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Title: The History of Christianity - Consisting of the Life and Teachings of Jesus of Nazareth; - the Adventures of Paul and the Apostles; and the Most - Interesting Events in the Progress of Christianity, from - the Earliest Period to the Present Time.
Author: Abbott, John S. C. (John Stevens Cabot)
Language: English
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*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The History of Christianity - Consisting of the Life and Teachings of Jesus of Nazareth; - the Adventures of Paul and the Apostles; and the Most - Interesting Events in the Progress of Christianity, from - the Earliest Period to the Present Time." ***

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                      THE HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY

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  Illustration: F. T. Stuart Eng. Boston

                  I am yours very truly
                                  John S. C. Abbott.

                       HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY:

                           CONSISTING OF THE


     The Most Interesting Events in the Progress of Christianity,


                          JOHN S. C. ABBOTT,
                  “LIFE OF FREDERIC THE GREAT,” ETC.

                   *       *       *       *       *


                  SAN FRANCISCO: A. L. BANCROFT & CO.
                    DETROIT, MICH.: R. D. S. TYLER.


       Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1872,
                           By B. B. RUSSELL,
      In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

            _Stereotyped and Printed by Rand, Avery, & Co._

                           TO THE MEMBERS OF

             The Second Congregational Church and Society

                      IN FAIR HAVEN, CONNECTICUT,

                              This Volume


                      BY THEIR FRIEND AND PASTOR,

                                                    JOHN S. C. ABBOTT.


THE author of this volume has for many years, at intervals, been
engaged in its preparation. It has long seemed to him very desirable
that a brief, comprehensive, and readable narrative of the origin of
Christianity, and of its struggles and triumphs, should be prepared,
adapted to the masses of the people. There are many ecclesiastical
histories written by men of genius and erudition. They are, however,
read by few, excepting professional theologians. The writer is not
aware that there is any popular history of the extraordinary events
involved in the progress of Christianity which can lure the attention
of men, even of Christians, whose minds are engrossed by the agitations
of busy life.

And yet there is no theme more full of sublime, exciting, and
instructive interest. All the heroism which the annals of chivalry
record pale into insignificance in presence of the heroism with which
the battles of the cross have been fought, and with which Christians,
in devotion to the interests of humanity, have met, undaunted, the most
terrible doom.

The task is so difficult wisely to select and to compress within a few
hundred pages the momentous events connected with Christianity during
nearly nineteen centuries, that more than once the writer has been
tempted to lay aside his pen in despair. Should this book fail to
accomplish the purpose which he prayerfully seeks to attain, he hopes
that some one else may be incited to make the attempt who will be more

In writing the life of Jesus, the author has accepted the narratives
of the evangelists as authentic and reliable, and has endeavored to
give a faithful, and, so far as possible, a chronological account of
what Jesus said and did, as he would write of any other distinguished
personage. The same principle has guided him in tracing out the career
of Paul and the apostles.

It has not been the object of the writer to urge any new views, or
to discuss controverted questions of church polity or theology. This
is a history of facts, not a philosophical or theological discussion
of the principles which these facts may involve. No one, however,
can read this narrative without the conviction that the religion of
Jesus, notwithstanding the occasional perversions of human depravity
or credulity, has remained essentially one and the same during all the
centuries. We need no additional revelation. The gospel of Christ is
“the power of God and the wisdom of God.” In its propagation lies the
only hope of the world. Its universal acceptance will usher in such
a day of glory as this world has never witnessed since the flowers of
Eden wilted.

                                                    JOHN S. C. ABBOTT.



                              CHAPTER I.


  The Roman Empire.――Moral Influence of Jesus.――John.――The
    Annunciation.――The Birth of Jesus.――Visit of the Magi.――Wrath
    of Herod.――Flight to Egypt.――Return to Nazareth.――Jesus in the
    Temple.――John the Baptist.――The Temptation.――The First Disciples.
    ――The First Miracle.――Visit to Jerusalem.――Nicodemus.――The Woman
    of Samaria.――Healing of the Nobleman’s Son.――Visit to Capernaum.
    ――Peter and Andrew called.――James and John called.――The Demoniac
    healed.――Tour through Galilee.

                              CHAPTER II.

                         TOUR THROUGH GALILEE.

  The Horns of Hattin.――The Sermon on the Mount.――Jesus goes to
    Capernaum.――The Miraculous Draught of Fishes.――Healing the Leper;
    the Paralytic.――Associates with Publicans and Sinners.――The
    Feast of the Passover.――The Cripple at the Pool.――The Equality
    of the Son with the Father.――Healing the Withered Hand.――Anger
    of the Pharisees.――The Twelve Apostles chosen.――Inquiry of John
    the Baptist.――Jesus dines with a Pharisee.――The Anointment.
    ――Journey through Galilee.――Stilling the Tempest.――The Demoniacs
    and the Swine.――The Daughter of Jairus.――Restores Sight to the
    Blind.――Address to his Disciples.

                             CHAPTER III.


  Infamy of Herod.――Jesus in the Desert.――Feeds the Five Thousand.
    ――Walks on the Sea.――Preaches to the People.――Visits Tyre and
    Sidon.――The Syro-Phœnician Woman.――Cures all Manner of Diseases.
    ――Feeds the Four Thousand.――Restores Sight to a Blind Man.
    ――Conversation with Peter.――The Transfiguration.――Cure of the
    Lunatic.――Dispute of the Apostles.――Law of Forgiveness.――Visits
    Jerusalem.――Plot to seize Jesus.――The Adulteress.――Jesus the Son
    of God.――The Blind Man.――Parable of the Good Shepherd.――Raising
    of Lazarus.

                              CHAPTER IV.


  Journey to Jerusalem.――Mission of the Seventy.――Jesus teaches his
    Disciples to pray.――Lament over Jerusalem.――Return to Galilee.
    ――The Second Coming of Christ.――Dangers of the Rich.――Promise
    to his Disciples.――Foretells his Death.――Zacchæus.――Mary anoints
    Jesus.――Enters Jerusalem.――Drives the Traffickers from the
    Temple.――The Pharisees try to entrap him.――The Destruction of
    Jerusalem, and the Second Coming.――Judas agrees to betray Jesus.
    ――The Last Supper.――The Prayer of Jesus.

                              CHAPTER V.

                    ARREST, TRIAL, AND CRUCIFIXION.

  Anguish of Jesus.――His Prayers in the Garden.――The Arrest.――Peter’s
    Recklessness.――Flight of the Apostles.――Jesus led to Annas;
    to Caiaphas.――Jesus affirms that he is the Messiah.――Frivolous
    Accusations.――Peter denies his Lord.――Jesus is conducted to
    Pilate.――The Examination.――Scourging the Innocent.――Insults and
    Mockery.――Rage of the Chief Priests and Scribes.――Embarrassment
    of Pilate.――He surrenders Jesus to his Enemies.――The Crucifixion.
    ――The Resurrection.――Repeated Appearance to his Disciples.

                              CHAPTER VI.


  The Baptism of the Holy Ghost.――Boldness of the Apostles.――Anger
    of the Rulers.――Martyrdom of Stephen.――Baptism of the Eunuch.
    ――Saul’s Journey to Damascus.――His Conversion.――The Disciples
    fear him.――His Escape from the City.――Saul in Jerusalem.――His
    Commission to the Gentiles.――The Conversion of Cornelius.――The
    Vision of Peter.――Persecution of the Disciples.――Imprisonment
    of Peter.――Saul and Barnabas in Antioch.――Punishment of Elymas.
    ――Missionary Tour.――Incidents and Results.

                             CHAPTER VII.

                        MISSIONARY ADVENTURES.

  The First Controversy.――Views of the Two Parties.――Council at
    Jerusalem.――Results of Council.――The Letter.――Vacillation of
    Peter.――Rebuked by Paul.――The Missionary Excursion of Paul and
    Barnabas.――They traverse the Island of Cyprus.――Land on the
    Coast of Asia Minor.――Mark returns to Syria.――Results of this
    Tour.――Paul and Silas set out on a Second Tour through Asia
    Minor.――Cross the Hellespont.――Introduction of Christianity to
    Europe.――Heroism of Paul at Philippi.――Tour through Macedonia
    and Greece.――Character of Paul’s Preaching.――Peter’s Description
    of the Final Conflagration.――False Charges.――Paul in Athens; in
    Corinth.――Return to Jerusalem.

                             CHAPTER VIII.

                        THE CAPTIVE IN CHAINS.

  The Third Missionary Tour.――Paul at Ephesus.――The Great Tumult.
    ――The Voyage to Greece.――Return to Asia Minor and to Jerusalem.
    ――His Reception at Jerusalem.――His Arrest, and the Riot.――Speech
    to the Mob.――Paul imprisoned.――Danger of Assassination.
    ――Transferred to Cæsarea.――His Defence before Festus and Agrippa.
    ――The Appeal to Cæsar.――The Voyage to Rome.――The Shipwreck.
    ――Continued Captivity.

                              CHAPTER IX.

                        THE FIRST PERSECUTION.

  The Population of Rome.――The Reign of Tiberius Cæsar.――His
    Character and Death.――The Proposal to deify Jesus.――Caligula.
    ――His Crimes, and the Earthly Retribution.――Nero and his Career.
    ――His Crimes and Death.――The Spirit of the Gospel.――Sufferings
    of the Christians.――Testimony of Tacitus.――Testimony of
    Chrysostom.――Panic in Rome.――The Sins and Sorrows of weary
    Centuries.――Noble Sentiments of the Bishop of Rome.

                              CHAPTER X.

                     ROMAN EMPERORS, GOOD AND BAD.

  Character of the Roman Army.――Conspiracy of Otho.――Death of
    Galba.――Vitellius Emperor.――Revolt of the Jews, and Destruction
    of Jerusalem.――Reign of Vespasian.――Character of Titus; of
    Domitian.――Religion of Pagan Rome.――Nerva.――Anecdotes of St.
    John.――Exploits of Trajan.――Letter of Pliny.――Letter of Trajan.

                              CHAPTER XI.


  The Martyrdom of Ignatius.――Death of Trajan.――Succession of
    Adrian.――Infidel Assaults.――Celsus.――The Apology of Quadrat.
    ――The Martyrdom of Symphorose and her Sons.――Character and Death
    of Adrian.――Antoninus.――Conversion of Justin Martyr.――His Apology.
    ――Marcus Aurelius.――Hostility of the Populace.――The Martyrdom of

                             CHAPTER XII.

                              PAGAN ROME.

  Infamy of Commodus.――His Death.――The Reign of Pertinax.――The Mob
    of Soldiers.――Death of Pertinax.――Julian purchases the Crown.
    ――Rival Claimants.――Severus.――Persecutions.――Martyrdom of
    Perpetua and Felicitas.――The Reign of Caracalla.――Fiendlike
    Atrocities.――Elagabalus, Priest of the Sun.――Death by the Mob.
    ――Alexander and his Mother.――Contrast between Paganism and
    Christianity.――The Sin of Unbelief.

                             CHAPTER XIII.

                            SIN AND MISERY.

  Maximin the Goth.――Brutal Assassination of Alexander.――Merciless
    Proscription.――Revolt of the Army on the Danube.――Rage of
    Maximin.――His March upon Rome.――Consternation in the Capital.
    ――Assassination of Maximin.――Successors to the Throne.――Popular
    Suffrage unavailing.――Persecution under Decius.――Individual
    Cases.――Extent of the Roman Empire.――Extent of the Persecution.
    ――Heroism of the Christians.

                             CHAPTER XIV.


  Æmilianus and Valerian.――Barbaric Hordes.――Slavery and its
    Retribution.――Awful Fate of Valerian.――Ruin of the Roman Empire.
    ――Zenobia and her Captivity.――The Slave Diocletian becomes
    Emperor.――His Reign, Abdication, Death.――Division of the
    Empire.――Terrible Persecution.――The Glory of Christianity.
    ――Characteristics of the First Three Centuries.――Abasement of

                              CHAPTER XV.


  Helena, the Christian Empress.――Constantine, her Son, favors the
    Christians.――Crumbling of the Empire.――Constantine the Christian,
    and Maxentius the Pagan.――Vision of Constantine.――The Unfurled
    Cross.――Christianity favored by the Court.――Licinius defends the
    Christians.――Writings of Eusebius.――Apostasy of Licinius.――Cruel

                             CHAPTER XVI.


  The Arian Controversy.――Sanguinary Conflict between Paganism and
    Christianity.――Founding of Constantinople.――The Council of Nice.
    ――Its Decision.――Duplicity of some of the Arians.――The Nicene
    Creed.――Tragic Scene in the Life of Constantine.――His Penitence
    and true Conversion.――His Baptism, and Reception into the Church.
    ――Charles V.――The Emperor Napoleon I.

                             CHAPTER XVII.

                         JULIAN THE APOSTATE.

  The Devotion of Constantine to Christianity.――Constantius and
    the Barbarians.――Conspiracy of Magnentius.――The Decisive
    Battle.――Decay of Rome.――Fearful Retribution.――Noble Sentiments
    of the Bishop of Alexandria.――Death of Constantius.――Gallus
    and Julian.――Julian enthroned.――His Apostasy.――His Warfare
    against Christianity.――Unavailing Attempt to rebuild Jerusalem.
    ――Persecution.――His Expedition to the East, and Painful Death.

                            CHAPTER XVIII.


  Anecdote.――Accession of Jovian.――His Character.――Christianity
    reinstated.――Death of Jovian.――Recall of Athanasius.――Wide
    Condemnation of Arianism.――Heroism of Jovian.――Valentinian and
    Valens.――Valentinian enthroned.――Valens in the East.――Barbarian
    Irruptions.――Reign of Theodosius.――Aspect of the Barbarians.
    ――Rome captured by Alaric.――Character of Alaric.――His Death
    and Burial.――Remarkable Statement of Adolphus.――Attila the Hun.
    ――Valentinian III.――Acadius.――Eloquence of Chrysostom.――His
    Banishment and Death.――Rise of Monasticism.

                             CHAPTER XIX.

                          THE FIFTH CENTURY.

  Christianity the only Possible Religion.――Adventures of Placidia.
    ――Her Marriage with Adolphus the Goth.――Scenes of Violence and
    Crime.――Attila the Hun.――Nuptials of Idaho.――Eudoxia and her
    Fate.――Triumph of Odoacer the Goth.――Character of the Roman
    Nobles.――Conquests of Theodoric.――John Chrysostom.――The Origin
    of Monasticism.――Augustine.――His Dissipation, Conversion, and
    Christian Career.

                              CHAPTER XX.

                       CENTURIES OF WAR AND WOE.

  Convulsions of the Sixth Century.――Corruption of the Church.――The
    Rise of Monasteries.――Rivalry between Rome and Constantinople.
    ――Mohammed and his Career.――His Personal Appearance.――His System
    of Religion.――His Death.――Military Expeditions of the Moslems.
    ――The Threatened Conquest of Europe.――Capture of Alexandria.
    ――Burning of the Library.――Rise of the Feudal System.
    ――Charlemagne.――Barbarian Antagonism to Christianity.

                             CHAPTER XXI.

                            THE DARK AGES.

  The Anticipated Second Coming of Christ.――State of the World
    in the Tenth Century.――Enduring Architecture.――Power of the
    Papacy.――Vitality of the Christian Religion.――The Pope and
    the Patriarch.――Intolerance of Hildebrand.――Humiliation of the
    Emperor Henry IV.――Farewell Letter of Monomaque.――The Crusades.
    ――Vladimir of Russia.――His Introduction of Christianity to his
    Realms.――Marriage with the Christian Princess Anne.――Extirpation
    of Paganism.――The Baptism.――The Spiritual Conversion of Vladimir.

                             CHAPTER XXII.

                           THE REFORMATION.

  Two Aspects of Catholicism.――Jubilee at Rome.――Infamy of Philip
    of France.――Banditti Bishops.――Sale of Indulgences.――Tetzel the
    Peddler.――The Rise of Protestantism.――Luther and the Diet at
    Worms.――Intolerance of Charles V.――Civil War and its Reverses.
    ――Perfidy of Charles V.――Coalition against the Protestants.
    ――Abdication and Death.

                            CHAPTER XXIII.


  Principles of the two Parties.――Ferdinand’s Appeal to the Pope.
    ――The Celibacy of the Clergy.――Maximilian.――His Protection of
    the Protestants.――The Reformation in France.――Jeanne d’Albret,
    Queen of Navarre.――Proposed Marriage of Henry of Navarre and
    Marguerite of France.――Perfidy of Catharine de Medici.――The
    Nuptials.――The Massacre of St. Bartholomew.――Details of
    its Horrors.――Indignation of Protestant Europe.――Death of
    Charles IX.

                             CHAPTER XXIV.

                      THE CHURCH IN MODERN TIMES.

  Character of Henry III.――Assassination of the Duke of Guise.
    ――Cruel Edicts of Louis XIV.――Revocation of the Edict of Nantes.
    ――Sufferings of Protestants.――Important Question.――Thomas
    Chalmers.――Experiment at St. John.――His Labors and Death.
    ――Jonathan Edwards.――His Resolutions.――His Marriage.――His Trials.
    ――His Death.――John Wesley.――His Conversion.――George Whitefield.
    ――First Methodist Conference.――Death of Wesley.――Robert Hall.
    ――His Character and Death.――William Paley.――His Works and Death.
    ――The Sabbath.――Power of the Gospel.――Socrates.――Scene on the
    Prairie.――The Bible.



  Illustration: (‡ Decoration)

                       HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY.

                              CHAPTER I.


  The Roman Empire.――Moral Influence of Jesus.――John.――The
    Annunciation.――The Birth of Jesus.――Visit of the Magi.――Wrath
    of Herod.――Flight to Egypt.――Return to Nazareth.――Jesus in the
    Temple.――John the Baptist.――The Temptation.――The First Disciples.
    ――The First Miracle.――Visit to Jerusalem.――Nicodemus.――The Woman
    of Samaria.――Healing of the Nobleman’s Son.――Visit to Capernaum.
    ――Peter and Andrew called.――James and John called.――The Demoniac
    healed.――Tour through Galilee.

NO one now takes much interest in the history of the world before the
coming of Christ. The old dynasties of Babylon, Media, Assyria, are but
dim spectres lost in the remoteness of the long-forgotten past. Though
the Christian lingers with solemn pleasure over the faintly-revealed
scenes of patriarchal life, still he feels but little personal interest
in the gorgeous empires which rise and disappear before him in those
remote times, in spectral vision, like the genii of an Arabian tale.

Thebes, Palmyra, Nineveh,――palatial mansions once lined their streets,
and pride and opulence thronged their dwellings: but their ruins have
faded away, their rocky sepulchres are swept clean by the winds of
centuries; and none but a few antiquarians now care to know of their
prosperity or adversity, of their pristine grandeur or their present

All this is changed since the coming of Christ. Eighteen centuries ago
a babe was born in the stable of an inn, in the Roman province of Judæa.
The life of that babe has stamped a new impress upon the history of the
world. When the child Jesus was born, all the then known nations of the
earth were in subjection to one government,――that of Rome.

The Atlantic Ocean was an unexplored sea, whose depths no mariner
ever ventured to penetrate. The Indies had but a shadowy and almost
fabulous existence. Rumor said, that over the wild, unexplored wastes
of interior Asia, fierce tribes wandered, sweeping to and fro, like
demons of darkness; and marvellous stories were told of their monstrous
aspect and fiendlike ferocity.

The Mediterranean Sea, then the largest body of water really known
upon the globe, was but a Roman lake. It was the central portion of the
Roman Empire. Around its shores were clustered the thronged provinces
and the majestic cities which gave Rome celebrity above all previous
dynasties, and which invested the empire of the Cæsars with fame that
no modern kingdom, empire, or republic, has been able to eclipse.

A few years before the birth of Christ, Julius Cæsar perished in the
senate-chamber at Rome, pierced by the daggers of Brutus and other
assassins. At the great victory of Pharsalia, Cæsar had struck down his
only rival Pompey, and had concentrated the power of the world in his
single hand. His nephew Octavius, the second Cæsar, surnamed Augustus,
or the August, was, at the time Jesus was born, the monarch of the
world. Notwithstanding a few nominal restraints, he was an absolute
sovereign, without any constitutional checks. It is not too much to
say, that his power was unlimited. He could do what he pleased with the
property, the liberty, and the lives of every man, woman, and child of
more than three hundred millions composing the Roman Empire. Such power
no mortal had ever swayed before. Such power no mortal will ever sway

Fortunately for humanity, Octavius Cæsar was, in the main, a good
man. He merited the epithet of _August_. Though many of the vices
of paganism soiled his character, still, in accordance with the dim
light of those dark days, he endeavored to wield his immense power in
promotion of the welfare of his people.

Little did this Roman emperor imagine, as he sat enthroned in his
gorgeous palace upon the Capitoline Hill, that a babe slumbering in a
manger at Bethlehem, an obscure hamlet in the remote province of Syria,
and whose infant wailings perhaps blended with the bleating of the goat
or the lowing of the kine, was to establish an empire, before which all
the power of the Cæsars was to dwindle into insignificance.

But so it was. Jesus, the babe of Bethlehem, has become, beyond all
others, whether philosophers, warriors, or kings, the most conspicuous
being who ever trod this globe. Before the name of Jesus of Nazareth
all others fade away. Uneducated, he has introduced principles which
have overthrown the proudest systems of ancient philosophy. By the
utterance of a few words, all of which can be written on half a dozen
pages, he has demolished all the pagan systems which pride and passion
and power had then enthroned. The Roman gods and goddesses――Jupiter,
Juno, Venus, Bacchus, Diana――have fled before the approach of the
religion of Jesus, as fabled spectres vanish before the dawn.

Jesus, the “Son of man” and the “Son of God,” has introduced a system
of religion so comprehensive, that it is adapted to every conceivable
situation in life; so simple, that the most unlearned, and even
children, can comprehend it.

This babe of Bethlehem, whose words were so few, whose brief life
was so soon ended, and whose sacrificial death upon the cross was
so wonderful, though dead, still lives and reigns in this world,――a
monarch more influential than any other, or all other sovereigns upon
the globe. His empire has advanced majestically, with ever-increasing
power, down the path of eighteen centuries; and few will doubt that it
is destined to take possession of the whole world.

The Cæsars have perished, and their palaces are in ruins. The empire
of Charlemagne has risen, like one of those gorgeous clouds we often
admire, brilliant with the radiance of the setting sun; and, like that
cloud, it has vanished forever. Charles V. has marshalled the armies
of Europe around his throne, and has almost rivalled the Cæsars in the
majesty of his sway; and, like a dream, the vision of his universal
empire has fled.

But the kingdom of Jesus has survived all these wrecks of empires.
Without a palace or a court, without a bayonet or a sabre, without any
emoluments of rank or wealth or power offered by Jesus to his subjects,
his kingdom has advanced steadily, resistlessly, increasing in strength
every hour, crushing all opposition, triumphing over all time’s changes;
so that, at the present moment, the kingdom of Jesus is a stronger
kingdom, more potent in all the _elements of influence_ over the human
heart, than all the other governments of the earth.

There is not a man upon this globe who would now lay down his life
from love for any one of the numerous monarchs of Rome; but there are
millions who would go joyfully to the dungeon or the stake from love
for that Jesus who commenced his earthly career in the manger of a
country inn, whose whole life was but a scene of poverty and suffering,
and who finally perished upon the cross in the endurance of a cruel
death with malefactors.

As this child, from the period of whose birth time itself is now dated,
was passing through the season of infancy and childhood, naval fleets
swept the Mediterranean Sea, and Roman legions trampled bloodily over
subjugated provinces. There were conflagrations of cities, ravages
of fields, fierce battles, slaughter, misery, death. Nearly all these
events are now forgotten; but the name of Jesus of Nazareth grows more
lustrous as the ages roll on.

The events which preceded the birth of Jesus cannot be better described
than in the language of the inspired writers:――

“There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judæa, a certain priest
named Zacharias, of the course of Abia; and his wife was of the
daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. And they were both
righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of
the Lord blameless. And they had no child, because Elisabeth was barren;
and they both were now well stricken in years. And it came to pass,
that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of
his course, according to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was
to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord; and the whole
multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.

“And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord, standing on the
right side of the altar of incense. And, when Zacharias saw him, he
was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said unto him, Fear
not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall
bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have
joy and gladness, and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall
be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor
strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost even from
his mother’s womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to
the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power
of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the
disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared
for the Lord.

“And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am
an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.

“And the angel, answering, said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in
the presence of God, and am sent to speak unto thee, and to show thee
these glad tidings. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to
speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou
believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.

“And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried
so long in the temple. And, when he came out, he could not speak unto
them. And they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple; for
he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless. And it came to pass,
that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he
departed to his own house. And, after those days, his wife Elisabeth
conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, Thus hath the Lord
dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me to take away my
reproach among men.

“And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel 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.
And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly
favored; the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And, when
she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what
manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her,

“Fear not, Mary; for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou
shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son; and thou shalt call
his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the
Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father
David; and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his
kingdom there shall be no end.

“Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a

“And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall
come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee:
therefore, also, that holy thing that shall be born of thee shall be
called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also
conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her
who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible.

“And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it unto me
according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.”[1]

Elisabeth was at that time residing in what was called the
“hill-country” of Judæa, several miles south of Jerusalem. Mary was
in Galilee, the extreme northern part of Palestine. “And Mary arose in
those days, and went into the hill-country with haste, into a city of
Juda; and entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.
And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary,
the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy
Ghost; and she spake out with a loud voice, and said,

“Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
for, lo! as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears,
the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed;
for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her
from the Lord.

“And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath
rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his
handmaiden; for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me
blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy
is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to
generation. He hath showed strength with his arms; he hath scattered
the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the
mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled
the hungry with good things, and the rich he hath sent empty away. He
hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; as he
spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed forever.”

“Now, the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother
Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found
with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just
man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put
her away privily. But, while he thought on these things, behold, the
angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son
of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife; for that which is
conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son,
and thou shalt call his name JESUS; for he shall save his people from
their sins.

“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_.[2]

“Then Joseph, being raised from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had
bidden him, and took unto him his wife; and knew her not till she had
brought forth her first-born son.”

Mary, upon her visit to Elisabeth, remained with her about three
months, and then returned to Nazareth. Upon the birth of John, he
was taken on the eighth day to be circumcised. His father, who still
remained dumb, wrote that he should be called John. To the surprise of
his friends, speech was then restored to him. These remarkable events
were extensively noised abroad. “And all they that heard them laid them
up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be?”

In the year of Rome 450, the Emperor Cæsar Augustus ordered a general
census of the population of Palestine to be taken, that he might, with
exactitude, know the resources of the province. The Jewish custom had
long been, that a man should be registered in his birthplace instead
of that of his residence. During the months of January and February of
that year, all the narrow pathways of Judæa were crowded by cavalcades
of those who were seeking their native places to be registered
according to this decree.

Among these lowly pilgrims there were two, Joseph and Mary, from the
obscure village of Nazareth. Toiling along through the ravines of
Galilee, over the plains of Samaria, and across the hill-country of
Judæa, they continued their journey, until, at the end of the fourth
day, they entered the little village of Bethlehem, about five miles
south of Jerusalem.

So many travellers had entered the village before them, that there
was no room left in the inn. Perhaps even the stable might have been
refused, had not the woman’s condition appealed to the heart of the
inn-keeper. But there she and her husband found a place to rest.

Outside of the village stretched the plains, where, hundreds of years
before, David watched his father’s flocks. On the same hill-slopes
shepherds tended their sheep still. It was apparently a serene and
cloudless night. Suddenly there appeared in the heavens, descending
from amidst the stars, the form of an angel. The simple-minded
shepherds gazed upon the wonderful spectacle with alarm. The angel,
radiant with heaven’s light, addressed them, saying,――

“Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which
shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day, in the city of
David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign
unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling-clothes, lying
in a manger.”

As these words were uttered, the babe was born; and immediately there
appeared a vast multitude of the heavenly host,――the retinue which had
accompanied the celestial visitant from heaven to earth. Such a band
never before met mortal eyes. With simultaneous voice they sang, while
the melody floated over the silent hills, “Glory to God in the highest;
and on earth peace, good-will toward men.”

The voice of prophecy had announced, ages before, that the
long-expected Messiah should be born in Bethlehem. Seven hundred years
had passed since the prophet Micah wrote,――

“And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the
princes of Juda; for out of thee shall come a Governor that shall rule
my people Israel.”[3]

The angels disappeared, and the heavenly depths resumed their
accustomed calm. But the scene and the words sank deep into the hearts
of the shepherds, who believed without questioning this wonderful
announcement. The time foretold by the prophets――had it truly come?
Was the long watching of the true-hearted Jew really at an end?

Making haste in the eagerness of their hope, the shepherds went to
Bethlehem, and found Mary, Joseph, and the babe lying in the manger.
Having this corroboration of the angels’ words, they told to all whom
they met the marvellous scene which they had witnessed. All wondered;
for it was not thus that they had expected the Messiah to come. But
Mary, the mother, kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

Although the birth of Jesus was thus heralded by a choir of angels,
it seems not to have been universally recognized that the Messiah had
come. The evidence is abundant, from passages taken from both Roman
and Jewish writers, that there was a general expectation at the time,
throughout the East, that some one was soon to be born in Judæa who
would rule the world. The ideas prevailing respecting the nature of his
reign were extremely vague. Tacitus, Suetonius, Zoroaster, all allude
to this coming man, whose advent had been so minutely foretold in the
sacred writings of the Jews.

The Persian priests, or Magi, were among the most learned men of
those times. Whatever of science then was known was inseparably
blended with religion. Astrology and astronomy were kindred studies.
The Persian Magi were surprised by the appearance of a star, or
meteor, of wonderful brilliancy. They interpreted it as a sign that
the long-expected Messiah was born. As they approached the meteor, it
moved before them. A deputation of their number was appointed to follow
it. It led them to Judæa. They then began eagerly to inquire where the
child was born. Herod the king heard these strange tidings. He trembled
from fear that this prophetically-announced Messiah would assume kingly
power, and eject him from his throne. In great anxiety he sent for
the most approved interpreters of the Bible, and inquired of them if
the prophets had announced the _place_ in which the Messiah should be
born. They replied that the place was Bethlehem, citing in proof the
prediction of the prophet Micah. Herod, having determined to take the
life of the child, called the Magi before him, and directed them to
go immediately to Bethlehem, and, as soon as they had found the young
child, to report to him, saying that he wished to worship him also.

The meteor, which had led them from the plains of Persia, and which
had perhaps, for a time, vanished, re-appeared, and went before them
till it came and stood over where the young child was. After paying
the divine babe the tribute of their homage and adoration, instead
of returning to Herod with the information, admonished by God, they
departed by an unfrequented route to their own country.

The infamous king, thus baffled, in his rage sent officers to put to
death all the children in the city of Bethlehem and its vicinity who
were two years of age and under. He supposed that in that number the
infant Jesus would surely be included. But Joseph, warned by God in a
dream, escaped by night with Mary and the babe into Egypt, about forty
miles south of Bethlehem. There the holy family remained for several
months, until the wretched Herod died, devoured by a terrible disease.
But, as his son Archelaus ascended the throne vacated by Herod, Joseph
did not deem it safe to return to Judæa, but, by a circuitous route,
found his way back to the obscure hamlet of Nazareth, buried among the
mountains of Galilee. Here, we are informed, “the child grew, and waxed
strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon

Before the flight into Egypt, all the ceremonies enjoined by the Mosaic
law upon the birth of a child of Jewish parents were strictly observed.
At the presentation of the babe in the temple, the aged Simeon, then
the officiating priest, recognized him as the long-looked-for Messiah.
Anna too, the prophetess, gave thanks to the Lord for him.

After these scenes, a veil is dropped over the child-life of Jesus. It
is lifted but once, when, at the age of twelve, the child attended his
parents to Jerusalem. Being separated from Joseph and Mary in the crowd,
they sought anxiously for him, and found him in the temple, sitting in
the midst of the doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions. All
who heard the questions and the answers of the child were amazed at
his wisdom. To the tender reproof of his mother, he answered as though
the meaning of his life were just beginning to dawn upon him: “How
is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s

His parents did not understand him; but he returned with them to
Nazareth. Here among the hills of Galilee, in a village so obscure that
its name is not mentioned in the Old Testament, the youthful years of
Jesus passed unnoticed away until he had attained the age of thirty.
According to the Jewish law, a man could not take upon himself priestly
duties until he was thirty years old. Not until then was he considered
to have obtained that maturity of character which would warrant him in
assuming the office of a teacher, or which would enable him to realize
the sacredness of the priestly calling. No record of these years is
given us, save that contained in the declaration, “And Jesus increased
in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”

John the Baptist, forerunner of Jesus, seems to have passed through
very different youthful discipline from that of Him whom he was to
herald. Jesus spent his childhood and early manhood, so far as we are
informed, in the seclusion of that domestic life which is common to man.
Nurtured in its sweet simplicity, he learned from experience the trials
and cares of humanity in its lowliest condition.

John, forsaking these tranquil scenes of domestic life, fled into the
desert, and, in the most dreary solitudes, prepared for his momentous
ministry. The last of the prophets, “greater was not born of women
than he.” The place he chose for his preparation was one of desolate
grandeur. The borders of the desert reached the barren, verdureless
banks of the Dead Sea. All signs of life were lost in a region
apparently cursed by the frown of God. The heavy waters of the lake
lay motionless, and the mountains of Moab rose beyond in their severe
and rugged sublimity.

Yet here John dwelt, that he might ponder the meaning of the Scripture
prophecies, so as to be able to expound them with power when the time
should come for him to address the people. Here he was impressed with
the enormity of sin against God, and the hopelessness of the sinner,
unless a higher power came to his rescue. Here God revealed to his
soul the doctrine of repentance and remission of sins through faith
in an atoning Saviour,――“the Lamb slain from the foundation of the
world,”――the Lamb so often slain in symbolic sacrifice, but now to
appear and suffer in his own sacred person.

When the time of preparation was completed, the word of God came to
John, summoning him to his work. Emerging from his life of solitude,
he traversed all the country round about Jordan, crying out in
trumpet-tones, which collected thousands to listen to him, “Repent
ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The new prophet, humble in
his own soul, as the truly great always are, disclaimed all title to
the Messiahship, declaring that One was coming mightier than he, the
latchet of whose shoes he was unworthy to unloose. When the multitude,
impressed by his figure, his character, and his words, inquired of him,
“Art thou the Christ?” he replied emphatically, “I am not.”――“Art thou
Elias, then?” was the continued query. The reply was equally emphatic,
“No.”――“Who art thou, then?” they further inquired. He replied, “I am
the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the
Lord; make his paths straight.”

A leathern girdle encircled the loins of this wonderful man. His
frugal fare consisted of locusts and wild honey. John stood by the
River Jordan, baptizing those who presented themselves for the rite.
Jesus, then about thirty years of age, appeared among them. Since his
twelfth year, no act of his had been recorded. But now, according to
the Jewish idea of maturity, he was prepared to enter upon his ministry.
John doubtless had not seen him for many years. Probably he had never
known that he was the Christ. But, when that pure and holy One came
to be baptized, the eyes of the prophet were opened, and he hesitated,
saying, “I have need to be baptized of thee; and comest thou to me?”
But Jesus commands, and John performs the rite. Then the faithful
prophet is rewarded by seeing the heavens opened, and the Spirit of God
descending like a dove, and lighting upon the brow of Jesus. A voice
at the same time was heard from the serene skies, exclaiming in clear
utterance, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Then John was filled with fulness of assured joy, as he says, “I knew
him not;” meaning, of course, that, before the performance of the rite,
he had not known Jesus as the Messiah. The following day, John pointed
out Jesus to two of his disciples as the “Lamb of God, which taketh
away the sin of the world.”

Soon after this came the period of our Lord’s temptation, over which
our hearts are moved with wonder and tender compassion. Son of God
as he was in his spiritual nature, in the humiliation of his earthly
mission he had also become Son of man. Sinless from his birth, the
taint of evil had never touched his pure soul. Yet a higher nature than
even this was necessary before he could redeem the people from their
sins. There was needed in his human nature a knowledge of the power of
evil, which could only be obtained through suffering its temptations.

How else could he truly sympathize with and succor those who are
tempted? Oh holy mystery of the temptation of the Son of God!――a
mystery so sacred and unfathomable, that we can only bow our hearts in
adoration, knowing that we have now a high priest who can be touched
with the feeling of our infirmities,――one who “was in all points
tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”

It is impossible to ascertain with certainty the chronology of our
Saviour’s movements. But, following that which is generally most
approved, we infer that Jesus returned from the temptation in the
wilderness to Nazareth, where he sojourned for a short time. John had
publicly announced Jesus to be the Messiah, in the words, “Behold the
Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!” Jesus was thus
declared to be the atoning Lamb, which for so many centuries had been
represented by the sacrifices offered under the law.

Among the crowd who had flocked to the wilderness to hear the
impassioned preaching of John there were two fishermen, who became
convinced that Jesus was the long-promised Christ. The first of these,
Andrew, hastened to inform his brother Simon Peter that he had found
the Messiah. These two were apparently our Saviour’s first disciples.
Probably their views of the nature of his mission were exceedingly
vague. They, however, attached themselves to his person, and followed
him. Jesus received them kindly, but without any parade. At the first
glance he seems to have comprehended the marked character of Simon
Peter; for he addressed him in language in some degree prophetic of his
future career: “Thou art Simon, the son of Jona: thou shalt be called
Cephas; which is, by interpretation, a stone.” Cephas was the Syriac
for Peter.

  Illustration: Jesus.

The next day two others attached themselves to Jesus,――Philip and
Nathanael. Then, as now, the moment one became a disciple of Jesus,
he was anxious to lead others to him. Philip, who had accepted the
invitation of Christ to follow him, sought out one of his friends,
Nathanael, and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the
law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
Nathanael was a little doubtful whether the son of the carpenter Joseph,
from the obscure hamlet of Nazareth, could be the heaven-commissioned
Messiah for whose advent the pious Jews had been praying during weary
centuries. Incredulously he inquired, “Can any good thing come out of
Nazareth?” The laconic reply of Philip was, “Come and see.”

It appears that Nathanael was a man remarkable for his upright and
noble character. As Jesus saw him approaching, he said to those around
him, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” Nathanael,
overhearing the remark, inquired of him, “Whence knowest thou me?”
The reply of Jesus, “Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast
under the fig-tree, I saw thee,”――thus alluding to some secret event
which Nathanael was sure no mortal could know,――convinced him of the
supernatural powers of Jesus; and he exclaimed in fulness of faith,
“Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel!”

The reply of Jesus was a distinct avowal of his Messiahship: “Because
I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig-tree, believest thou? Thou
shalt see greater things than these. Hereafter ye shall see heaven open,
and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”

Jesus, strengthened, not exhausted, by his temptation in the wilderness,
returned to Nazareth. In the mystery of his double nature as Son of God
and Son of man, the mission of his life seems now to have been fully
revealed to him. He then commenced preaching his gospel of penitence
for sin, faith in him as a Saviour, and a holy life.

Not with words of denunciation did he open his ministry. Tenderly he
bore with the doubts and questionings, which led many to hesitate to
acknowledge him as the long-looked-for Messiah. Sympathy and healing
for body and soul were the first messages of our Lord. The hard,
stern outlines of the Jewish law were softened, yes, glorified, by
the spiritual meaning infused into them by Jesus. Sent to preach the
gospel to the poor, and to bind up the broken-hearted, he addressed the
desponding in words of encouragement and cheer, while he did not abate
one iota of the integrity and authority of the law.

A few miles north of Nazareth, slumbering among the hills of Galilee,
was the little village of Cana. A marriage was celebrated there on the
third day after the return of Jesus from the wilderness. He was invited
to the wedding, with his mother and the disciples who had accompanied
him to Nazareth. The fame of Jesus was rapidly extending, and the
knowledge of his expected presence probably drew an unexpected number
to the wedding. Consequently, the wine, simple juice of the grape,
usually provided on such occasions, was found to be insufficient. The
mother of Jesus informed him with some solicitude that the wine was
falling short. It would appear that he had anticipated this; for his
reply, “What have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come,” may be
interpreted, “It is not necessary for you, mother, to be anxious about
this: the time for me to interpose is not yet come.” That time soon
came,――probably when the wine was entirely exhausted. The anxious,
care-taking mother understood this to mean that he would, at the proper
time, provide for the emergency; for she went to the servants, and
requested them to do whatever Jesus should ask of them.

In the court-yard there were six stone firkins, or jars, about
two-thirds the size of an ordinary barrel, containing about thirty
gallons each. Jesus ordered the servants to fill them with water.
Surprised, but unhesitatingly they obeyed. He then directed them to
draw from those firkins, and present first to the governor of the feast.
To their amazement, pure wine filled their goblets,――wine which the
governor of the feast declared to be of remarkable excellence. This
was the first miracle which is recorded of our Saviour. There is no
evidence that there was the slightest intoxicating quality in this pure
beverage thus prepared for the wedding-guests.

Soon after this, Jesus went to Capernaum, a thriving seaport town
upon the western shores of the Lake of Galilee, about twelve miles
north-east of Nazareth. His mother, his brothers,――who did not
accept his Messiahship,――and his disciples,――we know not how many in
number,――accompanied him. We have no record of his doings during the
few days that he remained there. As the feast of the Passover was at
hand, Jesus went up to Jerusalem, there to inaugurate his ministry in
the midst of the thousands whom the sacred festival would summon to the
metropolis. A few of his disciples accompanied him. Their journey was
undoubtedly made on foot, a distance of about a hundred miles.

Upon their arrival, Jesus directed his steps immediately to the temple,
probably then the most imposing structure in the world. The sight which
met his view as he entered the outer court-yard of the temple with his
humble Galilean followers excited his indignation. The sacred edifice
had been perverted to the most shameful purposes of traffic. The booths
of the traders lined its walls. The bleating of sheep and the lowing of
oxen resounded through its enclosures. The litter of the stable covered
its tessellated floors, and the tables of money-changers stood by the
side of the magnificent marble pillars. The din of traffic filled that
edifice which was erected for the worship of God.

Jesus, in the simple garb of a Galilean peasant, and without any badge
of authority, enters this tumultuous throng. Picking up from the floor
a few of the twigs, or rushes, he bound them together; and, with voice
and gesture of authority whose supernatural power no man could resist,
“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.”

No one ventured any resistance. The temple was cleared of its
abominations. There must have been a more than human presence in the
eye and voice of this Galilean peasant, to enable him thus, in the
proud metropolis of Judæa, to drive the traffickers from all nations in
a panic before him, while invested with no governmental power, and his
only weapon consisting of a handful of rushes; for this seems to be the
proper meaning of the words translated “a whip of small cords.”

The temple being thus cleared, some of the people ventured to ask of
him by what authority he performed such an act. His extraordinary reply
was, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” There
is no evidence that there was any thing in the voice or gesture of
Jesus upon this occasion which implied that he did not refer to the
material temple whose massive grandeur rose around them. It is certain
that his interrogators so understood him: for they replied, “Forty
and six years was this temple in building; and wilt thou rear it up in
three days?”

The evangelist John adds, “But he spake of the temple of his body.” We
have no intimation that Jesus attempted to rectify the error into which
they had fallen. And it is difficult to assign any satisfactory reason
why he should have left them to ponder his dark saying. Human frailty
is often bewildered in the attempt to explicate infinite wisdom.

Probably the fame of Jesus had already reached Jerusalem. His wonderful
achievement, in thus cleansing the temple, must have excited universal
astonishment. Many were inclined to attach themselves to him as a great
prophet. There was at that time residing in Jerusalem a man of much
moral worth, by the name of Nicodemus. He was rich, was in the highest
circles of society, a teacher of the Jewish law, and a member of the
Sanhedrim, the supreme council of the nation.

He sought an interview with Jesus at night, that he might enjoy
uninterrupted conversation, or, as is more probable, because he had not
sufficient moral courage to go to him openly. In the following words
he announced to Jesus his full conviction of his prophetic character:
“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.”

Jesus did not wait for any questions to be asked. With apparent
abruptness, and without any exchange of salutations, he said solemnly,
as if rebuking the assumption that he, the Lamb of God, had come to the
world merely as a teacher, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a
man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Nicodemus ought to have understood this language. The “new birth”
was no new term, framed now for the first time. The proselytes from
heathenism, having been received into the Jewish fold by circumcision
and baptism, in token of the renewal of their hearts, were said to be
“born again.” Jesus, adopting this perfectly intelligible language,
informed Nicodemus that it was not by intellectual conviction merely
that one became a member of the Messiah’s kingdom, but by such a
renovation of soul, that one might be said to be born again,――old
things having passed away, and all things having become new. Nicodemus,
who perhaps, in pharisaic pride, imagined that he had attained the
highest stage of the religious life, was probably a little irritated
in being told that he needed this change of heart to gain admission to
the kingdom of God; and, in his irritation, allowed himself in a very
stupid cavil. “How can a man,” said he, “be born when he is old? Can he
enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?”

Jesus, ever calm, did not heed the cavil, but simply reiterated his
declaration, that no man could become a member of the kingdom of God,
unless, renewed in the spirit of his mind, he thus became a partaker
of the divine nature. Nicodemus probably assumed that he, as a Jew,
would be entitled by right of birth to membership in the kingdom of the
Messiah. When a Gentile became a proselyte to the Jewish religion, by
the rite of baptism he promised to renounce idolatry, to worship the
true God, and to live in conformity with the divine law. The external
rite gradually began to assume undue importance. Our Saviour, in
announcing to Nicodemus the doctrine that a spiritual regeneration
was needful, of which the application of water in baptism was merely
the emblem, said, “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,”――is corrupt: “that which is born of the Spirit is
spirit,”――is pure. “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born

And then, in reply to queries which he foresaw were rising in the mind
of Nicodemus, he continued: “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.” This
sublime truth is thus enunciated without any attempt at explanation.
Why is one man led by the Holy Spirit to the Saviour, while another,
certainly no less deserving, is not? This question has been asked
through all the ages, but never answered. Where is the Christian who
has not often said,――

               “Why was I made to hear thy voice,
                  And enter while there’s room,
                When thousands make a wretched choice,
                  And rather starve than come?”

Infinitely momentous as are these truths, they are the most simple
truths in nature. Nothing can be more obvious to an observing and
reflective man than that a thorough renovation of spirit is essential
to prepare mankind for the society of spotless angels and for the
worship of heaven. This is one of the most simple and rudimental
of moral truths. And when Nicodemus, with the spirit of cavil still
lingering in his mind, allowed himself to say, “How can these things
be?” Jesus gently rebuked him, saying, “Art thou a master of Israel,
and knowest not these things? If I have told you earthly things,”――the
simplest truths of religion, obvious to every thoughtful man,――“and
ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell you of heavenly
things?”――the sublime truths which can only be known by direct

Jesus then proceeds from the simple doctrine of regeneration to the
sublimer theme of an atoning Saviour,――a theme the most wonderful which
the mind of man or angel can contemplate. There cannot be found in
all the volumes of earth a passage so full of meaning, in import so
stupendous, as the few words which then came from the Saviour’s lips.
It was the distinct and emphatic announcement of the plan of salvation
devised by a loving Father in giving his Son to die upon the cross, in
making atonement for the sins of the world.

“No man hath ascended up to heaven but he that came down from heaven;
even the Son of man, which is in heaven. 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. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting
life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but
that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is
not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because
he hath not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God. And
this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men
loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For
every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light,
lest his deeds should be reproved; but he that doeth truth cometh to
the light, that his deeds may be made manifest that they are wrought in

It does not appear that even this enunciation from the lips of Jesus,
of the sublime doctrines of regeneration and atonement, produced any
immediate result upon the heart of Nicodemus. That they produced a deep
impression upon his mind cannot be doubted. Not long after, when there
was intense commotion in Jerusalem in consequence of the teachings of
Jesus, Nicodemus summoned sufficient moral courage to speak one word in
his defence. “Doth our law,” said he, “judge any man before it hear him
and know what he doeth?” But he seems to have been effectually silenced
by the stem rebuff, “Art thou also of Galilee?” We hear no more of
this timid man, until after the lapse of three years, when Jesus had
perished upon the cross, Nicodemus brought to Joseph of Arimathea some
spices to embalm the body. This, also, he probably did secretly and by
night. How contemptible does such a character appear――one too cowardly
to live according to its own convictions of duty――when contrasted with
such men as Abraham, Noah, Daniel, and Paul! And yet there is many a
Nicodemus in almost every village in our land.

Soon after this, Jesus left Jerusalem, and went into the rural
districts of Judæa, where he preached his gospel, and his disciples
baptized, and by this rite received to the general Church such
as became converts. John the Baptist was then preaching to large
assemblies in Samaria, in a place called Ænon, about twenty miles
west of the River Jordan, and about sixty miles north from Jerusalem.
This place, though among the hills, was well watered with springs and
streams, and thus well adapted for the vast numbers who gathered to
hear this renowned preacher.

Jesus and his disciples were in Judæa, in the vicinity of Jerusalem,
probably about forty miles south of John. Some of the zealous disciples
of John became annoyed in hearing that larger crowds were flocking to
Jesus than to him; that Jesus was making many converts, and that his
disciples were actually baptizing more than were the disciples of John.
But the illustrious prophet did not share in their feelings of envy. In
words worthy of his noble character he replied,――

“Ye yourselves bear me witness that I said I am not the Christ, but
that I am sent before him. He must increase; but I must decrease. He
that cometh from above is above all; for he whom God hath sent speaketh
the words of God. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things
into his hand. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and
he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God
abideth on him.”

  Illustration: (‡ Map of) Palestine.

Jesus, being informed of the spirit of rivalry which existed on the
part of John’s disciples, decided to withdraw from that region, and
return to Galilee. His direct route led through the central district
of Samaria. There was a bitter feud between the inhabitants of Judæa
and Samaria, so that there was but little social intercourse or traffic
between them. The road led first over barren plains as far as Bethel;
then traversed a region of undulating hills smiling with verdure, till
it became lost in a winding mountain-pass quite densely wooded. On the
third day of the journey, Jesus, toiling on foot beneath the scorching
sun of Syria, reached Sychar, in the heart of Samaria. About a mile
and a half from the village, at the foot of Mount Gerizim, there was
a celebrated well, which the patriarch Jacob had dug several centuries
before. Jesus sat down by the well to rest, while his disciples, who
accompanied him, went into the village to purchase some food. While
seated there alone, a Samaritan woman came to draw water. Jesus said to
her, “Give me to drink.” His dress and language indicated that he was
a Jew.

The woman replied, “How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of
me, which am a woman of Samaria?”

“If thou knewest,” said Jesus, “the gift of God, and who it is that
saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of him, and
he would have given thee living water.”

To this enigmatical reply, which evidently aroused the attention of the
woman, she rejoined, “Thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is
deep. From whence, then, hast thou that living water? Art thou greater
than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof
himself, and his children and his cattle?”

Again Jesus replied in enigmatical language, “Whosoever drinketh of
this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that
I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give
him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”

The woman, bewildered, and with excited curiosity, said, “Sir, give me
this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.”

“Go, call thy husband,” said Jesus, “and come hither.”

The woman, conscience-smitten, and somewhat alarmed by the mysterious
nature of the conversation, answered, “I have no husband.”

The startling response of Jesus was, “Thou hast well said, I have no
husband: for thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is
not thy husband. In that saidst thou truly.”

The woman, alarmed, and anxious to withdraw the conversation from her
own sins and personal duty, sought, as half-awakened sinners have ever
endeavored to do from that day to this, to change the theme into a
theological discussion.

“Sir,” she said, “I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers
worshipped in this mountain; and ye say that in Jerusalem is the place
where men ought to worship.”

This question was a standing controversy between the Jews and the
Samaritans. “Believe me,” Jesus replied, “the hour cometh when ye shall
neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye
worship ye know not what: we know what we worship; for salvation is of
the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers
shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh
such to worship him. God is a Spirit; and they that worship him must
worship him in spirit and in truth.”

The Samaritans rejected the prophets, and received only the five books
of Moses. Jesus therefore announced that the Jewish, not the Samaritan
faith, was the true religion; while at the same time he declared that
external forms were important only as they promoted and indicated
holiness of heart.

The woman replied, “I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ.
When he is come, he will tell us all things.”

Her astonishment must have been great when Jesus rejoined, “I that
speak unto thee am he.”

The conversation was here interrupted by the return of the disciples
who had gone into the village. Though surprised in seeing Jesus engaged
in earnest conversation with the Samaritan woman, they asked him no
questions upon the subject; but the woman, so agitated that she forgot
to take her water-pot with her, hurried back to the village, saying to
her friends, in language somewhat exaggerated, “Come see a man which
told me all things that ever I did. Is not this the Christ?”

Quite a crowd of Samaritans were soon gathered around the well. In the
mean time, the disciples besought Jesus to partake of the refreshments
which they had brought from the village. His remarkable reply was,――

“I have meat to eat that ye know not of. My meat” (the great object of
my life) “is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish his work.
Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold,
I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they
are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages,
and gathereth fruit unto life eternal, that both he that soweth and
he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true,
One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye
bestowed no labor: other men labored, and ye have entered into their

It is probable that Jesus went from the well into the village or city
of Sychar; for he continued in that region for two days, preaching
the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. The result was, that many more
believed, and said unto the woman, “Now we believe, not because of thy
saying; for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed
the Christ, the Saviour of the world.”

Continuing his journey, Jesus proceeded still northward to Galilee. The
fame of his words and of his works was spreading far and wide. As he
travelled, he entered the synagogues of the villages, and preached his
gospel probably to large crowds. Popularity accompanied his steps; for,
we are informed by the sacred historian, “he taught in their synagogues,
being glorified of all.”

Upon reaching the province of Galilee, he repaired to Cana, where
his first miracle was performed. His name was now upon all lips;
and, wherever he appeared, crowds were attracted. About twelve miles
north-east from Cana, upon the shores of the Lake of Galilee, was the
city of Capernaum. A nobleman there, of high official rank, had a son
dangerously sick. Hearing of the arrival of Jesus in Cana, and fully
convinced of his miraculous powers, he hastened to him, and entreated
him to come down and heal his son. Immediately upon the application of
the nobleman, appreciating the faith he thus exhibited, he said, “Go
thy way: thy son liveth.” Apparently untroubled with any incredulity,
the nobleman set out on his return. Meeting servants by the way, they
informed him that his son was recovering. Upon inquiry, he learned
that his convalescence commenced apparently at the very moment in which
Jesus assured him of his safety. In consequence of this second miracle
in Galilee, the nobleman and all his family became disciples of Jesus.

From Cana, Jesus went to the home of his childhood and youth, in
Nazareth, which was but a few miles south of Cana. It is probable that
his reputed father, Joseph, was dead, as we have no subsequent allusion
to him; and that there was no home in Nazareth to welcome the wanderer.
Upon the sabbath day, according to his custom, he repaired to the
synagogue. Taking the Bible, he opened to the sixty-first chapter of
Isaiah, and read those prophetic words of the promised Messiah which
had been written nearly seven hundred years before:――

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed
me to preach good tidings unto the meek: he hath sent me to bind up the
broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of
the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of
the Lord.”

He closed the book, returned it to the officiating minister, and sat
down upon the raised seat from which it was customary for the Jewish
speakers to address the audience. The eyes of all were fastened upon

“This day,” said Jesus, “is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.”
It was universally understood that this passage from the prophet
referred to the Messiah. Thus he solemnly announced to his astonished
fellow-citizens of Nazareth that he was the Son of God, whose coming
the pious Jews had, through so many centuries, been expecting. It is
evident that the tidings of his career were already creating great
excitement in Nazareth.

“All bare witness,” writes the inspired historian, “and wondered at the
gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not
this Joseph’s son?

“And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb,
_Physician, heal thyself_: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum,
do also here in thy country. And he said, Verily I say unto you, No
prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth, many
widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut
up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the
land; but unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city
of Sidon” (a Gentile city), “unto a woman that was a widow” (a Gentile
woman). “And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the
prophet; and none of them was cleansed saving Naaman the Syrian.”

This declaration, that God regarded Gentiles as well as Jews with
his parental favor, roused their indignation. The inspired historian
records, “And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things,
were filled with wrath, and rose up, and thrust him out of the city,
and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built,
that they might cast him down headlong; but he, passing through the
midst of them, went his way.”

It is not known whether a miracle was performed at this time to disarm
the mob, or whether the infuriated populace were overawed by the
natural dignity of his demeanor, and by the sacredness which began to
be attached to his person as the reputed Messiah. It was a case similar
to that which occurred when he cleansed the temple.

Jesus, upon this occasion, took his text from the Bible, and commented
upon it. The text and a few of his remarks have been alone transmitted
to us. There is a rocky cliff which extends for some distance along the
hill on which Nazareth is built, which is still thirty or forty feet
high, notwithstanding the accumulated _débris_ of eighteen centuries,
which was undoubtedly the scene of this transaction.

John the Baptist was now cast into prison. His work as the forerunner
of Christ was accomplished. Eight months of our Lord’s ministry had
passed away. On the eastern shore of the Dead Sea there was an immense
fortress called Machærus. Built on a crag, surrounded by gloomy ravines,
and strengthened by the most formidable works of military enginery
then known, it was deemed impregnable. Here the despot Herod had shut
up John the Baptist as a prisoner. Weary months rolled away as the
impetuous spirit of the prophet beat unavailingly against the bars
of his prison. Though a prophet, the _whole_ mystery of the Messiah’s
kingdom had not been revealed to him. With great solicitude, apparently
with many doubts and fears, he watched the career of Jesus, so
inexplicable to human wisdom.

Jesus, rejected with insult and outrage by the people of Nazareth,
repaired to Capernaum, on the shores of the lake. This body of water,
so renowned in the life of Jesus, is the only sea referred to in the
gospel history. It is alike called the “Sea of Galilee,” the “Sea of
Tiberias,” and “Lake Gennesaret.” In Capernaum he took up his residence
for a time, “preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God;” that is,
preaching the glad tidings of full and free remission of sins through
faith in him as the Messiah, and his coming kingdom. “The time,” said
he, predicted by the prophets, “is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is
at hand. Repent ye, and believe the gospel.”[4]

Walking one day on the shores of the lake, he met Simon Peter and his
brother Andrew, engaged in their occupation as fishermen. It will be
remembered that they had met Jesus before, at the time of his baptism
by John, and had become convinced that he was the Messiah. On some of
his journeyings they had accompanied him. But they had not, as yet,
permanently attached themselves to his person. He said to them, “Follow
me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Their unwavering faith in him
is manifest from the fact, that leaving their boat and their net, and
their earthly all, in their humble garb of fishermen they followed him.

Continuing the walk along the water’s edge, they met two other young
fishermen, also brothers, James and John. They were sitting upon the
shore with their father Zebedee, mending their net. Jesus called them
also to follow him; which they promptly did, leaving their father
behind them. Jesus had selected them to be preachers of his gospel; and
they were to be with him, that, listening to his addresses, they might
learn the doctrines which they were to preach.

Accompanied by these four disciples, Jesus returned into the city
of Capernaum; and probably the next day, it being the sabbath, he
entered the synagogue, and addressed the people. We have no record
of his address. Mark simply informs us that he “taught; and they
were astonished at his doctrine; for he taught them as one that had
authority, and not as the scribes.”[5] Luke says, “His word was with

Among the crowd assembled there was a man possessed of a devil. He
startled the whole assembly by shouting out, “Let us alone! What have
we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy
us? I know thee whom thou art, the Holy One of God.”

“Accepting, with whatever mystery the whole subject of demoniac
possession is clothed, the simple account of the evangelists, it does
appear most wonderful,――the quick intelligence, the wild alarm, the
terror-stricken faith, that then pervaded the demon world, as if all
the spirits of hell who had been suffered to make human bodies their
habitation grew pale at the very presence of Jesus, and could not but
cry out in the extremity of their despair.”[7]

Jesus turned his mild, commanding eye upon the demoniac, and calmly
said, “Hold thy peace, and come out of him.” The foul spirit threw the
man to the ground, tore him with convulsions, and, uttering a loud,
inarticulate, fiendlike cry, departed. The man rose to his feet, serene
and happy, conversing with his friends in his right mind. All were
seized with amazement. The strange tidings ran through the streets of
the city. The fame of such marvels spread rapidly far and wide. “What
new thing is this?” was the general exclamation; “for with authority he
commandeth the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.”

The mother of Simon Peter’s wife was taken sick with a violent fever.
Jesus, being informed of it, visited her bedside, took her gently
by the hand, and rebuked the fever. The disease, as obedient to his
command as was the foul spirit, immediately left the sufferer. The cure
was instantaneous and complete. She arose from her couch, and returned
at once to her household duties.

It is difficult to imagine the excitement which these events must have
produced. Upon the evening of that memorable day, the region around
the house was thronged with the multitude, bringing unto him all that
were sick with divers diseases. “And he laid his hands on every one of
them, and healed them. And devils also came out of many, crying out,
and saying, Thou art Christ, the Son of God. And he, rebuking them,
suffered them not to speak; for they knew that he was Christ.”[8]

It is impossible for us to comprehend the nature of the union of God
and man in the person of Jesus. The sacred historian, in announcing
that God “was made flesh and dwelt among us,” makes no attempt to
solve this mystery. But it seems that Jesus, though possessed of these
miraculous powers, was so exhausted by the labors and excitements of
the day, that, long before the dawn of the morning, he rose from his
bed, and, leaving the slumbering city behind him, retired to a solitary
place, where, fanned by the cool breeze of the mountain and of the lake,
he spent long hours in prayer.

Peter and his companions, when they rose in the morning, missed Jesus.
It was not until after a considerable search that he was found in his
retreat. They informed him of the great excitement which pervaded the
city, and that the people were looking for him in all directions. But
Jesus, instead of returning to Capernaum to receive the adulation which
awaited him there, said, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may
preach there also. I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities;
for therefore came I forth.”

In the mean time, some of the people had found him; and they began to
gather around him in large numbers. They entreated him to return to
the city, and take up his residence with them; but he declined, and
at once entered upon a laborious tour through the cities and villages
of Galilee, “teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel
of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sicknesses and all manner
of diseases among the people.”

Though these deeds were done in Galilee, the extreme northern
province of Syria, still the fame of them spread rapidly through the
whole country. “And they brought unto him all sick people that were
taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed
with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy;
and he healed them. And there followed him great multitudes of people
from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from beyond

Galilee was at that time very densely inhabited by an energetic and
bustling population of about three millions. It was about sixty miles
in length, and forty in breadth; containing, according to Josephus,
two hundred and four towns and villages, whose average population was
fifteen thousand. Through this region, Jesus, accompanied by a few of
his disciples, entered upon a pedestrian tour. The lake was thirteen
miles long, and six broad. Its shores were dotted with villages
luxuriant in culture, and the waters of the lake were covered with the
boats of fishermen.

Now all is silent there, lonely and most desolate. Till last year, but
a single boat floated upon its waters. On its shores, Tiberias in ruins,
and Magdala, composed of a few wretched hovels, are all that remain.
You may ride round and round the empty beach, and, these excepted,
never meet a human being, nor pass a human habitation. Capernaum,
Chorazin, Bethsaida, are gone. Here and there you stumble over ruins;
but none can tell you exactly what they were. They knew not, those
cities of the lake, the day of their visitation. Their names and their
memory have perished.

The number of sick people whom Jesus healed on this circuit must have
been immense; for he traversed a wide and populous region, and patients
were brought to him from great distances; and he healed them all. One
cannot but regret that we have no minute record of the events which
transpired and of the addresses which Jesus made on this missionary
excursion, which commenced, it is supposed, in June, and was closed
early in October.

                              CHAPTER II.

                         TOUR THROUGH GALILEE.

  The Horns of Hattin.――The Sermon on the Mount.――Jesus goes to
    Capernaum.――The Miraculous Draught of Fishes.――Healing the Leper,
    the Paralytic.――Associates with Publicans and Sinners.――The
    Feast of the Passover.――The Cripple at the Pool.――The Equality
    of the Son with the Father.――Healing the Withered Hand.――Anger
    of the Pharisees.――The Twelve Apostles chosen.――Inquiry of John
    the Baptist.――Jesus dines with a Pharisee.――The Anointment.
    ――Journey through Galilee.――Stilling the Tempest.――The Demoniacs
    and the Swine.――The Daughter of Jairus.――Restores Sight to the
    Blind.――Address to his Disciples.

ABOUT seven miles south of Capernaum there was a double-peaked eminence,
fifty or sixty feet high, which commanded a charming view of the Valley
of Gennesaret. These peaks were called the Horns of Hattin, from the
village of Hattin, situated at the base of the hill. As Jesus, upon his
return from his first circuit through Galilee, approached Capernaum,
when the throng which accompanied him, or flocked out of the city to
meet him, had become immense, he probably ascended this hill, from
which he could easily address them. For ages it has been called, on
that supposition, the “Hill of the Beatitudes.”

It must have presented a charming scene. The smooth and grassy hill
rose from a landscape luxuriant with verdure, draped with vineyards,
and rich in the autumnal hues of harvest. The waters of the lake
sparkled in the sunlight, and the distant horizon was fringed with
towering mountains. Jesus sat upon the summit of the hill: his avowed
disciples gathered affectionately around: the multitude, presenting a
sea of upturned faces, thronged the grassy slopes.

It was then and there that Jesus delivered that Sermon on the Mount,
which, by universal admission, is the most memorable discourse ever
uttered by human lips. Probably in a voice which penetrated the
remotest ear, he enunciated those sublime truths, which, for eighteen
centuries, have echoed through human hearts, and which will continue
thus to echo, with ever-increasing power, until the flames of the last
conflagration shall envelop our globe.

He first announced the conditions of entrance into the new kingdom
of God. Its gates were to be open to the lowly in heart; to those
weeping over their own unworthiness, and hungering and thirsting for
righteousness. Those qualities which were most despised by Jewish pride
and pharisaic self-righteousness were the ones upon which God looked
with love and a blessing.

He then declared the law of the kingdom of God, showing that, instead
of abrogating the old covenant, it did but re-establish its principles,
and supplement its imperfections, by carrying moral obligations beyond
all external observances, into the inner regions of the heart.

With amazement this motley assemblage must have listened to
announcements so contrary to the whole spirit of the age; as,――

“Love your enemies. Bless them that curse you. Whosoever shall smite
thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. Blessed are ye
when men shall revile you and persecute you, and shall say all manner
of evil against you, for my sake. Be ye therefore perfect even as your
Father which is in heaven is perfect, that ye may be the children of
your Father which is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to shine upon
the evil and the good, and sendeth his rain upon the just and upon the

The parade of alms-giving, ostentatious devotion, and the display of
fastings and prayers, are severely denounced. And, in this connection,
Jesus gave that sublime formula of prayer which has compelled the
admiration even of his foes, and which for beauty and comprehensiveness
can find no parallel in the literature of the world:――

“Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. Give us, this day, our
daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And
lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the
kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.”

In this wonderful discourse each statement is but an annunciation of
truth, bearing with it its own evidence. There is no labored argument,
no attempt to prove his doctrine. The assumption seemed to be, that no
honest mind could refuse its assent to these truths. With such divine
majesty he gave utterance to these sublime principles, that it is
recorded, “The people were astonished at his doctrine; for he taught
them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”

From the mount, Jesus directed his steps towards Capernaum, followed
by a great multitude still eager to hear the word of God. When he
reached the shore of the lake, the crowd became so dense as to impede
his steps. There were two boats by the shore, their owners being at
a little distance washing their nets. One of these belonged to Simon
Peter. To avoid the pressure, Jesus entered the boat, and requested
Peter to push out a little from the land. From the boat, surveying the
vast throng upon the shore, he again addressed them; but we have no
record of the words he spoke. It is uncertain whether Peter accompanied
Jesus on this his first tour through Galilee. At the close of the
discourse, Jesus requested Peter to launch out a little farther into
the deep, and let down his net. Peter slightly remonstrated, saying,
“Master, we have toiled all night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless,
at thy word, I will let down the net.” He did so, and a miraculous
draught of fishes was enclosed, so that the net broke, and it was
necessary to call for assistance from another boat. Two boats were so
filled with the fishes, that they began to sink. Simon Peter was so
impressed by this miracle, that he fell upon his knees at the feet of
Jesus, exclaiming, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”

“If Peter,” writes R. Mimpriss, “had returned to his worldly occupation
through the fear of being in want, as following One who had not where
to lay his head, he must have felt confounded at this reproof of his
own unfaithfulness in being so plentifully supplied by his Lord when
unable to provide any thing for himself in his own way. Peter seems
to have been powerfully impressed, not only with the miracle, but also
with his own unworthiness as a disciple.”

Jesus compassionates the weakness of his impulsive disciple, and
replies, “Fear not: henceforth thou shalt catch men.” James and
John were with Peter, and witnessed this transaction. They all were
convinced that it was folly to doubt that Jesus had divine power to
make suitable provision for all who were in his service. This faith
brought forth immediate fruit in corresponding works. “They forsook
all, and followed him.”

Approaching the city, Jesus encountered a leper. The scene which
ensued cannot be more forcibly described than in the graphic language
of Mr. Lyman Abbott:――

“In its worst forms, leprosy is alike awful in its character, and
hideous in its appearance. For years it lurks concealed in the interior
organs. Gradually it develops itself: spots of red appear upon the skin,
chiefly the face; the hair of the brows and lids and beard begins to
fall off; the eyes become fierce and staring; the voice grows hoarse
and husky, and is finally quite lost; the joints grow stiff, refuse to
fulfil their office, and drop off one by one; the eyes are eaten from
their sockets. The patient, strangely insensible to his awful condition,
suffers an apathy of mind that is scarcely less dreadful than the
condition of his body.

“Universally regarded as suffering a disease as virulent in its
contagion as in its immediate effects, the leper was shunned as one
whose fetid breath bore pestilential poison in it. Universally regarded
as bearing in his body the special marks of divine displeasure for
intolerable sin, his sufferings awoke no sympathy, but only horror.
From the moment of the first clearly-defined symptoms, the wretched man
was deliberately given over to death: he was an outcast from society.
No home could receive him. Wife and children might not minister to him.
Wherever he went, he heralded his loathsome presence by the cry,
‘Unclean, unclean!’

“Men drew one side to let him pass. Mothers snatched their children
from before his path. To touch him――the horror-stricken Jew would
sooner suffer the kiss of an envenomed serpent. No one ever thought to
proffer succor to a leper; no physician ever offered him hope of health;
no amulets could exorcise this dread visitation. A special token of
the wrath of God, only God could cure it: only repentance of sin and
the propitiation of divine wrath could afford a remedy. No hand ever
bathed the leper’s burning brow, or brought the cooling draught for
his parched lips. None ever spoke a word of sympathy to his oppressed
heart. Society had built no hospitals for the sick, no lazarettos even
for its own protection; and the leper, driven from the towns, dwelt in
dismantled dwellings, or in caves and clefts of the rock, solitary, or
in the wretched companionship of victims as wretched as himself.

“One of these unhappy sufferers had heard of the fame of Jesus. He
believed, with the hope sometimes born of desperation, in the divine
power of this new prophet; and nought but divine power could give
him relief. He disregarded alike the law which excluded him from the
city and the horror he must face to enter it, and broke through all
restraints to implore the word of healing from this inheritor of the
power of Elijah. The crowd heard his cry, ‘Unclean, unclean!’ and
opened in superstitious dread to give him passage through. He cast
himself at the feet of Jesus with the outcry of despairing imploration,
‘Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.’ The people had looked
on him only with horror. Jesus was moved with compassion. They had
drawn back that they might not receive the contagion of his garments.
Jesus put forth his hand to touch him. They had echoed his cry,
‘Unclean!’ Jesus said, ‘I will: be thou clean.’ And, in the instant of
that speaking, the leper felt the burning fever depart, and a new fresh
blood, healed at its fount, course through his veins.”[9]

Jesus directed the man to go directly to the priest, in accordance with
the provisions of the Mosaic law, and to obtain from him the official
testimony that he was cured, and relief from the ban which was laid
upon him as a leper. This he was to do immediately, before the priest
could learn that it was Jesus who had healed him; otherwise the priest
might refuse through prejudice to testify to the reality of the cure.

A miracle so wonderful increased the excitement which had already
attained almost the highest pitch. Such crowds flocked after Jesus,
that he found it necessary to withdraw from the city, and seek a
retreat in “desert places.” Still the multitude flocked to him from
every quarter. Luke, speaking of this his retirement, says, “He
withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.” It is worthy of
special observation how much time Jesus spent in prayer.

After devoting several days in this retreat to solitude and devotion,
Jesus, in whose character the serious, thoughtful, pensive temperament
so wonderfully predominated, returned to Capernaum. The tidings spread
rapidly throughout the city. An immense concourse soon thronged the
street on which the house was situated which he had entered. Jesus
addressed the vast concourse,――the door-sill, perhaps, his pulpit,
the overarching skies his temple, and his audience a motley assemblage
crowding the pavements. Proud Pharisees and self-conceited doctors of
the law had come, drawn from the surrounding cities to the spot by the
fame of Jesus.

While Jesus was speaking, some men brought a paralytic patient on a
couch to be healed. But the concourse was so dense, that they could not
force their way through to his feet. The roof of the house was flat,
surrounded by a battlement, to prevent any one from falling off. By a
back way they entered the house, ascended to the roof, broke away a
portion of the battlement, and with cords lowered the man on his couch
down before Jesus. Palsy is often the result of an intemperate life,
of sinful habits: it is not improbable that it was so in this case. In
healing the leper, Jesus had merely said, in the exercise of his own
divine power, “I will: be thou clean.” Now, in the exercise of that
same divine power, he assumed the prerogative of forgiving sin.

“When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son,
thy sins be forgiven thee.”

The Pharisees and the doctors of the law, offended at this assumption,
said one to another, “Who is this who speaketh blasphemies? Who can
forgive sins but God only?

“Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, Wherefore think ye evil in your
hearts? For whether is easier to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee? or
to say, Arise and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath
power on earth to forgive sins (then saith he to the sick of the palsy),
Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. Immediately he arose,
took up the bed, and went forth before them all.”

