
Probably it was owing to what Agrippa now said, that St. Paul met with
kind treatment, both on the voyage to Italy and after his arrival in
Rome.

Nothing now remained but to send St. Paul to Cæsar; and of this
voyage, St. Luke, who appears never to have quitted him, gives us a
full account, saying, "And when it was determined that we should sail
into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one
named Julius, a centurion of Augustus' band." Although the garrison of
Cæsarea was at this time composed of Syrian soldiers, there was also
a small body of Roman soldiers, called the Augustan Band, as belonging
particularly to the Emperor. Under a centurion of this band, St. Paul
was now to begin his fourth and last journey, A.D. 60.

This journey differed from the three former, inasmuch as they had been
undertaken voluntarily, (by direction of the Holy Spirit,) for the
accomplishment of the work given him to do. This fourth journey,
though it would equally serve to the great work of spreading the
Gospel, was to be made as a prisoner.

In those days, a voyage was a more serious affair than it is now. It
was not easy to find a ship sailing direct from any port in Asia to
Italy, and accordingly we read, "And entering into a ship of
Adramyttium, we launched, meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia; one
Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us." Adramyttium
was a sea-port of Mysia, quite out of the way of any person wishing to
go to Italy; but, as the ship was to touch at many ports in Asia Minor
on her way home, it was probable that at one of these ports some
vessel might be found which was going into Italy, and could take
Julius and his company on board. The Aristarchus here mentioned had
become a Christian when St. Paul preached the Gospel in Macedonia, and
had then gone with the Apostle to Jerusalem, and helped him in his
great work. _Why_ he was now a prisoner, we are not told; but it was
no doubt for preaching the Gospel that he was now a fellow prisoner of
St. Paul. St. Luke, after mentioning the launching at Cæsarea, says,
"And the next day we touched at Sidon. And Julius courteously
entreated Paul," (that is, treated him kindly,) "and gave him liberty
to go unto his friends to refresh himself." There were at this time
many Christians in Ph[oe]nicia; and it must have been a great comfort
both to them and to St. Paul, to meet and talk and pray together.

Then we read, "And when we had launched from thence, we sailed under
Cyprus, because the winds were contrary." The wind blowing pretty
strongly from the south-west, the ship, instead of passing to the
south of the island, which would have been the shortest way into the
Archipelago, sailed to the north, where it would be sheltered from the
wind by the island itself. Thus coming to Myra, a sea-port of Lycia,
Julius disembarked his company, as it was useless for those who wished
to go into Italy, to continue any longer in a ship bound for
Adramyttium, which would take them greatly out of their way.

At Myra, the centurion found a ship which had come from the opposite
port of Alexandria, in Egypt, and was now going on to Italy. St. Luke
says, "and he put us therein." Much corn was taken from Egypt into
Italy. It was brought from different parts of the country to
Alexandria, and there put on board ships, which landed it at Puteoli,
in the south-eastern part of Italy; and from thence it was taken to
other places as it was wanted. It was one of these vessels, laden with
corn, in which Julius now embarked his prisoners.

St. Luke says, "And when we had sailed slowly many days, and scarce
were come over against Cnidus, the wind not suffering us, we sailed
under Crete, over against Salmone; and, hardly passing it, came unto a
place which is called the Fair Havens, nigh whereunto was the city of
Lasea." Cnidus stood on a point of high land at the south-west corner
of Asia Minor; and from thence the master of the vessel meant to steer
directly westward, passing to the north of the isle of Crete; but the
wind being contrary, the vessel was many days in going from Myra as
far as Cnidus, and then it was obliged to go to the south of Crete,
passing by Salmone, a promontory, or cape, on the eastern end of the
island. This they had much difficulty in passing; and then they took
refuge in a port, called the Fair Havens, near to which was a city
called Lasea.

It was now a time of year when sailing was considered dangerous, on
account of high winds, called the Equinoctial Gales, which generally
begin to blow in September. At this time of the year, on the 10th of
their month Tisri, answering to our 25th of September, the Jews, by
the appointment of God, kept the great "Fast of Expiation," according
to the Law of Moses. On this day, no work was to be done; the people
were to spend their time in confessing their sins, and praying for
true repentance, and consequent forgiveness. They were further to
afflict their souls by fasting, and by abstaining from every kind of
pleasure or amusement.

In the early times of the Jewish history, this fast was so strictly
kept, that no Jew would upon it wash his face, nor put on his shoes,
nor even read any part of the Scriptures which gave him pleasure. The
Law commanded that this day should be kept entirely as a day of
mourning and sorrow; whilst the priests were to offer certain
sacrifices as an atonement, or expiation, for all the sins of the
people, that they might be looked upon as clean from all their sins.
All that was commanded to be done on this solemn fast-day, was to be a
type, or sign, of the great future sacrifice to be made by Jesus
Christ; Who by His death, made a sufficient expiation and atonement
for the sins of the whole world, and thus took away from all His
faithful people the dreadful consequences of sin, which _no_ sacrifice
of beasts ever could have done.

The "Fast of Expiation" took place, as we have said, on the 25th of
September; and after that time, the ancients considered a sea-voyage
dangerous, on account of the tempestuous winds which blew at that
season: they therefore generally laid up their ships for the winter.
St. Paul had had considerable experience in the dangers of the sea,
for he had often been in "perils of the sea," of which St. Luke makes
no mention. In the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, written, as we
have heard, about two years before this last voyage, St. Paul,
speaking of the dangers and sufferings he had undergone whilst
preaching the Gospel, says, amongst other things, "thrice I suffered
shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep." St. Paul
therefore was well aware of the danger of sailing at this season of
the year; and probably the Holy Spirit had made known unto him, that
danger awaited the ship if she now continued her voyage. This
explanation is necessary for the right understanding of what we shall
now read, as told us by St. Luke. The ship, we must remember, had with
much difficulty arrived safely at the "Fair Havens" in Crete.

"Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous,
because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them, and said
unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and
much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives.
Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the
ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul. And because
the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to
depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and
there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the
south-west and north-west." That is, Phenice was on the south-west
coast of the island, to the north-west of Lasea and the Fair Havens.

A change in the weather at this time, confirmed those who were anxious
to reach Phenice, in their opinion that it might be done. "And when
the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their
purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete." By keeping close
to the shore, they hoped to accomplish their purpose. "But not long
after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon."
The word "Euroclydon" is made up from two Greek words, one of which
means a wave, and the other the south-east wind. It was a violent wind
which blew furiously generally from the south-east, and made the waves
exceedingly rough, and very dangerous for small vessels. The same kind
of wind is now known in the Mediterranean Sea as a "Levanter," because
it generally blows from the east, and the Levant is the eastern part
of that sea. Sometimes it blows for a short time from some other
quarter, which makes it all the more dangerous, because the sudden
change of a very violent wind is apt to capsize, or overset, a ship,
not prepared for such a change.

This terrible wind now came on, blowing furiously from the east. The
rudder--that is, the machine by which a ship is guided on its
course--was useless in such a storm, and the vessel became quite
unmanageable. St. Luke says, "And when the ship was caught, and could
not bear up into the wind, we let her drive." The ship, thus left to
the mercy of the wind, was driven straight to an island, called
Clauda. We read, "And running under a certain island which is called
Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat: which when they had
taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship." Most ships have a
small boat, which is usually drawn after them by a rope fastened to
the stern, or hind part, of the vessel; but, fearing that the violence
of the wind and waves would wash the boat quite away, the sailors,
though with great difficulty, managed to draw it up on the ship's
deck, ready for use in case of need. "Undergirding," was passing
strong ropes under the ship, and bringing the ends from each side upon
deck, where they were fastened together; so as to support and hold in
their places, all the planks and timbers of which the ship was built.
Sheltered a little from the storm under the north side of the island
of Clauda, the seamen were able to accomplish this work, after which
they could do no more.



Chapter XXIX.--THE SHIP RUNS AGROUND.


St. Luke having mentioned the undergirding of the ship, adds, "and,
fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so
were driven."

The ship being unable to resist the wind blowing strongly from the
north-east, must of necessity be carried into the Gulf of Syrtis
Minor, on the African coast; but before reaching it, the vessel would
have to pass a dangerous bank of sand on the coast of Africa. This
bank was of great extent, and any ship that was carried upon it would
gradually sink, and sink into the sand, until it was quite buried. The
sailors, fearing such a fate for their ship, took down all the sails,
so that the wind might have less power over it. In this condition the
ship was at the mercy of the wind and waves; and was driven here and
there, without power to help herself. All on board the ship were now
in a dreadful situation: exposed to the fury of a wind which blew them
sometimes one way and sometimes another. In order to make the ship
lighter, so that it might more easily rise to the top of the waves,
the seamen first threw overboard the cargo of wheat carried by the
ship, and then even the very ropes and sails belonging to it. But the
storm continued, the sky was dark with clouds, and as there was no
possibility of help, all gave themselves up for lost, and expected to
be swallowed up in this tempestuous sea. Under such circumstances, all
regular habits were at an end; no one thought of taking food, and
consequently the strength of all was rapidly becoming less and less.
St. Luke's account is, "And we being exceedingly tossed with a
tempest, the next day they lightened the ship; and the third day we
cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship. And when neither
sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us,
all hope that we should be saved was then taken away. But after long
abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye
should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to
have gained this harm and loss. And now I exhort you to be of good
cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of
the ship. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I
am, and whom I serve, saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought
before Cæsar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with
thee. Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it
shall be even as it was told me. Howbeit we must be cast upon a
certain island."

St. Paul's words and his steadfast faith, must have been a comfort to
his fellow voyagers; and if any of the heathens were then inclined to
believe in the God Whose servant he was, their faith would be
confirmed by all that took place afterwards.

We next read in the Book of Acts, "But when the fourteenth night was
come," (think of being fourteen days in such an awful position!) "as
we were driven up and down in Adria, about midnight the shipmen deemed
that they drew near to some country; and sounded, and found it twenty
fathoms: and when they had gone a little further, they sounded again,
and found it fifteen fathoms. Then fearing lest we should have fallen
upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for
the day."

The ancients seem to have given the name of "Adria," to that part of
the Mediterranean Sea between Greece and the south of Italy, extending
up into what we call the Adriatic Sea; here, by the force of the wind
and the currents, the ship was driven backwards and forwards, even as
far as the islands off the coast of Dalmatia.

"Sounding" means measuring how deep the sea is: this is done by means
of a piece of lead fastened to a very long string, called "the line,"
which has marks upon it, to show the number of feet. The lead of
course sinks straight down into the water: if it touches the bottom of
the sea, it is immediately drawn up, and by observing how much of the
line is wet, they can tell how deep the sea is in any particular spot.
As every ship has a good portion of it _below_ the water, she requires
a certain depth of water to keep her from touching the bottom. The sea
generally becomes less deep near the shore, and thus when the shipmen
found that the depth of the sea had diminished from twenty to fifteen
fathoms, it was high time to wait for daylight to see where they were;
lest during the night the ship should run upon some land, or rock, or
sandbank, and so be lost. A fathom is seven feet, so that twenty
fathoms were 140 feet, and fifteen 105 feet.

In order to understand what follows, we must remember that although
_now_ anchors are always let down from the _prow_, or fore part of the
ship, it was the custom of the ancients to let them down from the
_stern_, or hind part of their vessels. Some of the large Egyptian
ships do even now carry their anchors at the stern, and not at the
prow. The vessel in which St. Paul was, was anchored from the stern by
four anchors, to wait for daylight.

It seems that some of the shipmen, or sailors, seeing the dangerous
condition of the ship, thought they should be safer out of it; and so
without any consideration for others, made up their minds to steal
away secretly during the night, taking the boat with them; under
pretence that their only object in now leaving the ship, was to make
its position more secure, by letting down some anchors from the prow
also. St. Luke says, "And as the shipmen were about to flee out of the
ship, when they had let down the boat into the sea, under colour as
though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship, Paul said to
the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye
cannot be saved. Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and
let her fall off."

Of course the Lord could equally have saved the passengers, whether
the sailors remained in the ship or not; but it was His Will that all
should be delivered in one way; and perhaps this was intended to be a
test of faith and obedience. The Roman soldiers certainly had faith in
St. Paul as the servant of a Mighty God, to Whom all things are
possible, and Whose promise would be assuredly fulfilled: therefore
they at once took effectual means to prevent any one leaving the ship,
by cutting the ropes which still held the boat, and letting it drift
away.

According to the opinion of man, they did a very foolish act in
getting rid of a boat, which might be of the greatest use to them. At
Crete they had "believed the master and the owner of the ship, more
than those things which were spoken by Paul"; but they had had good
reason to change their opinion, and to believe that the Apostle was
indeed guided by his God; and their faith made them obedient. "And
while the day was coming on, Paul besought them all to take meat,
saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and
continued fasting, having taken nothing. Wherefore I pray you to take
some meat: for this is for your health: for there shall not an hair
fall from the head of any of you"; meaning, that no one would suffer
the slightest injury, but that it was necessary for them to take some
food, that they might have strength for all that they would be called
upon to do. To his precept, the Apostle added example; for "when he
had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of
them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat." Even at such a
moment, St. Paul did not forget to give God thanks for his food. The
whole company in the ship would thus see how constantly he thought of
God, and endeavoured to do Him honour; and heathens though they were,
his example must have taught them to think with reverence of the God
of the Christians. Mean time the calm and firm trust displayed by the
whole conduct of the Apostle, gave comfort and encouragement to all.
"Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat." St.
Luke tells us how many people there were on board the ship: for he
says, "And we were all in the ship two hundred three-score and sixteen
souls," or 276 persons. "And when they had eaten enough, they
lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea." This wheat
was probably the remainder of their provisions for the voyage, for the
cargo seems to have been thrown overboard before: but perhaps the
owner of the vessel had tried to keep some of the cargo, in hope of
still carrying it to Italy: but now, finding that hope was vain, he
consented to let it be cast out, so as to lighten the ship, and
render her more likely to go safely on shore. Whilst, under all
circumstances, we put our whole trust in God, Who alone can bless any
of our efforts with success, we must never forget that it is our duty
to _use_ all our efforts, and make use of every means which the Lord
places within our reach.

"And when it was day, they knew not the land," the shore which they
saw was that of a strange land; "but they discovered a certain creek
with a shore," a narrow arm of the sea, with a shore on each side;
into this creek "they were minded," that is, they wished "to thrust in
the ship," as it would then be easier for those on board to get to
shore.

"And when they had taken up the anchors," or rather cut the ropes
which held the ship to them, "they committed themselves unto the sea,"
that is, left the ship to be carried along by the wind and waves, "and
loosed the rudder bands," which appear to have been ropes used to
fasten the rudder, so as to steer the ship in any particular
direction; "and hoised up the mainsail," to give the wind more power
to move the ship, and so "made toward shore."

The wind now seemed likely to take them into the creek; but at the
entrance of it, there appears to have been a headland or bank of
earth, which caused a strong current from two sides, so that two seas
might be said to meet. As they could not guide the ship to go round
either end of this barrier, the wind drove it directly upon it. St.
Luke's account is, "And falling into a place where two seas met, they
ran the ship aground; and the forepart stuck fast and remained
unmoveable, but the hinder part was broken with the violence of the
waves." It was now evident that the ship must go to pieces in a few
minutes, and that to remain in it would be certain death.



Chapter XXX.--THE SHIP'S COMPANY SAVED.


In the hopeless condition of the ship, gradually breaking up from the
violence of the waves which beat upon the hind part, whilst the fore
part was held fast on the bank, all possibility of guarding the
prisoners was at an end. "And the soldiers' counsel was to kill the
prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape." They
probably feared, that even under such peculiar circumstances, if any
of the prisoners under their charge escaped, they would be blamed and
punished by the Roman Government; which treated with great severity
any fault or carelessness committed by soldiers, or others trusted
with the charge of criminals. But the centurion, "willing to save
Paul," to whom he must have felt that their safety was owing, "kept
them from their purpose; and commanded that they which could swim
should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land: and the
rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship"; in
short, anything which would float on the top of the water, and so keep
them from sinking, whilst the wind and the waves would drive them to
the shore. "And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to
land." There have been many wonderful escapes of shipwrecked persons,
but that 276 people, many of whom could not swim, should all have got
safe to the shore in such a storm, must be looked upon as the
miraculous fulfilment of the Lord's promise to St. Paul, that there
should be no loss of any man's life. "And when they were escaped, then
they knew that the island was called Melita."

In the map we find the island of Melita, or Meleda, in the Adriatic
Sea, on the coast of Dalmatia; and this is most probably the island
upon which St. Paul and his companions were shipwrecked: but in maps
where the journeys of this Apostle are traced out by lines, you will
not see any line running out to this Melita; but you will observe that
they go to Melita, or Malta, to the south of Sicily, because many
people have imagined that _that_ was the island on which the ship was
wrecked. Now when we have read St. Luke's account of what happened
when St. Paul landed at Melita, we shall see the reasons why the
island must have been Melita, or Meleda, on the Dalmatian coast, and
not Melita, or Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea. St. Luke says, "And
the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a
fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and
because of the cold. And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks,
and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and
fastened on his hand." A viper is a very dangerous kind of serpent, as
the venom or poison from its bite will kill a man; these creatures
become stupid in cold wet weather, and lie _torpid_, or as if they
were asleep: one of them lying thus amongst the sticks, was picked up
with them by St. Paul; but as soon as it felt the heat it came to
life, and darting out upon the Apostle's hand, bit it. "And when the
barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among
themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath
escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live."

These people having no idea of true religion, fancied that the gods
punished crimes upon earth only; and that as St. Paul had not been
drowned, they had caused the viper to sting him, that he might die as
he deserved. "And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no
harm. Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down
dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no
harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a
god."

Now we must remember, that the shipwreck took place as the vessel was
driven up and down in Adria, that part of the sea close to Meleda. The
inhabitants of that island were, as St. Luke calls them, "barbarous"
and "barbarians," in the sense of being uncivilized, unacquainted even
with the comforts and conveniences of life.

The inhabitants of Malta, on the contrary, were a civilized people:
they had good towns and fine buildings: the people were rich and
prosperous, and acquainted with the arts and science of civilized
life: the finest linen was made there; and ships came from all parts
for the purposes of trade.

Then, again, Meleda _is_ cold and damp, with plenty of trees all over
it, even down to the water's edge; and there are many serpents in the
island.

Malta, on the contrary, is warm and dry; there are but few trees in
the island, and none near the shore: and besides, there are no
serpents there.

Now all these are good reasons for our believing that St. Paul was
shipwrecked on the island of Melita, or Meleda, in the Adriatic Sea,
and not upon the Melita, or Malta, which lies to the south of Sicily.

St. Luke next tells us, that "in the same quarters were possessions of
the chief man of the island, whose name was Publius; who received us,
and lodged us three days courteously": by which time some arrangement
could be made for the future entertainment of the shipwrecked
strangers, who would have to remain for some months in the island. The
father of Publius lay ill at this time of a painful and dangerous
illness; "to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on
him, and healed him. So when this was done, others also, which had
diseases in the island, came, and were healed: who also honoured us
with many honours; and when we departed, they laded us with such
things as were necessary." These people were truly grateful for all
the benefits they received from the Apostle; and besides honouring or
treating him with respect, whilst he lived amongst them, they
furnished the provisions needful for himself and his companions, when
at last they quitted Melita.

We may be quite sure, though we are told nothing on the subject, that
during the three months passed in this island by St. Paul, he preached
the Gospel faithfully and earnestly: and we may well hope and believe,
that some of these barbarous people became true followers of the
blessed Jesus, of Whose power they had seen such a wonderful instance,
in the preservation of St. Paul and his companions. Another ship from
Alexandria had passed the winter at Meleda: perhaps she had come up
the Adriatic to bring corn from Egypt to the countries on the borders
of that sea, and when the storm came on, had wisely determined to
remain where she was for the winter; or perhaps she had only been on
her way to Rome, and had turned out of her course to take shelter, as
soon as the storm arose and made sailing dangerous. However that may
be, this ship, which was called "The Castor and Pollux" had passed the
winter at Meleda.

We all know that ships and boats always have a name painted upon the
stern, to distinguish them from one another. Many large ships have
also a figure or image as well: thus a ship called "The Lord Nelson,"
would have fastened to the _fore_ part, or prow, an image or figure of
Lord Nelson cut out in wood and painted. This sort of thing is called
the "figure-head." The ancients, instead of putting a figure, painted
the picture of one, on the fore part of their vessels, and this was
called "the sign." Castor and Pollux were two of the imaginary gods or
heroes of the ancients: they were twin brothers, and were supposed to
take particular care of sailors. A picture of Castor and Pollux was
painted on this ship of Alexandria.

St. Luke says, "And after three months we departed in a ship of
Alexandria, which had wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and
Pollux." Their voyage was undisturbed now, and they soon reached the
island of Sicily, "and landing at Syracuse," then the capital of the
island, "tarried there three days. And from thence," St. Luke says,
"we fetched a compass, and came to Rhegium," a town in Italy, almost
opposite to that of Messina, another considerable town in Sicily, and
just at the entrance of the Straits of Messina. At Rhegium they appear
to have intended to wait for a favourable wind; for we read, "and
after one day the south wind blew, and we came the next day to
Puteoli." Here the voyage ended: at Puteoli the ship would land
whatever cargo she carried, and then return to Alexandria. St. Paul
and his companions must go by land to Rome, about one hundred miles to
the north-west of Puteoli. Puteoli was not only a great place of trade
for corn, but also for merchandise of all kinds, which was brought
there from different countries, to be exchanged for the productions of
Italy. This exchange is, as we have already said, called "commerce."

With so many people from all parts coming to Puteoli, it was
impossible that the Christian religion should not have been brought
into the place by some of them; and it appears that there were at this
time a certain number of Christians at Puteoli: for St. Luke says,
"where we found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them seven
days." They were naturally glad of such an opportunity of conversing
with the Apostle, and wished to keep him with them for seven days; and
it seems that he was allowed to remain with them, which speaks well
for the kindness of Julius, the centurion under whose care he was
placed, and who had all along evidently favoured St. Paul. They then
"went toward Rome. And from thence," St. Luke says, "when the brethren
heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii Forum, and the Three
Taverns." Rome was at this time the most important city in the world:
people came there from all countries; so we are not surprised to find
that there were great numbers of Christians there. When the news
reached them that St. Paul, whom many of them had probably known in
other countries, was not only landed in Italy, but was actually
approaching Rome from Puteoli, great numbers went out to meet and
welcome him. Some of them went as far as Appii Forum, a place about
fifty miles from Rome; others met him at the "Three Taverns," about
thirty miles from Rome. The sight of so many true Christians was a
great joy to the Apostle, who was anxious that all men everywhere
should repent and turn to God. St. Luke says, "Whom when Paul saw, he
thanked God, and took courage." Thanked God for all that had been done
in the conversion of the heathen; whilst he was encouraged to hope for
a still further spread of the Gospel, whatever might be his own fate.



Chapter XXXI.--ST. PAUL A PRISONER AT ROME.