The amazed people exclaimed, “We have seen strange things to-day!”

Leaving the thronged city, Jesus, who seems ever to have cherished a
great fondness for the country, went out to some favorite spot upon the
shore of the lake; but the excited multitude followed him. As they were
leaving the city, Jesus saw a man named Matthew, also called Levi, the
son of Alpheus, sitting at the door of a custom-house, where he was
collecting the taxes which were levied by the Roman government. The
tax-gatherer was exceedingly unpopular with the Jews. No intimation
is given us respecting the character of Matthew, or whether he had
previously manifested any interest in Jesus. But, for some reason,
Jesus deemed him worthy of being called as one of his apostles. The
fact is announced in the brief words, “And he saith unto him, Follow
me; and he left all, rose up, and followed him.”

Matthew took Jesus to his house, and invited some of his old friends,
several of whom were tax-gatherers, and others not of religious repute,
to meet him at a feast. It would seem that there was a pretty large
party; for it is recorded,――

“Many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his
disciples; for there were many.”

The scribes and Pharisees were very indignant that Jesus should
associate with persons of such character. Jesus, hearing of their
fault-finding, replied,――

“They that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. I
came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

He then, by the forcible illustrations of the “new cloth on an old
garment” and “new wine in old bottles,” showed that the rigorous
observances of the old dispensation were not adapted to the freedom
and privileges of the new.

The time for the feast of the Passover had come; and Jesus, with his
disciples, took a second journey to Jerusalem. There was a pool at
Jerusalem called Bethesda, which, in the popular estimation, had at
a certain season of the year great medicinal virtues. At such times,
large numbers, suffering from every variety of disease, were brought
to the pool. Jesus saw a man there who had been utterly helpless, from
paralysis probably, for thirty-eight years. He was poor and friendless.
Sympathetically Jesus addressed him, inquiring, “Do you wish to be made
whole?” The despairing cripple replied, “Sir, I have no one, when the
water is troubled, to put me into the pool; but, while I am coming,
another steppeth down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up
thy bed, and walk.” Immediately the man was made whole.

It was the sabbath. The sanctimonious Pharisees, watching for some
accusation of Jesus, when they saw the rejoicing man in perfect health,
carrying the light mattress upon which he had reclined, in an absurd
spirit of cavilling accused him of violating the holy day by carrying
a burden. He replied, that the one who had cured him had directed
him to do so. Upon their inquiring who it was who had given him such
directions, he could only reply that he did not know. It appears that
Jesus, immediately after performing the miracle, had withdrawn.

Soon after this, Jesus met the man in the temple. It is probable that
his disorder had been brought on by intemperance and vice; for Jesus,
addressing him, said, “Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest
a worse thing come unto thee.” The news of this miracle rapidly spread.
The Pharisees denounced Jesus severely, assuming that he was breaking
the sabbath. Jesus had performed this miracle in his own name, as by
his own power. His remarkable reply to their accusation was, “My Father
worketh hitherto, and I work.” This astounding assertion implied his
equality with God the Father. “As my Father,” he says, “carries on the
works of providence on the sabbath, so I, his Son, have an equal right
to prosecute my labors.” The Jews were so indignant at this assumption,
that they formed a plot to slay him, “because he not only had broken
the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself
equal with God.”

Jesus did not deny the accuracy of their inference, but re-enforced it
by declaring in still stronger terms his unity with the Father: “Verily
I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself but what he seeth
the Father do; for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the
Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things
that himself doeth. And he will show him greater works than these, that
ye may marvel. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth
them [gives them life], even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. For
the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son;
that all men should honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He
that honoreth not the Son, honoreth not the Father which hath sent him.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and
believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not
come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life. Verily,
verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead
shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live.
For as the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to
have life in himself; and hath given him authority to execute judgment
also, because he is the Son of man. Marvel not at this; for the hour
is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of
life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation.
I can of mine own self do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and my judgment
is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father
which hath sent me.”

The remainder of this remarkable discourse we must here omit for want
of space. We are not informed what impression it produced upon his
auditors. Soon after this, Jesus, accompanied by some of his disciples,
in the vicinity of Jerusalem, was passing, on the sabbath, through a
field of grain. By an express statute, any one could pluck a handful of
the standing wheat as he passed. His disciples, being hungry, plucked
the ears, rubbed out the kernels in their hands, and ate them. The
cavilling Pharisees, ever watching for some offence, again complained
that Jesus was encouraging the violation of the sabbath. Jesus improved
the opportunity to show that the laws of God were intended for the
benefit of man; that David and his followers, when hungry, ate of the
show-bread, and were blameless; that the priests in the temple did not
violate the sabbath in performing a large amount of labor required by
their services. They might reply, “You are no priest, and your work is
not for the benefit of the temple.” This objection was met by the very
remarkable statement, that Jesus was Lord of the temple:――

“But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.
But, if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not
sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of
man is Lord even of the sabbath day.”

These were astounding declarations for even the most exalted prophet to
make,――that he was the Son of God; that he came forth from the Father;
that whatever the Father could do, he could do; that all men were bound
to honor him even as they honored the Father.

Returning to the city, Jesus entered the synagogue. It was the sabbath
day, and the building was doubtless thronged, as, wherever Jesus now
appeared, the multitude followed. It is manifest that the masses of the
people were in sympathy with him, though the self-righteous Pharisees
and the doctors of the law sought for an opportunity of bringing
forward such accusations as should turn the tide against him. In the
synagogue there was a man with a withered hand, who had doubtless come
hoping to find Jesus and to be cured. The Pharisees watched him, to
see if he would, as they deemed it, or pretended to deem it, violate
the sabbath by doing a work of healing upon that day. Jesus, knowing
their thoughts, called upon the man to rise up and stand forth in a
conspicuous place in the presence of the whole congregation. Then,
turning to the Pharisees, he said,――

“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?” Apparently, without
waiting for an answer, he added,――

“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.”

This unanswerable argument, of course, carried with it the convictions
of the masses of the people. The Pharisees were exasperated. Jesus,
instead of assuming an air of triumph, or even feeling it, in his
inmost soul was saddened by the malignant spirit displayed by his
adversaries. “Being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith
unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand; and he stretched it out, and
his hand was restored whole as the other.”

The Pharisees were so enraged in being thus baffled, that they went out
and entered into a conspiracy with the partisans of the infamous Herod
to put him to death. Jesus, who “knew their thoughts,” quietly withdrew,
and, leaving Judæa, returned to Galilee. As he travelled invariably
on foot, it was a journey, through the whole breadth of Samaria, of
several days. It is remarkable that no record of this journey is given
us, though Jesus was unquestionably healing the sick and preaching the
gospel all the way. We are simply informed by Mark,――

“A great multitude from Galilee followed him, and from Judæa, and from
Jerusalem, and from Idumæa, and from beyond Jordan; and they about Tyre
and Sidon, a great multitude, when they had heard what great things he
did, came unto him.”

When they reached the shores of the Sea of Galilee, the throng became
so great, that Jesus, to avoid the pressure of the crowd, entered “a
small ship,” or boat, and pushed out a little from the shore; “for he
had healed many, insomuch that they pressed upon him for to touch him,
as many as had plagues. And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell
down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God!”

From the tumult of these exciting and exhausting scenes, Jesus escaped
to the solitude of a mountain near by, where, alone, he “continued all
night in prayer to God.”[10] In the morning he called his disciples to
him, and, after these long hours of prayer, “of them he chose twelve,
whom he named apostles. And he ordained twelve, 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. Now, the names of
these twelve apostles are these: Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew
his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and
Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphæus,
and Lebbæus, whose surname was Thaddæus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas
Iscariot, who also betrayed him.”[11]

Accompanied by these twelve as a select and sacred band of missionaries,
and followed by the remaining band of the disciples, Jesus descended
from the mountain into one of the plains which fringed the shores
of the Galilean lake. Immediately he was surrounded with “a great
multitude of people which came to hear him and to be healed of their
diseases, and they that were vexed with unclean spirits; and they were
healed. And the whole multitude sought to touch him; for there went
virtue out of him, and healed them all.”

In the presence of this vast assemblage, and in a voice which
probably every one could hear, Jesus again gave full utterance to
the moral principles upon which his kingdom was to be reared. In this
extraordinary address, the same principles are enunciated which he
proclaimed in his Sermon on the Mount, which Matthew has recorded. Luke
has probably given us but an epitome of this second address. It was as

“And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed are
ye poor; for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger
now; for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now; for ye shall
laugh. Blessed are ye when men shall hate you, and when they shall
separate you from their company, and reproach you, and shall cast out
your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day,
and leap for joy; for, behold, your reward is great in heaven; for in
like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.

“But woe unto you that are rich! for you have received your consolation.
Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that
laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep. Woe unto you when all men shall
speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.

“But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them
which hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which
despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek
offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to
take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him
that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that
men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them
which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that
love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank
have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of
whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to
sinners, to receive as much again.

“But love ye your enemies, and lend, hoping for nothing again, and your
reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest; for
he is kind unto the unthankful and the evil. Be ye therefore merciful
as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged:
condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be
forgiven: give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed
down, and shaken together, shall men give into your bosom. For with the
same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

“Can the blind lead the blind? Shall they not both fall into the ditch?
The disciple is not above his master; but every one that is perfect
shall be as his master. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy
brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the
mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam
that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite! cast out first the beam out
of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote
that is in thy brother’s eye.

“For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a
corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his
own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble-bush
gather they grapes. A good man, out of the good treasure of his heart,
bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man, out of the evil
treasure of his heart, bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the
abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

“And why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will
show you to whom he is like. He is like a man which built a house, and
digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock. And, when the flood
arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake
it; for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not,
is like a man, that, without a foundation, built a house upon the earth;
against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell;
and the ruin of that house was great.”

At the close of this address, Jesus entered into Capernaum. There was
residing in the city a centurion, or captain of a band of a hundred
Roman soldiers. He had a servant who was sick, “grievously tormented,
and ready to die” of a palsy. It is probable that this centurion,
though a pagan by birth, had become a worshipper of the God of the
Jews, and was highly esteemed by the Jewish people. Immediately upon
the return of Jesus to Capernaum, the centurion repaired to the elders
of the Jews, and besought them that they would intercede with Jesus
in his behalf that he would heal his servant. They went in a body, the
centurion accompanying them.

“And, when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying,
That he was worthy for whom he should do this; for he loveth our nation,
and he hath built us a synagogue.”

Jesus, addressing the centurion, said unto him, “I will come and heal
him.” The centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest
come under my roof; but speak the word only, and my servant shall be
healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I
say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh;
and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.”

When Jesus saw that this Roman soldier, this Gentile, had such implicit
confidence in him as to believe that diseases were as obedient to the
command of Jesus as his own men were to his authority, he turned to his
disciples, and said unto them, “Verily I say unto you, I have not found
so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall
come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac
and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom
shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping, and
gnashing of teeth.”

Then, addressing the centurion, he said, “Go thy way; and as thou
hast believed, so be it done unto thee.” The centurion and his friends,
returning to the house, found the servant restored to perfect health.

The next day, Jesus, accompanied by his disciples and a large
concourse of the people, went to Nain, a small city among the mountains
of Galilee, about twelve miles south-west of Capernaum. “Now, when he
came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried
out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and much people
of the city was with her. And, when the Lord saw her, he had compassion
on her, and said unto her, Weep not. And he came and touched the bier;
and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto
thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak; and he
delivered him to his mother. And there came a fear [awe and amazement]
on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen
up among us; and, That God hath visited his people.”[12]

John the Baptist was now a prisoner in the castle of Machærus. He had
testified to the Messiahship of Jesus. The months were gliding away,
and yet Jesus was not accomplishing any thing of that which the Jews
had expected of their Messiah. He had filled Palestine with his fame as
a great prophet, performing the most astounding miracles, and preaching
with wisdom and power, which excited the admiration of his friends,
and baffled his foes. But there were no indications whatever of any
movement in the direction of driving out the Romans, and restoring the
Jews to independence in a re-established kingdom which should be the
wonder of the world. As John, from the glooms of his prison, watched
the footsteps of Jesus, he was probably disappointed and bewildered. He
began, perhaps, to doubt whether Jesus were the Messiah. He therefore
sent two of his disciples to ask of Jesus distinctly the question, “Art
thou he that should come? or look we for another?”

Instead of replying to this question, Jesus performed, in the presence
of the two disciples, a large number of very extraordinary miracles.
“He cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits;
and unto many that were blind he gave sight.”

Then, addressing the messengers from John, he said, “Go your way, and
tell John what things ye have seen and heard,――how that the blind see,
the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are
raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. And blessed is he whosoever
shall not be offended in me.”

Then, apparently apprehensive that his disciples might form an
unfavorable opinion respecting John, as though he were fickle-minded,
having once declared him to be the Messiah, and then in doubt sending
to inquire if he were the Messiah, he assured them that John was not
“♦a reed shaken by the wind;” that he was not a luxurious man “clothed
in soft raiment,” who could be conquered by imprisonment; but that he
was one of the most heroic and inflexible of prophets: “among them that
are born of women there hath not risen a greater.”

Continuing his remarks, he said that the scribes and lawyers were like
capricious children invited by their playmates to join them in their
amusements, but who would play neither at weddings nor funerals. Thus
they rejected John because he was too austere, and Jesus because he was
not austere enough. “And from the days of John the Baptist until now
the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by
force.”――“I had read this passage a hundred times,” said John Randolph,
“before I perceived its real meaning,――that no lukewarm seeker can
become a true Christian.”

There were two cities, Chorazin and Bethsaida, in which Jesus had
preached his gospel and performed many miracles, and they had not
accepted his doctrine. Having enjoyed and rejected such privileges,
Jesus declared that it would be more tolerable in the day of judgment
for the heathen inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon than for them. Capernaum
also received the severest denunciation. These cities have utterly
perished: not even their ruins remain. And yet Jesus closed this
impressive discourse with the soothing words, “Come unto me, all ye
that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke
upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek, and lowly in heart: and ye
shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is

Notwithstanding the severity with which Jesus denounced the Pharisees,
one of them, by the name of Simon, probably somewhat convicted of sin,
invited him to dine. Jesus promptly accepted the invitation. While
reclining upon a couch at the table, in the Oriental custom, one of the
unhappy women of the city, of notoriously bad character, overwhelmed
with remorse, came in with a box of precious ointment, and wept so
bitterly, that her tears fell upon the feet of Jesus where she knelt.
She wiped the tears off with her flowing hair, and anointed his feet
with the fragrant ointment. Jesus did not rebuke her.

The proud, self-righteous Pharisee was offended. Though he did not
venture to utter any words of reproof, he said to himself, “This man,
if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman
this is that toucheth him.” Jesus knew his thoughts, and said, in those
calm tones of authority which marked all his utterances,――

“Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. There was a certain creditor
which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other
fifty. And, when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both.
Tell me, therefore, which of them will love him most?”

Simon replied, “I suppose that he to whom he forgave most.”

Jesus said unto him, “Thou hast rightly judged.” Then, turning to the
weeping penitent at his feet, he said, “Simon, seest thou this woman?
I entered into thy house: thou gavest me no water for my feet; but she
hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her
head. Thou gavest me no kiss; but this woman, since the time I came in,
hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint;
but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Her sins, which are
many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven,
the same loveth little.”

Then, turning to the woman, he said, “Thy sins are forgiven. And they
that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this
that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath
saved thee: go in peace.”

From the city of Nain, Jesus set out upon a new tour through the
cities and villages of Galilee, accompanied by his twelve apostles.
Several devoted women also accompanied them, to minister to their wants.
Mary, called Magdalene (from Magdala, the place of her residence), and
Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, are specially
mentioned. It was truly a missionary tour, as Jesus “went throughout
every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the
kingdom of God.” It must have occupied several months; and yet we have
scarcely the slightest record of its events.

Upon reaching Capernaum, the throng was so great, that Jesus had no
time even to partake of food. A man, both blind and dumb, and possessed
with a devil, was brought to him; and he healed him. This led many to
inquire, “Is not this the Messiah?” It is interesting to observe how
the feelings of the people vacillated. The astounding miracles which
Jesus performed led them to believe that he must be the Messiah; and
yet he was making no movement whatever toward the establishment of
that temporal kingdom which they supposed to be the principal object
of the Messiah’s coming. The Pharisees, as a body, were growing more
and more malignant in their hostility. It was impossible for them to
deny that evil spirits were compelled to obey the bidding of Jesus.
They therefore absurdly affirmed that the devils obeyed him because he
was “Beelzebub, the prince of the devils.” It was in this connection,
when the Pharisees, wilfully withstanding the evidence of truth,
maliciously, and against the conviction of their own consciences,
accused Jesus of being the prince of devils, that he uttered the
remarkable declaration,――

“Whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven
him; but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be
forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”

The serenity with which Jesus ever alluded to the grandeur of his
own character and mission is worthy of special notice. There is no
apparent want of modesty in his speaking of himself in terms which,
from the lips of any other man, would be deemed intolerable boasting.
In the very impressive discourse uttered upon this occasion, he said,
referring to himself,――

“The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and
shall condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonas;
and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. The queen of the south shall
rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for
she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of
Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.”

While he was thus speaking, he was informed that his mother, and his
brothers, James, Joses, Simon, and Judas, were standing without, and
wished to speak to him. He replied, “Who is my mother? and who are
my brethren?” Then, waving his hand towards his disciples, he added,
“Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of
my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother and sister and

The same day on which the above transactions took place, Jesus left the
city of Capernaum, and repaired to a secluded spot upon the shores of
the lake. As usual, an immense concourse followed him. Here, addressing
listening thousands, he resumed his preaching, standing upon a boat,
while the multitude thronged the shore. It was on this occasion that
he introduced the beautiful parable of the sower. At the close, his
disciples inquired why he addressed the people in parables. His reply
was, that he did so, because that, by so speaking, honest inquirers
for the truth could easily receive it, and be benefited by it; while
cavillers, who hated the truth, and were seeking only for opportunities
to revile, had also an opportunity presented to them to develop their
own wicked natures.

He then introduced the parables of the wheat and the tares, of
the grain of mustard-seed, of the leaven. Returning to the city, he
entered a house with his twelve apostles, and there privately explained
more fully to them the significance of the parables, and added three
more,――the parable of the hidden treasure, of the one pearl, of the

As the evening of this busy day approached, Jesus again sought
solitude, and requested his disciples to take him in a boat across the
lake to the eastern shore. The lake here was about six miles broad.
Slowly moving over the calm waters, it was midnight ere they reached
the middle of the lake. Suddenly a terrible tempest came sweeping down
upon them from the snowy cliffs of Mount Hermon on the north. Jesus
slept serenely amidst the surging waves, though the apparent danger
was very great. His terrified companions awoke him, saying, rather
petulantly, “Lord, save us! Carest thou not that we perish?”

Jesus, as he looked around upon the darkness and the raging waves,
rebuked the wind and the sea, and there was immediately a perfect
calm. Then, turning to his disciples, he gently chided them for their
unbelief. “Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?”
Notwithstanding all they had witnessed before, the disciples were
greatly impressed by this signal display of power, and said one to
another, “What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea
obey him?”

The eastern shore of the lake was a wild, rocky, cavernous district,
which, in olden time, had been much used as catacombs for the dead.
They had scarcely landed amidst the solitude of this inhospitable
region when two demoniacs came rushing out of the tombs to meet him. Of
one it is said, he was exceeding fierce, so that “no man could bind him;
no, not with chains; because that he had been often bound with fetters
and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the
fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always,
night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying, and
cutting himself with stones.”

From his lair this madman rushed upon Jesus to avenge this invasion
of his domains. But suddenly he stopped, seemed bewildered, terrified,
and, falling upon his knees, gazed upon the approaching stranger with
speechless astonishment. Calmly Jesus addressed him, saying, “Come
out of the man, thou unclean spirit!” Then ensued the following very
singular colloquy:――

The demoniac, with a loud voice, cried out, “What have I to do with
thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not.”

Jesus replied, “What is thy name?”

“My name is Legion,” answered the demoniac; “for we are many.” The
devils then besought Jesus that they might not be sent out of the
country, so congenial to them, of desolation, rocks, and deserted tombs.
Upon one of the cliffs which bordered the lake there was a herd of
swine, nearly two thousand in number: “So the devils besought him,
saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of

Jesus said unto them, “Go. And the unclean spirits went out, and
entered into the swine; and the whole herd ran violently down a steep
place into the sea, and were choked in the sea.”

It is, perhaps, not strange that these demons should, under the
circumstances, have conducted in a manner to us utterly inexplicable.
Certainly no attempts, thus far, to show the reasonableness of their
course, have proved successful.

The keepers of the swine fled, reporting throughout the region the
disaster which had befallen them, doubtless much more impressed by the
loss of the swine than by the restoration of their brother-man from the
possession of demons. The desolate country on this side of the lake was
inhabited by a mixture of Jews and Gentiles. As the Jews were forbidden
by their own laws to keep swine, the keepers were either engaged in
illegal business, or were Gentiles.

Not far from the scene of this miracle was the small city of Gergasa.
The report soon reached its streets. An immense multitude, “the whole
city,” flocked out “to see what was done.” They found the man, whose
maniacal fury had been the terror of the whole community, sitting calm
and peaceful, “in his right mind,” conversing with Jesus. But they
mourned the loss of the swine. Still they stood in such fear of the
power of Jesus, that they did not dare to molest him, but, with one
accord, entreated him to depart out of their coasts. Jesus responded to
their wishes by re-entering the ship, and returning to the other side
of the lake. The grateful man, who had been thus miraculously delivered
from the most awful doom, begged for permission to accompany him; but
Jesus withheld his consent, saying,――

“Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath
done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.”[14]

Upon the return of Jesus to Capernaum, he was received very cordially
by the people; for they had missed him, and mourned even his short
absence. The busy life of Jesus, in preaching his gospel, and in
enforcing his authority by miraculous deeds of beneficence, seems to
have engrossed every moment of his time.

Immediately upon his return to Capernaum, we find him surrounded by
an immense concourse of people, drawn together by the novelty and the
charm of his teachings. While he was addressing them, Jairus, one of
the rulers of the synagogue, came, and, falling upon his knees at the
feet of Jesus, earnestly entreated him to save his little daughter, who
was lying at the point of death. “Come, I pray thee,” said he, “and lay
thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.”

Jesus accompanied him to his house: his disciples and the crowd
followed. While on his way through the streets, a woman, afflicted
by a distressing disease, which, according to the law, was pronounced
unclean, and was deemed incurable, stealthily pressed her way through
the crowd, and, striving to avoid observation, touched the hem of his
garment; for she said within herself, “If I may but touch his garment,
I shall be whole.”

The result cannot be more impressively told than in the words of the
evangelist: “And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up;
and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. And Jesus,
immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned
him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes? And his
disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and
sayest thou, Who touched me? And he looked round about to see her that
had done this thing. But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what
was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the
truth. And, when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort:
thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that

While this scene was transpiring, a messenger came from the house of
Jairus to inform him that his daughter was dead, and that, consequently,
all hope was at an end. But Jesus spoke words of encouragement to the
grief-stricken father, saying, “Be not afraid: only believe.” They
repaired to the house. The members of the bereaved family were giving
utterance to their grief by loud weeping and wailing. Jesus gently
reproved them, intimating that he would awake her from the sleep of
death, by saying, “The maid is not dead, but sleepeth.” This assertion
only excited the derision of the unbelieving group who had gathered
around the corpse.

He ordered all to leave the death-chamber. Then, entering with the
father and mother of the child, he took the lifeless hand in his own,
and said, “Damsel, arise!” Immediately the glowing blood of health
rushed through her veins; and the daughter of twelve years rose from
her couch, to be encircled in the arms of her amazed and grateful

Thus wonder after wonder greeted the ears of the astonished citizens of
Capernaum. Returning from the house of Jairus to the dwelling, probably
the house of Peter, which he made his temporary home while in Capernaum,
he was followed by two blind men, who incessantly exclaimed, “Thou son
of David, have mercy on us!” For some unexplained reason, Jesus paid no
apparent heed to their cry. But, when he entered the house, the blind
were permitted by the multitude to crowd their way in also. Jesus then,
turning to them, said, “Believe ye that I am able to do this?” They
replied, “Yea, Lord.” Then he touched their eyes, and said, “According
to your faith be it unto you.” We know not why Jesus should have
enjoined it upon these blind men, as he did upon the parents of the
maiden restored to life, not to proclaim the miracle abroad. It seems
impossible that such astounding events, occurring in a crowded city, in
broad day, could be concealed, or that any advantage could be derived
from their concealment.

Jesus returned to Nazareth; but his reception by his fellow-townsmen
was not cordial. Though he performed some miracles, and taught in their
synagogue with such wisdom and authority as astonished them, still they
rather sneeringly remarked,――

“Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? and
his brethren, James and Joses and Simon and Judas? And his sisters, are
they not all with us? Whence, then, hath this man all these things?”

Jesus seems to have been discouraged by this unbelieving spirit on
their part; for he soon left them, after healing a few of their sick,
saying in a proverbial phrase, “A prophet is not without honor save in
his own country and in his own house.”

Leaving Nazareth, he again set out upon a tour through the cities and
villages of Galilee, “teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the
gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease
among the people.”[15] The material and the spiritual wants of the
people deeply oppressed his spirit. “He was moved with compassion on
them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad as sheep having
no shepherd.” In view of this moral desolation, he called his twelve
chosen apostles around him, and said to them,――

“The harvest truly is plenteous; but the laborers are few. Pray ye,
therefore, the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers
into his harvest.”

He then, having endowed them with miraculous powers that they might
cast out devils and cure diseases, sent them forth two and two “to
preach the kingdom of God.” In preparation for the privations and toils
before them, he addressed them in the following memorable words:――

“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, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is
at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out
devils. Freely have ye received; freely give. Provide neither gold nor
silver nor brass in your purses, nor scrip for your journey, neither
two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves; for the workman is worthy of
his meat.

“And, into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, inquire who in it
is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. And, when ye enter into
a house, salute it. And, if the house be worthy, let your peace come
upon it; but, if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. And
whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart
out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I
say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the
day of judgment than for that city.

“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye,
therefore, wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men:
for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you
in their synagogues; and ye shall be brought before governors and kings
for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But, when
they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak; for it
shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not
ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.

“And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father
the child; and the children shall rise up against their parents, and
cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my
name’s sake; but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But, when
they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another; for verily I say
unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel till the Son
of man be come.[16]

“The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.
It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant
as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub,
how much more shall they call them of his household! Fear them not,
therefore; for there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, and
hid that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak
ye in the light; and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the
house-tops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to
kill the soul; but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul
and body in hell.

“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not
fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head
are all numbered. Fear ye not, therefore: ye are of more value than
many sparrows. Whosoever, therefore, shall confess me before men, him
will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven; but whosoever
shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which
is in heaven.

“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send
peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his
father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law
against her mother-in-law; and a man’s foes shall be they of his own
household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy
of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy
of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is
not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it; and he that
loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

“He that receiveth you receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth
Him that sent me. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet
shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man
in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.
And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones[17] a
cup of cold water only, in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto
you, He shall in no wise lose his reward.”

Thus commissioned to an enterprise of toil, poverty, deprivation, and
suffering, these apostles of Jesus went forth to preach the gospel of
Christ throughout the land. Jesus also “departed thence to teach and to
preach in their cities.”

                             CHAPTER III.


  Infamy of Herod.――Jesus in the Desert.――Feeds the Five Thousand.
    ――Walks on the Sea.――Preaches to the People.――Visits Tyre and
    Sidon.――The Syro-Phœnician Woman.――Cures all Manner of Diseases.
    ――Feeds the Four Thousand.――Restores Sight to a Blind Man.
    ――Conversation with Peter.――The Transfiguration.――Cure of the
    Lunatic.――Dispute of the Apostles.――Law of Forgiveness.――Visits
    Jerusalem.――Plot to seize Jesus.――The Adulteress.――Jesus the Son
    of God.――The Blind Man.――Parable of the Good Shepherd.――Raising
    of Lazarus.

THE fame of Jesus had reached the ears of King Herod, the son of Herod
called the Great. This wretched man had already ordered the death of
his prisoner, John the Baptist, to gratify a woman who had deserted
her own husband, and had induced him to abandon his own wife, that they
might be united in guilty bonds. Agitated by remorse, he feared that
his beheaded victim had risen from the grave.

It would seem to be a matter deeply to be regretted that we have no
record of the adventures of the apostles upon their first missionary
excursion. At its close they returned to Jesus, who was at Capernaum,
“and told him all things, both what they had done and what they had

“And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place,
and rest a while; for there were many coming and going, and they had no
leisure so much as to eat.” Upon the northern shore of the lake, there
was the city of Bethsaida, just east of the entrance of the Jordan
into the Sea of Galilee. Near that place there was a desert region of
silence and solitude. Embarking in one of the fishermen’s boats, called
a ship, Jesus and his apostles sought this retreat; but the excited
multitude followed upon the shore on foot. There was no seclusion for
Jesus. An immense crowd soon again surrounded him. They were in the
desert, and, without food, were in danger of perishing. Jesus, “moved
with compassion towards them, received them, and spake unto them of the
kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing.”

Ascending a small eminence, Jesus looked with tender sympathy over
the vast and hungry throng, amounting to five thousand men, besides
women and children. His disciples ventured to suggest, that as night
was coming on, and they had nothing to eat, he should send them
all away, that in the villages around they might obtain food. Jesus
requested them to ascertain how much food there was at their disposal.
Having made inquiries, they reported to him that there were but five
barley-loaves and two small fishes.

He then requested the multitude to sit down upon the ground in
companies of fifty. Taking the loaves and the fishes, he looked up to
heaven, and blessed and brake. The disciples then distributed to the
multitude; “and they did all eat, and were filled. And they took up of
the fragments which remained twelve baskets full.”

Having thus fed them, Jesus requested them all to retire to their
homes. At the same time, he directed his disciples to get into the
ship, and return to the western side of the lake. He himself, entirely
alone, went up into a mountain apart to pray. The gloom of night soon
enveloped the whole region. A violent head wind arose, tossing the
little ship which contained the disciples upon a boisterous sea. It
was the darkest hour of the night, just before the dawn of the morning,
when the disciples, toiling at the oars against the contrary wind, were
affrighted by seeing some one approach them, walking over the waves.
All saw the apparition, and were so greatly alarmed, that they cried
out for fear.

But soon they were re-assured by hearing the well-known voice of
Jesus saying unto them, “Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.”
The impulsive Peter immediately exclaimed, “Lord, if it be thou, bid
me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And, when Peter was
come down out of the ship, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But,
when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and, beginning to sink,
he cried, saying, Lord, save me! And immediately Jesus stretched forth
his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith!
wherefore didst thou doubt?”

As Jesus entered the ship, the wind ceased, and they found themselves
entering their destined port near Capernaum. The crowd still thronged
Jesus in ever-increasing numbers wherever he appeared. They came
swarming over the lake in boats, and by all paths on the land, “and
ran through that whole region round about, and began to carry about in
beds those that were sick, where they heard he was. And whithersoever
he entered, into villages or cities or country, they laid the sick in
the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the
border of his garment; and as many as touched him were made whole.”

The miracles Jesus performed seemed to be but the incidental part
of his mission, intended to draw attention to his preaching, and to
enforce its authority. Surrounded by the turmoil, of which we can form
but a feeble conception, we have the record of the following remarkable
sayings. Alluding to the miracle by which he fed the five thousand, he

“Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which
endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto
you: for him hath God the Father sealed;” that is, accredited as an

When some one alluded to the miracle which Moses performed in the gift
of manna in the desert, Jesus replied, “Verily I say unto you, Moses
gave you not that bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which
cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. I am the bread
of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth
on me shall never thirst. All that the Father giveth me shall come to
me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came
down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that
sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me,――that of
all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise
it up again at the last day. And this is the will of Him that sent
me,――that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have
everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

It is not strange that reflective men should have been profoundly moved
by such extraordinary utterances, sustained as they were by the most
astounding miracles. Here was a man born in their own neighborhood, in
the most humble ranks of life, saying, “I am the bread of life;” “He
that cometh to me shall never hunger;” “I came down from heaven;” “I
will raise him up at the last day.”

“The Jews then murmured at him” because he said, “I am the bread which
came down from heaven.”

But Jesus said unto them, “Murmur not among yourselves. No man can
come to me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him; and I will
raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they
shall be all taught of God. Every man, therefore, that hath heard, and
hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. Verily I say unto you, He
that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life.
Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the
bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and
not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man
eat of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread that I will
give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

Well might those who listened to such extraordinary teachings as these
say, “Never man spake like this man.” “How can this man give us his
flesh to eat?”

Jesus replied in still more extraordinary and apparently inexplicable
declarations: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh
of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso
eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life; and I will
raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood
is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood dwelleth
in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by
the Father; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.”

It was in the synagogue at Capernaum that Jesus made these remarks.
Even his disciples were perplexed, and said “This is a hard saying: who
can hear it?” Jesus, knowing their thoughts, instead of explaining his
meaning, added,――

“Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend
up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh
profiteth nothing. The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit,
and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not.”[18]

John, who records these words, adds, “For Jesus knew from the beginning
who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. From that
time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter
answered him, 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. Jesus answered, Have not I chosen you twelve, and
one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon;
for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.”

The Jewish doctors at Jerusalem, hearing of the fame of Jesus, and
of the vast influence which he was acquiring, sent several of their
most influential men to Galilee as spies upon his conduct, and, if
possible, to entrap him. After a time, they accused the disciples of
Jesus of not conforming to the ceremonial observances which their rules
enjoined,――particularly in the matter of not performing sufficiently
minute and numerous ablutions before eating, or after returning from
market. Jesus silenced them by showing that they, by their unwarranted
traditions, had established burdensome ceremonies which the law did not
enjoin, and that they had wickedly substituted these external rites for
obedience, and holiness of heart.

“Ye reject,” said he, “the commandment of God, that ye may keep your
own tradition. Ye hypocrites! well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,
This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with
their lips; but their heart is far from me.”

Soon after this, Jesus took another excursion through the whole length
of Galilee, in a north-west direction, to Tyre and Sidon, in the
province of Syro-Phœnicia, on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, then
cities of great commercial importance. Sidon was at the distance of
about sixty miles from Capernaum. Both of these cities were inhabited
mainly by idolaters. Entering a house in that distant region, a woman
of the country, who had doubtless heard of his miraculous powers, came
to him, and, in very imploring terms, cried out,――

“Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David! my daughter is grievously
vexed with a devil.”

Jesus, for some unexplained reason, for a time paid no heed to her cry.
At length, with great seeming severity, he said to her, “It is not meet
to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs.”

She replied, “Truth, Lord; yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall
from their masters’ table.”

Jesus answered, “O woman! great is thy faith. Be it unto thee even as
thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that hour.”

This is all the record we have of this long journey. It is the general
assumption that Jesus retreated to the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, not
to extend his ministry there, but to obtain transient rest from its
exhausting toils. Returning, he crossed the Jordan several miles above
its entrance into the lake, and approached Gennesaret on its eastern
shore. But his footsteps could not be concealed.

“Great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame,
blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ 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.”

One man was brought to him here who was deaf, blind, and nearly dumb.
His friends implored Jesus to interpose in his behalf. Jesus moistened
his own finger with spittle, and then touched his ears and his tongue.
Looking up to heaven, he sighed, and said, “Be opened! and straightway
his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he
spake plain.”[19]

It is worthy of notice, that Jesus, in performing these wonderful
miracles, manifested no spirit of exultation. In this case, looking
up to heaven, “he sighed.” This same pensive mood of mind seemed to
accompany all his teachings and all his actions.

Jesus was here again in the comparatively desolate region on the east
side of the lake. Four thousand men, besides women and children, had
gathered around him. “I have compassion on the multitude,” said Jesus,
“because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat;
and, if I send them away to their own houses fasting, they will faint
by the way.”

There were but seven loaves and a few little fishes at hand. Jesus, as
before, directed all the multitude to sit down upon the ground. He then
took the seven loaves and the fishes, gave thanks, and brake them, and
gave to his disciples to distribute to the multitude. When all had been
abundantly satisfied, seven baskets of the fragments were gathered up.

Dismissing the well-fed multitude, all whose sick he had also healed,
Jesus took ship and crossed the lake to Dalmanutha, a small town on
the western shore of the lake, about twenty miles south of Capernaum.
Some scribes and Pharisees came to him in a cavilling spirit, demanding
that he should perform some miracle for their special entertainment or
satisfaction. Saddened by the unbelieving, captious disposition they
manifested, “he sighed deeply in spirit;” and, refusing to minister
to their entertainment, he left them, and returned to the other side
of the lake, warning his disciples to beware of the doctrine of the
Pharisees and the Sadducees. The ship landed them again at Bethsaida,
on the north-eastern shore of the lake, near the spot where he had
performed the miracle of feeding the multitude with the loaves and
the fishes. A blind man was brought to him, whom he healed by applying
spittle to his sightless eyes. He then, we cannot tell why, sent him
away to his house, saying, “Neither go into the town, nor tell it to
any in the town.”[20]

About fifteen miles north of Bethsaida, near the source of the Jordan,
was the somewhat important town of Cæsarea Philippi. There were a few
scattered villages in the sparsely-settled region between. Sauntering
along on foot in one of the lonely roads of this secluded and romantic
region, ascending the eastern banks of the Jordan, he withdrew for a
little time from his disciples to a solitary place for prayer. Then,
returning to them, he inquired,――

“Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

“And they said, Some say, John the Baptist; some, Elias; and others,
Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”

“But whom say ye that I am?” he added.

Simon Peter replied, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

It seems from this conversation that the people generally did not
recognize Jesus as the long-expected Messiah. They supposed that he
was to appear in great pomp and power, drive the Roman invaders out
of Palestine, and restore the kingdom again to Israel. But, when Peter
announced so emphatically his conviction that Jesus was indeed the
Messiah, Jesus replied,――

“Blessed art thou, Simon, son of Jonas; for flesh and blood hath not
revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say
also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my
church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will
give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou
shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt
loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Upon this remarkable declaration has been reared the stupendous fabric
of the Papal Church, with the assumption that Peter was here appointed
the vicegerent of Christ, with power to forgive sin, and condemn to
eternal death; and this supremacy was to be extended to his successors.
For the following reasons, Protestants reject this interpretation:――

1. “Upon this rock” means, _Upon this declaration that Jesus is
the Christ_; in accordance with the reiterated assertion, that
“other foundation can no man lay than is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
2. Whatever may be meant by the expression, “I will give unto thee
the keys of the kingdom; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall
be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be
loosed in heaven,” cannot be intended to confer any special supremacy
upon Peter, since the same authority was immediately (Matt. xviii. 18)
extended to all the apostles.

It is very evident that Jesus did not regard Peter as infallible;
since he soon administered to him the terrible rebuke, “Get thee behind
me, Satan!” It is equally plain that the other apostles did not so
regard him; since it is recorded (Gal. ii. 11) that Paul withstood him
to his face, because he was to be blamed. To _bind_ and to _loose_,
in Jewish phrase, was to _prohibit_ and to _permit_. By this phrase,
Jesus announced that his apostles were to be divinely guided in the
organization of the Church. Such rites and ceremonies as they should
establish were to have the force of divine authority.

It was but gradually that Jesus revealed the great mystery of his
kingdom to his disciples. He now, for the first time, began to unfold
to them the truth,――that he was to go to Jerusalem, there to suffer
and to be killed, and to rise again from the dead on the third day. The
impetuous Peter, perhaps unduly elated by the commendation he had just
received, with the grossest impropriety took it upon himself to rebuke
his Lord and Master, whom he had just confessed to be the Messiah.
Jesus turned upon him, and, with terrible severity, said,――

“Get thee behind me, Satan! thou art an offence unto me; for thou
savorest not [dost not understand] the things that be of God, but those
that be of men.”

Peter needed this rebuke; and it certainly must have satisfied him
that he could set up no claim to infallibility. Jesus, continuing
his address to his apostles, said, in words which will ever vibrate
throughout the whole Christian world,――

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his
cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it;
and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s shall
find it. For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole
world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for
his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father,
with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to
his works. Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this
adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be
ashamed when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here which
shall not taste of death till they have seen the kingdom of God come
with power.”[21]

This conversation took place far away amidst the wild and mountainous
solitudes of the north, in the vicinity of Cæsarea Philippi. Just north
of them swept the magnificent mountain-range of Great Hermon. Rugged
peaks were rising from the plain all around. Jesus, who ever loved the
stillness of the night and the solitude of the mountain, took with him
three of his disciples, Peter, James, and John, and ascended one of
these eminences “to pray.”

“And, as he prayed, he was transfigured before them; and his face did
shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And there
appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him; and they spake of
his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.

“But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep; and,
when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood
with him. And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said
unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three
tabernacles,――one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias,――not
knowing what he said. While he yet spake, behold a bright cloud
overshadowed them. And there came 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, they fell on their faces, and were
sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be
not afraid; and, when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man
save Jesus only.”

Thus there were three witnesses to the divine attestation that Jesus
was the Messiah. Still, when they were descending the mountain, Jesus
requested them to “tell the vision to no man until the Son of man be
risen again from the dead.”

It was difficult for the disciples to accept the doctrine of a Messiah
who should be put to death: it caused an utter bewilderment of all
their preconceived conceptions of a Messiah triumphant over all his
foes. As they walked along, “they questioned one with another what the
rising from the dead should mean.” It seems that they were thrown into
a state of great perplexity, and began again to doubt whether Jesus
were really the Messiah; for the next day they cautiously inquired of
him how it was that “the scribes say that Elias must first come.” Jesus
informed them that Elias had already come, in the person of John the
Baptist; and that, as the scribes had done to him whatever they chose,
“so likewise shall the Son of man suffer of them.”

As soon as Jesus appeared, descending from the mountain, a multitude
rapidly gathered around him. A father, who had heard of the fame of
Jesus, had brought his son to be healed who was suffering terribly from
a foul spirit. He had arrived while Jesus was upon the mountain, and
had applied to his disciples for aid. As soon as Jesus appeared, the
father hastened to him, and, falling upon his knees before him, said,――

“Lord, have mercy on my son; for he is lunatic, and sore vexed:
for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. And
I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.

“Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation! how
long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? Bring him hither
to me.”

The child was brought to Jesus, and was immediately seized with
terrible convulsions. To the inquiry of Jesus, “How long is it ago
since this came unto him?” the father replied, “Of a child; and
ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to
destroy him. But, if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us,
and help us.

“Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to
him that believeth.

“And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears,
Lord, I believe: help thou mine unbelief.

“When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the
foul spirit, saying, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out
of him, and enter no more into him.

“And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him. And he
was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. But Jesus took
him by the hand, and lifted him up, and delivered him again to his

The disciples soon after came to Jesus, and inquired of him, privately,
why they could not cast out that evil spirit. To this Jesus made the
remarkable reply, not easily to be fully comprehended by our weak

“Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith
as a grain of mustard-seed, ye shall say unto this mountain [probably
pointing to the Mount of Transfiguration], Remove hence to yonder place,
and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit,
this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”[22]

Jesus now commenced another tour through the cities and villages of
Galilee, preaching the gospel and healing the sick, everywhere creating
amazement “at the mighty power of God.” While on this tour, he again
informed his disciples, in most emphatic terms, of his approaching
death at Jerusalem.

“The Son of man,” said he, “is delivered into the hands of men, and
they shall kill him; and, after that he is killed, he shall rise the
third day.”[23]

But the apostles could not understand how the Messiah could be
put to death. “They were exceeding sorry,” and “understood not that
saying,” and “were afraid to ask him.” As the apostles journeyed along,
following the footsteps of Jesus, a discussion rose among them as to
who would be pre-eminent in the kingdom of the Messiah.

“Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, asked them, What was
it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? But they held their
peace; for by the way they had disputed among themselves who should be
the greatest. And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto
them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all,
and servant of all. And he took a child, and set him in the midst of
them; and, when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, Verily
I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children,
ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever, therefore,
shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the
kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my
name, receiveth me; and whoso shall receive me, receiveth, not me, but
Him that sent me.”

When they had returned to Capernaum, the question rose respecting
paying tribute-money, which Jesus paid by sending Peter to the lake
to catch a fish, in whose mouth a piece of money was found. Jesus also
made some very striking remarks, recorded by both Matthew and Mark,
respecting the fearful consequence of tempting others to sin.[24]

He also introduced the parable of the lost sheep, gave them
instructions respecting their dealings with a Christian brother who
should fall into sin, and conferred upon them all the same authority
to establish rules for the government of the Church which before he
had apparently conferred upon Peter. “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth
shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever shall be loosed on earth shall
be loosed in heaven.” He then assured them, that, in the organization
of the Church, if any two should agree about the arrangement of affairs,
it should be ratified by God. “If two of you shall agree on earth as
touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my
Father which is in heaven; for where two or three are gathered together
in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

When Peter asked Jesus if he should forgive a brother who had sinned
against him seven times, he replied, “I say not unto thee, Until seven
times; but, Until seventy times seven.” He then introduced the parable
of the king and his debtors.

The Jews’ feast of tabernacles was at hand. Jesus had thus far
performed his miracles and proclaimed his teachings almost entirely
in the remote province of Galilee. His brethren urged him to go up
to Jerusalem, the thronged metropolis, that he might “show himself
to the world.” They said this sarcastically; for, notwithstanding all
his mighty works, it is recorded that “his brethren” did not believe
in him. Jesus, however, said that the time had not yet come for him
to go to Jerusalem; adding, “The world cannot hate you; but me it
hateth, because I testify of it that the works thereof are evil.” Jesus
remained in Galilee until after his brethren had gone up to Jerusalem.
At the feast, there was a very general inquiry where Jesus was. It was
supposed, that, being a Jew, he certainly would not abstain from being
present. There was also great diversity of opinion expressed respecting
his character; some saying that he was a good man, while others said
that he was deceiving the people.

About the middle of the feast, Jesus made his appearance, and,
entering the temple, taught the people. His words and manner excited
the surprise of all who heard him, leading them to say, “How knoweth
this man letters, having never learned?” Jesus replied,――

“My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me. If any man will do his
will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether
I speak of myself. He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory;
but he that seeketh His glory that sent him, the same is true, and no
unrighteousness is in him. Did not Moses give you the law? and yet none
of you keepeth the law. Why go ye about to kill me?”

The people replied in words which showed their rising hatred, “Thou
hast a devil. Who goeth about to kill thee?”

Jesus, referring to the healing of the man at the Pool of Bethesda,
said, “I have done one work, and ye all marvel.” Then, to show them
the unreasonableness of their hostility to him because he thus healed
a man on the sabbath day, he said, “Moses gave unto you circumcision;
and ye, on the sabbath day, circumcise a man. If a man on the sabbath
day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken,
are ye angry at me because I have made a man every whit whole on the
sabbath day?”

The appearance of Jesus and his teaching excited great commotion in
Jerusalem; and there was much discussion among the people, whether he
were the Messiah. The rulers were bewildered. They wished to arrest
him and silence him; but there was nothing in what he said or did
which could warrant them in any acts of violence. Many of the people
in Jerusalem expressed the belief that Jesus was the Messiah, saying,
“When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than this man hath
done?” The Pharisees and chief priests, alarmed by these indications
of increasing popular favor, secretly sent officers to take him;
but, though Jesus continued teaching the people without adopting any
measures of concealment or defence, for some unexplained reason the
officers did not arrest him. He, however, made an announcement to the
people, which, at the time, they did not fully comprehend,――that, when
his appointed time came, he should return to his Father in heaven, and
that then they would seek him in vain. “Yet a little while,” said he,
“am I with you; and then I go unto Him that sent me. Ye shall seek me,
and shall not find me; and where I am, thither ye cannot come.”[25]

Thus he continued boldly teaching until the last great day of the feast,
when, in an emphatic voice, he uttered in the temple the memorable
words, so assuming if he were but a man, so suitable if he were divine,
“If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink;” adding, in phrase
still figurative, that those who thus partook of the fountain of living
waters should bestow liberal and constant blessings on their fellow-men.

When the officers who had been sent to arrest Jesus returned without
him, they replied to the inquiry why they had done so, “Never man
spake like this man.” The Pharisees scornfully retorted, alluding
to the undoubted fact that it was the common people who generally
accepted Jesus, “Are ye also deceived? Have any of the rulers or of
the Pharisees believed on him? But this people who knoweth not the law
are cursed.”

Here Nicodemus, who was a member of the council, and who, several
months before, had visited Jesus by night, ventured timidly to
interpose. “Doth our law,” he inquired, “judge any man before it hear
him and know what he doeth?” He was silenced by the contemptuous and
somewhat menacing reply, “Art thou also of Galilee? Search and look;
for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.”

While the rulers were thus seeking to entrap Jesus, he left the city,
and ascended the greensward of the Mount of Olives, about a mile east
of the walls. Here it seems that he spent the night beneath the stars
of that serene and genial clime. Early the next morning, he returned to
the temple. A multitude, as usual, gathered around him. The following
remarkable scene which then ensued cannot be better described than in
the language of the inspired writers:――

“And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in
adultery; and, when they had set her in the midst, they say unto him,
Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now, Moses,
in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned; but what sayest
thou? This they said tempting him, that they might accuse him.

“But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground. So,
when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto
them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at
her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which
heard it, being convicted by conscience, went out one by one, beginning
at the eldest, even unto the last; and Jesus was left alone, and the
woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and
saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine
accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus
said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”[26]

Then, turning to the people assembled in the temple, he said, in
phrases which will cause every thoughtful mind to pause and ponder,
“I am the light of the world. He that followeth me shall not walk in
darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

These were, indeed, very extraordinary assertions upon any other
assumption than that he was truly the “brightness of the Father’s
glory, and the express image of his person.” The Pharisees accused him
of boasting, saying, “Thou bearest record of thyself: thy record is not

Jesus re-affirmed his declaration, saying, “Though I bear record of
myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I
go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go. Ye judge after
the flesh: I judge no man. And yet, if I judge, my judgment is true;
for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me. It is also
written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am
one that bear witness of myself; and the Father that sent me beareth
witness of me.”[27]

To this they replied with the question, “Where is thy Father?” They had
before sought to kill him because he said that God was his Father.

Jesus answered, “Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me,
ye should have known my Father also. I go my way; and ye shall seek me,
and shall die in your sins: whither I go ye cannot come. Ye are from
beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.
I said, therefore, unto you, that ye shall die in your sins; for, if ye
believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.”

They responded, “Who art thou?”

Jesus, evading an explicit answer, replied, “Even the same that I said
unto you from the beginning. I have many things to say and to judge of
you: but He that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things
which I have heard of him. When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then
shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but, as
my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And He that sent me
is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those
things that please him.”

We are informed that many were convinced by these words that Jesus was
the Messiah. Addressing them, he said, “If ye continue in my word, then
are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth
shall make you free.”

But his opponents rejoined, “We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in
bondage to any man. How sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?”

Jesus replied, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth
sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house
forever; but the Son abideth ever. If the Son, therefore, shall make
you free, ye shall be free indeed. I know that ye are Abraham’s seed;
but ye seek to kill me because my word hath no place in you. I speak
that which I have seen with my Father; and ye do that which ye have
seen with your father.”

“Abraham,” said they, “is our father.”

Jesus replied, “If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of
Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth,
which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of
your father.”

Then said they unto him, “We be not born of fornication. We have one
Father, even God.”

“If God were your Father,” Jesus rejoined, “ye would love me; for I
proceeded forth and came from God. Neither came I of myself; but he
sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? because ye cannot hear
my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father
ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in
the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie,
he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar, and the father of it. And,
because I tell you the truth, ye believe not. Which of you convinceth
me of sin? And, if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that
is of God heareth God’s word. Ye, therefore, hear them not, because ye
are not of God.”

The rulers, growing more and more exasperated by this plainness of
speech, replied, “Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast
a devil?”

Jesus answered, “I have not a devil; but I honor my Father, and ye do
dishonor me. And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh
and judgeth. Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying,
he shall never see death.”

His opponents replied, “Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is
dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he
shall never taste of death. Art thou greater than our father Abraham,
which is dead? and the prophets are dead. Whom makest thou thyself?”

Jesus answered, “If I honor myself, my honor is nothing. It is my
Father that honoreth me, of whom ye say that he is your God. Yet ye
have not known him. But I know him; and, if I should say I know him not,
I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying.
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was

Then said the Jews, “Thou art not yet fifty years old; and hast thou
seen Abraham?”

Jesus replied, “Before Abraham was, I am.”

The exasperation of his foes now exceeded all bounds, and they began
to pick up stones to stone him; but Jesus, exercising that marvellous
power by which he had before extricated himself from the violence of
his enemies, quietly retired from the temple, passing through the midst
of them.

Entering the streets of the city, he met a man blind from his birth.
His disciples asked the question which has been re-echoed by all
thoughtful minds from that day to this: “Master, who did sin, this man,
or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Jesus replied, that his calamity was not to be attributed to any
particular sin of himself or his parents. “Neither hath this man sinned,
nor his parents; but that the works of God should be made manifest in
him. I must work the works of Him that sent me while it is day: the
night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am
the light of the world.”

He then anointed the eyes of the blind man with clay moistened with
spittle, and directed him to wash in the Pool of Siloam. He did so,
and his sight was restored. It was the sabbath day. The Pharisees,
enraged, said, “This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the
sabbath day.” Others, however, replied, “How can a man that is a sinner
do such miracles?” And thus all Jerusalem was agitated by diversity of
opinion. The rulers, in their madness, had passed a decree, that, if
any one should confess that he believed that Christ was the Messiah,
he should be put out of the synagogue; that is, he should be exposed
to the terrible doom of excommunication, which was attended with awful
maledictions, exclusion from all intercourse with society, and which
prohibited every one from ministering in any way whatever to his wants.

Still the excitement in the city was every hour rising higher and
higher. The blind man was universally known. His miraculous cure no one
could deny. Neither the blind man nor his parents dared to avow their
belief that Jesus was the Messiah. When the parents were questioned,
they referred the questioner to their son, saying, “He is of age:
ask him.” When the son was questioned, he was equally cautious in his
responses. The Pharisees who approached him said, “Give God the praise:
we know that this man is a sinner.”

He replied, “Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not. One thing I know,
that, whereas I was blind, now I see.”

To their reiterated inquiry, “How opened he thine eyes?” he replied,
somewhat provoked, “I have told you already, and ye did not hear.
Wherefore would ye hear it again? Will ye, also, be his disciples?”

This taunt increased their exasperation: and they retorted, “Thou art
his disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples. We know that God spake unto
Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is.”

With unexpected boldness, the man rejoined, “Why, herein is a
marvellous thing, that ye know not 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.”

For this speech, cautious as it was, the rulers excommunicated the man.
Jesus heard of it, and went in search of him. Having found him, he
inquired, “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?” The man replied, “Who
is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?” Jesus said, “Thou hast both
seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.”

To this emphatic declaration, that Jesus was the Messiah, the man
replied, “Lord, I believe.” The inspired historian adds, “And he
worshipped him;” that is, paid homage to him as the Messiah.

Jesus then delivered to those who had gathered around him the parable
of the good shepherd, and explained it, saying,――

“I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As
the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father; and I lay down my
life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold.
Them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall
be one fold and one shepherd. Therefore doth my Father love me, because
I lay down my life that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me;
but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have
power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”

Such remarks as these increased the excitement and the diversity of
opinion which prevailed respecting Jesus. Many of them said, “He hath
a devil, and is mad: why hear ye him?” Others said, “These are not the
words of him that hath a devil: can a devil open the eyes of the blind?”

It is probable, that, after this, Jesus returned to Capernaum in
Galilee. Two months passed, during which he was undoubtedly active in
his mission; but we have no record whatever of any thing which he said
or did. The feast of the dedication commenced on the fifteenth day of
December, and continued eight days. We find Jesus again at Jerusalem.
The record of John is as follows:――

“And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was
winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch. Then came
the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us
to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.”

Jesus replied, “I told you, and ye believed not. The works that I do in
my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because
ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice,
and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life;
and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my
hand. I and my Father are one.”[28]

This assertion of the oneness of Jesus with the Father so exasperated
the unbelieving Jews, that they took up stones to stone him. Jesus said
to them, “Many good works have I showed you from my Father: for which
of those works do ye stone me?”

They replied, “For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy,
and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.”

Jesus replied in words which the Jews understood to be reaffirming
his statement, “Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If
he called them gods unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture
cannot be broken, say ye of him whom the Father hath sanctified and
sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said I am the Son
of God? If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not; but if I
do, though ye believe not me, believe the works; that ye may know and
believe that the Father is in me, and I in him.”

This renewed assertion of his equality with God induced the Jews
again to take up stones to stone him; “but he escaped out of their
hands.” Leaving Jerusalem, he crossed the River Jordan, and entered
that wilderness region which had been rendered memorable by the
preaching and the baptism of John. There, at a distance of about a
hundred miles from his implacable foes, beneath the shadows of Mount
Gilead, he resumed preaching the gospel to the multitudes of the common
people who resorted to hear him. It is written that “many believed on
him there.”

A few miles east from Jerusalem there was the little village of Bethany,
where a man by the name of Lazarus resided with his two sisters, Martha
and Mary. They were the warm friends of Jesus, and their dwelling had
been one of his favorite resorts. Lazarus was taken sick. His sisters
immediately sent word to Jesus, who, in the wilderness, was one or two
days’ journey from Bethany. Jesus, instead of hurrying to his afflicted
friends, said calmly to the messenger, “This sickness is not unto
death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified
thereby.” Two days passed by; and then he said to his disciples, “Let
us go into Judæa again.” They endeavored to dissuade him, saying,
“Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither
again?” He, however, informed his disciples that Lazarus was dead, and
intimated to them that he must go to raise him from the grave.

Accompanied by his disciples, he reached Bethany. Martha hastened to
meet him before he entered the town, and gently reproached him, yet in
terms expressive of her unbounded confidence. “Lord, if thou hadst been
here,” she said, “my brother had not died; but I know that even now,
whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.”

“Thy brother,” said Jesus, “shall rise again.”

“I know,” Martha rejoined, “that he shall rise again in the
resurrection at the last day.”

Jesus replied, “I am the resurrection and the life.[29] He that
believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever
liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?”

“Yea, Lord,” Martha replied: “I believe that thou art the Christ, the
Son of God, which should come into the world.”

Mary soon joined her sister, and, falling at the feet of Jesus,
exclaimed, “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
When Jesus, therefore, saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which
came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, and said,
Where have ye laid him?”

Together they went to the tomb, where the body was already mouldering
to corruption. When they reached the tomb, Jesus wept. He directed the
stone which was the door of the tomb to be moved. Then, lifting his
eyes to heaven, he said,――

“Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou
hearest me always; but because of the people which stand by I said it,
that they may believe that thou hast sent me.”

Then in a loud voice, addressing the dead, he exclaimed, “Lazarus,
come forth!” Immediately Lazarus, embarrassed by the wrappings of the
grave-clothes, rose, and came out from the tomb, and returned to his
home with his friends.

This miracle led many of the Jews to accept Jesus as the Messiah. But
it only exasperated the Pharisees, and they met together to devise
some plan by which they could secure his destruction. We are informed,
that, consequently, “Jesus walked no more openly among the Jews, but
went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called

This was probably a small town several miles north-east from Jerusalem.
We know not how long Jesus remained here with his disciples, and we
have no record either of his sayings or doings while in this place. The
inspired penman informs us, “When the time was come that he should be
received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.”[30]

                              CHAPTER IV.


  Journey to Jerusalem.――Mission of the Seventy.――Jesus teaches his
    Disciples to pray.――Lament over Jerusalem.――Return to Galilee.
    ――The Second Coming of Christ.――Dangers of the Rich.――Promise
    to his Disciples.――Foretells his Death.――Zacchæus.――Mary anoints
    Jesus.――Enters Jerusalem.――Drives the Traffickers from the
    Temple.――The Pharisees try to entrap him.――The Destruction of
    Jerusalem, and the Second Coming.――Judas agrees to betray Jesus.
    ――The Last Supper.――The Prayer of Jesus.

AS Jesus was journeying back from Ephraim to Jerusalem with his
disciples, he entered a town of the Samaritans, where the inhabitants,
learning that he was on his way to Jerusalem, did not give him a
hospitable reception. Two of his disciples, James and John, were so
indignant at their conduct, that they asked for authority to command
fire from heaven to consume them. Jesus mildly rebuked them, saying,
“Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of; for the Son of man is
not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” And he passed on
to another village.

As they were toiling along over the shadowless plains, an enthusiastic
convert came to him, saying, “Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever
thou goest.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air
have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.”[31]

Though he thus gently repelled this man,――who, perhaps, expected to
derive some considerable worldly advantage from following him,――to
another whom he met he said, “Follow me.” But this man made an
excuse,――apparently a very sufficient one,――saying, “Lord, suffer me
first to go and bury my father.” Jesus replied, “Let the dead bury
their dead; but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.”

There were doubtless circumstances in this case, with which we are not
familiar, which justified this seemingly harsh reply. The meaning was
quite obvious,――“Let those who are dead in sin take care of the dead;”
and Jesus doubtless meant to teach by this that nothing whatever is to
be allowed to divert the mind from religion. When another said, “Lord,
I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell which are
at home at my house,” he replied, “No man, having put his hand to the
plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

“After these things,” it is written, “the Lord appointed other seventy
also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and
place whither he himself would come.” He gave them the same directions,
and almost in the same words, which he had previously given to the
twelve apostles. As these disciples returned from their short but
important mission to preach the gospel, they said joyfully, “Lord,
even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.” Jesus made the
memorable reply,――

“I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto
you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power
of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding,
in this rejoice not that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather
rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”

A lawyer, one whose profession was to study the Jewish law, feigning a
desire to be instructed, and yet probably seeking to entrap him, asked,
“Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus replied, “What is written in the law? How readest thou?”

The lawyer replied, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy
heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength; and thy
neighbor as thyself.”

Jesus responded, “Thou hast answered right. This do, and thou shalt

But the lawyer was by no means satisfied by this simple announcement of
duty, and in a cavilling spirit inquired, “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus replied in the beautiful parable of the Good Samaritan.[32]

On his way to Jerusalem, he visited Bethany, the home of Lazarus, Mary,
and Martha. As he drew near to Jerusalem, which was to be the scene of
his fearful sufferings, he was much engaged in prayer. It is recorded,
“And it came to pass, as he was praying in a certain place, when he
ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as
John also taught his disciples. And he said unto them, When ye pray,

“Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom
come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day
our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one
that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us
from evil.”[33]

This prayer is precisely the same in spirit, and almost the same in
words, with that which Jesus gave in the Sermon on the Mount, and was
followed with very similar instructions, urging importunity in prayer.
In this discourse he introduced the parables of the rich man, the wise
steward, the unfaithful servant, and the barren fig-tree.

While engaged in these various works of instruction and healing, he, on
his tour of mercy, again visited Galilee. Some of the Jews came to him,
and urged him to leave the dominions of Herod, as Herod was seeking to
kill him. Jesus replied,――

“Go ye and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures
to-day and to-morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.” It
is supposed that Herod had cunningly sent these men, hoping thus
to frighten Jesus out of his realms. The reply, which was somewhat
proverbial, was simply, “Tell Herod not to be troubled. I am not
violating the laws: I am engaged in works of mercy. For two or three
days more I shall remain in his domains, and shall then go to Jerusalem:
there my course will be ended.” Jesus added,――

“Nevertheless, I must walk to-day and to-morrow and the day following;
for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem. O Jerusalem,
Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent
unto thee! how often would I have gathered thy children together as
a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! Behold,
your house is left unto you desolate; and verily I say unto you, Ye
shall not see me until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he
that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

Unremittingly Jesus continued in his walks of usefulness, preaching the
gospel, healing the sick, comforting the afflicted, and silencing the
cavils of his foes. The record we have of these tireless labors is very
brief, and apparently without regard to chronology. It was probably at
this time that he uttered the parables of the wedding and of the great

Multitudes continually thronged around him. To them he said, “If
any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother, and wife and
children, and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he
cannot be my disciple.” In Scripture phrase, “to hate” often signifies
to _love less_. This was a declaration that Christ was to be loved
supremely. No one could be his disciple who was not willing to forsake
all earthly possessions and friends, if need be, for his cause.[35]

The self-righteous Pharisees complained that “this man receiveth
sinners, and eateth with them.” Jesus replied in the beautiful parables
of the lost sheep, the lost piece of money, and that most impressive,
perhaps, of all his parables, the prodigal son; assuring poor sinners
that not only God, with parental love, welcomed their return to him,
but that there was joy in the presence of the angels of God over one
repentant sinner.

Each parable seems to have been a reply to some inquiry, remark,
or opposition, on the part of those who listened to him. Thus he
introduced the parable of the unjust steward, and of the rich man and

In this latter parable, it is clearly taught that the soul,
immediately upon death, proceeds to a state of reward or of punishment;
and as flame causes the most direful material anguish, so sin causes
the acutest suffering of which the immaterial nature is susceptible.

Jesus was now on his route to Jerusalem through the villages and
cities of Galilee and Samaria. He crossed the Jordan, and preached
in the rural districts beyond. Large multitudes followed him. It is
impossible now to ascertain the route he took in these journeyings.
The Pharisees asked when the kingdom of God――that is, the reign of the
Messiah――should commence. He made the memorable reply, which is still
read with awe, as indicative of scenes of unspeakable sublimity and
terror yet to come:――

“As the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven,
shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man
be in his day. But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of
this generation. And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also
in the days of the Son of man: they did eat, they drank, they married
wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into
the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.

“Likewise, also, as it was in the days of Lot: they did eat, they drank,
they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day
that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven,
and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son
of man is revealed.”[37]

In these revelations of awful scenes to come, there is an apparent
blending of the terrible suffering which was soon to befall Jerusalem
in its utter overthrow and of the final coming of Christ at the day of

Again he urged persevering prayer by the parable of the importunate
widow,[38] and enjoined humility by the parable of the Pharisee and
the publican.[39] The question of divorce was presented to him, with
the statement that Moses had allowed it for very trivial causes. Jesus
replied, that, in the eyes of God, divorce and subsequent marriage
could only be justified upon the ground of a violation of the marriage

Some children were brought to him to be blessed. He laid his hands upon
their heads, and prayed; and then said, “Whosoever shall not receive
the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.”

A young man of wealth, and, as a ruler, occupying posts of honor, came
to Jesus, and, rather boastfully asserting that he had kept all the
commandments from his youth up, inquired what more he must do that he
might enter the kingdom of God. It is said that Jesus, looking upon the
ingenuous young man of unblemished morals, “loved him, and said unto
him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way; sell whatsoever thou hast,
and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come,
take up the cross, and follow me.”

This was merely reiterating the declaration, that every one who
would be a disciple of Jesus must be willing, at his command, to
make any sacrifice whatever. The test proved that the young man loved
wealth more than Christ. “He went away sorrowful; for he had great

It is recorded, when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said,
“How hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom
of God!” Then, using an expression proverbial for denoting any thing
remarkably difficult, he added, “It is easier for a camel to go through
the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of

Peter, who, since the severe rebuke administered to him by Jesus,
seems to have been very retiring, said, “Lo, we have left all, and have
followed thee. What shall we have, therefore?” Jesus replied,――

“Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the
regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory,
ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes
of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren,
or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands,
for my name’s sake, shall receive a hundred-fold, and shall inherit
everlasting life.”[41]

It is supposed that Jesus was at this time on the eastern side of
Jordan, nearly opposite Jericho. The reply to Peter was followed by
the parable of the householder and his laborers. Jesus crossed the
ford, and, entering Judæa, directed his steps towards Jerusalem. His
disciples, conscious of the peril to which he would expose himself in
the metropolis, were amazed and afraid. Jesus called the twelve around
him, and said to them,――

“Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered
unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn
him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles; and they shall
mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall
kill him; and the third day he shall rise again.”[42]

The idea that the Messiah could be put to death――He who had power
to bring the dead to life――was so incomprehensible to the apostles,
that they could not receive the meaning of his words. They, however,
walked along, conversing as they went; and both Matthew and Mark record
several of the memorable sayings of Jesus by the way.[43]

As they drew near to Jericho, a blind man, waiting for him by the
wayside, earnestly implored relief. Jesus restored his lost vision,
simply saying, “Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee.”

From Jericho, which was about twenty miles north-east from Jerusalem,
they continued their journey, followed by an immense multitude. Two
blind men, as Jesus approached, loudly implored his aid. He touched
their eyes, and immediately their eyes received sight.

A rich man, named Zacchæus, a chief publican, being of short stature,
climbed a tree that he might see Jesus as he passed. Jesus called him
down, saying, “To-day I must abide at thy house.” Zacchæus hastened
down, and received Jesus with great cordiality. Again there was
murmuring because Jesus was “guest with a man that is a sinner.” It
seems that Zacchæus was in heart a better man than he was in repute:
for Jesus said, “This day is salvation come to this house; forasmuch as
he also is a son of Abraham.” Then, in allusion to the charge that he
associated with sinners, he said, “For the Son of man is come to seek
and to save that which was lost.”

Notwithstanding what Jesus had said respecting his approaching
sufferings and death at Jerusalem, his disciples still expected
that there would be some signal displays of his power there in the
establishment of a glorious reign. Jesus, therefore, addressed them
in the parable of the nobleman and his servants.

Six days before the passover, Jesus reached Bethany. A very careful
computation has led to the opinion that this was on the 30th of March,
the year of our Lord 30. A supper was provided for him at the house of
Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. Lazarus sat at the table. The grateful Mary,
taking an “alabaster box of ointment very precious,” anointed the head
and the feet of Jesus. The house was filled with the fragrant odor. The
estimated value of this was about fifty dollars,――a much larger sum in
those days than now.

Several who were present considered it an act of great extravagance.
That sum, distributed among the poor, would have relieved much distress.
Judas Iscariot, who was the treasurer of the little band, murmured
loudly, saying, “Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence,
and given to the poor?” “This he said,” John adds, “not that he cared
for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare
what was put therein.”

But Jesus commended the deed in the remarkable words, “She hath wrought
a good work on me: for ye have the poor always with you, and, whenever
ye will, ye may do them good; but me ye have not always. She hath done
what she could. She has come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying.
Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the
whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told
for a memorial of her.”[44]

Curiosity to see Lazarus, as well as to see Jesus, assembled an immense
crowd around the house. The raising of Lazarus from the dead, and his
daily appearance, were evidence of the miraculous powers of Jesus which
no argument could refute. The chief priests were so malignant that they
consulted to put Lazarus to death, “because that by reason of him many
of the Jews believed on Jesus.”

Leaving Bethany,――which, it will be remembered, was but about two
miles east of Jerusalem, on the eastern declivity of the Mount of
Olives,――Jesus advanced toward Jerusalem. As the rumor of his approach
was circulated through the streets, a vast throng poured out at the
gates to meet him. They bore branches of palm-trees in their hands, and
shouted, as they escorted him in triumph, “Hosanna! Blessed is the King
of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord!”[45] Near a hamlet at
the Mount of Olives, Jesus procured a young ass which had never been
mounted. His disciples spread some of their garments on the ass, and
Jesus took his seat thereon. A conqueror would have wished to enter
the city on a spirited war-horse gayly caparisoned. Jesus studiously
avoided all such parade. The overjoyed multitude, however, “spread
their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and
strewed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before and that
followed cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he that
cometh in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”[46]

As Jesus, thus accompanied, commenced the western descent of the Mount
of Olives, the whole city lay spread out as a panorama before him. “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 compass thee round, 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.”[47]

The whole city of Jerusalem was agitated by the coming of Jesus, the
now widely-renowned prophet of Galilee. Jesus proceeded at once to
the temple. The blind and the lame were brought in throngs to him. He
healed them all. The city resounded with his acclaim. Even the children
in the streets shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” The chief
priests and the scribes were sorely annoyed, saying, “The world has
gone after him.”

Some Greeks who were in Jerusalem came to the disciples, and expressed
a wish to see Jesus. They were brought to him. Jesus, probably
addressing them, said,――

“The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily I
say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground, and die, it
abideth alone; but, if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that
loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this
world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him
follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be. If any man
serve me, him will my Father honor. 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.” It is added, “Then came
there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will
glorify it again.”

All who stood by heard the supernatural noise, and some the
distinctly-articulated voice, and said, “An angel spake to him.” Jesus

“This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes. Now is the
judgment of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”
“This,” adds the inspired writer, “he said, signifying what death he
should die.”

The people, bewildered by such assertions, replied, “We have heard out
of the law that Christ abideth forever; and how sayest thou, The Son of
man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man?”

Jesus answered, “Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while
ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you; for he that walketh in
darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have the light, believe
in the light, that ye may be the children of light.”

Jesus, after these words, withdrew secretly with his disciples from
the city (for it was night), and returned to Bethany. In the morning,
he came back to Jerusalem. Being hungry, and seeing a fig-tree by
the way, he went to it, and found leaves only. We know not now what
lesson Jesus intended to teach us: he said, “Let no fruit grow on
thee henceforward forever.” The tree withered away. Again, finding
the temple sacrilegiously perverted to purposes of traffic, he, by his
authoritative person and voice, drove the traffickers out, saying, “It
is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have
made it a den of thieves.”