The centurion Julius had now finished his work, he had brought St.
Paul from Cæsarea to Rome, as he had been ordered to do. On the way,
he had seen wonderful things, which must have convinced him that the
prisoner whom he was now to deliver into the charge of others, was a
good and holy man, under the especial protection of his God; and he
had moreover seen that this God was great and powerful, and able to
command the wind and waves, as none of the gods worshipped by the
heathen, could do. Whether he, or any other of St. Paul's fellow
voyagers, became Christians, we are not told.

St. Luke tells us, "And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered
the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to
dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him." It was probably owing
to what Festus had written after Agrippa's interview with his
prisoner, that he was now allowed to live in a hired house of his own,
with merely one soldier to guard him; instead of being shut up in
prison, as he would have been, had he been supposed to have broken
any of the Roman laws. According to custom, he was probably linked by
a small chain to this soldier, but he was not prevented from seeing
anybody who came to him; and he soon made use of this liberty, for "it
came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews
together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and
brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or
customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem
into the hands of the Romans, who, when they had examined me, would
have let me go, because there was no cause of death in me. But when
the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Cæsar; not
that I had ought to accuse my nation of. For this cause therefore have
I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you: because that for
the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain."

St. Paul was anxious that the Jews at Rome should not be prevented
from listening to his teaching, by the idea that he was a prisoner on
account of any crimes he had committed; and as they might, perhaps,
have heard some account of all that had happened at Jerusalem, he took
the earliest opportunity of explaining, that he had done nothing
contrary to the religion taught by Moses; and that, in fact, the only
reason for which he was a prisoner was, that he had preached of the
coming of the Messiah, and of the future resurrection of all
men,--matters taught by all the prophets, and so firmly believed by
the Children of Israel in all ages, that the doctrine might truly be
called "The hope of Israel"; for upon it, depended all their hope of
obtaining favour and mercy from the Almighty. The Jews of Rome,
however, had heard nothing of the treatment which St. Paul had
received from their brethren in Jerusalem, "And they said unto him, We
neither received letters out of Judæa concerning thee, neither any of
the brethren that came shewed or spake any harm of thee. But we desire
to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we
know that everywhere it is spoken against."

These Jews were not prejudiced against St. Paul, but were willing to
listen to all he had to say. They knew that the Christians, "this
sect," as they called them, were much spoken against, and that while
some thought their doctrines were true and right, others said they
were false and mischievous,--likely to make men _wicked_ instead of
good,--and ought not, therefore, to be attended to at all.

Under these circumstances, the Jews at Rome were anxious to hear from
St. Paul's own mouth, a true account of the doctrines which he taught.
The Apostle was only too glad of having such an opportunity of
explaining the truths of the Gospel to the Jews.

"And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into
his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God,
persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and
out of the prophets, from morning till evening,"--that is, he showed
them from what had been said both by Moses and the prophets, that
Jesus of Nazareth was indeed the Messiah, promised to faithful
Abraham, as the Son or Seed in Whom all nations of the earth should be
blessed. For one whole day, from morning till evening, did the Apostle
argue with these Jews, trying to persuade them to become followers of
Jesus: with some he succeeded; with some he failed: for St. Luke says,
"And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed
not. And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after
that Paul had spoken one word." This "one word" of which St. Luke
speaks, was a quotation from the writings of the prophet Isaiah,
showing them, that by their obstinate refusal to believe the Word of
God, they put themselves amongst the number of those, who would be
left in their own wilful blindness: and that the Gospel, or words of
Salvation, would be preached to the Gentiles, and that they would be
far more willing to receive it, than the Jews had ever been. The
Apostle's speech, or "one word," addressed to these unbelieving Jews,
was, "Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our
fathers, saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear,
and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive:
for the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull
of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with
their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart,
and should be converted, and I should heal them. Be it known therefore
unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and
that they will hear it."

We have read the words which St. Paul spake to the unbelieving Jews,
"And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great
reasoning among themselves." Whether their "reasoning," or talking
together, led to the conversion of any of them, we do not know. Nor
are we told of any trial of St. Paul taking place, either before the
Emperor himself, or by persons appointed by him: all that we do know
is, that "Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and
received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and
teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all
confidence, no man forbidding him." This shows that St. Paul enjoyed a
great deal of liberty, although he was still considered as a prisoner,
and could not leave Rome.

During these two years, St. Paul, besides preaching to all who would
hear him, wrote Epistles to the Ephesians; Philippians, or inhabitants
of Philippi; to the Colossians, or people of Colossé, in Asia Minor;
and one to Philemon, a rich man of Colossé. In these Epistles he
speaks of himself as a "prisoner," and mentions his "bonds."

You will remember all that happened at Ephesus, and how long St. Paul
remained there at one time; and how on another occasion he sent for
the elders to Miletus, and took leave of them, knowing that he should
see them again no more. That was three years before the time of which
we are now speaking: but St. Paul had not forgotten them, and
therefore, in the year 61 (A.D.), he, being a prisoner at Rome, wrote
an Epistle, or Letter, to the Christians at Ephesus. In this Epistle,
the Apostle speaks to the Ephesians of the great mercy shown by God to
the Gentiles (amongst whom they themselves were), in allowing them to
share the blessings of the Gospel, without being required to keep the
Law of Moses. In return for such great mercy, St. Paul entreats the
Ephesians to show their gratitude by their conduct, and to walk worthy
of the vocation wherewith they were called. "Vocation" means calling,
profession, employment, state, or condition: they were _called_ to be
Christians; their _profession_ was that they were His servants; their
_employment_ ought to be doing the Will of God: by the atonement of
Jesus, they had been brought into a state or condition for obtaining
salvation, and now they must try to walk worthy of their vocation:
leading in all things such a life as was expected from the followers
of the Holy Jesus, who are bound to follow His example to the extent
of their powers. What St. Paul said on this subject, equally applies
to us; for our vocation is the same as that of the Ephesians, and we
must strive hard to work worthy of it, that is, to be good Christians.
In this Epistle, many particular rules are given for the conduct of
Christians; one of which is, "Children, obey your parents." St. Paul
had, as we have read, established during his second journey a Church,
or company of believers, at Philippi, in Macedonia. We shall remember
how Lydia showed her gratitude to St. Paul, and how the imprisonment
of him and Silas, led to the conversion of the jailor, who became a
true believer in Jesus.

During his Third Journey, St. Paul again went into Macedonia, after
the riot at Ephesus, and then he visited Philippi once more. The
Philippians, grateful to God for the gift of the holy Gospel received
through St. Paul, were anxious to do whatever they could for the
Apostle; and whilst he was preaching at Thessalonica, the chief town
in their part of the country, the Christians of Philippi, who were but
a small company, twice sent money to St. Paul, that the success of his
teaching might be in no way hindered, by his having to depend upon the
Thessalonians for the supply of his temporal wants. They did the same
thing again whilst St. Paul was at Corinth; and now, hearing that he
was in confinement at Rome, they feared that he might be badly off for
food and other necessary things. A collection was therefore made
amongst the Christians at Philippi, and the sum thus collected was
sent to Rome by Epaphroditus, one of their Pastors, or Ministers.

St Paul was truly thankful for this timely supply; for before
Epaphroditus came, he really had been in great want of necessaries: he
could not work at his trade of tent-making now he was a prisoner, and
he did not think it advisable to ask assistance from the Christians at
Rome.

Epaphroditus stayed at Rome for several months; and during the time he
became extremely ill. After he got well again, St. Paul sent him back
to Philippi: and by him, he sent an Epistle, which he had written to
thank the Philippians for their thoughtful care of him in his time of
need. In this Epistle, also, the Apostle begs the Christians of
Philippi not to listen to false teachers, who tried to draw them away
from the truth as he had taught it to them; but to try to obey the
Lord in all things, and continue to love each other. As usual in all
his Epistles, St. Paul gives the Philippians much good advice and many
holy precepts: he also speaks much of Jesus Christ, and of the
necessity of loving Him, and following His example.



Chapter XXXII.--ST. PAUL SET AT LIBERTY.


The Epistle to the Colossians was also written by St. Paul whilst he
was a prisoner at Rome: probably about the end of the year 62 (A.D.).
Colossé was a city of Phrygia, where St. Paul had founded a Church;
that is, converted a certain number to be believers or Christians,
during his First or Second Journey, when he was travelling throughout
Asia Minor. The believers of Colossé, having heard of the Apostle's
imprisonment at Rome, sent one of their ministers, named Epaphras, to
see how he was treated; and also to give him an account of how the
Church at Colossé was going on. After hearing all that Epaphras could
tell him, St. Paul wrote an Epistle, which he sent to the Colossians
by Tychicus, of whom he speaks as a "beloved brother," that is, a
faithful fellow Christian. Tychicus was accompanied to Colossé by
Onesimus, of whom we shall say more presently.

In this Epistle to the Colossians, St. Paul proves, that man's only
hope of salvation rests upon the atonement made by Jesus Christ; and
he shows, therefore, how wrong the Jews were to insist upon the
observance of the Law of Moses, as if that could save them. He also
warned the Colossians not to be led away by the errors of the
philosophers, or wise men, who taught doctrines _not_ taught by the
Gospel. He exhorts them to show their faith in Christ by holiness of
life, and the due performance of every duty to their fellow creatures;
and entreats them to "continue in prayer, and watch in the same with
thanksgiving." St. Paul ends this letter, by telling the Colossians
that they will hear everything concerning him from Tychicus and
Onesimus, by whom he had sent the Epistle.

Onesimus, who is here spoken of, had been the slave of a rich man of
Colossé, named Philemon, who had been converted to Christianity by St
Paul. Onesimus ran away from his master, to whom he belonged, and thus
robbed him of his services; and some think he also robbed Philemon of
money. Onesimus fled to Rome; and there God inclined this runaway
slave to listen to the teaching of St. Paul, and, in consequence, he
became a Christian and was baptized: after this, the Apostle kept
Onesimus with him for some time, that he might see whether his conduct
showed that he was really and truly a Christian. He soon saw that this
was the case; and indeed Onesimus gave a strong proof of the change
in his heart and feelings, by wishing to go back to Colossé, and give
himself up again as a slave to Philemon, in order to make up for the
injury he had done him by running away. In doing this, Onesimus ran
some risk; for the laws of Phrygia allowed a master to punish a
runaway slave very severely, and even put him to death if he pleased:
but he felt that it was his duty to go back, and make amends for the
wrong he had done; and therefore he went, trusting in God to save him,
or to enable him to bear whatever punishment might be inflicted. St.
Paul felt a great interest in Onesimus, whom he speaks of as his son,
because he had converted him to the new life of a Christian; and
therefore he wrote to Philemon, earnestly begging of him not only to
pardon Onesimus for any wrong he had done him, but also now to receive
him, not as a servant, but as a fellow Christian, "a brother beloved."
We are not told in the Scriptures any more on this subject, but there
can be no doubt that Philemon did all that St. Paul requested.

There is reason to believe that Onesimus became a preacher of the
Gospel: some people think that he was afterwards Bishop of Ephesus,
and that he finally suffered martyrdom at Rome: but this is not
certain. St. Paul was not the only Apostle who wrote Epistles, though
he wrote twice as many as all the other Apostles put together.

During this time, when St. Paul was a prisoner in Rome, St. James wrote
the Epistle which bears his name. St. James was, we must remember, head
or Bishop of the Church at Jerusalem; and from Jerusalem he wrote his
Epistle, not to the inhabitants of any particular place, but to the
Jewish Christians in general; that is, to those Christians who had been
Jews before, wherever they might now be residing. In this Epistle, St.
James warns those to whom he wrote, not to be led away to follow any of
the bad practices which were but too common in those days; and he also
explained to them, that they were mistaken as to the meaning of some of
the doctrines taught by St. Paul, who had never preached anything that
was not quite according to the Will of God. St. James also gave many
precepts for the conduct of Christians, and for the due performance of
their various duties--encouraging them to try, by showing that the Lord
had promised success to those who do really try. "Resist the devil, and
he will flee from you." "Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to
you." "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble."
"Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up."
These are texts full of encouragement to all Christians, to the end of
time. And equally necessary for us now, as for the believers to whom St.
James wrote, are, "Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only,
deceiving your own selves." "Speak not evil one of another." "Grudge not
one against another"; and all the other warnings and precepts contained
in this short, but beautiful Epistle, written by St. James.

Some time in the course of the year 62 (A.D.), St. Paul was set
completely at liberty, so that he might go wherever he pleased: but he
did not immediately quit Rome, but remained there till he had completed
two years; "preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things
which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man
forbidding him." The Roman Emperor Nero had not made any law to forbid
the Christian religion being preached and followed; the Jews did not
therefore, dare to persecute St. Paul at Rome; for by his being set at
liberty, the Roman Government had shown that they considered him an
innocent man, unjustly accused by his fellow countrymen. It seems that
one reason why St. Paul now remained in Italy was, that he expected
Timothy to join him in Rome, and then set out with him on another
voyage. Whilst St. Paul was thus waiting for Timothy, he wrote his
Epistle to the Hebrews. The object of this Epistle was to convince the
Hebrews or Jews, of the truth of the Gospel; and in it, he pointed out
that everything which he had told them of Christ's human and divine
nature, of His Atonement and Intercession, agreed perfectly with all
that the Scriptures of the Old Testament, the writings of Moses and the
Prophets, had said of the Messiah. He showed them that the Gospel was
far superior to the Law; for that, in fact, the Law had only been given
to prepare the way for the Messiah, and to lead men to believe in Him
and to serve Him.

The Bible gives us no further account of St. Paul's travels, but we
have reason to believe, that after Timothy had joined him at Rome,
they went to Spain and Britain, and to other western countries,
preaching the Gospel everywhere, and converting great numbers of his
hearers. After this voyage to the West, St. Paul appears to have
visited Jerusalem again; and then to have gone through Syria and other
parts of Asia Minor, and so on even into Macedonia; this we gather
from one of his Epistles, in which he says, that at Miletum he had
been obliged to leave one of his companions, called Trophimus, who was
too ill to go on any further, and that at Troas he had left a cloak
and some parchments. Parchment is the skin of sheep, prepared in a
particular manner, so as to be fit to write upon. Very soon after St.
Paul left Jerusalem, to make this Fifth and last Journey, St. James
was killed at Jerusalem by the unbelieving Jews. Festus, the Roman
governor, died; and before his successor, Albinus, could get to Judæa,
the Jews raised a tumult, and St. James is said to have been thrown
down from some part of the temple, and then knocked on the head with a
club or heavy stick. Albinus, when he did come, proved himself to be a
very bad ruler; for he was so extremely fond of money, that in order
to get it, he was not only guilty of great oppression, but he allowed
the people to commit all sorts of wickedness without being punished,
if they would only give him a sufficient sum of money. He was not
governor for long, but was succeeded by Gessius Florus, about A.D. 64.

This Gessius Florus was one of the worst of men, and the Jews suffered
dreadfully under his government, for he pillaged whole provinces;
encouraged the banditti, on condition that they gave him part of their
plunder; he robbed the sacred treasury, and even tried to excite the
Jews to open rebellion, in order that, in the confusion, no complaints
of his conduct might be carried to Rome. Awful indeed were the evils
which now began to fall upon the unhappy Jews, who had provoked the
wrath of God by their rejection of the Messiah. In consequence of the
sad state of Judæa, many of the inhabitants sought refuge in foreign
countries; those who remained applied to Cestius Gallus, the governor
of Syria, and earnestly begged that he would deliver them from the
cruel tyranny of Florus. Gallus, instead of inquiring into Florus's
conduct, sent the Jews away, merely telling them their governor should
behave better for the future, which, however, he did not do.

In the year 65 (A.D.), there was a fire at Rome, which burnt a great
many houses, and did much damage in the city; the Emperor Nero himself
was greatly suspected of having caused it, in order to have an excuse
for persecuting the Christians: he delighted in the sufferings and
miseries of others, and would have no pity for the poor creatures who
would lose all their property in such a fire. At any rate, Nero chose
to accuse the Christians of having set fire to the city, and on this
pretence they were now treated with the greatest cruelty; tortured
first, and then put to death in many barbarous ways. When this
persecution began, it is probable that St. Paul was in the island of
Crete; but, on hearing of the sufferings of the Christians at Rome, he
immediately went there, to strengthen and encourage the brethren to
bear any torture, and even death itself, rather than give up their
religion. He comforted them by reminding them of the love of Christ,
and by assuring them that His blessing would rest upon them, whether
they lived or died. St Paul was not long allowed to carry on this good
work, for he was himself imprisoned on account of his religion; and he
saw plainly that he should soon be called upon to give up his life for
the sake of his divine Master; but this prospect did not disturb him;
he was ready and willing to go, and be with Christ.



Chapter XXXIII.--MARTYRDOM OF ST. PAUL AND ST. PETER.


St. Paul, feeling that he was about to be taken away from earth, wrote
to take leave of Timothy, whom he had loved as his own son. This
letter, which is called "The Second Epistle of Paul the Apostle to
Timothy," gave him such advice as the Apostle thought might be useful
to him.

The First Epistle to Timothy has already been mentioned, as having
been written nine years before, when St. Paul went into Macedonia,
after the riot at Ephesus, where he had left Timothy to direct the
affairs of the Church.

In this Second Epistle, St Paul entreats Timothy to keep steadfastly
in the faith of the Gospel, in spite of every danger. In this Epistle
the Apostle declares his willingness to die; his conscience told him
that ever since he became a follower of Jesus, he had tried to please
his heavenly Master; and therefore he felt, that he should enjoy in
heaven that happiness which God has promised to all who truly love and
serve Him. St. Paul's own words are, "I am now ready to be offered,
and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I
have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is
laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous
judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all
them also that love his appearing."

We must all try to fight a good fight against the Devil, and all our
own sinful tempers and wishes: we too must keep the faith, doing all
those things which the Gospel bids Christians do: then when we have
finished our course, and done the work given us to do, we, like St.
Paul, may hope, that for the sake of Jesus Christ, we shall be looked
upon as righteous, and as such, be received into everlasting
happiness.

Very soon after writing this Second Epistle to Timothy, St. Paul
suffered martyrdom by command of Nero, because he would not renounce
his faith, and bow down to the false gods of the heathen. Being a
freeman of Rome, St. Paul was put to death by having his head cut off
with a sword, instead of being given to be devoured by wild beasts, as
the Christians usually were. The Apostle died in the month of June,
A.D. 66. Slaves and persons guilty of great crimes, were often
condemned to fight with wild beasts, who of course tore them to
pieces: this was a most cruel barbarous way of putting even the
greatest criminals to death; and yet to such a fate were Christians
condemned, because they would not "deny the Lord Who bought them!"

It is dreadful to think that the people delighted in witnessing such
dreadful fights, which took place in the amphitheatres. These
amphitheatres were buildings without roofs; each consisting of a large
space enclosed by walls of moderate height, called the arena; and rows
of seats outside the wall of the arena, rising up like steps to the
outward wall of the building. From these seats, which were always
crowded, the spectators could see whatever was going on in the arena.

About the time that St. Paul suffered martyrdom at Rome, strange and
awful sights were seen at Jerusalem: the Almighty thus warning His
once-favoured people, that as they had forsaken Him, so He had given
them up; and that all the evils foretold by Jesus Christ, were now
about to fall upon their devoted city.

The cruel and unjust conduct of their Governor Florus, and the
consequent anger of the people, threatened to produce a war in Judæa;
and in addition to this there were famines and earthquakes, and
fearful sights in the heavens. Just before the Passover, when a
multitude of people were assembled at Jerusalem to keep it, on a
sudden, in the middle of the night, such a brilliant light shone round
the temple and the altar, that it seemed to be day. A few days
afterwards, just before the sun set, chariots and troops of soldiers
were seen passing through the clouds, fighting with each other. Then
the eastern gate of the temple, which was of solid brass, and so heavy
that twenty men could hardly open or shut it, flew open of itself one
night, although it was fastened with strong bars and bolts. At the
Feast of Pentecost, when the Priests were going into the inner temple
by night to attend to their duties, they heard voices saying, "Let us
depart hence"; and immediately there was a noise as of a multitude of
people, rushing forth out of the temple.

These and other wonderful signs must have filled the Jews with alarm;
whilst real troubles were daily increasing upon them.

There had long been a dispute between the Syrians and the Jews, as to
which of them had the best right to the city of Cæsarea Philippi,
built on the borders of the two countries. In the time of Felix, the
two parties were preparing to fight for the possession of it; but the
governor stopped them for a time, and sent the chiefs of both nations
to Rome, to plead their cause before the Emperor. Nothing had then
been decided; but now, in the year A.D. 66, Nero declared that the
town of Cæsarea Philippi should belong to the Syrians. This decision
was very displeasing to the Jews, and led to a dreadful war, which
ended in the destruction of Jerusalem a few years later. But before we
go on with this subject, we must go back a little, and say a few words
about St. Peter.

The Book of Acts tells us nothing more of the Apostle St. Peter after
the Council held by St. James and the Church at Jerusalem, when "Paul
and Barnabas, and certain other of them," were sent up from Antioch
"to Jerusalem, unto the Apostles and elders," to inquire whether it
was needful for the Gentiles who became Christians, to be also
"circumcised after the manner of Moses," and "to keep the law." When
there had been much disputation on the subject, St. Peter spake out
boldly; reminding the assembly of the conversion of Cornelius, and
telling them that after what God had then done, it would be quite
wrong to require the Gentiles to be circumcised and keep the Law of
Moses. This speech decided the matter; and St. James then gave
sentence, that the Ceremonial Law was not binding upon the Gentile
converts.

Soon after this, St. Peter and St. Paul were together at Antioch; and
there, St. Peter, in his eagerness to please the Jews, withdrew
himself from the Gentiles, as thus countenancing the idea that being
uncircumcised, they were not fit company for the Jews. St. Paul blamed
him, and showed him that he was doing wrong, since he himself knew,
that in the sight of God there would be no difference between Jew and
Gentile, circumcision or uncircumcision, when once they became
believers in Jesus Christ. This happened A.D. 49.

Where St. Peter spent the next seventeen years, we do not know; but
wherever he was, we may be quite sure that he zealously preached the
Gospel, and endeavoured to bring all men to believe in Jesus Christ.
It is most likely that St. Peter came to Rome just before or after St.
Paul's martyrdom, in the year 66 (A.D.); and he then wrote his First
Epistle. This Epistle was not written to the inhabitants of any
particular place, but generally, to all the Jewish Christians, who had
been forced by persecution to leave their own land and take refuge in
heathen countries; and also to those Gentiles who had become
Christians, and were now living in many different countries. In his
Epistle, St. Peter entreats all to whom he writes, to keep steady to
their religion, and suffer anything rather than give it up. He also
shows them how necessary it is that they should lead holy and
blameless lives, not only for their own sake, that they might obtain
the blessing of God, but also to show all men, that Christians were in
every respect better than any other men. St. Peter speaks of writing
from "Babylon"; but by Babylon, he means the city of Rome, which in
figurative language he calls Babylon, because in the idolatry and
wickedness of its inhabitants, it resembled that ancient city. Besides
this, the real Babylon was the place where the Jews, then the Church
of God, suffered much during their long captivity; and now the
Christian Church was suffering fearful things at Rome. St. Peter might
well then use the figurative language so common amongst the Jews at
that time, and speak of wicked, persecuting Rome, as "Babylon." It was
prudent moreover to do so, for had the Christians spoken openly and
plainly of Rome, they would have provoked the anger of the Romans; and
though the Christians suffered patiently all that was laid upon them,
they never provoked persecution unnecessarily. St. Peter did not long
escape persecution; and with the prospect of a cruel death before him,
he wrote his Second Epistle to the Jewish and Gentile Christians in
all countries, to warn them not to listen to the doctrines of false
teachers, but to keep firm in the faith of the holy Gospel, which he
and the other Apostles had taught. In this Letter, he gives many
directions for living a holy life; and reminds those to whom he
writes, that the Lord Jesus Christ will one day come to judge the
world, and that all who believe this, must try to be then found
blameless, without spot of sin. This applies just as well to each one
of us, as it did to those to whom St. Peter originally wrote: let us
therefore watch and pray, that we may, as he says at the end of this
Epistle, "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour
Jesus Christ."