The scribes and chief priests were becoming more and more exasperated
by these reproofs. But they feared to lay violent hands upon Jesus,
he was so popular with the masses of the people. He continued through
the day teaching the crowds ever thronging the temple to listen to his
calm, impressive words. At the approach of evening, he returned to the
quietude of Bethany, and in the morning re-entered the city. As he was
teaching in the temple, the chief priests and scribes came and inquired
of him by what authority he did these things. Jesus baffled their
malignity by asking them what they thought of the prophet John. They
were greatly annoyed. If they should say he was a prophet, Jesus
would inquire why they did not believe in him. If, on the other hand,
they should say that he was but a common man, the indignation of the
people would be aroused; for they all regarded John as a prophet. They
therefore said, “We cannot tell.” Jesus replied, “Neither do I tell you
by what authority I do these things.” Having thus silenced them, and
put them to shame, Jesus addressed them in the parable of the father
and his two sons, and then in the parable of the vineyard let out to

He made such personal application of these parables as to leave no
doubt in the minds of the scribes and Pharisees that he referred to
them. “But, when they sought to lay hands upon him, they feared the
multitude, because they took him for a prophet.” Another parable he
added, that of the marriage-feast, illustrative of the same truth, that
the Gentiles would enter the kingdom of God, which the Jews refused to

The Pharisees endeavored to entrap him by inducing him to say
something which would render him unpopular with the people. After much
deliberation, they sent some spies to him to inquire whether it were
lawful to pay tribute to Cæsar, who had conquered and enslaved them.
If he should say “No,” it would be treason: if he should say “Yes,” it
would exasperate the people.

Jesus, “knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? Bring
me a penny. And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this
image and superscription? They said unto him, Cæsar’s. Jesus, answering,
said, Render to Cæsar the things that are Cæsar’s, and to God the
things that are God’s.” It is added, “They marvelled, and left him, and
went their way.”

Again: the Sadducees, who denied the doctrine of the resurrection,
inquired of him whose wife a woman in the resurrection would be, who
had married, one after another, seven husbands. Their cavilling spirit
was silenced by the reply, that, in the future world, those who should
“rise from the dead” would not marry, but would be as the angels of
God in heaven.[49] He then re-affirmed the doctrine of a future life,

“Now, that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, when he
calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God
of Jacob; for he is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”[50]

The Pharisees were quite pleased in finding the Sadducees thus
confounded. Still they sought the destruction of Jesus. After taking
counsel together, they commissioned one of their lawyers to ask which
was the chief commandment of the law. Among these ritualists, there was
quite a diversity of opinion upon this subject. Some said, “Sacrifices;”
others, “Circumcision;” others, “The law of the sabbath,” &c. Jesus

“The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel! The Lord our
God is one Lord. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,
and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind: this is the first and
great commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy
neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the
prophets.”[51] It is recorded, “No man, after this, durst ask him any

Jesus now, in his turn, asked the Pharisees a question, to show them
the divine character of the Messiah, and how far their views of his
dignity fell short of the truth.

“What think ye of Christ? whose son is he?” They replied, “The son of
David.” Jesus rejoined, “How, then, doth David, by the Holy Ghost, call
him Lord, saying, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand
till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David, then, call him Lord,
how is he his son?”

They again being thus baffled, it is recorded, “And no man was able to
answer him a word.”

Jesus then warned his disciples to beware of the pride, ambition,
and ostentation of the scribes; of their ceremonial display, and of
their moral corruption. In the temple were placed several money-boxes
to receive the voluntary contributions of the people for the service
of the temple. Jesus noticed the people as they came with their
contributions,――many of the rich casting in large sums, not at all
unwilling that the amount should be known by the lookers-on. “And
there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which
make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto
them, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more
than they all: for all these have of their abundance cast in unto the
offerings of God; but she, of her penury, hath cast in all the living
that she hath.”[52]

Notwithstanding the abounding evidence of the divine mission of Jesus,
there were many who hardened their hearts, and who refused to believe
in him. Others there were, then as now, who, though they were convinced
of his Messiahship, had not sufficient moral courage to confess him
before men. It is recorded, “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.”[53]

In reference to all who thus rejected him, Jesus exclaimed, “He that
believeth on me, believeth, not on me, but on Him that sent me; and he
that seeth me seeth Him that sent me. I am come a light into the world,
that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. And if
any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not; for I came not
to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and
receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have
spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken
of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment what
I should say and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment
is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak, therefore, even as the Father
said unto me, so I speak.”[54]

He then, addressing the multitude, warned them in the most solemn
manner to avoid the hypocrisy and haughty display of these proud and
pompous ceremonialists. His denunciations of them were terrible, and
must have roused them to the highest pitch of rage.

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” he said, “for ye
shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for ye neither go in
yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Woe unto
you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses,
and, for a pretence, make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the
greater damnation. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for
ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte; and, when he is made, ye
make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves,” &c.[55]

A more terrible, and at the same time calm and truthful, denunciation
cannot be found in any language. As Jesus left the temple, his
disciples called his attention to the massive stones of which it
was reared. Jesus assured them that the temple was to be so utterly
destroyed, that not one stone should be left upon another. Departing
from the city, he went with his disciples to the Mount of Olives. As
he sat upon that eminence, which overlooked the city, he gave them
an appalling account of the scenes which were to ensue at the time of
its destruction. In reference to the persecutions which they were to
encounter, he said, “For they shall deliver you up to councils, and
in the synagogues ye shall be beaten; and ye shall be brought before
rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them. But when
they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand
what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be
given you in that hour, that speak ye; for it is not ye that speak, but
the Holy Ghost. Now, the brother shall betray the brother to death, and
the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents,
and shall cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all
men for my name’s sake; but he that shall endure unto the end, the same
shall be saved.”[56]

In continuation of this wonderful discourse, and in reply to an inquiry
what should be the sign of his coming and of the end of the world,
Jesus added,――

“And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then
shall all the tribes of the earth mourn; and they shall see the Son of
man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he
shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet; and they shall
gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven
to the other. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass
till all these things be fulfilled.”[57] He then adds, “But of that
day and hour knoweth no man; no, not the angels which are in heaven,
neither the Son, but the Father.”

There is no portion of Scripture which has occasioned more perplexity
than these predictions of Jesus, contained in the twenty-fourth and
twenty-fifth chapters of Matthew; and it may also be said that there is
no portion of the New Testament which is read with more interest, or
which inspires more profound and religious emotion. Jesus was speaking
to his disciples of the overthrow of Jerusalem, and of the utter
destruction of the temple. They said, “Tell us, when shall these things
be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming and of the end of the

Here were two distinct questions, but which were probably erroneously
associated in the minds of the disciples as one. They probably supposed
that Christ’s second coming, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the
end of the world, were to be the same event. In the reply of Jesus,
these events are so blended, that occurrences are apparently brought
together which are actually separated by many centuries. Many suppose
that the destruction of Jerusalem is foretold from the beginning of the
twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew to the twenty-ninth verse; that, from
the twenty-ninth verse of the twenty-fourth chapter to the thirtieth
verse of the twenty-fifth chapter, the second advent of Christ is
foretold; and that, from the thirty-first verse to the end of the
chapter, Christ speaks of the final judgment.

There are not a few careful students of the Bible who suppose that
there are here indicated three distinct comings of Christ,――first,
for the destruction of Jerusalem; second, to establish a millennial
reign upon earth; and, thirdly, his coming in the day of judgment
at the end of the world. Upon this general subject, the following
judicious remarks by Rev. William Hanna will recommend themselves to
the reader:――

“It so happens, that, among those who have made the province of
unfulfilled prophecy their peculiar study, the most various and the
most discordant opinions prevail. They differ, not only in their
interpretation of individual prophecies, but in the systems or methods
of interpretation which they employ. For some this region of biblical
study has had a strange fascination; and, once drawn into it, there
appears to be a great difficulty in getting out again. Perhaps the
very dimness and doubtfulness that belong to it constitute one of its
attractions. The lights are but few, and struggling and obscure; yet
each new entrant fancies he has found the clew that leads through the
labyrinth, and, with a confidence proportioned to the difficulties he
imagines he has overcome, would persuade us to accompany him. Instead
of inclining us the more to enter, the very number and force of these
conflicting invitations serve rather to repel.”[58]

At the conclusion of these announcements respecting the future,
Jesus gives a very sublime description of the day of final judgment, in
which he represents himself as seated upon the throne to pronounce the
irreversible verdicts.

“When the Son of man,” he said, “shall come in his glory, and all the
holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
and before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate
them one from another as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats;
and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed
of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation
of the world. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart
from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and
his angels. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but
the righteous into life eternal.”[59]

  Illustration: (‡ The Last Supper)

Having thus described himself as seated upon the throne of final
judgment, he added the declaration so bewildering to his disciples, “Ye
know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of
man is betrayed to be crucified.”

The chief priests and the scribes held a council in the palace of
Caiaphas, the high priest, to devise some means by which they might put
Jesus to death. It was not easy to rouse the mob against him; for he
was popular with the people. Judas Iscariot, probably hearing of this
council, went to the chief priests, and agreed to betray Jesus to them
by night for thirty pieces of silver,――about fifteen dollars. “They
feared the people;” and it was consequently necessary that he should
“betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude.”

Jesus, as usual, entered Jerusalem early in the morning, and, all the
day long, was preaching his gospel; “and all the people came early in
the morning to him in the temple for to hear him.” At night, he retired
to his silent retreat on the Mount of Olives.

In the evening of the first day of the feast, Jesus and his twelve
apostles met in an upper chamber at Jerusalem to partake of the paschal
lamb. “Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of
this world unto the Father.” Tenderly he loved his apostles. In this
hour, when their final separation was so near, “he riseth from supper,
laid aside his garments, and took a towel, and girded himself. 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.”

Simon Peter, with characteristic impulsiveness, exclaimed
remonstratingly, “Lord, dost thou wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt
know hereafter.”

But Peter still remonstrated, saying, “Thou shalt never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.”

Then this childlike man, fickle yet heroic, exclaimed, “Lord, not my
feet only, but also my hands and my head!”

Jesus rejoined, “He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet,
but is clean every whit.” He then added, in allusion to Judas Iscariot,
“And ye are clean, but not all.”

Having thus washed the feet of his apostles, he sat down, and said to
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. If ye know these things,
happy are ye if ye do them.”

Jesus then “took bread; and, when he had given thanks, he brake it, and
said, Take, eat: this is my body which is broken for you. This do in
remembrance of me.”

While they were eating of the bread, and before they partook of the cup,
Jesus said to them,――

“Behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table.
And truly the Son of man goeth as it was determined; but woe unto that
man by whom he is betrayed! I speak not of you all: I know whom I have
chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread
with me hath lifted up his heel against me. Now, I tell you before
it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send
receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth Him that sent me.”[60]

John adds, “When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and
testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you
shall betray me.”

This announcement created mingled feelings of surprise and grief. “The
disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake; and they
were exceeding sorrowful, and began, every one of them, to say unto him,
Lord, is it I?”

He replied, “It is one of the twelve that dippeth with me in the dish.”

John, who is represented as the favorite disciple of Jesus, was sitting
next to him, and reclining upon his bosom. Peter beckoned to him to ask
whom he meant.

“Lord, who is it?” said John.

Jesus replied, “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; and,
after the sop, Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, “That
thou doest, do quickly.”[61]

Judas immediately rose, and went out; “and it was night.” As soon as
he had left, Jesus said to the remaining eleven, “Now is the Son of man
glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God
shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.
Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me;
and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go ye cannot come, so now I say
to you. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another. By
this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one
to another.”

Peter said unto him, “Lord, whither goest thou?”

Jesus replied, “Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou
shalt follow me afterwards.”

Peter rejoined, “Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my
life for thy sake.”

Jesus answered, “Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily,
verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow till thou hast denied
me thrice. Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he
may sift you as wheat; but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail
not; and, when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”[62]

Peter rejoined, “Lord, I am ready to go with thee both into prison and
to death.” But Jesus reiterated his assertion, “I tell thee, Peter, the
cock shall not crow this day before that thou shalt thrice deny that
thou knowest me.”

After this and some other conversation, Jesus “took the cup, and gave
thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my
blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of
sins. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show
forth the Lord’s death till he come. But I say unto you, I will not
drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink
it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

Then, to comfort them in view of the terrible disappointment they
would encounter in his death, he said, “Let not your heart be troubled:
ye believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many
mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a
place for you. And, if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come
again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be
also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.”

Thomas, one of the twelve, inquired, “Lord, we know not whither thou
goest; and how can we know the way?”

Jesus replied, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh
unto the Father but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my
Father also; and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.”

Philip, another of the twelve, said, “Lord, show us the Father, and it
sufficeth us.”

Jesus replied, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou
not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and
how sayest thou, then, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am
in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak unto you,
I speak not of myself; but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth
the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me;
or else believe me for the very works’ sake. Verily I say unto you,
He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and
greater works than these shall he do, because I go unto the Father.[63]

“And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the
Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my
name, I will do it. If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will
pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may
abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot
receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him;
for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

“I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little
while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me.[64] Because I
live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my
Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and
keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be
loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to

Judas, the brother of James, and who subsequently wrote the Epistle of
Jude, inquired, “Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto
us, and not unto the world?”

Jesus replied, “If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father
will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings; and the word which ye
hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me. These things have I
spoken unto you, being yet present with you; but the Comforter, which
is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach
you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I
have said unto you.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you: not as the world
giveth give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it
be afraid. Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again
unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto
the Father; for my Father is greater than I. And now I have told you
before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.
Hereafter I will not talk much with you; for the prince of this world
cometh, and hath nothing in me. But that the world may know that I love
the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise,
let us go hence.”

It was now probably about midnight. Jesus and his apostles sang a hymn,
rose from the paschal supper, and went to the Mount of Olives. Jesus
was going to be betrayed, and to die, with the whole scene of suffering
open to his mind. His apostles, bewildered, and overwhelmed with grief,
knew that something awful was about to take place; but they scarcely
comprehended what. As they walked sadly along, Jesus continued his
discourse, saying, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and every
branch that beareth fruit he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more
fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto
you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide in the
vine, no more can ye except ye abide in me. I am the vine: ye are the
branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth
much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing.

“If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is
withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they
are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall
ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father
glorified, that ye bear much fruit: so shall ye be my disciples. As
the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
These things have I spoken unto you that my joy might remain in you,
and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love
one another as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this,
that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends if ye
do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for
the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you
friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made
known unto you. Ye have not chosen me; but I have chosen you, and
ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your
fruit should remain; that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my
name, he may give it you.

“These things I command you, that ye love one another. If the world
hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were
of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of
the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world
hateth you. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you;
if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these
things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not
Him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not
had sin; but now they have no cloak for their sin. He that hateth me
hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which
none other man did, they had not had sin; but now have they both seen
and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word
might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without
a cause. But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from
the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father,
he shall testify of me; and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have
been with me from the beginning.”

Jesus then again warned the apostles of the sufferings to which they
would be exposed; entreated them to persevere; assured them that he
would send the Comforter to sustain them in every trial, who should
guide them to all truth; and reiterated the assertion, “I came forth
from the Father, and am come into the world: again I leave the world,
and go to the Father.”[65]

Having thus finished his farewell discourse to his apostles, standing
with them at midnight upon the greensward outside of the walls of the
city, with darkness and silence around, and the stars above, he raised
his eyes to heaven, and breathed the most solemn, comprehensive, and
impressive prayer that was ever uttered by mortal lips.

“Father,” said he, “the hour is come: glorify thy Son, that thy Son
also may glorify thee: as thou hast given him power over all flesh,
that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And
this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and
Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth:
I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father!
glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with
thee before the world was. I have manifested thy name unto the men
which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest
them me; and they have kept thy word. Now, they have known that all
things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto
them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and
have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed
that thou didst send me.

“I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou
hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine
are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the
world, but these are in the world; and I come to thee. Holy Father,
keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they
may be one as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them
in thy name. Those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is
lost but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that
they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.

“I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because
they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not
that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest
keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of
the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou
hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the
world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be
sanctified through the truth.

“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe
on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father,
art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the
world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou
gavest me I have given them, that they may be one even as we are one: I
in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that
the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou
hast loved me.

“Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where
I am, that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me; for thou
lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! the
world hath not known thee; but I have known thee, and these have known
that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and
will declare it; that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in
them, and I in them.”[66]

                              CHAPTER V.

                    ARREST, TRIAL, AND CRUCIFIXION.

  Anguish of Jesus.――His Prayers in the Garden.――The Arrest.――Peter’s
    Recklessness.――Flight of the Apostles.――Jesus led to Annas;
    to Caiaphas.――Jesus affirms that he is the Messiah.――Frivolous
    Accusations.――Peter denies his Lord.――Jesus is conducted to
    Pilate.――The Examination.――Scourging the Innocent.――Insults and
    Mockery.――Rage of the Chief Priests and Scribes.――Embarrassment
    of Pilate.――He surrenders Jesus to his Enemies.――The Crucifixion.
    ――The Resurrection.――Repeated Appearance to his Disciples.

JESUS having finished this prayer, the little band descended into the
Valley of Jehoshaphat, a deep and dark ravine, and, crossing the Brook
Kedron, entered the Garden of Gethsemane, a secluded spot, which Christ
often visited for retirement and prayer. Here Jesus seems to have been
overwhelmed in contemplating the mysterious sufferings he was about
to experience. The language used by the inspired writers indicates
the highest possible degree of mental agony. He “began to be sore
amazed and very heavy.” These words, in the original, express the most
excruciating anguish,――a torture which threatens to separate soul from
body, and which utterly overwhelms the sufferer. As though he could not
bear to be alone in that dreadful hour, he took with him Peter, James,
and John, and withdrew from the rest of the apostles, for a little
distance, into the silence and midnight gloom of the garden. He then
said to his three companions,――

“My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. Tarry ye here, and
watch with me.”

He then withdrew a little farther――“about a stone’s cast”――from them,
and fell upon his face, on the ground, and prayed, saying,――

“O my Father! if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.
Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.”

In answer to his prayer, an angel appeared unto him from heaven,
strengthening him. And yet, notwithstanding the support thus furnished,
the anguish of this dreadful hour in which he was about to bear the
mysterious burden of the world’s atonement was so terrible, that,
“being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat was as it
were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”[67]

After this scene of anguish and prayer, which probably occupied an hour,
he returned to his three disciples, and found them asleep. He gently
reproached them, saying to Peter, “Could ye not watch with me one hour?
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is
willing; but the flesh is weak.”

Again he retired the second time, and the same scene of inexpressible
and unimaginable mental suffering was re-enacted. Jesus recoiled not
from the physical pain of the cross; never were buffeting, scourging,
crucifixion, borne more meekly, more uncomplainingly: but this agony
seems to have surpassed all mortal comprehension. It is recorded,――

“He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father!
if this cup may not pass away except I drink it, thy will be done.”

Returning, he found his friends once more asleep. It was late in the
night; and, worn out with anxiety and exhaustion, we are told that
“their eyes were heavy.” It is evident that Jesus, engaged in his
agonizing prayer, had been for some time absent from them. He did not
reproach them, and they had no excuse to offer.

“And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time,
saying the same words.” Then, returning, and finding them still asleep,
he said, perhaps a little reproachfully,――

“Sleep on now, and take your rest. Behold, the hour is at hand, and the
Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going.
Behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.”

While he was speaking these words, the light of torches was seen
approaching. Judas knew well where to find Jesus; for he had often
accompanied him to this retreat. He took with him a band of Roman
soldiers, and officers of the Sanhedrim, “with lanterns, torches, and
weapons.” As it was night, and Jesus, in the shades of the garden, was
accompanied by his twelve disciples, there was danger that he might
escape, and in the morning rally the people to his rescue. Also, in
the darkness, it would be difficult for the soldiers to discriminate
persons so as to know which of them to arrest. Judas, therefore, gave
them a sign, saying,――

“Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he. Take him, and hold him fast.”

The kiss was then the ordinary mode of salutation, like shaking of
hands now. Judas, followed by the band, approached his well-known Lord,
and said, “Hail, Master; and kissed him.” Jesus calmly replied,――

“Friend, wherefore art thou come? Betrayest thou the Son of man with a

Advancing towards the soldiers, he said to them, “Whom seek ye?”
They said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus replied, “I am he.” There was
something in his address and bearing which so overawed them, that for
a moment they were powerless; and “they went backward, and fell to the

“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.”

Judas slunk away into the darkness, and the soldiers seized Jesus. The
impetuous Peter “drew a sword,” probably snatching it from one of the
soldiers, and “smote a servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.”
Jesus reproved him, saying,――

“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?”

Turning to the wounded servant, he said to him, “Suffer ye thus far;”
and, touching his ear, he healed him. Then, addressing the soldiers, he

“Are ye come out as against a thief, with swords and staves, to take
me? I was daily with you in the temple, and ye took me not; but the
scriptures must be fulfilled. This is your hour and the power of

It seems incomprehensible, that, under these circumstances, the
apostles could have been so terror-stricken, as, with one accord, to
have abandoned Jesus, and fled; but they all did it,――the valiant Peter
with the rest. Jesus, thus utterly forsaken, was left alone with his

The soldiers bound Jesus, and conducted him back into the city, and
led him to the house of Annas. He had formerly been high priest. His
son-in-law Caiaphas now occupied that office. Annas was a man of great
influence, and it was important to obtain his sanction in the lawless
enterprise in which the Jewish rulers were now engaged. It seems that
Annas was not disposed to incur the responsibility of these deeds of
violence; and Jesus was led to the house of Caiaphas. Of the dispersed
apostles, two of them (Peter, and probably John) followed the guard at
a distance, furtively creeping beneath the shadows of the trees and the
houses. Though it was still night, a meeting of the Sanhedrim, but an
illegal one, had been convened in the palace of Caiaphas. Twenty-three
members constituted a court. Caiaphas presided. Jesus was led into the
hall before them for a preliminary examination.

By this time there was probably some considerable tumult, and the
gradual gathering of a crowd. Peter and the other apostle cautiously
approached the palace, and obtained admission to watch the proceedings,
without making themselves known as the followers of Jesus. Peter sat
with the servants, who had gathered around the fire which had been
kindled in the great hall.

The high priest inquired of Jesus respecting the number of his
followers, and the sentiments he had inculcated. Jesus replied,――

“I spake openly to the world. I ever taught in the synagogue and in the
temple, whither the Jews always resort. In secret have I said nothing.
Why askest thou me? Ask them which heard me: behold, they know what I

This reply, though perfectly respectful, so exasperated one of the
attending officers, that he struck Jesus in the face with the palm of
his hand. To this Jesus meekly replied, “If I have spoken evil, bear
witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou me?”

False witnesses had been bribed to testify against Jesus; but they
contradicted each other, and could bring forward no charge against him
worthy of serious consideration. At last they brought forth the silly
accusation, “We heard him say, I am able to destroy the temple of God,
and to build it in three days.”

Jesus did not condescend any reply to such frivolous charges, but
maintained perfect silence. Caiaphas said to him, “Answerest thou
nothing? What is it which these witness against thee?” Still Jesus was
silent. The charges brought against him were sufficiently preposterous,
without any defence on his part. Caiaphas was not a little perplexed,
and in his perplexity said,――

“I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the
Christ, the Son of God.”

Jesus replied, “I am; and hereafter ye shall see the Son of man sitting
on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”

Caiaphas affected to be shocked. He rent his clothes, saying, “What
need we any further witnesses? Ye have heard the blasphemy. What think
ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death.”

While this cruel farce was being enacted, Peter sat warming himself by
the fire, not far from Jesus, conversing occasionally with the servants.
One of the maid-servants looked upon him, and said, “Thou also wast
with Jesus of Nazareth.” Peter replied, “Woman, I know him not.” Soon
after, a man-servant reiterated the charge, saying, “Thou art also
of them.” Peter again replied, “Man, I am not.” About an hour after,
several who stood by said, “Surely thou art one of them; for thou art
a Galilean, and thy speech bewrayeth thee. But he began to curse and to
swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak.”

Just at that moment, the clear crowing of a cock was heard once and
again. Jesus, who had overheard all this conversation, turned round,
and simply looked at Peter. That sad and sorrowing glance pierced
like a two-edged sword. The prophetic words of Jesus rang in his ears:
“Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.” The wretched
man “went out and wept bitterly.”

A scene of awful insult and suffering now ensued, such as perhaps never
before or since has been witnessed in a nominal court of justice. They
spat in his face; they beat him with their clinched fists and with the
palms of their hands; they mocked him, saying, “Prophesy unto us, thou
Christ, Who is he that smote thee?” Even the servants joined in the
general outrage of derision and violence.

The morning had now dawned. The chief priests and elders took counsel
how they might put Jesus to death. This could not be done without the
consent of the Roman governor. They therefore bound him again, and led
him to Pontius Pilate, a cruel despot, who was then Roman governor of
Judæa. Early as it was, quite a crowd followed as Jesus was led from
the hall of Caiaphas to the judgment-seat of Pilate.

In the mean time, the miserable Judas Iscariot, overwhelmed with
remorse, threw away his thirty pieces of silver, and went and hanged
himself. Pilate met the Jews with their victim as they approached the
judgment-hall, and inquired, “What accusation bring ye against this
man?” They replied, “If he were not a malefactor, we would not have
delivered him up unto thee.” Pilate replied, “Take him and judge him
according to your law.” They, thirsting for his blood, answered, “It
is not lawful for us to put any man to death.” Pilate then addressed
himself to Jesus, and inquired, “Art thou King of the Jews?” Jesus
replied by asking the question,――

“Sayest thou this of thyself? or did others tell it thee of me?”

Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests
have delivered thee unto me. What hast thou done?”

Jesus replied, “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 rejoined, “Art thou a king, then?”

Jesus said, “Thou sayest” (i.e., it is so) “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.”

Pilate, having carelessly inquired “What is truth?” without waiting
for any answer, turned to the Jews, and said, “I find in him no fault
at all. But ye have a custom that I should release unto you one at the
passover: will ye, therefore, that I release unto you the King of the

There was then in prison a noted robber and murderer by the name of
Barabbas. With one accord these Jewish rulers cried out, “Not this man,
but Barabbas!”

Then Pilate, though he had already declared Jesus to be innocent,
infamously ordered him to be scourged, that he might conciliate the
favor of the Jews. It pales one’s cheek to think what it was to be
scourged by the sinewy arms of the Roman soldiery.[68] After Jesus had
undergone this terrible infliction without the utterance of a word,
while fainting with anguish and the loss of blood, the ribald soldiers
platted a crown of thorns, and forced it upon his brow, piercing the
flesh with its sharp points, and crimsoning his cheeks with blood.
A purple robe they threw over his shoulders, and placed a reed, in
mockery of a sceptre, in his hand: derisively they shouted, “Hail, King
of the Jews!” while they smote him with their hands.

The infamous Pilate led Jesus forth thus, exhausted, bleeding, and held
up to derision, to the Jews, saying at the same time, “Behold, I bring
him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him.”

But the rulers, clamorous for his blood, not satisfied with even
this aspect of misery, cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate,
wicked as he was, recoiled from the thought of putting one so entirely
innocent to death. He therefore said impatiently and sarcastically,
“Take ye him, and crucify him; for I find no fault in him.” This he
said, knowing that the Jews had no legal power to do this. But they
replied, “We have a law; and by our law he ought to die, because he
made himself the Son of God.”

Pilate was greatly troubled. The bearing of Jesus had deeply impressed
him. He was fearful that there might be something divine in his
character and mission. Turning to Jesus, he said, “Whence art thou?”
(i.e., “What is thy origin and parentage?”) Jesus made no reply. Pilate
then added,――

“Speakest thou not unto me? Knowest thou not that I have power to
crucify thee, and power to release thee?”

Jesus replied, “Thou couldst have no power at all except it were given
thee from above. Therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the
greater sin.”[69]

Pilate was now really desirous of liberating Jesus; but being a
weak and wavering man, totally deficient in moral courage, he knew
not how to resist the clamors of the Jews. They endeavored to goad him
to gratify them by the menace, “If thou let this man go, thou art not
Cæsar’s friend. Whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Cæsar.”

Pilate was not on very good terms with the imperial government. He
knew that any report that he was unfaithful to Cæsar might cost him
his office.

Pilate still persisted, “I find no fault in this man. And they were
more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout
all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place.” Pilate caught at
this allusion to Galilee, and hoped that there was a new chance to
extricate himself from his difficulties. As a Galilean, Jesus belonged
to Herod’s jurisdiction; and it so chanced that Herod was at that time
in Jerusalem. He therefore sent him under a guard to Herod. A band of
chief priests and scribes accompanied the prisoner to this new tribunal,
and vehemently accused him. Herod, with his men at war, set him at
nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent
him again to Pilate. It was now about twelve o’clock at noon. Pilate
presented Jesus to the Jews, saying scornfully, “Behold your King!”

A scene of tumult and clamor ensued, the rulers crying out, “Crucify
him, crucify him!” Then Pilate said, “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.”[70]

Still the clamor rose, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate was seriously
troubled. While these scenes had been transpiring, his wife had sent a
messenger to him, saying,――

“Have thou nothing to do with that just man; for I have suffered many
things this day in a dream because of him.”

But Pilate had force of character only in wickedness. In violation of
every dictate of his judgment, he surrendered Jesus to his foes. “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.”

The Jews replied, “His blood be on us and on our children.” Pilate
then, having released Barabbas, again ordered Jesus to be scourged, and
delivered him to the Jews to be crucified. The soldiers led Jesus into
the common hall of the palace, and summoned all their comrades to take
part in the awful tragedy in which they were engaged.

First they stripped Jesus, then put on him a scarlet robe, placed a
crown of thorns upon his head, put a reed in his hand, and bowed the
knee before him, and derisively exclaimed, “Hail, King of the Jews!”

At length, weary of the mockery, they took off his imperial robes,
clothed him again in his own garments, spat upon him, smote him on the
head with the reed, and led him away to crucify him. A heavy wooden
cross was placed upon the shoulders of Jesus, which he was to bear
outside of the walls of the city, where it was to be planted, and
he was to be nailed to it. Exhausted by the sufferings which he had
already endured, he soon sank fainting beneath the load. The soldiers
met a stranger from Cyrene, and compelled him to bear the cross. Thus
they proceeded, followed by an immense crowd of people, men and women,
many of the women weeping bitterly. Jesus turned to them, and said,――

“Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves
and for your children. For, behold, the days are coming in which they
shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and
the paps which never gave suck. 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.”[71]

They came to a small eminence, a short distance from the city, and
beyond its walls, which was called Mount Calvary, sometimes Golgotha.
The place of the execution of Jesus is not now known. He was nailed by
his hands and his feet to the cross, and the cross was planted in the
ground. By his side two thieves suffered the same punishment. Jesus, as
in this hour of terrible agony he looked down from the cross upon his
foes, was heard to breathe the prayer, “Father, forgive them; for they
know not what they do.”

Pilate wrote the inscription, “JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE
JEWS.” This, in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, was nailed over the cross.
The Jews wished to have it changed to “_He said_ I am the King of the
Jews;” but Pilate refused to make the alteration. Of the two thieves
who were crucified with Jesus, one was obdurate. Even in that hour
of suffering and death he could revile Jesus, saying, “If thou be
the Christ, save thyself and us.” The other, in the spirit of true
penitence, rebuked the companion of his crimes, 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.” Then, turning his eyes to Jesus, he said,
“Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”

Jesus replied, “Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in

As Jesus hung upon the cross, his sufferings excited no pity on the
part of his foes. They reviled him, saying, “If thou be the Son of God,
come down from the cross. He saved others: himself he cannot save. He
trusted in God: let him deliver him now, if he will have him; for he
said, I am the Son of God.”

The mother of Jesus, and two other women who had been his devoted
friends, and the apostle John, stood by the side of the cross. Jesus,
addressing his mother, and then turning his eyes to John, said, “Woman,
behold thy son!” To John he said, “Behold thy mother!” From that hour
John took Mary to his home.

There now came supernatural darkness over the whole land, which
continued until about three o’clock. Jesus, being then in his dying
agonies, exclaimed with a loud voice, “My God, my God, why hast thou
forsaken me?” and then he added, “I thirst.” Some one, probably kindly
disposed, ran, and, filling a sponge with vinegar, raised it upon a
reed to the lips of the sufferer. Jesus, simply tasting of it, said,
“It is finished!” and with a loud voice exclaimed, “Father, into thy
hands I commend my spirit!” and died.

At that moment, the massive veil of the temple in Jerusalem, which
concealed the holy of holies, was rent in twain from the top to the
bottom. There was an earthquake rending the solid rocks. Many graves
were burst open, and the bodies of the saints which slumbered in them
came forth to life, “and went into the holy city, and appeared unto

These startling phenomena greatly alarmed the crowd which was gathered
around the cross. “Truly,” many of them exclaimed, “this was the Son of
God.” It was Friday afternoon. At the going-down of the sun, the Jewish
sabbath would commence. Being the sabbath of the commencement of the
paschal feast, it was a day of unusual solemnity. The Jews, unwilling
that the bodies should remain upon the cross over the sabbath, applied
to Pilate to hasten the lingering death of the crucified by breaking
their legs. The brutal Roman soldiers did this brutally to the two men
who were crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus, and found
that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the
soldiers, to make it certain that life was extinct, thrust his spear
deeply into his side. The outflow of blood and water indicated that the
spear had pierced both the pericardium and the heart.

It is recorded that these things were done that the scripture might
be fulfilled, “A bone of him shall not be broken;” and, “They shall
look on him whom they pierced.” Thus, also, the executioners of Jesus
divided his garments among themselves, and drew lots for his seamless
coat; “that the scripture might be fulfilled which saith, They parted
my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots.”

The evening drew nigh. One of the disciples of Jesus, a wealthy man by
the name of Joseph, from Arimathea, being a man of high position, went
to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Pilate, marvelling that he was
so soon dead, granted his request. Nicodemus also, the timid man who
visited Jesus by night, and once during his career ventured to speak
a cautious word in his favor, now came by night, with a hundred-pound
weight of myrrh and aloes, to embalm the dead body of one whom he had
not the moral courage to confess when that living one was struggling
against his foes.

Joseph took the body of Jesus from the cross, wrapped it in a linen
robe, and deposited it in a newly-constructed tomb of his own which
he had hewn out of a solid rock. The door of the tomb was closed
by a heavy stone. Several women, the friends of Jesus, followed his
remains to the sepulchre. This was Friday, called the “preparation-day,”
because, on that day, the Jews prepared for the solemn rest of the

The next morning, the morning of the sabbath, the chief priests and
Pharisees, remembering that Jesus had declared that he would rise again
on the third day, held a council, and called upon Pilate, requesting
him to appoint a sure guard at the tomb until after the third day,
“lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto
the people, He is risen from the dead.”[72]

Pilate authorized them to make the watch as sure as they could,
employing a guard of Roman soldiers which had been placed at the
command of the Jewish rulers. A detachment of these soldiers was
marched to the tomb to guard it, and in some way sealing the stone
at the door with the public signet of the Sanhedrim. Thus every thing
was done which caution could suggest to prevent any deceit; and these
precautions established beyond all possibility of doubt the reality of
the resurrection.

The night of Friday, the sabbath, and the night succeeding the sabbath,
passed in quiet. Early in the morning of the third day (which was the
first day of the week), “at the rising of the sun,” Mary Magdalene,
and another Mary, the mother of James, came to the sepulchre. As they
approached the closed door, there was a violent earthquake, which
rolled back the stone which had closed the entrance. An angel, radiant
with exceeding beauty and clothed in celestial robes, sat upon the
stone. The guard fainted in excessive terror. The angel addressed the
women, saying,――

“Fear not ye; for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He
is not here; for he is risen, as he said. Come see the place where the
Lord lay.”[73]

Entering the sepulchre, they saw an angel, in the form of a young man,
sitting on the right side, also clothed in the white robe which is the
emblematic garment of heaven. The angel repeated the declaration which
had just been made by his companion, and added,――

“Go your way; tell his disciples and Peter[74] that he is risen from
the dead. And, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye
see him. Lo, I have told you.”

Greatly agitated and overjoyed, they ran to communicate the glad
tidings to the disciples. On their way, Jesus met them, and greeted
them with the words, “All hail!” “And 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 shall they
see me.”

Some of the guard also, as they recovered from their swoon, hastened
into the city to report to the chief priests what had transpired.
Alarmed by these tidings, they held a council, and bribed the soldiers
to say that they all fell asleep in the night; and, while they slept,
the disciples of Jesus came and stole the body. This was the best story
they could fabricate; though it was obvious, that, if they were asleep,
they could not know that the disciples had stolen the body. Moreover,
it was death for a Roman soldier to be found sleeping at his post. The
rulers, however, promised that they would intercede with Pilate, and
secure them from harm.

The women hastened to the residence of John, who had taken home with
him the mother of Jesus. There they met him and Peter, and informed
them of what had happened. The two disciples immediately started upon
the run for the sepulchre. John reached the sepulchre first, and,
looking in, saw the tomb to be empty, and the grave-clothes of Jesus
lying in a corner. He, however, did not venture in. The impetuous Peter
soon arrived, and immediately entered the tomb. John followed after
him. The body of Jesus was gone: the grave-clothes alone remained.
Thoughtfully they returned to their home.

Mary Magdalene had probably accompanied John and Peter to the tomb; and,
after they had left, she remained near the door, weeping. As she wept,
she looked into the sepulchre, and saw “two angels in white, sitting,
the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus
had lain.” One of the angels said to her, “Woman, why weepest thou?”
She replied, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not
where they have laid him.” It seems that she still thought that the
enemies of Jesus had taken away his remains.

As she said this, she turned around, and saw a man standing at her
side. It was Jesus; but she knew him not. Jesus said to her, “Woman,
why weepest thou? whom seekest thou?” She, supposing him to be the
gardener, replied, “Sir, if thou hast borne him hence, tell me where
thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her
(probably then assuming his well-known voice), “Mary!” Instantly she
recognized him, and, astonished and overjoyed, could only exclaim,
“Master!” Jesus added,――

“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.”

Then probably he disappeared. Mary went into the city, and informed
the bewildered and weeping disciples of what she had seen; “and
they, when they had heard that he was alive and had been seen of her,
believed not.”

At a later hour of that same day, two of the disciples went to the
village of Emmaus, about six or seven miles west from Jerusalem. As
they walked along, they were conversing about the wonderful events
which were transpiring. While thus engaged in conversation, Jesus
joined them, but in a form which they did not recognize.

“What manner of communications are these,” said he, “that ye have one
to another, as ye walk, and are sad?”

One of the disciples, whose name was Cleopas, replied, “Art thou only a
stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to
pass there in these days?”

“What things?” inquired Jesus.

“Concerning Jesus of Nazareth,” was the answer, “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, besides all this, to-day is the third
day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women also 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.”

Jesus replied, “O fools,[75] and slow of heart to believe all that the
prophets have spoken! Ought not Christ to have suffered these things,
and to enter into his glory?

“And, beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded 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 farther: but they constrained him, saying, Abide with us; for it
is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry
with them. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took
bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were
opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.”[76]

Greatly excited by this event, the two disciples hastened back
that same evening to Jerusalem, where they found the eleven apostles
assembled together. In the mean time, Jesus had appeared to Peter; but
when, and under what circumstances, this happened, is not recorded.[77]

The brethren from Emmaus told the eleven apostles how Jesus had
revealed himself to them in the breaking of bread. The apostles were in
a room, with the door closed, from fear of the Jews. As the disciples
were giving their narrative, suddenly “Jesus himself stood in the
midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But 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[78]
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 showed them his hands and his feet.
And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto
them, Have ye any meat? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish,
and of a honeycomb; and he took it, and did eat before them. Then Jesus
said to them again,――

“Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And,
when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said, Receive ye the
Holy Ghost. Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them;
and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.”[79]

After Jesus had retired, Thomas, who had been absent for the few
moments when Jesus was present, came in, and upon being told by the
apostles, “We have seen the Lord,” replied in despondency and grief,――

“Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my
finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side,
I will not believe.”

The week passed away, and the first day of another week came. The
eleven apostles were again assembled together. Thomas was with them. As
they sat at meat, the doors being shut, Jesus came, and said, “Peace be
unto you.” Then, turning to Thomas, he said, “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 replied, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus rejoined, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed:
blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

Again Jesus disappeared. John writes, “Many other signs truly did
Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this

The apostles now, in a body, “went away into Galilee, into a
mountain where Jesus had appointed them.” This was probably the Mount
of Transfiguration. Very brief is the record of what ensued, which is
given by Matthew alone: “And, when they saw him, they worshipped him;
but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying,――

“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. And, lo, I am with you alway, even
unto the end of the world.”[81]

Soon after this, Jesus revealed himself to several of his disciples at
the Sea of Tiberias, under the following circumstances:――

“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? They answered him, No. And he saith unto
them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find.
They cast, therefore; and now they were not able to draw it for the
multitude of fishes. 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, and did cast himself into the sea. And the
other disciples came in a little ship (for they were not far from land,
but, as it were, two hundred cubits[82]). 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, and drew the net to land full of great
fishes,――a hundred and fifty and three; and for all there were so many,
yet was not the net broken. Jesus saith to them, Come and dine. 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. This is now the third time[83] that Jesus showed himself
to his disciples after he was risen from the dead.

“So, when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of
Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?[84] He saith unto him, Yea, Lord:
thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He
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.”

Jesus then added, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast
young, thou girdedst thyself, and walked 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,” says John, “spake he, signifying by what death he should
glorify God. And, when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.
Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved [John]
following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord,
which is he that betrayeth thee? Peter, seeing him, saith to Jesus,
Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that
he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me.”

John adds, “Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that
disciple should not die: 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?”[85]

At the conclusion of this interview, of which we have so brief a
recital, Jesus said, “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,” writes Luke, “opened he their understanding that
they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is
written, and thus it behooved 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.”[86]

Paul testifies, that, after this, Jesus “was seen of above five hundred
brethren at once.” But we have no record of that interview, or of one
which he mentions with James alone.

We have but a brief account of the last and most sublime of all these
interviews. Jesus met the eleven in Jerusalem. Their prejudices so
tenaciously clung to them, that they again asked, “Lord, wilt thou at
this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” Jesus replied, “It is
not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put
in his own power; 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 Judæa and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

Going out from Jerusalem, they walked together over the Mount of Olives
on the road to Bethany. When near the summit of that sublime swell of
land which had ever been one of his favorite places of resort, Jesus
stopped on the greensward, at a point where one could obtain an almost
unbroken view of the horizon and of the overarching skies, and, raising
his hands, pronounced a final earthly blessing upon his apostles.

Then he began slowly to ascend into the air. As he rose higher and
higher, they all gazed upward upon him in silent amazement. At length,
far away in the distance, a dim cloud appeared, perhaps a cloud of
clustering angels, which received him out of their sight. As the
apostles stood lost in wonder, still gazing into the skies, two angels,
clothed in heaven’s “white apparel,” stood by them. One of them 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.”

The apostles returned to Jerusalem, there to await “the baptism of the
Holy Ghost.”

                              CHAPTER VI.


  The Baptism of the Holy Ghost.――Boldness of the Apostles.――Anger
    of the Rulers.――Martyrdom of Stephen.――Baptism of the Eunuch.
    ――Saul’s Journey to Damascus.――His Conversion.――The Disciples
    fear him.――His Escape from the City.――Saul in Jerusalem.――His
    Commission to the Gentiles.――The Conversion of Cornelius.――The
    Vision of Peter.――Persecution and Scattering of the Disciples.
    ――Imprisonment and Escape of Peter.――Saul and Barnabas in
    Antioch.――Punishment of Elymas.――Missionary Tour to Cyprus and
    Asia Minor.――Incidents and Results.

THE apostles, after the ascension of Jesus, obedient to the command of
their Lord, remained in Jerusalem, waiting for the fulfilment of the
mysterious promise of the gift of the Holy Ghost. To make their number
complete, they chose Matthias to take the place of Judas. He was a
disciple who had been a witness of the resurrection of Jesus. Two were
selected; and then the choice between them was decided by lot, the
apostles praying to their Lord, saying,――

“Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, show whether of these
two thou hast chosen.”

Upon the day appointed for the feast of Pentecost, about fifty days
after the crucifixion, all the disciples in Jerusalem were assembled
for prayer. They numbered then but about a hundred and twenty.
“Suddenly,” writes the sacred historian, “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; and they began to speak with
other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

This was the baptism of the Holy Ghost. The disciples, though unlearned
men, were now able to preach fluently in the languages of all the many
nations represented at Jerusalem. Peter, endowed with new power, so
showed the Jews the terrible guilt they had incurred in crucifying the
Messiah, that thousands cried out, “Men and brethren, what shall we
do?” The response which has echoed through all the ages, from that day
to this, was, “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.”[87]

About three thousand converts were that day added to the church. The
days passed rapidly on, while the disciples were earnestly engaged in
prayer, and in preaching in the temple and in the streets, occasionally
performing miracles of healing in the name of Jesus. Wonderful and
hitherto unexperienced success attended their labors. Every day,
converts were added to the church. In a few days after the commencement
of their ministry, the number of avowed disciples in Jerusalem was
increased from a hundred and twenty to five thousand.

The timidity of Peter seemed to vanish. He became truly heroic in his
boldness. His eloquence, fearlessness, and zeal gave him prominence
above the other disciples. Having healed a lame man at the gate of the
temple in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the excitement in the
city became so great, that the priests and the Sadducees, with the
captain of the temple, came upon Peter and John, arrested them, and
thrust them into prison, “being grieved,” it is written, “that they
taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection of the

The next day a meeting of the Sanhedrim was convened, and the prisoners
were assembled before that imposing court. To the question, “By what
name, or by what power, have ye done this?” Peter replied to Annas and
Caiaphas, and the other rulers who were responsible for the crucifixion
of Jesus, “Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, be it known
unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of
Jesus Christ of Nazareth whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the
dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.”

He then earnestly preached to his judges the gospel of Christ, saying,
“There is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must
be saved.”[88]

The rulers were astonished at this boldness, perceiving “that they were
unlearned and ignorant men;” and, being alarmed by the supernatural
events which they could not deny, they threatened them, commanding them
“not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus,” and let them go.
But both Peter and John answered, “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.”[89]

Even in those early days, there was imperfection in the church.
There were five thousand members in Jerusalem. Two of these members
were found to be unworthy; and the imperfections of those two have
made more noise in the world than all the silent virtues of the other
five thousand. So it ever is. The calm, quiet devotion of myriads of
Christians is not recorded. The report of the treachery of Judas, the
fall of Peter, the perfidy of Ananias and Sapphira, resound through all
the centuries.

Jerusalem was shaken by the “wonders wrought among the people” by the
hands of the apostles, and by the effect of their teaching. “Believers
were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.” The
miraculous powers conferred upon the apostles seemed to be fully equal
to those exercised by Jesus. “They brought forth the sick into the
streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at 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.”[90]

Caiaphas and the rulers “were filled with indignation.” Again
they seized the apostles, and imprisoned them; but the “angel of the
Lord” opened their prison-doors, and the next morning they were found
again teaching excited crowds in the temple. A general council of the
Sanhedrim was convened. They ordered the officers again to arrest the
apostles. They did so, “but without violence; for they feared lest they
should be stoned.” The high priest, much exasperated, said to them,
“Did we not 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.”

Peter replied in the bold and stinging words, “We ought to obey God
rather than man. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew
and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a
Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness
of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the
Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.”[91]

After much debate, the court ordered the apostles to be scourged, and
then discharged. They endured the terrible punishment, “rejoicing that
they were permitted to suffer shame for his name.” But there was no
power in the blood-stained lash to silence them. “Daily in the temple,
and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.”

The wants of the rapidly-increasing Christian community soon became
so extended, that seven deacons were chosen to attend to the secular
affairs of the church, that the apostles might give themselves
“continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.”

One of these seven, Stephen, “full of faith and power, did great
wonders and miracles among the people.” He was arrested, and false
witnesses were bribed to accuse him. “We have heard him say,” they
testified, “that this Jesus of Nazareth shall change the customs which
Moses delivered us.”

Stephen was permitted to speak in his defence. He began with the
call of Abraham, and gave a rapid sketch of the great events in their
national existence, selecting those points which were most available
in their bearing upon his cause. He showed how the _faith_ of Abraham
and the _piety_ of Joseph secured God’s blessing. He probably somewhat
exasperated them when he showed that the law of Moses did not restrain
their fathers from, at times, lapsing into the grossest idolatry:
and when, in continuation of his argument, that external observances
alone did not constitute piety, he said, “The Most High dwelleth not
in temples made with hands,” he probably was assailed by some rude
interruption; for, emboldened by inspiration, he suddenly exclaimed,――

“Ye stiff-necked 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 showed before of the coming of the Just One, of whom ye have
been now the betrayers and murderers; who have received the law by
the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.”[92]

This plain speech so exasperated the rulers, that “they were cut to the
heart, and they gnashed upon him with their teeth.” Stephen knew that
death was his doom from those unjust and inexorable judges. “But he,
being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly 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.”

There was no crime in all this, no violation of the law. To have
pronounced any legal condemnation would have been absurd. The only
resource left was mob violence. These proud and infamous men, the
dignitaries of the Sanhedrim, “cried with a loud voice, and stopped
their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the
city, and stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a
young man’s feet whose name was Saul.

“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. And Saul was consenting unto
his death.”[93]

This is the first mention which is made of Saul, the most remarkable
man whose name is recorded in sacred or profane annals.

Saul was born in the city of Tarsus, in Asia Minor. It was “no mean
city,” the capital of the Roman province of Cilicia, and situated upon
the River Cadmus, a few miles from its entrance into the Mediterranean
Sea. The parents of Saul were wealthy. It was a custom of the times,
that every child, no matter how opulent his parents, should be taught
some trade. Saul learned that of a tent-maker. We know almost nothing
of his childhood and early youth. His parents belonged to the sect
of Pharisees, the most punctilious observers of the rites of the
Jewish religion. His vernacular language was probably Greek, though he
undoubtedly was thoroughly instructed in Hebrew. As it is said that he
was “brought up at the feet of Gamaliel,” and as it was the custom of
the Jews to send their children, between the ages of ten and fourteen,
to be instructed in the law, it is supposed, that, at that early age,
Saul was sent to Gamaliel, the distinguished teacher in Jerusalem.

Saul, at the time of the martyrdom of Stephen, though a young man,
had manifestly attained both maturity and influence. He was probably
a member of the Sanhedrim, as he states, that, when the Christians
were put to death, he gave his vote against them.[94] His commanding
influence is also manifest from the declaration, “Many of the saints
did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief
priests. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them
to blaspheme; and, being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted
them even unto strange cities.”[95]

After the martyrdom of Stephen, the persecution raged in Jerusalem with
ever-increasing violence. It is recorded, “As for Saul, he made havoc
of the church, entering into every house, and, haling men and women,
committed them to prison.”[96] This cruel persecution in Jerusalem
scattered the Christians far and wide. Philip went to Samaria, and in
one of the principal cities “preached Christ unto them.” His preaching
was attended with wonderful success. Many converts were made, “and
there was great joy in that city.”

The tidings of the success attending the preaching of the gospel in
Samaria reaching Jerusalem, Peter and John were commissioned by those
of the apostles who remained in the city to repair immediately to that
province. The same miraculous testimony accompanied their preaching as
at the day of Pentecost. After a very successful tour, having “preached
the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans,” they returned to

A very interesting incident is here recorded respecting Philip. By
divine direction he was journeying to Gaza, the extreme southern city
of Palestine. Gaza was on the direct route to Egypt. An officer of high
rank, connected with the household of Candace, queen of Egypt, had been
up to Jerusalem, and was returning to his native country in his chariot.
He was a devout man, and, as he rode along, was reading the scriptures.
It so chanced that he had opened to the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah,
and was at that moment reading the seventh and eighth verses:――

“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.”

Just then, the eunuch, overtaking Philip, invited him to a seat in
the chariot by his side. Then, reverting to the scripture which he
was reading, he inquired of Philip, “I pray thee, of whom speaketh
the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?”

“Then Philip began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.”
The eunuch, convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, accepted him as his
Saviour, became his disciple, and received the ordinance of Christian
baptism, not as a member of any local church, but of the one universal
Church of Jesus Christ. The scriptural account of this event is
beautiful in its simplicity:――

“And, 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 thy heart, thou
mayest; and he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the
Son of God. 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. And, when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the
Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went
on his way rejoicing.”

Philip continued his tour, preaching the gospel in all the principal
cities of Judæa and Samaria, until he reached Cæsarea, on the coast
of the Mediterranean. We are not informed what success attended his

Luke, to whom we are indebted for the account of the Acts of the
Apostles, writes,――

“And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the
disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and desired of him
letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this
way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto

Damascus is supposed to be the oldest city in the world. Josephus says
that it flourished before the days of Abraham. Surviving the ruins of
Babylon and of Tyre, it was, in the days of Isaiah, called “the head
of Syria.” In the time of the apostles it was one of the most populous,
opulent, and beautiful cities on the globe. It was situated amidst a
paradise of luxuriance, and was abundantly watered by crystal streams
flowing from the sides of Mount Lebanon.

The distance between Jerusalem and Damascus was one hundred and
thirty-six miles. In the slow mode of travelling in those times by
caravans, it occupied six days. Jesus never visited the city, it being
farther north than he journeyed in any of his tours; but his disciples,
in their dispersion, had preached the gospel in the city, and many
converts had been gathered there. It was mid-day as Saul and his
fellow-travellers drew near the gates of Damascus. At noon, beneath the
burning sun of the East, all nature seemed in repose. The voices of the
birds were hushed, the hum of industry ceased, and silence reigned. The
event which ensued, certainly one of the most momentous in the history
of the world, and fraught with consequences of greater magnitude than
any human imagination can conceive, cannot be better narrated than in
the language of Saul himself:――

“And it came to pass, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto
Damascus, about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light
round about me. And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying
unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And I answered, Who art
thou, Lord? and he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou
persecutest. And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and
were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.
And I said, What shall I do, Lord? and the Lord said unto me, Arise,
go into Damascus, and there it shall be told thee of all things which
are appointed for thee to do. And when I could not see for the glory
of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came
into Damascus.”[98]

In the centre of Damascus there was a street, still existing, three
miles long, called Straight. Saul, whose eyes were utterly blinded by
the brilliancy of the vision, was led by the hand into this street, to
the house of a man by the name of Judas. He remained for three days in
darkness, surrendered to reflection. The emotions which agitated him in
view of his past persecution of the Christians, and of the conclusive
evidence he now had of the Messiahship of Jesus, were so painful and
intense, that, during all this time, he could neither eat nor drink.

There was in Damascus a disciple of Jesus by the name of Ananias, a
devout man, of such irreproachable integrity of character, that all men
were constrained to acknowledge his virtues.

To him the Lord Jesus appeared in a vision, and said, “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.”

Ananias replied, “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 on thy name.”

Jesus replied, “Go thy way; for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear
my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel: for I
will show him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.”

Ananias repaired immediately to the house of Judas, and, placing his
hands in divine benediction upon the head of Saul, said, “Brother Saul,
the Lord Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath
sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the
Holy Ghost.”[99]

The scales fell from the eyes of Saul. His sight was restored. He
arose refreshed and strengthened, and immediately received the rite of
baptism. Saul, having thus become a disciple of Jesus, and, by baptism,
a member of his visible Church, immediately made his faith conspicuous
by his self-sacrificing and energetic works. In the modest account
which he subsequently gave of his conversion to King Agrippa, he said,――

“Whereupon, O King Agrippa! I was not disobedient unto the heavenly
vision; but showed 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.”[100]

As Saul was seen day after day, in the Jewish synagogues of Damascus,
proclaiming with all his fervid powers of eloquence that the crucified
Jesus of Nazareth was the true Messiah, all that heard him were amazed.
They said one to another,――

“Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in
Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them
bound unto the chief priests?”

But the zeal of Saul daily increased in fervor; and he “confounded the
Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.”[101]
The Jews, not being able to reply to his arguments, resorted, as usual,
to mob violence to silence him. Jesus, in his parting counsels to his
disciples, had directed them, when persecuted in one city, to escape to
another. The Jews entered into a conspiracy to kill Saul. They guarded
the gates that he might not escape from the city, and engaged assassins
to put him to death.

The thick and massive walls of Damascus, rising about thirty feet high,
afforded a site for quite a number of small dwellings. From the windows
of one of these houses, in a dark night, the disciples lowered Saul
down, outside the walls, in a basket, by a rope. There this heroic
young man stood alone at midnight, with a career of fearful suffering
clearly unveiled before him; and yet his love for Jesus, his Lord and
Master, was such, that he counted it all joy that he was permitted to
suffer shame in his name.

From Damascus, Saul directed his steps eastward into Arabia. How
far he went, and what success he enjoyed in preaching to the Jews
scattered throughout those regions, are not recorded. It is not known
how many weeks or months were occupied upon this missionary tour.
Several years after, alluding to this event in a letter which he wrote
to the Galatians, he says, “I went into Arabia, and returned again unto
Damascus. Then, after three years, I went up to Jerusalem.”[102]

During all these three years, the sacred writers are silent
respecting the adventures of Saul. At the end of this time, he went up
to Jerusalem. It is an interesting indication of the slight intercourse
there was between distant cities at that time, when but few could write,
and there were no postal facilities, that the disciples at Jerusalem
had not even heard of the conversion of Saul. When he arrived in
Jerusalem, and wished to throw himself into the arms of the friends of
Jesus, it is written, “They were all afraid of him, and believed not
that he was a disciple.”[103]

But Barnabas, one of the disciples in Jerusalem, a man of wealth, and
one who had already acquired reputation for his benevolence,[104] had
in some way become acquainted with the conversion of Saul, and his
zeal in the service of Jesus. He took Saul by the hand; led him to the
apostles Peter and James, who still remained in Jerusalem,[105] and
declared unto them how the Lord Jesus had appeared to Saul in the way,
had spoken to him, and how Saul had preached boldly in Damascus in the
name of Jesus.

They then received Saul cordially, and he commenced preaching “in the
name of the Lord Jesus” with all his wonted energy in the synagogues of
Jerusalem. Those who had crucified Jesus, and who remembered that Saul
had co-operated with them in their persecution of his disciples, were
roused to intensity of rage. A conspiracy was formed, as in Damascus,
to kill him.

Saul had been in Jerusalem but fifteen days, taking lodgings in the
house of Peter, when the brethren informed him that he must immediately
escape from Jerusalem, or he would lose his life. A stranger to fear,
at first he was unwilling to go. But the Lord Jesus appeared to Saul as
he was praying in the temple, and said to him,――

“Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem; for they will not
receive thy testimony concerning me.”

Saul replied, “Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every
synagogue them that believed on thee; and, when the blood of thy martyr
Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death,
and kept the raiment of them that slew him.”

Jesus replied, “Depart; for I will send thee far hence unto the
Gentiles.”[106] Thus instructed, Saul, aided by the disciples, escaped
from Jerusalem, and proceeding to Cæsarea, on the sea-coast, a distance
of about sixty miles, took ship for Tarsus, his native place.

For a short time now, persecution ceased. The churches established in
all the leading cities of Palestine had rest. The disciples preached
the gospel far and wide with great success. In the language of the
sacred annalist, the churches “were edified, and, walking in the fear
of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.”

At this time, Peter set out on a missionary tour towards the sea-coast,
preaching in all the towns and villages through which he passed.
Arriving at Lydda, a small town about five miles from Joppa, which was
on the Mediterranean shore, he found a man, by the name of Æneas, who
had been confined to his bed for eight years. Peter healed him, saying,
“Æneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole.” This miracle gave such force
to the ardent preaching of Peter, that, in the language of the inspired
penman, “all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron turned to the Lord.”[107]

At Joppa there was a disciple, whose name was Dorcas, greatly beloved
for her charities. She was taken sick, and was laid out to be buried.
It seems that the disciples there, hearing of the miraculous cure
of Æneas, had faith that Peter could raise their sister from death’s
slumber. They sent two messengers to him to urge his hastening to Joppa.
Upon his arrival, he was conducted immediately to the residence of
Dorcas. The chamber in which the dead body lay was filled with mourners,
many of them weeping, and showing the coats and garments which Dorcas
had bestowed upon them. Peter kneeled down by the bedside and prayed,
and then called upon the dead to arise. Dorcas opened her eyes, and sat
up. Peter gave her his hand, led her out of the chamber, and presented
her alive and well to her friends.

This miracle, so astounding, was reported throughout the city. Peter
remained there several days, preaching the gospel, and residing with
one Simon, a tanner. His success is indicated in the declaration, that
“many believed in the Lord.”

About thirty miles north of Joppa, upon the seashore, was the
important seaport of Cæsarea. A Roman force of soldiers was established
there; and a man by the name of Cornelius was the captain of an Italian
band of a hundred men, which gave him the title of a centurion. He
was a devout man, who had abandoned Roman paganism, and had become
a worshipper of the true God. His noble character is depicted in the
words, “He gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.”

One day, which, it seems, he had devoted to fasting and prayer, as he
was upon his knees, at three o’clock in the afternoon, an angel of God
appeared to him, and said,――

“Cornelius, thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial
before God. Now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose
surname is Peter: he lodgeth with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is
by the seaside. He shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.”

Immediately Cornelius despatched two men to Joppa upon this mission.
As, about noon the next day, they were approaching the city, Peter was
upon the flat roof of the house, the usual place of retirement, engaged
in prayer. In a vision he saw a sheet let down from heaven by its four
corners, containing animals of all kinds,――those reputed clean, and
those which the ceremonial law pronounced unclean. A voice came to him,

“Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”

But Peter replied, “Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that
is common or unclean.”

The voice rejoined, “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.”

This vision was repeated three times in immediate succession. While
Peter was seated upon the house-top, pondering its significance, the
messengers commissioned by Cornelius arrived, and stood before the gate
of the house, inquiring if Peter lodged there.

The spirit then said to Peter, “Behold, three men seek thee. Arise,
therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing; for
I have sent them.”[108]

Peter immediately descended, met the messengers, and received from them
the following communication: “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 a holy angel to send for thee into his
house, and to hear words of thee.”

Peter invited the men in, entertained them for the night, and the
next day accompanied them to Joppa. The vision had taught him, that,
in the eye of God, there was no distinction between the clean and
the unclean in the human family; that the barrier between the Jew
and the Gentile was now broken down; and that the gospel of Jesus was
now to be preached to all nations, tribes, and families alike. The
centurion received Peter with profound reverence, regarding him as
a divinely-appointed ambassador to him. Several of the friends of
Cornelius, probably all Greeks or Romans who had abandoned idolatry,
were assembled in his house to meet Peter. The zealous and bold apostle,
addressing them, said,――

“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 showed
me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore came I,
without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for. I ask, therefore, for
what intent ye have sent for me.”

Cornelius informed Peter of his vision, and of the direction given
him by the angel to send for Peter, and receive instruction from his
lips. “Now, therefore,” said he in conclusion, “we are all here present
before God to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.”

We have but a brief abstract of what Peter said in reply, but enough to
show us, without any doubt, what was the gospel which he preached to

“Of a truth,” said he, “I perceive that God is no respecter of persons;
but, in every nation, he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness,
is accepted with him.”

After brief reference to Jesus Christ, “Lord of all,” to his teachings,
his miracles, his crucifixion, and his resurrection, he concluded by
saying, “And he commanded us 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.[109] To him give all the prophets witness, that, through his name,
whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”[110]

Following these words of Peter, the miraculous influences of the
Holy Spirit fell upon all alike,――upon Gentile as well as Jew. Several
Jews had accompanied Peter to the house of Cornelius; and “they were
astonished, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift
of the Holy Ghost; for they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify

Peter then said, “Can any man forbid water, that these should not
be baptized which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?” He
accordingly baptized these believing Gentiles in the name of the
Lord Jesus, and thus received them directly into the church without
insisting upon their first becoming Jews.

When the tidings reached Jerusalem and other parts of Judæa that Peter
had received Gentiles to the Church of Jesus Christ, which the Jews
had supposed was intended for them alone, it created great excitement.
Peter, after remaining a few days in Joppa, returned to Jerusalem.
Here he was met by the disaffected brethren, who charged him with what
they considered the great ceremonial crime of associating with “men
uncircumcised,” and eating with them.

But Peter narrated all the circumstances, and so convincingly, that
“they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also
to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.”

The other disciples, who, by the persecution at Jerusalem, had been
scattered abroad, travelled as far as Phœnice and the Island of Cyprus,
and to Antioch, in the extreme north, which was then the capital of
Syria, and one of the largest cities in the world. They, however,
preached the gospel only to the Jews, not considering the Gentiles as
entitled to its privileges. In Antioch, the disciples were eminently
successful in preaching the religion of Jesus; so much so, that it is
recorded that “great numbers believed, and turned unto the Lord.”[112]

The apostles in Jerusalem, hearing of the great religious interest
which was excited in the metropolitan city of Antioch, sent Barnabas
to assist the brethren there. He was “a good man, full of faith and the
Holy Ghost.” His heart was rejoiced by the scenes which he witnessed
in Antioch, and eloquently he urged the converts that with “purpose of
heart they should cleave unto the Lord.” His labors gave a new impulse
to the conversions, and “much people was added to the Lord.”[113]

Saul was at this time preaching in Tarsus, his native city, about
thirty miles north-west from Antioch. Barnabas went to Tarsus in search
of Saul, and brought him back with him to the metropolitan city. For
a year Saul and Barnabas continued in Antioch, preaching the gospel
of Jesus Christ; and there first the disciples of Jesus received
the title of Christians. This was about the year of our Lord 44. As
so many Gentile converts were now flocking into the churches, the
Christians ceased to be regarded as merely a sect of the Jews, and
the rapidly-increasing disciples in their varied organizations assumed
gradually a new and independent character.

It so happened about this time that there was a severe drought and
famine in Judæa; and Saul and Barnabas were sent by the Christians
in Antioch with contributions for the suffering brethren there. Herod
Agrippa I., an unprincipled ruler, grandson of Herod the Great, was
then king of all Palestine. He, without any apparent cause, drew the
sword of persecution. James, the brother of John, was put to death.
Peter was arrested and thrown into prison, and so carefully guarded
by sixteen soldiers――four for each watch in the night, two chained to
the prisoner in his cell, and two stationed at the outside door――as
to render his escape apparently impossible. The king had decided to
gratify the malice of the Jews, immediately after the passover, by
putting Peter to death.

The night had arrived which was supposed to be the last that Peter was
to spend upon earth. In the morning he was to be led to his execution.
He was quietly sleeping between the two soldiers, bound to them by
chains. The angel of the Lord, whom neither granite walls nor iron
doors could exclude, entered the prison in dazzling effulgence. As he
awoke Peter, the chains dropped from the prisoner’s hands.

“Arise,” said the angel, “gird thyself, bind on thy sandals, cast thy
garment about thee, and follow me.”

The angel led him through the intricacies of the prison, and by the
guards who were paralyzed with fear, until he came to the outer iron
portal which opened into the city. The massive gate, of its own accord,
swung open upon its hinges. The angel led Peter into one of the streets,
and took leave of him. It was midnight. Peter found himself near the
house of Mary, the mother of John. Several of the disciples, knowing
that Peter was to be executed the next day, had met there to pass the
night in prayer. Peter knocked at the gate. A young girl by the name of
Rhoda went to the door; and when she heard the voice of Peter, instead
of opening to him, she was so overjoyed and bewildered, that she ran
back with the tidings.

The disciples, knowing how apparently impossible it was for Peter to
escape from the guard set over him, did not credit her assertion, but
declared that she was insane. Upon going to the gate, however, they
found, to their astonishment and delight, that Peter stood before them.
He informed them of his miraculous deliverance, and the same night
withdrew from the city.[114]

The dawn of the morning, revealing the events of the night, created
intense commotion in the city. Herod commanded the guard to be put to
death, and instituted a rigorous but unavailing search throughout the
city for Peter. Soon after, Herod left Jerusalem for Cæsarea, and took
up his abode there. On the 1st of August,[115] there was a magnificent
festival in Cæsarea in honor of the king. From all the region around,
the population flocked into the spacious theatre, whose stone seats
rose tier above tier in a vast semicircle, which was thronged with
those eager to do homage to the infamous yet powerful monarch. As Herod
entered, the edifice rang with applause. Seated upon a gorgeous throne,
he addressed the multitude. With one voice the sycophantic throng
shouted, “It is the voice of a god, and not of a man!” In the midst of
this scene of pride and blasphemy, the angel of death smote Herod with
an invisible dart; and the wretched man was taken from the theatre in
convulsions, which soon consigned him to the tomb.

Saul and Barnabas had returned to Antioch, and, with other brethren,
were earnestly engaged in preaching the gospel there. A divine
intimation influenced the brethren to set apart these two distinguished
disciples for a missionary excursion to the benighted regions beyond
them. After a season of fasting and prayer, they laid their hands
upon them, ordaining them for this special work. Antioch was situated
upon the River Orontes, about twenty miles from its entrance into the
Mediterranean. The two missionaries repaired to Seleucia, an important
seaport on the coast. Far off in the west, the mountains of the
majestic Island of Cyprus could be seen on a clear day, emerging from
the horizon in shadowy glory. Cyprus was the native place of Barnabas.
Taking ship, a sail of perhaps a hundred and fifty miles brought them
to Salamis, a populous city upon the island, where there was a large
colony of Jews.

Here they preached the gospel of Jesus in the Jewish synagogue, but
with what success we are not informed; neither is it recorded how long
they tarried in that city. They crossed the island, a distance of about
a hundred miles, from Salamis, on the eastern coast, to Paphos, the
capital, on the west. Here the governor of the island, Sergius Paulus,
resided. He was a serious-minded, worthy man; and he sent for Saul and
Barnabas, wishing to hear from them the principles of the new religion.

But a virulent opposer arose, a pretended sorcerer, by the name of
Elymas, who did every thing in his power to prevent the governor from
listening to the words of the disciples. Saul, “filled with the Holy
Ghost,” fixed his eyes upon the impostor, and addressed him in the
following terrible rebuke:――

“O full of all subtlety 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.”

The guilty opposer of the religion of Jesus was instantly struck with
blindness, and groped his way along, “seeking some one to lead him by
the hand.” The governor, already deeply impressed by the teachings of
the disciples, and astonished by the miracle, became himself a follower
of Jesus. Of his subsequent life we know nothing, but trust that he
endured to the end, and that he is now rejoicing in the paradise of God.

In connection with this miracle, we find the name of Saul changed to
Paul. Until this time, he is invariably spoken of as Saul. The sacred
writer, recording these scenes at Paphos, simply says, “Saul, who also
is called Paul.” Ever after this he is spoken of as Paul.

Paul and Barnabas, with Mark, who had accompanied them as their
attendant and assistant, sailing from Paphos, crossed the arm of the
sea, and landed on the coast of Asia Minor, at the little seaport
town of Perga in Pamphylia. Here, for some unexplained reason, Mark
became dissatisfied, and excited the displeasure of his companions by
abandoning them, and returning to Jerusalem, which had been the home of
his earlier years.

The two intrepid disciples made but a short tarry at Perga. Entering
the wild passes of the Pisidian mountains, they traversed a desert
region, encountering every step of the way perils of robbers, until
they reached the important city of Antioch in Pisidia, about a hundred
miles from the sea-coast. This populous city was inhabited by Greeks,
Jews, and a strong Roman colony. The sabbath came. Paul and Barnabas,
according to their custom, repaired to the Jewish synagogue. As
strangers of distinction, they were invited to address the people.
Luke, in the Acts of the Apostles, has given us quite a full abstract
of the address of Paul upon this occasion.[116] Here, as everywhere,
“Christ and him crucified” was the theme of the apostle’s discourse.
First he proved from the prophets that Jesus was the Messiah; that,
in accordance with the voice of prophecy, he had been put to death by
wicked men, and on the third day had risen from the grave. He closed
with the following words:――

“And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was
made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us, their
children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again. 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.
Beware, therefore, lest that come upon you which is spoken of in the
prophets: Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish; for I work a
work in your days,――a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though
a man declare it unto you.”

There were many Gentiles present. The Jews, as a body, did not
favorably receive this address of Paul. The Gentiles, on the contrary,
entreated him to preach to them again on the next sabbath. There were
also many of the Jews who united with them in this request. During
the week, Paul and Barnabas were doubtless busy preaching the gospel
as they could find opportunity. The next sabbath, the synagogue was
thronged. “Almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God;
but, when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and
spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and

It is of no avail to present the truth to those who are determined
not to receive it. To these cavilling Jews Paul and Barnabas replied,
“It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken
to you; but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy
of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles: for so hath the Lord
commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles,
that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.”[118]

Luke adds the expressive words, “And, when the Gentiles heard this,
they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord; and as many as were
ordained to eternal life believed.”

The successful preaching of the gospel has almost invariably excited
corresponding antagonism. Converts were multiplied; and penetrating
the region around, proclaiming the glad tidings of salvation through a
suffering Messiah, they established flourishing churches in many places.
Here, for the first time, we find female influence arrayed against the
cause of Christ. The hostile Jews won to their side some ladies of high
respectability, and, through them, influenced the political leaders.
Thus so formidable an opposition was roused, that Paul and Barnabas
were expelled from the city, and from its immediately surrounding

They therefore pressed on their way to Iconium, nearly a hundred
miles east from Antioch. Here, also, they found a mixed population of
Greeks, Jews, and Romans. They repaired to the synagogue, and preached
the gospel of Jesus with such success, that it is recorded, “A great
multitude, both of the Jews and also of the Greeks, believed.” As usual,
opposition was excited; but it was at first not sufficiently strong
to drive them from the city. We are told that “long time abode they,
speaking boldly in the Lord.” At length, the opposition assumed very
formidable proportions. A riotous mob was roused by the unbelieving
Jews, who threatened to stone Paul and Barnabas.

They therefore withdrew from Iconium; and, continuing their journey
eastward (forty or fifty miles), they reached the small town of Lystra.
Here they found a man who had been a cripple from his birth, and who
had never walked. Paul healed him. The rude, superstitious people,
accustomed to the idolatrous worship of almost any number of gods,
exclaimed, “The gods are come to us in the likeness of men!”

Assuming that Paul and Barnabas were two of their favorite
gods,――Jupiter and Mercurius,――they summoned the priest from the temple
of Jupiter, which was reared before the principal gate of the city,
and, with garlands and sacrifices, were preparing to offer idolatrous
worship to the strangers. When Paul and Barnabas perceived what the
Lystrians were about to do, they were horror-stricken, and, rushing in
among the idolaters, remonstrated so vehemently, as to dissuade them,
though with difficulty, from their purpose.