Very soon after he had written this Second Epistle, the death which
St. Peter had expected came upon him. He who had once denied his Lord
from fear, now boldly refused to give up his religion to purchase
safety: he was therefore sentenced to be crucified, according to what
the Lord had foretold to him long before; saying, "When thou shalt be
old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee,
and carry thee whither thou wouldest not." From histories of that
time, we learn that St. Peter, not thinking himself worthy to die in
the same manner as his blessed Lord and Master, begged that he might
be fastened to the cross with his head downward: this must greatly
have increased his sufferings for the time they lasted, though it
probably caused him to die sooner. St. Peter was thus crucified at
Rome with his head downward, A.D. 68, when Nero had been Emperor for
fourteen years; and, as we believe, about two years after St. Paul's
death; though some people think that St. Peter was put to death first.
We cannot, of course be quite sure; but it is most probable as we have
said, that St. Paul was beheaded A.D. 66, and that St. Peter was
crucified A.D. 68. Nero died very soon after the crucifixion of St.
Peter, and in the short space of one year, three different Emperors,
Galba, Otho, and Vitellius, succeeded each other.

We must now return to Jerusalem.



Chapter XXXIV.--VESPASIAN SENT INTO JUDÆA.


The decree of the Emperor giving Cæsarea Philippi to Syria, was no
sooner known, than the Jews in all parts of Judæa took up arms.
Agrippa happened at this time to be in Jerusalem, and he did his best
to show the Jews the extreme folly of trying to fight against such a
powerful people as the Romans, and begged and entreated of them not to
rebel, and so bring misery upon themselves. Instead of listening to
this wise and kind advice, the Jews were so enraged with Agrippa for
giving it, that he was obliged to leave the city at once, to save
himself from their violence. War now raged on every side, and fearful
acts of cruelty were perpetrated by both parties. Thousands and
thousands of Jews were massacred at Cæsarea, at Ptolemais, and even at
Alexandria; and at Jerusalem, the soldiers of Florus put 3,500 to
death in one day. The Jews acted in the same manner as far as they
could, and murdered great numbers both of Syrians and Romans. Upon
this general revolt of the Jews, Cestius Gallus the governor of Syria,
marched with a large army into Judæa and Galilee; burning all the
towns and villages in his way, and killing the inhabitants.

Near Jerusalem he was met by a great number of Jews, who attacked him
with such fury, that his whole army was in the greatest danger.
Agrippa, who with a body of troops had joined Gallus, now again
attempted to stop further bloodshed, and sent two of his officers to
speak to his countrymen, the Jews, and propose terms of peace. The
enraged Jews, however, killed one of the officers, whilst the other
escaped wounded: Gallus then advanced with his whole army, defeated
the rebellious Jews, and took possession of the lower parts of
Jerusalem. Had he at once attacked the upper part of the city, and
laid siege to the forts, it is probable that he would have taken the
whole, and then the war must have ended. But, as a writer of that time
says, "it seems as if God, being angry with the Jews, had determined
that they should expiate their sin by the most severe suffering, and
would not therefore allow the war to end so soon."

Some say, Gallus was advised to retire by some of his own officers,
who had been bribed to do so by Florus. However that maybe, Gallus
suddenly went away with his army: his retreat gave the Jews fresh
hopes, and they pursued him even to his camp at Gibeon, about six
miles from Jerusalem: here, the Jews attacked the Syrians with the
greatest fury, and killed more than 5,000 of them; whilst Gallus
escaped by night.

Leaving the history of this terrible war for a few minutes, we must
speak of another Epistle to be found in the New Testament, where it is
called "The General Epistle of Jude." The writer of this Epistle was,
the "Judas (not Iscariot)" mentioned by St. John; whom St. Luke tells
us (ch. vi.) was the brother of James; and he appears to have been the
same person whom St. Mark (ch. iii.) calls "Thaddeus," and of whom St.
Matthew (ch. x.) speaks as "Lebbeus, whose surname was Thaddeus."

In the Gospels, therefore, we have four names for this Apostle, Jude,
Judas, Thaddeus, and Lebbeus. The Book of Acts makes no mention of
him. From other histories we have reason to believe, that this Apostle
was a husbandman, or cultivator of the earth, and not a fisherman, as
so many of the twelve were. After Jude became an Apostle, he, of
course, followed the Lord as long as he lived; and then we have reason
to believe that he went eastward, and preached the Gospel in
Mesopotamia and other countries. He then returned to Syria, from
whence he wrote his Epistle, about the same time as St. Peter wrote
his First Epistle from Rome, that is, A.D. 66; just when Nero gave
that decree concerning Cæsarea, that led to the war of which we have
been speaking. St. Jude's Epistle is very short, and was written to
warn the Christians in general not to listen to false teachers; but to
take care to believe only such truths as had been taught by Jesus
Christ and His Apostles. After writing this Epistle, it is supposed
that St. Jude travelled again eastward, and preached the Gospel in
Persia, where he suffered martyrdom.

To return to the Jews: their defeat of Gallus made them more obstinate
in their determination not to submit to the Romans, and they
accordingly made very great preparations for carrying on the war with
vigour. At this time all the Christians quitted Jerusalem. They
remembered how Jesus had told His disciples, that when they should see
Jerusalem surrounded with armies, and "the abomination of desolation,"
they would know that the destruction of the city was near at hand, and
that they must leave it, and take refuge in the mountains. The
prophecy had now been fulfilled; for the armies of the heathen Romans
had compassed or surrounded the city, and these armies were fitly
called "the abomination of desolation," because they not only spread
desolation and misery wherever they went, but they were abominable and
hateful to the Jews, because on their standards and flags they had
images and pictures of the false gods of the Romans, and also of their
emperors, to whom, as well as to the gods, they offered sacrifices.

The Christians, seeing that the time of which Jesus had warned them
was now come, left Jerusalem, and crossing the river Jordan journeyed
on about one hundred miles, and took refuge in a city called Pella,
belonging to King Agrippa: the inhabitants of Pella were Gentiles.
Nero, who was still alive when the Jews defeated Gallus, ordered
Vespasian, one of his bravest and most skilful generals, to march at
once into Judæa with a large army. Vespasian set to work to collect
soldiers, and his son Titus went into Egypt to fetch from Alexandria
two Roman _legions_, or "regiments," as we should call them. An
immense army thus entered Galilee: one town after another fell into
the hands of the Romans, and thousands of the Jews were slain. At
Joppa, large numbers of the wretched inhabitants took refuge on board
their ships, hoping thus to escape; but a violent storm dashed the
vessels back upon the rocks; many of the people were drowned or
crushed by the broken ships; and many, seeing no further hope of
escape, killed themselves: such as did reach the shore, were
slaughtered without mercy by the Romans. It is said that for a long
space the sea was red with the blood of these poor creatures, and that
not a man remained alive to carry these terrible tidings to Jerusalem.

During this time Vespasian had taken prisoner a man, who is famous for
having written a History of the Jews, and of the destruction of
Jerusalem. This man, whose name was Josephus, was a Jew, born in
Jerusalem, a few years after the Crucifixion of our Lord. When he was
quite young he showed a great fondness for learning, and was so very
clever and sensible, that when he was only sixteen years old, the
Chief Priests and rulers often asked his advice. Josephus adopted the
opinions of the Pharisees; and as he grew up he took an active part in
the management of public affairs.

When the wars broke out, Josephus showed so much knowledge and skill
in military matters, that he was made governor, and acted as general
of the Jewish armies.

Amongst other places which the Romans besieged, was a small town
called Jotapa, or Jotaphata. Josephus defended it for nearly two
months, but at last the Romans took it, and slew all the inhabitants
except Josephus and forty of his men who escaped, and took refuge in a
cave. Some one told Vespasian where Josephus was concealed; and the
Roman general sent to offer life and safety to him and his companions,
upon certain conditions, which they might have accepted without any
disgrace. Josephus wished to accept these terms; but when he spake of
submitting to the Romans, his companions threatened to murder him.
Determined not to live to become prisoners to the Romans, and
unwilling to be guilty of the great crime of self-murder, these
wretched people drew lots to decide who should kill his companion: in
this way one fell after another, until one man only remained alive
besides Josephus, who had of course taken no share in this
transaction. Josephus easily persuaded his companion to submit to the
Romans: Vespasian treated the Jewish general with the greatest
kindness: he kept him with him more as a friend than as a prisoner,
and often consulted him, and asked his advice.

Mean time, Vespasian in one part of the country, and his son Titus in
another, carried on the war with vigour; taking one city after
another: in vain they besought the Jews to submit; these miserable
people persisted in their useless resistance, and thus enraged the
Romans, who treated them with great barbarity. Multitudes were
destroyed, and a vast number were sold as slaves.

After the whole of Galilee had been thus subdued, Titus joined his
father at Cæsarea, and there their armies had a little rest.

The troubles in Rome after the death of Nero, A.D. 68, prevented
Vespasian having the means of carrying on the war with vigour; and
indeed he was in no hurry to begin the siege of Jerusalem, because the
Jews were daily rendering his task more easy, by fighting amongst
themselves, and so wasting that strength which should have been kept
to resist the enemy.

The city of Jerusalem was at this time in a most dreadful state of
confusion and tumult. The inhabitants were divided into two parties:
one party, seeing that a continuance of war would totally ruin their
country, wished to submit to the Romans; the other party, the Zealots,
would not hear of submission; and as they were the worst of men, they
committed the most horrid crimes, often under pretence of religion. No
person's life was safe, and the whole city was distracted by acts of
violence and cruelty. The leader of the party of Zealots within the
city was a man named John; another man named Simon, of equally bad
character, headed a party outside, and collecting a band of ruffians,
encamped with them before the city. Some of the inhabitants of
Jerusalem, who suffered severely from the tyranny of John, fearing
that he would burn the city, unhappily determined to let Simon and his
troops come in, by way of defending them against John. But this step
only increased their miseries; for they now suffered from the
violence and wickedness of two parties, instead of one. Thus a third
party was formed in Jerusalem; and these three parties, instead of
joining to defend themselves against the Romans, fought against each
other, and many were killed, even in the temple, and before the very
altar itself.



Chapter XXXV.--DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM.


We have said that after the death of Nero, A.D. 68, there were great
troubles in Rome, where three different Emperors succeeded each other
in the space of one year; but this state of things was put an end to
in A.D. 69, when the Romans chose Vespasian to be their Emperor. The
next year, the Emperor Vespasian sent his son Titus to force the
rebellious Jews into obedience, and so put an end to this destructive
war. Titus and his army marched towards Jerusalem, which to look at
was a most magnificent and glorious city, though it had unhappily
become the habitation of violence and all that is bad and wicked. The
city was built upon two mountains, enclosed with walls, and surrounded
by deep valleys. The walls were guarded by towers; and altogether the
place was well able to resist the attacks of an enemy. But, instead of
preparing to defend themselves, the Jews hurried on their own
destruction; for at the very time when a formidable army was rapidly
approaching the city, the contending parties within the walls were
continually occupied in inventing new ways of destroying each other;
and in their fury, they wasted and destroyed considerable quantities
of provisions, of which they had afterwards great reason to repent.

Although danger and misery now threatened the city from the factions
within and the enemy without, multitudes of people unwisely crowded
into it to keep the Passover; thus adding sadly to the general
confusion and distress. Miserable indeed was the state of Jerusalem
when, in the year A.D. 70, Titus marched towards it with a formidable
army. The actual approach of the Romans, put a stop for the time to
the fighting amongst the Jews; and joining together, they left the
city, and forced Titus and his soldiers to leave their camp and retire
to the mountains: but no sooner had the Jews thus obtained an interval
of quiet, than their quarrels began again. In the mean time the
Romans were making every exertion to prepare for the siege of
Jerusalem, which was surrounded by three walls, one within another,
with a good space between them, filled with buildings.

Titus sent Josephus to speak to his countrymen, and offer them peace
and safety if they would now submit and receive him into their city;
but these offers were refused by the infatuated Jews. They were
repeated with no better success; and after they had been several times
rejected, the Romans made their first attack; and at length made a
breach, or gap, in the first, or outermost, wall, and so entered into
that part of the city, whilst the Jews retreated within the second
wall.

The Romans having encamped within the first wall, now attacked the
second wall, and forced their way through that also: and the Jews
retired within the third wall, many of them taking refuge in the
temple and in the Fort Antonia. The greater part of the wretched
inhabitants would now have submitted to the Romans, and given up their
city; but the Zealots murdered all who ventured to speak of such a
thing. The great numbers of people now shut up within the walls of
Jerusalem, soon devoured the provisions, and added the horrors of
famine to the other terrible sufferings of the Jews. The Zealots
forced their way into the houses of all whom they suspected of having
any food, and carried away whatever they could find. The nearest
relations snatched food from each other, in the extremity of their
hunger. Many of the starving Jews, who during the night ventured to go
beyond the city walls, to collect roots and herbs, were seized by the
Roman soldiers, and crucified in the morning: so that several hundreds
were frequently seen at a time, suffering the same agony of body which
had been endured by our blessed Lord Jesus Christ. It is impossible to
describe what the Jews went through at this time. We shall remember
that when they insisted on the crucifixion of Jesus, contrary to the
wishes of Pilate himself, they had cried out, "His blood be on us and
on our children"; and fearfully were they now punished for having shed
His blood. Josephus, in his history of all that happened in Jerusalem
at this time, writes: "Never did any other city suffer such woes, nor
was there ever a more wicked generation since the beginning of the
world."

At length the Romans broke through the third, or inner, wall, and got
possession of the Fort Antonia, and pursued the Jews into the temple.
The Jews for a moment fled before their enemies; but the foremost
soldier slipped upon the marble pavement and fell. Then the Jews
turned, and killed him, and drove the rest of the soldiers back into
the fort. Even now the Jews still refused to submit; and the temple,
instead of being a place of worship, became a scene of battle and
confusion.

At this time, when the famine pressed sore upon all the people, a most
horrible thing was done; for a mother killed her infant child, roasted
it, and actually ate part of it! Titus was so shocked when he heard of
this, that he declared that he would leave nothing but the ruins of a
city, in which so horrible a crime had been committed. Again he
attacked the temple, and got possession of the outer courts. He wished
to preserve the temple itself, and gave orders for that purpose. But
the Lord Himself had foretold the destruction of the temple, and a
Roman soldier was the means of fulfilling this prophecy. Contrary to
orders, this man threw a flaming brand, or stick, into one of the
chambers: the flames quickly burst forth and spread on all sides: the
Roman soldiers rushed into the sacred building, and all became a scene
of plunder and murder.

The once glorious temple was soon nothing but a heap of smoking ruins,
in spite of all the efforts made by the command of Titus to stop the
conflagration. This sad destruction of the second temple took place on
the anniversary of that day upon which the first temple, built by
Solomon, was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, 587 years before Jesus
Christ came upon earth.

Even whilst the temple was in flames, 6,000 people actually listened
to an impostor, who led them to the roof of a part of the building,
promising them a miraculous deliverance: they all of course perished
in the flames. Thousands of Jews were now killed by the Romans, and
every building in the city, excepting a few towers, was burned.

In this dreadful war, the greater part of the Jewish people perished:
many of the rest were sold as slaves, and nothing could be more
wretched than the state of all who were left. Jerusalem has ever since
been "trodden down," or oppressed, by the Gentiles; and the Jews have
remained in such a state as constantly to remind us of the prophecy of
Moses (Deut. xxix.), where it is written, "Even all nations shall say,
Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this land? What meaneth the
heat of this great anger?" The answer is given to us, "_Because_ they
have forsaken the covenant of the Lord God." Let us ever bear this in
mind, and not provoke God by _our_ sins, to punish us as He punished
the descendants of His chosen people, the Children of Israel.

Titus commanded the whole city and its walls to be destroyed. This was
done so completely, that not one stone was left upon another, as the
Lord Himself had said.

When Titus saw how strong the walls and forts of the city were, he
made a remark worthy of a Christian; saying, "We have fought with the
assistance of God: it was God Who drove the Jews out of these
fortifications; for what can the hands of men, or the force of
machines, effect against these towers?"

After the destruction of Jerusalem, Titus went back to Rome, taking
with him Josephus, to whom Vespasian gave the freedom of the city and
a pension. Josephus immediately set to work to learn the Greek
language, in which he wrote his History of the Wars of the Jews and of
the Destruction of Jerusalem. He died A.D. 93, at the age of
fifty-six: but we are now speaking of the year A.D. 70, when Titus
took him to Rome.

The Roman Senate decreed a Triumph to Titus and Vespasian. "A Triumph"
was a grand procession, in honour of a general who had gained some
great victory. A magnificent car was provided to convey the person for
whom the honour was intended: his army, partly before, partly behind
the car, marched with flags and banners, to the sound of music: any
prisoners who had been taken in the war were made to follow the car,
chained two and two together; and if any valuable spoils had been
taken from the enemy, they were carried in the procession. In short,
everything was done to make the Triumph a very grand affair; and it
was considered the greatest honour that could be bestowed upon a
military leader: it often cost an immense sum of money. The Senate now
decreed, that a Triumph should take place in honour of Titus and
Vespasian, who were to share the chariot provided for the occasion.
Amongst the beautiful things carried in this procession, the most
remarkable were the golden candlestick, and other precious things
saved from the temple at Jerusalem: also the volume, or Book of the
Law of Moses, which was indeed deserving of the greatest respect,
though the heathens did not know its real value.

In remembrance of the great deeds of Titus, a marble arch was erected
at Rome, not far from the Forum. On the inside of the archway are
carved representations of the golden candlestick, and of many other
things brought from Jerusalem. This arch, called "The Arch of Titus,"
still stands in Rome; and not one of the Jews, of whom there are now
many thousands living in Rome, will ever pass under this archway,
because it reminds them of the destruction of their once glorious
temple, and of the ruin of their nation.

When Jerusalem was destroyed, there still remained in the almost
desolate land of Judæa three strong castles, which resisted the
Romans. Two were soon taken; but the third was so very strong both by
nature and art, and was so well defended by a man of great courage,
called Eleazer, that for some time the Romans could not succeed in
getting possession of it. At last they built a high wall round it, so
that no one could come out or go in: they then set fire to the gates,
and prepared to storm, or attack, the castle the next day. The Jews
now saw that there was no hope of defending the fortress, or of saving
their own lives; and Eleazer therefore persuaded the garrison to burn
all their valuable stores, kill the women and children that were with
them, and then destroy themselves. Ten men were chosen to murder all
the rest: after they had done this, they killed each other; and the
last man who was left set fire to the place, and then killed himself.
The next day, when the Romans were preparing to climb the walls, two
of the women who had hid themselves, and so escaped being murdered,
came forth, and told all that had happened.



Chapter XXXVI.--ST. JOHN'S WRITINGS.


After the terrible event which has just been related, the Jews who
still remained in the land, ceased for a time to oppose the Romans. It
was the submission of despair; for they felt that they had no power to
resist, and ruin and desolation surrounded them on all sides. The once
flourishing fields and plains of Judæa were covered with dead bodies;
most of the celebrated cities were merely heaps of ruins. All the
fighting men were removed from Jerusalem, and only some women and old
men were allowed to take up their abode amongst the ruins of their
beloved city.

The Emperor only allowed the Jews to observe the forms of their own
religion, on condition of their paying to the Temple of Jupiter
Capitolinus, one of the heathen deities, the tax hitherto paid by
every Jew for the service of the Temple, or House of the Lord. Ever
since Judæa had been made a Roman province, the Jews had been allowed
to collect their own taxes: the annual tribute to the temple they
looked upon as an offering to God, Whose subjects they were. The
Emperor now, in their opinion, usurped the place of God; and this was
a great affliction to the Jews; whilst the use to which the tax was to
be put, and the severity exercised in collecting it, made these
unhappy people feel it to be an intolerable disgrace and burden.

Vespasian died nine years after the destruction of Jerusalem, A.D. 79,
and his son Titus became Emperor. Titus reigned for only two years,
and was succeeded by his brother Domitian, A.D. 81.

We have reason to believe that only one of the Apostles was alive when
Titus took Jerusalem: this was St. John, the disciple "whom Jesus
loved." As the Bible tells us nothing concerning this holy man, during
the time that St. Paul was journeying about, we cannot be sure as to
what he was doing; but he is supposed to have remained in his native
land, and probably in Jerusalem itself, till he saw the city compassed
by foreign soldiers, and beheld the other signs of its approaching
ruin, as foretold by his Divine Master. Then it is believed, that St.
John travelled through Parthia, India, and Arabia; and also founded
Churches at Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia,
Laodicia, and other places in Asia Minor; after which, he passed some
time at Ephesus. There is a story that he afterwards went to Rome, and
was, by the order of Domitian, who persecuted the Christians most
cruelly, thrown into a large vessel of boiling oil. But instead of
dying in tortures, as was expected, the Lord preserved him, and he
came out unhurt. We may well believe this story, though we cannot be
quite sure that it is true. After this, Domitian banished the Apostle,
now a very old man, to the island of Patmos, in the southern part of
the Archipelago. At Patmos, the Lord sent St. John a most wonderful
vision; and his account of it forms part of the New Testament, where
it is called "The Revelation of St. John the Divine": it is also
called the "Apocalypse." "Revelation" means some hidden secret thing
made known. "Apocalypse" comes from a Greek word, meaning the same as
Revelation.

The Apocalypse is a book of prophecies, revealing and foretelling in
mysterious language, events which are to happen even to the end of the
world. It is of course very difficult to understand any of the
prophecies in this book, and quite impossible to do so perfectly; but
like every other part of Scripture, it teaches men to be holy. In the
first chapter of this book, St. John tells us himself, that this
Revelation was made known to him in the isle of Patmos, to which he
had been banished on account of his religion.