Some malignant Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and roused the
fickle-minded mob, so that they stoned Paul, and drew him out of the
city, supposing him to be dead. The converts, who were not numerous
enough to prevent this violence, gathered around the bruised and gory
body; when Paul revived, and, with characteristic bravery, went back
again into the city.

The next day, Paul, accompanied by Barnabas, proceeded to another city
(Derbe), a few miles farther east. Here they preached the gospel for
some time, gaining many disciples; when “they returned again to Lystra,
and to Iconium and Antioch, confirming the souls of the disciples,
and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through
much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. And when they had
ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting,
they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.”[119]

They then returned by the same route they had already traversed,
preaching as they went, till they reached Perga, whence they took ship
for Antioch. It is _conjectured_ that this tour occupied about a year.
Upon their arrival in Antioch, they gathered all the disciples, and
recounted to them the events of their excursion, dwelling particularly
upon the fact that God “had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.”
They both continued in Antioch for a “long time,” preaching the gospel.

                             CHAPTER VII.

                        MISSIONARY ADVENTURES.

  The First Controversy.――Views of the Two Parties.――Council at
    Jerusalem.――Results of Council.――The Letter.――Vacillation of
    Peter.――Rebuked by Paul.――The Missionary Excursion of Paul and
    Barnabas.――They traverse the Island of Cyprus.――Land on the
    Coast of Asia Minor.――Mark returns to Syria.――Results of this
    Tour.――Paul and Silas set out on a Second Tour through Asia
    Minor.――Cross the Hellespont.――Introduction of Christianity to
    Europe.――Heroism of Paul at Philippi.――Tour through Macedonia
    and Greece.――Character of Paul’s Preaching.――Peter’s Description
    of the Final Conflagration.――False Charges.――Paul in Athens; in
    Corinth.――Return to Jerusalem.

THE Jews had supposed that the Messiah was to come to the Jews alone,
and that no one could become a member of his kingdom unless he first
became a Jew. But Paul and Barnabas were preaching to the Gentiles,
and establishing churches among them. Thus quite a serious dissension
sprang up among the Christians, who had previously been Jews, upon this
question. While some of the brethren ardently advocated the doctrine,
“Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be
saved,” Paul opposed this sentiment with all his energies. Several of
these “Judaizing Christians,” as they were termed, came down to Antioch
from Judæa, and so troubled the Christians there with disputations
which seemed to threaten the very foundations of Christianity, that
it was determined to summon a council of the most eminent Christians
at Jerusalem, the seat of the mother church, to settle the agitating

Paul and Barnabas, with several other members of the Church at Antioch,
were commissioned as delegates to attend this council. On their journey,
as they passed through the cities of Samaria, preaching by the way,
they announced the glad tidings that God was receiving the Gentiles,
and conferring upon them the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the same as upon
the Jews. It is estimated that fifteen years had now passed since Paul
traversed that same road, from Jerusalem to Damascus, to persecute the
Christians. Since that time, Paul had twice visited the Holy City, and
Christianity had made extraordinary progress throughout Syria and Asia
Minor. Upon arriving at Jerusalem, the council was convened, over which
James, pastor of the church there, presided. As soon as the council
was opened, several of the Judaizing Christians arose, and argued
that all Gentile converts should be circumcised, and that they should
punctiliously observe all the rites of the ceremonial law. Peter was
the first one to reply on the other side. We have an abstract of his

“Men and brethren,” said he, “ye know how that a good while ago[120]
God made choice among us, that the Gentiles, by my mouth, should hear
the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts,
bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;
and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by
faith. Now, therefore, why tempt ye God, 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.”[121]

Then Barnabas and Paul gave an account of their missionary tour through
Asia Minor, and of the wonderful success with which God had blessed
the preaching of the gospel among the Gentiles. James then rose, whose
opinion as presiding officer, and pastor of the metropolitan church,
would have great weight with the council, and very earnestly and
convincingly sustained the views advocated by Peter, Paul, and Barnabas.
The result recorded by Luke was as follows:――

“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 after this manner:――

“The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren
which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: Forasmuch
as we have heard that certain which went out from us have troubled you
with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and
keep the law (to whom we gave no such commandment), it seemed good unto
us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with
our beloved Barnabas and Paul,――men that have hazarded their lives for
the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent, therefore, Judas and
Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth: 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.”[122]

The brethren returned to Antioch, and communicated to the assembled
church there the result of the council. It gave great satisfaction; and
though, for a time, the all-important question continued here and there
to trouble the churches, eventually there was universal acquiescence
in the decision of the brethren at Jerusalem. After this, Paul and
Barnabas continued some time in Antioch, “teaching and preaching the
word of the Lord.”

In the mean time, Peter came to Antioch to assist the brethren in their
labors there. Impetuous and versatile, and far from infallible, he at
first lived in free intercourse with the Gentile converts, eating with
them, and meeting them in social friendship on terms of entire equality;
but suddenly, “through fear of those who were of the circumcision,”
we find him withdrawing from those whom he had just been treating as
equals, and giving his example in favor of those who demanded that the
Gentiles should become Jews.

This vacillation and inconsistency on the part of Peter excited the
indignation of Paul. The account which Paul gives of this transaction
is as follows:――

“But, when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face,
because he was to be blamed. For, before that certain came from James,
he did eat with the Gentiles; but, when they were come, he withdrew,
and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And
the other Jews dissembled likewise with him, insomuch that Barnabas
also was carried away with their dissimulation. But, when I saw that
they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said
unto Peter before them all,――

“If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as
do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing
that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith
of Jesus Christ,――even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might
be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law;
for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”[123]

There is no evidence that this event caused any permanent alienation
between the two apostles. It is more probable that Peter, whose mind
was susceptible of such rapid changes, immediately relented, and, with
all the gushings of his generous and loving nature, returned to duty.
It is pleasant to read in one of the subsequent epistles of Peter the
words, “Even as our beloved brother Paul hath written unto you.”[124]

Soon after this, the enterprising spirit of Paul induced him to leave
the comparative tranquillity of his home and labors in Antioch, and
to revisit all the cities and villages in Asia Minor, where he, with
Barnabas, had established churches. He said to 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.”[125]


Barnabas wished to take Mark with them again as an attendant. This
John Mark, the same one who wrote the Gospel under his name, was the
nephew of Barnabas, being his sister’s son. Paul was unwilling to take
him, being displeased with his conduct on their previous tour, when
he “departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to their
work.” Barnabas was probably not a man of very much force of character,
as is indicated by his being carried away with the dissimulation of
Peter to which we have alluded. He had certainly occupied a secondary
position on the previous missionary tour, and Paul was perhaps not
unwilling to exchange him for some other brother.

There is no evidence that there was any angry controversy here,――any
thing inconsistent with the Christian integrity and brotherly kindness
of the two men. Barnabas took Mark with him, and, embarking at Seleucia,
sailed for the Island of Cyprus. Paul chose Silas as his companion,
one of the delegates who had been sent from the council at Jerusalem
to Antioch. Journeying by land, and probably on foot through Syria and
Cilicia, they visited the churches in Asia Minor, in a route from east
to west, instead of, as before, from west to east.

Proceeding through Derbe, he came to Lystra, where, on the previous
tour, he had been cruelly stoned. Here he found a young convert by
the name of Timothy, for whom he formed the strongest of earthly
attachments. Timothy’s mother was a Jewess; but his father was
a Gentile, a Greek. His lineage was good, as Paul speaks of “the
unfeigned faith which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois and thy
mother Eunice.”[126] Timothy attached himself to Paul, and ever after
they were associated as father and son. Paul repeatedly calls him “my
son,” “my own son in the faith,” and writes, “Ye know, that, as a son
with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.”[127]

Timothy was the son of a Jewess; and his father, though a Greek,
was unquestionably not an idolater, but a proselyte. While Paul
was carrying “to all the churches” the decision of the council in
Jerusalem,――that Gentiles were not to be forced into Judaism upon
becoming Christians,――still, out of regard to the strong prejudices of
the Jews among whom he was going, he caused Timothy to be circumcised.
Some have regarded this as inconsistent conduct on the part of Paul;
others have considered it but an indication of his far-sighted wisdom
and caution. But for this, the hostile Jews would have had a new and
formidable weapon of opposition to wield against him. As Timothy could
not be regarded as a Gentile, the action of Paul could not be deemed
inconsistent with the decision of the council at Jerusalem.

Paul, Silas, and Timothy passed through the whole central region of
Asia Minor, preaching the gospel in all its cities and villages; but
we have no record of the incidents which attended their labors, or of
the adventures which they encountered. It was undoubtedly a successful
excursion; for the sacred historian writes, “And so were the churches
established in the faith, and increased in numbers daily.”[128]

Passing through the provinces of Phrygia and Mysia, they came to Troas,
on the eastern coast of the Ægean Sea, not far from the mouth of the
Hellespont. Here the vision of a man appeared to Paul in the night,
saying, “Come over into Macedonia and help us.” They therefore took a
vessel at Troas, and sailed in a north-westerly direction, among the
islands of the Ægean Sea, till they came to the important Island of
Samothracia. Passing around this island on the north, they directed
their course to Philippi, on the Macedonian coast. This was the chief
city of that part of Macedonia. There was an important Roman colony
established here, and a synagogue of the Jews outside of the walls.
Here they remained several days, probably, as was ever their custom, on
the week-days preaching the gospel in the streets of the city, and from
house to house. On the sabbath, they went to the Jewish synagogue by
a river-side. The following incident is recorded as occurring at this
time and place:――

“A certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of
Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us; whose heart the Lord opened,
that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. 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. And she constrained us.”[129]

Thus peacefully the gospel was first transplanted into Europe.
But in this life, “after the calm, the storm” seems to be the rule.
Some persons of influence owned a slave-girl, who was believed to be
possessed “with a spirit of divination.” How much of this was imposture
cannot now be known. But the owners of this damsel derived much
profit from the many credulous people who flocked to her to have
their fortunes told. Impelled by some unexplained influence, as she
met Paul and Silas day after day, she exclaimed, in the hearing of all
the people,――

“These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us
the way of salvation.”

At length, Paul, “being grieved, turned and said, I command thee, in
the name of Jesus Christ, to come out of her.”

Her powers of divination, whatever they were, immediately left her.
Her masters were enraged. All hope of future gain was at an end. They
seized Paul and Silas, and dragged them before the city authorities. It
was not easy to bring any accusation against them; for the law allowed
no remedy for property depreciated by exorcism. They therefore framed
a charge in which truth and falsehood were singularly blended.

“These men,” said they, “being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city,
and teach customs which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to
observe, being Romans.”

The Jews had recently, in consequence of some disturbance, been all
driven out of Rome.[130] They were generally hated and despised. It
was also a principle in Roman law, that any religious innovations which
threatened to unsettle the minds of the people, or to create tumult,
were to be rigorously suppressed. Under these circumstances, it was not
difficult to rouse the violence of the mob.

The magistrates, apparently without listening to any defence,
ordered them to be led to the whipping-post and scourged. The scourging
upon the bare back by the brawny arms of a Roman lictor was indeed a
terrible ordeal for any one to pass through. Bruised with the lash, and
fainting from pain and the loss of blood, they were thrust into a dark,
pestilential dungeon in the inner prison; and their feet were made fast
in the stocks. The jailer had special charge to keep them safely. The
scene which ensued cannot be better narrated than in the language of

“And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God; and
the prisoners heard them. 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. But Paul 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, and fell down before Paul and Silas,
and brought them out, 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. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord,
and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of
the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his,

The morning dawned. The magistrates, probably somewhat alarmed in view
of the violent measures which they had pursued, sent officers to the
jailer with the order, that he should “let those men go.” Paul and
Silas were both Roman citizens, and Paul was a lawyer. The Roman law
did not allow any one entitled to the dignity of Roman citizenship to
be exposed to the ignominy of scourging.[131]

These Roman citizens, without any form of trial, without any legal
condemnation, had been openly scourged in the market-place. Paul
therefore replied to the message from the magistrates ordering them to
be liberated,――

“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.”

The magistrates were greatly alarmed when they learned that their
victims were Roman citizens. The report of the outrage at Rome would
cost them their offices, if not their lives. They therefore hastened
to the prisoners, and became suppliants before those whom they had so
inhumanly persecuted, entreating them to depart out of their city. Paul
made no appeal to the authorities at Rome; he was too busy preaching
the gospel to devote any time to personal redress: but the course
he pursued throughout that scene of suffering placed Christianity on
high vantage-ground in Philippi, and secured for its advocates the
protection of law.

These heroic men made no haste to leave the city. Returning to the
house of Lydia, they met all the brethren who by their instrumentality
had been led to embrace the religion of Jesus, and addressed them in
farewell words of solace and counsel. Thus far it appears, from the
form of the narrative, that Luke, the historian of the Acts of the
Apostles, had accompanied the brethren on this missionary excursion. It
is inferred that Luke and Timothy remained a little longer in Philippi,
and that Luke did not rejoin Paul for some time.

Paul and Silas set out to cross the mountains to Amphipolis, a city
about thirty miles south-west from Philippi: thence they pressed on
twenty-five miles, to Apollonia; and thence thirty-two miles farther,
to Thessalonica. We have no record how long they stopped at the two
first places, or what success attended their preaching there. In this
important seaport, the most populous city in Macedonia, Paul and Silas
remained for some time. The following is the inspired record of the
commencement of Paul’s labors there:――

“They came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: and Paul,
as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned
with them out of the scriptures, opening and alleging that Christ must
needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus,
whom I preach unto you, is Christ.”

The preaching of Paul and Silas in Thessalonica resulted in the
conversion of many, both of the Jews and the Gentiles. It is recorded
that among the converts there were numbered “of the devout Greeks
a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.” In Paul’s two
Epistles to the Thessalonians, we find quite a minute account of the
sentiments which he advanced in this city. The spiritual reign of
Christ, his second coming in clouds of glory with his holy angels,
and the endless happiness which his disciples would then inherit, were
the themes of infinite moment which inspired his fervid eloquence. The
following extract from one of his letters, which he subsequently wrote
to the Thessalonians from Corinth, will show the manner in which he
treated such themes. Speaking of the second coming of Jesus in the day
of his exaltation, he wrote,――

“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them
which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no
hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them
also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto
you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto
the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For
the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice
of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ
shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught
up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and
so shall we ever be with the Lord.”[132]

This graphic account of the sublime scenes to be witnessed at the
second coming of our Lord Jesus agitated the church in Thessalonica, as
the Christians there supposed that the coming of Jesus was to be hourly
expected. This led Paul to write another letter, in which he corrected
that error. In this he wrote,――

“Now, we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus
Christ, and by our gathering-together unto him, that ye be not soon
shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor
by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no
man deceive you by any means; for that day shall not come except there
come a falling-away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of
perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called
God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of
God, showing himself that he is God.”[133]

Who the “man of sin” is remains an undecided question. The Protestants
have generally applied the words to the Pope of Rome. It will be
remembered, that when Jesus took his final departure from his disciples,
ascending into the skies in bodily presence before them from Mount
Olivet, two angels appeared to them, and 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.”[134]

The second coming of Christ, to reap the fruits of his humiliation and
his atoning sacrifice in the establishment of his spiritual kingdom,
was a prominent theme in the teaching both of Christ and his apostles.
The language of Peter upon this subject unfolds, indeed, a scene of
wonderful sublimity:――

“This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you, in both which I
stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance; that ye may be mindful
of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the
commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: knowing this
first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after
their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for,
since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from
the beginning of the creation.

“For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the
heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the
water; whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water,
perished; but the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same
word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment
and perdition of ungodly men.

“But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with
the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord
is not slack concerning his promise as some men count slackness, but
is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but
that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come
as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with
a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat; the earth
also, and the works that are therein, shall be burned up.

“Seeing, then, that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of
persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking
for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens,
being on fire, shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with
fervent heat? Nevertheless, we, according to his promise, look for new
heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”[135]

These emphatic announcements, that the Lord Jesus, who had risen from
the grave and ascended to heaven, would come again in glory with an
angelic retinue to establish an everlasting kingdom, were interpreted
by hostile or careless hearers to intimate that the Christians had
designs against the Roman government, which they intended by revolution
to overthrow; that they intended to establish the throne of Jesus upon
the ruins of the throne of Cæsar. This charge was brought against Jesus,
notwithstanding his reiterated declaration, “My kingdom is not of this

The enemies of Paul and Silas took advantage of this misrepresentation
to accuse them of treason against the Roman government. The record is
as follows:――

“But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them
certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set
all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought
to bring them out to the people. And, when they found them not, they
drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying,
These 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.”[136]

The commotion in the city was so great, and the peril of mob violence
so imminent, that the brethren sent Paul and Silas by night to Berea,
an interior town, about sixty miles south-west of Thessalonica. In
this small rural city, situated on the eastern slope of the Olympian
mountains, Paul found an intelligent, unprejudiced people, who listened
gladly to the tidings of salvation which he brought them.

“They were more noble,” writes Luke, “than those in Thessalonica, in
that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched
the scriptures daily whether those things were so. Therefore many of
them believed; also of honorable women which were Greeks, and of men,
not a few.”[137]

The malignant Jews in Thessalonica, hearing of Paul’s success in Berea,
sent some of their number to rouse the mob there against him. Paul,
aware that he could hope to accomplish but little amidst scenes of
popular clamor and violence, quietly withdrew. He, however, left Silas
and Timothy behind: they, being less prominent, would not so much
attract the attention of the populace.

Aided by the brethren of Berea, Paul repaired to the sea-coast,
where he embarked for the city of Athens. Coasting along the western
shore of the Island of Eubœa, a distance of ninety miles, they came
to Cape Colonna, the southern extremity of Attica. Here, on Sunium’s
high promontory, stood the temple of Minerva, a landmark to the Greek
sailors. The eminence is still crowned with the ruins of its white

Rounding this cape, the navigator soon came in sight of the splendid
city of Athens, “built nobly on the Ægean shore, the eye of Greece,
the mother of arts and eloquence.”[138] Idolatrous shrines crowned
every height, and gorgeous temples for the worship of false gods were
found in all the streets. Athens was probably by far the most renowned
city Paul had yet entered; and it embraced a large class of poets,
philosophers, and men of literary leisure. “All the Athenians, and
strangers which were there, spent their time in nothing else but either
to tell or to hear some new thing.”

The statues to the gods were so numerous, that Petronius, a Roman
satirist, declared that it was easier to find a god than a man in
Athens. The spirit of Paul was roused as never before in seeing this
great city so entirely surrendered to idolatry. In the synagogue of
the Jews, and daily in the market-place, and from house to house, as
he could find persons to listen to him, he proclaimed the religion
of Jesus. His earnestness, and the power of his eloquent words, soon
arrested general attention. Some of the proud philosophers turned
contemptuously from him, calling him a “babbler:” others had their
curiosity excited, and wished to hear more, saying, “He seemeth to be
a setter-forth of strange gods, because,” adds Luke, “he preached unto
them Jesus and the resurrection.”[139]

There was at Athens a renowned eminence, called Mars’ Hill, upon
whose summit was reared one of the most majestic buildings of ancient
or modern days, called the Acropolis. Here the court of the Areopagus,
the most solemn of the Grecian courts, held its sessions. Here Paul
was taken by the Athenians to expound to them his doctrine. Never
had he addressed such an audience before. Apparently never before,
since he became a disciple of Jesus, had he encountered an hour to
be fraught with more momentous consequences. The sacred historian has
given us his address, or an abstract of it, upon this occasion. In its
appropriateness to the circumstances of the case, it is universally
regarded as unsurpassed in the records of human eloquence:――

“Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too
superstitious;[140] for as I passed by, and beheld your devotions,
I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom,
therefore, ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made
the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and
earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped
with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth
to all life and breath and all things; and hath made of one blood
all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and
hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their
habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel
after him and find him, though he be not far from every one of us.

“For in him we live and move, and have our being; as certain also of
your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch,
then, as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that
the Godhead is like unto gold or silver or stone, graven by art and
man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at, but now
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; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men,
in that he hath raised him from the dead.”[141]

The results of this address upon the minds of those who listened were
various. Some of the philosophers, when they heard of the resurrection
of the dead, “mocked.” Many of the Jews were probably irritated at the
suggestion that Jews and Gentiles were to be placed on an equality.
Others, more respectful, withdrew, simply saying, “We will hear thee
again of this matter.” This was probably merely a polite expression
of indifference. Paul did not feel sufficiently encouraged to prolong
his labors among auditors so unpromising. In the synagogue, and in
the streets, Paul had been preaching to the Athenians “Jesus and
the resurrection.” It was to this same theme, the burden of all his
teachings, that upon Mars’ Hill he so skilfully drew the attention of
his hearers.

Paul did not encounter any tumult or violence in Athens. How long he
remained there cannot now be known. As to the results of his labors,
we are informed that Dionysius, a member of the court of Areopagus, and
a woman by the name of Damaris, with some others, became converts to

From Athens Paul proceeded to Corinth, the commercial metropolis
of Greece, and a city renowned for its wealth, its luxury, and its
wickedness. Corinth was about sixty miles from Athens, in a direction
very nearly west. Two of the exiled Jews, Aquila and his wife Priscilla,
whom a decree of the Emperor Claudius had expelled from Rome, had taken
refuge in Corinth. They cordially received Paul, and he abode with
them. They were tent-makers by occupation; making tents, then in great
demand, of cloth woven from goat’s-hair. Paul, who was unwilling to be
burdensome to any one, met his expenses by his daily or rather nightly
toil at this trade, which he had learned in his early youth. After
preaching the gospel all day, we can see him in the evening diligently
aiding Aquila and Priscilla in their manual labor.

Soon Silas and Timothy, coming from Thessalonica, joined Paul in
Corinth. As he witnessed the great wickedness of the city, his spirit
was stirred within him to an unusual degree. Earnestly he testified to
the degenerate Jews that Jesus is the Christ. But the Jews would not
receive Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah. They reviled the preacher
and his gospel. Luke writes,――

“And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, 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.”

He thus abandoned the synagogue; and it seems that it was necessary
for him to leave the residence of his Jewish hosts, and to take up
his abode with a Gentile by the name of Justus. This man lived near
the synagogue, and, though a Greek, had renounced idolatry, and was
a worshipper of the true God. Paul’s labors among the Jews had not
been entirely in vain: for “Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue,
believed on the Lord, with all his house;” and Paul in person baptized

Among the Gentiles Paul’s success was very great, and converts were
rapidly multiplied. The rage of the Jews was such, that it was feared
that Paul would encounter personal violence; but the Lord appeared to
Paul in the night in a vision, and said to him,――

“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.”

For a year and six months Paul continued in Corinth, preaching
the gospel. It was from that city that he wrote his two impressive
and affectionate letters to the converts in Thessalonica. An easy,
good-natured man, by the name of Gallio, was at that time governor
of the province of Achaia, which included the whole of Southern
Greece. Probably the conversion and baptism of Crispus exasperated
the Jews to the highest degree. They stirred up an insurrection in
the streets; seized Paul, and with clamor and tumult dragged him before
the judgment-seat of Gallio. But the charges which they brought against
Paul were so frivolous, that Gallio drove them from his presence,
declaring that he would be no judge of such matters.

The Greeks hated the Jews. And here, for the first time, we have the
remarkable exhibition of the populace proceeding to acts of violence
against the enemies of Paul. According to the narrative in the Acts of
the Apostles, the Greek populace rushed upon Sosthenes, the ruler of
the Jewish synagogue, and severely beat him. It was far more important
to Gallio that he should be popular among the Greeks than among the
Jews: he therefore, with characteristic indifference, left Sosthenes
to his fate. After this, the Jews no longer attempted to molest Paul.

He remained in Corinth “yet a good while;” but we have no record of the
amount or success of his labors. He then bade farewell to the numerous
converts whom he had gathered in Corinth, and, accompanied by Aquila
and Priscilla, embarked at Cenchrea, and, leaving the shores of Greece
behind him, crossed the Ægean Sea, a distance of about two hundred
miles, and landed at the renowned city of Ephesus, in Asia Minor. In
the record of this event it is written,――

“He then took 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.”[143]

The structure of the sentence does not determine whether it was Paul
or Aquila who had a vow; neither are we informed why the vow was taken.
Paul apparently entered the synagogue at Ephesus but once, when he
reasoned with the Jews, endeavoring to convince them that Jesus was the
Messiah; and, though entreated to tarry longer with them, he declined,
saying, “I must by all means keep this feast[144] that cometh in
Jerusalem; but I will return again unto you.”

Sailing from Ephesus, leaving Aquila and Priscilla behind him, he
landed at Cæsarea in Syria, and immediately hastened up to Jerusalem
to report to the church there his adventures in the long and momentous
excursion he had made,――an excursion which occupied a little over two
years. He then returned to Antioch.

                             CHAPTER VIII.

                        THE CAPTIVE IN CHAINS.

  The Third Missionary Tour.――Paul at Ephesus.――The Great Tumult.
    ――The Voyage to Greece.――Return to Asia Minor and to Jerusalem.
    ――His Reception at Jerusalem.――His Arrest, and the Riot.
    ――Speech to the Mob.――Paul imprisoned.――Danger of Assassination.
    ――Transferred to Cæsarea.――His Defence before Festus and Agrippa.
    ――The Appeal to Cæsar.――The Voyage to Rome.――The Shipwreck.
    ――Continued Captivity.

WE now enter upon Paul’s third missionary journey through the interior
of Asia Minor. How long he remained in Antioch before entering upon
this tour, or what exact route he took through Phrygia and Galatia, we
do not know. Timothy probably accompanied him, as mention is made of
his name in connection with Paul’s stay at Ephesus. All the record we
have of this journey through the heart of Asia Minor, in which Paul
visited the various churches which he had established, is contained in
the words, “He departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and
Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.”[145]

Just before Paul’s arrival at Ephesus,――which city he had promised to
visit again,――a Jew came there, by the name of Apollos, a devout man,
very eloquent, who was a disciple of John the Baptist; he not having
yet received the fuller revelation of life and immortality made by
Jesus Christ. Aquila and Priscilla, listening to his bold and fervid
addresses in the synagogue, took him, and explained to him more fully
the gospel of Jesus as it had been expounded to them by Paul. Thus
instructed in the “glad tidings,” Apollos went to Corinth with letters
of recommendation to the brethren there, where “he mightily convinced
the Jews, and that publicly, showing by the scriptures that Jesus was

While Apollos was preaching at Corinth, Paul, having traversed the
mountainous districts of Asia Minor, came to Ephesus. There were but
few in that great and wicked city who had any true conception of the
religion of Jesus. There were several, who, under the preaching of
Apollos, had become disciples of John, walking in the comparatively dim
light which that prophet had revealed. Eagerly they received the fuller
illumination which Paul brought to their minds. Twelve of these were
baptized by Paul in the name of the Lord Jesus: then, upon his laying
his hands upon them, they received the miraculous gifts of the Holy
Ghost, “and spake with tongues, and prophesied.”

For three months, Paul continued earnestly preaching in the synagogue
“the things concerning the kingdom of God.” Success did not attend his
labors: on the contrary, many were hardened by them, “and believed not,
but spake evil of that way.” Paul, disheartened, withdrew entirely from
the synagogue, and, taking the few disciples with him, established an
independent church.

A man named Tyrannus, a school-teacher, who was either a convert, or
was favorably affected towards the new doctrine, opened his schoolroom
for the preaching of Paul. In that room, and from house to house, the
zealous and persevering apostle preached, for the space of two years,
“repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ.”
A large church was organized. Paul himself, and other disciples,
made many excursions into the surrounding region, “so that all they
which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and
Greeks.”[147] Paul still continued to exercise miraculous powers,
healing the sick, and casting out evil spirits. Some “vagabond Jews,”
witnessing the power which the name of Jesus exerted, undertook to
exorcise in that sacred name; but the demoniac, exclaiming, “Jesus I
know, and Paul I know, but who are ye? leaped on them, and overcame
them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house
naked and wounded.” This so alarmed the professional exorcists, that
many of them relinquished their calling, and burned their books of
sorcery, though they were valued at about eight thousand dollars. “So
mightily,” adds Luke, “grew the word of the Lord, and prevailed.”

Paul now decided to visit the churches in Macedonia and Achaia, and
then to return to Jerusalem, saying, “After that, I must see Rome
also.” Timothy, and another disciple by the name of Erastus, were sent
before him to announce his coming to the churches in Macedonia and

Just before Paul left Ephesus, a very violent and not unnatural
tumult arose in the city. Ephesus was renowned throughout the world
for the worship of the goddess Diana. The temple, erected at the head
of the harbor for the idolatrous worship of this goddess, was deemed,
in its magnificence and dazzling beauty, one of the wonders of the
world. It was a common saying, “The sun in its course sees nothing
more magnificent than Diana’s temple.” This gorgeous marble shrine
of idolatry was 425 feet long, 220 broad, and was embellished by 127
columns, each 60 feet high. The Greek ladies throughout all Achaia
and Asia lavished their treasures in almost incrusting the temple with
precious stones. It was one of the principal sources of revenue to the
city, and of employment for its workmen, to construct silver statues
of the goddess, which were sold in immense numbers throughout all
the pagan world. But the preaching of Paul was bringing idolatry into
disrepute, and destroying the trade in idols.

There was a large manufacturer of these silver shrines in the city,
by the name of Demetrius. He called his numerous workmen together, and
thus addressed 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.”[148]

These inflammatory words roused the workmen: they were repeated through
all the shops in the city. A gathering mob began to surge through the
streets with clamor and threatenings. The one continuous cry of the mob
was, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” The infuriated populace coming
across two of Paul’s companions and friends, Gaius and Aristarchus,
seized them, and dragged them into the theatre, an immense enclosure,
without a roof, where tiers of stone seats rose one above another,
affording room for an immense assembly.

As soon as the news reached Paul, the intrepid man wished immediately
to rush into the theatre, in the endeavor to rescue his friends; but
even the officers of the city entreated him not thus to peril his life.
With difficulty they dissuaded him from the rash and hopeless movement.

The tumult in the theatre was fearful. “Some cried one thing, and
some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not
wherefore they were come together.” At length the mayor of the city,
an officer next in dignity and authority to the governor, entered the
city, and endeavored to allay the tumult. Having succeeded in obtaining
silence, he addressed the mob as follows:――

“Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not that the city
of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of
the image which fell down from Jupiter?[149] Seeing, then, that these
things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do
nothing rashly. For ye have brought hither these men, who are neither
robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess. Wherefore if
Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against
any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one
another. But, if ye inquire any thing concerning other matters,[150]
it shall be determined in a lawful assembly. For we are in danger to be
called in question for this day’s uproar, there being no cause whereby
we may give an account of this concourse.”[151]

Soon after this Paul assembled the disciples, and took leave of them,
in preparation for his journey into Greece. From Ephesus he had written
his First Epistle to the Corinthians; and he was greatly distressed by
some disorders which had crept into the church there. We have no record
of the events which occurred during this journey. Sailing across the
Ægean Sea, he landed first in Macedonia. “And when he had gone over
those parts, and given them much exhortation, he came into Greece, and
there abode three months.” He tarried some time in Philippi, waiting
the arrival of Titus: upon his arrival, he wrote his Second Epistle to
the Corinthians.

Accompanied by Titus, Paul went to Corinth, where he spent some time
endeavoring to correct the abuses to which we have referred. While at
Corinth, he wrote his Epistle to the Romans,――unquestionably the most
important document which ever proceeded from a human mind.

But the malignant Jews in those regions still thirsted for his blood.
As they lay in wait for him to kill him as he should embark for Syria,
he changed his route, and returned through Macedonia to Philippi, where
he took ship for Troas, on the Asiatic coast; which port he reached
after a sail of five days. There he remained a week. The first day
of the week, as commemorating the resurrection of Jesus, had become,
instead of the seventh, the customary day for the assembling of

Paul, as he was the next day to leave the brethren at Troas, probably
never in this world to meet them again, continued the parting service
until midnight. A young man named Eutychus, overcome by sleep, fell
from a third-story window to the ground, and was taken up dead. Paul
restored him to life. He then continued the social and religious
services until the dawning of the day. The ship in which he was to
embark sailed first for Assos, a small seaport about nine miles from
Troas by land, and more than twice that distance by water.

Paul went on foot to Assos. There he took ship, and, sailing by Chios,
Mitylene, and Samos, passed by Ephesus, and landed at Miletus, an
important commercial city, about thirty miles beyond Ephesus. He sent
for the elders of the church at Ephesus, and there took leave of them
in the following affecting address:――

“Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner
I have been with you at all seasons, serving the Lord with all humility
of mind, and with many tears, and temptations which befell me by
the lying-in-wait of the Jews; and how I kept back nothing that was
profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publicly,
and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews, and also to the
Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

“And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not
knowing the things that shall befall me there; save that the Holy Ghost
witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.
But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto
myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry,
which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the
grace of God.

“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. Take heed,
therefore, unto yourselves, and to all the flock over the which the
Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which
he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after
my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing
the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse
things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and
remember, that, by the space of three years, I ceased not to warn every
one night and day with tears.

“And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace,
which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among
all them which are sanctified. I have coveted no man’s silver or gold
or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know that these hands have ministered
unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have showed you
all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to
remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed
to give than to receive.”

Luke adds, “And, when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed
with them all. 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

Sailing by the Islands of Coos and Rhodes, without stopping, they
landed at Patara, a small seaport in the province of Lycia, on the
southern coast of Asia Minor. Here Paul took another vessel, and
leaving the island on the left, after a voyage of about three hundred
and forty miles, landed at Tyre, in Syria. There was a church in Tyre;
and Paul remained with the Christians there a week while the ship was
discharging its cargo. The brethren, conscious of the danger he would
encounter in Jerusalem, urged him not to go there; but Paul was fixed
in his purpose. When the time came for the ship to sail again, the
brethren, with their wives and children, accompanied him to the shore.
There, upon the sandy beach, they knelt down, and commended the heroic
and beloved apostle to the protection of God. From Tyre the ship sailed
along the coast of Syria to Ptolemais, the celebrated Jean d’Acre of
modern history. The distance between the two places was about thirty
miles. Here Paul was again refreshed by the society of the disciples
whom he found there, and with whom he remained but one day.

Paul left the ship at Ptolemais, and continuing the journey by land,
a distance of thirty or forty miles, reached Cæsarea. Philip the
evangelist――one of the seven deacons chosen by the church in Jerusalem,
to whom we have been before introduced as teaching and baptizing the
eunuch on the road by Gaza, towards Egypt――resided in Cæsarea. His
family consisted of four daughters, who were very earnest Christians,
and who were endowed with the prophetic spirit. Paul remained for
several days the guest of that Christian family.

While residing there, a certain prophet, by the name of Agabus,――the
same who had previously predicted “that there should be a great dearth
throughout all the world,”[154]――came to Cæsarea. Agabus, using the
imagery of action so common with the prophets, took Paul’s girdle,
bound it around his own hands and feet, and said,――

“Thus saith the Holy Ghost: So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man
to whom this girdle belongs, and they shall deliver him into the hands
of the Gentiles.”[155]

The Christian friends of Paul at Cæsarea, when they heard this
prophetic announcement, entreated him with the most earnest
supplication, and even with tears, not to go up to Jerusalem, and
thus place himself at the mercy of these cruel and inveterate foes.
But Paul replied,――

“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

Luke, who still accompanied Paul, adds, “And, when he would not be
persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done.”

Paul, with the companions who had attended him from Macedonia, and
accompanied by several Christians from Cæsarea, went up to Jerusalem,
and took up his residence at the house of Mnason, one of the early
converts to Christianity.

Thus we have accompanied Paul on his last recorded journey to Jerusalem.
It was a journey full of incident; and it is related more minutely than
any other portion of his travels. We know all the places by which he
passed, or at which he staid; and we are able to connect them all with
familiar recollections of history. We know, too, all the aspects of the
scenery. He sailed along those coasts of Western Asia, and among those
famous islands, the beauty of which is proverbial. The very time of
the year is known to us: it was when the advancing season was clothing
every low shore and the edge of every broken cliff with a beautiful and
refreshing verdure; when the winter storms had ceased to be dangerous,
and the small vessels could ply safely in shade and sunshine between
the neighboring ports. Even the state of the weather and the direction
of the wind are known.

We can point to the places on the map where the vessel anchored for the
night, and trace across the chart the track that was followed when the
moon was full. Yet more than this: we are made fully aware of the state
of the apostle’s mind, and of the burdened feeling under which this
journey was accomplished. The expression of this feeling strikes us the
more from its contrast with all the outward circumstances of the voyage.
He sailed in the finest season, by the brightest coasts, and in the
fairest weather; and yet his mind was occupied with forebodings of evil
from first to last, so that a peculiar shade of sadness is thrown over
the whole narration.[156]

Paul, like his divine Master, was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted
with grief.” The sins and sufferings of humanity oppressed his soul.
Throughout all his epistles, we see indications of the pensive spirit
with which he regarded the sublime and awful tragedy of time and sin.

Upon the arrival of the apostle in Jerusalem, he was very cordially
received by the brethren. Knowing that he had many enemies even among
the Christians there, who demanded that the Gentile converts should
be brought into subjection to all the rites of Judaism, his dejected
spirit must have been much cheered by this affectionate greeting. The
disciples in Jerusalem, consisting of converted Jews and converted
Gentiles, now counted their numbers by thousands. They were necessarily
divided into many local churches. There was an immediate gathering of
the pastors of these churches to hear Paul’s report of the success of
his extended missionary tour. James, who had presided at the general
council held in Jerusalem several years before, seems also to have
presided at this meeting. Paul “declared particularly what things God
had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry.” The majority were very
favorably impressed by his address, and “glorified the Lord.” They,
however, said to 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.”

They therefore urged, that as it was impossible but that his arrival
should be known, and that it would call the Christians together to hear
from him, he should do something to refute these calumnies, and disarm
hostility. They therefore suggested that he should take charge of four
_Jewish Christians_ who were under a vow, accompany them to the temple,
and pay for them the necessary charges. This would prove that Paul, so
far as the Jews were concerned, still respected the law of Moses. As to
the Gentile converts, they reiterated the advice given by the council.
Paul, who had laid it down as his principle, that to the Jew he would
become a Jew, and to the Gentile a Gentile, that he might win all to
Christ, accepted this suggestion. He was ready to accept or reject
mere outward observances as expediency might dictate. In his view,
circumcision was nothing, and uncircumcision nothing, but faith that
worketh by love.

The next day was the great feast of Pentecost. Jerusalem was crowded
with Jews from all parts of Syria, and even from remoter lands. Those
who had already persecuted Paul on his missionary tour were there,
ready to renew their violence. When Paul entered the temple with the
men who had taken the vow, they sprang upon him, seized him, and cried

“Men of Israel, help! This is the man that teacheth all men everywhere
against the people, and the law, and this place; and, further, brought
Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place.”[157]

A terrible mob was at once excited among the fanatic Jews. They seized
Paul, dragged him out of the temple, and were about to kill him in the
streets, when the chief captain in command of the Roman garrison heard
of the uproar. Placing himself at the head of a band of soldiers, he
assailed the mob, rescued Paul, chained him by each wrist to a soldier,
and then inquired what he had done that they were thus beating him. The
tumult and uproar were such, “some crying one thing, and some another,”
that no definite charge could be heard.

The captain, Claudius Lysias, supposing Paul to be a renowned Egyptian
rebel and a guilty disturber of the peace, ordered his prisoner to be
led to the barracks within the fortress. The crowd followed, shouting,
“Away with him!” The pressure of the throng was so great, that, when
they reached the great staircase leading up into the castled fortress,
Paul was borne by the soldiers up the steps. When the prisoner reached
the top of the stairs, whence he had a clear view of the angry, surging
mob below, he turned to Lysias, and, addressing him in Greek, inquired,
“May I speak unto thee?” Lysias was astonished to hear him speak in
Greek, and said,――

“Art thou not that Egyptian which before these days madest an uproar,
and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were

Paul replied, “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.”

Obtaining permission, he waved his hand to obtain silence, and then,
addressing the Jewish multitude in the Hebrew language, gave them quite
a minute account of his past history, his persecution of the Christians,
and his miraculous conversion to that faith which he once endeavored
to destroy. But, when he announced that the Lord Jesus had said to him,
“Depart, for I will send thee far hence unto _the Gentiles_,” the rage
of the fanatic Jews was roused to the highest pitch. With united voice
they cried out,――

“Away with such a fellow from the earth! it is not fit that he should

As they were shouting and gesticulating with the most violent
expressions of ferocity, Lysias ordered him to be led into the fortress,
and, in accordance with the infamous practice of the times, to be
examined by scourging, to see what confession bodily agony would thus
extort from him. As they were binding him to the whipping-post, Paul
said to the centurion who was superintending the operation,――

“Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and

The remark was immediately reported to Lysias. He, upon questioning
Paul, ordered him to be unbound; and the heroic prisoner passed the
night in one of the cells of the fortress. The next day, Lysias
summoned a council of the chief priests, and brought Paul before them,
that he might learn of him of what crimes he was accused. He was put
upon his defence without any charge being brought against him. Ananias,
the high priest, a brutal wretch, presided. As Paul, commencing his
defence, modestly said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good
conscience before God until this day,” the infamous judge was so
enraged, that he ordered those standing near to smite him on the mouth.

Saint as Paul was, this brutal outrage roused his indignation; and he
exclaimed, “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

Some one who stood by said, “Revilest thou the high priest?”

Paul, at once restored to self-possession, replied, “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 Jews were at that time divided into two highly antagonistic
parties,――the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The Sadducees did not
believe in any future state, or in any spiritual existence. They said,
“There is no resurrection, neither angel nor spirit.” The Pharisees,
on the contrary, believed fully in the resurrection of the dead, and
in a future life. Paul took advantage of this division of sentiment
among his judges, and, knowing that one of the sources of the bitter
hostility excited against him was that he taught that Jesus of Nazareth
had risen from the grave, continued his defence by saying,――

“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.”

This caused an immediate division between the two parties, and arrayed
the Pharisees on the side of Paul. They said, “We find no evil in this
man; but, if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight
against God.” The dissension between these two rival sects became
so intense, that they almost proceeded to blows. “The chief captain,
fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded
the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them, and
bring him into the castle.”

In the night, the Lord Jesus appeared to his devoted apostle, and said
to him, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as thou hast testified of me in
Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.”

Certain of the Jews, finding it difficult to crush Paul by processes
of law, entered into a conspiracy, binding themselves by an oath not
to eat nor drink till they had killed him. There were forty of these
conspirators; and they were so assured of the sympathy of the Jewish
rulers in this endeavor, that they went to them, informed them of their
resolve, and sought their co-operation. The plan which they proposed to
the chief priests and elders was, that they should officially apply to
Claudius Lysias that Paul might be once more brought before the Jewish
court for further examination. As the prisoner was being conducted from
the fortress to the court, the assassins, lying in wait, would fall
upon him, and kill him.

A nephew of Paul, the son of his sister, learned of this conspiracy,
and, obtaining access to the fortress, informed Paul of his peril.
Paul sent the young man by one of the centurions to communicate
the intelligence to Lysias. Thus informed, Lysias secretly at night
assembled a band of four hundred Roman soldiers and spearmen and
seventy cavalry to escort Paul to Cæsarea, and place him under the
control of Felix, the governor of Judæa, who resided in that city.
It was a journey of seventy-five miles, and would have to be taken
rapidly; and therefore more than one horse was provided for Paul.

The escort started with its prisoner at nine o’clock at night, and took
with them the following letter to the governor:――

“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.”

Marching rapidly with their prisoner, the escort proceeded that
night thirty-eight miles, as far as Antipatris. From this point the
foot-soldiers returned to Jerusalem, as their presence was no longer
needed for the protection of Paul. The horsemen accompanied Paul
the remainder of the way to Cæsarea, and, proceeding directly to the
governor, surrendered to him their prisoner. Felix ordered Paul to be
held in custody in Herod’s palace, which was the official residence of
the governor, until his accusers should come from Jerusalem.

After an interval of five days, Ananias the high priest, with the
elders, and a distinguished orator named Tertullus, came to Cæsarea
to prefer their charges against Paul in the presence of the governor.
Tertullus brought forward their accusations in the following address
to Felix:――

“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: 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;[158] 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

Paul was then called upon for his defence against these frivolous
charges. It was as follows: “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.

“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 aught 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.”

Felix had been governor of Judæa for six years. It was now nearly
thirty years since the death of Christ. There were numerous bodies of
Christians in churches scattered all over Palestine. He had enjoyed
ample opportunities of becoming acquainted with the sentiments of the
Christians, was a thoughtful man, and was by no means predisposed to
treat Paul with severity. He therefore placed Paul under the custody
of a centurion, who was to accompany him wherever he went, but to allow
him perfect liberty and free access to his friends.

It would seem that Drusilla, the wife of Felix, had some curiosity
to see Paul; for, after a few days, Felix and Drusilla (who was a
Jewess) sent for Paul to come to the palace, and in private heard him
“concerning the faith in Christ.” Luke records,――

“And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come,
Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time: when I have a
convenient season, I will call for thee.”

“He had hoped also,” Luke adds, “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.”[160]

For two years, Paul was held a prisoner in Cæsarea. How wonderful that
God should, at such a time, have allowed such a man so long to be kept
in comparative silence! He was doubtless active in the service of his
Saviour in Cæsarea every hour of every day; but we have no record of
the results of those labors. At length Felix was summoned to Rome, and
was supplanted in the office of governor by Festus. The malice of the
Jewish rulers towards Paul continued unabated; “and Felix, willing to
show the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.” This was in the year of our
Lord 60.

Immediately upon the arrival of the new governor at Cæsarea, the
sleepless hatred of the Jews made a fresh attempt upon the life of Paul.
Three days after Festus landed at Cæsarea, he went up to Jerusalem,
the political metropolis of his province. Immediately the high priest,
accompanied by several of the most prominent of the Jews, appeared
before Festus, and begged that Paul might be sent back from Cæsarea
to Jerusalem for trial. They had in the mean time prepared a band of
assassins to fall upon Paul by the way, and put him to death.

Festus wisely declined placing an uncondemned person thus in the hands
of his enemies, but stated, that, as he was about to return to Cæsarea,
they could send his accusers there with whatever charges they had to
prefer against him. After remaining in Jerusalem about ten days, Festus
returned to Cæsarea, summoned a court of assistant judges, took his
seat upon the judicial tribunal, and ordered Paul to be brought before
him. The Jews who came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and laid
many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove.
It would seem, from the summary which is given of Paul’s reply, that
he was charged with heresy, sacrilege, and treason,――the same charges
which had before been brought against him by Tertullus. “Neither
against the Jews,” Paul answered, “neither against the temple, nor yet
against Cæsar, have I offended any thing at all.”

Festus was anxious to conciliate the favor of the Jews, and
suggested that Paul should go up to Jerusalem, there to be tried
before a tribunal over which he himself would preside. Paul knew that
he could expect no justice there, and that he was in danger of being
assassinated by the way. He was a Roman citizen, and, as such, had the
privilege of appealing to Cæsar at Rome. This was his last resort. He
therefore said,――

“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 any thing 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.”[161]

Even Festus had no power to ignore this appeal. By those potent
words, “I appeal unto Cæsar,” Paul had transferred his cause from
the provincial governor to the emperor at Rome. Nothing remained for
Festus but to send Paul to Rome, with all the documents bearing upon
the trial, and with his own official report. Festus, however, was
still in perplexity. The charges brought against Paul were so extremely
frivolous, that he knew not what statement to make. He was ashamed to
send a prisoner to Rome with such trivial accusations; and it seemed
to him “unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the
crimes laid against him.”

Festus was governor of the small province of Judæa. Agrippa was king
of the whole of Syria, of which Judæa was but one of the provinces; and
he also included within his realms other dominions, whose limits cannot
now be very accurately defined. It so happened, that, at this time,
Agrippa, with his sister Bernice, paid a complimentary visit to the new
governor of Judæa at Cæsarea, and remained with Festus several days.
He was a Jew, and was thoroughly acquainted with Jewish law. Festus,
who was much embarrassed by the position in which he found himself
placed in reference to Paul, consulted Agrippa concerning the affair.
The account which he gave of the case to Agrippa is quite curious.

“There is a certain man,” said he, “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
license 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.”[162]

The curiosity of Agrippa was excited, and he requested that Paul
might be brought before him. Accordingly, the next day, the king and
his sister, with great pomp, entered the audience-chamber. The king
took his seat in the judicial chair, and was attended by a brilliant
suite of military officers, and of the most distinguished men of
Cæsarea. Before this august assemblage Paul was led. In the following
ceremonious speech, Festus described the circumstances under which the
prisoner had been left in his charge:――

“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. Wherefore
I have brought him forth before you, and specially 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.”[163]

Agrippa then condescendingly said to the prisoner that he was
permitted to speak for himself. Paul opened his defence with the
following words:――

“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.”

He then briefly recounted his early history, narrating in full the
circumstances which attended his conversion to the religion of Jesus.
After speaking of the vision which appeared to him on the road to
Damascus, before whose brilliancy all had fallen to the earth, he

“I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue,
Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick
against the pricks. And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am
Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy feet; for
I have appeared unto thee for this purpose,――to make thee a minister
and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those
things in the which I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the
people and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, 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 that is in me.

“Whereupon, O King Agrippa!” continued Paul, “I was not disobedient
unto the heavenly vision; but showed 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 that should rise from
the dead, and should show light unto the people and to the Gentiles.”

As Paul thus alluded to the resurrection of the dead, he was
interrupted in his discourse by Festus, the unbelieving Roman,
exclaiming with a loud voice,――

“Paul, thou art beside thyself: much learning doth make thee mad.”

Paul turned to the governor, and said courteously, “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.”

Then, addressing the king himself, who, as we have said, was a Jew,
he added, “King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou

The arguments of Paul had been so rational and irresistible, that
Agrippa seems to have been intellectually convinced by them; for he
thoughtfully replied, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”

Paul, whose heart ever glowed with Christian love for all his
fellow-men, answered, “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!”

This terminated the interview. Agrippa, in conferring with his council,
found them unanimously of the opinion that Paul had done nothing worthy
of death or of bonds. He therefore said to Festus, “This man might have
been set at liberty if he had not appealed unto Cæsar.” But it was now
too late. Paul had made his appeal; and nothing remained but to send
him, by the first opportunity, to Rome. There was a ship in port from
Adramyttium which was engaged in the coasting-trade, and which was to
touch at various ports in Asia Minor.

Paul, with two companions,――Luke, and Aristarchus from
Thessalonica,――was embarked on board this ship. There were other
prisoners in the ship, and they were under charge of a guard of
soldiers, with Julius, their commanding-officer. The day after sailing,
they touched at Sidon, sixty-seven miles north from Cæsarea. Julius
treated his prisoner very courteously; and, as there was a church in
this place, he was allowed to go ashore “unto his friends to refresh
himself.” Leaving Sidon, they sailed across what is called the Sea of
Cilicia, leaving the Island of Cyprus on their left, being driven to
this circuitous route by contrary winds, till they reached the city of
Myra, a large seaport in the province of Lycia.

At Myra they found a ship from Alexandria in Egypt bound for Italy.
The prisoners were placed on board this ship, which must have been
one of considerable size, as it conveyed, with crew and passengers,
two hundred and seventy-six souls. Calms and head-winds delayed their
passage, so that it was “many days” before they reached the Island of
Cnidus, which was but a hundred and thirty miles from Myra. The wind
and the current still opposing them, they, finding themselves unable
to sail directly across the Ægean Sea, ran down to the southward; and
having doubled Cape Salmone, the most easterly cape of the Island of
Crete, they sailed along the southern coast of that island, sheltered
from the north winds, a distance of about a hundred and fifty miles,
until they came to a celebrated harbor, or roadstead, called the Fair
Havens. There was no settlement here upon the shore; but the city of
Lasea was situated a few miles inland. Winter had now come; and fierce
storms swept the Mediterranean, rendering navigation quite perilous.
Upon leaving Myra, they had hoped to reach Italy before the dangerous
season should arrive; but the untoward weather had detained them, and
there were still many weary leagues of a tempestuous sea to be passed
over before they could cast anchor in the Tiber.

The question was anxiously deliberated, whether they should still brave
the peril of the seas. Paul, probably speaking, not by inspiration,
but from his own natural intelligence and caution, warned them, that,
if they continued their voyage, not only would the safety of the ship
be imperilled, but also the lives of all on board; but as the present
anchorage was incommodious to winter in, and there was no other good
harbor near, it was decided, notwithstanding the warning of Paul, to
continue the voyage.

About fifty miles west of the Fair Havens, on the southern coast of the
Island of Crete, was the seaport of Phenice. Some who had been there
spoke of that harbor as a safe one, and urged, that, at all hazards,
they should try to reach Phenice, where they could winter if it were
deemed expedient. Taking advantage of a gentle south wind, they were
sailing close by the southern shore of Crete, when suddenly a very
fierce tempest arose from the north-east,――a hurricane, probably such
as is now called a Levanter, but then called Euroclydon,――and they were
driven helplessly before it, in hourly peril of being ingulfed.

About forty miles off the southern coast of Crete was situated the
small Island of Clauda. Under the lee of this island, they succeeded
with great difficulty in saving the small boat which was attached to
the ship, and which had been in great peril of being staved to pieces.
The fury of the wind and waves was such, that there was danger that the
over-strained planks would open seams, so that the ship would founder.
To obviate this danger, heavy cables were passed around the ship,
slipping them over the bows, and tightening them upon deck, so as to
bind the loosening planks together. Still the gale was driving them at
its mercy towards the coast of Africa.

Near that coast there were two dangerous quicksands, ever shifting
their places under the wash of the surging sea, so that their position
could never be laid down with certainty in any chart. The storm raged
with increasing fury until the third day, when they endeavored to
lighten the ship by throwing over a portion of her cargo. Still the
days and nights of peril came and went. Thick clouds darkened the sky.
Neither sun nor stars were visible. All reckoning was lost, as the
shifting gale drove them they knew not whither. During this terrible
tempest, the suffering of body and mind was such, and the labors of
the crew so incessant, that there had been no opportunity for receiving
food. All now seemed to have surrendered themselves to despair. The
opening seams indicated that the ship must soon founder. In this hour
of extremity, Paul said to the officers,――

“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.”[164]

Fourteen days had now passed, during which the ship had been driven
hither and thither over the foaming billows of the Adriatic Sea. About
midnight of the fourteenth, the sailors saw some indications that
they were approaching land,――probably by the roar of breakers, which
a practised ear will discern even amidst the wildest tumult of a storm.
Upon sounding, they found twenty fathoms of water. Soon sounding again,
they found but fifteen fathoms. Thus warned of their danger of being
hurled in midnight darkness upon the rocks, they cast four anchors out
of the stern, and waited impatiently for the dawn.

Some of the sailors, as usual, were disposed to get out the only
boat and escape to the shore, leaving the others to their fate. They
pretended that it was their object to cast some more anchors out of
the foreship. Paul, perceiving this, said to the centurion who was in
command of the guard of soldiers, “Except these abide in the ship, ye
cannot be saved.”

The soldiers, in prompt obedience to military command, cut the
ropes, and the boat drifted off into the darkness of the stormy sea.
As the day was beginning to dawn, Paul entreated them all to refresh
themselves with food, saying that this was needful to strengthen them
for the fatigues still before them, and assuring them that they should
all be saved without the slightest bodily harm. It is very evident that
the exalted Christian character of Paul had given him great influence
with all on board. “He took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence
of them all; and, when he had broken it, he began to eat. Then were
they all of good cheer.”

Further to lighten the ship, that they might draw nearer to the shore,
they threw out the remainder of the cargo of wheat into the sea. With
the early dawn, they saw the outline of an unknown island at a little
distance before them. As the light increased, they saw a small bay, or
indentation of the shore, where there was some slight protection from
the violence of the sea. Raising their anchors, and spreading their
mainsail, they ran the ship as far as possible upon the land. The
bows struck the sand; while the stern, still floating, was tossed up
and down by the surging billows; and thus the ship was rapidly being
broken to pieces. The soldiers, with their characteristic recklessness
of human life, proposed that the prisoners should be put to death,
lest they should escape by swimming; but the more humane centurion,
cherishing kindly feelings for Paul, gave liberty to each one to save
himself as best he could. Passengers and crew all now made for the
shore. The strong swimmers sprang boldly into the sea; others, on
boards or fragments of the ship, reached the land. Thus they stood
upon the beach, drenched, and shivering in the cold wintry wind, having
lost every thing, their lives only being preserved. The storm still
continued, and the rain was falling.

Some of the natives of the island soon collected around them, and
informed them that they were upon the Island of Malta, in the Adriatic
Sea, about four hundred and eighty miles from Crete. By the aid of the
inhabitants, a fire was soon kindled, and they all assembled around
it. As Paul gathered some sticks to throw upon the fire, a viper, one
of the most venomous of reptiles, whose bite was deemed certain death,
fastened itself upon his hand. Paul shook the reptile into the flames.
They all looked to see him drop dead, supposing him to be a murderer
who could not escape divine vengeance; but soon, seeing no harm befall
him, they went to the other extreme, declaring him to be a god.

The shipwrecked company remained for three months upon the island
before any opportunity was presented to leave it. That Paul devoted
these three months to energetic efforts in the service of his Master,
no one can doubt; but we have no record of the incidents he encountered,
or of the results of his labors, with one exception. In the narrative
of Luke we find the following brief statement:――

“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. And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick
of a fever and of a bloody-flux; 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 honored us with many honors; and, when we departed, they laded
us with such things as were necessary.”[165]

A ship from Alexandria by the name of “Castor and Pollux,” which had
wintered in the isle, was to sail with the returning spring for Rome.
The shipwrecked prisoners, with their guard, were taken on board, and
the sails were spread. They touched at Syracuse, the capital of the
Island of Sicily, which was on their direct route. Here they remained
three days; and then, weighing anchor, they directed their course
towards the Straits of Messina, and landed at Rhegium, on the southern
extremity of Italy. Thence, running along the western coast of the
Italian peninsula, they came to Puteoli, about seven miles south-west
of the present city of Naples. Puteoli was then the principal seaport
in Southern Italy.

Here they found Christian brethren; but it is not known by whom the
gospel was brought to their region. Paul was permitted to tarry with
them seven days. Thus there was opportunity for the tidings to reach
Rome (which was but fifty-six miles distant) of the approach of the
renowned apostle. The Christians in Rome were doubtless pretty well
acquainted with Paul’s career. His Epistle to the Romans had been
written about five years before this.

Leaving the ship at Puteoli, they commenced their journey by land to
Rome. When they had advanced about ten miles on their way, they came
to a place called Appii Forum. Here, and at another place a few miles
farther on called the Three Taverns, they found brethren from Rome who
had come to meet them. The cordiality with which the Christians greeted
the venerable prisoner so cheered him, that “he thanked God, and took

Upon Paul’s arrival in Rome, he was surrendered to the custody of the
captain of the pretorian cohort. His name, according to Tacitus, was
Burrhus Afranius. This officer kindly allowed Paul his liberty, save
only that he was always chained to a soldier, who accompanied him
wherever he went. After Paul had been in Rome three days, he invited
his brethren (the Jews) to meet him, and thus addressed 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 aught to accuse my nation of. For this cause, therefore,
have I called for you; because that for the hope of Israel[166] I am
bound with this chain.”

The Jews replied, “We neither received letters out of Judæa concerning
thee, neither any of the brethren that came showed 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.”

A day was accordingly appointed, when they met Paul at his lodging; and
he expounded to them the principles of the Christian religion, and of
the kingdom of Christ, “persuading them out of the law of Moses and the
prophets from morning till evening.”

Some believed, and some believed not. A very animated debate arose
between the two parties, and they retired disputing vehemently. Paul
regarded the result as a rejection of Christ; for, quoting against the
unbelieving Jews one of the denunciations of the prophet Isaiah, he
added, “Be it known, therefore, unto you, that the salvation of God is
sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.” Luke concludes his
interesting narrative, which the Holy Spirit superintended, with the

“And 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.”

                              CHAPTER IX.

                        THE FIRST PERSECUTION.

  The Population of Rome.――The Reign of Tiberius Cæsar.――His
    Character and Death.――The Proposal to deify Jesus.――Caligula.
    ――His Crimes, and the Earthly Retribution.――Nero and his Career.
    ――His Crimes and Death.――The Spirit of the Gospel.――Sufferings
    of the Christians.――Testimony of Tacitus.――Testimony of
    Chrysostom.――Panic in Rome.――The Sins and Sorrows of weary
    Centuries.――Noble Sentiments of the Bishop of Rome.

THE inspired narrative of Luke, contained in the Acts of the Apostles,
brings down the history of Christianity through a period of thirty
years after the ascension of our Saviour,――to A.D. 62. The subsequent
career of the apostle Paul is involved in much obscurity. It is
generally supposed, from allusions in his letters, that he was soon
brought to trial, and acquitted, in the year of our Lord 63. From
Rome he probably returned to Jerusalem, and thence visited Ephesus,
Laodicea, and Colosse. Afterwards he returned to Rome by the way of
Troas, Philippi, and Corinth. Rome presented to him the widest and most
important field of labor, and on that account he probably decided to
spend the remainder of his life there; and there he suffered martyrdom
(it is supposed, in the year of our Lord 65), as will be related in
subsequent pages.

But it is necessary for us now to retrace our steps a little, and to
turn back a few leaves of the pages of history. Luke, in his narrative,
has conducted Paul to Rome, then proud mistress of the world,
containing a population variously estimated from two to four millions.
Rome was the central and apparently impregnable fortress of pagan
superstition; and it was in Rome, in deadly struggle with her wicked
emperors and her degraded populace, that some of the greatest victories
of Christianity were won. The strife between paganism and the religion
of Jesus continued for centuries, and developed heroism on the part of
the Christians to which no parallel can be found in secular annals.

It will be remembered, that, when Jesus was crucified as a malefactor
upon Mount Calvary,――the sacrificial Lamb of God, bearing in his
own wonderful person, as both God and man, the mysterious burden
of the world’s atonement,――Tiberius Cæsar, the adopted son and
heir of Octavius Cæsar, or Cæsar the August, sat upon the imperial
throne. It was in the eighteenth year of the reign of Tiberius
that Jesus was crucified. This event, the crucifixion of the Son of
God,――probably the most wonderful which has occurred during the annals
of eternity,――produced no impression whatever; was unknown in the
distant palaces of Rome.

The death of Tiberius strikingly illustrates the depravity of the
times. He had retired to the Island of Capreæ, where, in a palace
of the most luxurious surroundings, he surrendered himself to almost
every conceivable indulgence of sin. For six years he remained there,
while conspiracies and revolts agitated the empire. There was a young
man in his suite by the name of Caligula, son of the renowned general
Germanicus, whom Tiberius, through jealousy, had put to death.

Caligula was one of the vilest of the vile. He ingratiated himself
in the favor of the tyrant by pandering to all his wickedness, and by
the most sycophantic adulation. At length, the death-hour of Tiberius
tolled. Remorse, with scorpion-lashes, hovered over his dying-bed. He
resorted to every expedient to repel reflection, and to close his eyes
against the approach of the king of terrors. In pursuit of health, he
had left Capreæ, and was at Misenum, near Naples. Caligula had, with
many other courtiers, accompanied him.

The wretched emperor, reclining upon his couch, was taken with a
fainting-fit. His physician, feeling his pulse, said, “His life is
ebbing fast.” All thought him dying. The courtiers abandoned the
powerless monarch, who had no longer any favors to grant, and gathered
tumultuously with their congratulations around Caligula, declaring
him to be emperor. In the midst of their hilarity, Tiberius, to the
consternation of all, revived; but he was weak and helpless, and
could be easily put out of the way. A few of the courtiers entered his
chamber, and pressed a pillow upon his face; and, after a brief and
feeble struggle, the smothered king lay still in death. Caligula, who
was, if possible, still more infamous than Tiberius, was now decorated
with the imperial purple.

It is stated by Justin and other early writers, that Pontius Pilate,
after the crucifixion of Christ, wrote to the Emperor Tiberius, giving
an account of his death, his resurrection, and of the miracles which
he had performed; and that Tiberius proposed to the Roman senate that
Jesus should be recognized as one of the gods, and that his statue
should be placed in a niche in one of the temples of paganism. The
senate, for some unexplained reason, did not accede to this request.

Caligula, elated by his accession to sovereign power, surrendered
himself to the uncontrolled dominion of lusts and passions, which had
already been rendered furious and untamable by long years of indulgence.
It is difficult to account for the cruel and senseless atrocities
perpetrated by this monster upon any other supposition than that he was
a madman, or that fiends had taken possession of his person.

He erected a temple of gold; placed in it a statue of himself, which
he ordered to be dressed every day in clothes similar to those which he
should that day wear; and, declaring himself to be a god, constrained
his subjects to worship his statue with divine honors. The degraded
populace, without religion, without any moral principle, hesitated not
to bow in adoration before this image of the most contemptible of men.
The most rare delicacies which money could purchase were offered in
sacrifice at his shrine. His wife, and even his horse, were ordained
as priests to officiate in his temple. The insane luxury which he
displayed surpassed all that had hitherto been known. His baths were
composed of the most costly liquids. His table service was of solid
gold. Even in his sauces he had jewels dissolved, that they might be
more costly. He built a stable of marble for his favorite horse, and
fed him with gilded oats from a manger of ivory.

The cruelty of this idiotic monster was equal to his folly. Senators,
untried, uncondemned, were wantonly murdered at his bidding. His
victims were thrown into the dens of half-famished lions and tigers
to be devoured alive. It was one of the entertainments of his meals to
place persons upon the rack, that he might be amused by their shrieks,
and entertained by their convulsions.

The guilty, cowardly wretch was ever trembling in every nerve in
apprehension of assassination. Suspecting one of the most beautiful
women of his court of being engaged in a conspiracy against him, he
placed her upon the rack to enforce confession, and dislocated every
joint in her body. Her shrieks and mutilation roused the courtiers
to the energies of despair. Cherea, a Roman senator, approached the
emperor, and, plunging a dagger into his heart, exclaimed, “Tyrant,
think of this!”

Caligula fell dead. He was but twenty-nine years of age, and had
reigned but four years. To such men, how awful the declaration of
Christianity!――“All that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and
shall come forth,――they that have done good, unto the resurrection of
life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”

Anarchy succeeded. As some drunken Roman soldiers were rioting through
the palace, they found a half-crazed old man named Claudius, an uncle
of Caligula, hidden behind a pile of lumber in the garret. They seized
him, and partly in jest, and partly in earnest, proclaimed him emperor.
The army took up the joke, and ratified the choice. In solid phalanx,
with banners, shoutings, and bugle-peals, they presented him to the
trembling senate, and compelled his enthronement.

In Claudius, the worst of conceivable bad elements were combined: he
united the stupidity of the idiot with the ferocity of the demon. He
commenced his reign about the forty-sixth year of the Christian era.
Britain, then inhabited by barbaric tribes, invited invasion. Claudius
sent an army to march through Gaul, and, crossing the channel, to plant
the banners of the empire on those distant shores. Many and bloody were
the battles; but the Roman legions were triumphant.

Claudius was so elated with the conquest, that he in person repaired
to Britain to receive the homage of the savage inhabitants of the
conquered isle. Still the conquest was very imperfect. But a few of the
tribes had been vanquished. Large portions of the island still remained
under the sway of their bold and indomitable chieftains. Thirty battles
were subsequently fought, and several years of incessant conflict
passed, before Britain was fairly reduced to the condition of a Roman

Messalina, the wife of Claudius, has attained the unenviable
notoriety of having been the worst, the most shameless woman earth
has ever known. The renown of her profligacy has survived the lapse of
eighteen centuries. The story of her life can now never be told: modern
civilization would not endure the recital. The ladies of her court were
compelled, under penalty of torture and death, publicly to practise
the same enormities in which she rioted. Her brutal husband was utterly
regardless of the infamy of her life. At length, becoming weary of her,
he connived with another for her assassination.

Claudius, having murdered Messalina, married Agrippina. She had
already given birth to the monster Nero. For a short time, she ruled
her imbecile husband with a rod of iron. Three wives had preceded
her. One day, Claudius, in his cups, imprudently declared that it was
his fate to be tormented with bad wives, and to be their executioner.
Agrippina weighed the words. Claudius loved mushrooms. Agrippina
prepared for him a delicious dish, sprinkled poison upon it, and with
her own loving hands presented it to her spouse. She had the pleasure
of seeing him fall and die in convulsions at her feet.

Such was life in the palaces of Rome at the time of the apostles. Such
was the world that Jesus came to redeem. The question is sometimes
asked, whether humanity is advancing or retrograding in moral character.
No one familiar with the history of past ages will ask that question.
Manifold as are the evils in many of the courts of Europe at the
present time, most of them are as far in advance of ancient Rome,
in all that constitutes integrity and virtue, as is the most refined
Christian family in advance of the most godless and degraded.

Nero, a lad of seventeen, whom Claudius had adopted as his heir,
succeeded to the throne. It is said, that, at the commencement of his
reign, he gave indications of a humane spirit; but this period was
so short as scarcely to deserve notice. The character and career of
Nero were such, that, from that day to this, the ears of mankind have
tingled with the recital of the outrages he inflicted upon humanity.
The sceptre of the world was placed in the hands of this boy in
the year of our Lord 54. The knowledge of the doctrines of Jesus
had already reached Rome. Paul was there, though in chains, boldly
preaching the religion of Jesus of Nazareth.

“There is one God, and one only,” said Jesus; “and all idols are vanity
and a lie.”

“All mankind are brethren,” said Jesus; “and God commands that every
man should love his brother as himself.”

“The divine benediction,” said Jesus, “rests upon the lowly in
spirit, the pure in heart; upon the peacemakers; upon those who visit
the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and who practise every
thing that is true and lovely and of good report. Repent of sin, seek
pardon through faith in a Saviour who has died to atone for your sins,
commence a life of devotion to the glory of God and to the welfare of
your brother-man, and death shall introduce you to realms of honor,
glory, and immortality.”

“God is no respecter of persons,” said Jesus. “The monarch and the
slave stand alike at his tribunal. The wicked, and those who fear not
God, shall be cast into hell. The smoke of their torment ascendeth for
ever and ever.”

These offers of salvation to all who would repent and commence the
Christlike life, these good news and glad tidings, were joyfully
accepted by hundreds and by thousands of the poor and the oppressed and
the world-weary; but the denunciations of divine wrath upon those who,
by their enormities, were converting this world into a realm of woe,
fell appallingly upon the ears of proud and unrelenting oppressors.

The teachings of Jesus were thus hateful to Nero. He hated that
religion which condemned him. He hated those who preached it. He
deliberately determined to blot out that religion from the world; to
silence in death every tongue that proclaimed it. It was apparently an
easy task to do this. Nero was monarch of the world. A resistless army
moved unquestioning at his bidding. All power was apparently in his
hands. He was a man, for the times, highly educated. He was endowed
with intellectual shrewdness as well as physical energy, and could
bring public opinion to bear against the Christians, while he assailed
them with the axe of the headsman and the flames of martyrdom.

The Christians were few and feeble. To turn against them popular
indignation, atrocious libels were fabricated. The Christians were
in the habit of taking their infants to church to be baptized. Pagan
slanderers affirmed that they were taken there to be offered in bloody
sacrifice. The Christians often met to celebrate the sacrament of the
Lord’s Supper: they ate of that bread which represented the body of
Jesus broken for us; they drank of that wine emblematic of the blood
of Jesus, shed for our sins. The pagans declared that the Christians
were cannibals; that they secretly met in midnight feasts, and, having
murdered a man, ate his flesh, and drank his blood.

Thus a terrible prejudice was created against the Christians. Many
were deceived by these cruel slanders who would possibly have joined
the disciples had they known the truth. Thus shrewdly Nero prepared the
public mind for the outrages he was about to inflict upon those whom he
had doomed to destruction. Even Tacitus, the renowned Roman historian,
a man of much candor, was manifestly under the influence of these gross
libels. In the following terms, he describes the first persecution of
the Christians at Rome by Nero:――

“Christ, the founder of that name, was put to death as a criminal by
Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judæa, in the reign of Tiberius. But the
pernicious superstition, repressed for a time, broke out again, not
only through Judæa, where the mischief originated, but through the city
of Rome also, whither all things horrible and disgraceful flow from
all quarters as to a common receptacle, and where they are encouraged.
Accordingly, first those were seized who confessed that they were
Christians; next, on their information, a vast multitude were convicted,
not so much on the charge of burning the city, as of hating the human

“And in their deaths they were made the subject of sport; for they
were covered with skins of wild beasts, and worried to death by dogs,
or nailed to crosses, or set fire to, and, when day declined, burned
to serve for nocturnal lights. Nero offered his own gardens for that
spectacle, and exhibited a circensian game, indiscriminately mingling
with the common people in the habit of a charioteer, or else standing
in his chariot. Whence a feeling of compassion rose towards the
sufferers, though guilty, and deserving to be made examples of by
capital punishment, because they seem not to be cut off for the public
good, but victims to the ferocity of one man.”[167]

It will be noticed in the above paragraph that Tacitus alludes to a
charge which Nero brought against the Christians, of having set fire
to the city of Rome. One day, some one repeated in conversation, in
presence of the tyrant, the line, “When I am dead, let fire devour the
world.” Nero replied, “It shall be said, ‘When I am living, let fire
devour the world.’”

Rome then contained, according to the general estimate, about four
million inhabitants. They were crowded together in narrow, winding
streets. Nero ordered his emissaries to apply the torch in various
sections of the city. The wind was fresh; the buildings, which
were mostly of wood, were dry; the flames fierce. Nero ascended a
neighboring tower to view the cruel, sublime, awful spectacle. Earth
never witnessed such a scene before, has never since. For nine days
and nights the flames raged in quenchless fury. Uncounted multitudes,
caught in the narrow streets, perished miserably. The most magnificent
specimens of architecture and priceless works of art were consumed.

The motives which led to this diabolical deed were probably complex.
It is said that Nero, satiated with every conceivable indulgence,
longed for some new excitement. The spectacle of the dwellings of four
millions of people in flames; the frenzy, the dismay, the runnings to
and fro, of the perishing millions,――men, women, and children; the rush
and roar of the conflagration, flashing in billowy flames by night to
the clouds,――all combined to present a spectacle such as mortal eye had
never gazed upon before.

The estimated population of the Roman empire at this time was about
a hundred and fifty millions. By the assessment of enormous taxes
upon these millions, funds could easily be raised to rebuild Rome in
hitherto unimagined splendor. It is said that this ambition was one of
the motives which inspired Nero to his infamous deed.

Nero commenced with great energy, levying taxes, and rebuilding the
city; but the cry of the starving, houseless millions could not be
stifled. The tyrant was alarmed. To shield himself from obloquy, he
accused the Christians of the crime, and visited them with the most
terrible retribution.

“Not all the relief,” writes Tacitus, “that could come from man, not
all the bounties that the prince could bestow, nor all the atonements
which could be presented to the gods, availed to relieve Nero from the
infamy of being believed to have ordered the conflagration. Hence, to
suppress the rumor, he falsely charged with the guilt, and punished
with the most exquisite tortures, the persons called Christians.”

To enter into the detail of the outrages to which the Christians were
exposed would but harrow the feelings of the reader. Demoniac ingenuity
was employed in inflicting the most revolting and terrible suffering;
while at the same time the victims were so disguised, sewed up in skins
of wild beasts, or wrapped in tarred sheets, as to deprive them of all
sympathy, and expose them to the derision of the brutal mob. Tender
Christian maidens passed through ordeals of exposure, suffering, and
death, too dreadful for us, in these modern days, even to contemplate.
That divine support which Christ promised to his followers in these
predicted hours of persecution sustained them. The imagination cannot
conceive of greater cruelty than Nero inflicted upon these disciples
of Jesus: and yet in death they came off more than conquerors; and it
proved then emphatically true, that “the blood of the martyrs was the
seed of the Church.”

It was during this persecution by Nero that Paul suffered martyrdom at
Rome. He had been there a prisoner in chains for some years. With his
accustomed power and success, he had preached the gospel of Jesus; and
those pure doctrines had gained access even to the palace of the Cæsars.
A large and flourishing church had been gathered in that city, which in
corruption equalled, even if it did not outvie, Sodom and Gomorrah. On
no page of Holy Writ does the light of inspiration beam more brightly
than in Paul’s Epistle to the Church at Rome.

Chrysostom says, that a cup-bearer of Nero, and one of the most
distinguished females of his court, became, through the preaching
of Paul, disciples of Jesus, and recoiled from the sin and the shame
everywhere around them. This so enraged the tyrant, that he ordered
Paul immediately to be beheaded.

It is one of the legends of the Romish Church, founded upon evidence
which has not generally been entirely satisfactory to Protestants, that
the apostle Peter visited Rome, where he was arrested, and imprisoned
with Paul. It is said that the two apostles were incarcerated together
in the prison of Mamertin, which was at the foot of the Capitoline
Hill, and which was constructed of damp and gloomy underground vaults,
extensive in their range, and crowded with the victims of tyranny. Two
of the prison-guards and forty-seven of the prisoners, impressed by
the character and by the teachings of these holy men, became converts.
Peter baptized them. Nero ordered both of the apostles to be executed.
Their death took place, according to the declaration of the Catholic
fathers, on the same day,――the 29th of June, A.D. 67. St. Paul, being
a Roman citizen, could not be subjected to the ignominy of crucifixion:
he was beheaded. St. Peter, being a Jew, was regarded as a vile person,
and doomed to the cross. Paul was led a distance of three miles from
the city to a place called the Fountain of Salvienne, where the block
of the executioner awaited him. On the way, forgetful of self, he
preached the gospel of Jesus to the soldiers who guarded him. Three
of them became converts, and soon after suffered martyrdom.

St. Peter was led across the Tiber to the quarter inhabited by the
Jews, and was crucified on the top of Mount Janiculum. As they were
preparing to nail him to the cross in the ordinary manner, he said that
“he did not merit to be treated as was his Master,” and implored them
to crucify him with his head downwards. His wish was granted.[168]

Nero had a half-brother, Britannicus, the son of Claudius and his own
mother Agrippina. Legitimately, he was entitled to the throne rather
than Nero. The tyrant became jealous of Britannicus. He was invited,
with his mother and his sister Octavia, to a supper in the palace of
Nero. A goblet of poisoned wine was placed before him: he drank, fell
into convulsions, and died in the arms of his mother. Nero reclined
listlessly upon a sofa, and, as he witnessed his agonizing convulsions,
said “he did not think much was the matter with Britannicus; that
it was probably merely a fainting-fit.” When it appeared that the
prince was really dead, he ordered the body to be immediately removed
and burned; while the entertainment went on undisturbed. It was a
tempestuous night. Floods of rain were falling, and a tornado swept
the city, as the funeral-pyre of the young prince blazed in the Campus

“The appointments for his burial,” writes Tacitus, “had been prepared
beforehand. His ashes were entombed in the Campus Martius during such
tempestuous rains, that the populace believed them to be denunciations
of the wrath of the gods against the deed. Nero, by an edict, justified
the hurrying of the obsequies, alleging that it was an institution of
their ancestors to withdraw from the sight such as died prematurely,
and not to lengthen the solemnity by encomiums and processions.”

The vast estates of Britannicus, consisting of palaces, villas, and
other property, were seized by Nero, and divided among his partisans
to purchase their support.

Agrippina understood full well that Britannicus had been poisoned by
his brother Nero; but she feigned to be deceived, and to believe that
he died accidentally in a fit. Agrippina was another Messalina. She
hated Nero, and determined to secure his death. Nero hated her, and
was plotting day and night how he might kill her, and yet not expose
himself to the charge of being the murderer of his mother. They both
affected the most cordial relations in their social intercourse, and
addressed each other in the most endearing epithets.

Agrippina was immensely rich, had numerous and powerful partisans,
and had formed the plan of effecting the assassination of Nero, and
of placing upon the throne one of her favorites, Rubellius Plautus.
Nero, whose suspicions were ever active, received some intimations of
this plan. The following ingenious device he adopted to rid himself of
his mother: He caused a vessel to be constructed with more than regal
splendor, but so arranged, that, by the withdrawal of a few bolts, the
heavy canopy which overhung the royal couch would fall with a fatal
crash; and at the same time planks would give way, which would cause
the vessel immediately to founder.

Agrippina was residing at her magnificent country-seat at Antium, near
Rome. Nero invited his mother to an entertainment, such as only a Roman
emperor could provide, at Baiæ, near Naples. It is probable that the
mother was somewhat deceived by the marvellous affection manifested for
her by her son. She accepted his invitation. She was conveyed to Baiæ
in a sedan. Nero met her upon her approach, embraced her affectionately,
and led her to the villa of Bauli, washed by the sea, where her
reception was as magnificent as imperial wealth and power could give.
Agrippina was assigned a seat by the side of her son. He loaded her
with caresses, amused her with anecdotes, and honored her by pretending
to seek her counsel upon the most serious affairs of state.

It was a late hour when the banquet came to a close. Nero conducted
his mother to the beach, and assisted her into the imperial barge,
which, driven by three banks of oars, was appointed to convey her to
Antium. It was a brilliant night. The unclouded sky was resplendent
with stars, while not a breath of wind rippled the polished surface
of the sea. With lusty sinews the well-trained seamen pushed the barge
from the shore. The hired assassins of Nero on board had made all the
arrangements for the destruction of the empress, her attendants, and
the seamen; while precautions had been adopted for their own escape.
They had proceeded but a short distance on their voyage, when suddenly
the heavy-laden imperial canopy fell, with such force as to crush to
death one of the female attendants who reclined at Agrippina’s feet;
but it so happened that some of the timbers fell in such a way as to
protect Agrippina from serious harm, though she was slightly wounded.
Instantly apprehending the treachery of her son, she had sufficient
presence of mind to remain perfectly quiet. One of her maids, who
was thrown into the sea, in her drowning terror cried out that she
was Agrippina, and implored of them to save the mother of the prince.
The assassins smote her upon the head with their oars and boat-poles,
and she sank senseless in the waves. The barge soon foundered; but
Agrippina floated off on a portion of the wreck. The agents of Nero,
supposing they had effected their object, swam to the shore.

Agrippina, in the early dawn, was picked up by a small boat, and
conveyed to her villa at Antium. Shrewdly she pretended to regard
the adventure as an accident. She despatched a courier to inform her
affectionate son, that, through the mercy of the gods, she had escaped
fearful peril. She entreated him not to be needlessly alarmed, as
she had received but a slight wound, and would probably soon be quite

Nero was thunderstruck. He knew his mother too well to imagine that she
was blind to the stratagem from which she had so wonderfully escaped.
He felt assured that she would at once resort to some desperate
measures of retaliation and of self-defence. Not a moment was to be
lost. He despatched a band of assassins to Antium to break into the
apartment of his mother, and with their daggers immediately to secure
her death beyond all question.

The armed band reached the villa late at night, burst open the gates,
and advanced rapidly to the chamber where the empress had retired to
her bed. All the slaves encountered on the way were seized. In the
chamber of Agrippina a dim light was burning, and one maid was in
attendance. The assassins surrounded the bed. The leader struck her a
heavy blow on the head with a club: the rest plunged their daggers into
her heart. She slept in death, the guilty mother of a demoniac son.

“In these particulars,” writes Tacitus, “authors are unanimous; but
as to whether Nero surveyed the breathless body of his mother, and
applauded its beauty, there are those who have affirmed it, and those
who deny it.”

After the murder of Agrippina, which was so openly perpetrated as
to render it vain to attempt any disguise, Nero, either consumed by
remorse or distracted by terror, retired to Naples. It is said that
his appearance and movements indicated that he was the victim of utter
misery; while at the same time his demoniac malice blazed forth more
luridly than ever. He sent a communication to the senate, stating that
he had caused the death of his mother because she was plotting his
assassination. His sister Octavia and his wife Poppæa soon fell victims
to his insane vengeance: the one was placed in a vapor-bath, had her
veins opened in every joint, and then had her head cut off; the other
perished from a brutal kick.

Immediately there ensued a series of executions and assassinations
of the most illustrious men of Rome, who were accused of conspiring
against the tyrant. Tacitus gives the details of many of these
atrocities. The recital would be but wearisome and revolting to the

Rome was stricken with terror. No one was safe from either the poisoned
cup, the dagger, or the headsman’s axe. At length, human nature, even
unspeakably corrupt as it had become in Rome, could endure the monster
no longer. Servius Galba, seventy-two years of age, was governor of
Spain. He was a man of unusual virtues for those times, was of pensive,
thoughtful temperament, and endued with courage which no peril could
intimidate. Placing himself at the head of his devoted legions, he
openly proclaimed war against the tyrant, and commenced a march upon
Rome for his dethronement. The tidings outstripped the rapid movements
of his troops, and garrison after garrison unfurled the banners of

One night, Nero, dressed in woman’s clothes, was in one of the palaces
of Rome, surrounded by his boon companions, male and female, indulging
in the most loathsome orgies, when a great uproar was heard in the
streets. A messenger was sent to ascertain the cause. He returned with
the appalling tidings, that Galba, at the head of an avenging army,
was marching rapidly upon Rome; that insurrection had broken out in the
streets; and that a countless mob, breathing threatenings and slaughter,
were surging toward the palace.

The wretched tyrant, as cowardly as he was infamous, was struck with
dismay. He sprang from the table so suddenly as to overturn it, dashing
the most costly vases in fragments upon the floor. Beating his forehead
like a madman, he cried out, “I am ruined, I am ruined!” and called
for a cup of poison. Suicide was the common resort of the cowardly,
in those days, in their hours of wretchedness. Nero took the poisoned
cup, but dared not drink it. He called for a dagger, and examined its
polished point, but had not sufficient nerve to press it to his heart.
He then rushed from the palace in his woman’s robes, with his long hair
fluttering in the wind. Thus disguised, he almost flew through the dark
and narrow streets, intending to plunge into the Tiber. As he reached
the bank, and gazed upon its gloomy waves, again his courage failed.

Several of his companions had accompanied him. One of them suggested
that he should flee to a country-seat about three miles from Rome, and
there conceal himself. Insane with terror, bareheaded, in his shameful
garb, he covered his face with a handkerchief, leaped upon a horse,
and succeeded, through a thousand perils, in gaining his retreat. Just
before he reached the villa, some alarm so frightened him, that he
leaped from his horse, and plunged into a thicket by the roadside.
Through briers and thorns, with torn clothes and lacerated flesh, he
reached the insecure asylum he sought.

In the mean time, the Roman senate had hurriedly assembled. Emboldened
by the insurrection, and by the approach of Galba, they passed a decree,
declaring Nero to be the enemy of his country, and dooming him to death
_more majorum_; i.e., according to ancient custom. Some one of Nero’s
companions brought him the tidings in his hiding-place. Pallid and
trembling, he inquired, “And what is death _more majorum_?” The
appalling reply was, “It is to be stripped naked, to have the head
fastened in the pillory, and thus to be scourged to death.”

The monster who had amused himself in witnessing the tortures of others
recoiled with horror from this dreadful infliction. Seizing a dagger,
he again endeavored to nerve himself to plunge it into his heart. A
prick from its sharp point was all that he could summon resolution to
inflict. He threw the dagger aside, and groaned in terror. Again he
strove to talk himself into courage.

“Ought Nero,” said he, “to be afraid? Shall the emperor be a coward?
No! Let me die courageously.”

Again he grasped the dagger, and anxiously examined its keen edge; and
again he threw it aside with a groan of despair.

Just then the clatter of horsemen was heard, and a party of dragoons
was seen approaching. His retreat was discovered, and in a few moments
Nero would be helpless in the hands of his enemies: then there would
be no possible escape from the ignominious and agonizing death. In the
delirium of despair, he ordered a freedman to hold a sharp sword, so
that he might throw himself violently against it. He thus succeeded
in severing the jugular vein, and his life-blood spouted forth. As he
sank upon the ground, the soldiers came up. He looked at them with a
malignant scowl; and, saying “You’re too late!” he died.

Thus perished this monster of depravity. It is said that this event
took place on the 19th of June, A.D. 68. Many Christians at the time
supposed Nero to be the antichrist. This wretch had reigned thirteen
years, and died in the thirty-second year of his age. In view of his
career, the only solution upon which the mind can repose is found in
the declaration of Scripture, “After death cometh the judgment.”

These events occurred eighteen hundred years ago. During the long
and weary centuries which have since elapsed, what a spectacle has
this world almost constantly presented to the eye of God! The billows
of war have, with scarcely any intermission, surged over the nations,
consigning countless millions to bloody graves. Pestilence and famine
have ever followed in the train of armies, creating an amount of
misery which no human arithmetic can ever gauge. Slavery, intemperance,
domestic discord, ungovernable passions, the tyranny of kings, the
oppression of the rich and powerful, and the countless forms in which
man has trampled upon his feebler brother-man, have made this world
indeed a vale of tears. The student of history is appalled in view
of the woes which, century after century, man has visited upon his
fellow-man. For all this there is and can be no remedy but in the
religion of Jesus. Here is the panacea for nearly every earthly woe.
Here, and here only, is there hope for the world.

Against this almost universal corruption the Christians were struggling.
The conflict seemed hopeless. In this moral warfare, the only weapon
they had to wield was the simple preaching of the gospel of Christ. But
that gospel, by its wonderful triumphs, has proved itself to be “the
wisdom of God and the power of God to salvation.” It is refreshing to
read a letter which Clement, the bishop of Rome, wrote to the church at
Corinth about this time. We can quote but one paragraph:――

“Let us endeavor to be of the number of those who hope to share in the
promises of God. And how shall we accomplish this, my dear brethren?
If our minds are established in the faith; if we seek in all things to
please God; if we bring ourselves in entire accord with his holy will;
if we follow the paths of truth, renouncing all injustice, avarice,
contention, anger, deceptions, complainings, impiety, pride, vanity,
ambition,――then, my dear brothers, we shall be in the path which
conducts us to Jesus Christ our Saviour. Let the strong help the feeble,
and let the feeble respect the strong. Let the rich give to the poor,
and let the poor thank God that he has given to the rich the means of
supplying their wants. He who has created us has introduced us into
this world, which he has so richly prepared for our abode. Having
received from him so many favors, we ought to thank him for all things.
To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Such was the spirit of the religion of Jesus. To banish this gospel
from the world, imperial Rome often combined all its energies.

                              CHAPTER X.

                     ROMAN EMPERORS, GOOD AND BAD.

  Character of the Roman Army.――Conspiracy of Otho.――Death of Galba.
    ――Vitellius Emperor.――Revolt of the Jews, and Destruction of
    Jerusalem.――Reign of Vespasian.――Character of Titus; of Domitian.
    ――Religion of Pagan Rome.――Nerva.――Anecdotes of St. John.
    ――Exploits of Trajan.――Letter of Pliny.――Letter of Trajan.

AS we contemplate the awful scenes of depravity and misery witnessed
under the reign of many of the Roman emperors, the sympathies of the
reader are naturally excited in behalf of the oppressed millions. But
it is a melancholy truth, that the people were as bad as the rulers.
The assassin and his victim, the oppressors and the oppressed, the
emperor in his palace, the nobles in their castles, the beggared poor
in their hovels, were alike merciless, morally degraded, and depraved.
Probably earth has never witnessed a more diabolical band than was
congregated in a Roman army.

The Roman senate which had deposed Nero, and consigned him to death,
immediately proclaimed Galba emperor. He was comparatively a worthy
man, seventy-two years of age, and childless. Conscious of the awful
corruption which reigned at Rome, and of his inability to stem the
torrent; oppressed with the infirmities of years, and drawing near
to the grave,――he adopted as his successor a young officer in the
army, Piso Lucianus, a man of noble character and of rare virtue. But
the last thing that the army desired was a virtuous sovereign. The
soldiers, accustomed to plunder and license, desired a ruler who would
gratify all their fierce and luxurious desires. They were exceedingly
dissatisfied with the restraints which Galba imposed upon them. They
wished for a tyrant who would trample down the nations, and who would
allow the army to share in the plunder. Consequently, the soldiers were
ripe for insurrection both against Galba and Piso.

There was a man in the army named Otho. He was one of the vilest of
the vile; and had been so intimately the friend and accomplice of Nero,
that he had ardently hoped for adoption. Tacitus says of him,――

“Otho was a stranger from his earliest days to every fair pursuit,
and in the pride of manhood was distinguished for nothing but riot
and debauchery. His emulation in luxury recommended him to the notice
of Nero.” Most of the soldiers favored his views, and the creatures
of Nero’s court zealously supported him as a congenial character.
Numbers lamented the loss of Nero, and longed for the former laxity
of discipline.

Otho formed a conspiracy in the army against Galba. He ridiculed his
severe discipline, the restraints he imposed upon his troops, and his
neglect to enrich them with plunder, and pamper them with luxuries. He
assured them that Piso would be like Galba; that he would in the same
way restrain their passions, and enforce rigid discipline. With talent
for sarcasm, he scouted the idea of justice and mercy, declaring “that
the affectation of practising such virtues, as they were called, was
ridiculous in such a world as this.”

The conspiracy ripened. At the appointed time, the soldiers, with
clashing of weapons and loud huzzas, raised Otho upon their shoulders,
and declared him to be their emperor. The virtuous Galba was pursued
with malignity even more intense than that which had driven Nero to
suicide. The scene of his death is minutely described by Tacitus.
Tumultuous thousands of the Roman soldiers, with oaths and imprecations,
rushed from their encampment into the city to the palace of the emperor.
A resistless mob of armed demoniac men surged through the streets. The
populace fled before them. Galba had left the palace, and was on his
way to the Forum. The infuriate mob of infantry and cavalry scattered
in all directions. Some burst into the Forum, and trampled the senators
beneath their feet. Galba was seized. As the assassins gathered around
him, he looked up, and calmly said,――

“If you wish for my head, here it is. I am willing at any time to
surrender it for the good of the Roman people.”

Scarcely had he uttered these words ere a sinewy soldier, with one blow
of his heavy broadsword, struck off his head, and it rolled upon the
pavement. Another soldier seized it by the hair, and thrust a pike into
the palpitating flesh; and, with the shoutings of tumultuous thousands,
the gory trophy was paraded through the streets. Such were the scenes
which were witnessed in pagan Rome while the disciples of Jesus were
preaching in obscurity, but with invincible zeal, from house to house,
the gospel of love to God, and love to man.

The senate, overawed by the army, was compelled to ratify this foul
assassination, and to declare Otho emperor. We have now reached the
year of our Lord 67.

There was at this time an ambitious but able general, named Vitellius,
in command of a powerful Roman army upon the Danube. He had secured the
good-will of his fiendlike troops by the plunder which he allowed them,
and the license in which they were permitted to indulge. He refused
to recognize Otho as emperor; and, raising the standard of revolt, by
a vote of the army caused the imperial dignity to be conferred upon
himself. Vitellius, at the head of his army, marched upon Rome to wrest
the sceptre from the hands of his rival. Otho advanced to meet him. The
armies were each seventy thousand strong. They encountered each other
on the plains of Lombardy, near Mantua. The battle was long and bloody.
At length, the legions of Otho were utterly routed and dispersed.
Dismissing most of his attendants, the ruined adventurer fell upon his
own sword, and died. He had previously requested his slaves to bury him
immediately. “This had been his earnest request,” writes Tacitus, “lest
his head should be cut off, and be made a public spectacle.”

Vitellius, who at once compelled the senate to proclaim him emperor,
was not by nature a tyrannical man; but he was luxurious and dissolute
in the extreme, surrendering himself to every possible form of
self-indulgence. He even equalled Nero in his unbridled, shameless
profligacy. It is said that the expenses of his table alone, for a
period of four months, amounted to a sum equal to about thirty million

There was little in the character of such a man to excite either
respect or fear. A conspiracy was soon formed for his overthrow. There
was quite a distinguished general, named Vespasian, in command of the
Roman army in Judæa. He had acquired celebrity in the wars of Germany
and Britain, and, having been consul at Rome, had many acquaintances
of influence there. Vespasian entered into a correspondence with the
conspirators. It was not difficult to induce his soldiers to proclaim
him emperor.

Vespasian, remaining himself in the East, sent his army, under his
ablest generals, to Rome. A terrible battle was fought beneath its
walls and through its streets, during which the beautiful capitol,
the pride of the city, was laid in ashes. The troops of Vespasian were
triumphant, and the opposing ranks were utterly crushed. Vitellius,
as cowardly as he was infamous, hid in the cabin of a slave. He was
dragged forth, and paraded through the streets, with his hands bound
behind him, and with a rope round his neck. After enduring hours of
ignominy, derision, and torture, he was beaten to death by the clubs
of the soldiers. His body was then dragged over the pavements; and the
mangled mass, having lost all semblance of humanity, was thrown into
the Tiber.

The obsequious senate immediately united with the victorious army
in declaring Vespasian emperor. While these scenes of tumult and
carnage were transpiring, and the whole Roman empire was desolated
with poverty, oppression, and woe, Christianity was making rapid
and noiseless progress among the masses of the people in many remote
provinces of the empire too obscure or distant to attract the attention
of the emperors. The teachings of Jesus were alike adapted to one and
to all, to every condition, and to every conceivable circumstance in
life. The doctrines of the cross came with moral guidance and with
unspeakable consolation to all who would accept them,――to the millions
of bondmen; to the despised freedmen; to the soldier; to centurions,
governors, and generals; to the members of the imperial palace. It
said to all, “Earth is not your home: lay up for yourselves treasure
in heaven. Accept life’s discipline, bear it patiently, that you may
be prepared by it for honor, glory, and immortality in heaven.”

The Jews in Judæa took advantage of these civil discords to rise in
rebellion against their Roman masters. Vespasian organized an army,
which he placed under his son Titus, to quell the revolt. When Jesus
was crucified at Jerusalem, the Jews said, “His blood be upon us
and on our children.” It was a fearful imprecation, and terribly was
it realized. Christ had minutely foretold the utter destruction of
Jerusalem, so “that not even one stone should be left upon another.”

“When ye shall see Jerusalem,” said Jesus, “compassed with armies, then
know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in
Judæa flee to the mountains, and let them which are in the midst of it
depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.
For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written
may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them
that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in
the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge
of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations; and
Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles.”[169]

It was in the year of our Lord 70. Vials of woe, which even the mystic
symbols of apocalyptic vision cannot exaggerate, were poured out
upon the doomed city. Human nature has perhaps never before nor since
endured such woes. It is impossible for the imagination to conceive
more appalling horrors, or sufferings more terrible, than were then
experienced. The reader will find those scenes of rage, despair, and
misery, minutely detailed by the pen of Josephus. It requires strong
nerves to enable any one to peruse the revolting narrative with

Probably the disciples of the Saviour, warned by their divine Master,
had all fled from Jerusalem and Judæa, conveying the tidings of the
gospel wherever they went in their wide dispersion. Our Saviour had
urged them to a precipitate flight. “When ye therefore shall see,” said
he, “the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet”
(referring to the Roman armies), “stand in the holy place, then let
them which be in Judæa flee into the mountains; let him which is on
the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house; neither
let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes: for
then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning
of the world to this time; no, nor ever shall be. And, except those
days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved; but, for the
elect’s sake, those days shall be shortened.”[170]

The siege lasted six months. The city was entirely demolished.
A million of Jews perished by the sword, pestilence, and famine.
A hundred thousand who were taken captive were sold into slavery.
All Judæa was thus brought again into submission to Rome. Titus,
laden with the spoils of the city, and accompanied by his long train of
captives, returned in triumph to Rome. He was received with universal
acclaim. The signal victory he had achieved strengthened the throne
of his father. In commemoration of the event, a triumphal arch was
erected,――_the Arch of Titus_. This massive structure, reared eighteen
hundred years ago, remains almost perfect to the present day. It still
attracts the thoughtful gaze of every tourist in Rome.

Vespasian proved one of the best of the Roman emperors. With
great energy and wisdom, he devoted himself to the welfare of his
wide-spread realms. It was during his reign that the world-renowned
Coliseum, was reared,――the most gigantic amphitheatre in the world.
It furnished seats for eighty thousand spectators, and standing-room
for twenty thousand more. It was in the arena of this vast edifice that
subsequently so many Christians, with a hundred thousand spectators
gazing mockingly upon them, endured the pangs and won the crown of

But under Vespasian there was no persecution. Indeed, it is probable,
that he, residing so long in Judæa, had, like Felix, become somewhat
acquainted with Christian doctrines; and, like Agrippa, he may have
been almost persuaded to become a Christian. The teachings of Jesus
exert an ennobling influence far beyond the bounds of the organized
church; and it is certain that Vespasian exhibited a character of
humanity, of purity, of interest in the public welfare, very different
from that which was developed by most of the Roman emperors. Still
there is no evidence that he became an acknowledged disciple of
Jesus. It is said that he died on the 24th of June, A.D. 79, after
a prosperous reign of ten years.

Feeling himself to be dangerously ill, he remarked to those around him,
derisively, in view of what he knew would be the action of the senate
in voting his deification, “I perceive that I am about to become a
god.” As his end drew near, he said, with pride which he could not have
learned from the religion of Jesus, “An emperor should die standing.”
Aided by his friends, he rose from his couch, and, while sustained by
their arms, expired.

We are confirmed in our view, that the Emperor Vespasian must have been
brought in some degree under the influence of Christian doctrine, from
the marvellous change, resembling true conversion, which suddenly took
place in the character of his son Titus, who succeeded his father on
the throne.

In early years, this young man was exceedingly dissipated; but to the
surprise of every one, and without any known cause which history has
transmitted to us, he abandoned all the vicious practices of his youth,
separated himself from all his dissolute companions, and commenced a
life of integrity, of purity and benevolence, which was certainly such
as the religion of Jesus enjoined. With devotion hitherto unexampled,
he consecrated himself to the welfare of his realm, and to promoting
the happiness of those around him. One of his remarks, illustrative of
his character, has survived the lapse of eighteen centuries. It will
continue to live in the hearts of men so long as earth shall endure. At
the close of a day in which no opportunity had occurred of doing good,
he exclaimed sadly, “Perdidi diem,”――“_I have lost a day._” This truly
Christian sentiment is beautifully versified in the words,――

             “Count that day lost whose low-descending sun
              Views at thy hand no worthy action done.”

It was during the reign of Titus, in A.D. 79, that the cities of
Herculaneum and Pompeii――as corrupt in all conceivable abominations
as Sodom and Gomorrah could possibly have been――were buried beneath
the lava and ashes of Vesuvius. They were discovered early in the last
century. The remains of these cities, so wonderfully preserved, and now
being brought to light, reveal much of the habits and social customs of
those days.

We know not that Titus was a Christian. The light is very dim which
comes down to us through these long centuries. But it is certain, that,
in very many things, he manifested the spirit of Christ. The reign
of this good man was short. Titus had a brother Domitian, an utterly
depraved young man. He was to Titus as Cain to Abel. Anxious to grasp
the sceptre, it is said that he poisoned his brother Titus when he had
attained the forty-first year of his age and the second of his reign.
The wretched Domitian ascended the throne. It is certain that he had
heard of Jesus, of Christianity. The guilty are always suspicious.
Knowing that the Christians regarded Jesus as their King, that they
were looking for his second coming to reign as their Lord and Master,
he regarded Jesus as a formidable rival. Apprehensive that there might
be some heirs of Jesus around whom the Christians might rally, he
arrested a large number of the disciples, and had them brought before
him for examination. Anxiously he inquired of them what money they had
in their treasury, what territory they possessed, and when and where
the reign of Jesus would commence. The disciples assured him that they
had neither lands nor money. In proof, they showed him their hands,
indurated by toil. They assured him that the kingdom of Jesus was to be,
not an earthly kingdom, but a heavenly and angelic; and that his reign
would not commence until the end of the world, when Jesus would appear
in clouds of glory.

Domitian was by no means satisfied with these replies. It was the
general belief of the Christians, that Christ, in his second coming,
might appear at any time. This was appalling tidings to Domitian. Such
a dethronement was more terrible than any other which could be thought
of. He hated the Christians, and wreaked undiscriminating and pitiless
vengeance upon them. Many were driven from their homes into exile.
They carried with them into the remotest provinces of the empire the
glad tidings of the gospel. Many suffered death, accompanied by all
conceivable tortures.

It is one of the legends of the Catholic Church, that the aged
apostle John, being then at Rome, was, by the order of Domitian,
thrown into a caldron of boiling oil. Miraculously he escaped without
injury. He was then banished to the Isle of Patmos. It was there that
he was favored with that wonderful series of visions recorded in the
book of Revelation. In these mystic pages, so much of which is still
enigmatical, the apostle represents what was to happen in succeeding
ages,――particularly that the Church should suffer persecution; the
punishment of its persecutors; the ruin of Rome, where idolatry
reigned; the destruction of idolatry itself, and the final glory of
the triumphant Church.[171]

There was a very renowned Roman general, by the name of Agricola,
who, under Titus, had been very efficiently employed in Britain in
endeavoring to civilize the barbarous natives. He taught them many of
the manners and customs of the more enlightened Romans. It is said that
Domitian, fearing that Agricola was acquiring reputation, caused him to
be poisoned.

Sin and insanity are closely allied. Domitian wished to enjoy the
splendors of a Roman triumph; but he had never won a victory. He was
no soldier. Still he got up a magnificent civil and military display,
and with streaming banners, and pealing music, and the tramp of armed
legions, entered Rome, charioted like a conqueror returning from
the most triumphant campaign. A large number of slaves, disguised as
captives of war, were led in the train to grace a triumph which exposed
Domitian to universal ridicule and contempt. He assumed divine honors;
reared statues of himself in gold and silver in conspicuous positions,
and required his subjects to address him as a god. Any who were
suspected of being unfriendly to him were mercilessly punished with
torture and death. The extravagance of his expenditure was so enormous,
that Martial says, in one of his epigrams,――

“If the emperor would call in all his debts, Jupiter himself, even
though he had made a general auction of Olympus, would have been unable
to pay two shillings in the pound.”

The tyrant kept a tablet, upon which he wrote the names of those
whom he had doomed to die. His infamous wife Domitia, for some cause
suspecting him, got a peep at the tablet while her husband was asleep.
To her consternation, she found her own name, with those of several
others, on the fatal list. She immediately entered into a conspiracy
with them for the assassination of her husband. One of the conspirators
approached the emperor under the pretence of presenting him a memoir
disclosing a conspiracy. Assuming that his right arm was crippled, it
was hung in a sling. As he presented the memorial with his left hand,
he suddenly drew a concealed dagger, and plunged it into the heart of
the tyrant.

Thus died Domitian, as is reported, on the 17th of September, A.D. 96.
He was but forty-five years of age, and had reigned fifteen years. This
wicked world of ours has produced many monsters. Among them all, it
would be difficult to find any one more execrable than Domitian. In his
character, not a redeeming trait could be found to mitigate the hatred
and contempt with which he was universally regarded. The tidings of
his death were hailed with joy throughout the empire. His statues were
demolished, and his name consigned to infamy.

While these scenes were transpiring within the bounds of the Roman
empire, almost nothing is known of the condition of the world outside
of those not very clearly-defined limits. There are dim and shadowy
glimpses of vast tribes or nations wandering over the hills and plains,
as savage, as ferocious, as the wild beasts in whose skins they were
clad. They seemed to be ever struggling in battle, as they surged to
and fro over the vast plains of India, around the shores of the Caspian,
and through the defiles of the Caucasus, amidst the gloomy forests
extending far away from the remote banks of the Danube to the regions
of eternal ice and snow. Storms of passion and cruelty were here
silently accumulating, which were soon to burst with overwhelming
destruction upon the Roman empire. With many thinking men there was
a growing apprehension of these barbarians, who were gathering in such
appalling swarms upon the frontiers of the Roman world. Occasionally
an adventurous traveller would penetrate these wilds, and bring back
astounding stories of the numbers, barbarism, and warlike ferocity, of
these innumerable tribes.

If we look within the Roman empire, we see little but crime and
misery. A haughty slaveholding aristocracy, few in number, but strong
in the resistless power of the Roman legions, trampled the degraded
and depraved millions beneath their feet. The Roman aristocracy had
scarcely a redeeming virtue. The pillage of the known world had fallen
into their hands. There were those of them who possessed estates larger
than many modern kingdoms. Their vice and luxury were boundless. They
seldom moved unless guarded by a troop of insolent retainers, whose
devotion they easily purchased by spoils of the plundered.

The religion of pagan Rome consisted of a gorgeous display of
magnificent temples, shrines, and imposing ceremonies. It was a
religion which never ennobled the character, exerting no influence
whatever in the promotion of public or individual virtue. Gibbon,
whose authority on this point will not be questioned, states “that the
private character and conduct of these foul idolaters were never in the
slightest degree restrained by the religion which they professed.”

Upon the very day of the death of Domitian, the senate, apprehensive
that the army might anticipate them in the choice of a successor,
conferred the imperial purple upon Nerva, a venerable and virtuous man
of sixty-five. We say that he was venerable and virtuous; while there
is no evidence that he was a disciple of Jesus. It is impossible now
to ascertain how far the influence of the Jewish religion, with its ten
commandments and its revelation of one only God, had extended beyond
the Israelitish organization, or how far the teachings of Jesus had
penetrated the community and was influencing the lives of those who
did not openly profess his name; but it is certain that here and there
individuals were found, though few in number, who were devout men,
like the Roman centurion Cornelius, “who feared God with all his house,
which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.”

Such a man was Nerva. He immediately recalled all the Christians
who had been banished from Rome by the Emperor Domitian. He issued a
decree forbidding that any one should be molested for cherishing the
faith either of the Jews or of the Christians. The dungeons, which
were filled with the victims of tyranny, he opened, and liberated the
captives. The venerable apostle John was released from his exile at
Patmos, and returned to Ephesus, where it is said that he remained for
the rest of his life.

It is often difficult to discriminate between what should be regarded
as true and what as fable in the annals of those early days. But the
following incident, given by the Abbé Fleury, is alike interesting
and instructive, as showing the reputation which the venerable apostle
enjoyed. It is said that St. John one day attended a meeting of the
disciples in a small village a few miles from Ephesus. A young man
of remarkable personal beauty was also present, who was so frank
and genial in his manners as at once to win the tender regard of the
affectionate disciple whom Jesus loved. Addressing himself to the
pastor of the church after the young man had left, the apostle said,
“In the presence of this church, and of our Lord and Saviour Jesus
Christ, I commend to your especial care this young man.” As he left to
return to Ephesus, he very emphatically repeated the solemn charge.

The bishop or pastor of the church sought the young man, won his
confidence, taught him the religion of Jesus, and finally by baptism
received him to the church. The young man having partaken of the
sacrament of the Lord’s supper, the bishop deemed him safe, and relaxed
his vigilance. But he, being exposed anew to temptation, fell into
bad company, was lured to midnight festivals, gradually abandoned all
religious restraints, and plunged into the most reckless course of
dissipation. His last state became so much worse than the first, that
he at length became captain of a gang of robbers, whose rendezvous was
among the mountains, and who were the terror of the community.

Some time after this, the apostle again visited this rural church. With
deep interest he inquired for the young man. The bishop, with tears
filling his eyes, replied,――

“He is dead,――dead to God. He has become a bad man and a robber.
Instead of frequenting the church, he has established himself in the
fastnesses of the mountains.”

The venerable apostle was overwhelmed with grief. After a moment’s
reflection, he said, “Bring me immediately a horse and a guide.”
Without any preparation, in the clothes he then wore, he advanced
towards the region infested by the robbers. Scarcely had he entered
their rocky haunts ere some of the gang who were on the lookout
arrested the defenceless, penniless, humbly-clad old man. “Conduct me
to your chief,” said the apostle: “I have come expressly to see him.”

The captain soon made his appearance, armed from head to foot. The
moment he recognized the apostle, overwhelmed with shame, he turned,
and endeavored to escape by flight. John, notwithstanding the infirmity
of years, pursued him with almost supernatural speed, and cried,――

“My son, why will you fly from your father, an old man without arms?
Have pity upon me, my son: do not fear. There is still hope that
you may be saved. I will plead for you with Jesus Christ. If it be
necessary, I will willingly give my life for yours, as he has given
his for us. Believe me that Jesus Christ has sent me to you.”

At these words the young man arrested his steps, but could not raise
his eyes from the ground. He threw aside his arms, and then, trembling,
burst into tears, weeping bitterly. When the apostle had reached him,
the young man threw his arms around the neck of the aged Christian, and
with sobbings, either of remorse or penitence, embraced him tenderly.
The apostle endeavored to console the guilty wanderer from the fold
of Christ. He assured him that Jesus was ready to forgive all. He led
him back to the church, engaged all the disciples to pray for him,
and kept him constantly by his side as a companion and a friend. Under
these influences, it is said that the prodigal became a true penitent,
re-entered the church, and ever after continued one of its brightest

It was at Ephesus that John wrote the Gospel that bears his name, and
also his three Epistles. It is said, that in his extreme old age, when
his faculties of body and mind were so enfeebled that he could not make
a continuous discourse, he would frequently rise in the prayer-meetings
of the church, simply repeating the words, “My dear children, love one
another.” When some of the brethren, wearied by the continued utterance
of the same sentiment, inquired of him why he always repeated the same
words, he replied, “Because this is the commandment of our Lord. If
you keep this commandment, you will keep all the rest.” The venerable
apostle died at Ephesus in the year of our Lord 99.

The Emperor Nerva, because he was a good man, was extremely unpopular
with the army, and with the aristocracy, whose wealth was derived from
plundering the helpless. Feeling the infirmities of years, and having
no children, Nerva looked about him for some available candidate to
whom he could transmit the crown. There was a distinguished Roman
general, named Trajan, at the head of an army upon the Danube. He was
stationed there to resist the barbarians from the north, who were now
making frequent inroads into the Roman empire, burning and plundering
without mercy. Trajan constructed a bridge across the Danube. The
ruins of this stupendous structure of twenty-two arches still remain,
testifying to the amazing skill of the Roman engineers. Across this
bridge the impetuous general marched his legions, and, constructing
a military road for their advance, pursued the barbarians through the
wilds of Dacia to the River Dneister, chastising them with terrible
severity. The importance of this conquest was deemed so great, that, in
commemoration of the event, a magnificent monument was reared in Rome.
This world-renowned shaft――the Column of Trajan, a hundred and eighteen
feet in height――still stands, one of the most admired works of art in
the world. Upon a spiral belt intwined around it were sculptured the
principal events of the expedition. Napoleon I. adopted the Column of
Trajan as the model of the still more lofty and imposing column raised
in the Place Vendôme in honor of the French army.

Nerva pronounced Trajan his heir. Hardly had he taken this
important step ere he suddenly died, after a reign of but little
more than a year. Trajan, who, unopposed, assumed the sceptre, though
exceedingly ambitious of military renown, and imposing upon himself no
restraints in sensual indulgence, was a very intelligent, and naturally
a kind-hearted man. But he could not look with a friendly eye upon
the advances which Christianity was making. The teachings of Jesus
condemned both his military career and his personal habits.

Pliny, called the Younger, was then governor of Pontus, in Asia
Minor. There were very many Christians within his realms. Very severe
edicts had been issued from Rome against them. It was Pliny’s duty
to see these decrees executed. But his philosophic mind and humane
spirit recoiled from consigning to torture and to death men, women,
and children in whom he could see no crime worthy of punishment. He
accordingly wrote to the Emperor Trajan the following letter, which
has been transmitted to us by Eusebius:――

“I deem it my duty, sire, to consult your majesty upon all those
questions respecting which I am in doubt; for who can better guide me
in my perplexities, or instruct me in my ignorance? I have never been
present at the trial of the Christians; therefore I do not know for
what they are punished, or with what crimes they are charged: but I
have many doubts whether regard should not be paid to the difference of
age; whether the most tender children should not he distinguished from
those of maturer years; whether those who repent should be entitled
to a pardon; or whether it should be of any avail that one who has
once been a Christian is no longer such. It is also a question with me
whether the name alone should be punished, without any other crime, or
the crimes usually attached to that name.

“Still the following is the course which I have adopted towards those
who have been brought before me as Christians: I have interrogated them
if they were such. When they have confessed it, I have asked them a
second and a third time, threatening them with punishment. If they have
persevered in the declaration, I have pronounced judgment against them;
for I can have no doubt, that, whatever may be the character of the
Christian faith, inflexible obstinacy merits punishment.

“There are others of these fanatical persons whom I have ordered to be
sent to Rome, since they were Roman citizens. Accusations, as is usual
in such cases, are greatly multiplied, and very many are denounced to
me. An anonymous proscription-list has been made out, containing the
names of many who deny that they are, or ever have been, Christians.

“When I have seen those accused worshipping the gods with me, and
offering incense to your image which I have erected among the statues
of the gods, and, most of all, when they have abjured Christ, I have
thought it my duty to set them at liberty; for I am told that it is
impossible to compel those who are truly Christians to do either of
these things.

“So far as I can learn, the only fault or error of which the Christians
are guilty consists in this: They are accustomed to assemble on a
certain day before the rising of the sun, and to sing together a hymn
in honor of Christ as a god. Instead of binding themselves to the
commission of any crime, they take a solemn oath not to be guilty
of fraud or robbery or impurity, or any other wrong. They promise
never to violate their word, never to be false to a trust. After this
they retire, soon to meet again to partake of a simple and innocent
repast; but from this they abstained after the ordinance I issued, in
accordance with your orders, prohibiting the people from assembling

“The repasts of the Christians were innocent, although the calumny has
been widely diffused that they stifled an infant and ate it. I thought
it necessary, in order to ascertain the truth, to subject to the
torture two females who had served at these feasts; but I could detect
nothing but an unreasonable superstition.

“This subject has seemed to me the more worthy of investigation in
consequence of the great numbers of the accused. Many persons, of all
ages, of both sexes, and of every condition in life, are placed in
peril. The superstition has infested not only the cities, but the
villages and the remote rural districts. But it seems to me that it
can be arrested and exterminated. Certain it is that the temples of
the gods, which had been almost abandoned, have begun to be frequented.
Solemn sacrifices, after long interruption, are again celebrated. Even
in the most sparsely-settled districts, the victims for sacrifice are
to be seen. Hence one may judge of the large number of those who would
return to the gods if an opportunity were given for repentance.”

This letter was written about the year of our Lord 106. Trajan, in his
reply, says,――

“You have done perfectly right, my dear Pliny, in the inquiry you
have made concerning Christians; for truly no one general rule can be
laid down which can be applied to all cases. They must not be sought
after. If they are brought before you, and convicted, let them be
capitally punished; yet with this restriction,――that if any renounce
Christianity, and evidence their sincerity by supplicating our gods,
however suspected they may be for the past, they shall obtain pardon
for the future on their repentance. But anonymous libels in no case
ought to be noticed; for the precedent would be of the worst sort, and
perfectly incongruous with the maxims of my government.”

This response of the emperor checked in some degree the persecutions
with which the Christians were menaced; but it did not prevent their
enemies from inflicting upon them, under various pretexts, all the
injury in their power. In many places the populace, and in others the
magistrates, pursued them with obloquy and oppression; so that, while
there was no general and declared persecution, they were everywhere
exposed to insult and outrage.

                              CHAPTER XI.


  The Martyrdom of Ignatius.――Death of Trajan.――Succession of Adrian.
    ――Infidel Assaults.――Celsus.――The Apology of Quadrat.――The
    Martyrdom of Symphorose and her Sons.――Character and Death of
    Adrian.――Antoninus.――Conversion of Justin Martyr.――His Apology.
    ――Marcus Aurelius.――Hostility of the Populace.――The Martyrdom of

AT the commencement of the second century, Ignatius was bishop or
pastor of the church in Antioch, in Syria. He had occupied the post
for forty years, and had obtained a very high reputation for devout
character and Christian zeal. The Emperor Trajan, who had issued
orders throughout the empire, that those refusing to worship the pagan
gods, and persisting in Christianity, should be put to death, passing
with his victorious army from the banks of the Danube to combat the
barbarians of the East, stopped for a time at Antioch. Ignatius was
brought before him, charged with the crime of being a Christian. The
emperor sternly inquired of him, “Why do you disobey our orders, and
influence others to ruin themselves by doing the same?”

Ignatius replied, “I must be obedient to God, whom I bear in my heart.”

“Who is the God,” asked Trajan, “whom you bear in your heart?”

“Jesus Christ,” was the reply.

“And do you not believe that we bear in our hearts those gods who
combat with us against our enemies?” was the question of Trajan.

The Christian bishop boldly replied, “You deceive yourself in calling
the demons of the Gentiles gods. There is but one God, who has made
the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all which they contain; and
there is but one Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, to whose kingdom
I aspire.”

Trajan replied, “Do you speak of him who was crucified under Pontius

“Yes,” responded Ignatius: “he has made atonement for my sins, and has
put all the malice of Satan under their feet who carry him in their

“Do you, then, carry in your heart him who was crucified?”

“I do,” was the response; “for it is written, ‘I will dwell in them,
and walk with them.’”

Trajan was irritated, and angrily replied, “Since Ignatius confesses
that he carries in his heart him that was crucified, we command that
he be conveyed in chains, under a guard of soldiers, to Rome, there to
be thrown to the beasts, for the entertainment of the people.”

The venerable bishop was hurried by his guard to Seleucia. There
he took ship for Smyrna. In this city he had an interview with the
illustrious Christian pastor Polycarp, who was soon to follow him in
the path to martyrdom. From Smyrna he was conveyed to Troas, and thence
to Neapolis. Having found a ship in one of the seaports of the Adriatic,
he sailed to Ostia, near Rome. Here he was met by a large number of
Christians, who were overwhelmed with grief in view of his cruel and
inevitable doom. Ignatius, however, who was cheerful, and even happy,
as he looked forward to his approaching martyrdom, consoled them with
touching words of love and affection. The hour for the sacrifice came.
The Coliseum was crowded with the jeering multitude, filling all its
vast expanse, to enjoy the spectacle. The venerable bishop was placed
in the centre of the arena.

As the iron doors of the dens were opened, a large number of ferocious
wild beasts, gaunt with famine, with loud roarings, and lashing their
sides with rage, rushed into the enclosure. Sharp and short was the
agony which this benevolent disciple of Jesus was called to endure.
The famished beasts, lions and tigers, leaped upon him; and scarcely
a moment elapsed ere he was torn limb from limb, and devoured. Nothing
remained but one or two of the larger bones. A hundred thousand pagans
raised a shout of applause; but louder was the acclaim as clustering
angels gathered around the Christian who had been faithful unto death,
welcoming him to his heavenly home.

While these tragic scenes were transpiring in Rome, Trajan was pushing
his conquests on the distant shores of the Persian Gulf. He was seized
with sickness and pain; and it was soon evident that the hour of his
death was near at hand. In a state of extreme dejection and languor, he
bade adieu to the army, and by short stages endeavored to reach Rome.
But inexorable Death could not be appeased. He had advanced only as far
as Cilicia when he sank into the grave. His guilty spirit ascended to
that tribunal to which he had so cruelly sent Ignatius before him.

Trajan, on leaving the Persian Gulf, had intrusted the command of his
army to his nephew Adrian, a man of much military renown. The army
proclaimed him emperor. The senate at Rome ratified the appointment.
Adrian was kind to his friends, demoniacal to his enemies. He had many
virtues, and many terrible vices.

Christianity was by this time very widely extended throughout the
Roman world. Many new sects sprang up, and fanatical and immoral
heresies arose. Hence the reputation of Christianity suffered severely.
All these religious adventurers, endeavoring to establish new sects,
many of them influenced by the worst of motives, assumed the name of
Christians. The extravagances which they taught, and the abominations
in which they indulged, in many places, caused the very name of
Christian to be regarded with contempt and odium. The pagans were by
no means disposed to discriminate between the true disciples of Jesus
and those miserable fanatics who were called by the Christian name.

As the new religion gained in strength, the antagonism of its
opponents grew more virulent. Several men of letters arose, who
wrote against Christianity with great force of argument, and power
of sarcasm. Probably no infidel writer in any age has surpassed the
Epicurean philosopher Celsus in the shrewd adaptation of his writings
to influence the popular mind: indeed, from that day to this, infidel
writers have done little more than repeat his arguments. He overwhelmed
the Christians with calumnies and contempt.

These attacks influenced intelligent Christians to write in defence
of their faith. The Emperor Adrian, in the year 140, visited Athens.
Quadrat, the bishop of the church there, a man of much ability, wrote
an apology in defence of the Christian faith. He presented a copy
to the Emperor Adrian. It seems probable that the argument exerted a
great influence upon the mind of the emperor; for, while in Athens, he
declared himself so favorably impressed with what he could learn of the
faith and conduct of Christians, that he was unwilling that they should
any longer be exposed to persecution. He even expressed the wish that
Christianity should be recognized as one of the religions of Rome.

To a governor of one of the provinces who wrote a letter on that
subject he replied, “If the people of the province will appear publicly,
and make open charges against the Christians, so as to give them an
opportunity of answering for themselves, let them proceed in that
manner only, and not by rude demands and mere clamors. If any thus
accuse them, and show that they have committed any offence against the
laws, do you decide according to the nature of the crime committed. But,
by Hercules!” exclaims the impetuous emperor, “if the charge be a mere
calumny, do you estimate the enormity of the offence, and punish the
calumniator as he deserves.”

Adrian had erected upon the banks of the Tiber, near Rome, a very
magnificent palace. With characteristic fickleness, he decided to
dedicate it to the pagan gods. The oracles were consulted. They
returned the response, probably through the cunning of the idolatrous
priests, that the Christian widow Symphorose, with her seven sons,
was exciting the displeasure of the gods by their worship of the
Christians’ God; and the emperor was promised, if he would sacrifice
them, he should be blessed in all his undertakings. Adrian ordered
Symphorose and her sons to be brought before him. At first he employed
very mild measures, and in kind tones entreated them to offer
sacrifices to the pagan gods.

Symphorose replied, “My husband and my brother were both your
tribunes. They suffered many torments for the name of Jesus, rather
than sacrifice to idols. By their death they have vanquished your
demons. They chose rather to be beheaded than to consent to sin. The
death which they have suffered has covered them with ignominy in the
sight of men, but has crowned them with glory before the angels.”

The emperor was irritated, and began to threaten.

“Unless you sacrifice,” said he, “with your sons, to the all-powerful
gods, I will offer you all up in sacrifice to them.”

The Christian matron replied, “Your gods cannot receive me in sacrifice;
but if I am burned for the name of Jesus Christ, my God, I shall render
the flames to which your demons are consigned more tormenting.”

The emperor curtly rejoined, “Take your choice: either sacrifice to my
gods, or die miserably.”

“Do you think,” said Symphorose meekly, “that fear will cause me to
yield? It is my desire to rejoin my husband, whom you have slain for
the name of Jesus Christ.”

The emperor ordered her to be taken to the Temple of Hercules. There
she was scourged, and then hung by the hair of her head. As she still
remained firm, he ordered her to be thrown into the river, with a large
stone tied around her neck. The savage deed was immediately performed;
and the body of the heroic Christian martyr disappeared beneath the
waves. The next day, the emperor caused her seven sons to be brought
before him. In vain he exhorted them to sacrifice to the idols. Seeing
all his menaces to be unavailing, he erected seven stakes, and bound
the brothers to them with cords. He ordered a different death for
each one. The first, named Crescent, had his throat cut. The second,
Julian, was pierced through the breast with a pike. The third, Nemesius,
was struck to the heart with a dagger. Thus they all perished. Their
mutilated bodies remained during the day exposed to the jeers of
brutal pagans. The next morning the emperor ordered the corpses to be
collected and thrown into a ditch. The Christians subsequently gathered
up the remains, and buried them about eight miles from Rome. The ruins
of a church are still to be seen, which in after-years was erected upon
that spot, called the Church of the Seven Brothers.

Such is the narrative which has come down to us from those distant
ages. We have no reason to doubt its essential accuracy. Such scenes
were continually occurring; and the evidence is incontrovertible, that,
in those days of terrible persecution, God did sustain the disciples
of Jesus with supernatural support. Tender children and timid maidens
encountered death in its most frightful forms with firmness which
excited the wonder and admiration of the sturdiest pagans.

The Eastern sage, as he accompanied a monarch through the gorgeous
saloons of his palace, said that it had one great defect,――it had
no chamber which was death-proof. Adrian found this true in the
magnificent pile which he had reared upon the banks of the Tiber. He
was taken ill. The disease developed itself in a tormenting dropsy.
He had no rest by day, no rest by night. The weary hours were filled
with suffering. Remorse was undoubtedly gnawing at his heart. He had
known the better way, but had refused to walk in it. Paganism offered
him no consolations. Christianity he had rejected. In his anguish he
longed to die,――to take that leap in the dark which must be so terrible
to any thoughtful man who has not accepted the truth, that life and
immortality are brought to light in the gospel. His sufferings were
so great, that he begged his friends to kill him,――to present him the
poisoned cup, or to plunge the dagger to his heart. But no one was
willing to perform that service. He was often heard to exclaim, “How
miserable a thing it is to seek death, and not to find it! How strange
it is that I, who have put so many others to death, cannot die myself!”

Upon this couch of suffering, from which death removed him in the
sixty-second year of his age, he wrote the following lines to his
departing spirit, so affecting, so melancholy, that they have survived
the lapse of eighteen centuries:――

                   “Animula, vagula, blandula,
                    Hospes comesque corporis
                    Quæ nunc abibis in loca,
                    Pallidula, rigida, nudula?
                    Nec, ut soles, dabis jocos.”

Prior has endeavored to translate or imitate this stanza in the
following lines, which but feebly express the spirit of the original:――

         “Poor little, pretty, fluttering thing!
            Must we no longer live together?
          And dost thou plume thy trembling wing
            To take thy flight thou know’st not whither?
          Thy humorous vein, thy pleasing folly,
            Lie all neglected, all forgot;
          And pensive, wavering, melancholy,
            Thou dread’st and hop’st thou know’st not what.”

Adrian appointed Antoninus, a man of singular purity and integrity of
character, who was about fifty years of age, to succeed him on the
throne. He enjoined it upon him to adopt as his heir Marcus Aurelius,
a very beautiful boy of seventeen, whose fascination of character and
manners had won the love of the Emperor Adrian.

Antoninus was a humane man. Christianity had obtained prominence,
and had become an important element in the Roman world. But still the
Christians were hated by the idolaters, and suffered innumerable wrongs
and outrages from the hands of the populace, even when there was no
governmental persecution. Their sufferings enlisted the sympathy of
Antoninus. The mere fact that one was a Christian, no matter how pure
his character, how exemplary his life, exposed him to every conceivable
indignity from the idol-worshipping populace. The local magistrates,
yielding to the clamors of the mob, would afford no protection to those
who were accused of being the disciples of Jesus. Antoninus issued the
following decree:――

“If any one shall for the future molest the Christians, and accuse them
merely on account of their religion, let the person who is arraigned be
discharged, and the accuser be punished according to the rigor of the

During the reign of Antoninus, there arose a very distinguished man,
now known as Justin Martyr, the productions of whose pen are still read
with admiration, and whose name will never die. He was born in Samaria,
of Greek parentage. In youth he enriched his mind by intense study and
extensive travel. All truly great men are thoughtful and pensive. The
mystery of life oppresses them, and the thought of what there is beyond
this life absorbs the soul.

Justin has given an exceedingly interesting account of his endeavors
to find some system of philosophy or some doctrines of religion which
could guide and solace him. We give the narrative in his own words:――

“At first I placed myself under the instruction of a Stoic. After
some time, I perceived that he could teach me nothing respecting God:
indeed, he confessed that he knew nothing of God himself, and that
he did not consider a knowledge of him to be at all necessary. I
immediately left the Stoic, and addressed myself to a Peripatetic,
a disciple of Aristotle. He was, at least in his own opinion, an
extremely subtle man. After spending some days with him, I found that
he was more interested in the money I should pay him than in any thing
else. Being satisfied that such was not the philosophy I needed, I bade
him adieu.

“Hearing of a Pythagorean of very great reputation, I applied to him.
He also had a very exalted opinion of his own wisdom. When I informed
him that I wished to become one of his disciples, ‘Very well,’ said
he to me: ‘have you studied music, astronomy, and geometry? or do
you think it possible that you can understand any thing of that which
leads to bliss without having mastered those sciences which disengage
the soul from sensible objects, rendering it a fit habitation for the
intelligences, and placing it in a condition to contemplate goodness
and beauty?’

“As I confessed that I had not studied those sciences, he dismissed me;
for he deemed them necessary.

“One can judge how great were my sufferings in seeing my hopes thus
frustrated. My grief was the more keen, since I really did suppose he
knew something; but, as it would require a long time for me to perfect
myself in those branches, I could not submit to the delay. I then
determined to seek the instruction of the Platonists. There was a
philosopher of that sect in our city, highly distinguished. I had
many conversations with him, and profited much by them. It afforded
me great pleasure to become acquainted with incorporeal things. The
consideration of ideas elevated my spirit as upon the wings of an eagle.
Thus I thought that in a very short time I should become wise. I even
conceived the foolish hope that I should soon see God. This frame of
mind led me to seek solitude.”

Justin then goes on to narrate, that one day he was walking by the
shore of the sea, absorbed in thought, when he saw a venerable man
approaching him. The dignified bearing of the stranger, and the
remarkable serenity and sweetness of his countenance, arrested his
attention. They entered into conversation. The stranger proved to be
a Christian, a man of remarkable intelligence, who understood the vain
systems of the philosophers as well as the gross absurdities of the
popular idolatry. He unfolded to Justin the religion of Jesus. The
young man was deeply impressed with the revelation thus made to him.
As he contemplated the idea of one God, the Creator of all things; of
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, coming to the world to make atonement for
sin; of immortality; of the elevation of the soul to eternal happiness
in heaven through penitence, the abandonment of sin, and the prayerful
and persevering endeavor in thought and word and deed to live a holy
life,――the earnest spirit of Justin bowed to the majesty of truth. He
became a devoted Christian. The simple preaching of the cross of Christ,
which many of the Greek philosophers regarded as foolishness, became to
Justin, as it has to many others, “the wisdom of God and the power of
God unto salvation.”

Justin, by his self-denying devotion, soon became conspicuous in all
the churches. He wrote an apology in behalf of the Christians. This
treatise, which would do honor to any pen in the nineteenth century,
was addressed “To the Emperor Antoninus, his two sons, the Roman
senate, and all the Roman people.” Very lucidly he stated the essential
doctrines of Christianity, and the nature of the evidence upon which
the religion was founded. With resistless force of argument he refuted
the calumnies with which the Christians were assailed, showing that
their hopes of eternal happiness were all forfeited if they allowed
themselves in any known sin. He dwelt upon the injustice of condemning
Christians for their name alone. He made it perfectly clear to the
humblest intelligence, that, when the Christians spoke of the kingdom
of Christ, they had reference, not to an earthly, but to a spiritual
kingdom. He stated the nature and design of the sacraments,――of baptism
and the Lord’s supper.

Justin closed his apology with the following forcible words:――

“If you find Christianity to be reasonable, respect it: but do not
condemn to death, simply because they are Christians, those who have
committed no crime; for we declare to you, that you cannot escape the
judgment of God if you persist in such wickedness. As for us, we only
say, ‘The will of God be done.’ We might demand justice of you in
virtue of the decree of your illustrious father Adrian; but we have
preferred to rest our cause upon the justice of our demands.”

This admirable treatise, calmly written with great force of language
and cogency of argument, must have exerted a very powerful influence.
Still popular prejudice is seldom removed by argument. Though here
and there many leading minds were led to regard Christianity with more
favor, still the malice of the ignorant and brutal masses, who were
ever crying, “To the lions with the Christians!” remained unchanged.

Justin was at Rome when he wrote this apology. Soon after, he left Rome,
and retired to Ephesus.

Upon the death of Antoninus, whose reign of twenty-two years was
an uneventful one, Marcus Aurelius ascended the throne. For some
unexplained reason, the new emperor commenced his reign with very
unfriendly feelings towards the Christians. Though he issued no decree
of persecution, yet he afforded the disciples no protection: they were
left to be maltreated by the brutal populace, and often to be condemned
to torture and death by the angry and unprincipled governors of distant
provinces. In the seventh year of the reign of Marcus Aurelius, a
very terrible persecution of the Christians sprang up in Smyrna and
its environs. The emperor remained silent in his palace while the
Christians were scourged to death, burnt at the stake, or thrown
to wild beasts. It is said that these martyrs were so wonderfully
sustained by supernatural power, that, in their hours of most dreadful
anguish, not a groan escaped their lips.

It will be remembered that the venerable Polycarp was bishop of the
church in Smyrna. Through the urgency of his friends he was induced
to leave the city, to seek a retreat in the country. The mob clamored
for his blood: they pursued him. Two boys were found, who, as they
supposed, knew of the place of his concealment. These merciless men
placed the boys upon the rack. In their unendurable agony, they told
where Polycarp was to be found. A band of soldiers, thoroughly armed,
hastened to seize him. It was late on Friday night, and the bishop
was calmly sleeping in his chamber. Aroused by the noise of their
entrance, he descended to meet them, greeted them kindly, and ordered
refreshments to be set before them. He then asked of them the favor to
grant him one hour for prayer. The soldiers, impressed by his venerable
appearance and kindly spirit, could not refuse his request. At the
close of this season of devotion they placed him upon an ass, and
conducted him to the city.

The sun of Saturday morning had risen as they entered the streets
of Smyrna. Many of the pagans who had long known Polycarp, and who
appreciated the nobleness of his character, entreated him simply to
say, “Lord Cæsar,” to offer sacrifice to the idols, and thus to be
saved. He meekly replied, “I cannot follow your advice.” They were so
exasperated by what they considered his irrational stubbornness, that
they not only overwhelmed him with reproaches, but treated him with
personal abuse.

He was brought before the tribunal of the pro-consul Philip, who
seemed to wish to save the venerable old man. He said to Polycarp, “If
you will only swear by Cæsar, and reproach Christ, I will immediately
release you.”

Polycarp replied, “Eighty and six years have I served Christ, and he
hath never wronged me. How can I now blaspheme my King, who hath saved
me? I am a Christian. If you desire to learn the Christian doctrine,
assign me a day, and I will declare it to you.”

The pro-consul said, “I have the beasts, and will expose you to them if
you do not yield.”

Polycarp replied, “Let them come. I cannot change from good to bad; but
it is well to pass from these sufferings to the realms of justice.”

“If you have no fear of the beasts,” the pro-consul replied, “I will
bind you to the stake, and consume you with fire, unless you yield.”

“You threaten me,” said Polycarp, “with fire, which burns but for a
time, and is soon extinguished; but you are ignorant of the future
judgment, and of the fire eternal which is reserved for the impious.”

The pro-consul was astonished at his firmness. Still he sent his herald
into the amphitheatre to proclaim to the eager throng awaiting the
cruel spectacle of the martyrdom that Polycarp had confessed himself
a Christian. With loud and angry shouts, the populace declared that
he was the father of the Christians; that it was he who had induced so
many to abandon the temples of the gods. With one voice they demanded
that he should be thrown to the lions.

Philip refused, saying that the spectacles of the wild beasts were
finished. They then raised the deafening cry, that he should be burned
at the stake. Immediately they ran to the workshops around to gather
fuel. It was observed that the Jews were as eager as the pagans at this
work. While they were rearing the funeral-pile, Polycarp turned to the
few friends who had ventured to gather around him, and said to them
with a smile (for he rather courted than dreaded martyrdom), “I am to
be burned alive.”

The executioners deprived him of all his clothing, dragged him to
the stake, and, while the populace were piling the fagots around him,
prepared to fasten him to it; but he said to them calmly,――

“Leave me as I am. He who gives me fortitude to endure the fire will
enable me to remain in the midst of the flames without being bound.”

These savage men, perhaps interested in witnessing the result of such
an experiment, consented.

Polycarp then, raising his eyes to heaven, breathed aloud the following

“Lord God all-powerful, Father of Jesus Christ, thy blessed and
well-beloved Son, through whom we have received grace to know thee,
I thank thee that thou hast led me to this day and to this hour, in
which I am to take part in the number of thy martyrs. May I this day
be admitted into thy presence with them as an acceptable sacrifice, in
accordance with that thou hast prepared, predicted, and fulfilled!

“Therefore I praise thee for all these things. I bless thee, I glorify
thee, through the eternal and celestial High Priest, Jesus Christ, thy
dear Son; to whom be rendered glory, with thee and the Holy Spirit, now
and through all future ages. Amen.”

The church in Smyrna wrote an account of the martyrdom of Polycarp,
which is still extant, and which they sent to their brethren throughout
the world. The day of miracles had not yet passed. The church testifies
to the following miraculous event which was witnessed at his death:――

“When Polycarp had finished his prayer, and pronounced ‘Amen’ aloud,
the officers lighted the fire: and, a great flame bursting out, we,
to whom it was given to see, saw a wonder; who also were reserved to
relate to others that which had happened. For the flame, forming the
appearance of an arch as the sail of a vessel filled with wind, was
a wall round about the body of the martyr; and it was in the midst,
not as burning flesh, but as gold and silver refined in a furnace. We
received also in our nostrils such a fragrance, as of frankincense or
some other precious perfume! At length, the impious judges, observing
that his body could not be consumed by fire, ordered the executioner
to approach, and plunge his sword into his body. Upon this a quantity
of blood gushed out, so that the fire was extinguished, and all the
multitude were astonished.”

The dead body was then placed upon the funeral-pile, and burned. The
friends of the martyr were then permitted to collect the charred bones,
and give them Christian burial.

The Roman empire was beginning to be assailed with such ferocity by
the surrounding barbarians, that Marcus Aurelius found it necessary to
enlist Christians in the army. He formed a brigade of six thousand of
these persecuted disciples of Jesus, and incorporated them with one of
the Roman legions. God endowed these soldiers with such bravery, and
enabled them to win such victories, as called forth the admiration both
of the emperor and the army.

After a decisive battle, in which God seemed miraculously to have
interposed in behalf of the Christian legion, Aurelius issued a decree,
declaring that the Christians should no longer be persecuted, but
should be entitled to all the rights and privileges belonging to other
subjects of Rome.

                             CHAPTER XII.

                              PAGAN ROME.

  Infamy of Commodus.――His Death.――The Reign of Pertinax.――The
    Mob of Soldiers.――Death of Pertinax.――Julian purchases the
    Crown.――Rival Claimants.――Severus.――Persecutions.――Martyrdom
    of Perpetua and Felicitas.――The Reign of Caracalla.――Fiendlike
    Atrocities.――Elagabalus, Priest of the Sun.――Death by the Mob.
    ――Alexander and his Christian Mother.――Contrast between Paganism
    and Christianity.――The Sin of Unbelief.

AFTER a stormy reign of twenty-three years, the Emperor Aurelius died,
and his son Commodus, nineteen years of age, succeeded to the throne.
He was a demon. His atrocities I must not describe: nothing can be
imagined, in the way of loathsome, brutal, fiendlike vice, of which he
was not guilty. A foul pagan, he filled the palaces of Rome with all
the atrocities of iniquity.

He murdered one of his own sisters, and worse than murdered the rest.
He amused himself in cutting off the lips and noses of those who
incurred his displeasure. The rich he slew, to get their money; the
virtuous, because their example reproved his vices; the influential,
fearing lest they should attain too much power.

Under Commodus, the Christians were not exposed to governmental
persecution, though there were occasional acts of the grossest outrage.
One of his female favorites, who had great influence over him, became
their protector. Conversions were rapidly multiplied. Many of the most
noble and opulent in Rome embraced the Christian faith, which they
could see presented the only hope for this lost world. One of these
very distinguished men, Apollonius, an accomplished scholar, presented
to the Roman senate a very eloquent appeal in favor of Christianity.
The senate demanded that he should retract his opinions. As he refused,
he was sent to the block, and beheaded.

The outrages Commodus was perpetrating, and the executions he was
daily ordering, at length became intolerable. His nominal wife,
the same Marcia who had protected the Christians, finding, from a
memorandum which she picked from his pocket, that he had doomed her
with several others to die, gave him a cup of poison. As he was reeling
under the influence of the draught, an accomplice plunged a dagger into
his heart, and “he went to his own place.” “To his own place!” Where
was that place? No one can be familiar with the history of the awful
crimes which have been perpetrated upon this globe, and not feel that
there is necessity for justice and retribution beyond the grave.

The joy in Rome was indescribable when the rumor spread through the
thronged streets, on the morning of the 1st of January, 193, that the
tyrant was dead. The senate and army placed Pertinax, mayor of Rome,
upon the vacant throne. He was, for a pagan, a good man. He found the
nation with an empty treasury, and enormously in debt, and attempted to
economize; but the army demanded the wealth and luxury which could be
obtained only by rapine.

Commodus had accumulated a vast amount of gold and silver plate;
chariots of most costly construction; robes of imperial purple,
heavily embroidered with gems and gold; and last, but not least,
he had seized, and crowded into his harem, six hundred of the most
beautiful boys and girls. The plate, the chariots, the robes, and the
handsome boys and beautiful girls, were all sold to the highest bidder.
It is Christianity alone which recognizes the brotherhood of man.
Pertinax, a pagan, could perhaps see no wrong in selling these young
men and maidens into slavery. All the money thus infamously obtained
was honestly paid into the exhausted treasury.

The army had loved Commodus. He allowed the soldiers unlimited license;
he filled their purses with gold; he crowded their camp with male and
female slaves. Pertinax wished to introduce reforms. The army hated
Pertinax because he was good, as devils hate angels. “Away with him!”
was the cry which resounded through the whole encampment.

Three hundred burly wretches, from the encampment outside the walls
of Rome, marched to the palace. Deliberately they cut off the head
of Pertinax. Parading it upon a lance, they, with shouts of triumph,
marched back through the streets of Rome to their barracks. The
citizens looked on in dismay: they dared not utter a word. The army was
their master. A standing army and an unarmed people place any nation at
the mercy of an ambitious general.

Sixteen thousand soldiers, thoroughly trained, and heavily armed in
steel coats of mail, were always quartered just outside the gates of
Rome. From their commanding encampment on the broad summits of the
Quirinal and Viminal Hills they held the millions of the Roman capital
in subjection. The gory head of Pertinax was elevated upon a pike. The
brutal soldiery gathered around it with yells and hootings, and offered
the crown to the highest bidder.

Julian, a vile demagogue, the richest man in Rome, offered a thousand
dollars to each soldier, making sixteen millions of dollars. He could
easily win back treble the sum by extortion and the plunder of war.
The soldiers accepted the offer. Surrounding Julian, they marched in
dense column into the city to the capitol, and compelled the senate
to recognize him as emperor. There were sixteen thousand swords as so
many indisputable arguments to enforce their demands. The senate, with
the sword at its throat, obsequiously obeyed. The trembling populace
was equally submissive. With apparently universal acclaim, Julian was
proclaimed emperor.

But there were other imperial armies besides the sixteen thousand which
held Rome in awe. There was one in Greece of twenty thousand, one of
twenty thousand in Britain, and one of thirty thousand in Syria. Each
of these armies followed the example of the Pretorian Guard, as the
army at Rome was called. Each chose an emperor from among its generals.
There were thus four rival emperors, each at the head of a powerful
army. The arbitrament of bloody battle alone could decide who should
hold the prize.

The three distant armies commenced an impetuous march upon Julian at
Rome. Severus from Greece was nearest. With giant strides he pressed
forward, sweeping all opposition before him. As he drew near the camp
of the Pretorian Guard, the soldiers, who had already received their
thousand dollars each from Julian, coolly cut off Julian’s head, and
sent it to Severus. The two armies then fraternized under Severus, and
took possession of Rome.

Albinus was advancing with his twenty thousand men from Britain.
Enormous bribes were sent to him by Severus; and he gave in his
adhesion to the successful general who was so formidably intrenched at
Rome. Niger then, marching from Syria, was easily routed by the three
combined armies opposed to him. He was taken captive, and beheaded.
Severus thus became emperor without a rival. In commemoration of his
victory, he reared in Rome a colossal triumphal arch, which remains to
the present day.