Domitian persecuted the Jews as well as the Christians; and great
numbers of both were put to death by this tyrannical and wicked
Emperor, who proposed to destroy all the descendants of David, lest
any one of them should attempt to become king of Judæa. Some grandsons
of the Apostle Jude, or Thaddeus, who was of the family of David, were
brought before the Emperor; but on being asked concerning the kingdom
of Christ, they declared that it was a spiritual, not a temporal
kingdom; and as they were very poor, and could only by the hardest
labour contrive to support themselves, and pay the tax demanded by the
Romans, he spared them, as persons who were not to be feared. Some of
the Jews, who had retired to Alexandria, had endeavoured to get up a
disturbance there; but the Jews, who had long lived quietly in that
city, fearful of the consequence of any revolt, gave up their
seditious countrymen to the Romans, who put them to death: they were
obstinate to the last, and even their children suffered the greatest
tortures, rather than acknowledge the Roman Emperor to be their
master. Such conduct, however mistaken it may have been, sets a good
example to Christians in every age. These Jews believed that to submit
to the Roman Emperor was contrary to their duty to God; and therefore
they bore any sufferings rather than do it. Let us ever be ready and
willing to suffer, rather than do anything which we believe to be
contrary to our duty to God.

The Emperor Domitian, displeased with what had happened in Alexandria,
ordered the temple which had been built in that city to be shut up;
lest, under pretence of public worship, the Jews of that place should
meet there and plot rebellion.

Domitian died A.D. 96, and was succeeded by Nerva, who immediately
set St. John at liberty: the Apostle at once left Patmos, and went
into Asia Minor, where he wrote the account of the wonderful Vision or
Revelation made to him in that island. Very soon afterwards, St. John
wrote the three Epistles called by his name.

The First of these Epistles is not addressed to any persons in
particular; but was written to warn all Christians not to listen to
the false teachers, who were then leading many into serious error.
Some of these false teachers, pretended that Jesus was not really man;
and that, as He had no real body like ours, He did not really suffer
crucifixion. Others, on the contrary, taught that He was _only_ man.
Both doctrines were equally fatal to the hopes of Christians: if Jesus
Christ did not share our human nature, He could not atone for the sin
of man; if He were only man, however free from sin Himself, He could
not atone for the sins of His fellow mortals. Thus a firm belief in
Jesus Christ as _God and Man_, is absolutely necessary for all who
look for salvation through Him. Another set of false teachers taught,
that those who believed themselves to be justified by faith, and so
freed from the restraints of the Levitical Law, might sin without fear
of punishment. St. John cautions all Christians not to be led away by
these, or any other false doctrines; and he shows them how very
different they are from the truths contained in the Gospel as taught
by Jesus Christ, and fully explained by His Apostles. St. John, in
this Epistle, speaks much of the love of God towards His creatures,
and of the duty of all men to love Him and their fellow creatures for
His sake.

The Second Epistle of St. John was probably written from Ephesus, his
usual abode at this time. This Epistle is addressed to some particular
lady, to warn her and her children not to listen to the dangerous
doctrines of false teachers.

The Third of St. John's Epistles is written to a man named Gaius, who
is supposed to have been converted by the Apostle, who therefore
speaks of him as one of his children: a very usual figure of speech
with teachers, respecting those whom they converted. In this way St.
Paul calls Timothy his "son." In the Acts of the Apostles, and in the
Epistles, we meet with the name of Gaius five times; and four
different persons seem to be meant. Gaius, of Macedonia (Acts xix.);
Gaius, of Derbe (Acts xx.); Gaius, whom St. Paul baptized at Corinth
(1 Cor. i.), and who lodged that Apostle in his own house at Corinth
(Rom. xvi.); and this Gaius, to whom St. John writes his Epistle;
whether he was one of those already mentioned, we cannot know.

The object of this Epistle from St. John, seems to have been to praise
Gaius for his steady faith, and for having shown kindness to some
Christian strangers, who had passed through the place where he lived:
at the same time, St. John cautions him to have nothing to do with a
teacher named Diotrephes, who had denied St. John's authority, and set
himself up as the head of a party, in opposition to the Apostles.

St. John entreats Gaius to do, what may equally apply to each one of
us, for he says, "Follow not that which is evil, but that which is
good." He also recommends to him Demetrius, of whom we know nothing,
except that he was a good man. This letter to Gaius is very short,
because, as St. John writes, he hoped shortly to meet and talk to him.

St. John spent the last years of his long life at Ephesus, and there,
about A.D. 99, he wrote that very valuable and beautiful portion of
Holy Scripture known to us as "The Gospel according to St. John." When
St. John wrote, he was of course well acquainted with the Gospels of
St. Matthew, St. Mark, and St. Luke, and also with the Book of Acts,
for they had all been written many years before this time. He does
not, therefore, repeat much of what they tell us, but gives an account
of many things which they do not mention; and repeats especially much
of what his blessed Lord said at different times to His disciples.
There was a good reason for this.

Even by this time, many errors had crept into the Christian Church, as
has already been said, when speaking of St. John's First Epistle.

St. John, therefore, wrote his Gospel to correct these errors, and to
show all men, that Jesus Christ was truly and indeed the Son of Man
and the Son of God: the Word that was from the beginning with God, and
was God, and was made man, that He might suffer for us.

The Gospel of St. John completed the Canon of Scripture; that is,
those writings which are undoubtedly written by inspiration of God,
and are, therefore, to be the general rule of Christian faith and
practice.



Chapter XXXVII.--THE DEATH OF ST. JOHN.


St. John was nearly 100 years old when he wrote his Gospel: he had
spent a long life in preaching and exhorting, and we are told that,
when his great age prevented his continuing his active labours, he
used to be carried into the public assemblies of the Christians, in
order to repeat his exhortation, "Little children, love one another":
words constantly repeated in some shape or other, in the writings of
this Apostle, who also dwells much upon the love of Christ for man, as
a reason why men should love Him, and love each other for His sake.
Let us try to obey the precept, "Love one another"; remembering that
St. John also says, "Love not in word neither in tongue, but in deed
and in truth"; that is, do not talk about your love, but show it by
your actions. Love to Christ must show itself in obedience; love to
man for His sake, by kindness to every fellow creature, and by doing
all the good we can to them, whether they are kind to us or not.

St. John died quietly at Ephesus, about A.D. 100: his faith and love
were great, therefore his death was peaceful and happy; for he felt
that he was now going home to his beloved Master, Whom he had
faithfully served for many years on earth.

A century, or space of 100 years, had now passed since the birth of
Jesus Christ: at the time of that event, the inhabitants of the world,
with the exception of the Jews, were Heathens or Pagans; who, in their
total ignorance of an Almighty and Holy God, gave themselves up to
follow their own sinful inclinations, and were guilty of every sort of
wickedness and vice. The Jews, though still retaining a nominal
observance of the Law of Moses and the worship of One True God, had
strangely forgotten and forsaken the religion, so long the glory of
their nation. Thinking more of temporal than of spiritual things, they
wilfully misunderstood the writings of the prophets, and looked for a
temporal king in the promised Messiah: those who dared to hold a
different opinion, were treated with contempt.

The two sects of Sadducees and Pharisees, though in other matters
opposed to each other, equally set at naught the holiness of heart and
life commanded by the Law of Moses. The Sadducees, denying the
possibility of a future life, laughed at the idea of denying one's
self any gratification here, from the fear of punishment hereafter.
The Pharisees, passing by the Moral Law, which it did not suit them to
keep, taught, that a strict observance of the Ceremonial Law, and of
the traditions handed down from father to son, would secure the favour
of God.

Thus Sadducees and Pharisees both destroyed all true religion; that
is, all devotion of the heart to God, producing holiness of life.

The consequence of this was, that the knowledge and love of God were
daily growing less amongst the Jewish people, and rapidly ceasing to
have any effect on their motives and actions. So that, both as
regarded Jews and Gentiles, it might truly be said, "The whole world
lieth in wickedness."

The doctrines and precepts of our blessed Lord, were meant to make man
hate and renounce all sin and wickedness; to show him the necessity of
self-denial, and of holiness in thought, word, and deed; and to set
before him that love towards God, which was to be the motive and
principle to govern all his actions.

Thus, wherever the Gospel was received, a great change at once took
place; and the close of the first century, found the world in a very
different condition from that, in which it had been at the beginning.
Mankind must now be considered as divided into three classes: First,
the Heathen, who, in addition to all former wickedness, now added a
spirit of hatred and persecution towards those who rejected their
false religion, for the Truth as is in Jesus. Second, the Jews, who,
in spite of all the miseries they had gone through for their rejection
of Jesus Christ, still clung to the Law of Moses; hating the Heathen,
but above all, hating the followers of Jesus with an increasing
hatred. The third class comprehended all, who, by the mercy of God,
had been brought out of either of the other two classes, to be sincere
and faithful followers of the precepts and examples of the Holy Jesus.
This class, called Christians, already contained a very large number
of persons of all ages and sexes; and their number was increasing
daily, by fresh converts from amongst the Gentiles.

Thus, by the close of the first century, the Church of Christ was so
firmly established upon earth, as to defy all the efforts made to
overthrow it.

Even during the first century the Christians suffered persecution; and
many of them were put to death, because they would not give up their
belief in Jesus, and act contrary to His precepts. This cruel
persecution of the Christians continued during the second and third
centuries; sometimes with greater, sometimes with less severity. But
it has been truly said, that "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of
the Church"; for numbers, seeing their holy lives, and then witnessing
the wonderful manner in which they were supported to bear the most
exquisite tortures rather than give up their religion, felt that there
must be some sure and strong foundation for such faith and
steadfastness, and were thus led to become Christians themselves; and
by their future conduct and martyrdom they again, in their turn,
brought others to join the Church of Christ, which thus extended
itself rapidly on all sides.

Before the close of the second century, Christianity had been
established as the religion of the Britons; but how, or by whom, it
was brought into our island, we do not know: it seems very probable
that, during the long interval in which we know nothing of St. Peter's
movements, he came to Britain, and established the Church which has
ever since existed here.

In reading of the martyrs, we should remember that they, knowing that
the favour of God was the only thing worth having, were willing to
suffer and die in order to obtain it; trusting to the Lord to give
them a happy issue out of all their sufferings. They did not trust in
vain. We must also recollect, that the religion of the martyrs was no
sham; no system of outward forms, but an entire devotion of the whole
heart and life to God; and that the same devotion is required of
Christians now. If we are not now called upon to suffer martyrdom, we
are called upon to give our hearts to God; and show our Faith, by
denying ourselves in everything contrary to His Will, whatever pain or
difficulty we may have in doing so.

Do we do this?

The Jews, who outlived the destruction of their city and temple,
sought refuge in different parts of the world. Many went into Egypt,
where there was a Jewish colony, that had been established in the time
of Alexander the Great. Others fled to Cyrene, another part of Africa.
A large number removed to Babylon, and joined their brethren who had
remained from father to son in that country, instead of returning to
Jerusalem when the decree of Cyrus permitted them to do so. Some took
refuge in Persia and other Eastern countries.

By degrees, these Jews formed a regular system of government for
themselves.

They were divided into Eastern and Western Jews. The Eastern Jews were
those who settled in Babylon, Chaldæa, Assyria, Persia, and the
adjacent countries. Those who remained in Judæa, or took up their
abode in Egypt, Italy, and other parts of the Roman dominions in
Europe, were called Western Jews. In the course of time, these two
parties each chose some distinguished person as their head, or chief.
The chiefs of the Eastern Jews were called "Princes of the Captivity";
and those of the Western Jews, were simply styled "Patriarchs."
Gradually these chiefs obtained more and more influence and authority
amongst their fellow countrymen in all matters. Both parties of Jews
also founded schools, that the children might be fully and carefully
instructed in all the doctrines and practices of their religion. But
these things were done gradually during a long course of years, one
step leading to another; for naturally, on their first dispersion
after the destruction of Jerusalem, their whole attention was turned
to securing a safe asylum, where they might worship God after the
manner of their fathers--as far, at least, as they could do so; but
the destruction of the Temple had rendered it impossible to keep the
feasts and offer the sacrifices, so strictly enjoined by the Law of
Moses.

The impossibility of obeying the precepts of their religion, should
have made the Jews more ready to listen to those, who declared that
the promised Messiah had indeed come; and that therefore, the Old
Dispensation contained in the Law of Moses was at an end.

As Scripture history closes before the destruction of Jerusalem, all
that has been said regarding that and subsequent events, has been
gathered from other histories; and all that has been related
concerning the latter days of some of the Apostles, has been supplied
in a similar way. It will be well now to give a short account of the
labours and deaths of such of the Apostles as have not been already
mentioned; only remembering, that whilst we have every reason to
believe such accounts are true, we cannot feel certain, as we do in
regard to all the facts related in the Holy Scriptures.

Taking, then, "the names of the twelve Apostles" as given by St.
Matthew (x. 2, &c.), we have "first, Simon, who is called Peter." Of
him we have heard much in the course of our Lord's life, and during
the time of which the Book of Acts gives us the history: and we have
also spoken of what he is believed to have done after that period, and
of his martyrdom. Of "Andrew his brother," we only know that he was
also a fisherman, and that he was a disciple of John the Baptist, with
whom he was standing when the Baptist said of Jesus, "Behold the Lamb
of God." Andrew, nothing doubting, at once sought an interview with
Jesus, and then went to find, his own brother Simon, giving him the
joyful news, "We have found the Messias." Andrew became afterwards one
of the constant followers of our Lord, chosen to be Apostles; and his
name is mentioned two or three times in sacred history.

From other sources we learn, that after the Ascension of our Lord,
St. Andrew travelled to Byzantium, now called Constantinople, and
there founded a Church; and that he also preached the Gospel in the
Crimea. But he ended his life in Greece, under the following
circumstances: St. Andrew was preaching at a place in Achaia with
great success, when Ægeas, the pro-consul or Roman governor of the
province, came there, and was greatly enraged to find that multitudes
had already been converted from Heathenism to Christianity: he
therefore told the Apostle, that he should be crucified unless he
would himself offer a sacrifice to the heathen gods. This St. Andrew
of course refused to do, and he was put into prison; but the people
were so angry at this, that they would have rescued him by force, had
he not begged them not to do so; telling them that he was quite ready
to suffer martyrdom, if such was the will of God. It is said, that
amongst other miracles performed in the name of Jesus by St. Andrew,
he had healed the wife and the brother of Ægeas of diseases; and that
both had, in consequence, become Christians. This made the pro-consul
still more furious; and, in his rage, he ordered St. Andrew to be
severely scourged by seven men, before he was put to death. He was
tied to a cross of the shape of the letter X; and it is said that he
hung upon it for two days, during which, in the midst of his agony,
he continued to instruct and exhort the people. After his death, his
body was embalmed and buried with all honour, at the expense of a
noble lady, named Maximilla. We are told that, 300 years later, St.
Andrew's body was taken to Constantinople by the Emperor Constantine,
who had become a Christian, and buried in a church which the Emperor
had built in honour of the Apostles.

In after times, St. Andrew came to be looked upon as the patron Saint
of Scotland.

A cross, the shape of that upon which St. Andrew was crucified, is
always called a St. Andrew's Cross.



Chapter XXXVIII.--THE APOSTLES.


The next on the list of the Apostles, are "James the son of Zebedee,
and John his brother." Both of these have been already mentioned: the
Scripture tells us, that St. James the elder, the brother of St. John,
was killed with the sword by Herod Agrippa.

St. John, as we have heard, survived the destruction of Jerusalem; was
banished for some years to the island of Patmos; and finally died a
natural death at Ephesus.

"Philip and Bartholomew" are the next upon our list; and throughout
their lives they seem to have been intimately connected with each
other. Philip's name is mentioned two or three times in Scripture. He
was no sooner called to be a follower of Jesus, than, as we are told,
"he findeth Nathanael (or Bartholomew), and saith unto him, We have
found Him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write, Jesus
of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." Or, in other words, that they had
found out, that Jesus of Nazareth the reputed son of Joseph, was, in
truth, The Messiah, of whom Moses and the prophets had written.

After the Lord's Ascension, Philip is supposed to have preached the
Gospel in some parts of Asia, and then to have suffered martyrdom in
Phrygia. It is said, that coming to a place where the inhabitants were
the grossest idolaters, Philip, greatly distressed at their condition,
prayed constantly for them; at the same time labouring to convince
them of the folly of their present worship, and telling them of the
true God, and of His Son Jesus Christ. The Lord so blessed Philip's
efforts, that many of his hearers turned from idolatry and became
Christians. This success, stirred up the opposition and persecution of
the heathen magistrates, who accordingly seized the Apostle, put him
in prison, caused him to be unmercifully scourged, and afterwards
crucified. It is said, moreover, that whilst hanging on the cross, he
was stoned to death; and that then, such a violent earthquake took
place, as greatly alarmed all the people; and that many, in
consequence, repented of their idolatry and wickedness, and turned to
God.

Bartholomew, or Nathanael, could not at first believe that Jesus of
Nazareth was the promised Messiah, but after acting according to
Philip's advice, of "Come and see," he cordially acknowledged Jesus
Christ to be the "Son of God, the King of Israel." After our Lord's
Ascension, this Apostle is said to have laboured amongst the savage
tribes of Abyssinia, then called Ethiopia; and we are told, that 100
years afterwards, a missionary who went to preach the Gospel in those
parts, found a copy of St. Matthew's Gospel, which was said to have
been left there by Bartholomew. Bartholomew was in Phrygia with
Philip, when the latter was put to death: and it is said that he was
also fastened to a cross, but that the heathens were so alarmed by the
earthquake, that they took him down, and set him at liberty. After
this, he is said to have preached in various parts of Asia Minor,
ending with Armenia, where he was seized by the idolatrous governor,
and treated with the greatest cruelty; he was beaten to the ground
with staves; crucified head downwards; then taken from the cross,
flayed, and finally beheaded.

Thomas, the next on the list of Apostles, is well known to us for his
doubts as to the reality of the Resurrection--doubts mercifully
removed by the Lord Himself. After the Ascension, Thomas is said to
have laboured in Judæa, Parthia, Medea, Persia, and other countries,
until he reached India. Here he was at first afraid of venturing
amongst the dark-coloured and cruel heathens, who inhabited the
country; but being encouraged by a vision, he fearlessly journeyed on
into the country, and was most successful in bringing the people out
of the darkness of Paganism into the light of the Gospel. The Brahmins
or priests, however, were much opposed to him: at a certain town he
began to build a place of worship for the Christians, and Segamo, the
prince of the country, persuaded probably by the Brahmins, forbade him
to go on with it. Thomas, however, by the help of God, performed
several miracles, which so convinced Segamo of the truth of all his
doctrines, that he himself became a Christian, and allowed the
building to be continued. The idolatrous priests now saw that their
religion was in great danger, and therefore, watching for a convenient
opportunity, they came upon Thomas in a quiet spot, to which he had
gone to pray, and shot him with their arrows. Having thus disabled the
Apostle, the Brahmins stoned him, and finally ran a lance through his
body. The dead body of Thomas was carried by his disciples to the
church which he had just completed, and there buried. About 1,500
years afterwards, when the Portuguese first made their way to India,
they found upon the Malabar coast many Christian families, who called
themselves "St. Thomas's Christians"; being descendants of those, who
had been converted from Paganism to Christianity, by this Apostle.

Matthew's name stands next on the list of the Apostles; he has already
been spoken of, as far as the Scriptures make mention of him; and also
as the writer of the first of the four accounts of our Saviour's life
and death. We neither know what this Apostle did after our Lord's
Ascension, nor how he died; but there is a tradition that he was
murdered in Ethiopia, where by his teaching, and the miracles he was
enabled to perform, he had been the means of converting multitudes
from Heathenism to Christianity.

"James the son of Alphæus, and Lebbæus, whose surname was Thaddæus,"
now come under consideration. They were brothers; two of the sons of
Mary, sister to the Virgin Mary, and of Cleophas one of the disciples
to whom, after His resurrection, the Lord appeared on the way to
Emmaus. This James, distinguished as "the Less," has already been
spoken of as Bishop of Jerusalem, and his death has also been
mentioned (p. 351).

Lebbæus, also called Judas and Jude, was, as has been said, the writer
of an Epistle. No ancient writer gives any account either of his
labours after the Lord's Ascension, or of the manner of his death.

Of "Simon the Canaanite," whose name stands next on our list,
Scripture tells us nothing, except that he was also called "Simon
Zelotes." "Zelotes" means full of zeal and eagerness; and the name was
probably given to this Apostle, on account of his great zeal and
earnestness in the service of his Master. The term "Canaanite" seems
to be derived from a Hebrew word, which also means zeal. After the
Ascension, Simon is said to have preached the Gospel amongst some of
the barbarous nations in Africa; and then to have gone westward,
finally reaching Britain, where he was crucified, probably by the
Romans.

The last on the list of Apostles is Judas Iscariot, whose surname, it
is thought, is merely derived from the place of his birth. Of him it
is unnecessary to speak now. The mention of Judas Iscariot naturally
reminds us of him who was afterwards chosen to fill the place, "from
which by transgression he fell."

Matthias, chosen after the Ascension to complete the original number
of Apostles, was one of those disciples "which had companied with the
Apostles, all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among
them." Beyond this, Scripture says nothing about him; nor do any
ancient writers tell us how long he laboured in the holy office to
which he was appointed; but it is said, that he was finally put to
death by some amongst whom he was preaching.

No sketch of our Lord's Apostles would be complete without some notice
of Paul and Barnabas; who, though not called to be Apostles until
after the Ascension, laboured zealously in that sacred ministry. St.
Paul has already been spoken of most fully, and frequent mention has
been made of St. Barnabas, up to the time of his separation from St.
Paul, after which the Book of Acts contains no account of him: but in
one of his Epistles, St. Paul writes of him in such a manner, as shows
that though for the moment "the contention between them was so sharp
as to part them asunder," it had not caused any real coolness or
estrangement. Another proof of this, is found in the fact, that St.
Mark afterwards became a devoted attendant upon St. Paul, by whom he
was highly valued. St. Mark was with the Apostle whilst he was a
prisoner in Rome.

Of the labours of St. Barnabas after his separation from St. Paul, we
have no certain account anywhere: in the end he is said to have been
stoned.

Before closing this chapter, it seems well to take notice of St. Luke
and St. Mark, who, though not Apostles, are, as writers of the Gospel,
entitled to the respect and gratitude of all who value the holy
Scriptures.

There is, however, little to add to what has been already said of
them.

Luke, by birth a Jew, and probably a native of Antioch in Syria, was a
physician, who became a convert to the religion of Jesus. He is said
to have been one of the seventy disciples, sent out on one occasion,
"two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he
himself would come." This is very probable, although, as he is not
once named in any of the Gospels, we cannot be sure.

From St. Luke's own account in the Book of Acts, we find that he went
with St. Paul on his first voyage to Macedon. At Philippi, he seems to
have left the Apostle; why we know not, but perhaps St. Paul sent him
on some mission. It is not unlikely that he remained in that country;
but during St. Paul's second journey, he rejoined him, and sailed with
him from Philippi. For the next five years, St. Luke continued with
St. Paul: this brings us to the release of the Apostle from his
confinement in Rome. Here ends any certain account of St. Luke. It is
said that he then went into Achaia, and afterwards preached the Gospel
in Africa. As no ancient writers mention his having suffered
martyrdom, it is probable that he died a natural death.

If the Evangelist St. Mark was, as there is every reason to believe,
the same "Mark whose surname was John," he was nephew to Barnabas. We
first hear of him in Scripture, as going from Antioch to Jerusalem
with Barnabas and Saul; and then accompanying them on a journey, but
leaving them unaccountably at Perga; in consequence of which, St. Paul
afterwards refused to take him with them on another journey, thus
causing the contention already mentioned. "Barnabas, taking Mark,
sailed to Cyprus." It is said that St. Mark was with St. Barnabas at
the time of the latter's death, and received his dying commands to go
without delay to St. Paul, by whom, as has been already said, he was
well received. What his ultimate fate was, we know not.

It may not be amiss to mention, before we take leave of the immediate
followers of our Lord, that in pictures, the four Evangelists are
distinguished by certain signs or symbols. St. Matthew is simply a man
with a pen in his hand; St. Mark is accompanied by a Lion; St. Luke by
an Ox; and St. John by an Eagle.



PART III.



Chapter I.--THE JEWS TO THE TIME OF THE EMPEROR ADRIAN.


The history of those chosen by the Lord to be His peculiar people, has
now been traced for more than two thousand years, from the Call of
Abraham, B.C. 1921. For the two centuries immediately following that
event, we have the history of Abraham's descendants, Isaac, Jacob or
Israel, and the twelve sons of Israel, or Patriarchs, as they are
called, from being the fathers of all the tribes of Israel. Israel and
his sons and grand-children, to the number of sixty-six persons, went
down, B.C. 1706, into Egypt, where Joseph then was, having been sold
as a slave about twenty years before.

During the next 300 years, the descendants of Israel multiplied so
wonderfully that, in B.C. 1491, 600,000 men, besides women and
children, went out of Egypt under the guidance of Moses.

The giving of the Law, Ceremonial and Political, as well as Moral,
established the chosen people of God, as a Church and Nation.

Forty years of wandering in the wilderness brought the Children of
Israel to the eastern banks of the Jordan, B.C. 1451. The Bible then
relates how, under the command of Joshua, the Jordan was crossed, and
the heathen wonderfully driven out of the land, which the Lord had
promised to give to Abraham and his descendants, for a possession.

For forty-six years, the Children of Israel were ruled by Joshua and
the elders who outlived him. For the next 300 years, they were
governed by Judges, raised up by the Almighty at different times, as
they were needed. In B.C. 1095 the Children of Israel were bent upon
having a king, and Saul was accordingly crowned, and reigned for forty
years. During the next eighty years, the kingdom flourished under
David and his son Solomon; the latter of whom built the glorious
Temple, dedicated to the service of the Lord with much ceremony, B.C.
1004. It had taken eight years to build.

The division of the country into the two kingdoms of Judah and Israel,
under Solomon's son Rehoboam, took place B.C. 975. One king succeeded
another more or less quickly, until the sins of kings and people led
to the destruction of the kingdom of Israel by Shalmaneser, king of
Assyria, B.C. 721; and to the burning of Jerusalem and of the Temple,
B.C. 587, when Nebuchadnezzar carried the inhabitants of the kingdom
of Judah into a long captivity in Babylon. Some years before, in B.C.
606, this same Nebuchadnezzar had carried away many of the children of
Judah; and from _this_ date the Captivity, which lasted seventy years,
is reckoned to have begun. The seventy years expired in B.C. 536; and
Cyrus, king of Medea and Persia, having conquered the Babylonian
Empire, gave the children of Judah leave to go back into their own
land, showing them much kindness upon the occasion. The Jews, as they
were now called, returned in great numbers to Judæa; though many of
them still, by their own choice, remained in the land where they had
been born and bred.

The Jews who did return, had great difficulties to overcome; but at
length they built a Second Temple, which was dedicated B.C. 515. Under
the governance of Ezra and Nehemiah, the Jews served the Lord in the
land of their fathers; but soon they again fell into grievous sin,
though they were never more guilty of idolatry: that crime which
principally caused their captivity. So far the Bible has given us the
history of the people of God.

From other histories we learn, that Alexander the Great, who became
king of Macedonia B.C. 336, conquered Persia and all the countries in
any way dependent upon her: Judæa, of course, amongst the rest. The
remarkable vision which made Alexander treat the Jews with kindness
has been mentioned (iii. 425). After the death of this monarch, B.C.
323, Judæa became in some sort dependent upon Syria; and we have
already seen how severely the Jews suffered during the next 153 years,
from the wars and fightings going on continually between Syria and
Egypt. The cruelty and oppression of the Syrian princes became
intolerable; and, after Antiochus Epiphanes had taken Jerusalem, B.C.
170, the Lord in mercy raised up the family of Maccabæus, to deliver
the Jews from his tyranny.

Under the Maccabæan princes, the Jews fought successfully against the
enemies of their religion. Judæa gradually recovered from its
desolation and misery, and again became prosperous; whilst the pure
worship of the One True God was once more the established religion of
the nation. But after the death of John Hyrcanus (iii. 481), B.C. 107,
enemies without, and divisions and troubles amongst themselves, again
filled Judæa with confusion.

In B.C. 63, Judæa became, like so many other countries, a province of
Rome; and we have seen how the Romans appointed governors or kings,
and even high priests also. The Government of Rome itself underwent a
great change about this time: the Republic, or Commonwealth, which had
lasted 479 years, from the Expulsion of Tarquinius Superbus, B.C. 509,
now came to an end, and Octavius Augustus Cæsar was chosen as the
first Emperor, B.C. 27.

Octavius Augustus had ruled the vast dominions of Rome as Emperor for
twenty-seven years, when that event took place, destined to affect in
the most momentous manner all races and kindreds of men: even the
Birth of Jesus Christ, the long-promised Messiah. When our blessed
Lord was twenty-nine years old, that is, in A.D. 29, He began to teach
publicly amongst the Jews. Octavius Augustus was no longer Emperor of
Rome at this time; he had died when Jesus was fourteen years old, and
had been succeeded by Tiberius.

Although a small number of the Jews owned and received Jesus Christ as
the expected Messiah, He was rejected by the nation in general: and
after His crucifixion, the Jews tried in every way to oppose His
Apostles, and prevent the spreading of Christianity. We have read
their punishment in the destruction of Jerusalem, A.D. 70, and the
dreadful sufferings which came upon the unhappy Jews, and forced them
to scatter themselves through all lands, hoping to find safety--a hope
too often disappointed, and that constantly through their own fault.

The history of the Jews has thus been traced to the close of the first
century after the Birth of Christ, that is, to A.D. 100.

It will now be advisable to give a slight sketch of their history,
from that date until the present time. Unhappily there are many
thousand Jews who profess still to expect the promised Messiah;
refusing to believe that Jesus of Nazareth, in Whom all the prophecies
of their Scriptures have been so literally and exactly fulfilled, was
indeed the Messiah, of Whom Moses and the prophets did write.

May the Lord take away their blindness, and bring them into the one
fold, under the one Shepherd, Jesus Christ.

In spite of all that the Jews had suffered from their opposition to
the Romans, they could not make up their minds to submit quietly to
foreign rulers.

Trajan, who became Emperor quite at the close of the first century,
treated them with great severity, and even forbade them to read the
Law. In consequence, a rebellion broke out, A.D. 115, at Cyrene, in
Africa, where the Jews had been settled for many years: it quickly
spread over Libya into Alexandria: in the struggle, the country was
plundered and ruined, whilst thousands of people were killed on both
sides: but finally, after a great slaughter, the Romans got the better
of the rebellious Jews. The next year, the Jews in Mesopotamia took up
arms, and filled the country with terror. Trajan sent against them a
famous general, who, after killing great numbers of the people, forced
the rest to submit to the Roman power: the successful general was then
made governor of Judæa, that he might keep the Jews still residing
there, in submission. Soon afterwards, there was a still more dreadful
insurrection in the isle of Cyprus, where the Jews massacred an
incredible number of the inhabitants: a Roman general called Adrian,
then went into Cyprus, and defeated the Jews after an obstinate
battle. Trajan now published an order, that all Jews should leave the
isle of Cyprus, and never return to it.

When Trajan died, A.D. 117, Adrian became Emperor; he forbade the Jews
to circumcise their children, and sent strangers to settle in the land
of Judæa, and rebuild the city of Jerusalem, which he meant to
ornament in the Roman style, and call by some Roman name. These
measures so enraged the Jews, that they again broke out into open
rebellion: their leader was Coziba, one of the banditti who infested
the country; and under his command, all kinds of violence were
committed against the subjects of Rome. Coziba pretended that he
himself was the person spoken of by Balaam, when he said, "There shall
come a star out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall rise out of Israel": and
in consequence, he called himself Barchocheba, or "the son of a star."
Even before this time, several impostors had pretended to be either
the promised Messiah, or the Elias who was to prepare his way; but
Coziba was the first whose pretensions led to any important
consequences.

Coziba promised to deliver his countrymen from the power of Adrian,
and to make them once more an independent and glorious nation: such a
Messiah as this exactly suited the false ideas of the Jews, and they
acknowledged Coziba to be the Christ, the Son of God. The Rabbi
Akibha, chosen by the impostor to be his forerunner or messenger,
publicly anointed him as the Messiah, the king of the Jews; placed a
crown upon his head; coined money in his name; and collected for him a
body of 20,000 disciples. By calling upon all the descendants of
Abraham to help "the Hope of Israel," promised to their common
forefather, an immense army was soon assembled at Bither, a town near
Jerusalem, chosen by Coziba to be the capital of his new kingdom.

Adrian, not believing that after all they had gone through, the Jews
could raise an army, thought little of this revolt at first; and when
at length he did send against them a powerful army, it was totally
defeated. The news of this misfortune caused great astonishment and
dismay at Rome: and Julius Severus, one of the greatest generals of
his time, was sent to put an end to this dangerous rebellion,-a
matter which he found it difficult to accomplish; but at length, in an
attack upon Bither, Coziba was killed; a dreadful slaughter of men,
women, and children followed; and Akibha and his sons were put to a
cruel death by the Roman conqueror.

The Jewish historians say, that between battle, famine, sickness,
fire, and other calamities, the number of Jews that perished in this
war was greater than the number of the Children of Israel who
originally came out of Egypt: and they also declare, that their
terrible sufferings under Nebuchadnezzar and Titus, were not so great
as those inflicted upon them in the reign of Adrian. Both these
statements are probably exaggerated; but they show that the misery of
the unhappy Jews at this time, was most extreme.



Chapter II.--STATE OF THE JEWS TO THE END OF THE THIRD CENTURY.


The repeated provocations which, by their rebellions, the Jews gave to
the Romans, could not, of course, tend to make their conquerors deal
mercifully with them: thus did they, time after time, draw upon
themselves those miseries, which were a chastisement for all their
sins against God; and especially of that crowning one, the Crucifixion
of "the Lord of Life and Glory."

After the rebellion under Coziba, numbers of the Jews who outlived it,
were offered for sale at the same price as a horse, at the fair of
Terebinth, held every year on the plain of Mamre. The horror of such a
fate was doubled by the fact, that the plain of Mamre was looked upon
by the Jews as a sacred spot; because here their great forefather
Abraham received the angel, who gave him the promise of a son.

Those of the unhappy captives who were not sold at Terebinth, were
taken to another fair, at Gaza, or sent into Egypt, to be disposed of
there.

When this terrible war was at an end, Adrian caused the building of
his city to be continued. He did all he could to profane, and hold up
to contempt, whatever the Jews looked upon as most sacred: he placed a
marble hog over the gate of the city nearest to Bethlehem; built a
temple to Jupiter Capitolinus, on the spot where the temple of the
Jews, the House of God, had stood; and used the stones which had been
employed for the temple, to build a theatre.

As Adrian hated the Christians as well as the Jews, he set up statues
of heathen deities at Bethlehem, where Jesus Christ was born; on the
spot where He was crucified; and in the garden, from whence He rose
again from the dead.

Adrian also forbade the Jews to enter Jerusalem, or even to go near
enough to look upon its ruins. Before this time, they were constantly
to be seen, clothed in rags, wandering sadly upon the Mount of Olives,
and amongst the ruins of their once glorious temple and city: a Roman
garrison was now charged to see that Adrian's harsh decree was obeyed,
or to put the transgressors to death. But by giving money to the
garrison, the unhappy Jews did get leave to go once a year, on the
anniversary of the destruction of Jerusalem, to weep over the ruins of
their beloved city.

Thus were the Jews forced to pay even for the privilege of shedding
tears, in the places where they had purchased and shed the blood of
Jesus Christ. Truly was "His blood," that is, the punishment for
shedding it, "on them and on their children." When they had madly
cried, "His blood be on us and on our children," they had, in fact,
_asked_ that the curse of God might come upon them; and heavily indeed
had it fallen. The dreadful fate of the Jews should ever be a warning
to each individual Christian. We have owned Jesus Christ to be the
Messiah, the Redeemer of mankind; we are called by His name; His Word
is in our hands: if we do not love and obey Him, shall we not deserve
a greater punishment even than the Jews? whose history is given us as
a warning of the hatefulness of sin, in the sight of the Almighty.

Whilst the Western Jews had been suffering as has been described, the
Eastern Jews were more fortunate. The Emperor Adrian had agreed to let
the Euphrates be the eastern boundary of the Roman Empire, and
therefore the Jews on the eastern side were no longer subject to his
power. Many of them, however, eager for the liberty of their country,
went into Judæa to help their brethren, but they only added to the
number of sufferers.

Little is known of these Eastern Jews: they chose chiefs, called
"Princes of the Captivity," to preside over their synagogues; they
founded schools, and encouraged learned men; so that some of their
rabbis became famous for their learning. One of these rabbis, named
Judah, wrote a book called "The Misna," of which some account must be
given.

After the destruction of Jerusalem, the sect of Pharisees became very
powerful amongst the Jews; the chief thing taught by them in the
schools was, not the written Law of Moses, but all the _traditions_,
or doctrines and precepts, handed down by word of mouth from father to
son. Of course doctrines handed down in such a way, got sadly altered
from what they had been at first; and thus the truth was corrupted. As
time went on, fresh traditions were added, till at last they were so
many, that the doctors, whose duty it was to explain the meaning of
them, found it necessary to write them out, as it was impossible
otherwise even to remember them. The disciples of the doctors again,
took notes of the explanations given of these traditions; and all this
made so much confusion, that the Rabbi Judah undertook to make a new
arrangement of the traditions, or oral Law. The meaning of the word
"oral," is "delivered by the mouth"; and this Law was called "oral,"
because it was originally given by the mouth. Judah, therefore,
collected together all the traditions, with the commentaries or
explanations given by the most famous amongst their teachers or
doctors. This work occupied him for forty years; it contained all the
laws and doctrines, with an account of the institutions and modes of
life, which the Jews supposed themselves bound to observe, _beyond_
those commanded in the Mosaical Law. The Jews held this work in the
greatest possible veneration, and called it "The Misna"--Misna being a
Hebrew word, meaning the Second Law. It was also called "The First
Talmud." The Jews called it "The Misna," or Second Law, because they
considered that it was as necessary to obey it, as it was to keep the
Pentateuch, or First Law. The Misna did not, however, settle all the
doubtful cases and questions often raised by the Jews; and another
rabbi, with the assistance of two of Judah's disciples, wrote a
commentary, or rather an addition to the Misna. This addition was
called the Talmud of Jerusalem, because it was compiled or put
together in the land of Judæa, for the benefit of those Jews who still
remained in their native country.

During the second century the Jews became still further divided into
sects, holding many opinions or doctrines contrary to those held
originally by the Jewish people; but the sect of the Pharisees still
continued to be the largest.

The consequence of these divisions into numerous sects was, that there
were perpetual jealousies and contentions amongst them. One great
subject of dispute was, as to the use of the Septuagint version of the
Scriptures by the Hellenists. The Hellenists were Jews who spoke
Greek, and did not understand Hebrew, so as to read the Scriptures in
their original language; and who were, therefore, very glad to make
use of the Septuagint version, which was written in Greek. The rest of
the Jews used the Hebrew Scriptures; but at last they agreed that the
Hellenists might use the Greek copies. Afterwards, however, finding
that the Christians always used the Septuagint, when endeavouring to
convince the Jews that Jesus Christ was the Messiah, their dislike to
that version of the Holy Scriptures increased to such a degree, that
they came to look upon all persons who used it as Schismatics; that
is, as persons who sinfully separated themselves from their brethren,
who held the true faith as delivered to them by Moses.

Antoninus Pius became Emperor of Rome towards the middle of the
second century, that is, in A.D. 138. The edict forbidding the Jews to
circumcise their children, was so hateful to them, that in spite of
the warnings given them by former sufferings, they again revolted.
Antoninus put down the revolt by force; but afterwards he treated the
Jews very mildly, and gave them the privilege for which they had
fought; only forbidding their attempting to make proselytes. In the
reign of Marcus Aurelius, who became Emperor A.D. 161, the Eastern
Jews, who were subject to the king of Parthia, joined that monarch in
a war against the Romans; and Marcus Aurelius was so angry, that he
unjustly revenged himself upon his Jewish subjects, and once more
ordered Adrian's law against circumcision to be put in force: but in
the distant provinces this law was not observed.

In A.D. 197, Septimius Severus became Emperor: at this time the Jews
had settlements in Galilee, but the law forbidding them to enter
Jerusalem was still in force. Though defeated and humbled so
constantly, this unhappy people attempted to get possession of Samaria
and Judæa by force. When the Romans had again brought them into
subjection, Severus treated the Jews as Antoninus had done before; and
in reward for some service they had done him, he also granted them the
privilege of Roman citizens, and even allowed them to be chosen to
fill offices of trust and honour. So ended the second century.

Early in the third century, Heliogab[=a]lus became Emperor of Rome,
A.D. 218. This Emperor pretended to be in some respects a Jew himself,
and would not, in consequence, eat the flesh of swine; but at the same
time he built a temple in honour of the Sun, and was anxious to make
both Jews and Samaritans mix this worship, with their own religious
observances. The Jews, who never would have consented to such
idolatry, were saved from the misery which a refusal would have
brought upon them, by the death of Heliogab[=a]lus, who was
assassinated by his own soldiers, A.D. 222. Alexander Severus, who
succeeded him, favoured the Jews, and caused himself to be instructed
in their religion. The great object of Alexander Severus was to mix up
the Christian and Jewish doctrines with those of Paganism, and make
one religion of the whole: this shows that he could have had no real
knowledge of the two former. In his own private chapel, Severus placed
statues of Jesus Christ, of Abraham, and of Orpheus, a famous musician
of ancient times, of whom many mythological tales are told.

The Eastern Jews established academies in the beginning of the third
century; and in Persia their rabbis were for some time treated with
great respect: but at last the Persians became jealous of the power
and influence of the Jews, and persuaded Sapor, king of the country,
to allow a violent persecution to be carried on against these unhappy
people: those who could escape sought refuge in other lands. Under
Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra, (the Tadmor built by Solomon,) the Jews
flourished exceedingly: they built handsome synagogues in every part
of her dominions, and filled the highest offices in the state. In A.D.
273, the Emperor Aurelian defeated Zenobia, and took possession of her
dominions: some of the Jews then returned into Persia; but under
Aurelian, and the Pagan emperors who succeeded him during the
remainder of the third century, the Jews enjoyed peace and
tranquillity in the dominions of the Romans. In this respect they were
more fortunate than the Christians, who were persecuted by various
Emperors, and especially by Diocletian, who began to reign A.D. 284.
Whilst the Christians were treated with the most barbarous cruelty,
because they would not give up their religion, the Jews were allowed
to celebrate all the forms of their worship in the most public manner.
Thus ended the third century; but early in the next, an event took
place, which made a great change in the condition of Jews and
Christians.



Chapter III.--JEWS IN THE FOURTH CENTURY.


Early in the fourth century, as has been said, a great change took
place in religious matters. Constantine, surnamed the Great, who began
to reign as sole Emperor of Rome A.D. 324, became a Christian. It is
said, that when going to fight against a rival who claimed the
Imperial power, Constantine saw, or dreamed that he saw in the sky, a
bright cross, and upon it the words, "In hoc vince" (in this conquer).
He gained the victory; and ascribing it to the God worshipped by the
Christians, (whose emblem was a cross,) he became a convert to their
religion, and adopted the cross as his standard. The example of
Constantine was followed by the greater part of his subjects, so that
Christianity was established as the religion of the Roman Empire,
though many of the inhabitants still remained Pagans.

The city of Jerusalem, which Adrian had called Elia, took again its
own name; and many beautiful churches were built in it by Constantine.
But the establishment of the Christian religion was by no means a
favourable circumstance for the Jews, who were looked upon as its
worst enemies: against them, Constantine, in the beginning of his
reign, made some very severe laws. The Jews in Persia had grown
insolent in consequence of the prosperity they had enjoyed: they
insulted and abused all Christians, and were even supposed to have put
to death some of their brethren who had embraced Christianity.
Constantine, indignant at such conduct, visited it upon the Jews in
his own dominions, and treated them with the greatest severity, even
forbidding Christians to eat with them. In short, the unhappy
Israelites were now subjected to every sort of insult and suffering.

The Persian Jews were very angry at such treatment of their brethren;
and as they had great influence over the King of Persia, they now
tried to avenge the Jews in the west, by raising a bloody persecution
against Christians in the east: numbers of Christ's followers were
accordingly killed; their churches destroyed; and their sacred book
burnt. This persecution was carried on, until every trace of
Christianity was almost rooted out of the country.

But the cruelty of the Persian Jews did not go unpunished, although
the Roman Empire was now greatly disturbed by internal strife, as well
as by the attacks of foreign enemies.

Constantine the Great died in A.D. 337; and after his death the Roman
Empire rapidly declined, both in extent and power; but of this we need
say nothing here, as our business is with the Jews. Constantius, who
succeeded Constantine as Emperor, hated the Jews, and by his cruel
treatment, drove them to raise an insurrection in Palestine. This only
enraged the Emperor still more, and led him to add new and more severe
laws to those already made against these unhappy creatures, by former
Emperors. Any Jew who dared to marry a Christian, was to be put to
death; and the same punishment was inflicted upon one who tried to
make a proselyte of his own slave; or who kept in slavery any man who
had become a Christian.

On the death of Constantius, A.D. 361, the Jews experienced some
relief from his successor the Emperor Julian, surnamed the Apostate;
because, after having been brought up as a Christian, he renounced
that true religion, and lived as a Pagan.

When Constantine the Great died, he left Constantius and two other
sons, who were to divide his dominions amongst them: and he left two
brothers, who had sons also. Gallus and Julian were the sons of one of
these brothers, and were consequently cousins to Constantius. The
generals and ministers of Constantine, persuaded the people after his
death, that there would be constant struggles for power between the
brothers and sons of the late Emperor. The soldiers, who were very
fond of Constantine, declared that no one but a son of their beloved
Emperor should reign over his dominions, or rule in the city of
Constantinople, which he had built to be the capital of his dominions,
and the royal residence. The soldiers stirred up the people, and
formed a plot to destroy the brothers and nephews of Constantine.