Severus was a thoroughly bad man; and yet he protected the Christians.
A physician who had embraced the new religion had saved the life of
his child. Severus gratefully took him into the palace, and treated
him with the utmost kindness. Though unwilling to regulate his own
conduct by the religion of Jesus, he so far appreciated the excellence
of Christianity as to appoint one of its advocates as teacher of
his child. When the fury of the populace at Rome rose against the
Christians, Severus interposed to shield them.

But in remote parts of the empire, where the power of the crown was
but feebly felt, persecution raged terribly. The father of the renowned
Eusebius was beheaded: his property was confiscated, and his widow and
children left utterly destitute. Eusebius, who was then but seventeen
years of age, and a very earnest Christian, was so anxious to follow
his father to martyrdom, that his mother could with great difficulty
restrain him. He lived to establish a reputation which has filled the
world with his name.

In Africa, also, the persecution was violent. In Carthage, twelve
Christians at one time were brought before the pro-consul, three
of whom were females. They refused to abjure their faith, and were
condemned to be beheaded. We have a minute account of the trial,――the
questions and their answers. Upon being condemned to death simply for
being Christians, they knelt together, and thanked God that they were
honored with the crown of martyrdom. Joyfully each one received the
death-blow. It was at this time, and at Carthage, that Tertullian wrote
his world-renowned apology for Christianity. It was so eloquent in
its rhetoric, and so convincing in its logic, that it exerted a very
powerful influence over all thoughtful minds.

The martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicitas at Carthage was one of the
memorable events of this persecution. Perpetua was a Roman lady
of exalted birth, and highly educated, who had become a Christian.
Felicitas was a young Christian bride, about to become a mother. The
parents of Perpetua were pagans, and also her two brothers. She was but
twenty-two years of age, recently married, and had an infant child.

She was arrested, and thrown into prison. Her aged father, who loved
Perpetua tenderly, prostrated himself upon his knees before his
daughter, and, with tears gushing from his eyes, entreated her to save
her life by sacrificing to the gods. She remained firm. The high social
position of the captive caused a large crowd to be assembled at the
trial. Her father came, bringing to the court her babe, and entreating
Perpetua, for the sake of her child, to save her life. He hoped that
the sight of her child would cause her to relent, and renounce Jesus.
The public prosecutor, Hilarien, then said to her,――

“In mercy to your aged father, in mercy to your babe, throw not away
your life, but sacrifice to the gods.”

“I am a Christian,” she replied, “and cannot deny Christ.” The
anguish of her father was so great, that he was unable to restrain loud
expressions of grief; and the brutal soldiers drove him off with cruel
blows. “I felt the blows,” says Perpetua in a brief memorial which she
left of her trials, “as if they had fallen on myself.” Perpetua was
then condemned to be torn to pieces by wild beasts.

“When the day for the spectacle arrived,” says Perpetua, “my father
threw himself on the ground, tore his beard, cursed the day in which he
was born, and uttered piercing cries which were sufficient to move the
hardest heart.”

Both Perpetua and Felicitas were doomed to the same death. The two
victims were led into the arena of the vast amphitheatre, where, with
the utmost ingenuity of cruelty, they were to be gored to death by
bulls. The rising seats which surrounded the amphitheatre were crowded
with spectators to enjoy the spectacle.

Let us, in imagination, descend into the dark, damp dungeons opening
into the arena. Here in this den are growling lions, gaunt and fierce;
and here is a den of panthers with glaring eyeballs. They have been
kept starved for many days to make them furious. Here in this cell of
stone and iron, which the glare of the torch but feebly illumines, is
a band of Christians,――fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters. They are
to be thrown to-morrow into the arena naked, that they may be torn to
pieces by the panthers and the lions, and that the hundred thousand
pagan spectators may enjoy the sport of seeing them torn limb from limb,
and devoured by the fierce and starved beasts.

In one of these cells Perpetua and Felicitas were confined. In
another were several wild bulls. It was a glorious summer’s day,
and the cloudless sun shone down upon the amphitheatre, over which a
silken awning was spread, and which was crowded with many thousands of
spectators. Here were congregated all the wealth and beauty and fashion
of the city,――vestal virgins, pontiffs, ambassadors, senators, and, in
the loftiest tier, a countless throng of slaves. Carthaginian ladies,
affecting the utmost delicacy and refinement, vied with men in the
eagerness with which they watched the bloody scenes.

In the centre of the arena there was suspended a large network bag of
strong fine twine, with interstices so large as to afford no covering
or veil whatever to the person. Perpetua was first brought into the
arena, young and beautiful, a pure and modest Christian lady. She was
led forth entirely divested of her clothing, that to the bitterness
of martyrdom might be added the pangs of wounded modesty. A hundred
thousand voices assailed her with insult and derision. Brutal soldiers
placed her in the transparent network. There she hung in mid-air,
but two feet from the ground, as if floating in space. Then the burly
executioners gave her a swing with their brawny arms, whirling her in
a wide circle around the arena, and retired.

An iron door creaks upon its hinges, and flies open. Out from the
dungeon leaps the bull, with flaming eyes, tail in air, bellowing,
and pawing the sand in rage. He glares around for an instant upon the
shouting thousands, and then catches a view of the maiden swinging
before him. With a bound he plunges upon her, and buries his horns in
her side. The blood gushes forth, and she is tossed ten feet in the
air; while the shrieks of the tortured victim are lost in the hundred
thousand shouts of joy.

This scene cannot be described: it can hardly be imagined. Lunge after
lunge the bull plunges upon his victim, piercing, tossing, tearing,
mangling, till the sand of the arena is drenched with the blood of the
victim; until her body swings around, a lifeless, mangled mass, having
lost all semblance of humanity. Felicitas in the mean time is compelled
to gaze upon the scene, that she may taste twice the bitterness of
death. In her turn she is placed in the suspended network, and in the
same fiery chariot of martyrdom ascends to heaven.

Several other Christians perished at the same time, being torn by wild
beasts, and devoured by half-famished bears, leopards, and wild boars.
Pages might be filled with similar accounts; but this record must be

The Emperor Severus died on an expedition to Britain, in the year of
our Lord 211, leaving the crown to his two sons, Caracalla and Geta.
They were both thoroughly depraved boys. Caracalla, the elder, invited
his brother Geta to meet him in the presence of his mother to confer
upon the division of the empire. During the conference, Caracalla
drew near his brother, and, taking a dagger from beneath his dress,
buried it to the hilt in Geta’s heart. The murdered boy sprang into his
mother’s arms, and died, she being deluged with the blood of her son.
This was early in the third century, when pagan Rome was at the summit
of its wealth, refinement, luxury, and power. The murderer of Geta thus
became sole emperor of Rome.

Christianity was beginning to create a public conscience. It was
throwing the light of future judgment and final retribution upon such
hideous crimes. Both of these young men, depraved though they were, had
received some religious instruction. The stings of remorse imbittered
every remaining hour of Caracalla’s life. The image of his brother
Geta, gasping, shrieking, dying, bathed in blood, in the arms of his
terrified mother, pursued the murderer to his grave: but it did not
soften his heart; it only hardened him in sin, and inflamed his soul
with almost insane jealousy and fear. Every individual who was supposed
to be in the interest of Geta was put to death, without regard to age
or sex. In the course of a few months, twenty thousand perished by this
wholesale proscription.

A wag in one of the schools in Alexandria wrote a burlesque verse upon
Caracalla. The tyrant, in consequence, ordered the whole city to be
destroyed. Every man, woman, and child was ordered to be put to death.
A few only of the young and beautiful were reserved as slaves.

The only way in this world to be happy is to strive to promote the
happiness of others. He who makes others wretched is always wretched
himself. Caracalla lived the life of a demon, filling the world with
woe; but, in all the empire, there was scarcely to be found a greater
wretch than he.

One of his generals, Macrinus, who had displeased the emperor, learning
that he was doomed to death, engaged a centurion, a man of herculean
strength, to assassinate him. A dagger through the back pierced the
heart of the tyrant. Thus terminated the diabolical sway of Caracalla,
with which God had allowed the world to be cursed for six years.

The army had adored Caracalla; for he had given free rein to the
license of the soldiers, and had enriched them by plunder. Macrinus,
the assassin, was not illustrious either by birth, wealth, or military
exploits. The soldiers reluctantly, and with many murmurs, submitted
to the decision of the senate recognizing him as emperor. The army
was encamped in winter quarters in Syria. Macrinus, exulting in
new-born dignity, was luxuriating in his palace at Antioch. Under
these circumstances, a Syrian soldier, by the name of Elagabalus, a
reckless, unprincipled man, formed a conspiracy in the camp outside the
walls of Antioch. He assumed that he was a son of one of the concubines
of Caracalla. The soldiers, eager for the renewal of their former
privileges of plunder and outrage, enthusiastically rallied around the
banner of the insurgent general. There was one short battle. Macrinus
was slain, and the troops with one accord welcomed Elagabalus as
emperor. The senate, not daring to present opposition to the army,
obsequiously confirmed its vote.

This rude, untamed pagan was a worshipper of the sun. He had been
a high priest in one of the idol temples. With his army enlarged
by brutal hordes from the East, he marched upon Rome in the double
capacity of pagan pontiff and emperor. He was arrayed in sacerdotal
robes of damask embroidered with gold. A gorgeous tiara was upon his
brow; and he wore bracelets and a necklace incrusted with priceless
gems. The city pavements over which he passed were sprinkled with
gold-dust. Six milk-white horses, sumptuously caparisoned, drew a
chariot containing a black stone, the symbol of the god he worshipped.
Elagabalus, as pontiff, held the reins with his back to the horses,
that his eyes might not be for a moment turned from the object of his

A new temple was reared for this new idol on the Palatine Hill.
Its worship was introduced with splendor such as Rome had never
yet witnessed. Syrian girls of great beauty danced around the altar.
Elagabalus, with his crowd of adorers of the new divinity, rioted in
those dissolute rites, which even the pen of a Roman historian shrinks
from recording.

The palaces of the Cæsars had been as corrupt as Europe knew how to
make them; but Elagabalus transported to them all the additional vices
of Asia. Modern civilization will not allow the story of his infamy to
be told: the enlightenment of the nineteenth century could not bear the
recital. The change which Christianity has introduced into the world
is so great, that there is not a court in Europe now, no matter how
corrupt, which would endure for a day a Nero or an Elagabalus.

Even pagan Rome could not long submit to so unmitigated a wretch. There
was mutiny in the camp. Elagabalus was cut down in the fray. A mob of
soldiers, with infuriate yells, dragged the corpse by the heels through
the streets, and cast the mangled, gory mass into the Tiber. The senate
passed a decree consigning his name to eternal infamy. Posterity has
ratified that decree.

There are those, it is said, who believe that there is no punishment
after death; that all the dead go at once to heaven. Strange must be
the philosophy, and stranger still the theology, which can contemplate
Elagabalus welcomed at the golden gates, angels crowding to meet him,
while God, with beaming countenance, exclaims, “Well done, good and
faithful servant! enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

The Pretorian Guard of sixteen thousand mailed and veteran soldiers,
whose encampment was just outside the walls of Rome, took a nephew
of Elagabalus,――Alexander Severus, a boy of but seventeen years of
age,――and made him emperor. Two reasons influenced them: first, he was
available; second, he was young, and they thought they could mould him
at their will.

And now again we get a gleam of Christian light upon this
dark scene,――a gleam of that Christian influence which ennobles
statesmanship, purifies morals, and promotes every virtue; that sublime
Christian principle, which requires, that whether we eat or drink, or
whatever we do, we do all to the glory of God.

The mother of young Alexander was a Christian. Never was the maxim more
beautifully illustrated, that blessed is the boy who has a pious mother.
This noble woman, notwithstanding all the unspeakable corruptions which
surrounded her, had trained her child in the faith and morals of Jesus.
Like a guardian angel, she had watched over her son amidst all the
temptations of the palace.

Alexander, upon ascending the throne, in the very palace where
Elagabalus had so recently practised his pagan orgies, habitually rose
at an early hour, and upon his bended knees implored God’s guidance.
He then held a cabinet council, aided by sixteen of the most virtuous
senators. The affairs of state were carefully discussed, efforts being
made to redress every wrong.

A few hours were then set apart for study, that he might, by
intellectual culture, be better prepared for his responsible situation.
He then practised for a time at the gymnasium for the promotion of his
bodily vigor. After lunch, he received petitions and dictated replies
till supper, at six, which was the principal meal of the day. Guests
of distinction were always invited to sup with him. His table was
frugal, his dress simple, his morals were pure, his manners polished
and courtly. He adopted for his motto the golden maxim of Jesus our
Lord: “As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them
likewise.”[172] It was then fresh and new. Few even of those who
admired the sentiment knew that it was Jesus who had given it its
emphatic announcement.

When Severus appointed a governor of a province, he first publicly
propounded his name, that, if there were any disqualification, it might
be mentioned. “It is thus,” he said, “the Christians appoint their
pastors: I will do the same with my representatives.”

And yet, strange as it may seem, Alexander Severus does not seem
to have been a true Christian. He was simply like many upright,
high-minded, honorable young men now, who assent to Christianity, are
measurably governed by its morals, but are not in _heart_ disciples of

Alexander was deficient in moral courage: he wished to compromise.
While he professed belief in Jesus, he professed also belief in the
Roman gods. He wished to build a temple in Rome, to be dedicated to
Jesus Christ, for Christian worship; but the oracles told him, that, if
he did this, everybody would become Christian, and the temples of the
gods would be abandoned. He therefore desisted. Still, throughout his
reign, Christians were protected so far as he could protect them; but,
in remote sections of the empire, Christians often suffered terribly
from the malice of pagan magistrates, and from the brutality of the mob.

The reforms of justice and mercy which Alexander Severus was
introducing into the empire were hateful to the soldiers. They wished
to give free range to their appetites and passions, and to riot in
plunder. A mutiny was excited in the camp against him. In a paroxysm
of rage, the Pretorian Guard, sixteen thousand strong, marched into the
city, breathing threatenings and slaughter. For three days and three
nights, a terrible battle raged in the streets of Rome. There was a
wasting conflagration, and multitudes were slain. The city was menaced
with total destruction. And all this because a virtuous emperor wished
to protect the innocent, and to restrain the wicked from crime!

A kind Providence gave Alexander the victory. The insurgents were
driven back to their camp. Still they were too powerful to be punished.
The whole reign of Severus was harassed and imbittered by the outrages
of this licentious soldiery.

We have now come down in our narrative to the middle of the third
century. The Romans were a very powerful, and in many respects a
highly-cultivated people. Their literature has excited the admiration
of the world. It is still studied in the highest seats of learning.
Their paganism was the best which the world has ever known. We have
presented in impartial contrast the practical workings of the religion
of Rome and the religion of Jesus Christ. Every thoughtful reader must
be impressed with the wonderful, the divine superiority of Christianity.
It must be manifest to every reflective mind, that, in the religion of
Jesus Christ, we find the only hope for our lost world. That religion
is not a religion of dead doctrines and pompous ceremonies, but one of
a living faith and a holy life.

“Do right,” says Christianity,――“right to God by loving him and
worshipping him as your heavenly Father; right to yourself by
cultivating in your own heart every thing that is pure, lovely, and of
good report; right to your fellow-man, regarding him as your brother,
and doing every thing in your power to elevate him, purify him, and
prepare him for heaven. Your past sins may all be forgiven. Christ has
died upon the cross, and made atonement for them. Penitence for sin,
trust in an atoning Saviour, and the earnest, prayerful return to a
holy life, will open to you the gates of heaven.” This is Christianity.
It needs not the enforcement of labored argument: it is its own best
witness. “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in

It not unfrequently happens that a young man gets the impression that
there is something a little distinguished in being an unbeliever. He
assumes the air of a sceptic, and takes the ground that Christianity
is the religion of weak minds; that the reason why he does not believe
is, that he has more intelligence and knowledge than those people who

Should there chance to be such a one who reads these pages, I would
ask him, How do you account for the fact that the most intelligent men
in the world have been Christians? Were Bacon and Boyle, Sir Matthew
Hale and Herschel, men whose intellectual renown has filled centuries,
weak-minded men?――and yet they were Christians. Was Napoleon Bonaparte
a man of feeble intellect?――yet he said at St. Helena,――

“The loftiest intellects since the advent of Christianity have had
faith, a practical faith, in the mysteries and the doctrines of the
gospel; not only Bossuet and Fénelon, who were preachers, but Descartes
and Newton, Leibnitz and Pascal, Corneille and Racine, Charlemagne and
Louis XIV.” Were Washington and Jackson, Clay and Lincoln, ignorant and
weak men?――they were Christians. Are the presidents in nearly all the
colleges and universities of Christendom incapable of comprehending the
force of argument?――they are Christians.

Was Daniel Webster a man of feeble powers of comprehension, incapable
of appreciating the force of an argument?――he bears the following
testimony to his faith in Christianity:――

“Philosophical argument, especially that drawn from the vastness of the
universe, compared with the apparent insignificance of this globe, has
sometimes shaken my reason for the faith that is in me; but my heart
has always assured and re-assured me that the gospel of Jesus Christ
must be a divine reality. This belief enters into the very depths of my
conscience. The whole history of man proves it.”

No: it is too late for any one to take the ground that Christianity
is the religion of ignorant men and weak women. God has given evidence
sufficient to convince every candid mind. This evidence is so abundant,
that God declares it a great sin not to believe. There is no crime
more severely denounced in the Bible than that of unbelief. Perhaps you
say, “I cannot believe without evidence;” but God has given evidence
sufficient to convert every heart which is not so wicked that it will
not believe.

Not to believe will surely bring condemnation at God’s bar. To believe
in Christianity, and yet not in heart to accept it, and not publicly
to avow one’s faith, is perhaps a greater sin. The declaration of our
Saviour is positive, that he will not recognize at the judgment-day
those who have not confessed him before men.

There are undoubtedly those who have wickedly cherished a spirit of
unbelief, until God, as a punishment, “has sent them strong delusion,
that they should believe a lie.”[174]

The following incident affectingly illustrates this truth. The writer,
a few years ago, at the close of the afternoon’s service in the church
on a summer’s day, was called upon in his study by a man of dignified
person and manners, whose countenance and whole demeanor indicated
superior intellectual culture. I had noticed him for one or two
sabbaths in the church. His marked features, and his profound attention
to the preaching, had awakened my interest. With much courtesy he
apologized for intruding upon my time, but expressed an earnest desire
to have a little conversation with me.

“I have,” said he, “for several sabbaths, attended public worship
in your church, and need not say that I have been interested in the
preaching; and you will probably be surprised to have me add, that
I cannot believe the sentiments you advocate. I cannot believe that
the Bible is a divine revelation, or that there is any personal God.
I am what you would probably call both an infidel and an atheist; and
I should be glad to give you a brief account of my history.

“When a young man, I became interested in the writings of the French
philosophers,――Voltaire, Helvetius, Diderot, and D’Alembert. I filled
my library with their works, and perused them with eagerness. Their
teachings I accepted. They were in harmony with my desires; and I
lived accordingly. Renouncing all faith in Christianity, in any other
God than the powers of Nature, and in any future life, I surrendered
myself unrestrained to the indulgence which those principles naturally
inculcated. Thus I have lived. Christianity and its professors have
ever been the subjects of my ridicule and contempt.

“I still retain those principles. The arguments with which I have
stored my mind, and upon which I have so long relied, appear to me
invincible. I cannot believe that the Bible is any thing more than a
human production. When I look upon the world, its confusion and misery,
I can see no evidence that there is any God who takes an interest in
the affairs of men. I see that the wrong is just as likely to triumph
as the right. In the animal creation, there is, from the lowest to
the highest, a regular gradation; and as they all, at birth, came from
nothing, so, at death, into nothing they will vanish.

“I have now passed my threescore years and ten. I have lost most of my
property. My eyesight is rapidly failing. The companions of my youthful
days are all gone. Most of my children are in the grave; and I have
no more expectation of meeting them in another world than of meeting
my faithful dog or my sagacious horse. I am aged, infirm, bereaved,
and joyless. There is nothing in the retrospect of the past to give me
pleasure: the present brings but weariness, gloom, and sadness: before
me is the abyss of annihilation.

“Now, could I only believe as you believe,――that there is a loving
heavenly Father, who watches over his children; that the trials of this
life are intended to form our characters for endless happiness; that
beyond the grave there is immortality, happy realms where the sorrows
of earth are never known; that provision is made for the forgiveness
of all my sins; and that, after a few more days here, I could enter
golden gates, and be forever in heaven with the loved ones who have
gone before me,――I should indeed be the happiest man in the world. But
I cannot believe it. There is no evidence sufficiently strong to remove
my unbelief.”

Such was the confession of an unbeliever; and we know that such must be
the moral condition of every man who is approaching the grave without
the Christian’s hope. How different from this was the testimony of Paul
the Christian as he drew near the close of his noble life, even with
the pains of martyrdom opening before him! He writes to Timothy,――

“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.”

I will simply say in conclusion, in reference to my unhappy friend,
whom I could not but love, that though he would admit that there was
a _Power_, which he called _Nature_, which had introduced him to this
world, and would ere long remove him from it, no persuasions of mine
could induce him to pray to that Power for light and guidance; though
he would, apparently with profoundest reverence, fall upon his knees at
my side, and listen to my prayers to the Creator.

Circumstances soon removed me several hundred miles from his dwelling.
Whether he be living as I now write these lines with a tearful eye,
I know not. A few years ago, after two years of absence, I met him.
Sorrow had left unmistakable traces upon his marked features. As I took
his hand, he admitted that there were still no rays of light to gild
the gloom of his pathway to the grave.

                             CHAPTER XIII.

                            SIN AND MISERY.

  Maximin the Goth.――Brutal Assassination of Alexander.――Merciless
    Proscription.――Revolt of the Army on the Danube.――Rage of
    Maximin.――His March upon Rome.――Consternation in the Capital.
    ――Assassination of Maximin.――Successors to the Throne.――Popular
    Suffrage unavailing.――Persecution under Decius.――Individual
    Cases.――Extent of the Roman Empire.――Extent of the Persecution.
    ――Heroism of the Christians.

THE last chapter closed with the reign of Alexander Severus, in the
year of our Lord 235. His mother being a Christian, her son, though
still, for popularity’s sake, supporting idolatry, was induced, out of
respect to his mother, to ingraft upon the errors of paganism many of
the noble teachings of Christianity. His death is associated with one
of the most wild and wondrous of the tales of ancient times.

Alexander Severus, or the Severe, as he was called, from his puritanic
severity of morals, was returning with his army from a war expedition
to the East. On the plains of Thrace he stopped to celebrate the birth
of a son. In commemoration of the joyful event, there was a display of
all the military pageants and gymnastic games then in vogue.

The whole army, in gorgeous display, was drawn up on a spacious plain.
Thousands of the neighboring people were assembled to witness the
splendors of the _fête_. It was a clear and beautiful morning. All eyes
were riveted upon the emperor, as, followed by a magnificent retinue,
he came galloping upon the field.

Suddenly there sprang from the crowd of spectators a gigantic
barbarian, a Goth. With the speed of an antelope, he bounded to the
side of the emperor’s horse. Apparently without the slightest exertion,
or the least loss of breath, he kept pace with the fleet Arabian
charger, as, with almost the swiftness of the wind, the magnificent
steed careered over the plain. This brawny young savage was eight feet
tall, and was as admirably proportioned as the colossal statue of the
Apollo Belvedere.

Giants have not generally much intellect; but this young Goth had great
activity and energy of mind. His courage resembled that of a ferocious
wild beast. He could tire out a horse in a race. He could break the leg
of a horse with a blow of his hand. He could throw successively, with
apparently the greatest ease, thirty of the ablest wrestlers who could
be brought against him. He demanded for his daily food forty pounds
of meat and twelve quarts of wine. Extraordinary as these statements
appear, they seem to be well authenticated. Such was the young
barbarian, who, rollicking, leaping, and gambolling around the emperor,
attracted the attention of the vast crowd of soldiers and spectators
who were spread over the plain.

Soon the games were introduced on the model of the world-renowned
Olympic games of Greece. They consisted of all athletic sports of
leaping, wrestling, boxing. This young Goth, Maximin by name, distanced
all competitors. Sixteen of the stoutest wrestlers were brought forward
to contend against him. Almost without exertion, he laid them, one
after another, upon their backs.

Gunpowder has equalized strength. A small man can pull a trigger as
well as a large one. The bullet shot from a rifle will accomplish equal
execution, let the rifle be held by a dwarf or a giant. But in those
days, before the invention of gunpowder, when men fought with clubs
and battle-axes, with massive swords and heavy cross-bows, agility and
strength were essential to the successful warrior.

The emperor gazed upon the feats of Maximin with astonishment and
admiration. The giant was an unmitigated barbarian, whose father was
a Goth, and whose mother was from a still more savage tribe, called
the Alani. The emperor took Maximin into his service, loaded him with
honors, and rapidly promoted him from post to post in the army, until
he became one of the highest generals. The Roman soldiers, accustomed
to do homage to the military prowess of muscles and sinews, regarded
Maximin with great veneration.

Alexander had taken with him his Christian mother. She had great
influence over her son. A very sumptuous tent was provided for her,
which was always pitched in the middle of the camp. This ungrateful
Goth, Maximin, conspired against his benefactor. “Why,” said he,
“should a Roman army be subject to an effeminate Syrian, the slave of
his mother? Soldiers should be governed by soldiers; by one reared in
the camp; by one who knows how to distribute among his comrades the
treasures of the empire.”

By these means a mutiny was excited. The mutineers rushed upon
Alexander, beat him down with their clubs, and hewed him to pieces with
their battle-axes. With hideous clamor, the army proclaimed Maximin
their emperor. This assassination of Alexander, and enthronement of the
barbarian Goth, took place on the 19th of March, A.D. 235.

Maximin, invested with the imperial purple, was ashamed of his low
origin, of his ignoble birth. He endeavored to put every one to death
who knew him when he was an untamed savage. Four thousand were thus
handed over to the assassin and the executioner. Conscious of his low
breeding, his ignorance, and his ungainly address, he would not allow
any person of cultivated mind or polished manners to appear in his
presence, lest others should notice the contrast. He did not live in
the gorgeous saloons of the palace, surrounded by a splendid court,
where he would not be at home, and where he knew not how to behave,
but remained in the camp, surrounded by soldiers who were ever ready
to obey his most ferocious bidding. He avoided every thing which could
bring him too broadly in contrast with metropolitan refinement.

This cruel despot was very ingenious in devising modes of torture for
those whom he even suspected of being unfriendly to him. There was no
form of cruel death to which he did not resort to avenge himself upon
his enemies. Maximin was insatiate in his grasping for wealth. He even
robbed idolatrous temples, and melted down into coin the exquisite
statues of gold and silver. He hated Christianity, and ordered the
churches to be burned, and the pastors and officers of the churches
to be put to death. This persecution was short in its duration, but
terrible while it lasted. Maximin reigned thirteen years. It seems
short, as we look back upon that period through the lapse of fifteen
centuries; but it must have been awful for Christians to have endured
thirteen years of bloody persecution under such a monster.

There occurred several disastrous earthquakes during his reign. He
attributed them to the displeasure of the gods, in consequence of
the Christians forsaking the idols. Thus the fanatic fury of the mob,
as well as the cruel energies of the governmental arm, were turned
against the disciples of Jesus. The mob pursued all Christians with
the most cruel and revolting outrages, and their vilest atrocities were
sustained and encouraged by the government. Such was the persecution
which raged nearly sixteen hundred years ago, and is now nearly
forgotten; indeed, many are not aware that it ever existed.

Maximin was with his army on the banks of the Danube. He rewarded his
soldiers abundantly with license and plunder. There was another Roman
army in Africa. The soldiers there rose in revolt against Maximin.
They chose Gordian, governor of the province, emperor. He was a wealthy
Roman gentleman, eighty years of age. A son of his was to share with
his father the cares of empire.

But Maximin was not to be trifled with. Raging like a wild beast,
and gnashing his teeth with fury, he put his army on a rapid march
for Africa. In one bloody battle the troops of Gordian were almost
annihilated. The son was slain in battle: the father in despair
committed suicide.

The senate in Rome, detesting Maximin, the brutal barbarian monster,
had ventured to espouse the cause of Gordian. The maddened Maximin
turned his march towards Rome. The powerless senate was in utter dismay.
Not only confiscation and death awaited them and their families, but
death in its most cruel form. The whole city was agitated with terror.

There was every reason to fear that the barbarian, with his demoniac
soldiery, marching beneath the blood-red banner of plunder and
slaughter, would put the inhabitants to the sword, and commit the city
to the flames. It was the customary vengeance for conquerors in those
days to burn every dwelling of their foes, and to put every man, woman,
and child to death, excepting a few of the young and beautiful, who
were reserved to groom their horses, and to fill their harems.

The senate, in terror, made desperate efforts to meet the emergency.
The populace of Rome were aware of their danger. A new army was very
quickly raised. Two emperors were chosen: one, a wealthy Roman noble,
by the name of Balbinus, was to remain at Rome, and attend to the civil
administration there; the other, Maximus, a brave and veteran soldier,
was placed in command of the army, which consisted of the Pretorian
Guard of sixteen thousand men, encamped just outside the walls of Rome,
and such recruits as could be added to them.

Maximin, almost literally roaring with rage, was pressing forward by
forced marches. Plunder, slaughter, and smouldering ruins, marked his
path. He had crossed the Julian Alps. The wretched inhabitants fled
before him. But at length his atrocities created a mutiny among his own
soldiers. A fiendlike band rushed into his tent, pierced him through
and through with their javelins, cut off his head, and, with derision
and insult, paraded it on a pike through the camp.

All Rome rang with shouts of joy, and blazed with illuminations, when
it was reported that the tyrant was dead. But anarchy ensued. The
soldiery, composed principally of the most desperate vagabonds of the
city, were not disposed to accept an emperor elected by the senate.
Conscious of their power, they resolved to place one of their own
favorites upon the imperial throne.

In a resistless, organized mob, they strode into the city in solid
battalions, battered down the doors of the palace where the two
emperors were in council, pierced them with a thousand spears, dragged
their mangled bodies, by ropes tied to their heels, with hideous yells
through the streets, and threw the gory remains into a ditch, to be
devoured by dogs. In six months, five Roman emperors had thus perished
by violence. Think how vast the change which the teachings of Jesus
have introduced, refining manners, giving laws, purifying morals!

When we reflect upon such scenes, it is impossible to deny that the
teachings of Jesus have wrought the most astonishing and salutary
changes in the world. It is not too much to say, that pagan Rome in its
palmiest days was far below Christian Rome in its greatest degeneracy.
Christianity has introduced refinement of manners, more equitable
laws, and morals immeasurably superior to any thing which existed
around the shrines of idolatry. And yet these are only the incidental
blessings, over and above the salvation of the souls of those who
became spiritually the disciples of Jesus, accepted him as their
Saviour, and who brought their hearts and lives into sympathy with his
teachings. There were millions of such, who are now in the realms of
glory, of whom history made no record.

The soldiers took a boy thirteen years of age, and, bearing him
triumphantly to the camp, jocosely made him emperor. The senate, with
sixteen thousand swords at its throat, was compelled to ratify their
choice. Soon, however, an ambitious general, named Philip, poisoned the
boy, and induced the soldiers to proclaim himself emperor.

It is said that this Philip had once professed Christianity, but,
having yielded to the temptations which surrounded him, had been
excluded from the Church for his crimes. He had an enlightened
conscience; but his Christian character, as in many other cases, fell
a sacrifice to his ambition. He was a weak man. Though he did not
directly persecute the Christians, he did not venture to protect them.
His reign was short,――only five years.

The army on the Danube chose one of their generals――Decius――emperor.
The two rival armies, under their several sovereigns, soon met near
Verona, and engaged in terrible mutual slaughter. Both sides were
equally bad. God left them to scourge and torture and devour one
another. It is thus that he often punishes wicked nations, by leaving
them to destroy themselves. Philip’s soldiers were routed. They turned
upon him, cut off his head, and joined the conqueror. Decius marched
triumphantly to Rome, where the senate and people welcomed an emperor
who could enforce his title with so many glittering swords.

To the eye of reason, nothing can seem more absurd than the doctrine of
hereditary descent of power. That a babe, a feeble girl, a semi-idiot,
or a monster of depravity, should be invested with sovereign power over
millions, merely from the accident of birth, appears preposterous. But,
if there be neither intelligence nor virtue in a nation, the chance of
birth may give as good a ruler as the chance of popular suffrage.

Rome had become so dissolute, that had every name in the empire been
cast into the wheel of a lottery, and the first one thrown out been
accepted as emperor, the result could not have been more disastrous
than that which ensued from the vote of the army and the senate.

In wolfish bands, savage hordes from the forests of the north came
pouring across the Danube, plundering, burning, and putting to the
sword all before them. Rome, weakened by division, was poorly prepared
to resist such a foe. Decius marched timidly to meet the inrolling
flood of barbarians. With hyena yells they rushed upon him, scattering
his forces as wolves scatter sheep. Scaling the walls of Philippopoli,
they slaughtered in cold blood the whole population, amounting to a
hundred thousand souls. This was the first successful irruption of the
barbarians into the Roman empire. This momentous event took place in
the year of our Lord 250. No tongue can tell the dismay which thrilled
all hearts in Rome as the appalling tidings reached them that the
barbarians had conquered and annihilated a Roman army, and were on the
triumphant march to the capital.

Decius was slain: his body, trampled into the mire of a morass, was
never found.

Under the reign of Decius there was a dreadful persecution of the
Christians, which was commenced in Alexandria. We can infer its
character from the following incidents. A young Christian, named Matran,
was first scourged with terrible severity; his eyes were then burned
out with red-hot irons; he was then stoned to death. A Christian young
lady, by the name of Quinta, had a long rope tied about her feet; then
the brutal mob, seizing the rope, dragged her upon the run, with yells
of derision and rage, over the rough pavement, till life was extinct,
and the poor mangled body had lost all semblance of humanity. But we
cannot proceed with this recital. It would be inflicting too much pain
upon the sensibilities of our readers to have faithfully pictured to
them the sufferings of the maiden Apollonia, of Sempion, and of many
others, whose martyrdom history has minutely recorded.

Decius published a bloody edict against the Christians, and sent it
to the governors of all the provinces. They were ordered vigilantly to
search out Christians, and to punish them with the utmost severity,――by
scourging, by burning at the stake, by beheading, by tossing them to
wild beasts, by the dungeon, by seating them in iron chairs heated
red-hot, by tearing out the eyes with burning irons, by tearing the
flesh from the bones with steel pincers. Demoniac ingenuity was devised
to lure them to sin, or to force them to renounce their Saviour.

In Smyrna, two eminent Christians, Pionius and Metrodore, underwent a
rigorous examination. We have a record of the questions and the answers.
Every effort was made by promises and by threats to induce them to
recant; but they remained firm in their Christian integrity. They were
then nailed to crosses, cruel spikes being driven through their hands
and their feet. The crosses were planted in the ground, and heaps of
combustibles were piled around for the funeral pyre. Before the torch
was applied, they were again entreated to deny Christ.

“If you will do so,” said the proconsul, “the spikes shall immediately
be drawn out, and your lives shall be preserved.”

Their only reply was a prayer to the Lord Jesus to receive their
spirits. The flames crackled and roared around them, enveloping them
as in a fiery furnace. In the chariot of fire, their united spirits
ascended to the martyr’s crown. Page after page might be filled with
similar recitals; but enough has already been said to give an idea
of the frantic yet unavailing efforts which wicked men have made to
obliterate Christianity from the world. These scenes remind one of the
revelation written by the “beloved apostle” to the “angel,” or pastor,
of the church in Smyrna:――

“These things saith the First and the Last, which was dead, and is
alive: I know thy works and tribulation and poverty (but thou art rich);
and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not,
but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou
shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison,
that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou
faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.... He that
overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.”[175]

Upon the death of Decius, the senate, terrified by the destruction
of the army and by the approach of the barbarians, again chose two
emperors. Hostilianus was invested with the civil, and Gallus with
the military command. Rome, Christianity-persecuting Rome, had already
sunk so low, that Gallus was compelled to the ignominy of purchasing
peace with the barbarians on the most degrading and revolting terms.
They were permitted to retire unmolested with all their plunder and
with all their captives, consisting of thousands of Romans, young men
and beautiful women, to till the soil, and serve in the harems of the
barbarian Goths. By the law of retribution, this was right. Rome had
made slaves of all nations: it was just that Rome should drink of the
cup of slavery herself.

Gallus, the military emperor, wished to reign alone: he therefore
poisoned Hostilianus. There was a Roman army on the Danube. The
soldiers there proclaimed their general, Æmilianus, emperor. Gallus
marched to meet him; but his soldiers despised his weakness, and slew
him and his son, and then joined the army of Æmilianus.

The Roman empire at this time, about the middle of the third century,
consisted of a belt of territory about a thousand miles in breadth,
encircling the Mediterranean Sea as a central lake. All beyond were
unknown savage wilds. Throughout all this vast region, Paganism was
assailing Christianity with the most malignant and deadly energies.

And yet the zeal of the Christians was such, that while some, yielding
to the terrors which threatened them, denied Christ, many went gladly
to martyrdom. No one could tell how soon his hour would come. The life
of the Christian was in daily peril from the executioner or from the
mob; and yet many of those Christians, inspired with supernatural
zeal and courage, devoted themselves entirely to the open and earnest
preaching of the gospel.

“I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves,” said Christ. They
accepted the mission. In the thronged streets of the city, like Paul at
Athens, while some gnashed their teeth with rage, and others heard them
gladly, they proclaimed salvation through faith in an atoning Saviour.
Two and two they penetrated the villages, and wandered through the
sparsely-settled country, with the sublime and astounding doctrine,
that God, in the person of Jesus Christ, had suffered upon the cross to
make an atonement for sin; and that now all who wished to reach heaven
were to acknowledge this Saviour, and live according to his teachings,
at whatever hazard.

Thus, notwithstanding the persecutions, converts were multiplied.
For every one who was slain, perhaps two rose to take his place. The
persecutors themselves, like Saul of Tarsus, often became converts,
and preached that faith which they had once endeavored to destroy. Even
the unbelieving Gibbon, who seldom loses an opportunity to show his
hostility to the religion of Jesus, admits that the zeal of the early
Christians in preaching the gospel, their fortitude under the most
dreadful sufferings, the purity of their morals, and their love for one
another, were among the potent influences which enabled Christianity to
triumph over the imperial power of the Cæsars and the malignity of the
mob, to overthrow all the gorgeous altars of paganism, and to establish
itself firmly upon the ruins of the most imposing system of idolatry
the world has ever known.

                             CHAPTER XIV.


  Æmilianus and Valerian.――Barbaric Hordes.――Slavery and its
    Retribution.――Awful Fate of Valerian.――Ruin of the Roman
    Empire.――Zenobia and her Captivity.――The Slave Diocletian
    becomes Emperor.――His Reign, Abdication, Death.――Division of
    the Empire.――Terrible Persecution.――The Glory of Christianity.
    ――Characteristics of the First Three Centuries.――Abasement of

ABOUT this time, near the close of the third century of the Christian
era, the barbarians who surrounded the Roman empire commenced with
great vigor their resistless ravages. Along the whole line of the
Danube, they swarmed in locust legions across the frontiers. Still the
infatuated Romans, instead of combining against the common foe, were
wasting their energies in persecuting the Christians and in desolating
civil wars.

A Roman general, by the name of Æmilianus, was in command of the army
upon the Danube. His soldiers had chosen him emperor. There was another
Roman army in France, then called Gaul. This Gallic army chose their
general, Valerian, emperor. These two hostile forces marched to settle
the question on the field of battle. As the antagonistic hosts drew
near each other, the soldiers of Æmilianus, deeming the opposite army
the stronger, murdered their general, whom they had chosen emperor, and,
with loud huzzas, rallied around the banner of Valerian.

From the remote East, from Persia, and from the Indies, tribes of
uncouth names, language, and dress, were ravaging all those wild
frontiers of the empire. Valerian, an old man of seventy years, sent
his son Gallienus with an army to drive back these hordes into Persia.
He himself, in the mean time, repaired in person to the Danube to
assail the barbarians there. But the irruption of these ferocious bands
was like the resistless flood of the tide: it could not be arrested.
In wave after wave of invasion, they swept over France and Spain. They
even crossed the Straits of Gibraltar, and entered Africa. An immense
tribe came howling through the defiles of the Rhætian Alps, and swept
over the plains of Lombardy.

Another vast army descended those then unexplored rivers flowing from
the north into the Black Sea, ravaging all the coasts of Asia Minor,
glutting themselves with plunder, massacring the old, and carrying off
the young. With how little emotion we read such a narrative! and yet
how awful must have been the desolation and misery which were inflicted
by these wolfish barbarians upon the wretched inhabitants!

These wild beings, in boats made of the skins of beasts, floated down
the Bosphorus and the Hellespont; and the illustrious men and beautiful
women of Greece were captured by these demons in human form. The
descendants of Demosthenes and of Aristides, of Plato and of Aspasia,
were dragged into hopeless and endless slavery.

Five hundred years before this, a distinguished Grecian philosopher,
Aristotle, had written a book to prove that slavery was right; that it
was right for the more powerful nations to enslave the weaker ones. The
wheel had now turned, though it had been five hundred years in turning.
The barbarian Goths were the more powerful, and the intellectual and
polished Greeks the less powerful. These shaggy monsters, as wild as
the beasts whose skins they wore, were but carrying out the philosophy
of Aristotle as they dragged the boys and girls of Greece into bondage.

Gloriously the religion of Jesus beams forth amidst all these horrors.
“God hath made of one blood all nations.”[176] “Whatsoever ye would
that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”[177] “Thou shalt
love thy neighbor as thyself.”[178]

The Emperor Valerian pressed on with his Roman legions to attack the
barbarians in the Far East. He crossed the Euphrates, and encountered
the Persian host, drawn up in defiant battle-array on the plains of
Mesopotamia. A terrible battle was fought, and the Roman army cut
to pieces. The conquerors took Valerian prisoner; and God, in awful
retribution, compelled the captive emperor to drink to the dregs that
bitter cup of slavery which the Roman emperors, for so many centuries,
had forced to the lips of all the other nations.

Derisively the Persians robed the captive emperor in imperial purple.
He was compelled to kneel upon his hands and his feet in the mud, that
Sapor, his conqueror, might use him as a block, putting his foot upon
his back as he mounted his horse. For seven years, Valerian was kept
as a slave in Persia. He was exposed to every indignity which pride and
revenge could heap upon him. At last, with demoniac barbarity, they put
out his eyes, and skinned him alive. His skin, dyed red, was stuffed,
and preserved for ages in commemoration of Persia’s triumph over
imperial Rome.

Gallienus, upon the captivity of his father, was invested with the
imperial sceptre. Appalled by the fate of Valerian, he dared not march
to attack the barbarians. Sheltering himself in Rome, he endeavored
to bribe the Goths and Vandals to cease their ravages. The barbarians
accepted his bribes, despised his weakness, and continued their forrays.

The Roman empire was in hopeless ruin. There was no longer recognized
government or recognized law. In all directions, ambitious generals
were rising in struggles for the crown. In the course of twelve years,
more than thirty of these claimants appeared. The whole empire was
swept by the blood-red surges of civil war. In those twelve years, it
is estimated that the Roman empire, by civil war and barbaric invasion,
lost one-half of its population. The sword, famine, and pestilence
swept off a hundred and fifty millions of the inhabitants.

These barbarians ravaged the empire in all directions, perpetrating
horrors indescribable. Several times they flaunted their defiant
flag within sight of the dome of the capitol at Rome. Aureolus, an
insurgent general, marched upon Rome with an army from the Upper Danube.
Gallienus advanced to meet him. In the tumult of a midnight battle, he
was slain by one of his own soldiers. With his dying breath he named
one of his most distinguished generals, Claudius, emperor. The senate
accepted him.

Claudius captured Aureolus, and put him to death. The barbarians
now, in armaments more formidable than ever before, were crossing the
frontiers in a line fifteen hundred miles in length, extending from the
German Ocean to the waves of the Euxine.

An immense army of Goths, numbering three hundred and twenty thousand
men, in six thousand barges, descended the Dneister to the Black Sea.
Hence, passing through the Bosphorus, they entered the Sea of Marmora,
and swept resistlessly over all the provinces of ancient Greece.
Claudius attacked them. In a momentary revival of the ancient Roman
vigor, he drove them back to their forests. In the pursuit, Claudius
died; and the sceptre passed to Aurelian, the son of a peasant, but one
of Rome’s ablest generals. He pursued the Goths with astonishing energy,
smiting them with a rod of iron. He drove them from France, Spain, and
Britain, and then prepared to attack them in the Far East.

Among the many rivals for the imperial throne who at this time sprang
up, there was one named Odenathus, at Palmyra, near the Euphrates. He
maintained his sovereignty over many wide provinces there for twelve
years. Dying, he transmitted his sceptre to his widow Zenobia. Her
history was so wonderful as to merit particular notice.

Queen Zenobia was an extraordinary woman. She was as graceful in form
as a sylph, marvellously beautiful in features, and endowed with the
highest intelligence. She spoke fluently four languages,――Latin, Greek,
Egyptian, and Syriac. What was still more wonderful for a woman in
those days, she was an author, and had written an epitome of Oriental
history. Her domain extended from the Euphrates to the Mediterranean.
The celebrated Longinus, whose fame is known to every student, was her

Without assuming any hostility with the powers at Rome, Zenobia, for
five years, maintained uncontrolled command over this eastern division
of the empire. Aurelian marched against her. The witty satirists of
Rome lampooned him for making war against a woman. Aurelian replied in
a communication to the senate,――

“Some speak with contempt of war against a woman. They know not the
character or the power of Zenobia. It is impossible to enumerate her
warlike preparations, of stones, arrows, and every species of missile
weapon. She has numerous and powerful military engines from which
artificial fire is thrown. The dread of punishment has armed her with
desperation. Yet I trust in the protecting deities of Rome.”

After several sanguinary battles, in which Zenobia was worsted, she
retired to her citadel within the walls of Palmyra. As the Romans
vigorously pressed the siege, she, conscious of the doom that awaited
her should she be captured, attempted to escape on one of her fleetest
dromedaries. She had reached the distance of sixty miles, when she was
overtaken, and brought back, a captive, to Aurelian.

The Roman victor showed no mercy. Longinus, the illustrious scholar,
was sent to the block. Palmyra was sacked, and nearly destroyed. All
the aged men and women and the young children were put to the sword.
Zenobia and a multitude of boys and girls were carried captive to Rome.
Such a triumph the decaying city had not witnessed for years. It was
the dying flickering of the lamp. Twenty elephants, four tigers, and
two hundred of the most imposing animals of the East, led the pompous
procession. The vast plunder of the Oriental cities was ostentatiously

An immense train of captives followed to give _éclat_ to the triumph.
Conspicuous among these slaves was Zenobia, radiant with pensive
beauty. She was robed in the most gorgeous attire of the Orient.
Fetters of gold bound her beautiful arms; and she tottered beneath the
burden of jewelry and precious stones with which she was decorated. Her
magnificent chariot was drawn by Arabian chargers richly caparisoned.
The captive queen followed it on foot. All eyes were riveted upon her.

Aurelian rode in a triumphal car drawn by four stags. The Roman senate
in flowing robes, the bannered army, and the countless populace, closed
the procession. This was the last of Rome’s triumphs. The reign of
anarchy commenced. Aurelian was cut down by assassins.

For two or three hundred years, but three or four Roman emperors had
died a natural death. For eight months after the assassination of
Aurelian, there was no emperor. No man seemed willing to accept the
crown,――it was so sure to bring upon him the assassin’s dagger. The
glory of Rome had departed forever.

Such was the condition of the world about the middle of the third
century. Pagan Rome had fallen through her own corruption. Her polluted
shrines were abandoned, and her idolatrous temples were mouldering to
decay. Christianity was steadily undermining the proudest temples of
pagan worship. The disciples of Jesus, purified by persecution, were
preaching that pure faith which was dethroning idols, breaking fetters,
educating the ignorant, and regenerating the wicked.

There was at this time in Rome a venerable old man, of vast wealth
and singular purity of character, named Tacitus. He had been a kind
friend to the poor. Weary of anarchy, the people gathered in tumultuous
thousands around his mansion, demanding that he should be emperor.
Earnestly he begged to be excused.

But, just at this time, tidings came that the barbarians from the East
were crowding across the Euphrates and the Tigris. They were plundering,
burning, and massacring in all directions. The soldiers were clamorous
for an emperor to lead them to repel this invasion. This noble old man
of seventy-five years was compelled to yield. He put himself at the
head of the army, and had advanced to within a hundred and fifty miles
of the Euphrates, when the soldiers rose in mutiny, and killed him.

Diocletian, who had been a slave, grasped the crown by the energies of
his strong mind and his brawny arm. A few bloody conflicts ensued; but
he was a resolute man, and opposition soon melted before him. As it was
no longer possible to hold the empire together, assailed as it was in
every quarter by the barbarians, Diocletian sagaciously divided it into
four parts:――

1. France, Spain, and England were made one kingdom, and assigned to

2. The German provinces on the Danube made another kingdom, which was
allotted to Galerius.

3. A third realm was composed of Italy and Africa, where Maximian was
invested with the sovereignty.

4. Diocletian took for himself the whole of Greece, Egypt, and Asia.

The Roman empire was thus divided into four kingdoms, which were
in some respects independent; yet, as Diocletian had created them,
and appointed their sovereigns, they were all in a degree under his
energetic sway, and bound to support each other against the common foe.
But Rome seemed to have filled up the measure of its iniquity. No human
sagacity could avert its doom. For ages she had been gathering “wrath
against the day of wrath.”

Soon the savage Britons rose in arms. German tribes, clad in skins and
swinging gory clubs, blackened the banks of the Danube and the Rhine.
The wild hordes of Africa, from the Nile to Mount Atlas, were in arms.
Moorish nations, issuing from unknown fastnesses, crossed the Straits
of Gibraltar, and swept like the sirocco of the desert over the Spanish
peninsula; then, gathering upon the cliffs of the Pyrenees, they
descended in an avalanche of destruction upon the plains of France. The
Persian hordes, emerging from the steppes of Tartary in countless bands,
were roused to new efforts to chastise Rome, their old hereditary enemy.
Thus the shouts of war reverberated over the whole of the then known
world. All its fields were crimsoned with blood.

There were four royal capitals. Rome was abandoned as the metropolitan
centre. Diocletian was still the ruling spirit over all those kingdoms
which his sagacity had formed. He chose for his own capital Nicomedia,
on the Asiatic coast of the Sea of Marmora. Though he spent his life
in the camp, he endeavored to invest his capital with splendor which
should outvie all the ancient glories of Rome.

Diocletian was a shrewd man. Being aware how much the masses were
influenced by outward show, he robed himself in garments of satin and
gold. He wore a diadem of most exquisite pearls. Even his shoes were
studded with glittering gems. All who approached him were compelled
to prostrate themselves, and address him with the titles of deity.
Gradually this extraordinary man became supreme emperor. The other
three kings were crowded into the position of merely governors of
subordinate provinces.

Diocletian resolved to uphold paganism, and consecrated all the
energies of his vigorous mind to the extirpation of Christianity. We
need not enter into the details of this persecution, its scourgings and
its bloody enormities: such details are harrowing to the soul. We have
already given examples sufficient to show what persecution was under
the Roman emperors. The heroism with which many young persons of both
sexes braved death, from love to Christ, is ennobling to humanity.

A decree was passed ordering every soldier in the army to join in
idolatrous worship. The penalty for refusal was a terrible scourging,
and to be driven from the ranks. There were many Christian soldiers in
the army. With wonderful fortitude they met their fate.

Diocletian issued a decree that every church should be burned, that
every copy of the Scriptures should be consigned to the flames, and
that every Christian, of whatever rank, sex, or age, should be tortured,
and thus compelled to renounce Christianity. No pen can describe the
horrors of this persecution, the dismay with which it crushed all
Christian hearts, or the fortitude with which the disciples of Jesus
bore the scourgings, fire, and death.

We might fill pages with narratives of individual cases of suffering
and of heroism. How little do we in this nineteenth century appreciate
the blessing of being permitted to worship God according to the
dictates of our consciences, with none to molest or make afraid!

While Diocletian was thus persecuting the Christians, he was also
struggling with almost superhuman energy to hold together the crumbling
elements of the Roman empire, assailed at every point by the barbarians.
Nations die slowly: their groans are deep, their convulsions awful. For
several centuries, Rome was writhing in death’s agonies.

In the twenty-first year of his reign, and the fifty-ninth of his
age, Diocletian, enfeebled by sickness, and exhausted by the cares of
empire, resolved to abdicate his throne. At the same time, he compelled
Maximian to abdicate at Milan. It was his design to re-organize the
Roman empire into two kingdoms, instead of four. This was the origin of
the division of the Roman world into the Eastern and Western empires.
The morning sun rose upon the Oriental realms of Galerius: its evening
rays fell upon the Occidental kingdom of Constantius.

The ceremony of abdicating the empire of the world by Diocletian
was very imposing. About three miles from the city of Nicomedia
there is a spacious plain, which was selected for the pageant. Upon a
lofty throne, Diocletian, pale and emaciate, announced to the immense
multitude assembled his resignation of the diadem. Then, laying aside
his imperial robes, he entered a closed chariot, and repaired to a
rural retreat which he had selected at Salona, on the Grecian shore
of the Adriatic Sea. It was the 1st of May, A.D. 305.

Accustomed for many years to luxury, he surrounded himself in a
magnificent castle with the highest appliances of wealth and grandeur.
With the eye of an artist he had selected the spot. From the portico
there was a view of wondrous beauty. The wide panorama spread out
before him an enchanting landscape of the cloud-capped mountains of
Greece, with towering Olympus, the blue waters of the Mediterranean,
and the green, luxuriant, and Eden-like islands of the Adriatic.

Ten acres were covered by the splendid palace he had here constructed.
It was built of freestone, and flanked by sixteen towers. The principal
entrance was appropriately named “the Golden Gate.” Gorgeous temples
were reared in honor of the pagan gods, whom Diocletian ostentatiously
adored. The surrounding grounds were embellished in the highest style
of landscape-gardening. The saloons and banqueting-halls were filled
with exquisite paintings and statuary.

But even here, in the most lovely retreat which nature and art could
create, man’s doom of sorrow pursued the emperor. The keenest of
domestic griefs pierced his heart, darkening the splendors of his
saloons, and blighting the flowers of his arbors and parterres.

Bitterly had Diocletian persecuted the Christians. He had made every
effort to infuse new vigor into pagan worship. Was this his earthly
punishment? We know not: we simply know that for long years he wandered
woe-stricken, consumed by remorse, through those magnificent saloons,
into which one ray of joy never penetrated. The dread future was before
him. Pagan as he assumed to be, he had no faith in paganism: he upheld
the institution simply as a means of overawing the populace.

There is a marked difference between Christianity and all forms
of idolatry. The intellectual men of olden time――Cicero, Plato,
Aristotle――despised the popular religion: they regarded it merely
as an instrument to intimidate the ignorant masses.

But, with Christianity, the ablest men, the profoundest thinkers, are
its most earnest advocates. The presidents of our colleges, the most
prominent men at the bar, the most distinguished of our statesmen, our
ablest scientific men, our most heroic generals, are men who revere
Christianity; who seek its guidance through life, and its support in

The death of Diocletian is shrouded in mystery. Some say he was
poisoned. Some affirm, that, tortured by remorse, he committed suicide.
We simply know that he died with no beam of hope illuminating the
gloom of his dying-bed. He passed away to the judgment-seat of Christ,
there to answer for persecuting Christ’s disciples with cruelty never

Such was the condition of the world at the commencement of the fourth

In the first century of the Christian era, we have mainly a series of
execrable emperors, who, by their extravagance and their crimes, were
sowing the seeds for the dissolution of the empire.

In the second century, Christianity begins slowly to make itself felt.
We have some very good emperors, but with no power to stem the torrent
of corruption at full flood. One after another they are swept away
by poison and the dagger. Corruption rolls on in resistless surges.
Christianity, earnest, active, and heroic, then in its infancy, could
do very little to stay such billows in their impetuous career. It could
only work upon individual hearts. But thus it gradually spread its life,
giving leaven through the mass.

The third century dawns upon us, black with clouds and storms.
Apocalyptic vials of woe are emptied upon the world. There is dread
among the nations. Death on the pale horse stalks through Europe. The
fetlocks of the horse are red with blood. Rome, the Babylon of that day,
drunk with sensuality and oppression, falls in convulsions,――shrieks
and struggles and dies. It was needful that such a Rome, the tyrant and
oppressor of humanity, should die. In prophetic vision we can see this
Babylon descending to the realms of woe:――

   “Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming:
    It stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the
    It hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.
    All they shall speak, and say unto thee,
    ‘Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us
    Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols:
    The worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.
    How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!
    How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the

During this century, Christianity made rapid progress. It is alike the
testimony of pagan and Christian writers that this progress is mainly
to be attributed to the zeal of the Christians, their kindness to the
poor, their sympathy with the afflicted, their purity of morals, and
their fortitude under the severest pangs of martyrdom.

Notwithstanding the fiery persecutions with which paganism with all its
energies had assailed Christianity, it continued steadily to multiply
its converts and to extend its peaceful conquests.

                              CHAPTER XV.


  Helena, the Christian Empress.――Constantine, her Son, favors the
    Christians.――Crumbling of the Empire.――Constantine the Christian,
    and Maxentius the Pagan.――Vision of Constantine.――The Unfurled
    Cross.――Christianity favored by the Court.――Licinius in the East
    defends the Christians.――Writings of Eusebius.――Apostasy of
    Licinius.――Cruel Persecution.

AT the commencement of the fourth century, Christianity had made such
rapid progress, that there were flourishing churches in all parts of
the Roman world, and spacious temples of worship in all the principal
cities. Indeed, in about one century after the death of Jesus Christ,
Justin Martyr wrote,――

“There exists not a people, whether Greek or Barbarian, or any
other race of men, by whatever appellation or manners they may be
distinguished, however ignorant of arts or agriculture, whether they
dwell under tents or wander about in covered wagons, among which
prayers are not offered up in the name of a crucified Jesus to the
Father and Creator of all things.”

Persecution had not been continuous, but spasmodical; at times raging
like a tempest, and again dying away into a transient calm. If any
thing went wrong, pagan superstition attributed it to the displeasure
of the idol gods. All calamities were considered as the punishment
which the gods were inflicting upon the people because the Christians
were causing the shrines of the idols to be deserted. Tertullian, an
earnest Christian pastor in Carthage, wrote,――

“If the Tiber overflowed its banks, if there were famine or plague,
if the season were hot or dry or scorching, whatever public calamity
happened, the universal cry of the populace was, ‘To the lions with the

When Diocletian abdicated, he compelled Maximian also to abdicate,
and then divided the empire into halves, placing Galerius as emperor
in the East, and Constantius in the West. Galerius was a cruel, proud,
fanatical pagan, who hated the Christians. He assailed them with one of
the most bloody persecutions they had ever experienced.

Constantius had married a Christian lady, Helena. Though not himself
a Christian, he was so far influenced by his pious wife as to greatly
befriend them. In fifteen months after the enthronement of Constantius
over the Western empire, he died. The crown descended to his son
Constantine, then thirty-two years of age. This was in the year 306.
Constantine was not a Christian; but he was a humane, intelligent man,
who revered the memory of his pious mother. His father Constantius,
like Agrippa, had been almost a Christian. Like many such men now, he
had great respect for religion. There were many Christians who were
inmates of the palace. He even appointed Christians as chaplains, and
listened to their daily prayers in his behalf. All through history, we
see traces of the wonderful power of a truly Christian wife and mother.

Helena, the mother of Constantine, was so consistent in her
Christian character, that her family were constrained to recognize
her superiority, and to admire her spirit. It was doubtless her
example which mainly influenced her illustrious son to embrace the
gospel. Through her long life she was the munificent friend of the
Christians,――travelling from place to place to aid them with her money
and her personal influence. She died at the age of eighty years, a true
mother in Israel. In the palace, as in the cottage, maternal piety has
been one of the greatest blessings of earth.

Nothing now could arrest the dissolution of the old Roman world,
crumbling beneath the weight of its own corruptions. The dogs of war
were soon unleashed. Rival emperors again appeared. While Constantine
was in Britain, a general by the name of Maxentius raised the standard
of revolt against him in Italy. At the head of an army of a hundred and
eighty thousand foot, and eighteen thousand horse, he bade defiance to

The emperor, roused to the highest pitch of indignation, impetuously
crossed the British Channel, traversed Gaul, surmounted the Alps by
the pass of Mont Cenis, and descended into the plains of Piedmont. He
was within four hundred miles of Rome before Maxentius was aware that
he had crossed the British Channel. In accordance with the barbaric
customs of the times, Constantine, as he approached Rome, ravaged
the States which had sympathized in the revolt of Maxentius, and made
slaves of all the people. The number of captives so increased, that
hundreds of smiths were constantly employed in hammering the swords
of the vanquished into fetters.

Maxentius was an inveterate pagan. In preparing for the conflict
with Constantine, he had supplicated the aid of the Roman gods by
the most gorgeous ceremonies and the most costly sacrifices. This led
Constantine to feel that he must appeal to the God of the Christians
for support. The following remarkable narrative is recorded by
contemporary writers as given by Constantine himself.

Just before the final battle, Constantine was earnestly praying in his
tent to that God whom his mother had revealed to him. While engaged
in this act of devotion, he observed a remarkable appearance in the
heavens; when there emerged, in wonderful distinctness and effulgence,
a cross with this inscription,――“_In hoc vinces_” (“By this thou shalt
conquer”). The miraculous apparition was seen by the whole army.

  Illustration: Vision of the Cross

While Constantine was pondering the significance of this sign, night
came on. In a dream, Christ appeared to the emperor with the same cross
which he had seen in the heavens, and directed him to cause a banner
to be made after that pattern, and, beneath that banner, to lead his
armies to victory over their pagan foes.

However we may explain this event, whether we regard it as a miracle,
or as the effect of the excited imagination of the emperor, this seems
to be certain,――that Constantine himself made repeated and solemn
declarations that he had seen this vision. He certainly did raise the
banner of the cross,――the first time that banner was ever raised over
his army. He taught his troops, pagans as most of them were, to seek
the aid of the God of the Christians.

Eusebius, pastor of the church at Nicomedia, one of the most eloquent
preachers and able writers of the age, records that he had this story
of the miraculous appearance of the cross from the emperor himself; and
that the emperor, conscious of the great importance of the statement,
substantiated the narrative by the solemnity of an oath. Constantine
could have had no motive to perjure himself; neither was such a crime
in accordance with his character.

Constantine, much excited by the dream of the night, which enforced the
remarkable vision of the day, rose with the earliest dawn, summoned his
principal officers into his presence, and informed them of the standard
which he wished to have immediately constructed.

A slender cross was then made,――a long pike-staff being traversed by
a cross-bar. This was gilded, and incrusted with the most precious
gems. A crown of gold and diamonds surmounted the staff. To this
there was attached a small silken banner, richly embroidered with
gold and jewels, and containing the monogram of Christ. Above and
beneath this silken standard were images in gold of the emperor and his
children. In addition to this imperial banner which rose over the tent
of the emperor, there were other similar banners on a smaller scale
constructed, one for each division of the army. The emperor had also
imprinted upon his helmet an image of the cross, and one also upon the
shield of every soldier. He summoned several bishops, or pastors, to
his presence, that they might instruct him respecting the character
of Jesus, his mission and his career. He obtained copies of the Sacred
Scriptures, and read them with great care.[180]

The 28th of October of the year 312 had arrived. Constantine had
with him but forty thousand troops; but they were veterans, and were
inspired with the utmost confidence in their leader, who was one of
the ablest of generals. When within nine miles of Rome, the emperor
encountered the army of Maxentius strongly intrenched. A terrible
battle ensued, and Maxentius was utterly routed with awful slaughter.
In endeavoring to escape across the Tiber by the Milvian Bridge, he was
crowded by the fugitives into the river. From the weight of his armor,
he sank like lead. The next day his body was dragged from the mud; and
the soldiers, having cut off his head, paraded it on a pole while
Constantine entered Rome in triumph.

Maxentius had been terribly cruel. Even while the battle had been
raging outside the walls, a mutiny had been excited against him in
Rome. The senate, and all the people, and even the routed soldiers
of Maxentius, received the conqueror with great enthusiasm. An arch
of triumph was reared to his honor, which remains with its costly
ornaments and flattering inscription to the present day. A statue of
Constantine is placed in one of the public squares of Rome, with a
cross instead of a lance in his hand.

Licinius was emperor in the East. Constantine negotiated a matrimonial
alliance between his sister Constantia and Licinius. The nuptials
were celebrated in Rome. The emperor easily influenced Licinius to
co-operate with him in issuing the following decree from the city of

“I, Constantine the august, and I, Licinius the august, desirous of
promoting in every way the public peace and prosperity, have deemed
it one of our first duties to regulate the worship of Deity. We do
therefore grant to Christians and all others the liberty to embrace
such religion as each one may choose, that we may draw down the favor
of Heaven upon us and upon our subjects. We have resolved not to deny
to any one the liberty to embrace the Christian faith, or any religion
which to him may seem best.”

All over the empire the officers of government were ordered no longer
to molest the Christians, but to protect them. The property which had
been wrested from them was restored; their places of worship, which had
been closed, were re-opened; and they were rendered eligible to all the
offices of honor and emolument in the empire.

Licinius had established his capital at Constantinople, then called
Byzantium. While he was absent at Rome to obtain his bride, Maximian in
Asia crossed the Bosphorus with a powerful army in the depth of winter,
and, after a siege of eleven days, captured Byzantium. Licinius, at the
head of seventy thousand troops, marched to regain his capital. The two
armies met about fifty miles west of the city. Maximian made a solemn
vow to Jupiter, that, if he would give him the victory, he would put
every Christian man, woman, and child within his domains to death, and
thus extirpate the Christian name.

The night before the decisive battle, Licinius dreamed that an angel
appeared to him, and called upon him immediately to arise, and to pray
with his whole army to the supreme God, promising him the victory if
he should do so. The angel also dictated to him the form of the prayer
which he was to offer.

Licinius, awaking, immediately called for a secretary, and directed
him to write down the words of the prayer which had been uttered by
the angel. They were as follows:――

“Great God, we pray to thee. Holy God, we pray to thee. To thee we
commend all justice. To thee we commend our safety. To thee we commend
our subjects. To thee we commend our empire. It is through thee we live.
It is through thee alone that we can be victorious or happy. Great and
holy God, listen to our prayers. We reach forth our arms to thee. Great
and holy God, grant our prayer.”

Many copies of this prayer were taken, and distributed to the officers,
so that every soldier might learn and repeat it. The zeal of the army,
and its confidence in victory, were thus greatly augmented.

The battle took place on the first day of May, in the year 313. The
two hosts met upon a wild and barren plain called Champserain. The
soldiers of Licinius, upon a given signal, threw down their shields,
uncovered their heads, and, raising their arms to the skies, repeated
simultaneously the prayer which all had learned. Three times the
prayer was repeated, the emperor and all the officers joining in the

The hostile army, drawn up at a little distance, heard with
astonishment the confused noise of their voices, like the rush of many

The soldiers of Licinius replaced their helmets and shields. The
war-trumpet sounded; and with waving banners, and shouts of onset, the
two armies rushed at each other. The slaughter of the army of Maximian
was such as had scarcely ever been seen before. The soldiers of
Licinius seemed endued with supernatural strength. They struck down the
opposing ranks as the mower sweeps the grass with the scythe. Maximian,
terror-stricken, threw aside his purple robes, and, dressing himself
in the clothes of a slave, escaped across the strait. He fled with
such precipitation, that in twenty-four hours he entered Nicomedia,
a hundred and sixty miles from the battle-field. There he soon died,
tortured by misery, pain, and remorse, after having in vain endeavored
to kill himself.

Constantine now joined Licinius; and they re-issued in the East the
same decree in favor of the Christians which they had already published
in the West. Constantine even entreated the Christians to rebuild
their churches. Thus wonderfully was persecution brought to an end. The
Christians were astonished at these marvels of divine power. They were
inspired with new energies. Large and beautiful churches rose upon the
ruins of those which had been destroyed. The people, influenced by the
imperial decree, crowded the churches.

The emperor wrote letters in favor of the Christians; invited the
pastors to his table, and treated them with great distinction. He
contributed liberally to the building and the ornamentation of the
churches. The widows and orphans of the martyrs were regarded with
especial favor. He gave dowries to the young girls, and married them
to wealthy and distinguished men.

It was at this time that Eusebius, Bishop of Cæsarea, the most learned
man of his age, wrote his celebrated defence of Christianity, entitled
“Demonstratio Evangelica.” In it he showed that the law of Moses was
intended for a single people, occupying a limited territory; and that
it was by no means applicable to the whole world; but that this law
of Moses invited the world to a new alliance, which was to be formed
of all peoples, under the gospel of Jesus Christ. He argued the vast
superiority of Christ to Moses; declaring that the purity of his life
proved that he was not an impostor, and that his miracles proved that
he was not a mere man. He showed that no man could doubt the reality
of these miracles, when one considered the simplicity of the disciples,
their good faith, their disinterestedness, their perseverance even unto
death, and the impossibility of imagining any motive they could have
had to deceive the world.

He showed clearly that the Christians had not received the religion
of Jesus through a blind faith and a rash credulity; but that, after
serious examination, they were fully persuaded by substantial reasons,
and were influenced by a well-founded judgment, to abandon the paganism
in which they had been educated, and to embrace the gospel of Jesus
Christ. Eusebius also wrote a history of the Church, from the birth of
Christ to that time. These works of this distinguished man have been
invaluable to succeeding generations.

A nominal Christian emperor was now upon the throne at Rome. Paganism
had received its death-blow. But a system the growth of centuries,
interwoven into poetry, eloquence, statuary, and all the manners and
customs of life, could not die easily. It lingered still for ages in
its dying struggles, and made several convulsive efforts to obtain a
new lease of life.

But the conversion of Constantine, a Roman emperor, to Christianity,
was one of the most important events in the history of the Christian
Church. It invested the new religion, in the eyes of the community,
with dignity. It emboldened the timid, and inspired the resolute with
new zeal. The pagans complained that nearly all were forsaking the
worship of the gods, and joining themselves to the Christian party.

Constantine manifested a noble spirit of toleration. He made no attempt
to suppress the rites of paganism by force. “Those,” he said in one
of his edicts, “who are desirous of continuing slaves to the ancient
superstition, have perfect liberty for the public exercise of their

Very resolutely he protected the Christians from outrage. Several
Jews became converts to Christianity. The Jews persecuted them with
vituperation and abuse. The emperor issued a decree, that any persons
who should in future be guilty of a similar crime should be burned at
the stake.

The Roman world was now, as we have mentioned, divided into two
portions; and there were two emperors,――Constantine in the west, and
Licinius in the east. Gradually rivalry sprang up between them. As
Constantine had embraced Christianity, Licinius decided to rally to his
support all the energies of paganism. He first caused gross slanders to
be circulated against the Christian pastors.

He then forbade them to enter any house of the pagans, lest they should
convert them. Next he forbade their holding any councils, or visiting
each other’s churches. Growing more and more zealous in his persecution,
he banished all Christians from his palace, sending several into exile,
confiscating their property, and threatening them with death.

He forbade all women from meeting in the same assemblies or churches
with the men, or from listening to any prayers or religious teachings
from men. Finally he forbade the Christians from holding any religious
meetings whatever in the cities: they were allowed to meet only in the
open air in the country, the emperor saying mockingly, “that the open
air of the fields was more healthy than the confined air of a room.”

When one enters upon a career of wickedness, he invariably presses on
with ever-increasing impetuosity. Licinius now issued a decree, that
every man in governmental employ should offer sacrifices to the pagan
gods. The wrath of Licinius was directed mainly against the bishops,
or pastors, in consequence of the affection which they manifested for
Constantine. Many churches were torn down; others were shut up. Several
bishops were put to death: their bodies, cut into small fragments,
were thrown into the water as food for fishes. The Christians in dismay
began to fly from the cities and villages, and to seek refuge among the

In the city of Sébaste, in Armenia, there were in one of the regiments
forty young men who were Christians. The governor, Agricola, ordered
them to sacrifice to the idols. Unitedly and firmly they refused. The
governor, having exhausted the power of promises and menaces, devised
a new form of torture and death.

It was a cold climate, and mid-winter. In a night of freezing wind and
bitter cold, these forty young men were exposed, with no clothing, upon
a high scaffold swept by the wintry blast. By the side of the scaffold
was a room, in which were glowing fires, ample clothing, and a warm
bath. Any one who would renounce Christ might descend from the scaffold,
and immediately enjoy all the comforts which warmth and clothing could

The young men encouraged each other, saying, that, after a few hours
of suffering, they would all meet in a happy, heavenly home. One only
of the number failed: in the intensity of his anguish he denied Christ,
descended from the scaffold, and plunged into a warm bath, where he
instantly died. One of the attendants in charge of the baths was so
moved by this, that he immediately declared himself a Christian, and,
divesting himself of his clothing, took his place upon the scaffold,
by the side of the freezing disciples. The morning came. They were all
nearly dead, with their extremities badly frozen. A huge funeral-pyre
was erected: the still-breathing bodies were placed upon it; the torch
was applied, and their bodies were burned to ashes.

One of the young men, of vigorous constitution, had not suffered so
much as the rest from the cold. The executioners tried to persuade
him to recant, and to save himself from the fire. His Christian mother
stood by. Nerved by that sublime faith which seemed to inspire the
early Christians in those days of martyrdom, she said,――

“Go, my son, and finish with your comrades this short journey, that you
may not be one of the last to appear in the presence of your God.”

In the mean time, Constantine was more and more favoring the Christians.
He issued edicts recommending the universal observance of the Lord’s
day; he abolished all those laws which forbade Christians when dying to
bequeath their property to the Church; and he forbade the _cross_ from
ever again being used as an instrument of punishment.

                             CHAPTER XVI.


  The Arian Controversy.――Sanguinary Conflict between Paganism and
    Christianity.――Founding of Constantinople.――The Council of Nice.
    ――Its Decision.――Duplicity of some of the Arians.――The Nicene
    Creed.――Tragic Scene in the life of Constantine.――His Penitence
    and true Conversion.――His Baptism, and Reception into the Church.
    ――Charles V.――The Emperor Napoleon I.

THE Arian controversy, which subsequently so distracted the Church,
commenced about this time,――A. D. 318. Arias, a pastor of Alexandria,
introduced the doctrine, that the Son was not equal to the Father; that
he was created by him, and that there consequently was a time when the
Son did not exist.

This denial of the divinity of Christ, and consequently of the
doctrine of the Trinity, involved, as it was deemed, the necessary
denial of the stone which was regarded as the fundamental doctrine of
Christianity,――the corner-stone upon which the whole edifice of the
salvation of sinners was reared. The controversy greatly agitated the
Church for ages, and has not fully subsided even to the present day.

As Constantine had embraced the cause of the Christians, and Licinius
that of the pagan party, it is not strange that the two emperors
should soon find themselves arrayed in arms against each other. On
the 13th of July, 324, the two armies of the rival emperors met near
Adrianople.[181] Licinius had a hundred and fifty thousand infantry and
fifteen thousand cavalry: Constantine had a hundred and twenty thousand
infantry and ten thousand cavalry. It was clearly understood on both
sides that it was a battle between the two religions, as in olden time
between God and Baal.

Constantine took with him as chaplains several Christian bishops. The
banner of the cross, like the ancient ark of the covenant, was very
conspicuously borne before the troops. Constantine set apart the day
before the battle for a season of fasting and prayer with his whole

Licinius gathered around him the magicians of Egypt and the idolatrous
priests. The most imposing sacrifices were offered to the pagan gods.
He assembled all his officers in a grove filled with idols, and thus
addressed them:――

“Behold, my friends, the gods of our fathers, whom we honor as we have
been taught to do by them! Our adversary has abandoned them for I know
not what strange God, whose infamous standard profanes his army. This
battle will decide which of us is in error.

“Should the strange God of Constantine, whom we deride, give him
the victory, notwithstanding our superiority in numbers, we shall be
compelled to recognize him. If, on the contrary, our gods should give
us the victory,――of which there can be no doubt,――we will utterly
exterminate those wretches who have rejected them.”

Eusebius records this speech, saying that he received it from the lips
of those who heard it.[182]

The battle raged fiercely from dawn till dark. In the night Licinius
fled, leaving twenty thousand of his soldiers dead upon the field, and
abandoning his camp and all his magazines. Gathering recruits as he
retreated, he made another stand on the plains of Thrace. Constantine,
who had vigorously pursued, again attacked him, and nearly annihilated
his army. From a force of a hundred and thirty thousand men, scarcely
three thousand escaped. Licinius fled to the mountains of Macedonia,
and sued for peace. Constantine, out of regard to his sister Constantia,
treated his brother-in-law generously. He, however, wrested from him
nearly all his domains in Europe, leaving him sovereign only in Asia
and Egypt.

Eight years of comparative tranquillity passed away, when the two
emperors again found themselves in arms against each other. Licinius,
though an infirm old man, displayed on the occasion amazing energy.
He assembled on the fields of Thrace a hundred and fifty thousand
infantry and fifteen thousand horse. The Bosphorus and the Hellespont
were crowded with his fleet of three hundred and fifty galleys, with
three banks of oars. Constantine met them with a hundred and twenty
thousand horse and foot and two hundred transports. There was another
of those awful scenes of blood and woe called a battle. How faintly can
imagination picture the scene!――two hundred and eighty-five thousand
men hurling themselves against each other in the most desperate
hand-to-hand fight; the cry of onset, the clangor of weapons, the
shrieks of death. In a few hours, thirty thousand of the troops of
Licinius were dead in their blood. The monarch himself, with the
disordered remainder of his troops, fled wildly to Byzantium.

There was a long and cruel siege. Constantine was victorious: the
world was again under one monarch, and he a nominal Christian. This
extraordinary man issued a decree to his subjects, especially to those
of his newly-conquered Eastern empire, assuring them of his conviction
that the God of the Christians, the true and Almighty God, had given
him the victory over the powers of paganism, in order that the worship
of the true God might he universally diffused. He also issued the
following prayer:――

“I invoke thy blessing, O Supreme God! Be gracious to all thy
citizens of the Eastern provinces; bestow on them salvation through me,
thy servant. And well may I ask this of the Lord of the universe, Holy
God; for by the guidance of thy hand have I undertaken and accomplished
salutary things. Thy banner, the cross, everywhere precedes my armies:
whenever I advance against the enemy, I follow the cross, the symbol of
thy power. Hence I consecrate to thee my soul imbued with love and fear.
Sincerely I love thy name; and I venerate thy power, which thou hast
revealed to me by so many proofs, and by which thou hast confirmed my

This would be deemed extraordinary language to appear in the
proclamation of any, even of the most Christian monarch of the present
day. How much more remarkable must it have seemed coming from a Roman
emperor just emerging from paganism, and addressed to the whole Roman

It was the wish of Constantine that Christianity might be the
recognized religion of the empire, and that all his subjects might be
united in the worship of the one true God. Still he favored perfect
toleration. Yet Christianity was every way encouraged. Distinguished
Christians were placed in the highest offices of state. Chaplains were
appointed in the army. Though no compulsion was exercised, all the
soldiers were invited and encouraged to attend public worship.

The city of Rome for a long time had ceased to be the only capital; and
Constantine chose, with great sagacity, Byzantium, at the mouth of the
Bosphorus, as the new capital, giving it the name of Constantinople,
after himself. This imperial city enjoyed a very salubrious clime, and
occupied a position, for the accumulation of wealth and the exercise
of power, unsurpassed by that of any other spot upon the globe. It
was situated upon an eminence which commanded an extensive view of the
shores of Europe and Asia, with the beautiful Straits of the Bosphorus
flowing down from the Black Sea on the north, emptying into the Sea of
Marmora, and thence descending through the Dardanelles, or Hellespont,
to the Mediterranean on the south. These were avenues of approach
through which no foe could penetrate. The city was favored with a
harbor, called the Golden Horn, spacious and secure. The site of
Constantinople seems to have been designed by Nature for the metropolis
of universal European dominion.

The wealth, energy, and artistic genius of the whole Roman empire were
immediately called into requisition to enlarge and beautify the new
metropolis. The boundaries of the city were marked out fourteen miles
in circumference. Almost incredible sums of money were expended in
rearing the city walls, and in works of public utility and beauty. The
forests which then frowned unbroken along the shores of the Euxine Sea
afforded an inexhaustible supply of timber. A quarry of white marble,
easily accessible, upon a neighboring island, furnished any desired
amount of that important building-material.

The imperial palace soon rose in splendor which Rome had never
surpassed. With its courts, gardens, porticoes, and baths, it covered
several acres. The ancient cities of the empire, including Rome itself,
were despoiled of their noble families, who were persuaded to remove to
the new metropolis to add lustre to its society. Magnificent mansions
were reared for them. The revenues of wide domains were assigned for
the support of their dignity. Thus the splendors of decaying Rome upon
the Tiber were eclipsed by the rising towers of Constantinople upon the

Few men have been more warmly applauded, or more bitterly condemned,
than Constantine. Fifteen centuries have passed away since his death,
and still he is the subject of the most venomous denunciation and the
most impassioned praise. He was in person tall, graceful, majestic,
with features of the finest mould. Intellectually he was also highly
endowed. None of the ordinary vices of the times stained his character.
Conscious of his superior abilities, and sustained by the popular voice,
he pursued a career to which we find no parallels in history.

The Arian controversy was now greatly agitating the Church. The
emperor, having in vain endeavored to quiet it by a letter, decided to
call an ecumenical council; that is, a general council of bishops from
all parts of the world. It was a measure then without an example.

The city of Nice, one of the principal cities of ♦Bithynia, was
selected for the assembly. Three hundred and eighteen bishops met,
besides a large number of subordinate ecclesiastics. The emperor
defrayed the necessary expenses of the members of the council. The
session was opened on the 19th of June, in the year of our Lord 325.
The meeting was held in the large saloon of the palace, with benches
arranged on either side for the bishops. The members of the council
first entered, and silently took their seats: they were followed by a
small group of the distinguished friends of the emperor. Then, upon a
given signal, all rose, and the emperor himself came in. He was robed
in imperial purple, and his gorgeous attire glistened with embroidery
of gems and gold. A golden throne was prepared for him at the end of
the hall, where he took his seat to preside over the deliberations.

One of the most prominent of the bishops, Eustache of Antioch, then
rose, and, in the name of the council, thanked the emperor for all the
favors he had conferred upon Christianity. The emperor briefly replied,
expressing the joy he felt in presiding over such an assembly, and his
hope that they might come to a perfectly harmonious result. He spoke in
Latin, his native language. An interpreter repeated his words in Greek
for the benefit of those who were most familiar with that language.

The council continued in session until the 25th of August,――sixty-seven
days. The principal, the almost exclusive attention of the council was
directed to the new doctrine of Arius,――that Christ, the Son, was not
equal to the Father, but was created by him, and was subordinate to him.
The decision of the council, called the Nicene Creed, rebuked, in the
most emphatic terms, the Arian doctrine as heresy. Its language upon
this point was as follows:――

“We believe in one only God, Father all-powerful, Creator of all
things visible and invisible; and in one only Lord Jesus Christ, the
only Son, engendered of the Father (that is to say, of the substance of
the Father), God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten
and not made, consubstantial with the Father, through whom every thing
has been made in heaven and on earth; who for us men, and for our
salvation, has descended from the skies, has become incarnate and made
man, has suffered, rose on the third day, ascended to the skies, and
will come to judge the living and the dead.”

Thus words were heaped upon words, to express, beyond all possibility
of doubt, the sense of the council of the entire equality of the Son
with the Father. The Arians seemed disposed to accept the same language
used by the Trinitarians, while they affixed a different signification
to the words.

“The bishops,” writes the Abbé Fleury, “seeing the dissimulation of the
Arians, and their bad faith, were constrained, that they might express
their meaning more unequivocally, to include in a single word the sense
of the Scriptures, and to say that the Son is _consubstantial_ with the
Father, making use of the Greek word _homoousios_, which this dispute
has since rendered so celebrated. They thus declared that the Son was
not only _like_ the Father, but the _same_,――_identical with him_.”

All the bishops but two signed this creed. After some conference, those
two signed also.

“It is said,” writes Eusebius,――“and it is Philistorge, an Arian
author, who says it,――that these two, Eusebius of Nicomedia, and
Theognis of Nice, used fraud in their subscriptions, which they made
together. They inserted the letter _i_ in the word _homoousios_,
so that it read _homoiousios_; which signifies _similar to_, not
_identically the same_.”

The doctrine of Arius was thus condemned, as contrary to the teachings
of the Scriptures, by this numerous council of pastors from all parts
of the then known world. Several other subjects of minor importance
were discussed, and decided upon. The Holy Spirit was declared to be
also, like the Son, equal with the Father, and identically the same.
The emperor wrote a letter, which was published with the decrees of
council, urging that they should be accepted in all the churches. “The
results,” said he, “of these sacred deliberations of the bishops, must
be in accordance with the will of God.” In the most severe terms he
condemned the doctrine of Arius, commanding that his writings, wherever
found, should be burned. It was a dark age. Toleration was but little
known. The emperor even went to the unwarrantable length of saying,――

“Whoever shall conceal any thing which Arius has written, instead of
delivering it up to be burned, shall be put to death immediately upon
being taken.”

Conversions from paganism were becoming frequent and numerous. Under
the fostering care of the emperor, churches rose all over the land.

A tragic event in the life of this extraordinary man deserves record.
His second wife was a beautiful woman named Fausta, much younger than
himself. She was about the age of the emperor’s very handsome son
Crispus. Fausta fell in love with the young man. Virtuously he repelled
her advances. It is written,――

               “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

Fausta rushed to Constantine, and accused Crispus of atrocious crime.
The imperial father, in the frenzy of his rage, ordered his innocent
son to be led instantly to execution. His headless body was hardly in
the tomb ere the truth of his wife’s guilt and his son’s innocence was
made known to the unhappy emperor beyond all possibility of doubt. In
the delirium of his anguish, he ordered Fausta to be drowned in her

Henceforward, for Constantine, life was but a dismal day. He never
recovered from the gloom of these events; and it is said that he was
never known to smile again. For forty days he fasted, weeping and
groaning, and denying himself all comforts. He erected a golden statue
to Crispus, with this simple, pathetic inscription:――


The conversion of Constantine to Christianity was at first intellectual
only, not the regeneration of the heart. He was a nominal Christian,
believing in Christ. Still there is no evidence that he had been born
again of the Holy Spirit, or that he had accepted Christ as his
personal, atoning Saviour. The cares and sorrows of life tend to lead
every thoughtful mind to Jesus. Constantine had become a world-weary,
heart-broken old man, sixty-four years of age. Rapidly-increasing
infirmities admonished him that he must soon appear before the
judgment-seat of Christ,――before that Saviour whose authority his
intellect had been constrained to recognize, but to whom, as yet, he
had not fully surrendered his heart.

Deeply depressed in spirits, and sinking beneath his maladies, he
retired to some warm springs in Asia. Death was slowly but steadily
approaching. Constantine repaired to the church, and with tears and
prayers, and deep searchings of soul, sought preparation to meet God.
Having obtained, as he thought, assurance that his sins were forgiven,
he assembled all the bishops of the neighboring churches in his palace,
near the city of Nicomedia, and, with as much publicity as could
be exercised without ostentation, confessed his Saviour before men,
received the rite of baptism, and the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

Eusebius, the renowned Bishop of Nicomedia, performed the rite of
baptism, and administered the sacred elements. It is to the pen of this
illustrious bishop that we are indebted for most of the incidents in
relation to the religious history of Constantine. From this time until
his death, which occurred soon after, he seemed to live as a sincere
and devout follower of the Redeemer. Eusebius says, “Constantine, on
receiving baptism, determined to govern himself henceforth, in the
minutest particulars, by God’s worthy laws of life.”

The emperor died at Nicomedia on the 21st of May, in the year 337. He
was sixty-four years of age, and had reigned thirty-one years. This was
the longest reign of any Roman emperor since the days of Augustus Cæsar.
His funeral was attended with all the marks of homage which love and
gratitude and imperial power could confer.

How singular and how touching are these triumphs of Christianity! The
poor benighted slave in his cheerless hut, bleeding and dying beneath
the lash, finds in the religion of Jesus that peace and joy to which
the monarch in his palace is often a stranger. The martyr in the
dungeon, wan and wasted with material misery, with pallid lips sings
hallelujahs to Him who hath redeemed him to God by his blood.

The imperial Constantine, robed in the purple of nearly universal
empire, in the gorgeous palace of Nicomedia, surrounded with all the
pomp and splendor of an Oriental monarch, finds his heart yearn for
those consolations which the religion of Jesus alone can give. He bows
his head to the water of baptism; he partakes of the sacred bread and
wine of the Lord’s Supper, solemnly, devoutly, tearfully; and finally,
when sinking away in death, he breathes the prayer, “Lord Jesus,
receive my spirit.”

A few centuries rolled away, and there was another monarch, the
Emperor Charles V., whose sceptre ruled almost the whole known
world. Weary of life, and oppressed with the sense of sin, he sought a
religious retreat in the solitary Vale of Estremadura. In the cloisters
of the Convent of St. Justus the abdicated emperor wept over his sins,
and sought forgiveness through the atoning Saviour. He announced to
the whole world his penitence, and his trust in Jesus. The regal mind,
which had proudly stood untottering beneath the cares of universal
empire, bowed in humble submission to the religion of Jesus, which
alone can meet the yearnings of the humble and contrite soul.

A few centuries pass, and another emperor arises who attracts the gaze
of the world. Neither Constantine nor Charles V. wielded a sceptre,
which, in the elements of grandeur and power, surpassed that of
Napoleon I. Look at the dethroned monarch, as, through the long agony
of St. Helena, he sinks into the grave. He, before whose imperial will
all Europe had bowed, was dying upon his miserable pallet at Longwood.
That eagle eye was dimmed with tears, as, bolstered up in his bed, with
penitence for sin, and avowed trust in the atoning Saviour, he received
the emblems of that body which was broken, and that blood which was
shed, for our sins: then, a peaceful penitent, surrendering himself to
the arms of that Saviour who has said, “Whoso cometh unto me I will in
no wise cast out,” he fell asleep; we trust,

                 “Asleep in Jesus!――blessed sleep!
                  From which none ever wake to weep.”

How signal are these triumphs of Christianity!――triumphs which fill
so many pages of history and biography. How beautiful is this religion
of Jesus in its adaptation to every conceivable condition and want
of life! The Emperor Constantine, master of the world, with almost
limitless power in his hand and boundless wealth in his lap, needs this
religion just as much as the humblest slave or the feeblest child in
his realms.

There is no royal road to heaven. Constantine, like all others,
could only find peace by penitence for sin, the public acknowledgment
of his faith in an atoning Saviour, and the prayerful consecration of
himself to God. You and I, my readers, can find salvation only where
Constantine found it. There is but one door through which we can enter
the heavenly kingdom: that door is Christ.

                             CHAPTER XVII.

                         JULIAN THE APOSTATE.

  The Devotion of Constantine to Christianity.――Constantius and
    the Barbarians.――Conspiracy of Magnentius.――The Decisive
    Battle.――Decay of Rome.――Fearful Retribution.――Noble Sentiments
    of the Bishop of Alexandria.――Death of Constantius.――Gallus
    and Julian.――Julian enthroned.――His Apostasy.――His Warfare
    against Christianity.――Unavailing Attempt to rebuild Jerusalem.
    ――Persecution.――His Expedition to the East, and Painful Death.

THE Christian Emperor Constantine, during his reign, issued many
earnest appeals to his subjects, entreating them to abandon paganism,
and embrace Christianity. Heliopolis, in Phœnicia, was a heathen city,
which had surrendered itself to the most degrading and abominable
rites of idolatry. There was not a single known Christian in the city.

The emperor sent workmen to the place, and, at his own expense, erected
a very beautiful church edifice. He then selected several clergymen of
marked ability, and commissioned them to preach the gospel there. At
the same time he placed in the hands of the pastors a large sum of
money for the relief of the poor, saying,――

“I hope that the conversion of the souls of the pagans may be promoted
by doing good to their bodies.”

The most convincing evidence which the community in general can have
of the reality of the Christian religion is to be found in the lives of
its professors. When we compare the Christian Constantine with most of
the pagan emperors who had gone before him, all must be impressed with
the greatness of the change.

The palace is a dangerous place for the education and the training of
children. Constantine had three sons, who bore severally the names of
Constantine, Constantius, and Constans: they were all dissipated. Upon
the death of their father, the empire was divided between them. The
eldest son, Constantine, who was twenty-one years of age, had assigned
to him Spain, Gaul (now France), and all the territory west of the
Alps. Constantius, who was but twenty years old, took Asia and Egypt.
Constans, who had attained but seventeen years, received, as his share,
Italy and Africa.[183]

Constantine the father, with his vigorous arm, had held the barbarians
in check. God had apparently heard his prayers, and had given him the
victory over his enemies. His death was the signal for a general war.
Constantius, in the East, was soon struggling against an inundation
of Tartar tribes. The usual scenes of blood and misery ensued, as the
hostile armies, now in surging waves of victory, now in the refluent
billows of defeat, swept the doomed land.

While Constantius was thus engaged struggling against the barbarians on
the plains of Asia, Constantine was plotting an expedition against his
brother Constans, who was a mere boy, proud, conceited, and incompetent.
But the race is not always to the swift. Constantine, with a large
army, crossed the Julian Alps, and invaded Italy to wrest that kingdom
from his brother. But Constans, whom Constantine had despised, had
able generals. They lured Constantine into an ambush, routed his army,
killed him, and annexed all his realms to the Western empire.

Soon after this, a sturdy general, Magnentius, formed a conspiracy
in the army, killed young Constans, and was proclaimed emperor by the
soldiers. All the Western and Central realms acknowledged him.

Constantius, from the East, put his veteran army in motion, and
advanced from the plains of Mesopotamia to make war upon Magnentius
and to avenge his brother’s death. The whole then known world was
thrown into commotion by this strife, which was to decide who should be
master of this world. War and woe held high carnival. There were famine,
pestilence, and death, smouldering towns, blood-stained fields covered
with the slain, and despairing shrieks of widows and orphans.

The hostile armies met in vast numbers on the River Drave, not far
from its entrance into the Danube. It was one of those battles which
was to decide the fate of the world. Constantius, aware of the military
ability of his antagonist, wisely, but not heroically, retired to
the tower of a church where he could overlook the field. He left the
conduct of the day to one of his veteran generals.

A fiercer battle than that which ensued was perhaps never fought. Roman
and barbarian legions were intermingled, blending in the fight. The
air was darkened with stones, arrows, and javelins. Clouds of horsemen,
glittering in their polished armor, swept the field like moving statues
of steel, trampling the dead and wounded beneath iron hoofs. Night
terminated the conflict.

The army of Magnentius, overpowered by numbers, was almost annihilated.
Fifty-four thousand were left dead upon the field. They sold their
lives dearly. A still greater number of the troops of Constantius lay
drenched in blood by their side. Over a hundred and twenty thousand
perished in this one battle. Thus did Rome, in civil strife, devour her
own children. Thus was the way opened for the irruption and triumph of
the barbarians.

In the darkness of night, Magnentius, throwing aside his imperial
mantle, mounted a fleet horse, and, accompanied by a few friends,
attempted to escape through the Julian Alps. He reached the city of
Aquileia, at the head of the Adriatic Sea, not far from the present
city of Trieste. Here, amidst the pathless defiles of the mountains,
he rallied his surviving troops around him, and made another stand.

But city after city abandoned his cause, and raised the banner of the
victorious Constantius. He then fled to Gaul. Constantius vigorously
pursued him. At length, hedged in on every side, the wretched
Magnentius, in despair, terminated his life by falling upon his own
sword. He thus obtained an easier death than he could have hoped for
from his foe.

Thus was the whole Roman world again brought under the sway of a
single sovereign. Constantius, the son of Constantine the Great,
reigned without a rival, from the western shores of Britain to the
River Tigris, and from the unexplored realms of Central Germany to
the interior of Africa. But over these wide realms there was nowhere
happiness or peace. The benevolence of God seemed to be thwarted by the
wickedness of mankind.

The Goths, in merciless bands, were sweeping over Gaul, leaving the
path behind them crimsoned with blood, and blackened with smouldering
ruins. Germanic tribes, pitiless as wolves, were flocking across the
Danube, darkening the air with the smoke of burning villages, and
rending the skies with the shrieks of their victims. From the vast
plains of Tartary, bands of shaggy monsters, fierce as the beasts which
roamed their wilds, came rushing across the eastern frontier into the
war-scathed empire. There was peace nowhere. Every day brought its
battles and its woes.

The ancient city of Rome, no longer the capital of the empire, was now
crumbling to decay. Constantius, from curiosity, visited it. He found
the population still immense, and was received by the inhabitants with
great enthusiasm. The imperial palace which he occupied had entertained
no royal guest for thirty-two years. After spending a month in the city,
admiring the monuments of genius and art which were spread over the
seven hills, he was suddenly recalled to meet an appalling irruption
of the barbarians from the Danube. They were ravaging that wide and
beautiful valley with every conceivable atrocity, and had already
captured many thousand Romans,――men, women, and children,――whom they
were carrying as slaves into their inaccessible wilds. Among these
prisoners were men of the highest rank, and ladies of refinement and

Constantius placed himself at the head of a veteran army, and pursued
the barbarians with such vigor as to compel them to drop many of their
captives and much of their plunder, and to retreat in confusion to
their forest-glades. He then turned his legions towards the east, and
hurried along by forced marches towards the River Euphrates. Here a
barbarian chieftain, called Sapor, was ravaging Mesopotamia with an
army of a hundred thousand savage men from the wilds of Tartary.

The Roman emperor was prosecuting with great vigor this arduous
campaign, when he heard the tidings of a revolt in Gaul, and that
the army there had proclaimed its general as emperor. Burning with
rage, he commenced a rapid march with his legions towards the west,
when he was seized with violent sickness which arrested his steps.
While languishing on a bed of pain, with the sceptre of imperial power
crumbling in his hands, and death staring him in the face, the sins of
his life rose appallingly before him. It soon became manifest that his
earthly career was drawing to a close.

Constantius had been politically in favor of Christianity as the
religion of the State. He regarded the pagan party as his political
enemy. Destitute himself of the spirit of Christianity, he commenced
the unrelenting persecution of his pagan adversaries, confiscating
their property, and sending them to the rack, the dungeon, and the

It is remarkable all through history, how, under the government of
God, there seems to be developed a system of retribution. We ever meet
that principle in the biography of individuals, and in the vicissitudes
of nations. The pagans had persecuted the Christians with cruelty
which demons could not have surpassed; and now God allowed a bad
man, a Christian in name only, to torture the pagans with the same
weapons which they had so pitilessly wielded. It is a fact, which every
Christian will read with pleasure, that the true disciples of Jesus
remonstrated against this retaliation. Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria,
earnestly expostulating, wrote,――

“When men resort to persecution, it is evident that they want
confidence in their own faith. Satan, because there is no truth in him,
pays away with hatchet and sword. The Saviour is so gentle, that he
only says, ‘Whosoever will, let him be my disciple.’ He forces none. He
knocks at the door of the soul, and says, ‘Open to me, my sister.’ If
the door is opened, he goes in. It is the character of true piety not
to force, but to convince.”

The emperor was influenced by political considerations only. He
regarded the pagan party simply as his antagonists, who sought his
overthrow that they might grasp the reins of power. In co-operation
with his court, he ordered the demolition of their temples, and
directed all the energies of fire and sword to the demolition of the
idolaters. Thus the flames of persecution, which once consumed the
Christians, now blazed almost as fiercely in wrapping the pagans in
their fiery folds.

Such was the condition of the world towards the close of the fourth
century. Christianity had undermined all the temples of idolatry,
and was enthroned as the established religion of the Roman empire.
Ambitious men rallied about it as a great political power. Wicked men
nominally embraced it as an essential step to worldly advancement.
Christianity had thus, perhaps, more to fear from favoritism than from
persecution. Unprincipled men, grasping at wealth and power, embraced
Christianity merely as an instrument for the promotion of their own
temporal aggrandizement. They hated its spiritual teachings, and
endeavored to make it a religion of dead doctrines and of pompous
ceremonies, rather than a rule to govern heart and life. They crucified
Christianity while crowning it.

Lured by hopes of court favor and preferment, many who were still in
heart pagans had hypocritically professed Christianity. Corruption thus
crept into the Church. To conciliate the ignorant idolatrous populace,
and to lure them into the Christian churches, the pomp and pageantry of
pagan rites were introduced to supplant the unostentatious and simple
ordinances of the gospel. Hence the origin of those theatric shows
which are still the prominent features in the worship of the Church
at Rome.

The death-bed of Constantius was that of an awakened and despairing
sinner. He had been a wicked man. He had known his duty; for he had
enjoyed the teachings of a Christian father. He had also heard the
faithful preaching of the gospel.

Death brings all to the same level: the emperor and his humblest slave
are upon an equality in that dread hour. As one reads the record of the
remorse of the dying Constantius, he may say,――

                 “By many a death-bed I have been,
                  By many a sinner’s parting scene,
                    But never aught like this.”

As the moment drew near when his spirit, leaving the body, was to
be transported to God’s bar, he trembled, and cried aloud for mercy.
He gathered the most devout of the clergy around his bedside, and
entreated them to pray for him.

Professing heart-felt repentance, the dying monarch implored that the
rite of baptism and that of the Lord’s Supper might be administered to
him. He received both of these ordinances, and still found but little
peace. There are doubtless death-bed repentances; but they are very
rare. It is only by living the life of the righteous that one can
expect to know by blessed experience what it is “sweetly to fall asleep
in Jesus.” Trembling, hoping, despairing, the imperial sinner passed
away into the vast unknown.

How deep is the shade of melancholy which lingers around these sad
recitals! Where now are those monarchs who once ruled the world?
Where now are the soldiers of those thronging armies, which, fourteen
centuries ago, swept the nations with billows of flame and blood?

And where shall we all be when a few more of these fleeting years shall
have passed away? Is it wise to live for this world alone, when life
is such a vapor, and when we are so soon to be ushered into the dread
scenes of eternity? There is a voice, solemn as the grave, coming up to
us from all these past ages, saying, “Prepare to meet thy God.”

                   “The sun is but a spark of fire,
                      A transient meteor in the sky:
                    The soul, immortal as its Sire,
                      Shall never die.”

The three sons of Constantine the Great were now dead. Neither of
them left a male heir. Constantius had two cousins, of whom, during
his whole life, he had always stood in great dread, lest they should
aspire to the crown. He had caused them both to be arrested and
imprisoned. Though thus held as captives, they were bound, as it were,
with golden chains. A magnificent palace was assigned them, where they
were provided with every luxury. They were, however, closely guarded,
not being allowed to leave the spacious grounds of the palace. They
were permitted to see such company only as the emperor would admit to
their presence.

At length, Constantius had appointed Gallus, the elder of these
brothers, viceroy of the Eastern empire. Gallus took up his residence
at Antioch, and immediately released his brother Julian, and received
him at his court. Constantius, in a fit of jealousy and rage, caused
Gallus to be assassinated. He also re-arrested Julian, and confined
him for seven months in a castle at Milan, where the imprisoned
prince daily expected to meet the doom of his brother. Through the
intercession of Eusebia, the wife of Constantius, the life of Julian
was spared. He was sent into honorable exile to the city of Athens.

Julian had from childhood developed unusual scholarly and philosophic
tastes. In the groves of the Academy at Athens he had devoted himself
assiduously to the cultivation of Greek literature. When Constantius
set out on his military expedition to the Euphrates, he named Julian
as his heir to the throne, and also directed him to take charge of
an army to beat back the barbarians who were ravaging the Valley of
the Danube and the Rhine. As Julian, the man of books, the bashful,
retiring scholar, received this appointment, he exclaimed, “O Plato,
Plato! what a task for a philosopher!”

Julian, enamoured of the classic literature of Greece and Rome, had
become an actual worshipper at the idolatrous shrines of the pagans.
He loved poetic dreamings, and revelled in the wild mythology of his
ancestors. He was just one of those men whom we now politely call
_conservative men_, or, more irreverently, _old fogies_. He clung to
ancient superstitions and rotten abuses, and was quite opposed to the
innovations and reforms which Christianity would introduce.

But suddenly he developed traits of character which surprised every one.
He entered the camp, shared the coarse food and the hardships of the
meanest soldiers, and developed military ability of the highest order.
At Strasburg on the Rhine, in command of but thirteen thousand men,
he assailed, and after a terrific battle put to flight, thirty-five
thousand of the fiercest barbarians of the North. In the heat of this
hard-fought battle, six hundred Roman cuirassiers, overpowered by
the enemy, in a panic fled. Julian punished them by dressing them in
women’s robes, and marching them along his lines amidst the derision
of the whole army.

He crossed the Danube with his heroic troops, and advanced boldly into
the almost unknown regions of the north, cutting down the German tribes
mercilessly before him. He liberated, and restored to their homes,
twenty thousand Roman captives who had been carried off as slaves into
these wilds.

Julian, on his return from this successful expedition, repaired to
Paris for his winter quarters. Three centuries before this time, Julius
Cæsar had found this now-renowned city a mere collection of fishermen’s
huts on a small island in the Seine. It was called Lutetia, which
signified _The Place of Mire_. Since then the wretched little village
had gradually increased. The small, marshy island had become entirely
covered with houses. Two wooden bridges connected it with the shore.
Julian was much pleased with the place, and built him a palace there.

Constantius was at this time in the Valley of the Euphrates,
contending, as we have mentioned, against Sapor. He became jealous
of the renown which Julian was acquiring. To weaken him, and thus to
prevent his gaining any more victories, he ordered a large portion of
his army to be withdrawn from Gaul, and sent to the Euphrates. Julian
easily induced his soldiers to refuse to go. Clashing their weapons,
they rallied around their commander, and, with loud huzzas, declared
him to be their emperor.

Constantius, foaming with rage, put his army in motion to march to Gaul
for the destruction of his rival. He had but reached Tarsus in Cilicia,
the birthplace of the apostle Paul, when he died.

Such was the history of Julian before his assumption of the imperial
diadem. He was at the head of his army, just entering the defiles of
the Alps, hurrying to meet Constantius in battle, when he heard the
welcome tidings of his death. Julian was then thirty-two years of age.
With great eagerness he pressed on to Constantinople, where he was
crowned emperor on the 11th of December, 361.

This extraordinary man now resolved to restore paganism, and to
abolish and utterly annihilate Christianity. Publicly, and with
imposing ceremonies, he made a renunciation of the Christian religion,
and committed himself to the care of the pagan gods. As the conversion
of the Emperor Constantine was one of the most signal events in the
history of the Church, so was the apostasy of the Emperor Julian one
of the memorable events in the history of mankind. A bolder act of
infidelity and atheism has perhaps never been recorded in the annals
of our race.

Even the infidel Gibbon, in allusion to it, and to the inveterate zeal
with which Julian persecuted the Christians, quotes the soul-stirring
words of Milton in reference to the apostate angel Satan, as from
hell’s dark domains he winged his flight for the seduction and ruin of
our race:――

                            “So eagerly the Fiend
      O’er bog or steep, through strait, rough, dense, or rare,
      With head, hands, wings, or feet, pursues his way,
      And swims, or sinks, or wades, or creeps, or flies.”

Thus Julian pressed on inexorably till death, endeavoring to crush
the religion of Jesus, and to reinstate the gorgeous but senseless
mummeries of paganism. Intellectually, Julian was a remarkable man
both in native vigor of mind and in rich mental culture. Those portions
of his works which have descended to us prove that he possessed talent,
wit, and rhetorical ease and fluency. It seems as though God allowed
such men to assail Christianity, that it might be seen that the
religion of Jesus could triumph over the highest intelligence combined
with unlimited despotic power.

It is recorded that Julian possessed among other mental marvels such
flexibility of thought and abstract power of attention, that he could
employ his hand to write, his ear to listen, and his voice to dictate,
at one and the same time. During the long winter evenings, he devoted
himself with tireless malignity to writing a book against Christianity.
This treatise left but little which modern unbelief could add.

To prove that paganism could make as good men as Christianity could
make, Julian adopted the most austere morals, rigidly abstaining from
those vices which characterized the times. He despised the pomp of
royalty, discarded all luxuries, slept on the ground, and partook
only of the most frugal fare. Indeed, he went so far in the spirit
of eccentricity, fanaticism, and superstition, as to renounce the
decencies of dress and the laws of cleanliness. He deemed it an act of
piety to be filthy in person, and to allow vermin to devour him. In one
of his letters, boasting of his superior piety, he descants with pride
upon the length of his finger-nails, the dirtiness of his unwashed
hands, and the shagginess and _populousness_ of his beard.

Julian repaired and garnished the idol temples, and reinstated pagan
worship in the palace with all conceivable splendor. Every effort was
made to render idolatry fashionable and popular by gorgeous parades and
court patronage. The emperor himself often officiated as a priest at
these polluted shrines. The churches were robbed of their property.
Christians were ejected from all lucrative and honorable offices, and
their places supplied by pagans. The Christian schools were broken up,
and the children of Christians denied all education save in the schools
of the idolaters.

Jesus had predicted that the temple at Jerusalem should be destroyed,
and should never again be rebuilt. Julian resolved to rebuild the
temple, and thus prove Christ to be a false prophet. He endeavored to
arouse the enthusiasm of the Jews in the undertaking, and called upon
the pagan and Christian world to witness the accomplishment of the
enterprise. Under these circumstances, he put forth all the energies
which imperial power placed in his hands, and utterly, utterly failed.

The fact stands forth as one of the most remarkable in history,
avowed by Christians, and admitted by pagans, that the Roman emperor
Julian could not rebuild the temple at Jerusalem. It is stated by
authority which no one has been able to controvert, that the workmen
were terrified and driven away by phenomena which they certainly
regarded as supernatural. Even infidelity cannot subvert the testimony
which sustains this narrative. The fact is recorded by Ambrose, Bishop
of Milan, by the eloquent Chrysostom of Antioch, by the renowned
Gregory Nazianzen, and by the Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus,
who declares that no one disputed the fact. He writes,――

“While Alphius, assisted by the governor of the province, urged with
vigor and diligence the execution of the work, horrible balls of fire
breaking out near the foundations, with frequent and reiterated attacks,
rendered the place from time to time inaccessible to the scorched and
blasted workmen; and the victorious element continuing in this manner,
absolutely and resolutely bent, as it were, to drive them to a distance,
the work was abandoned.”

The statement is confirmed by many witnesses without contradiction. The
fiercest storms beat upon the workmen. Bolts of lightning descended,
destroying the works. Earthquakes shook the foundations, and volcanic
flames burst up through the yawning crevices. The enterprise thus
commenced in an impious spirit Julian was compelled to abandon. A
well-read scholar, he knew that open persecution, imprisonment, torture,
and death had utterly failed in arresting the progress of Christianity.
He resolved to try the influence of insult and contempt. He hoped, by
dooming the disciples of Jesus to ignorance and poverty, to paralyze
their energies.

The rich and powerful pagans, as well as the low and vulgar, thus
encouraged by the example of the king and the court, began to assail
the Christians with new malignity. The disciples were everywhere
insulted, persecuted, mobbed. To call one a Christian became the
severest term of reproach.

Then, as now, there were vast multitudes who had no independent
faith of their own. These unthinking ones drifted along with the
popular current. Julian condescended himself to write lampoons against
Christianity. In one of these, ridiculing the Christian doctrine, that
any man who repents of sin and trusts in the Saviour may be forgiven,
he represents, in a satire entitled “The Cæsars,” his Christian uncle,
the Emperor Constantine, going on a mission to the shades of the
infernals. There the emperor gathers around him all the foul fiends
of the pit, and, addressing them, says,――

“Whoever is a profligate, a murderer, a guilty man of any kind, let
him come boldly to me: I will wash him in the water of baptism, and
make him instantly pure. And should you fall into the same crime again,
and only beat your breast, and say, ‘I am sorry,’ you shall again be
perfectly holy.”

It would be difficult anywhere to find a more interesting illustration
of the fact, that there is often but a hair’s breadth between the most
debasing error and the most ennobling truth. The Christian doctrine
of forgiveness through repentance, and trust in the atonement, which
our Saviour has made, very nearly resembles this burlesque of the
doctrine as uttered by Julian; and yet one is true, and the other
false. Salvation through faith in the sufferings and death of Jesus
is described by the pen of inspiration as “the mighty power of God”
for the redemption of a lost world. What is the Christian doctrine of
forgiveness through faith in Jesus? It is this:――

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has made atonement for all sin upon the
cross of Calvary. Whoever now will abandon sin, trust in this Saviour,
and earnestly and prayerfully commence the Christlike life, persevering
to the end, shall be forgiven.

Now, how small is the _verbal_ difference between this Christian
doctrine of salvation through faith in an atoning Saviour and Julian’s
gross perversion of that only truth by which a sinner may be saved!

Some may wonder how it was possible for such a man as Julian, highly
educated, and endowed by nature with great intellectual abilities,
to advocate idol worship. The following extracts from a treatise of
instructions which he drew up for the use of the pagan priests will
show with how much plausibility such a man could argue in support of a
bad cause:――

“Let no one accuse us,” he says, “of holding the gods to be wood, stone,
brass. When we look at the images of the gods, we ought not to see in
them stone and wood, neither ought we to see the gods themselves.

“Whoever loves the emperor is pleased with beholding his image; whoever
loves his child delights in the picture of his child. So whoever loves
the gods looks with pleasure on their images, penetrated with awe
towards those invisible beings who look down upon him.”

This was the subtle philosophy of paganism. It was a philosophy which
the unlettered populace did not attempt to comprehend. The masses
of the people saw in their gods but wood, stone, and brass. In the
worship of these idols, they had a religion which exerted no beneficial
influence upon the morals or the heart. And here reflect for a moment
upon a fact which no intelligent man will call in question.

In the whole history of the world, not an individual can be found who
ever renounced infidelity, and sincerely embraced Christianity, who has
not been made a better man by the change; and, on the other hand, not a
single instance can be found of one who has renounced Christianity, and
embraced infidelity, who has not been made a worse man by the change.

The Bishop of Alexandria, Athanasius, was one of the most illustrious
men of his age. He was profoundly learned, a zealous Christian, an
eloquent preacher, and one whose unblemished virtues commanded the
respect of all. His success as a preacher exasperated Julian to the
highest degree. Moreover, he was so beloved in Alexandria by his flock,
and by the whole community, that it was not easy to strike him with the
weapons of persecution. Even the governor of Alexandria hesitated to
obey the decree of the infuriated emperor, and to drive Athanasius from
a people by whom he was so highly respected and ardently beloved. At
length, the emperor, receiving the tidings of some new conversions to
Christianity through the eloquence of Athanasius, in his wrath wrote to
the governor as follows:――

“I swear by the great Serapis, that, unless Athanasius is driven from
Alexandria before December, you shall be severely punished. You know
my temper. The contempt which is shown for the gods in Alexandria fills
me with indignation. There is nothing I desire more than the banishment
of Athanasius. The abominable wretch! Through his preaching several
Grecian ladies of high rank have become Christians, and have been

Athanasius was banished. After the death of Julian, he returned. This
good old man, having attained the age of eighty years, died in the year
393. His life was one of the most eventful in the history of the Church.
Nobly he fought the battle, and passed from the stern conflict to the
victor’s crown.

“Athanasius is one of the greatest men of whom the Church can boast.
His deep mind, his noble heart, his invincible courage, his living
faith, his unbounded benevolence, sincere humility, lofty eloquence,
and strictly virtuous life, gained the honor and love of all.”[184]

Julian had been thoroughly instructed in Christianity. He had been
nominally a Christian. He had deliberately apostatized from the faith,
with the determination to reinstate paganism. He consecrated all the
resources of his brilliant mind to invest paganism with some of the
intellectual grace and dignity of Christianity. To rescue paganism from
the contempt into which it had fallen, he endeavored to introduce into
the idol worship some of the moral elements which he had purloined from
the teachings of Jesus. In one of the attacks of this envenomed foe
upon Christianity, he unwittingly uttered the noblest eulogy upon the
early Christians.

“As children,” he wrote, “are coaxed with cake, so have these
Christians enticed the poor to join them by kindness. Strangers they
have secured by hospitality. By affecting brotherly love, great moral
purity, and honoring their dead, they have won the multitude.”

This is a beautiful tribute to the character of the early disciples of
our Saviour from the pen of a foe. Julian gave the idolatrous priests
the excellent advice, to endeavor to win the people back to the pagan
shrines by the same measures. He distributed large sums of money among
the priests to aid them in their work. In his earnest appeal to them,
he says that the pagan poor obtained no assistance from their own
people; while the Christians support all of their own poor, and assist
also many of those who worship the gods.

The idols were reinstated, with great ceremonial pomp, in temples from
which they had disappeared. The unstable populace, ever swinging to and
fro, and naturally inclined to a religion which demanded no holiness
either of heart or life, drifted over in large numbers to the pagan
party. In one of Julian’s appeals in behalf of the gods, he wrote,――

“I am a worshipper of the God of Abraham, who is _a_ great and mighty
God. You Christians do not follow Abraham: you erect no altars to his
God, neither do you worship him as Abraham did with sacrifices.”

Julian was perfectly willing to place the statue of Jehovah, as one of
the gods, by the side of Jupiter and Bacchus and Diana and Venus. In
his zeal against Christianity, he endeavored to revive ancient Judaism.
He had invited the Jews to co-operate with him in his unavailing
attempt to rebuild the temple at Jerusalem. He even stooped to ignoble
trickery, that he might put a moral compulsion upon the Christians to
do homage to the idols.

The emperor’s statue stood in all public places. It was customary for
every one, in passing, to bow to it as to the emperor. Julian placed
by the side of his statue, in closest proximity, several statues of the
gods. Thus no one could respectfully bow the head to the image of the
emperor without apparently doing homage to the idols. Not to bow to the
statue of the emperor was a penal offence. Thus, and in many other ways
too numerous to mention, Julian the apostate endeavored to reinstate

But all the artifice and imperial power of Julian could not restore
a religion which had no elevated doctrines of theology, no ennobling
principles of morality, which presented no lofty motives of action, and
which unfolded no realms of a glorious immortality beyond the grave.

It is a necessity of man’s nature that Christianity should finally
triumph; for the religion of Jesus alone meets and satisfies the
deepest yearnings of the human soul: it inspires to purity of life and
to noble deeds as nothing else conceivable can inspire; it irradiates
the realms beyond the grave with light and love and eternal joy; it is
indeed good news,――glad tidings to all people.

Many attempts have been made to build up Christian virtues without
Christian principles. All such efforts have failed. Human passion is
so strong in its bias to sin, that it can be restrained by no power
less potent than the gospel of Jesus Christ. The doctrine of the cross,
though to the Jew a stumbling-block and to the Greek foolishness, is,
to them that are saved, the wisdom of God and the power of God.

Every year, Julian grew more inveterate and malignant in his
hostility to Christianity. The city of Antioch, in Syria, was the
capital of Asia Minor. Paul had long and successfully preached the
gospel in that city; and, under the Emperor Constantine, every vestige
of paganism had disappeared from its temples and its streets. Julian
made strenuous efforts to re-establish pagan rites in Antioch. He
reared an idol temple in the vicinity of a Christian burying-ground,
and then ordered the bodies of the Christians to be removed from their
graves, as polluting the soil which the idol temple rendered sacred to
the pagan gods.

The Christians met to transfer, in solemn procession, the remains of
their honored dead to another burial-place. With united voice they
chanted the ninety-seventh Psalm, which calls upon the heathen deities
to prostrate themselves before the majesty of Jehovah:――

         “The Lord reigneth: let the earth rejoice;
          Let the multitude of the isles be glad thereof.
          Confounded be all they that serve graven images,
          That boast themselves of idols.
          Worship him, all ye gods.”

Julian, in his exasperation, caused the arrest of several of the most
prominent of these Christians, and sentenced them to the severest
punishments. One young man, Theodosius, was subjected to the utmost
extremity of torture. He bore the agony with such fortitude as to
excite the admiration of the pagans.

While Julian was thus breathing threatenings and slaughter against the
Church, he was summoned to the frontiers of Persia, where a terrible
invasion was menacing the empire. Persia had gradually risen into a
military power which threatened to assume independence.

The country between the Euphrates and the Tigris, called Mesopotamia,
or _between the rivers_, consisted of a region about five hundred
miles long and fifty wide. It was an exceedingly fertile plain. The
inhabitants called themselves Assyrians. Being wealthy and numerous,
and far distant from the central power of Rome, they had not only
raised the banner of revolt against the empire, but had sent large
armies across the Euphrates, which ravaged the adjacent provinces, and
returned enriched with plunder and slaves.

To bring these Assyrians again into subjection to the Roman power,
Julian commenced a campaign against them. He took with him sixty-five
thousand veteran Roman soldiers and a vast body of Scythian auxiliaries
and roving Arabs. Eleven hundred barges crowded the Euphrates, to float
down the stream the emperor’s ponderous engines of war and his military

These boats, flat-bottomed, were easily converted into pontoon-bridges.
As this immense army crossed the Euphrates, and entered Assyria, Julian
gathered the whole body around him, and, with the most imposing rites
of pagan religion, offered sacrifices to the pagan gods, appealing
to them for aid in his enterprise. The appeal, for a time, seemed not
to be in vain. Signal success accompanied his arms. City after city
fell before the terrible power of the Roman legions. The trail of the
victorious army was marked by smouldering ruins and blood.

Maogamalcha was one of the most important cities of this Assyrian realm.
The wolfish Roman legions burst through the gates. Every conceivable
outrage was inflicted upon the wretched inhabitants, and then they were
consigned to indiscriminate massacre. The governor of the city was
burned alive. There were in the suburbs three palaces, enriched with
every thing which could minister to the pride of an Eastern monarch.
Palaces, gardens, parks, statuary, paintings,――all were reduced to
utter ruin.

The devastation of a palace creates much emotion; but it is the burning
of the cottage, of which history takes such little notice, which fills
the world with weeping and woe. Julian became such a terror to this
whole region, that the painters of the nation represented him as a
lion vomiting fire. And yet this same man seemed to have his appetites
and passions under perfect control: he was quite free from many of
those vices which degrade humanity; he shared all the hardships of the
soldiers, often traversing with them, on foot, the burning plains.

But ere long the heathen gods, whose aid he had implored, and upon
whom he had relied, seemed to abandon him. He was led to adopt the most
insane measures, which could only result in his ruin. Troubles gathered
thickly around him. He became so harassed with anxiety, that he could
not sleep. One night, in troubled dreams, or in a revery, an angel
appeared before him weeping, and covered with a funereal veil.

The superstitious monarch, affrighted, rushed from his tent. It was
midnight. The camp was silent. The stars of Mesopotamia shone down
sadly upon the apostate. Suddenly a brilliant meteor shot athwart the
sky. To the superstitious pagan it was a menace from the god of war,
indicating defeat.

At break of day the trumpets suddenly sounded, summoning the soldiers
to repel an attack from the foe springing by surprise upon them.
It was a sultry summer’s morning: not a breath of air mitigated the
overpowering heat. Julian, as he rushed to the field, laid aside his
cuirass. A cloud of arrows and javelins fell upon him. A barbed javelin,
lined with sharp inlaid blades of steel, grazed his arm, pierced his
ribs, and, with its keen point, penetrated deeply the liver of the
monarch. Frantic with pain, Julian seized the weapon, and endeavored to
wrench it out. In the attempt, his hands were severely lacerated by the
blades. Bleeding, fainting, he fell senseless to the ground.

His guards bore his inanimate body from the tumult of the battle to a
neighboring tent. It was some time before he awoke to consciousness.
The blood was gushing from the wound. It was evident to Julian, and to
all others, that he must soon die. Grasping a handful of the crimson
gore, he flung it madly toward the heavens, as if conscious that Jesus
was reigning there, and exclaimed, “O Galilean! thou hast conquered.”

The current of life was now fast ebbing, and death was manifestly
near at hand. The wretched Julian made a faint attempt to rally to his
support his pagan philosophy.

“I have lived,” he said, “without any sin. I am not afraid to die. My
soul is now to be absorbed into the ethereal substance of the universe.”

Thus he died. At midnight, the spirit of Julian the apostate ascended
to the judgment-seat of Christ. This sad record suggests a few obvious
thoughts, to which we cannot refrain from directing the attention of
our readers:――

1. The experience of eighteen centuries seems to prove that the
final triumph of Christianity is certain. Every weapon raised against
Christianity has failed. Argument has exhausted its most profound
efforts. Persecution has in vain expended all its energies of torture,
dungeons, flames, and death. Though there are men now who hate the
religion of Jesus, who oppose it in every possible way,――some by direct
hostility, and some by neglect,――still Christianity was never before so
potent as now. Never before has it exerted so controlling an influence
over the hearts and lives of men. Its power has steadily increased with
the lapsing centuries.

2. It is obvious that the triumph of Christianity will not be a triumph
in which all the enemies of Christianity will become its friends: its
persistent enemies will perish. Satan may never be converted; but he
will be held in chains. Julian died hurling defiance at Jesus Christ:
he may forever remain thus obdurate; but he will never again have it
in his power to persecute the Christians. Julian is immortal: he is as
free now to love or hate as he was fourteen centuries ago. God never
robs his intelligent creatures of the freedom of the will. But those
who remain unrelenting can never be permitted to mar, by their malice,
the joys of heaven.

3. There are in this world, probably in the wide universe of God, but
two parties,――those who are the friends of Christ, and those who are
not his friends. To this solemn truth we must ever come. “He that is
not with me is against me,”[185] says Christ. One’s love for Christ may
not be fully developed; one’s rejection of Christ may exist in a latent
state: but the germs of love or rejection are in every soul; every one
is in heart either with Constantine or Julian.

4. Death is to all alike the same sublime event. There is something
awful in the death of Julian. The tumult and the uproar of the battle
rage around him; the blood gushes from his lacerated veins. But death
itself is an event so sublime, that all its surroundings are of but
little moment. It is the one thing, the one only thing, of which every
person is sure. No matter when, where, or how, death comes: to leave
this world forever; to go to the judgment-seat of Christ; to hear the
sentence, “Welcome, ye blessed!” or “Depart, ye cursed!” and then to
enter upon eternity, a happy spirit in heaven, or a lost spirit in
hell,――this is an event so transcendently sublime, that its accidental
accompaniments are scarcely worthy of a thought.

                            CHAPTER XVIII.


  Anecdote.――Accession of Jovian.――His Character.――Christianity
    reinstated.――Death of Jovian.――Recall of Athanasius.――Wide
    Condemnation of Arianism.――Heroism of Jovian.――Valentinian and
    Valens.――Valentinian enthroned.――Valens in the East.――Barbarian
    Irruptions.――Reign of Theodosius.――Aspect of the Barbarians.
    ――Rome captured by Alaric.――Character of Alaric.――His Death
    and Burial.――Remarkable Statement of Adolphus.――Attila the
    Hun.――Valentinian III.――Acadius.――Eloquence of Chrysostom.――His
    Banishment and Death.――Rise of Monasticism.

♦IN reference to the death of Julian, an anecdote is related which has
been deemed sufficiently authentic to be quoted in most ecclesiastical
histories. At the very hour when Julian was dying in Mesopotamia,
a pagan scorner, a thousand miles distant, in Antioch, banteringly
inquired of a Christian, alluding to Jesus Christ, “What do you think
the carpenter’s son is doing now?”

The Christian, as if prophetically witnessing the dying scene upon the
Tigris, solemnly replied, “Jesus the Son of God, whom you scoffingly
call the carpenter’s son, is just now making a coffin.”

After a few days, the tidings of Julian’s death reached Antioch.
The coincidence produced a powerful impression, and was regarded as
a supernatural revelation. The death of Julian filled the hearts of
pagans with dismay, and elated the Christians with gratitude and hope.
The remains of Julian were hastily embalmed, to be transported to the
shores of the Mediterranean; and his army, having been utterly routed,
commenced a precipitate retreat. Famine devoured them; pestilence
consumed them; the arrows and javelins of their triumphant, pursuing
assailants strewed with gory corpses the path along which they fled. In
the midst of this din of arms and these scenes of dismay, a few voices
nominated Jovian, an officer of the imperial guard, as emperor.

Jovian was not merely nominally a Christian, but probably in heart a
true disciple of Jesus Christ. He was a man alike majestic in character
and stature. When thus nominated to assume the supreme command, he said

“I cannot command idolaters. I am a Christian. The displeasure of God
is even now falling upon us as an army of his enemies.”

When troubles come, nearly all men are disposed to look to God for aid.
The whole army was at that time in imminent peril of annihilation from
famine, pestilence, and the sword. The officers in a body gathered
around Jovian, and earnestly entreated him to accept the crown.

“We will all,” they said, “be Christians. The reign of idolatry has
been too short to efface the teachings of the good Constantine. Lead us,
and we will return to the worship of the true God.”

This noble young man was but thirty-two years of age. He had already
given proof of remarkable courage, not only upon the field of battle,
but in braving the wrath of Julian by refusing to bow down to idols.
Jovian, having accepted the perilous office of emperor, soon succeeded
in entering into a treaty of peace with the Persians, and in thus
extricating the army from otherwise inevitable ruin.

It is refreshing to a spirit weary of the corruptions of mankind to
contemplate the sincerity and honesty with which this extraordinary
man conducted the most important affairs. For seven months the army was
on its march, of fifteen hundred miles; from the Euphrates to Antioch.
Jovian maintained the principles of true toleration: all men were
allowed to worship as they pleased. The disastrous career of Julian had
led to a general distrust of the heathen gods; and the moral influence
of a Christian emperor, operating in a thousand ways, increased the
disposition of the soldiers to abandon the idols, and to return to
Christianity. Paganism had met with but a transient revival. Now, like
a hideous dream of the night, it was passing away, to be revived no
more forever. The sign of the cross, which Julian had effaced, was
replaced upon the Roman banners.

The Arian controversy continued to agitate the Church. Arius had
declared the Son to be, not the equal of the Father, but the first-born
and highest in rank of all created beings. The Council of Nice, with
almost perfect unanimity, had declared the doctrine of Arius to be new,
unscriptural, and a dangerous heresy. Jovian adhered to the ancient
faith as pronounced by the Council of Nice. He recalled the bishops who
had been banished by Julian, and restored the church property which had
been confiscated.

It will be remembered that Athanasius, the renowned Bishop of
Alexandria, had been driven into exile by Julian, because, through
his preaching, some Grecian ladies of noble birth had been converted
and baptized. Jovian recalled the faithful Christian pastor by the
following letter, which he published to the world:――

“To the most religious friend of God, Athanasius. As we admire beyond
expression the sanctity of your life, in which shine forth marks of
resemblance to the God of the universe, and your zeal for Jesus Christ
our Saviour, we take you, venerable bishop, under our protection. You
deserve it by the courage you have shown in the most painful labors
and cruel persecutions. Return to the churches; feed the people of God;
offer prayers for us; for we are persuaded that God will bestow upon us,
and upon our fellow-Christians, his signal favors, if you afford us the
assistance of your prayers.”

The city of Alexandria, in Egypt, had been one of the strongholds of
paganism. The pagan priests had represented to Julian that the presence
of Athanasius in Alexandria rendered all their magic arts unavailing;
that his preaching was causing the temples of the gods to be abandoned
in the city and throughout all Egypt; and that, unless he were silenced,
there would soon be left no worshippers of the gods. Athanasius, upon
his restoration to his church in Alexandria, wrote a letter of thanks
to Jovian, in which he says,――

“Be it known to you, emperor, beloved of God, that the doctrine
established by the Council of Nice is preached in all the churches,――in
those of Spain, of Britain, of Gaul; in all those of Italy, of Campania,
of Dalmatia, of Mysia, of Macedonia, and of all Greece; in all those
of Africa, of Sardinia, of Cyprus, of Crete, of Pamphylia, of Lycia,
of Isauria; in all those of Egypt, of Libya, of Pontus, of Cappadocia,
and of the neighboring countries; and those of the East, excepting
a few there who follow the opinions of Arius. We know the faith of
the churches by the effects produced; and we have received letters
from them. The small number of those who are hostile to this faith is
scarcely worthy of consideration in opposition to the sentiment of the
entire Christian world.”[186]

This is very striking testimony to the almost universal assent of the
Church in that day to the equality of the Son with the Father. “The
Council of Nice,” writes Athanasius, “has not said merely that the
Son is like the Father, or like God, but that he _is God_, and the
_true God_. It says that he is consubstantial with the Father. And
the bishops have not separated the Holy Spirit as a stranger from the
Father and the Son; but they have glorified him with the Father and the
Son, because the Holy Trinity has but one and the same divinity.”[187]

Gregory, Bishop of Nazianzen, wrote a very interesting circular letter
to all Christians, giving them truly Christian counsel as to the course
they should pursue in the new and almost miraculous change in their

“Let us show our gratitude to God,” he writes, “by purity of soul, by
inward peace, by holy thoughts, and a spiritual life. Let us not avenge
ourselves upon the pagans, but win them by our gentleness and love. Let
him who has suffered most from the pagans refer them to the judgment
of God. Let us not think of confiscating their goods, of dragging them
before the tribunals, or of inflicting upon them any of the woes which
they have inflicted upon us. Let us render them more humane, if it be
possible, by our example.”[188]

The army had passed by Tarsus, the birthplace of Paul, where the
remains of Julian were consigned to the tomb, and had reached the
village of Dadastane, on the confines of Galatia and Bithynia, when
Jovian died, in the night of the 17th of February, 364, within about
three hundred miles of Constantinople. He was found one morning dead
in his bed; having been accidentally stifled, it is supposed, by the
fumes of charcoal in his apartment. His broken-hearted wife, who was
hastening to greet her husband, met his remains on the road. With the
anguish and tears of widowhood, bitter then as now, she accompanied
them to the tomb in Constantinople. He was but thirty-three years of
age, and had reigned but eight months. The main body of the army, being
a little in advance, had then reached Nice, the capital of Bithynia.
As soon as the soldiers heard of the death of Jovian, they unanimously
elected Valentinian, who was captain of the imperial guard, his
successor. Valentinian was also a Christian. The following anecdote
illustrates the nobility of his character:――

It was the custom of Julian on special occasions to distribute gifts
to those who had merited them. The apostate emperor, who would stoop
to every kind of trickery to lure the soldiers, even unconsciously, to
pay homage to the idol gods, on one of these occasions, when about to
bestow rewards, had an altar erected before him, upon which were placed
glowing coals. By the side of the altar stood a table covered with

As a part of the ceremony, each one who was to receive an imperial
gift was to sprinkle a little of the incense upon the coals, from which
a fragrant cloud would gracefully arise. It was a stratagem to lead
the Christians to offer incense to the gods, without being conscious
that they were doing so. Julian thus endeavored to entrap three of
his leading Christian generals,――Jovian (who became his successor),
Valentinian, and Valens.

After burning the frankincense, and receiving the imperial gift,
Valentinian returned to his tent. As he sat down to partake of some
refreshments, he, according to his custom, asked a blessing in the name
of Jesus Christ. A pagan companion, observing this, exclaimed, with
real or affected astonishment,――

“How is this? Do you invoke the name of Christ after having publicly
renounced him?”

“What do you mean?” inquired Valentinian, alarmed and surprised.

“I mean,” was the reply, “that you have just offered incense to the
gods upon one of their altars.”

Valentinian immediately rose, and, hastening to the presence of the
emperor, laid down at his feet the precious gifts he had received,

“Sire, I am a Christian. I wish all the world to know it. I have not
intentionally renounced my Saviour, Jesus Christ. If my hand has erred,
my heart has not followed it: the emperor has deceived me. I renounce
the act of impiety, and am ready to make expiation with my blood.”

Jovian, and Valentinian’s brother Valens, did the same with their
gifts. The emperor was exasperated. In the first impulse of his rage,
he ordered them to be led immediately to execution. As the executioner
stood ready with his heavy sword to sever their heads from their bodies,
and the victims were upon their knees to receive the death-blow, a
herald hastily approached, and arrested the execution. The emperor,
upon reflection, deemed it not wise for such an offence to consign to
death three of the best and most influential officers in his army.

Another characteristic anecdote is related of Valentinian, worthy
of record. He was commander of the imperial guard. As such, it was
necessary for him, upon all important occasions, to be at the side of
the emperor. At one time, when Julian, in performance of some rites of
the pagan religion, was entering the Temple of the Goddess of Fortune,
dancing in religious homage, two priests stood, one on each side of
the vestibule, to sprinkle the emperor with holy-water. This was a
pagan rite which the Papal Church has transferred from the temples of
idolatry to the sanctuaries of Christ.

A drop of this water fell upon the dress of Valentinian. Turning to one
of the priests, he said, “You have sullied my garments.” Immediately
he tore from his robe the portion upon which the water consecrated to
idols had fallen.

The emperor was so irritated, that for a time he banished him from his
command. It is said that Julian would not put him to death, because,
with strange inconsistency, he was unwilling that he should wear the
crown of martyrdom. Such was the character of the Christian Valentinian,
upon whose shoulders the robes of imperial purple were now placed.

Valentinian seems to have proved himself, in all respects, worthy of
his high position. He was majestic in stature, commanding in intellect,
and of irreproachable purity of morals. He was crowned by the army
at Nice, in Bithynia; his brother Valens receiving from him the
appointment of assistant emperor. The Eastern empire, from the Danube
to the confines of Persia, was assigned to Valens, with Constantinople
for his capital. Valentinian took charge of the Western empire,
selecting the city of Milan for his metropolis.

Still the barbarian hordes from all directions were crowding upon the
crumbling Roman empire. While Valentinian was struggling against their
locust legions in the West, Valens was making an equally desperate and
equally unavailing struggle against them in the East. The Huns came
howling on from the wilds of Tartary, fierce as the wolves, and in
numbers which no man could count. They could not be resisted. In an
impetuous flood they surged along, till all the plains of Greece were
swept by the inundation. Even the Goths fled in terror before these
shaggy and merciless warriors.

Valens entered into an alliance with the Goths, hoping by their aid to
resist the still more dreaded Huns. He allowed his barbarian allies to
take possession of all the waste lands of Thrace. Availing themselves
of this advantageous base of operations, the treacherous Goths ravaged
the whole country to the shores of the Adriatic, menacing even Italy
with their arms. They laid siege to both the cities of Adrianople and
Constantinople. Terror reigned everywhere. Tears and blood, through
man’s demoniac ferocity, deluged this whole world. In an awful battle
before the walls of Adrianople, the army of Valens was cut to pieces.
Valens himself perished upon the bloody field. How little can we
imagine, seated by our peaceful firesides, the dimensions of that wail
of misery ascending from a whole army perishing beneath the sabres and
the battle-axes of merciless barbarians! This is indeed a lost world.
Surely history proves that man is a depraved animal. How happy might
this world have been had man been the friend, instead of the foe, of
his brother-man!

For twelve years Valentinian was engaged in almost an incessant
battle. The Picts and Scots were rushing down upon Britain from the
mountains of Caledonia. All along the Rhine and the Danube, tribes of
uncouth names and habits were desolating, in plundering bands, every
unprotected region. Worn down with care, toil, and sorrow, Valentinian
fell a victim to a sudden attack of apoplexy in the year 375, in the
fifty-fourth year of his age.

Valentinian had a son, Gratian, who, at the time of his father’s death,
was but seventeen years old. He succeeded his father on the throne of
the Western empire, without inheriting either his virtues or his energy.
Retiring to Paris, the boy-emperor surrendered himself to voluptuous
indulgence. Discontent created an insurrection, which was led by
Maximus, Governor of Britain. Gratian, abandoned by his troops, fled
to Lyons, where he was overtaken and slain.

A Christian general by the name of Theodosius had succeeded Valens
in the East. Difficulties had arisen between Theodosius and Maximus.
War ensued. Maximus was slain. Valentinian, a mere boy, younger brother
of Gratian, was placed upon the throne of the Western empire. The
poor child was almost immediately assassinated. Theodosius marched to
the West to avenge his death, and assumed the government of the whole
united empire of the East and of the West. But he was a sick man, and
the hand of death was already upon him: in less than four months he
breathed his last at Milan.

Theodosius was a zealous Christian: in character he was one of the
purest of men, and was earnestly devoted to the welfare of his realms;
but his reign was sullied by intolerance,――doubtless conscientious, but
none the less bigoted. He issued severe edicts against those Christians
who swerved from the established faith as enunciated by the Council of
Nice. He unrelentingly demolished or closed all the temples of paganism.
He instituted that office of inquisitors of the faith, which, revived
in subsequent centuries, became the fruitful source of so much crime
and woe.

It was indeed a dark day, in the year of our Lord 379, when Theodosius
ascended the throne. There was no stable government anywhere, no
protection from violence. The Roman power, which, oppressive as it had
been, was far better than anarchy, was now but a crumbling ruin, which
no human energy or skill could rebuild.

As we look back through the gloomy centuries upon these dim,
tumultuous scenes, a new vision of appalling grandeur rises before the
eye. Alaric――the world-renowned Alaric the Goth――appears in the arena
at the head of his fierce legions. Like gaunt and famished beasts of
prey, his savage hordes swept over Greece, entered Italy, and besieged
Milan. These barbarians were a short, chunky, broad-shouldered race of
men, of herculean strength. A contemporary writer thus describes their
general aspect:――

“Their high cheek-bones, and small, twinkling eyes, gave them a savage
and cruel expression, which was increased by their want of nose; for
the only visible appearance of that organ consisted of two holes sunk
in the square expanse of their faces.”

Onward, ever onward, rolled this flood of hideous and pitiless foes.
While this inundation was sweeping along from the East, another similar
flood came surging down from the North: the two torrents, blending,
eddied around the walls of Rome. For six hundred years the city of Rome
had not been insulted by the presence of a foreign foe.

Theodosius was the child of Christian parents. At the commencement
of his reign, he was but nominally a Christian; that is, he was not a
pagan, but had intellectually given his assent to the religion of Jesus.
He had not, however, at that time, publicly united with the Church.
The perils which were menacing the State, and a severe fit of sickness
with which he was seized at Thessalonica, seem to have led him to feel
the necessity of personal religion. The emperor sent for Ascole, the
pastor of the church in Thessalonica, and, having ascertained that
he cordially accepted the doctrines of the Council of Nice, received
from him the rite of baptism, and thus enrolled himself among the
disciples of Jesus. Notwithstanding the faults of the Christian Emperor
Theodosius,――faults to be attributed to the times rather than to the
individual,――history has pronounced him one of the purest and noblest
monarchs who ever occupied a throne.

Upon the death of Theodosius at Milan, the empire was divided between
his two sons: Arcadius was crowned in the East, Honorius in the West.
The Eastern empire embraced Thrace, Greece, Asia Minor, Syria, and
Egypt: the Western empire included Italy, Africa, Gaul, Spain, Britain,
and the Danubian provinces. The Western empire was now much the weaker.
Rome had ceased to be the metropolis, and enjoyed only the renown of
its former greatness. Milan had become the new capital.

Alaric, with his fierce legions, after a short siege of Milan, was
driven back. The timid Honorius was so alarmed by the invasion, that,
with his court, he retired from Milan to Ravenna. Alaric, at the head
of a hundred thousand men, contemptuously passing by Ravenna, commenced
the siege of Rome. The walls surrounding the city still remained in
their massive strength. Famine compelled the citizens to purchase a
temporary peace at the price of the payment of a vast sum of money,
and the surrender of many of the leading citizens as hostages.

When the delegation from the Roman senate, with the offer to surrender,
was introduced to Alaric, the members of the delegation ventured to
state rather menacingly, that, if Alaric refused them honorable terms,
he would rouse against him an innumerable people animated by despair.
Alaric replied with a scornful laugh,――

“The thicker the grass, the easier it is mown.”

He then assigned the only terms upon which he would retire. He demanded
_all_ the gold and silver in the city, whether it were the property of
the State or of individuals; then all the rich and precious movables;
then all the slaves who had been captured from the barbarians.

“If such, O king! are your demands,” the ministers replied, “what do
you intend to leave to us?”

“Your lives,” the conqueror haughtily replied. Still Alaric somewhat
abated the rigor of these demands.

There is but little reliance to be placed in barbarian faith. Alaric
and his fierce hordes were soon again encamped before the walls of the
imperial city. There were forty thousand slaves (white slaves), the
victims of Roman rapacity, within the walls. They conspired with the
invaders. At midnight there was a servile insurrection: the gates were
thrown open, and the clangor of rushing barbarians resounded through
the streets.

It is not in the power of human imagination to conceive the horrors
of a city sacked at midnight,――a city of more than a million of
inhabitants, men, women, and children, at the mercy of a savage
foe.[189] The slaves were glad of a chance to avenge the wrongs of
ages. They were of the same race with their masters. The hour of
vengeance had tolled. The Romans had thoroughly instructed them and
their barbarian confederates in all the arts of cruelty and lust.
God alone can comprehend the scenes which were enacted during that
awful night. The most venerable and costly memorials of the past were
surrendered to conflagration: large portions of the city were consumed.

For six days the Goths held the metropolis; then, reeling in
intoxication, encumbered with spoil, and dragging after them their
captives,――the young men to groom their horses; the maidens, daughters
of Roman senators and nobles, to till their harems,――they rioted along
the Appian Way, and surged over all Southern Italy, giving loose to
every depraved desire.

It is thus that God punishes guilty nations. Though sentence against an
evil work may not be speedily executed, the hour of recompense is sure
to come. For four years the whole of the south of Italy was subject to
the barbarians. Roman philosophers had long argued that it was right
for the stronger nations to enslave the weaker. The Goths were now the
stronger, and the Romans the weaker; and the Romans were compelled to
drain to the dregs the cup which their own hands had mingled.

Men of senatorial dignity, and matrons of illustrious birth, became the
menial servants of half-naked savages. These burly barbarians stretched
their hairy limbs beneath the shade of palm-trees; and young men and
maidens born in palaces washed their feet, and presented them Falernian
wine in golden goblets.

While Alaric was thus ravaging Italy, the Emperor Honorius was
ignominiously besieged behind the walls of Ravenna. The old Roman
empire had so far crumbled away, that Italy alone remained even
nominally subject to the emperor. Even large portions of Italy were
in the hands of the foe. Persia, Egypt, Turkey, Germany, France,
Spain, England, all overrun by barbarians, became the cradles of those
monarchies which are flourishing or decaying in those regions at the
present day.

Alaric the Goth was one of the most remarkable of men. His native
ferocity was strangely mitigated by profound respect for Christianity.
Many of the Gothic soldiers had also, at least nominally, adopted the
Christian faith. When Rome was taken by storm, Alaric exhorted his
soldiers to respect the churches as inviolable sanctuaries. A Goth
burst into the house of an aged woman who had devoted herself to the
service of the Church. Upon his demanding her gold and silver, she
conducted him to a closet of massive plate.

“These,” said she, “are consecrated vessels belonging to the Church of
St. Peter. If you touch them, the sacrilegious deed will remain upon
your conscience.”

The barbarian was overawed, and sent a messenger to inform the king of
the treasure he had discovered. Alaric sent an order that the sacred
vessels should be immediately transported, under guard, to the church
of the apostle.

“From the extremity, perhaps, of the Quirinal Hill to the distant
quarters of the Vatican, a numerous detachment of Goths, marching
in order of battle through the principal streets, protected with
glittering arms the long train of their devout companions, who bore
aloft on their heads the sacred vessels of gold and silver; and
the martial shouts of the barbarians were mingled with the sound of
religious psalmody.”[190]

Augustine, in his celebrated work entitled “The City of God,” refers
with much gratification to this memorable interposition of God in
behalf of his Church. Alaric died just as he was entering upon an
expedition for the conquest of Syria, having been in possession of
Italy for four years.