Constantius, when he first came to Constantinople after his father's
death, had solemnly promised to protect his uncles and cousins from
all their enemies; but in spite of this, he was easily persuaded to
join in the plot for their destruction; and a pretext was soon found
for carrying out the scheme. A paper was produced, which was pretended
to have been written by Constantine just before his death. In this
paper, the Emperor was made to declare his belief, that he had been
poisoned by his brothers; and he desired his sons to revenge his
death, and secure their own safety, by the destruction of their uncles
and cousins. Such a pretext was quite sufficient; and the soldiers,
without waiting for any inquiry or trial, murdered the suspected
princes and all their sons, excepting the two young boys Gallus and
Julian, who were hidden by their attendants from the fury of the
soldiers; and thus escaped the fate of the two brothers and seven
nephews of Constantine, who were now murdered.

Gallus and Julian, who alone escaped the slaughter, were of the
respective ages of twelve and six years. Constantius justly felt, that
to put these children to death in cold blood, would be looked upon by
all mankind as an act of wanton and needless cruelty: perhaps, too, he
felt some sorrow for the crime already committed. At any rate, the two
boys were allowed to live, and were sent to some city in Bithynia, or
Ionia, where persons were appointed by the Emperor to educate them. As
Gallus and Julian grew up, Constantius feared that they might plot
against him; and he therefore chose for their residence a strong
castle, standing in a pleasant situation, with extensive grounds
belonging to it: having been an ancient palace, it contained very
good rooms. Here, attended, or rather _guarded_, by a numerous
household, the young princes lived for six years: they were carefully
instructed by the best teachers, in all branches of learning, as well
as in active exercises; but in spite of every attention and comfort,
they felt themselves to be prisoners, shut out from all society except
that of persons devoted to Constantius, and ready to obey him in every
matter. A very strict observance of all the outward forms of
Christianity, had been forced upon them; but upon the heart of Julian,
at least, the blessed truths and precepts of the Gospel had taken no
hold. He had rather learnt to connect Constantius and his religion,
with cruelty and tyranny; and the violent disputes carried on by the
bishops, who professed to be the followers of Jesus Christ, still
further increased his dislike to a religion, associated in his mind
with his own sufferings.

When Gallus was twenty-five years old, disturbances in his dominions
induced Constantius to release him, and even to place him as governor
over part of the country. The cousins, therefore, met, and took a
solemn oath, never to do anything to injure each other; and then
Gallus was settled at Antioch, to rule over the neighbouring
provinces. Gallus was not unmindful of his brother, but also obtained
liberty for him. Julian, now nineteen years of age, having been so
long restricted in his choice of society, eagerly sought that of
learned men, the greater part of whom were unfortunately Pagans; to
whose ideas of religion he willingly listened, until he became
convinced that Paganism was a better religion than Christianity, which
he accordingly renounced; and from that time, became a devout and
sincere worshipper of the gods of Rome and Athens. On the death of
Constantius, A.D. 361, Julian became Emperor of Rome, and he proved a
just and wise ruler. As it was his great wish entirely to destroy the
Christian religion, Julian gave great encouragement to its enemies the
Jews; allowing them the free exercise of their religion, and treating
them with the greatest kindness. This emboldened the Jews to destroy
the churches of the Christians, and commit other acts of violence
against them--an example followed by their brethren in Egypt, who
destroyed the finest churches in Alexandria. Julian issued a law
establishing Paganism as the religion of his empire; but he did not
put to death those who held contrary opinions.

He hated the Christians, and would not allow them to have any power in
the State; he forbade them to teach any sort of science in the public
schools; he fined and banished their clergy; and also fined all who
refused to offer sacrifices to the Pagan deities. But nothing he could
do had any effect upon the Christians, who held firm to the true
faith.

The Emperor then determined to rebuild the temple, and settle a
powerful colony of Jews in Judæa; where they would be always ready to
join in any measure against the Christians. The destruction and
desolation of the temple having been foretold by Jesus Christ, Julian
thought, that by rebuilding it, and re-establishing in it the ancient
worship, he should shake the faith of mankind as to the truth of
Christianity.

Great preparations were made for the work; but when the workmen began
to clear out the foundations, they were hindered by balls of fire
which broke out, scorching and burning the unfortunate people. Some
writers doubt the truth of this account; but though we cannot be quite
sure, there is great reason to believe that it really did happen. We
may well believe that the Almighty worked this miracle, to prove the
truth of prophecy; and to show that the Christians were now his chosen
people, instead of the Jews, who had filled up the measure of their
iniquities by crucifying the Saviour of mankind. At any rate, Julian
gave up the attempt to rebuild the temple. Julian was killed in battle
A.D. 363, and was succeeded by Christian Emperors. Christianity was
then re-established as the national religion, although both Pagans and
Jews were allowed to practise their own forms of worship in peace,
until the close of the fourth century, when the Emperor Theodosius put
an end to Paganism in the Roman Empire: sacrifices to the heathen
deities were absolutely forbidden; and all the heathen temples were
destroyed, or shut up.



Chapter IV.--FIFTH AND SIXTH CENTURIES.


By the close of the fourth century, the Roman Empire was very
considerably weakened and diminished, by the attacks of barbarian
tribes on all sides.

On the death of the Emperor Theodosius, A.D. 395, all that remained of
the once Roman Empire was finally divided between his two young sons:
Arcadius becoming Emperor of the East, with Constantinople for his
capital; Honorius Emperor of the West, with the ancient capital of
Rome.

The Jews of the Eastern Empire, emboldened by the mild treatment they
had experienced, now insulted the Christians. Whilst celebrating the
Feast of Purim, in remembrance of their deliverance from the wicked
plots of Haman, instead of hanging a figure of Haman on a gibbet, and
burning it, according to custom; the Jews, in mockery of the
Christians, nailed the figure to a cross, and burnt that. This, of
course, greatly displeased and shocked the Christians; and the
magistrates caused the houses, as well as the synagogues of the Jews,
to be burnt. Laws were now made, forbidding the Jews to insult the
established religion; and also forbidding the Christians to destroy
the synagogues of the Jews: but these unhappy people were still
subject to great cruelty and injustice from the zeal of the
Christians, and the Emperor was obliged to make fresh laws, for their
protection from those, who would have done well to copy the _example_
of Him, Whose followers they professed to be.

During the early part of the fifth century, the Jews in the West,
enjoyed the free exercise of their religion under the Emperor
Honorius: the office of Patriarch was, however, abolished by law; and
this was a great grief to the Jews, who from this time were under the
direction of chiefs of the synagogues, whom they called Primates. The
fifth century was remarkable for the still further curtailment of the
Roman dominions, especially in the West. Britain was lost. Rome itself
was plundered, and a Visigothic Empire established in Spain. The Jews
of the Eastern Empire were much worse off during the fifth century
than their brethren in the Western. A great number of Jews had settled
at Alexandria, in the north of Egypt: they were very clever in their
various trades, and therefore prospered and grew powerful; but they
were not at all disposed to obey any rulers or magistrates. As early
as A.D. 415, they had become much less strict in their observance of
the forms and ceremonies enjoined by their religion; and instead of
attending the services of the synagogue on Saturday, their Sabbath,
they fell into a habit of going to witness the public amusements which
took place on that day. On these occasions, there were frequent
quarrels between the Jews and the Christians, and blood was often
shed. Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria, who had an extreme hatred of the
Jews, threatened them with the severest punishments; but as the
governor of the city was their friend, they paid no attention to the
bishop, and even laid a plot, and attacked the Christians during the
night, killing many of them. Cyril, without waiting for a legal
sentence against these murderers, encouraged the Christians to attack
and destroy the synagogues. After doing this, the people entered the
houses of all Jews, whether innocent or guilty, and robbed them of
their goods, which were given up for the use of the Christian Church.
The Jews were thus forced to quit the city, and Alexandria lost a
useful and rich colony. The governor Orestes was much displeased at
the Jews having been driven out of the city; and fresh disturbances
arose in consequence, between him and Cyril.

Towards the middle of the fifth century, a man appeared in the island
of Candia, pretending that he was a second Moses. There were a great
many rich Jews in the island, and this impostor persuaded them that he
was sent by the Almighty to deliver His people from worse than
Egyptian bondage; and that the sea would be divided before them, to
give them a safe passage to their own land. This man passed through
every town and village in Candia, and persuaded the Jews to meet him
at a particular spot on the sea-shore, on a certain day which he
named. Multitudes did so, taking with them as much of their wealth as
they could carry. The impostor then led the assembled multitude to the
top of a rock, and ordered them to throw themselves into the sea. Men,
women, and children, with a faith worthy of a better cause, at once
jumped into the sea, where most of them were, of course, drowned: some
were rescued from their fate by Christian fishermen. The survivors,
convinced too late of the falsehood of their pretended deliverer, now
attempted to seize him, but he managed to escape. Many of the Jews,
ashamed of having believed in such an impostor, are said to have
become Christians. What the object of this man was it is hard to see:
it certainly does not seem that he was any friend to the Jews, whom he
misled to their destruction.

During the fifth century, the Jewish work, called "The Talmud of
Babylon," was probably compiled: like "The Talmud of Jerusalem," it
contained the Misna of Judah, with other remarks and explanations. It
is supposed that another work, called "The Masora," was also written
at this time. The Masora fixed the true reading of the Hebrew words,
and numbered the chapters and verses, and even the words and letters,
of the Old Testament Scriptures. The object was, to prevent the Hebrew
Scriptures from being in any way altered, and so corrupted; and
therefore the Jews called the Masora "the hedge of the Law."

Towards the close of the fifth century, a tribe of Goths, called
Heruli, led by their king Odoacer, put an end to the Western Empire,
A.D. 476. Romulus Augustulus, the Emperor, was deposed; but his life
was spared, and a pension was granted him by Odoacer, who established
a kingdom of his own in Italy. He protected the Jews, who had
establishments for trade and commerce at Rome, Naples, Milan, and
Genoa: laws were made to defend them from the attacks of the
Christians; but, nevertheless, they were often robbed and ill-used by
the populace.

A few years later, A.D. 493, the kingdom of the Heruli was overthrown
by the Ostrogoths; but this change in the masters of the country does
not appear to have made any difference in the treatment of the Jews.

During the sixth century, the Jews in Persia were cruelly persecuted
by the kings, who wanted to force them to follow the idolatrous
religion of the country. Nor were the Jews on the western side of the
Euphrates better off, for the Emperor Justinian, who began to reign at
Constantinople A.D. 527, oppressed them most severely; and by degrees
deprived them of all the privileges they had enjoyed. He took upon
himself to settle all matters connected with religion: he would not
allow the Jews to keep the Passover at the time they wished; nor to
educate their children in their own faith; and he forbade the
magistrates to receive evidence against a Christian from any Jew.
Justinian also forbade the Jews of Carthage to worship God in their
own way; and commanded that their synagogues should be turned into
places of worship for the Christians. All these harsh measures
inclined the Jews to revolt, and a man called Julian, taking advantage
of this disposition, pretended to be the Messiah, whose coming the
Jews still expected. Many of these unhappy people joined Julian in
Palestine, confidently hoping for deliverance from their bondage: he
immediately led them to attack the Christians, who, not being
prepared, were defeated with great slaughter.

But the triumph of the Jews was of short duration, for Justinian sent
troops, which routed the rebels entirely; Julian was taken prisoner,
and immediately put to death.

Some years afterwards, the Jews of Cæsarea rebelled against the
government of Justinian, and notwithstanding the hatred which existed
between them and the Samaritans, the two people joined together to
fight against the Christians: the governor of Cæsarea, and great
numbers of the Christians, were massacred; and many of their churches
were destroyed.

This rebellion was quickly put down by the troops of Justinian; many,
who had taken part in it, were beheaded, and the rich were deprived of
all their property.

When Belisarius, the famous general of Justinian, besieged the city of
Naples, the Jews defended it most obstinately; and the length of the
siege caused the death of very many of the assailants. Belisarius at
length took the city: he tried to protect the Jews from the fury of
his own soldiers, but his efforts were unsuccessful, and men, women,
and children were murdered. The Jews were now so terrified, that they
kept quiet for the remainder of the sixth century.

The seventh century was a time of great suffering for the Jews in
general. Those of Antioch brought their first miseries upon
themselves, by attacking the Christians A.D. 602: the Christians
defended themselves bravely, but were overpowered: many were burnt in
their houses; others, with their bishop, were treated with every
insult, and then put to death. This rebellion was at last crushed, and
the Jews were most severely punished for their cruelty.

Cyprus gives us a pleasanter picture: in spite of Adrian's edict
of banishment, the Jews had again become numerous and powerful in
that island; and Leontius, the Christian bishop, fearing such an
insurrection as had taken place at Antioch, treated the Jews kindly,
and tried by gentle means to convert them. We are told that, under his
wise management, numbers really did become Christians.

In Rome, too, the bishops or pontiffs, who, under the title of Pope,
began to have great power and authority over all Christians, would not
allow the Jews to be persecuted.

But Heraclius, the Greek Emperor, hated the Hebrew race; and, not
satisfied with persecuting them himself, stirred up other sovereigns
to do the same. The Greek Empire, of which Heraclius was now Emperor,
was that division of the Roman Empire which has been called hitherto
the Eastern Empire, having Constantinople for its capital. There was
now no _Roman_ Empire; many of the countries that had formerly been
parts of it had become separate kingdoms, under monarchs of their own.
The two principal kingdoms were Spain, and Gaul, which we call
France. Neither Spain nor Gaul was, however, one kingdom, but each was
divided amongst several kings or rulers.



Chapter V.--RISE OF MAHOMETANISM.


The Jews settled in Spain had become rich by trading, and were very
flourishing, until Heraclius, who had been at war with that country,
made peace, on condition that all the Jews who would not consent to be
baptized, should be destroyed or driven out of Spain. Many to save
their lives and property submitted to the outward rite of baptism;
others, more conscientious, stood firm, and were cruelly tortured.
Some escaped into Gaul, but met with cruel treatment there: and during
the remainder of the seventh century, the unhappy Jews, both in Spain
and Gaul, were oppressed and ill-used by Christian kings, priests, and
people.

The most remarkable event in the seventh century was, the rise of
the Mahometan religion; so called from its founder, a man named
Mahomet--an Arabian, the son of a prince of one of the chief wandering
tribes who inhabited the country. The religion of these Arabians was a
mixture of the superstitious belief of neighbouring people; they also
believed themselves to be descended from the patriarch Abraham, and
observed circumcision, with other rites and ceremonies belonging to
the Jewish religion. They believed in one Supreme Being; and also in
three goddesses of equal power and wisdom, to be worshipped as well:
they likewise worshipped idols.

At Mecca, the capital of Arabia, there was a small temple, called the
C[=a][=a]bba, in which there was a stone, said to have fallen _white_
from heaven, in the time when man was innocent, and to have gradually
lost its pure colour as man became sinful; it was now quite black.
This stone was held in such veneration, that people from all parts of
Arabia came to the C[=a][=a]bba, to worship, bringing gifts; and thus
Mecca grew to be a rich and flourishing city.

Mahomet was left an orphan when he was quite young, and in order to
provide for him, his relations placed him in the service of a woman,
who was in the habit of going backwards and forwards to Syria,
trading; that is, selling the spices and other things which grew in
Arabia, to the Syrians; and bringing back such things as she could
sell to her countrymen. Mahomet now accompanied her on her journeys;
looking after the camels, and doing any other services required.
Syria was at this time a Roman province. Mahomet, being a clever,
intelligent lad, of an observing turn of mind, soon saw how much
difference there was between the laws, manners, and customs of the
polished Syrians, and those of his own uncivilized countrymen; and he
greatly regretted not being able to read or write. The mixture of Jews
and Christians which he found in Syria, turned his thoughts towards
religious matters, and made him think that it would be a good thing to
work a reformation in the corrupt and idolatrous religion of his own
country. His ambition made him wish to distinguish himself as the
founder of a new religion; but his poverty and dependent position
seemed to render this impossible.

In the course of time, however, Mahomet made himself so useful to his
mistress Cadigha, and gained such favour with her, that she married
him, and thus gave him the riches and consideration necessary for
carrying out his schemes. His first step was to remedy the defects of
his education; the next to gain favour with the people: he gave much
in charity; led a solitary life; and occasionally retired into the
desert, where he pretended to receive instructions from the angel
Gabriel. His wife assisted him by every means in her power; and in a
short time the whole city of Mecca talked of nothing but Mahomet, who
then began to lecture publicly. He taught that mankind should
acknowledge one God (without division of persons, as in Christianity);
he declared that the love of this Being was equal to His power, and
that all His laws tended to make His creatures happy. Mahomet also
taught, that as mankind sinned, God had from time to time sent
prophets upon earth to reprove them, and bring them back to His
service; and that the chief of these prophets were, Abraham, Moses,
Jesus Christ, and Mahomet; the last being the greatest of all "There
is one God, and Mahomet is His Prophet," was their confession of
faith. Prayers were to be offered to God seven times a day; and the
pilgrimages to Mecca, as well as circumcision and ablutions, were
recommended as outward signs of belief, in the doctrines of what
Mahomet declared to be a new Revelation, delivered to him by the angel
Gabriel. The book, in which all the doctrines and precepts taught by
Mahomet were recorded, is called "The Koran." The Koran contains many
precepts worthy of Christianity; and many doctrines in which there is
much truth, mixed, however, with a great deal of falsehood and error,
whilst the indulgence of man's evil passions is allowed. Such a
religion accorded well with the disposition of the Arabians; the
disciples of Mahomet increased greatly, and amongst them were the
richest and most respectable citizens of Mecca.

Very shortly, Mahomet began to spread his religion by conquest; and in
a few years he had subdued to his empire and religion, all Arabia;
thus establishing the "Saracen Empire," which afterwards extended
itself over much of Asia, Africa, and even Europe.

The Arabian followers of Mahomet took the name of "Saracens," to
induce a belief that they were descended from Abraham and his wife
Sara; whereas they were the descendants of Ishmael, the son of Abraham
and the bond-maid Hagar.

After the destruction of Jerusalem, many of the Jews settled in
Arabia; and by the beginning of the seventh century, they possessed
several towns and fortifications, and had armies commanded by
princes of their own. Their number and influence made Mahomet wish
for their help in his undertaking, and he treated them at first with
great attention: he had adopted many of their opinions and customs,
and he ordered his followers to turn towards Jerusalem when they
prayed. He thus succeeded in gaining favour with the Children of
Israel, who seeing what wonderful victories he gained, and misled by
their own obstinate ideas as to the character of the promised
Messiah, began actually to think that in this conqueror, they beheld
the long-expected Messiah. Many of the Jews, therefore, embraced the
Mahometan religion, which all, who were conquered by Mahomet, were
forced to adopt. The Jews were soon afterwards offended by his
eating the flesh of camels, a meat forbidden by the Mosaical Law;
and they had speedily other reasons for changing their opinions
concerning the pretended prophet; they then became his determined
enemies. Mahomet returned their hatred; and in the Koran, to which
he was continually adding chapters, as supposed to be delivered to
him from time to time by the angel Gabriel, he reproaches the Jews
with betraying and murdering the prophets sent by God, amongst whom
he numbers Jesus Christ. He also declares, that for these things,
and for breaking the laws of God and neglecting the Sabbaths, and
above all for having refused to acknowledge his authority to
establish a new Revelation, the Jews were justly accursed of God.
Not contented with such declarations, the impostor cruelly
persecuted the unhappy Jews; their property was taken from them,
many were driven into exile, and thousands were slaughtered. But in
spite of all sufferings, the Jews remained faithful to their
religion.

After the death of Mahomet, A.D. 632, the miserable remnant of the
once flourishing people of Israel was forced to remove into Syria; as
the impostor's dying command was, that none but followers of what he
called "the true religion," should be allowed to dwell in his native
land of Arabia.

One of the Caliphs, or princes, who succeeded to the power of
Mahomet, carried on war to force all nations to become Mahometans
or Mussulmans: he subdued Mesopotamia, Persia, and Syria: the
Jews rejoiced in the downfall of Persia, where they had met with
persecution. At the head of an army of Saracens, this Caliph
(Abubeker) attacked Jerusalem: the Christians gallantly defended it
for four months, and were then obliged to surrender the city to the
Saracens; who built a mosque, or Mussulman place of worship, on the
very spot where the magnificent temple of Solomon had formerly
stood.

The first Caliphs allowed the Jews the free exercise of their own
religion, and even permitted the Princes of the Captivity to exercise
considerable authority. During the eighth and ninth centuries the Jews
had their share in the troubles and calamities caused by civil wars
among the Caliphs. Besides this, their treatment varied much under the
rule of the different Saracen princes, who succeeded each other more
or less quickly: by some they were allowed to live in peace, and
worship God in their own way; by others they were persecuted. One of
the Caliphs forbade their riding on horses, and only permitted them to
have mules, and make use of iron stirrups: the Jews were also deprived
of every office or employment in the State, and they were obliged to
wear a cord round the waist, to point them out to the ridicule and
abuse of the people.

In Christian countries, during the seventh and eighth centuries, we
find the Jews exposed to equal, and even greater persecutions. The
members of the Christian Church were at this time divided into two
great parties, one of which objected to having any images of saints
in the churches: the Jews, being accused of encouraging these
disputes, were commanded by the Greek Emperor to give up their
religion, on pain of the severest punishment. To save their lives,
many of the Hebrews were baptized, but without any intention of
really becoming Christians. This being suspected, afforded an
excuse for still further persecutions of these unhappy people; but
subsequent Emperors showed them favour, and allowed them to practise
all the rites and ceremonies of their religion.



Chapter VI.--TENTH AND ELEVENTH CENTURIES.


The Jews in Spain brought trouble upon themselves by listening to
one of their own countrymen, who declared himself to be the expected
Messiah, and persuaded the multitude to follow him to Palestine,
where he promised to establish his kingdom. Many perished on this
expedition; and those who did return to Spain had cause to repent
bitterly of their foolish credulity, for during their absence the
Government had seized upon all their lands and property.

When Gaul was taken from the Romans by the barbarians, various tribes
of Germans, calling themselves Franks, established their empire in the
country. Charles the Great, or "Charlemagne," as he is always called,
became sovereign of the Empire of the Franks (or France, as we may now
term it), A.D. 772. The Saracens at this time were very troublesome in
making frequent attacks upon the country; and the Jews were suspected
of encouraging and aiding the Infidels, out of hatred to the
Christians. Charlemagne, after defeating the Saracens at Toulouse, in
the south of France, determined utterly to destroy the Jews, who were
accused of causing all this bloodshed. He was, however, persuaded only
to put to death some of those supposed to be the most guilty. The
others were condemned to pay an annual fine; and were, moreover,
obliged to assemble three times a year, at the gate of some Christian
church appointed by the bishop, to receive a box on the ear! which we
may well believe to have been no slight blow.

At other times, the Jews were treated with gentleness and moderation.
Louis le Débonnaire became king on the death of his father,
Charlemagne, early in the ninth century, A.D. 814. His favourite
physician was a Jew; and for his sake Louis granted great privileges
to the Jews. These marks of favour made them haughty and insolent;
but when the bishops complained of their behaviour, the king would
not listen to any proposition for their punishment. The favour and
protection thus granted by the monarch, produced a great effect among
his subjects; and those about the Court declared openly, that the
descendants of Abraham ought to be treated with the greatest respect.
Some even went so far as to observe the Jewish Sabbaths, and to
attend the synagogues; preferring to hear the discourses of the
learned rabbis, rather than the sermons of the Christian priests and
monks, who were at this time extremely ignorant. During the reign of
the next king, Charles the Bold, the Jews met with little favour; and
in some places they were constantly insulted with impunity by the
populace. In one part of Languedoc, it was the custom to pelt the
Jews with stones, from Palm Sunday--that is, the Sunday before Good
Friday--until the Tuesday after Easter Day.

During the tenth century, when there was much ignorance in all
Christian countries, the Saracens were great promoters of learning;
and under their protection the Jews were also able to apply themselves
to study, and many famous men appeared amongst them at this time; but,
unhappily, disputes between themselves soon brought them into fresh
difficulties.

We now come to the eleventh century, during which, if not before,
colonies of Jews settled in England; for when William, Duke of
Normandy, conquered the country, A.D. 1066, a considerable number of
them were already established in the kingdom. William also brought
with him, from Rouen, another colony of Jews, and gave them places to
live in, from whence they could carry on trade with other nations. In
return, they were to pay the king certain sums of money.

The Jews also appear to have been in favour with William Rufus, who
encouraged disputes between the learned rabbis and the Christian
bishops, declaring that he himself was quite ready to follow the
religion of whichever party had the best of the argument or dispute.
The Jews, always an industrious and money-making people, are said to
have become so rich and powerful in England during William the
Second's reign, that they not only held public meetings for the
purpose of converting the upper and more learned classes, but also
endeavoured by bribes to induce the poor and ignorant to renounce
Christianity, and enrol themselves amongst the Jews.

What has been said of the condition of the Jews in England, applies
also to all other European countries, where the Jews were richer, more
fond of learning, and more polished--that is, more civil and gentle in
their manners--than any other people. They were the only bankers; all
trade with foreign nations was carried on by them alone; and even the
gold and silver ornaments and vessels used in Christian churches, were
mostly made by these determined enemies of Christianity.

During the eleventh century, of which we have been speaking, the Jews
in Egypt were for a short time persecuted by a Saracen prince, who
wished to establish a new religion in the place of Mahometanism, or
Islamism, as the religion established by Mahomet was called. As
neither Jews nor Christians would assist him, he persecuted both;
obliging the former to wear some outward mark to distinguish them, and
point them out as objects for hatred and insult. He commanded their
synagogues to be closed, and tried to force them to follow the new
religion, of which he wanted to be the head. After a time, however, he
allowed them to return to the practice of their own rites and
ceremonies. Towards the middle of the eleventh century, an Eastern
Caliph determined to get rid of the Jews altogether. He shut up their
academies or schools; banished the teachers; and killed the Prince of
the Captivity, with all his family. This cruel persecution drove many
of the Jews into the deserts of Arabia; but most of them took refuge
in the western countries; and by the end of the eleventh century, they
had become numerous and powerful in different towns of Germany. Some
of the Jews, driven out of the East, passed through Africa into Spain,
and there joined their brethren, who, having helped the Saracens to
conquer Spain, were now greatly favoured by the Caliphs, and were a
wealthy and flourishing people. Hatred of the Christians was a bond of
union between the Jews and the Mahometans; but when one of the rabbis
tried to convert the Saracens of Grenada to the Jewish religion, the
king was so enraged, that he caused the rabbi to be seized and put to
death at once. This was followed by a terrible persecution of the
Hebrew race.

The Jews, however, suffered still greater miseries in those parts of
Spain which were under the rule of Christian princes. One of these,
called Ferdinand, having declared war against the Saracens, resolved,
in the first place, to destroy all the Jews in his dominions,
expecting by such an act of cruelty to obtain the favour and blessing
of God! but the clergy of his kingdom objected to the execution of
such a scheme; and the Pope himself wrote, and blamed Ferdinand for
such unchristianlike zeal, so that the design was given up.

Alphonso, the successor of Ferdinand, found himself in such
difficulties, owing to the increasing power of the Saracens, that he
showed favour to the Jews, in order to get them to help him with men
and money in his wars against the Infidels. He even allowed them to
act as judges over Christians; but the Pope did not at all approve of
this, and reproached the king for having, as he expressed it, "put the
synagogue of Satan above the Church of Christ." Alphonso, however, did
not take away the indulgences, which he had granted only to further
his own interest.

The close of this eleventh century was remarkable for the first of the
Crusades, or wars undertaken by Christian nations, in order to take
Palestine, or the Holy Land, out of the hands of the Saracens. In many
parts of Spain, great numbers of Jews were massacred by those about to
join the Crusade, under the mistaken idea that they should bring the
blessing of God upon their intended expedition, by destroying the
descendants of those who had crucified the Saviour of mankind. In
Germany, the Crusaders, who marched through the country, murdered all
the Jews who refused to become Christians. An immense number thus
perished, many of whom were burnt in their houses; for the unhappy
Jews barricaded their dwellings, and then threw their families, their
property, and themselves into the flames, thus disappointing the
avarice of their enemies, who coveted their riches. Even mothers, on
the approach of the merciless Crusaders, killed their children with
their own hands, telling them it was far better for them to go at once
into Abraham's bosom, than to fall into the hands of the Christians.
Some of the Jews, less brave and conscientious than their brethren,
saved their lives by pretending to adopt the Christian religion, which
they must naturally have hated more than ever, since those who
professed to be guided by its precepts, had acted with a degree of
cruelty and inhumanity, worthy only of the most ignorant savages. The
same dreadful scenes took place in Palestine, for when the Crusaders
arrived in that country, they, actuated by very mistaken notions of
the spirit of Christianity, inhumanly murdered all the Jews they could
lay hands upon; and men, women, and children alike perished by
hundreds.

During this dreadful time, it is pleasant to know that some of the
Christian bishops and clergy did try to protect the Jews; and they
received into their houses such fugitives as could manage to escape
from the fury of their enemies.

Thus ended the eleventh century.



Chapter VII.--TWELFTH CENTURY.


Our history has now brought us to the twelfth century; that is, to the
space of 100 years, from A.D. 1100 to A.D. 1200. The twelfth century
began as the eleventh had ended; for the Crusaders continued to
persecute the Jews in Germany and other countries, as well as in
Palestine.

The cry of the Christians was, "Let us destroy the descendants of
those who crucified Jesus Christ, so that the name of Israel be no
more remembered"--a cry as much at variance with prophecy, as with the
spirit of Christianity; for the Holy Scriptures had plainly declared,
that the once chosen people of God, though scattered throughout all
lands, and severely punished for their unbelief, should _never be
destroyed_.

Among the Christian bishops who interfered in favour of the Jews, was
one called St. Bernard, who thought that it was the duty of Christians
to _convert_ rather than destroy them; and that kindness was more
likely to do this than persecution. St. Bernard brought Innocent the
Second, who was then Pope, to agree with him, and to befriend the
Hebrew race.

On one occasion, when this Pope entered with much pomp and show into
Paris, the Jews, approaching him with great respect, gave him a
volume, or roll, containing the Law. The Pope received it, and said,
"I reverence the Law given by God to Moses, but I condemn your
explanation of it, because you still expect the Coming of the promised
Messiah, instead of believing, as the Catholic Church does, that Jesus
Christ was indeed the Messiah our Saviour; and that He now liveth and
reigneth in Heaven, with God the Father, and God the Holy Ghost."

The next Pope was also favourable to the Jews, and forbade the people
to insult them on any occasion whatever. Under such circumstances, the
Jews became a rich and flourishing people in Rome, and in all the
other cities of Italy.

Towards the close of the twelfth century, a Jewish rabbi, named
Joseph, was prime minister to a Christian king of Spain, and had a
coach of state, and guards to attend upon him; but having cause to be
displeased with the wicked conduct of one of his countrymen, this man,
whose name was Gonzales, contrived by his falsehoods to set the king
against Joseph, who was in consequence turned out of his office in
disgrace. Gonzales, who, though a Jew himself, was no friend to his
brethren, now, under pretence of enriching the king, persuaded him to
allow him to do as he pleased with eight of the principal Jews. The
king consented; Gonzales caused these eight men to be put to death,
and seized all their property. He then asked the king to give up to
him twenty more; but the monarch refused, thinking it more honourable
to demand some of their riches for his own use, than to deprive them
of life as well as property: the unhappy Jews gladly consented to give
the king large sums of money, in order to preserve their lives.
Shortly afterwards, Gonzales, having displeased the king, was shut up
in prison, and then the Jews again enjoyed that peace and quiet so
favourable to the pursuit of learning, of which they were very fond.
Among the learned men who distinguished themselves at this time, the
chief was Moses Maimonides, or the son of Maimon. This man claimed to
be descended from king David: his knowledge and learning were so
wonderfully great, and so far superior to that of any other rabbi,
that his countrymen called him "The Eagle of Doctors," (the eagle
being the king of his kind,) and declared, that no one before had ever
come so near in wisdom to their great founder and lawgiver, whose name
he bore.

But the very wisdom and learning for which they praised him, soon
raised the jealousy of the Jews against Maimonides; and this feeling
was increased by his showing very little respect for the Talmud, and
by his teaching some extraordinary doctrines, learnt from a Mahometan
of Arabia, under whom he had studied. Thus Maimonides offended a great
part of the Jewish people; and at Montpelier, a town in the South of
France, the chief of the synagogue persuaded certain learned men to
preach against Maimonides, and defend the Talmud: he also caused the
works of Maimonides to be burnt, and excommunicated all who should
dare to read them.

The learned men amongst the Jews were now divided into two parties:
one _for_ and one _against_ Maimonides; and disputes were in
consequence carried on for many years. At this time, learning was not
entirely confined to _men_ amongst the Hebrew race; for several
learned Jewish _women_ made themselves remarkable in the twelfth
century. One of these women was so skilful in explaining the Law and
the Talmud, that many went to hear her lectures upon these subjects:
she spake to the people from behind a latticed window, so that, whilst
her voice was heard, she herself could not be seen by those outside.

From Jewish historians we learn, that during this twelfth century many
of their nation were raised, at different times, to high offices in
the courts of princes; and that others became celebrated as generals.
Several learned Jews also renounced their religion and became
Christians, and then wrote books in favour of Christianity. One of
these Jews turned Mahometan, and wrote a book, accusing his Jewish
brethren of having altered the Law given to Moses by God. This greatly
pleased the followers of Mahomet, who forbade any person to quote or
translate any part of the Pentateuch, as used by either Jews or
Christians.

In France, towards the end of this century, the Jews suffered greatly
under Philip Augustus, or Philip the Second, who began to reign A.D.
1180. Some Jews were accused of having murdered a Christian youth;
king Philip eagerly seized upon such an excuse, and, under pretence of
piety and zeal for the glory of God, banished all the Hebrew race from
his dominions; allowing them only to keep the money for which they
could sell their furniture, the king taking for his own use all the
rest of their property. It is even said that these poor creatures were
robbed of what money they had been allowed to keep, and reduced to
such a state of want and misery, that many died in consequence. The
industry and skill of the Jews, however, made their loss felt in every
country from which they were expelled; and no doubt that was the case
now, for shortly afterwards Philip recalled them, excusing himself to
such of his subjects as disapproved of the measure, by saying, that he
allowed the Jews to return in order to get from them money to pay the
expenses of the Crusades.

So wickedly were the Jews treated at this time, that if one became a
Christian, all his property was taken from him--a measure not likely
to encourage conversions.

Something must now be said of the treatment of the Jews in England
during the twelfth century. Henry the Second, who began to reign A.D.
1154, has been blamed by monkish writers for allowing them to live in
peace; but the scene was soon changed.

The great wealth of the Jews caused them often to be applied to by
those who wished to borrow money; but they were hated by all
Christians, and grievously oppressed and ill-treated in most Christian
countries. When Richard the First succeeded his father, A.D. 1189, the
Jews hoped, by giving him large sums of money, to secure his favour
and protection; and great numbers of them came up to London from the
most distant parts of England, just before the king's coronation. The
common people in those days were very ignorant and superstitious, and
fancied that the Jews were magicians or conjurors, who could bewitch
the king, and so do him harm; and Richard, therefore, forbade any Jew
to be present in Westminster Abbey at his coronation.

Some of them, however, hoping to forward their own interests, ventured
into the abbey, loaded with valuable presents for the monarch; but as
they knelt before him, the king spurned them with his foot, and the
courtiers followed his example. A great outcry was immediately raised
outside the abbey; and at the same time a report was spread, that
Richard had given an order for the general massacre of the Jews. An
order so agreeable to the people, who hated the race of Israel, was
instantly acted upon; and under this false impression, hundreds of
Jews perished miserably: houses were broken open, and all the
inhabitants murdered; or if they resisted the entrance of their foes,
their houses were set on fire. Many of these wretched Jews put their
own wives and children to death, to prevent their falling into the
merciless hands of the Christians. The day after the coronation, a
proclamation was published to stop these shocking acts; but the fury
of the people was not so easily checked, and the persecution continued
in some degree for several months. Nor was it confined to London, for
in other parts of England similar outrages were committed upon the
unfortunate Jews.

When Richard the First went to Palestine to take part in the Third
Crusade, the Jews suffered a still worse persecution; for although
they had furnished the king with large sums of money for the expenses
of this war, their enemies were not satisfied.

It has been said, that in those times the Jews best understood how to
get rich by trade; one way in which they made money was, by lending it
at high interest. If, for instance, any person wanted a large sum of
money at once, in order to buy an estate, or carry out any great
object, he would borrow it of the Jews; engaging, in return, to pay a
certain sum every year, or every month, as _interest_ on the money
lent, until he could repay the whole sum.

The Jews who lent money asked very high interest for it; and were
often guilty of great injustice and harshness to those who had
borrowed it: all this added considerably to the hatred felt towards
the Hebrew race on account of their religion.



Chapter VIII.--IMPOSTORS IN THE TWELFTH CENTURY.


When Richard the First was making preparations for the Holy War, (as
the Crusade was called,) his Christian subjects felt very angry that
they, who looked upon themselves as the favourites of Heaven, should
be obliged to deprive their families even of needful things, in order
to fit themselves or others out to join in this war, whilst the
enemies of Christ were left in peaceable enjoyment of their riches;
and they persuaded themselves that it would be a meritorious act,
acceptable to God, to destroy all the descendants of those who had
crucified the Saviour, and then take their wealth to pay the expenses
of the Crusade. Before his departure for the Holy Land, the King gave
an order that the Jews were not to be disturbed in any way; but no
sooner had he left England, than the fury of the people broke out
afresh, and very many of the unhappy Israelites were destroyed in
different places, and their property seized; whilst the magistrates,
whose duty it was to keep order and protect _all_ the king's subjects,
made little or no attempt to stop these acts of cruelty and violence.

At York, the most dreadful scenes took place. The Jews of that city
were great money-lenders, or _usurers_, as they were called in
reproach; and as they lived in a sumptuous manner, indulging
themselves in every luxury, the people envied them for their riches,
and hated them more and more; and hearing what had been done in other
parts of England, they prepared to attack their victims. Upon this,
the chief persons among the Israelites prevailed upon the governor of
York to allow their countrymen to take refuge in the castle, as its
walls were strong enough to protect those within them. Very soon,
however, the Jews, seeing that the governor frequently went out of the
castle into the city, suspected that he was plotting with their
enemies for their destruction; and therefore, one day, when he had
gone out as usual, they shut the gates, and refused to let him in
again. The governor, very indignant, complained to the sheriff and to
the heads of the Christian party, who, as they were the chief debtors
to the Jews, were most anxious to destroy them. The sheriff
immediately ordered the governor to attack the castle; but he soon
repented of having given such a hasty order, and many of the principal
citizens refused to join in its execution. It was, however, too late
to check the populace, who were bent upon murder and robbery. The
attack was made, the assailants encouraging each other by the cry,
"Destroy the enemies of Jesus." The Jews offered to give large sums of
money, on condition that their lives should be spared; but this offer
was refused. When they saw that they could defend themselves no
longer, one of their most esteemed rabbis proposed that they should
kill themselves, saying, that it was better to die courageously for
the Law than to fall into the hands of the Christians. Accordingly,
these poor creatures killed their wives and children, set fire to the
castle, and then slew themselves. In this way 500 perished. A few, who
gave themselves up in hopes of meeting with mercy, were murdered, and
all the houses belonging to the Jews were plundered.

Richard was very angry when he heard of such disobedience to his
orders, and ordered the Bishop of Ely, as Chief Justice of England, to
punish the guilty most severely. The chief offenders, however, had
left York before the bishop entered that city; and he contented
himself with depriving the sheriff and governor of their offices, and
laying a fine upon some of the richest citizens.

Although so much has been said about the Jews in the twelfth century,
there is still something more to be added, because during this period
there were more impostors pretending to be the Messiah, than during
any other similar period of time. The first of these impostors
appeared in France A.D. 1137, and committed so many crimes, that the
Government caused several synagogues to be destroyed, and at length
the man himself was put to death, with a large number of his
followers. The next year a false Messiah appeared in Persia, and
collected a formidable army. The king of the country bribed him with a
large sum of money to disband his followers, and then treacherously
caused him to be beheaded, forcing the Jews to return to him the
money, which he had given as a bribe to the unfortunate man.

Spain had also her impostor, who appeared in A.D. 1157, and was
supported by one of the most learned rabbis of Cordova, who had just
written a book to prove that the Messiah must shortly come--a work
which had probably put it into the head of this man to assume the
character. The greater part of the educated and sensible Jews looked
upon this impostor as a madman; but the people in general believed in
him, and suffered severely for their folly.

Ten years afterwards, a person appeared in the kingdom of Fez, in
Africa, and declared that in the course of a year the promised Messiah
would come. The conduct of this impostor greatly displeased the
Mahometans, to whom the kingdom belonged, and brought persecution upon
all the Jews scattered throughout the country.

In the same year in which a false Messiah appeared in Fez, another Jew
of Arabia took the title of Messiah. He pretended to work miracles,
and gained many followers. He was at length seized, and taken before
the ruler of the country, who asked him, what had led him to try and
impose upon his countrymen? He boldly answered, that he had not done
so, for that he was indeed a prophet sent by God. Being then asked
what miracle he could work to prove that he was really sent by God, he
said, "Cut off my head, and I will come back again to life." The king
took him at his word, and ordered him to be beheaded, promising to
believe in him if he came to life again. His followers actually
continued for some time to expect his re-appearance; but at last they
were obliged to give up all hope: they were heavily fined, as a
punishment for listening to this impostor.

We have now spoken of eight pretended Messiahs; but there is still one
more, the most famous of them all: this was a Jew, named David Alroi,
or El David, who, with about 1,000 of his countrymen, dwelt in a city
subject to the King of Persia, to whom they paid tribute. In 1199 El
David took the title of Messiah; and, being a learned and clever man,
he deceived the multitude by his pretended miracles, and persuaded
them to take up arms in his cause. The King of Persia, alarmed by the
success of the rebels, commanded El David to go to Court, promising
to acknowledge him as the Messiah, if he would give some miraculous
proof of being so. Contrary to all expectation, the impostor appeared
before the king, persisting in his claim to be the true Messiah. He
was then put into prison, in order to see whether he could work a
miracle to set himself free. Somehow or other, he did manage to
escape, and those who were sent in search of him were unable to find
him; but, through the treachery of his son-in-law, who took a large
bribe to betray him, he was given up to the king, and put to death,
with a great number of those who had been deceived by him.

Thus remarkably was fulfilled our Saviour's prophecy, that "false
Christs and false prophets should arise and deceive many." It may seem
strange to us that the Jews, after refusing to acknowledge Jesus
Christ, Who had given so many proofs of His Divine power, should
afterwards have been so ready to follow any impostor who chose to
style himself the Messiah, without being able to do one single thing
to support such a claim.

The reason of this appears to be, that the Jews, in spite of all
prophecy, still set their minds upon a Messiah, who could at once
establish a kingdom upon earth; and they were, in consequence, always
ready to take up arms, hoping that the time for establishing such a
kingdom was now come.

Jesus, by His conduct, put an end to all hopes of the kind in Him; and
therefore He was despised and rejected. The impostors who took His
name promised to deliver the Jews from all their enemies, and restore
them to their country; and therefore they were believed and followed.

The cruel treatment experienced by the Jews in England during the
reign of Richard the First, led many of those who still possessed any
property, to leave the country; so that when John became king, A.D.
1199, the absence of so many rich people and the falling off of trade
were much felt in the kingdom; and, in the early part of the
thirteenth century, the king used every means in his power to bring
them back. He solemnly promised, that if they would give him a large
sum of money, they should enjoy all their former privileges: he
allowed them to possess lands, build synagogues, and even choose a
High Priest. Great numbers of Jews then returned to England, where
they were soon more cruelly plundered than they had been before. It
was the old story; they were odious to the people on account of their
religion, and still more so, perhaps, for the enormous usury which
they exacted for money lent. Thus there was a continual cry for their
banishment, or rather for their destruction; but the king found it
more for his own interest to keep them in the country, where he could
upon all occasions make them purchase his protection by paying a heavy
fine; and the Jews, seeing that so long as they gave money to the king
they might exact what interest they pleased for money lent to his
subjects, acted accordingly, and became more and more oppressive to
all who were so unfortunate as to be their debtors.

In the beginning of the thirteenth century, A.D. 1210, John wished to
raise a large sum of money: as usual, he fell upon the Jews. The money
not being readily paid, the king, in spite of the privileges which
these unfortunate people had so dearly purchased, ordered men and
women to be put into prison until he received the enormous sum which
he now demanded. A Jew of Bristol was called upon to furnish such an
immense sum, that he refused, declaring that the payment of it would
reduce him to beggary. Upon this refusal, the king cruelly ordered
that one of the poor man's teeth should be taken out every day until
he did pay. This wretched Jew lost seven teeth, and then agreed to
give the sum demanded by the king.



Chapter IX.--THIRTEENTH CENTURY IN ENGLAND AND FRANCE.


Henry the Third became King of England on the death of John, A.D.
1216: he was quite a child when his father died; but those who
governed for him, set the Jews who were in prison at liberty; and
ordered that they should be protected against the violence of the
Crusaders. Still, during the whole of Henry's long reign, which
extended far into the latter half of the thirteenth century, the Jews
were subject to great oppression and ill-usage in England.

As a privilege and favour to the citizens of Newcastle, the king
commanded that no Jew should be allowed to dwell in their city.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Bishops of Lincoln and Norwich,
took a sure way of driving the Jews out of their dioceses; for they
forbade all Christians to sell them any provisions whatever.

The Prior of Dunstable, on the other hand, gave the Jews leave to
reside in those places over which he had any control, on condition of
their paying him every year two silver spoons.

The Jews were at this time accused of committing all sorts of dreadful
crimes; how far these accusations were true or false, we do not know.
They were human creatures, and the cruel treatment they met with,
might well lead them into the commission of many wrong acts, which
would, of course, be exaggerated by the hatred of their enemies; who
believed them guilty, upon the slightest suspicion, and compelled
them, in consequence, to pay heavy fines.

In the middle of the century, when Henry the Third demanded fresh
supplies of money for the purposes of war, the Jews, irritated by such
repeated oppression, wished to leave England, and seek some more
hospitable country, in which they might dwell: the king refused to
allow them to leave the country, and forced them to pay the tax
demanded. The next year, the king again applied to them, declaring
that in spite of the taxes he had already levied, he continued to be
greatly in want of money, and must raise it from any quarter, and by
any means.

The unfortunate Jews truly declared that they could not pay the taxes
now demanded of them; upon which Henry the Third actually sold them
and their possessions to his brother, to raise the sum required! It
was now expected that the Jews would be completely robbed of
everything they possessed, in order to repay the prince the money for
which he had bought them; but he, being convinced that they really
could not have furnished the sum required, had compassion upon them,
and left them in peace.

To such a height had hatred of the Jews risen in this reign, that when
(about 1264) the barons took up arms to force the king to agree to
their demands, they could think of no better way of gaining the favour
and help of the people, than by killing the Jews; and 700 were
accordingly massacred. The pretence for this massacre was, that one of
the Jews had tried to force a Christian to pay an enormous and unfair
interest for a loan of money: supposing this to have been true, the
crime of one man should not have caused the death of hundreds. At the
same time, houses were plundered, and the magnificent synagogue, built
in the beginning of Henry the Third's reign, was burnt to the ground:
it was afterwards rebuilt; but in 1270, the king most unjustly took it
from the Jews, and gave it to a body of friars, who lived near it,
and complained that their devotions were disturbed by the howling of
the Jews during their worship.

The fact was, that the chapel belonging to the friars was small and
dark, and they coveted the fine large synagogue close by their
dwelling; and as no ideas of justice ever interfered with the
treatment of the Jews, they begged the king to give them this
synagogue, and furnished him with an excuse for doing so.

On the death of Henry the Third, A.D. 1272, his son Edward the First
became King of England, and very soon afterwards a law was made, which
promised to improve the condition of the Jews; as it fixed a yearly
tax to be paid by them, instead of leaving them liable to be called
upon for contributions on every occasion, at the will of their
enemies. This law also permitted them to possess houses and lands
wherever they pleased. But, on the other hand, it was forbidden for
any Christian to lodge in the house of a Jew; and every one of the
Hebrew race above seven years of age, was obliged to wear a
distinguishing mark upon his upper garment: this mark was a figure of
two ropes joined together.

In the latter part of his reign, Edward changed his conduct towards
the Jews, and they were treated with much injustice and even cruelty.
The oppression suffered by these unhappy people, had not unnaturally
raised up in them a spirit of retaliation; it made them think, that
it was justifiable to use every possible means, right or wrong, to
repay themselves for all the money unjustly taken from them by
the Christians: their attempts to do this, increased the hatred
entertained for them. They were accused of coining false money, and
of cheating in every possible way. A great outcry being raised
against them, they were, in all parts of the kingdom, thrown into
prison, and many of them were executed, whilst their houses, lands,
and goods, were sold for the use of Government. But to show the
people that these measures were not taken merely for the sake of the
plunder, the king ordered, that half the money produced by this sale
should be put by, and given to such Jews as would renounce their
religion and become Christians. Very few, however, could be brought,
for the sake of worldly advantages, to embrace the religion of their
persecutors; nor can we be surprised, that the very unchristianlike
conduct of the followers of the blessed Jesus, should have increased
the hatred and contempt felt by the Jews for the Christian religion.

Towards the end of the thirteenth century, about A.D. 1290, Edward the
First, who had already banished the children of Israel from those
parts of France which were under his dominion, now commanded them all
to leave England, and never to come back on pain of death. He took
whatever property they had, only allowing them to keep enough money to
pay the expenses of removal into foreign countries; and of this
miserable sum many of them were robbed by the seamen at Dover and
other ports, whilst some hundreds of the poor wretches were even
thrown into the sea and drowned: for this crime, however, many of the
guilty seamen were punished by death.

The clergy in England were so delighted to get rid of the Jews, that
they willingly gave the king very considerable sums of money to make
up for the loss of a people, from whom former monarchs had always
obtained help in time of need.

After this banishment of the Jews by Edward the First, they never
appeared in any considerable numbers in England, until the seventeenth
century.

In France we have seen the Jews banished by Philip the Second, and
then recalled by the same monarch at the end of the twelfth century
(p. 408). They immediately returned to all their former ways of making
money by usury, so that early in the thirteenth century they had again
become rich, and purchased lands of the lords who had large estates;
but on certain conditions, which made them in some degree the property
of the liege lord, of whom they held their lands. This "feudal
tenure," as it was called, was common over Europe in those times; and
all, whether Jews or Christians, who thus held lands under a liege
lord, were called his "vassals," and were bound to do him certain
services, whenever called upon to do so.

For some time Philip allowed, or at least did not try to put a stop
to, the usurious practices of the Jews, because they gave him large
sums of money in return for letting them alone; but at last the
complaints of his subjects forced him to make some laws to check the
evil. Philip the Second died A.D. 1223; Louis the Eighth, who
succeeded him, reigned only three years: but when Louis the Ninth,
surnamed Saint Louis, became king, A.D. 1226, he immediately made a
law, forbidding any of his subjects to borrow money of a Jew. The
condition of the Jews in France at this time was miserable enough;
their property was at the mercy of those lords, in whose territories
they had fixed their residence; without his leave, they could not
change their place of abode, and if they ventured to do so, their
liege lord had a right to follow them, and seize upon them as runaway,
slaves! If one lord sold land to another, the Jews living on such
land, also became the property of the purchaser: sometimes even, they
were sold apart from the land, the price asked for them varying
according to the talent and industry of each individual. But there was
something worse still; if one of these Jews did become a Christian,
the whole of his property was forfeited to his liege lord. So that
these unhappy people were at the same time oppressed and persecuted
for being Jews, or for becoming Christians; and this, by persons
calling themselves Christians, who should have rejoiced at every
conversion, and done all in their power to make them more frequent.
Louis the Ninth, although called St. Louis on account of his
remarkable piety and devotion, not only approved of these cruel and
unjust laws, but added others; forbidding Christians to have any
intercourse with the Jews, who were, in short, treated with the
greatest harshness and injustice.

But the most terrible persecution of this unhappy race, took place in
A.D. 1238, when they were accused of having, in mockery of the
Christians, crucified some children on Good Friday: on this
supposition, multitudes of the Jews were put to death with the most
cruel tortures, until the Pope, Gregory the Ninth, interfered to save
them from further slaughter. During the imprisonment of Louis the
Ninth in the Holy Land, whither he had gone upon a Crusade, he ordered
the Jews to be driven out of his dominions; but when Philip the Third
(the Bold) became king, in A.D. 1270, he recalled the Jews, because he
stood in need of their money. In other parts of France, which were
governed by Dukes or Princes of their own, subject more or less to the
king, the Jews met with much the same kind of treatment; but in some
provinces they did become magistrates, and possessed Christian slaves.
Philip the Fourth (the Fair), who succeeded his father as king, A.D.
1285, followed the example of Edward the First, who was then King of
England, and banished the Jews altogether from France; seizing all
their wealth, with the exception of a small sum to pay the expenses of
their journey: many died of fatigue and want by the way, and the rest
sought refuge in Germany. Some avoided banishment by being baptized:
most of these returned afterwards to Judaism; but the conversion of
some of them, at least, was sincere. Amongst those who became true
Christians, was one Nicolas de Lyra, who spent the remainder of his
life in explaining the Scriptures; and even wrote a book to prove from
Scripture, that the Jews were wrong in not acknowledging Jesus Christ
to be indeed the promised Messiah.



Chapter X.--THIRTEENTH CENTURY CONCLUDED.


In Spain during the thirteenth century, the Jews suffered as much as
they did in England and in France. At this time there were two
Christian kingdoms in Spain: namely, the kingdom of Castile and the
kingdom of Arragon; the southern part of Spain formed the kingdom of
the Moors, who were Mahometans. The Bishop of Toledo, vexed at the
increased numbers and riches of the Israelites in Spain, excited the
populace against them, and putting himself at the head of the
rioters, entered and plundered synagogues and houses; the Crusaders
completed the work so unworthily begun by a Christian bishop, and,
according to Jewish writers, this was one of the most severe and
bloody persecutions ever endured by their unhappy countrymen: great
numbers quitted the country at this time. The Spanish nobles tried to
put a stop to the horrible cruelties practised towards the Jews; but
Ferdinand the Third, who became King of Castile, A.D. 1226, rather
encouraged the persecution, in order to make himself popular with the
lower orders, who detested the Jews.

In the kingdom of Arragon, towards the middle of the century, great
efforts were made for the conversion of the Jews. One of the clergy,
named Raymond, contrived to keep in check the violence of the people,
who had a great respect for him; and at the same time he persuaded the
king, James the First, who was a zealous Christian, that the best way
to convert the Jews was by treating them with kindness, and trying to
convince them of their errors. To carry out his views, Raymond caused
many of the friars to learn the Hebrew and Arabic languages, and to
study the Scriptures carefully, so as to be able to reason with the
Jews, and point out to them how all the prophecies in the Old
Testament were fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. All his attempts to
convert the Jews were, however, unsuccessful, although they highly
esteemed Raymond himself for his moderation and humanity.

The King of Arragon mean time, so far from sharing the prejudices
against the Jews, applied to them for instruction in many matters of
learning and science: the great and learned men amongst the Spaniards
also encouraged and admired them; but the people, and the ignorant and
ill-educated among the clergy, hated and despised them, and would
gladly have destroyed them altogether.

In the middle of the century, Alphonso the Tenth, who was then King of
Castile, encouraged all learned men, whatever might be their religious
opinions; and the favour shown in consequence to the Jews, excited the
jealousy of the people, who formed fresh plots for their destruction.
The dead body of a man was thrown into the house of a Jew, who was
then accused of having murdered the man: this accusation roused the
fury of the populace, who put numbers of the Jews to death. The
massacre threatened to become general, but the authorities interfered,
and declaring that the Jew was innocent of the crime laid to his
charge, order was at length restored.

During those times, when the Israelites enjoyed the favour of the
kings in Spain, many learned men flourished, and educated pupils, who
afterwards became celebrated amongst their countrymen.

The Spanish Jews were again disturbed by an impostor called Zechariah,
who pretended that by studying the prophecies, he had discovered the
exact day on which the Messiah would appear; and declared that the
Jewish people would then be gathered together by the Lord, Who would
subdue their enemies and resettle them in their ancient kingdom. The
Jews, always too easily deceived, prepared for this grand event by
prayer and fasting; and on the appointed day they crowded to the
synagogues clothed in white robes. Besides having the mortification of
a bitter disappointment, they thus brought upon themselves the insult
and ridicule of their enemies.

In Germany, during the thirteenth century, the Jews suffered much, in
consequence of their being constantly accused of committing crimes
more or less heinous. At one time they were charged with encouraging
the Persians and Tartars to attack the country and destroy the
Christians; at another time, with preventing the baptism of those
amongst them who wished to become Christians; and they were
repeatedly accused of murdering Christian children at the time of the
Passover. What truth there was in any of these accusations, we do not
know, but each was made by the people a pretext for robbery and
murder; nor could the authorities save the wretched Jews from the
fury of their Christian enemies. On one occasion, when the people of
Munich were murdering all the Jews they could find, the town
officers, unable to stop the tumult, advised the wretched victims to
take refuge in their synagogue, a strong stone building, till the
fury of their persecutors should cool down: but in spite of the
efforts made by the Duke of Bavaria and his officers, they were all
burnt, or otherwise killed in the synagogue. Notwithstanding all
these persecutions, many learned rabbis flourished in Germany during
this century; and towards its close violent disputes arose amongst
the Jews themselves, as to the doctrines which were to be believed
and taught. The consequence was, that the Jews were divided into two
parties or sects, the Rabbinists and the Caraites: these two sects
hated each other, since the Caraites taught that the Talmud, regarded
by the Rabbinists with the greatest veneration, was not to be
depended upon in any way whatever.

Towards the end of the century, when Germany was disturbed by the wars
between Albert of Austria and another prince, who both wished to be
Emperor of Germany, a peasant pretended that he was sent by God to
destroy all the Jews. This man went about the country declaring his
errand, and exciting the people to execute the Will of God. The
multitude rose at once, and killed great numbers of the Jews; whilst
many of these unhappy people destroyed themselves and their families,
to escape from their enemies. Albert would gladly have put a stop to
this barbarous persecution; but he was afraid that if he did so, many
of his followers, who believed that the peasant really had a divine
commission, would abandon him, and take the side of the rival prince.
The riot was at last stopped, and a heavy fine laid upon the town of
Nuremburg, where it had begun: half the town was already burnt down,
by the Jews setting fire to their own houses.

It has been already said, that the Roman Pontiffs, or Popes, often
interfered to stop the persecution of the Jews, and to check the
mistaken zeal of those who wanted to _force_ them to become
Christians. In 1247, Innocent the Fourth wrote a letter in defence of
the Jews, declaring that they were not guilty of the crimes laid to
their charge; and he also said, that their condition under Christian
princes, was far more miserable and wretched than that of their
fathers had been under Pharaoh.

There were a great many Jews in the kingdom of Naples, and they had
much wealth: as they had done the king some important service, he
treated them with great indulgence. But after his death, attempts were
made to convert them, instead of allowing them still to enjoy the free
exercise of their religion. The Jews, fearing a persecution, offered
to become Christians, provided they were allowed to marry into the
richest and noblest families in the kingdom--a condition that they
felt certain would be refused; but to their surprise and sorrow,
permission was granted, and thus they were obliged to profess
Christianity; but those who were not able to make advantageous
marriages, soon returned to the practice of their own religion.

It is said, that a monk, who wished the Jews to be punished for
pretending to be Christians, hid a cross in a heap of earth, and then
accused one of these poor creatures of having done it: the people,
enraged at such an act, rose at once and massacred a great number of
the Jews, and more would have been put to death if the nobles had not
interposed, and even given shelter in their own houses to some of the
most wealthy, who were always the peculiar objects of popular fury. In
the East, the number and the power of the Jews were much lessened
during the thirteenth century. The Caliph of Bagdad, who was a zealous
Mahometan, and very fond of money, was vexed to see a people growing
rich by their own industry, whilst they were always ready to receive
any one who declared himself to be the Messiah: and he therefore began
a persecution, by which he hoped to compel all Jews, either to become
Mahometans or to leave his dominions. Some departed; others, to avoid
exile, pretended to become followers of Mahomet. In some parts of the
East the Jews suffered greatly from the invasions of the Tartars; but
towards the end of the century they enjoyed peace for a short time,
under a prince, whose chief minister and favourite was a Jewish
physician, who obtained many privileges and indulgences for his
countrymen. But on the death of this prince, his Mahometan subjects,
enraged at the favour he had shown to the Jews for the sake of his
minister, accused the latter of having poisoned his master: he was
condemned without any proof, and vast numbers of his countrymen were
at the same time murdered.

Palestine was greatly distressed by the wars between the Christians
and the Saracens. The Jews had still some synagogues in their native
land; and even amidst their troubles, several learned rabbis appeared
amongst them, the most remarkable of whom was styled the "Father of
Wisdom"; he had been born in Spain, but went to live in Judæa, where
he built a synagogue. Several learned rabbis of the Caraite sect
flourished in different parts of the East during the thirteenth
century.

The fourteenth century does not seem to have brought any comfort to
the wretched Hebrews. The same avarice or love of money which made
Philip the Fourth drive them out of France, made Louis the Tenth, who
became king A.D. 1314, bring them back again; because he wanted some
of their money to enable him to reduce the Flemings to subjection.
The Flemings were the inhabitants of Flanders, a country in that part
of Europe which we now call Belgium. The conditions upon which the
Jews were allowed to return to France were, that they should pay a
heavy tax to the king; and that their stay in the country should be
limited to a period of twelve years. During this time they might make
money by trade and labour: they might buy land for synagogues and
burying-places, and they might purchase any books they pleased with
the exception of the Talmud: but they were forbidden to converse
publicly or privately with any Christian; and they were obliged, as
before, to wear a mark upon their upper garment.

Philip the Fifth became King of France in A.D. 1316, and during
his reign the Jews suffered much from a body of men called "The
Shepherds." They really were shepherds and labourers, who left their
usual occupations to go, as they said, to the relief of the Holy
Land. Their leaders were two priests, who, by pretending to work
miracles, got many of the lowest classes of the people to join the
band. Having thus strengthened themselves by the addition of a
considerable body of desperate ruffians, the Shepherds plundered
the southern provinces of France, and by breaking open the prisons,
added still further to their own numbers, by receiving the liberated
criminals as brethren. They committed the most unheard-of barbarities,
especially upon the Jews, who fled before this savage band, and took
refuge in considerable numbers, in a strong castle, near Toulouse; and
here defended themselves bravely, but in vain. When no hope of safety
remained, they put themselves or each other to death. Many of the
Shepherds were taken and executed.



Chapter XI.--END OF THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY.


About ten years after the affair of the Shepherds, the Jews in France
were accused of having been bribed by the Saracen king of Granada to
poison all the wells and rivers in the country. There was no proof of
this but the declaration of a leper, who said, that a rich Jew had
given him money to poison some wells; but this was enough for the
populace, who, without waiting for inquiry or trial, rose at once, and
put numbers of the suspected race to a cruel death.

The king, Philip the Sixth, shamefully took advantage of this popular
outcry, and imprisoned the wealthy Jews in Paris until they told him
where their treasures were hid; he then seized the greatest part for
his own use, and banished the whole race from his dominions. The Jews,
thus expelled from France, took refuge in the northern part of Italy,
then called Lombardy, and there first established "banks," and the
system called "banking"; by which merchants, in lands far distant from
each other, could receive the price of goods exchanged, without the
risk of sending money: and by this means, the Jews from this time were
often able to save their riches from the avarice and violence of their
enemies. But the system of banking was not useful to the Jews alone:
it was of the greatest service to trade in general, as well as to
individuals, and has continued so up to the present time, when every
considerable town in almost all European countries has its bank or
banks. The great skill and cleverness of the Jews in all matters
connected with money, made the monarchs of various kingdoms willing to
let them remain in their dominions; for though they would gladly have
been rid of the Jews themselves, they were anxious to keep their
wealth in the country.

After John the Second became King of France, A.D. 1351, the Jews tried
to obtain leave to return to France; but the permission was not
granted until 1356, when, John having been taken prisoner by the
English, the money of the Jews was needed to raise the sum demanded
for his ransom. The children of Israel were, therefore, re-admitted
into France for twenty years, on condition that they should at once
pay a considerable sum, and that each Jew should pay annually a fixed
tax. They would have been wiser to have remained out of the kingdom;
for during the reign of Charles the Sixth, which began in 1380, they
were often fined, scourged, and many of them executed, on pretence of
their having committed various crimes. The wicked absurdity of many of
these accusations is proved by the fact, that when Charles the Sixth
became mad, the Jews were accused of having deprived him of his
senses!

Towards the end of the fourteenth century, the people of France again
became clamorous for the banishment of the Jews; and supported by
certain noblemen who owed those unhappy creatures money, they broke
into their houses, murdered the inhabitants, and seized all the
property they could find. Some of the persecuted race took refuge in
one of the prisons: their wives attempted to follow them, with their
children in their arms, but the mob forced the little ones away from
their mothers, and carried them off to be baptized. The government,
too weak to venture on punishing the perpetrators of these crimes,
replaced the Jews who survived in their houses; and ordered that all
persons who had taken any of their property should give it back to
them--an order which was, of course, only laughed at. In A.D. 1394, an
Act was passed, banishing the Jews from France for ever; but as the
town of Metz, in that part of the country called Lorraine, was then a
free city, under the protection of the Emperor of Germany, the Jews
continued to reside there in peace; and after Lorraine became a part
of the kingdom of France, the French monarchs did not molest the Jews
in Metz. But though, until the seventeenth century, Metz was the only
city in France where the Jews were _allowed_ to reside, a few were
always to be found in different parts of the kingdom. Mary de Medicis,
the wife of Henry the Fourth, who became king A.D. 1589, sent for a
Jewish physician to Paris, where he was allowed free exercise of his
religion for himself and his family.

The Jews, who were driven out of France in 1394, went mostly into
Germany, where, however, they could not have much hope of peace, as
their brethren in that country had suffered much from the beginning of
the fourteenth century. About the middle of the century, a number of
ignorant and superstitious Christians, imagining that the Almighty had
ordered them to scourge themselves and kill the Jews, formed
themselves into a company, called "Flagellants," for the purpose of
carrying out what they conceived to be the Divine commission. They
proceeded to whip themselves in the most cruel manner, and then began
their work of destruction. After many of the Jews had been murdered,
the Flagellants came to some agreement with their unhappy victims; but
this was rendered useless by the conduct of a Jew of Frankfort, who,
not being satisfied with the agreement made, set fire to one of the
public buildings, which was burnt down, with all the valuable papers
it contained: the flames spread to the cathedral, and burnt that also
to ashes. For this crime, not only the guilty Jew, but all his
innocent brethren also, were put to death; with the exception of a
few, who managed to escape, and took refuge in Bohemia.

The year after the affair of the Flagellants, the Jews in Germany were
accused of poisoning wells and springs, and a fresh massacre took
place all over the country.

At Metz, the Jews not only defended themselves, which they were
perfectly right to do, but in revenge put to death, in a barbarous
manner, 200 unarmed Christians, who were in no way answerable for the
attack upon them.

The enraged populace punished this real crime, by killing many
thousands of the Jews, and setting fire to their houses. The flames
spread, and did much damage in the town. This persecution extended
over the whole of Germany; some of the princes and nobles tried to
save and help the miserable victims, but with little success.

The Jews who had fled into Bohemia suffered equally at Prague; during
the Feast of the Passover, they were burnt in their synagogues whilst
engaged in their devotions.

Soon afterwards another persecution was raised, on the old charge of
poisoning springs and rivers; and this persecution extended through
Germany and into Italy, Provence, and other parts. The Emperor of
Germany himself, convinced of their innocence of this pretended crime,
endeavoured to convince his Council that it was impossible for the
Jews to have committed it; but such was the feeling against the Hebrew
race, that in order to save them from worse calamities, the Emperor
was forced, at the close of the fourteenth century, to command these
unhappy creatures either to be baptized, or to leave the country. The
Jewish historians tell us, that very few did give up their religion;
or, as they expressed it, "forsake the glory of their God."

In Spain, the Jews suffered dreadfully at the beginning of the
fourteenth century from the Shepherds, who, after finishing their work
of destruction in France, carried fire and sword into Spain; marking
out the race of Israel as their especial victims: and a pestilence
that broke out in the army of the Shepherds increased their fury
against these devoted people, whom they accused of having caused it by
poisoning the rivers. This story was readily believed, or at least
accepted, by those who ought to have known better; and great numbers
of Jews were actually imprisoned on this charge: after a long
confinement, the judges declared them to be innocent. The king,
unwilling to allow that he had imprisoned them unjustly, pretended
that he had only kept them in prison in order to convert