“The ferocious character of the barbarians,” writes Gibbon, “was
displayed in the funeral of a hero whose valor and fortune they
celebrated with mournful applause. By the labor of a captive multitude,
they forcibly diverted the course of the Busentius, a small river
that washes the walls of Consentia. The royal sepulchre, adorned
with the splendid spoils and trophies of Rome, was constructed in the
vacant bed. The waters were then returned to their natural channel;
and the secret spot where the remains of Alaric had been deposited was
forever concealed by the inhuman massacre of the prisoners who had been
employed to execute the work.”

Adolphus, brother-in-law of Alaric, succeeded, by the vote of the
Gothic army, to the supreme command. He was also a remarkable man. His
intelligence and moral worth may be inferred from the following remarks
which he made to a citizen of Narbonne. The conversation was related by
this citizen to St. Jerome, in the presence of the historian Orosius.

“In the full confidence of valor and victory,” said Adolphus, “I
once aspired to change the face of the universe; to obliterate the
name of Rome; to erect on its ruins the dominion of the Goths; and
to acquire, like Augustus, the immortal fame of the founder of a new
empire. By repeated experiments, I was gradually convinced that laws
are essentially necessary to maintain and regulate a well-constituted
State, and that the fierce, intractable humor of the Goths was
incapable of bearing the salutary yoke of laws and civil government.
From that moment I proposed to myself a different object of glory
and ambition; and it is now my sincere wish that the gratitude of
future ages should acknowledge the merit of a stranger who employed
the sword of the Goth, not to subvert, but to restore and maintain,
the prosperity of the Roman empire.”

In accordance with these views, Adolphus opened negotiations with
Honorius, the Roman emperor, who was besieged at Ravenna. He entered
into an alliance with him to assist in driving out the barbarians who
were on the other side of the Alps. He even sought and obtained in
marriage Placidia, a Christian lady, the daughter of Theodosius, and
sister of Honorius. This illustrious woman, whose adventurous life
we cannot here record, had been highly educated at Constantinople.
The bride was young and lovely: the bridegroom was also remarkable for
dignity of bearing and manly beauty. Thus the daughter of the decaying
house of Rome was wedded to the chieftain of a new dynasty just
emerging into fame and power.

The nuptials were conducted with great splendor at Narbonne, in
Gaul. Fifty beautiful boys in silken robes presented the bride each
two vases,――one filled with golden coin, and the other with precious
gems. Even these treasures formed but a very inconsiderable portion
of the gifts which were lavished upon Placidia. Adolphus, assuming the
character of a Roman general, marched from Italy into Gaul. Driving out
the barbarians there, he took possession of the whole country, from the
ocean to the Mediterranean. Here Adolphus ere long died, and Placidia
returned to her brother Honorius at Ravenna. After an inglorious
reign of twenty-eight years, the timid and imbecile Honorius died
at Ravenna. His secretary, John, seized the falling sceptre. Another
party advocated the claims of the son of the emperor’s widowed sister
Placidia, a child of but six years. John was beheaded. The boy, as
Valentinian III., was declared emperor. Placidia was appointed regent.

Attila the Hun, whose devastations have procured for him the
designation of “the Scourge of God,” now appears prominent upon the
scene. At the head of half a million of men, he swept over Gaul and
Italy, creating misery which no tongue can adequately tell: it would
seem that humanity could scarcely have survived such billows of
unutterable woe. All Venetia was ravaged with unsparing slaughter. A
portion of the wretched inhabitants, flying in terror before Attila,
escaped to a number of marshy islands, but a few feet above the water,
at the extremity of the Adriatic Sea. Here they laid the foundations
of Venice, the “Queen of the Adriatic,”――that city of the sea, which
subsequently almost outvied Rome in opulence, power, and splendor, and
whose magnificence, even in decay, attracts tourists from all parts of
the world. “The grass never grows,” said this demoniac warrior, “where
my horse has once placed his hoof.”

Valentinian III., having attained early manhood, developed an
exceedingly profligate character. The Eastern and Western empires
were now permanently divided, never again to be united. Arcadius was
emperor at Constantinople. Kings generally contrive to live in splendor,
whatever may be the poverty of their subjects. St. Chrysostom, in one
of his sermons, speaks reproachfully of the splendor in which Arcadius

“The emperor,” says he, “wears on his head either a diadem or a crown
of gold, decorated with precious stones of inestimable value. These
ornaments and his purple garments are reserved for his sacred person
alone. His robes of silk are embroidered with the figures of golden
dragons. His throne is of massive gold. Whenever he appears in public,
he is surrounded by his courtiers, his guards, and his attendants.
Their spears, their shields, their cuirasses, the bridles and trappings
of their horses, have either the substance or the appearance of gold.

“The two mules that draw the chariot of the monarch are perfectly white,
and shining all over with gold. The chariot, itself of pure and solid
gold, attracts the admiration of the spectators, who contemplate the
purple curtains, the snowy carpet, the size of the precious stones, and
the resplendent plates of gold, which glitter as they are agitated by
the motion of the carriage.”

St. Chrysostom, from whose works the above extracts are taken, was
one of the most distinguished ecclesiastics and preachers of that day.
He had been pastor of the church in Antioch, where, in substitution
of his true name of John, he had by his eloquence acquired the epithet
of Chrysostom, or “the Golden Mouth.” His renown secured for him
the unanimous call of the court, the clergy, and the people, to the
archbishopric of Constantinople.

Chrysostom was of noble birth, of ardent piety, highly educated, and
was one of the most attractive and powerful of pulpit orators. He had
been educated for the law. Becoming a Christian, he devoted himself
to the gospel ministry. He lived humbly, devoting the revenues of the
bishopric to objects of benevolence. His eloquent discourses, couched
in copious and elegant language, and enlivened by an inexhaustible fund
of illustrations, drew crowds even from the theatre and the circus.
Nearly a thousand of his sermons are preserved. They witness to his
“happy art of engaging the passions in the service of virtue, and of
exposing the folly as well as the turpitude of vice almost with the
truth and spirit of dramatic representation.”[191]

From the pulpit of St. Sophia in Constantinople, Chrysostom, with the
boldness of one of the ancient prophets, thundered forth his anathemas
against the corruptions of the times. He spared neither the court nor
the people. A conspiracy was formed against him, in which some of the
unworthy clergy, irritated by his denunciations, united. Theophilus,
Archbishop of Alexandria, led the clerical party. Eudoxia, the
dissolute wife of the Emperor Arcadius, exasperated by the rumor
that the audacious preacher had reviled her under the name of Jezebel,
arrayed the court influence against him. He was finally banished to the
extreme border of the Euxine or Black Sea. The infuriate queen doomed
the Christian bishop to exile to Cucusus, a dreary and far-distant town
among the defiles of the Caucasian Mountains.

“A secret hope was entertained,” writes Gibbon, “that the archbishop
might perish in a difficult and dangerous march of seventy days, in
the heat of summer, through the provinces of Asia Minor, where he was
continually threatened by the hostile attacks of the Isaurians. Yet
Chrysostom arrived in safety at the place of his confinement; and the
three years which he spent at Cucusus were the last and most glorious
of his life.

“His character was consecrated by absence and persecution. The faults
of his administration were no longer remembered: every tongue repeated
the praises of his genius and virtue; and the respectful attention of
the Christian world was fixed on a desert spot among the mountains of

“From that solitude, the archbishop, whose active mind was invigorated
by misfortunes, maintained a strict and frequent correspondence with
the most distant provinces; exhorted the separate congregation of
his faithful adherents to persevere in their allegiance; extended
his pastoral care to the missions of Persia and Scythia; negotiated,
by his ambassadors, with the Roman pontiff and the Emperor Honorius;
and boldly appealed from a partial synod to the supreme tribunal of a
free and general council. The mind of the illustrious exile was still
independent; but his captive body was exposed to all the revenge of his
oppressors, who continued to abuse the name and authority of Arcadius.

“An order was despatched for the instant removal of Chrysostom to the
extreme Desert of Pityus. His guard so faithfully obeyed their cruel
instructions, that, before he reached the sea-coast of the Euxine, he
expired at Comana, in Pontus, in the sixty-third year of his age.”[192]

Exhausted by the long journey on foot, with his head uncovered in the
burning heat of the sun, he joyfully welcomed the approach of death.
Clothing himself in white robes, as in a bridal garment, he partook
of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper; offered a fervent prayer, which
he closed with the customary words, “Praise be to God for all things!”
and sweetly fell asleep in Jesus. His remains were first entombed
in the chapel of the martyr St. Basil. After slumbering there thirty
years, they were transported, with every demonstration of respect, to
Constantinople. The Emperor Theodosius, then upon the throne, advanced
as far as Chalcedon to meet them. Falling prostrate upon the coffin, he
implored, in the name of his guilty parents Arcadius and Eudoxia, the
forgiveness of the wrongs which the Christian bishop had received at
their hands. At a later period, the remains of Chrysostom were removed
to the Vatican, at Rome, where they now repose.

Over two hundred of the letters which Chrysostom wrote during his exile
are still extant. They all breathe a remarkable spirit of cheerful
trust in the promise that “all things work together for good to them
that love God.”[193]

The terrible persecutions to which the Christians had been exposed had
driven many into the wilderness, where they sought refuge amidst rocks
and caves. The fearful social corruptions of the times also led some
to flee from temptations too strong for flesh and blood to bear. The
hut of the hermit and the cell of the monk gradually expanded into
the massive and battlemented monastery, where considerable communities
took refuge. Though these institutions gradually degenerated, as
almost every thing human does, they were in their origin a necessity.
Chrysostom, in the earlier periods of his Christian life, had resided
for some time with the anchorites who had sought a retreat in the
mountains near Antioch.

One can scarcely conceive of a more melancholy spectacle of national
wretchedness than Italy now exhibited. Attila the Hun had trampled
beneath the feet of his impetuous legions nearly all opposition. This
extraordinary man is described by his contemporaries as possessing the
coarse features of a modern Calmuck. His head was large and bushy, with
an abundance of hair; his complexion was swarthy; with deep-seated eyes,
a flat nose, and a few straggling hairs for a beard. Broad shoulders,
and a short, stout body, gave indication of immense muscular strength.
His bearing was excessively haughty; and he had the habit of wildly
rolling his eyes, as if he wished to enjoy the terror which he could
thus inspire.

                             CHAPTER XIX.

                          THE FIFTH CENTURY.

  Christianity the only Possible Religion.――Adventures of
    Placidia.――Her Marriage with Adolphus the Goth.――Scenes of
    Violence and Crime.――Attila the Hun.――Nuptials of Idaho.
    ――Eudoxia and her Fate.――Triumph of Odoacer the Goth.――Character
    of the Roman Nobles.――Conquests of Theodoric.――John Chrysostom.
    ――The Origin of Monasticism.――Augustine.――His Dissipation,
    Conversion, and Christian Career.――His “Confessions.”

THE fifth century dawned luridly upon our sad world. There was no
stable government anywhere. The Roman empire, which, oppressive as
it had often been, was far better than anarchy, had now become but a
crumbling ruin, which no human energy or skill could rebuild. The
attempt by Julian the Apostate to reinstate paganism had proved so
utter and humiliating a failure, that there was no possibility of the
undertaking being ever again repeated.

There can be but one religion which an enlightened world will accept;
and that is Christianity. If Christianity is renounced, the world
will never adopt any substitute which has yet been proposed. The
superstitions of barbarians are all too senseless to be thought of for
a moment. Though there was a political party in the Roman empire who
rallied around Julian, even many of his partisans regarded his efforts
to reinstate paganism with ridicule and contempt. The wits of the day
lampooned him mercilessly.

Honorius, Emperor of the West, after a disastrous reign of
twenty-eight years, died in the year 423. Weary scenes of anarchy
and bloodshed ensued, which we have no space to describe. Placidia, a
Christian princess, daughter of the great Theodosius, had been carried
away captive by the Goths. The splendor of her birth, her marvellous
personal beauty, and the elegance of her manners, won universal
admiration. The young Gothic king Adolphus, who was a man of unusual
grace both of person and mind, won the hand and heart of his captive.
The nuptials were attended with great splendor at Narbonne, as we have
mentioned in the previous chapter.

“The bride,” writes Gibbon, “attired and adorned like a Roman
empress, was placed on a throne of state; and the king of the Goths,
who assumed on this occasion the Roman habit, contented himself with
a less honorable seat by her side. The nuptial gift, which, according
to the custom of his nation, was offered to Placidia, consisted of
the rare and magnificent spoils of her country. The barbarians enjoyed
the insolence of their triumph; and the provincials rejoiced in this
alliance, which tempered by the mild influence of love and reason the
fierce spirit of their Gothic lord.”[194]

The love of Adolphus for his beautiful bride was not abated by time
or possession. A year passed, when they rejoiced in the birth of a
son, whom they named Theodosius, after his illustrious grandfather. The
death of this child in his infancy caused great grief to his parents.
He was buried in a silver coffin in one of the churches near Barcelona.
Soon after this, Adolphus was assassinated in his palace, at Barcelona,
by one of his followers,――Sarus. Singeric, the brother of Sarus,
seized the Gothic throne. He immediately murdered the six children of
Adolphus, the issue of a former marriage. Placidia was treated with
the most cruel and wanton insult. The daughter of the renowned Emperor
Theodosius was driven on foot, amidst a crowd of vulgar captives,
twelve miles, before the horse of a barbarian who had murdered her

Singeric enjoyed his elevation but seven days, when assassination
terminated his earthly being. Wallia, who by the suffrages of the Goths
succeeded to the throne, restored Placidia to her brother Honorius. The
reign of the barbarians in Gaul, with their wars and their plunderings,
caused for a time the ruin of those once opulent provinces.

Attila the Hun, to whom we have alluded, with an innumerable horde
of the ferocious warriors, invaded Italy, everywhere perpetrating
atrocious acts of cruelty. The barbarians massacred their prisoners,
inflicting upon them inhuman tortures, apparently from the mere love
of cruelty. Two hundred beautiful young maidens were exposed to every
cruelty which savage ingenuity could devise. Their bodies were torn
asunder by wild horses, and their mutilated limbs left unburied. Attila
overran the rich plains of Lombardy, and established himself in the
palace of Milan. The senate of Rome, terror-stricken, sent an embassage
to implore peace of the barbarian. Attila demanded the Princess Honoria,
daughter of the Emperor Valentinian, for his bride, and one-half of
the kingdom of Italy as her dowry. While negotiations were pending,
and Honoria was trembling in anticipation of her dreadful doom, the
fierce Hun ravaged large portions of Gaul and Italy at the head of half
a million of warriors as fierce and merciless as wolves.

The victorious Hun retired to the wilds of the North to replenish his
diminished hordes, threatening to return and inflict still more signal
vengeance, unless the bride he demanded, and the dowry claimed with her,
were immediately granted him. In the mean time, he added to his harem
of innumerable wives a beautiful maiden named Idaho.

“Their marriage,” writes Gibbon, “was celebrated with barbarian pomp
and festivity at his wooden palace beyond the Danube; and the monarch,
oppressed with wine and sleep, retired at a late hour from the banquet
to the nuptial-couch. His attendants continued to respect his pleasures
or his repose the greater part of the ensuing day, till the unusual
silence alarmed their fears and suspicions; and, after attempting to
awaken Attila by loud and repeated cries, they at length broke into the
royal apartment. They found the trembling bride sitting by the bedside,
hiding her face with her veil, and lamenting her own danger, as well
as the death of the king, who had expired during the night. An artery
had suddenly burst; and, as Attila lay in a supine posture, he was
suffocated by a torrent of blood, which, instead of finding a passage
through the nostrils, regurgitated into the lungs and stomach. His body
was solemnly exposed in the midst of the plain under a silken pavilion;
and the chosen squadrons of the Huns, wheeling around in measured
evolutions, chanted a funeral-song in memory of a hero glorious in his
life, invincible in his death, the father of his people, and the terror
of the world.

“According to their national custom, the barbarians cut off a part
of their hair, gashed their faces with unseemly wounds, and bewailed
their valiant leader as he deserved, not with the tears of women, but
with the blood of warriors. The remains of Attila were enclosed within
three coffins,――of gold, of silver, and of iron,――and were privately
buried in the night. The spoils of nations were thrown into his grave.
The captives who had opened the ground were inhumanly massacred; and
the same Huns who had indulged such excessive grief, feasted, with
dissolute and intemperate mirth, about the recent sepulchre of their

Valentinian inveigled a noble lady, alike illustrious for beauty and
piety, to his palace, where he treated her with such indignities as
to rouse to the highest pitch the wrath of her husband and friends.
A conspiracy was formed by her husband Maximus, a Roman senator; and
Valentinian died beneath the daggers which his crimes had unsheathed.
The solders placed the diadem upon the brow of Maximus. His wife
soon after died; and he endeavored to compel Eudoxia, the widow of
Valentinian, to become his spouse. She recoiled from throwing herself
into the arms of the murderer of her husband, and appealed for aid to
Genseric, one of those powerful Vandal kings who had wrested Africa
from the Roman empire.

Genseric joyfully espoused her cause. With a large fleet he entered
the Tiber, advanced to Rome, and captured the city. In the struggle,
Maximus was slain, and unhappy Rome was surrendered to the Moors and
the Vandals to be pillaged for fourteen days. The barbarian Genseric
carried back into the wilds of Africa, as slaves, Eudoxia, the widowed
Empress of Rome, and her two daughters. Many other Roman matrons
and maidens swelled the long train of captives who were dragged into
life-long bondage.

“Eudoxia,” writes Gibbon, “was rudely stripped of her jewels; and
the unfortunate empress, with her two daughters, the only surviving
remains of the great Theodosius, was compelled as a captive to follow
the haughty Vandal, who immediately hoisted sail, and returned, with
a prosperous navigation, to the port of Carthage. Many thousand Romans
of both sexes, chosen for some useful or agreeable qualifications,
reluctantly embarked on board the fleet of Genseric; and their distress
was aggravated by the unfeeling barbarians, who, in the division of the
booty, separated the wives from their husbands, and the children from
their parents.”

The whole world seemed to be now essentially in the condition of a city
surrendered to the mob. There was no stable government anywhere. There
was nowhere peace or prosperity or joy. Man’s corruption had filled the
earth with misery. Still there were thousands of individual Christians,
in obscurity and through much tribulation, struggling nobly to their
throne and their crown in heaven.

It is difficult to conceive of a more melancholy spectacle than Italy
presented. The barbarians were masters of the whole Peninsula. Odoacer,
a stern Gothic warrior, after several years of the wildest anarchy,
with wars and assassinations too numerous to mention, in the year 476
compelled the Roman senate by a formal decree to abolish the imperial
succession, and to recognize him as the military chieftain of Italy.
Thus, after the decay of ages, the Roman empire fell, to rise no more.

Sagaciously this ferocious barbarian respected time-honored
institutions. He conferred upon his captains titles of dukes and counts,
thus perpetuating and extending the feudal system. The Roman nobles,
surrendering themselves to all sensual indulgence, had sunk into the
lowest debasement. A contemporary historian, Ammianus Marcellinus,
gives the following graphic account of the aristocracy of Rome at that

“The ostentation of presenting the rent-roll of their estates provokes
the resentment of every man who remembers that their poor ancestors
were not distinguished from the meanest of the soldiers. The modern
nobles measure their rank by the splendor of their carriages and the
magnificence of their dress. Followed by a train of fifty slaves, they
sweep the streets with impetuous speed. When they condescend to visit
the public baths, they assume a tone of loud and insolent command, and
appropriate to themselves conveniences designed for the Roman people.
Sometimes they visit their plantations in the country, and, by the
toil of servile hands, engage in the amusements of the chase. When
they travel, they are followed by a multitude of cooks and inferior
servants, accompanied by a promiscuous crowd of slaves and dependent
plebeians. They express exquisite sensibility for any personal injury,
and contemptuous indifference for all the rest of the human species.
Should they call for some water, and a slave be tardy in bringing it,
the slave would be punished with three hundred lashes.

“A sure method of introduction to the society of the great is skill
in gambling. The confederates are united by an indissoluble bond of
friendship, or rather of conspiracy. The acquisition of knowledge
seldom engages their attention who abhor the fatigue and disdain the
advantages of study. The distress which chastises extravagant luxury
often reduces them to the most humiliating expedients. When they wish
to borrow, they are as suppliant as a slave. When called upon to pay,
they assume airs of indolence, as if they were the grandsons of

Italy had indeed fallen: the barbaric leader of a semi-civilized band
was her enthroned monarch. During a reign of fourteen years, vast
crowds of emigrants from the bleak realms north of the Rhine and the
Danube flocked into sunny Italy.

They received a cordial welcome from Odoacer, and rapidly blended
with the people among whom they took up their residence. But fertile
and beautiful Italy was too rich a prize in the eyes of the powerful
Northern nations to be long left in the undisputed possession of

Upon the northern banks of the Euxine Sea there was a populous nation
called the Ostrogoths. Their king, Theodoric, had been educated at
Constantinople, and was a civilized man, reigning over a comparatively
barbaric people. He commenced his march upon Italy, accompanied by the
whole nation.

“The march of Theodoric,” says Gibbon, “must be considered as the
emigration of an entire people. Each bold barbarian who had heard of
the wealth and beauty of Italy was impatient to seek, through the most
perilous adventures, the possession of such enchanting objects. The
wives and children of the Goths, their aged parents and most precious
effects, were carefully transported; and some idea may be formed of
the heavy baggage that followed the camp, by the loss of two thousand
wagons, which had been sustained in a single action in the war of
Epirus. For their subsistence the Goths depended on the magazines of
corn, which was ground in portable mills by the hands of their women;
on the milk and flesh of their flocks and herds; on the casual produce
of the chase; and upon the contributions which they might impose on all
who should presume to dispute their passage or to refuse their friendly
assistance. Notwithstanding these precautions, they were exposed to
the danger and almost to the distress of famine in a march of seven
hundred miles, which had been undertaken in the depth of a rigorous

Their march was through provinces devastated by war and famine.
Still Theodoric had many fierce battles to wage ere he descended the
southern declivities of the Julian Alps, and displayed his banners
on the confines of Italy. Odoacer met him on the eastern frontiers of
Venetia. Conquered in a bloody battle, he retreated to the walls of
Verona; and all Venetia fell into the hands of the Ostrogoths. Odoacer
made another stand upon the banks of the Adige: a still more sanguinary
battle was fought, and the broken bands of Odoacer fled to Ravenna,
on the Adriatic. Theodoric marched triumphantly to Milan, where the
ever-fickle multitude received the conqueror with every demonstration
of joy. Still, for three years, wretched Italy was desolated by war:
misery reigned from the Alps to the extremity of the Peninsula, as
man’s inhumanity to man caused countless millions to mourn.

At length, Theodoric was victorious: having annihilated the armies
of the Goths, and plunged his sword into the bosom of Odoacer,
he entered upon the undisputed sovereignty of the whole of Italy.
Theodoric governed this most beautiful of realms with energy, wisdom,
and humanity. A third of the lands of Italy were divided among his
own people. For thirty-three years he reigned with sagacity, which has
given him the designation of “the Great.” He was nominally a Christian,
as were very many of his followers. The days of paganism had passed,
never to return. Christianity had in a remarkable degree pervaded the
barbaric nations outside the limits of the Roman empire.

Christianity, which had gained such signal victories over the learned
and luxurious Romans, was equally triumphant over the warlike
barbarians of Scythia and Germany. These fierce hordes, in their
military incursions, carried back into their savage wilds thousands of
captives. Many of these were Christians, and some were clergymen. They
were dispersed as slaves throughout the wide realms of their conquerors.
They, like the early disciples who were scattered from Jerusalem,
proclaimed, in the huts of their barbaric masters, the gospel of Jesus,
and won many triumphs to the cross of Christ.

John Chrysostom, whom we have mentioned as one of the most illustrious
men of these days, upon becoming a Christian when but little over
twenty years of age, abandoned all the ambition of life, and retired to
the cells of the anchorites who were dwelling on the mountains in the
vicinity of Antioch. Chrysostom gives us the following account of the
mode of life then adopted by the anchorites:――

“They rise with the first crowing of the cock, or at midnight. After
having read psalms and hymns in common, each, in his separate cell, is
occupied in reading the Holy Scriptures, or in copying books. Then they
proceed to church, and, after mass, return quietly to their habitations.
They never speak to each other. Their nourishment is bread and salt:
some add oil to it, and the invalids vegetables. After meals they rest
a few moments, and then return to their usual occupations. They till
the ground, fell wood, make baskets and clothes, and wash the feet
of travellers. Their bed is a mat spread upon the ground; their dress
consists of skins or cloths made of the hair of goats or camels. They
go barefooted, have no property, and never pronounce the words _mine_
and _thine_. Undisturbed peace dwells in their habitations, and a
cheerfulness scarcely known in the world.”

There can be no question as to the sincerity of these cloistered monks,
misguided as they were. Chrysostom dwelt in a cavern for two years,
without lying down. His penance was so severe, that he was thrown into
a fit of sickness, which compelled his return to Antioch. After a life
of tireless activity, many persecutions, and efficient devotion to the
interests of the Church, he died, as we have mentioned, in exile, in
the sixty-third year of his age.

“The name of Chrysostom, ‘Golden-mouthed,’ was assigned to him
after his death to express the eloquence which he possessed in so
much greater a degree than the other fathers of the Church. He never
repeats himself, and is always original. The vivacity and power of his
imagination, the force of his logic, his power of arousing the passions,
the beauty and accuracy of his comparisons, the neatness and purity
of his style, his clearness and sublimity, place him on a level with
the most celebrated Greek authors. The Greek Church has not a more
accomplished orator.”[196]

The inclination for monastic seclusion very rapidly increased. Some
sought the silence of the desert because they felt unable to resist
the temptations of busy life; some, to escape from persecution; some,
as a refuge from remorse; some, from the conviction that sin might be
atoned for by self-inflicted suffering; some, from disgust at life, or
a natural fondness for solitude and contemplation. In the middle of the
fourth century, there was a colony of these anchorets upon the Island
of Tabenna, in the Nile, numbering fifty thousand persons. They lived
in the extreme of abstinence, occupying cheerless cells in very humble

Men only at first entered upon this hermit life. About the middle
of the fourth century, female monasteries, or convents of nuns, were

This retirement from the world to the cloister in those troublous times
proved by no means an unmixed evil. Gradually very solemn monastic vows
and extremely rigid rules of discipline were introduced.

“These houses now became the dwellings of piety, industry, and
temperance, and the refuge of learning driven to them for shelter
from the troubles of the times. Missionaries were sent out from them:
deserts and solitudes were made habitable by industrious monks. And in
promoting the progress of agriculture, and civilizing the German and
Sclavonian nations, they certainly rendered great services to the world
from the sixth century to the ninth. But it must be admitted that these
institutions, so useful in the dark ages of barbarism, changed their
character to a great degree as their wealth and influence increased.
Idleness and luxury crept within their walls, together with all the
vices of the world; and their decay became inevitable.”[197]

In the early part of this century Augustine died, a man whose renown
has been fresh in the Church for fourteen hundred years. He was born
in Tagasta, a small city in Africa, on the 13th of November, 354.
His father was a pagan, though he became a disciple of Jesus just
before his death. His mother was an earnest Christian, by whose pious
teachings Augustine in his early childhood was deeply impressed. While
a mere boy, upon a sudden attack of dangerous sickness, he entreated
that he might be baptized, and received into the fold of Christ. The
sudden disappearance of alarming symptoms led his mother to hesitate,
fearing that he might again fall into sin, and that then his baptism
would only add to his condemnation. Augustine afterwards expressed the
opinion that this was a great mistake. He thought, that, had he then
made a profession of his faith in Christ, it would have operated as an
incentive to a holy life, and would have saved him from much subsequent
sin and suffering.

With returning health, temptation came, and the boy of ardent passions
was swept away by the flood. “My weak age,” he writes, “was hurried
along through the whirlpool of flagitiousness. The displeasure of God
was all the time imbittering my soul. Where was I, in that sixteenth
year of my age, when the madness of lust seized me altogether? My God,
thou spakest to me by my mother, and through her warned me strongly
against the ways of vice. But my mother’s voice I despised, and
thought it to be only the voice of a woman. So blinded was I, that
I was ashamed to be thought less guilty than my companions. I even
invented false stories of my sinful exploits, that I might win their

“I committed theft from the wantonness of iniquity: it was not the
effect of the theft, but the sin itself, which I wished to enjoy. There
was a pear-tree in the neighborhood loaded with fruit. At dead of night,
in company with some profligate youths, I plundered the tree. The spoil
was thrown away; for I had abundance of better fruit at home. What did
I mean that I should be gratuitously wicked?”

The father of Augustine, though not wealthy, had sufficient means
and the disposition to afford his son all existing facilities for the
acquisition of a thorough education. The young man devoted himself
sedulously to the cultivation of eloquence. In the pursuit of his
studies, he repaired to Carthage, then the abode of intellect, wealth,
and splendor. Here he plunged quite recklessly into fashionable
dissipation. When seventeen years of age, his father died; but his
fond mother maintained him at Carthage. It is manifest that he was
still the subject of deep religious impressions. Upon reading the
“Hortensius” of Cicero, he was charmed with its philosophy; but he

“The only thing which damped my zeal was, that the name of Christ
was not there,――that precious name, which from my mother’s milk I had
learned to reverence; and whatever was without this name, however just
and learned and polite, could not wholly carry away my heart.”

He commenced studying the Scriptures, but with that proud,
self-sufficient spirit which debarred him from all spiritual
enlightenment. His haughty frame, he afterwards confessed, “justly
exposed him to believe in the most ridiculous absurdities.”

“For nine years,” he writes, “while I was rolling in the slime of
sin, often attempting to rise, and still sinking deeper, did my mother
in vigorous hope persist in incessant prayer for me. She entreated a
certain bishop to reason me out of my errors. He replied, ‘Your son is
too much elated at present with the pleasing novelty of his error to
regard any arguments, as appears by the pleasure he takes in puzzling
many ignorant persons with his captious questions. Let him alone: only
continue to pray to the Lord for him. It is not possible that a child
of such tears should perish.’”

“My mother,” writes Augustine, “has often told me since, that this
answer impressed her mind like a voice from heaven.”

For nine years, from the nineteenth to the twenty-eighth of his age,
this very brilliant young man lived in the indulgence of practices
which he knew to be sinful. His pride of character and his high
intellectual attainments precluded his entrance upon scenes of low and
vulgar vice. He was genteelly and fashionably wicked. He had attained
distinction as a teacher of rhetoric, and supported himself in that
way. There was a young man in Carthage who had been a nominal Christian,
the child of Christian parents, and a companion and friend of Augustine
from childhood. A very strong friendship sprang up between them; and
Augustine succeeded in drawing this young man away from the Christian
faith, and in luring him into his own paths of error and of sin.

This young man was taken dangerously sick. When unconscious, and
apparently near his end, he was, by the wish of his parents, baptized.
Contrary to all expectation, he recovered. Augustine writes,――

“I regarded his baptism when in a state of unconsciousness with great
indifference, not doubting that he would adhere to my instructions.
As soon as I had an opportunity of conversing with him, I attempted
to turn into ridicule his late baptism, in which I expected his
concurrence. But he dreaded me as an enemy, and with wonderful freedom
admonished me, that, if I would be his friend, I should drop the
subject. Confounded at this unexpected behavior, I deferred the
conversation till he should be thoroughly recovered.”

There was a relapse, and the young man died. Augustine was overwhelmed
with anguish: remorse was manifestly in some degree commingled with
his grief. Time gradually lessened his sorrow; and in his restlessness
he resolved to go to Rome, there to seek new excitements and a larger
field of ambition. Knowing that his widowed mother’s heart would be
broken by his abandonment of her, he deceived her, and, upon pretence
of taking a sail with a friend, left his home to seek his fortune in
the renowned metropolis of the world.

“Thus,” he writes, “did I deceive my mother; and _such_ a mother! Yet
was I preserved from the dangers of the sea, foul as I was in the mire
of sin. But the time was coming when thou, O God! wouldst wipe away
my mother’s tears; and even this base undutifulness thou hast forgiven
me. The wind favored us, and carried us out of sight of shore. In the
morning, my mother was distracted with grief: she wept and wailed, and
was inconsolable in her violent agonies. In her, affection was very
strong. But, wearied of grief, she returned to her former employment of
praying for me, and went home; while I continued my journey to Rome.”

Soon after his arrival in the city, he was taken dangerously sick, and
his life was despaired of. In the lethargy of his sickness, he thought
but little of his sins and his danger. His mother, though uninformed of
his sickness, repaired to the church every morning and evening, there
to pray for the conversion of her son. Gradually Augustine regained his
health, and was invited to give some lectures upon rhetoric in Milan.
Bishop Ambrose was pastor of the church there,――a man of superior
intellectual powers, and who had acquired renown both as a logician and
an orator. Young Augustine called upon the bishop.

“The man of God,” he writes, “received me as a father; and I
conceived an affection for him, not as a teacher of truth, which I
had no idea of discovering in the Church, but as a man kind to me.
I studiously attended his preaching, only with a curious desire of
discovering whether fame had done justice to his eloquence or not.
Gradually I was brought to attend to the doctrine of the bishop. I
found reason to rebuke myself for the hasty conclusions I had formed of
the indefensible nature of the law and the prophets. The possibility of
finding truth in the Church of Christ appeared.”

His mother, drawn by love and anxiety, now left Carthage, and,
crossing the Mediterranean, went to Milan, where she became united to
her wayward and wandering son. Augustine informed his mother of the
partial change which had taken place in his views, and that he was in
the habit of attending the preaching of Bishop Ambrose. She replied,
“I believe in Christ, that, before I leave this world, I shall see you
a sound believer.” She made the acquaintance of the bishop, interested
him still more deeply in her son, and, with renewed fervor, pleaded
with God for his conversion.

“Ambrose,” Augustine writes, “was charmed with the fervor of
my mother’s piety, her amiableness, and her good works. He often
congratulated me that I had such a mother, little knowing what sort of
a son she had. The state of my mind was now somewhat altered. Ashamed
of past delusions, I was the more anxious to be guided right for the
time to come. I was completely convinced of the falsehood of the many
things I had once uttered with so much confidence.”

A season of great anxiety and sadness now ensued. He was firmly
convinced of the divine authority of that Bible, which, in his
infidelity, he had rejected. Still he had not as yet surrendered
his heart to the Saviour, and had found no peace in believing. In
comparison with eternal things, all the pursuits of this world seemed
trivial. His heart was like the troubled sea: his conscience reproached
him for neglecting the salvation of his soul. The following extract
from his “Confessions” gives a vivid idea of the struggles in which his
spirit was then engaged:――

“Your mornings,” I said to myself, “are for your pupils: why, then, do
you not attend to religious duties in the afternoon? But, then, what
time should I have to attend to the levees of the great? What, then, if
death should suddenly seize you, and judgment overtake you unprepared?
But what if death be the end of our being? Yet far from my soul be
such a thought! God would never have given such proof of the truth of
Christianity if the soul died with the body. Why, then, do I not give
myself wholly to God? But do not be in a hurry. You have influential
friends, and may yet attain wealth and honor in the world. In such an
agitation of mind,” continues Augustine, “did I live, seeking happiness,
yet flying from it.”

Twelve years had now passed away, during which Augustine had been
professedly seeking the truth, and yet had found no peace. “I had,”
he writes, “deferred from day to day devoting myself to God, under
the pretence that I was uncertain where the truth lay.”

And then the question occurred to him, “How is it that so many humble
persons find peace so speedily in religion, while I, with all my
philosophy and anxious reasonings, remain year after year in darkness
and doubt?” Conscious that the difficulty was to be found in his own
stubborn will, he retired in great agitation to a secluded spot in
the garden, and, as he writes, “with vehement indignation I rebuked my
sinful spirit because it would not give itself up to God.” His anguish
was great, and he wept bitterly. Falling upon his knees beneath a
fig-tree, with tears and trembling utterance he exclaimed,――

“O Lord! how long shall I say to-morrow? Why should not this hour put
an end to my slavery?”

Just then, he fancied that he heard a voice saying to him, “Take up,
and read.” He had with him Paul’s epistles. Opening the book, the first
passage which met his eye was this, found in the thirteenth chapter of
Romans, thirteenth and fourteenth verses:――

“Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness,
not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put
ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh to
fulfil the lusts thereof.”

The besetting sin of Augustine, and the great and crying shame of the
times, was sensuality. The passage came to his mind as a direct message
from Heaven. It said to him, “Abandon every sin, renounce your pursuits
of earthly ambition, and commence a new life of faith in Jesus Christ.”
He at once was enabled to make the surrender: all his doubts vanished;
and that “hope, which we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and
steadfast,” dawned upon his mind.

He immediately hastened to his mother to inform her of the joyful
event; and she rejoiced with him with heartfelt sympathy such as
none but a Christian mother can understand. In commenting upon this
change, Augustine writes, “The whole of my difficulty lay in a _will_
stubbornly set in opposition to God. But from what deep secret was my
free will called out in a moment, by which I bowed my shoulders to thy
light burden, Christ Jesus, my Helper and my Redeemer?” Where is the
thoughtful Christian who has not often asked this question?――

               “Why was I made to hear Thy voice,
                  And enter while there’s room,
                When thousands make a wretched choice,
                  And rather starve than come?”

The reply which our Saviour makes to this inquiry is not an explanation:
“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.”

Augustine relinquished his profession of a teacher of rhetoric,
and, guided by Bishop Ambrose, entered upon the study of theology.
He was baptized in the church of Milan with his son Adeodatus, whom
he acknowledged as his child. Augustine decided to return to Carthage
with his mother; but, just as they were about to embark at the mouth of
the Tiber, she was taken sick, and died. The afflicted son pays a very
beautiful tribute to her memory, as one of the most noble of Christian
women. In this eulogy he makes the following statements illustrative of
her character and of the times:――

“My mother, when young, had learned by degrees to drink wine, having
been sent to draw it for the use of the family. How was she delivered
from this snare? God provided for her a malignant reproach from a maid
in the house, who in a passion called her a drunkard. Thus was she
cured of her evil practice.

“After her marriage with my father, Patricius, she endeavored to win
him to Christianity by her amiable manners; and patiently she bore his
unfaithfulness. His temper was hasty, but his spirit kind. She knew how
to bear with him when angry by a perfect silence and composure; and,
when she saw him cool, would meekly expostulate with him. Many matrons
would complain of the blows and harsh treatment they received from
their husbands, whom she would exhort to govern their tongues. When
they expressed astonishment that it was never heard that Patricius had
beaten his wife, or that they ever were at variance a single day, she
informed them of her plan. Those who followed it thanked her for its
good success: those who did not experienced vexation.

“It was a great gift which, O my God! thou gavest her, that she never
repeated the unkind things which she had heard from persons who were at
variance with one another; and she was conscientiously exact in saying
nothing but what might tend to heal and to reconcile. At length, in the
extremity of life, she gained her husband to thee, and he died in the
faith of Christ.

“My mother and I stood alone at a window facing the east, near
the mouth of the Tiber, where we were preparing for our voyage. Our
discourse ascended above the noblest parts of the material creation
to the consideration of our own minds; and, passing above them, we
attempted to reach heaven itself,――to come to thee, by whom all things
were made. At that moment the world appeared to us of no value. She
said, ‘Son, I have now no clinging to life. It was your conversion
alone for which I wished to live. God has given me this. What more is
there for me to do here?’ Scarcely five days after, she fell into a
fever. She departed this life on the ninth day of her illness, in the
fifty-sixth year of her age, and the thirty-third of mine.”

Augustine returned to Africa, where, after three years of retirement
and study, he was ordained a preacher of the gospel. The fame of his
eloquence rapidly spread throughout the Western world, drawing crowds
of the pagans, as well as of the Christians, to his church; and ere
long he was elected Bishop of Hippo. After a life of unwearied devotion
to the interests of Christianity, preaching the gospel of Christ
with simplicity, purity, and fervor rarely equalled, and with his pen
defending the doctrines of grace with logical acumen and philosophic
breadth of view perhaps never surpassed, this illustrious man died in
the year 430, in the seventy-sixth year of his age, and the fortieth of
his ministry.

                              CHAPTER XX.

                       CENTURIES OF WAR AND WOE.

  Convulsions of the Sixth Century.――Corruption of the
    Church.――The Rise of Monasteries.――Rivalry between Rome
    and Constantinople.――Mohammed and his Career.――His Personal
    Appearance.――His System of Religion.――His Death.――Military
    Expeditions of the Moslems.――The Threatened Conquest of
    Europe.――Capture of Alexandria.――Burning of the Library.――Rise
    of the Feudal System.――Charlemagne.――Barbarian Antagonism to

THE sixth century of the Christian era passed away like a hideous dream
of the night. Wave after wave of barbaric invasion swept over Europe
and Asia. Rome was sacked five times, in the endurance of violence and
woes which no pen can describe. Paganism was overthrown; but gradually
Christianity became paganized. Still, corrupt as Christianity became,
it was an immense improvement over the ancient systems of idolatry. The
past narrative has given the reader some faint idea of what morals were
under the old Roman emperors. The depravity of man, vanquished in its
endeavor to uphold idolatry, with all its polluting rites, endeavored
to degrade Christianity into a mere system of dead doctrines and
pompous ceremonies. In this it partially succeeded; but it was utterly
impossible to sink Christianity to a level with paganism.

The disordered state of the times had swept the rural population
from the fields, and they were huddled together for protection in the
villages and walled cities. Immense tracts of land all over Europe
were left waste. Herds of cattle grazed over these desolate expanses,
guarded by armed serfs, who watched them by day, and slept in the
fields by their side at night. Slavery was universally practised,
the conqueror almost invariably enslaving the conquered. Hence labor
became degrading: none but slaves would work. It was gentlemanly, it
was chivalric, to obtain wealth by pillage: it was vulgar, boorish,
entirely derogatory to all dignity, to move a finger in honest industry.
The highest offices of the Church were often assigned by unprincipled
kings and princes to their worthless favorites. Marauding bands, not
unfrequently led by these false bishops, often fell upon the flocks
grazing in the fields, slaughtered the herdsmen, and drove off the herd.

A very zealous and enlightened Christian, by the name of Benedict,
endeavored to counteract this ruinous spirit of the times: he
formed a society quite similar in its organization to our temperance
associations. This body of reformers soon assumed the name of Monks
of St. Benedict. For protection against the marauding bands which
were ever abroad upon expeditions of plunder, they built a massive,
strongly-fortified castle, which they called a monastery, to which the
industrious community could retreat when assailed.

“Beware of idleness,” said this noble Christian man, “as the great
enemy of the soul. No person is more usefully employed than when
working with his hands, or following the plough.”

This was the origin essentially of many of the monasteries of Europe:
they were noble institutions in their design, and thousands of
Christians breathing the spirit of Christ found within their enclosures
peaceful and useful lives when the billows of anarchy were surging over
nearly all other portions of the globe. But that innate proneness to
wickedness, which seems everywhere to reign, gradually perverted those
once holy and industrious communities into institutions of indolence
and sin. Wherever the monastery arose, there originally waved around
it fields of grain, and fat cattle grazed in the meadows. Prayer and
labor, faith and works, were combined, as they ever should be. The
ruins of these monastic edifices still occupy the most enchanting spots
in Europe: they were usually reared upon some eminence which commanded
an extensive prospect; or in some sheltered nook, by the banks of a
beautiful stream. The eye of taste is invariably charmed in visiting
these localities. The pristine monks were a noble set of men; and, for
ages, learning and piety were sheltered in the cloisters which their
diligent hands had reared.

The modern tourist, witnessing the worldly wisdom evidenced in their
whole plan, and conscious that there is no longer occasion for such
institutions, forgets the necessities of the rude days in which they
were constructed, and is too apt sneeringly to exclaim,――

“Ah! those shrewd old monks had a keen eye to creature-comforts. They
loved the banks of the well-filled stream sparkling with salmon and
trout: they sought out luxuriant meadows, where their herds could roll
in fatness amidst the exuberant verdure; or the wooded hills, where the
red deer could bound through the glade, and snowy flocks could graze,
and yellow harvests, sheltered from the northern winds, could ripen in
the sun.”

Indeed they did. This was all right,――Christian in the highest degree.
“Godliness is profitable unto all things.” “The hand of the diligent
maketh rich.” The prior of the monastery was not a despot revelling
in the toil of others: he was the father of the household; he was the
head workman, accompanying his brethren to the field of honest toil and
remunerative industry.

Benedict, usually called St. Benedict, early in the sixth century
established a monastery, which subsequently attained great celebrity,
upon the side of Mount Cassano, near Naples. None were admitted to
it but men of pure lives, and who had established a reputation for
such amiability of character as would insure their living harmoniously
with the other brethren. It became the home of piety, industry, and
temperance: the persecuted sought refuge there; scholars sought a
retreat there; missionaries went out from it into the wastes which war
and vice had desolated.

The cloistered convent may with some propriety be called a divine
institution: it was the creation of necessity. But, in the lapse of
ages, royal gifts and the legacies of the dying endowed many of them
with great wealth. Opulence induced indolence, till these cradles of
piety became the strong fortresses of iniquity; and modern Christianity
has been compelled to frown them down.

From the commencement of these institutions, during a period of five
hundred years, until the tenth century, many of these monasteries
exerted a beneficent and noble influence. Christianity had begun to
break the fetters of the slave; these freedmen, the emancipated slaves,
were placed under the protection of the clergy; and they often found
shelter from oppression within sacred walls which secular violence did
not dare to profane. These convents were for ages the only post-offices
in the country. Few could read but the higher clergy. It is said even
of the Emperor Charlemagne, that he could not write, and that his
signature to any document consisted of his dipping his hand in a bowl
of red ink, and then impressing the broad palm upon the parchment.
There were but few letters passed, save those conveying some important
state intelligence. These documents were rapidly transferred by
the brethren from one convent to another. For many centuries, the
monks were better informed than almost any other persons of what was
transpiring throughout Europe and Asia.

The warriors were men of muscle only, not of cultivated mind.
Intelligence is always a power: hence the Church rapidly gained
ascendency over the State, and the mitred bishop took the precedence
of the helmed warrior. The bishops, or pastors, of the large churches
in the metropolitan cities, had then, as now, distinction above the
rural clergy. Constantinople, outstripping decaying Rome, had become
the chief city of the world in population and splendor. Rome, proud
of her ancient renown, regarded her young rival very much as an old,
aristocratic, decaying family regards some successful adventurer of
lowly birth who has newly become rich.

There was strong rivalry between the bishops of these two renowned
cities, each struggling for the pre-eminence. The Bishop of Rome
gradually assumed the title of Papa, or Pope. Indeed, in the first
century, all the bishops in the East were entitled Pope, or Father.
Subsequently, in the fifth century, the Bishop of Constantinople took
the title of Patriarch. The strife eventuated in a division between the
Greek and Roman churches. The Pope at Rome took the Western churches,
and the Patriarch at Constantinople the Eastern. Swaying the sceptre of
spiritual power, both of these ecclesiastics gradually grasped temporal
power also. Christianity was virtually banished from the Church, though
there were here and there devoted pastors; and thousands of Christians,
some of them even in the highest walks of life, were, with prayers and
tears, struggling, through the almost universal corruption, in the path
to heaven. Both the Grecian and the Roman hierarchies became mainly but
ambitious political organizations, ministering to pride and luxury and
splendor. There were some good popes, as there have been good kings;
and many bad popes, as there have been bad kings.

It was near the close of the sixth century that Mohammed commenced his
marvellous career. Whether this extraordinary man were a self-deceived
enthusiast, or a designing impostor, is a question which will probably
ever be discussed, and never settled.

Born of wealthy parents in the city of Mecca, in the interior of
Arabia, about the year 569, he, when a lad of but thirteen years
of age, travelled to Syria on a commercial expedition. Here he was
entertained in one of the Christian monasteries,――almost the only
resort of travellers in those days. One of the fathers, perceiving in
him indications of genius, paid him marked attention, and probably made
strenuous exertions to secure his conversion, not only to Christianity,
but to the superstitious observances which had grown up around the pure
religion of Jesus.

All great men are of a pensive temperament: the tremendous mystery of
human life oppresses them. Young Mohammed was thoughtful, contemplative,
with a tinge of melancholy pervading his whole character. It is evident
that he was much impressed by the scenes which he had witnessed and the
instructions he had received in the convent; for he formed the habit of
retiring every year to the Cave of Hera, about three miles from Mecca.
Here, in a natural cloister, he annually spent a month in solitude,
meditation, and prayer.

In the seclusion and silence of these hours he conceived and matured
his plan for the establishment of a new religion. There were still
remnants of the ancient idolatry all around him: and, in his view,
idolatry had crept into the Christian Church; for statues of the
saints filled the niches of the great cathedrals, and image-worship in
churches and convents had become almost universal. The reflections of
Mohammed upon this subject must have been profound and long-continued;
for he was forty years of age before he commenced active operations in
that enterprise which has given him world-wide renown.

Mohammed affirmed, that, in his cave, he held interviews with the
angel Gabriel, who had inspired him, as the apostles were inspired, to
proclaim a new and purer religion. He assumed that the Jewish religion
was from God, but that its end was accomplished; that Christianity was
true, a divine revelation, but that, having fulfilled the purpose for
which it was proclaimed, it was now also to pass away, and give place
to a third and final revelation, which God had revealed to Mohammed,
his prophet, and which, as the perfection of divine wisdom, was to
endure forever.

The first disciple he gained was his wife; then some of his
relatives and a few neighbors avowed their faith in his divine mission.
But progress was very slow. At the close of ten years of tireless
perseverance, but very few could be counted among his followers. Then,
quite suddenly, converts began to multiply; and he gave them a military
organization, boldly declaring that he was divinely empowered to put
any one to death who should reject his claims, and that the property
of such unbelievers was to be divided among the faithful. The world
was just in the situation for a fanatic band of desperate marauders
successfully to commence their march. The prospect of booty brought
thousands of the vagabonds of Asia to his standard. His first exploit
was the capture of a rich caravan, which greatly elated and enriched
his followers, and extended his fame. At length, he encountered
governmental resistance. His little army was utterly routed; and
Mohammed fled, wounded and bleeding, from the field. Though the repulse
seemed for a short time to shake the faith of his followers, he soon
rallied them by the assurance that it was in consequence of their
sins that God had given them this transient reverse, but that God had
promised that all who were slain in his battles should be immediately
translated to a paradise of exquisite and eternal bliss.

Crowds flocked to his camp. New battles were fought, and victories won.
His disciples became rich and exultant. His religion, consisting mainly
of outward forms, was as easy of practice as any part of the military
drill. He was soon at the head of ten thousand soldiers inspired with
all the ferocity which religious fanaticism could engender. The number
rapidly increased to thirty thousand. No power could be brought into
the field to resist him. Nearly all Arabia, ignorant, religionless, and
greedy of plunder, enlisted under a banner which brought its followers
fame, adventure, and wealth. It is no longer to be wondered at that
Mohammed by these means eventually found himself at the head of a
hundred and fifty thousand of the fiercest warriors earth had ever
known. To the pagans, one religion was as good as another. To exchange
religions was like exchanging garments. It was comparatively easy to
make proselytes among a barbarian people who had no settled convictions
of truth, and to whom there could be offered the most attractive of
temporal as well as eternal rewards.

Gibbon gives the following account of the personal appearance and
intellectual endowments of this wonderful man:――

“According to the traditions of his companions, Mohammed was
distinguished by the beauty of his person. Before he spoke, the orator
engaged on his side the affections of a public or a private audience:
they applauded his commanding presence, his majestic aspect, his
piercing eye, his gracious smile, his flowing beard, his countenance
that painted every sensation of the soul, and his gestures that
enforced each expression of the tongue.

“In the familiar offices of life, he scrupulously adhered to the
grave and ceremonious politeness of his country. His respectful
attention to the rich and powerful was dignified by his condescension
and affability to the poorest citizens of Mecca. The frankness of
his manners concealed the artifice of his views; and the habits of
courtesy were imputed to personal friendship or universal benevolence.
His memory was capacious and retentive, his wit easy and social, his
imagination sublime, his judgment clear, rapid, and decisive.

“He possessed the courage both of thought and action; and, although
his designs might gradually expand with his success, the first idea
he entertained of his divine mission bears the stamp of an original
and superior genius. The son of Abdallah was educated in the bosom of
the noblest race, in the use of the purest dialect; and the fluency of
his speech was corrected and enhanced by the practice of discreet and
seasonable silence. With these powers of eloquence, Mohammed was an
illiterate barbarian. His youth had never been instructed in the arts
of reading and writing. The common ignorance exempted him from shame
and reproach; but he was reduced to a narrow circle of existence, and
deprived of those faithful mirrors which reflect to our mind the minds
of sages and heroes.”

Mohammed, like Emanuel Swedenborg, accepted both the Old and New
Testament as of divine origin. He professed the most profound respect
for both Moses and Jesus Christ as prophets sent from God. “Verily
Christ Jesus,” writes Mohammed, “the son of Mary, is the Apostle of God,
and his Word, which he conveyed unto Mary, and a Spirit proceeding from
him, honorable in this world and in the world to come, and one of those
who approach near to the presence of God.”[198]

Our Saviour had promised, that, after his departure from this world,
he would send the Paraclete, or Holy Ghost, as a guide and comforter to
his disciples. “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto
you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the
Father, he shall testify of me.”[199] Mohammed assumed that he was this
divinely-commissioned Comforter. The Koran was produced in fragments
to meet emergencies; and it was not until two years after the death
of Mohammed that these fragments were collected in a single volume.
This Koran is one of the most stupid of books, full of incoherent
rhapsody and turgid declamation, from which it is difficult to extract
a sentiment or an idea. Very few men in Christendom have found patience
to read it.

Mohammed at first imposed upon his disciples the daily obligation of
fifty prayers. Finding this too onerous to be borne, he diminished
the number to five, which were to be performed daily, regardless of
any engagements or any surroundings. These seasons of prayer were at
daybreak, at noon, in the middle of the afternoon, in the evening, and
at the first watch of the night. His precepts of morality were drawn
from the Old and New Testaments. Friday was appointed as the Mohammedan
sabbath, and vigorous fasts were enforced. All intoxicating drinks
were positively interdicted. The Mussulman was enjoined to consecrate
one-tenth of his income to charitable purposes. The doctrines of the
resurrection and the final judgment were maintained.

“The sword,” says Mohammed, “is the key of heaven and of hell. A drop
of blood shed in the cause of God, or a night spent in arms, is of more
avail than two months of fasting or prayer. Whoever falls in battle,
his sins are forgiven. At the day of judgment his wounds shall be
resplendent as vermilion, and odoriferous as musk; and the loss of his
limbs shall be supplied with the wings of angels and cherubim.”

This remarkable man died on the 7th of June, 632. His character was
by no means blameless when judged by the standard of Christianity.
Whenever he wished to indulge in any crime, he could easily find a
fresh revelation authorizing him to do so. Major Price, after the most
careful examination of documentary evidence, speaks as follows of his

“In tracing the circumstances of Mohammed’s sickness, we look in
vain for any proofs of that meek and heroic firmness which might be
expected to dignify and embellish the last moments of the apostle of
God. On some occasions he betrayed such want of fortitude, such marks
of childish impatience, as are in general to be found in men only of
the most ordinary stamp; and such as extorted from his wife Ayesha,
in particular, the sarcastic remark, that, in herself or any of her
family, a similar demeanor would long since have incurred his severe
displeasure. He said that the acuteness and violence of his sufferings
were necessarily in the proportion of those honors with which it had
ever pleased the hand of Omnipotence to distinguish its peculiar

Immediately after the death of Mohammed, his disciples pushed their
conquests with amazing energy. In the course of a few centuries,
they overran all of Egypt and of Asia Minor, and established the most
stern and unrelenting despotism earth has ever known. Their military
organization and prowess were such, that they could bring into the
field a more powerful army than any other nation.

They crossed the Bosphorus into Europe, and stormed Christian
Constantinople with six hundred vessels of war and an army of
three hundred thousand troops. Sixty thousand of the inhabitants of
Constantinople were massacred in cold blood. The Christian maidens were
dragged shrieking into the Moslem harems. The boys of tender age were
compelled, under the blows of the scourge and of the cimeter, to adopt
the religion of the Prophet, and to enlist under his banner. Thus the
whole Eastern or Greek empire was soon blotted out. The crescent of
Mohammed supplanted the cross of Christ over all the towers of the
imperial city. The head of the Christian was crushed by the heel of
the Turk.

The conqueror, assuming the title of Mohammed II., prepared to invade
Italy. It was his boast that he would feed his horse from the altar of
St. Peter’s, in Rome. He crossed the Adriatic, took Otranto, and was
in the onward career of victory, with every prospect of annexing Italy
to the Mohammedan empire, when he died. There was then a short respite
for imperilled Christendom. But soon the flood of Mohammedan invasion
rolled up the Danube in surges of flame and blood. Year after year, and
generation after generation, the valley of this majestic stream was but
a constant battle-field, where Christian and Moslem grappled each other
in the death-struggle.

One of these marches up the Danube is worthy of more minute record.
It was leafy June: luxuriant foliage and gorgeous flowers decorated
the banks of the river with loveliness which attracted the admiration
even of semi-barbarian eyes. The turbulent host, counting within its
ranks two hundred and fifty thousand veteran warriors, for many days
sauntered joyously along, encountering no foe. War seemed but the
pastime of a festival-day. Banners floated gayly in the breeze; music
enlivened the march. Arabian chargers pranced proudly beneath their
riders, glittering in Oriental gorgeousness of costume. A fleet of
gayly-decorated barges filled the stream, impelled by sails when the
wind favored, and urged by rowers when the winds were adverse.

Each night, upon some smooth expanse of the river’s banks, the white
tents of the invaders were spread, and a city of nearly two hundred
thousand inhabitants rose as by magic, with its grassy streets and
squares, its busy population, its trumpet-peals from martial bands,
and its bannered magnificence blazing in all the regalia of war. Like
a fairy vision the city rose in the rays of the declining sun; and
like a vision it disappeared in the early dawn of the morning, and the
mighty host moved on.

But the black day came. The Turks had ascended the river about a
hundred and fifty miles, when they came to a small island called Zigeth.
It was strongly fortified, and commanded both banks of the stream. Not
another mile could the Moslems advance till this fortress was battered
down. Zrini, the heroic Christian commander, and his whole garrison of
six thousand men, took an oath that they would surrender the post only
with their lives.

Day and night, week after week, the assault continued unintermitted.
The besieged, with guns in battery to sweep all approaches, mowed down
their assailants with awful carnage; but bastion after bastion was
crumbled by the tremendous cannonade of the Moslems: the walls of solid
masonry were battered down till they presented but a shapeless pile of
rocks. The Turks, reckless of life, like swarming bees swept over the
smouldering ruins. They had apparently cut down every inmate of the
fort; and, with shouts of victory, were raising the crescent over the
blackened and blood-stained rocks, when there was an earthquake roar,
and an explosion almost as appalling as the thunders of the archangel’s

Zrini had fired the subterranean vaults containing thousands of kegs
of powder. The whole citadel――men, horses, rocks, and artillery――was
thrown into the air, and fell a commingled mass of ruin, fire, and
blood. The Turks, having lost their leader and a large part of their
army, retreated, exhausted and bleeding, but only to gather strength
to renew the strife.

Thus year after year these Moslem assaults were continued. Such were
the measures the Turks used to convert Europe to Mohammedanism; such
were the persuasions urged by the missionaries of the Koran. Shortly
after this, the banners of the advance-guard of the Turkish army were
seen even from the steeples of Vienna: the majestic host invested the
city on all sides.

The renowned John Zobieski, King of Poland, came to the rescue with
sixty thousand men. Uniting with the German troops, the combined army
fell upon the invaders with almost frenzied courage, utterly routed
them, and drove them in wild disorder back to Belgrade. Still, through
years of blood and woe, these Moslem assaults were continued. The
conquering armies of the Prophet took all of Asia, Egypt, Africa, and
Greece. They crossed the Straits of Gibraltar from Africa into Spain,
overran the whole Spanish Peninsula, and hung like a black cloud upon
the northern cliffs of the Pyrenees, threatening the provinces of
France. They swept both banks of the Danube to the walls of Vienna. The
Austrian royal family fled at midnight. It seemed inevitable that all
Europe was to be overrun by the Moslems, and that all Christendom was
to be cut down beneath their bloody cimeters.

This conflict of Mohammedanism against Christianity continued for five
centuries. At one time, the Austrian ambassador at Constantinople wrote
to the Emperor Ferdinand in Vienna,――

“When I compare the power of the Turks with our own, the consideration
fills me with dismay. I see not how we can resist the destruction which
awaits us. They possess great wealth, strength unbroken, a perfect
knowledge of the arts of war, patience, union, order, frugality, and a
constant state of preparation.

“On our side are exhausted finances and universal luxury. Our
national spirit is broken by mutinous soldiers, mercenary officers,
licentiousness, intemperance, and a total contempt of military
discipline. Is it possible to doubt how such an unequal conflict must
terminate? The all-conquering Mussulmans will soon rush with undivided
strength, and overwhelm all Europe as well as Germany.”

Such was the career and the final menaces of Mohammedanism. But
the Church is safe: God interposed by his resistless providences.
Mohammedanism, everywhere on the wane, exists now only through the
toleration of the Christian powers: it is ere long to be buried in the
same grave in which the paganism of Greece and Rome lies mouldering
in the dust. One foe after another Satan has been marshalling against
Christianity; but ever, though sometimes after a strife truly terrific,
Christianity has come off the victor. Eighteen centuries have rolled
away since the death of Christ; but never was Christianity so vigorous
and efficient a power in the world as now.

Mohammed himself ever remembered the kindness he had received in the
Syrian convent. He left it as one of the injunctions of the Koran,――

“Respect all religious persons who live in hermitages or convents, and
spare their edifices; but, should you meet other unbelievers in the
Prophet, be sure you cleave their skulls unless they embrace the true

The capture of Alexandria by the Mohammedans is one of the most
renowned events, and apparently one of the greatest calamities, of
past ages. The magnificent city, the capital of Egypt, possessed almost
fabulous wealth. It contained four thousand palaces, five thousand
baths, and four hundred theatres. Its library surpassed all others
in the world in the number and value of its manuscripts. The Moslem
general who had captured the city wrote to his superior at Bagdad,
inquiring what was to be done with the library. The bigot returned
the reply,――

“Either what those books contain is in the Koran, or it is not. If
their contents are in the Koran, the books are useless: if they are
not, the books are false and wicked. Burn them.”

The whole priceless treasure, containing the annals of many past
centuries, was committed to the flames. The irreparable loss
Christendom will ever mourn.

Nations are not born, and do not die, in a day. During several
centuries, Mohammedanism was rising to its zenith of power, until
it vied with ancient Rome in the extent of its territory, the
invincibility of its legions, and the enormity of its luxury and

The seventh century was, perhaps, the darkest and the most hopeless, so
far as the prospects of humanity were concerned, of any since the birth
of Christ. When the eighth century dawned, several hundred years of
war, anarchy, and blood, had lingered away since the breaking-up of the
Roman empire. The people, weary of anarchy and crushed with woe, were
glad to make any surrender of personal liberty for the sake of security.
Females sought refuge in nunneries, and timid men in monasteries: bold
barons built their impregnable castles on the cliffs; and defenceless
peasants clustered around these massive fortresses of rock for
protection as the sheep gather around the watch-dog.

The baron, with his fierce retainers armed to the teeth, was ever
ready to do battle. The serf purchased a home and safety by toiling
with his wife and children, like cattle in the field, to support his
lord and his armed warriors. Thus feudalism was the child of necessity:
it was the natural outgrowth of barbarous times. The ruins of these old
feudal castles are scattered profusely over the hillsides and along the
romantic streams of Europe. As the tourist now glides in the steamer
over the water of the beautiful Rhine, where the “castled crag of
Drachenfels” frowns down upon the scene of solitude and beauty, and

                 “On yon bold brow a lordly tower,
                  In that soft vale a lady’s bower,
                  In yonder meadow, far away,
                  The turrets of a cloister gray,”

creative imagination leaps back over the ages which are gone, repairs
the ruins, digs out the moat, suspends the portcullis, stores the
dungeon, and peoples the battlemented towers with armed defenders.
Again the winding of the bugle echoes over the hills and the valleys,
warning the serfs of approaching danger. We see the rush of the
frightened peasants in at the massive portals; we hear the clatter of
iron hoofs, the defiant challenge pealing from the trumpet: the eye
is dazzled with the vision of waving plumes and gilded banners as
steel-clad knights sweep by like a whirlwind.

Breathless we gaze, in fancy, upon the attack and the defence; listen
to the cry of onset, and to the resounding blows upon helmet and
cuirass. Heroic courage, chivalric adventure, invest the crumbling
stones with life. Such was life in this sad world ten centuries ago.

But, through all these tumults, the Church of Christ, with many
mingling imperfections, was rising to be the ruling power on earth.
In seasons of anarchy, the community is ever ready to cast itself for
protection into the arms of dictatorial power. The Church, imperilled,
felt its need of a dictator; and the Bishop of Rome, by almost
unanimous consent, became its recognized head. The Moslem empire had
swept over all the East, trampling Eastern Christians in the dust. The
few disciples of Jesus who in those regions were permitted to live were
exposed to the most humiliating oppressions and insults.

It was in the year 732 that Charles Martel met the Moslem host near
Tours, in France, to fight the battle which apparently was to decide
the fate of Europe. Christianity and Mohammedanism met on that field
in their greatest strength. The battle which ensued was one of the most
terrific which earth has ever known. Victory followed the banner of
the cross. The annalists of those days declare that over three hundred
thousand Moslems bit the dust upon that bloody field: the remnant, in a
series of desperate conflicts, were driven pell-mell over the Pyrenees,
across the whole breadth of Spain, and over the Straits of Gibraltar
into Africa.

As we traverse these weary years in their dull monotony of woe,
we occasionally come to some event over which we are constrained
to pause and ponder. Such an event was the rise of Charlemagne,
towards the close of the eighth century. His name has reverberated
through the corridors of history until the present day. By his genius,
and the power of his armies, he brought two-thirds of all Europe
under his sceptre. He created an empire almost rivalling that of the
Cæsars. Seated in his palace at Aix la Chapelle, he issued his orders,
which scores of nations obeyed. Dukes, princes, counts, became his
subordinate officers, whose powers were limited according to his will.

At the death of Charlemagne, near the close of the eighth century,
his empire broke to pieces in large fragments. Europe emerged from
the wreck, organized essentially as now. The overthrow of the ancient
Roman empire was like a mountain crumbling down into sand. The then
known world became but a vast arena for the conflict of petty barbarous
tribes, ever surging to and fro. The demolition of the empire of
Charlemagne was like the breaking-up of a majestic iceberg into
a number of huge islands, each floating imperially over the waves,
defying alike gales and billows. The spiritual empire of the Papacy had
kept pace with the secular empire of Charlemagne: indeed, the Bishop of
Rome swayed a sceptre before whose power even Charlemagne himself was
compelled to bow.

As a temporal ruler, Charlemagne had no rival in Europe. The
antechamber of this great European conqueror was filled with suppliant
kings. Though unlearned himself, he did all in his power to encourage
learning throughout his realms. He ordered every monastery to maintain
a school; he encouraged manufactures and agriculture; and with a strong
arm repressed violence, that all branches of industry might be secure
of a reward. It was during his reign that the first bell was cast by
the monk Tancho. The emperor was so much pleased with its sweet and
solemn tones, that he ordered it to be placed on his chapel as the call
to prayer. Hence the origin of church-bells.

Until nearly the ninth century, the Island of Great Britain was
essentially a barbaric land, filled with savage, warring tribes.
Each district had its petty clans of fierce warriors, arrayed against
each other. But again there bursts upon Europe one of those appalling
irruptions of barbarians from the North which seems so weird-like and

One day, Charlemagne with a friend was standing upon a cliff, looking
out upon the sea, when he saw quite a fleet of galleys passing by.
“They are traders, probably,” said his companion. “No,” replied
Charlemagne sadly: “they are Norman pirates. I know them. _I_ do not
fear them; but, when I am gone, they will ravage Europe.”

These were the fierce men who enslaved the Saxons of Britain, and
put brass collars around their necks. Descending from the islands of
the Baltic and the mainlands of Denmark and Norway in their war-ships,
infuriated by a fanatic faith which regarded mercy as sin, these
ferocious warriors, hardy as polar bears, and agile as wolves,
penetrated every bay, river, and creek, sweeping all opposition before
them. Devastation, carnage, and slavery followed in their train.

The monasteries had gradually degenerated into institutions of
indolence and sensuality. The Normans assailed the inmates of these
gloomy retreats with the most relentless cruelty. They surrounded with
their armed bands these cloistered walls, and, barring the monks within,
applied the torch, and danced and sang as the vast pile and all its
contents were wrapped in flames. They hated a religion which taught (to
them the absurd doctrine) that man was the brother of his fellow-man;
that the strong should protect, and not oppress, the weak; that
we should forgive our enemies, and treat kindly those who injure
us. Like incarnate fiends, they took special pleasure in putting to
death, through every form of torture, the teachers of a religion so
antagonistic to their depraved natures.

Such was the condition of the world at the commencement of the tenth
century. Joyless generations came and passed away, and life upon this
sin-stricken globe could have been only a burden. From this sketch,
necessarily exceedingly brief, it will be seen that man has ever been
the most bitter foe of his brother-man. Nearly all the woes of earth
are now, and ever have been, caused by sin. What an awful tragedy has
the history of this globe been!

Almost with anguish, the thoughtful and benevolent mind inquires, “Is
there to be no end to this? Is humanity forever to be plunged into the
abyss of crime and woe?”

It would seem that it must be manifest to every candid mind
that there can be no possible remedy but in the religion of Jesus
Christ. Love God, your Father; love man, your brother: these are the
fundamental principles of the gospel. Every one must admit that the
universal adoption of these principles would sweep away from earth
nearly all its sorrows. Sin and holiness in this world are struggling
for the supremacy: it is a fearful conflict. Every individual is on the
one side or the other. Some are more, and some are less zealous. But
there is no neutrality: he that is not for Christ is against him.

Is there not an influence coming down to us through these long
centuries of woe potent enough to induce each one to declare, “As for
me and my house, we will serve the Lord”? Accept the religion of Jesus;
live in accordance with its teachings: then you will do all in your
power to arrest the woes of humanity; and, when Death with his summons
shall come, he will present you a passport which will secure your
entrance at the golden gate which opens to the paradise of God.

                             CHAPTER XXI.

                            THE DARK AGES.

  The Anticipated Second Coming of Christ.――State of the World
    in the Tenth Century.――Enduring Architecture.――Power of the
    Papacy.――Vitality of the Christian Religion.――The Pope and
    the Patriarch.――Intolerance of Hildebrand.――Humiliation of the
    Emperor Henry IV.――Farewell Letter of Monomaque.――The Crusades.
    ――Vladimir of Russia.――His Introduction of Christianity to his
    Realms.――Marriage with the Christian Princess Anne.――Extirpation
    of Paganism.――The Baptism.――The Spiritual Conversion of Vladimir.

THERE had gradually arisen an almost universal impression in the
Church, that, in just a thousand years after the advent of Christ, the
world was to come to an end. Notwithstanding the emphatic declaration
of Jesus, that not even the angels in heaven know the period of his
second coming, through all the ages of the Church individuals have been
appearing who have fixed upon a particular year when Christ was to come
in clouds of glory.

The year of our Lord 999 was one of very solemn import. There was a
deep-seated impression throughout all Christendom that it was to be the
last year of time; and, indeed, all the signs in the heavens above and
on the earth beneath indicated that event. There was almost universal
anarchy,――no law, no government, no safety, anywhere. There were wars,
and rumors of wars. Sin abounded. There were awful famines, followed by
the fearful train of pestilence and death. The land was left untilled.
There was no motive to plant when the harvest could never be gathered.
The houses were left to fall into decay. Why make improvements, when in
one short month they might be swallowed up in a general conflagration?

It is an almost inexplicable peculiarity of human wickedness, that
danger and death are often the most intense incentives to reckless
sin. While Christians were watching and praying for the coming of the
Saviour to bring to a triumphal close this fearful tragedy of earth and
time, the godless surrendered themselves to all excesses, and shouted,
“Let us eat and drink; for to-morrow we die!”

The condition of society became quite unendurable. Robbers frequented
every wood: in strong bands they ravaged villages, and even walled
towns. As all were consuming, and few were producing, provisions soon
disappeared. Despair gave loose to every passion. In many places the
famine was so severe, that, when even rats and mice could no longer be
procured, human flesh was sold in the markets: women and children were
actually killed and roasted.

But, while many were thus stimulated to awful depravity, others,
inspired by Christian principle, were impelled to prayer, and to
every exercise of devotion which those dark days taught them could be
acceptable to God. Kings, in several cases, laid aside their crowns,
and, as humble monks, entered the monasteries, performing all the most
onerous and humiliating duties of midnight vigils, fastings, penances,
and prayers.

Henry, the Emperor of Germany, entered the Abbey of St. Vanne as a
monk. The holy father in charge, who was truly a good man, enlightened
and conscientious, received the emperor reluctantly. After much
remonstrance, he, however, administered the oath by which the monarch
vowed implicit obedience to the authority of his spiritual superior.

“Sire,” said this good monk to the emperor, “you are now under my
orders: you have taken a solemn oath to obey me. I command you to
retire immediately from the convent, and to resume the sceptre. Fulfil
the duties of the kingly state to which God has called you. Go forth
a monk of the Abbey of St. Vanne; but resume your responsibilities as
Emperor of Germany.”

The emperor obeyed with simplicity of trust, and nobility of character,
which have commanded the respect of all subsequent ages.

Robert, King of France, son of the illustrious Hugh Capet, entered
the Abbey of St. Denis. Here he became one of the choir of the
church, singing hymns and psalms of his own composition. Many of
the nobles emancipated their slaves, and bestowed large sums in
charity,――benevolence, indeed, which did not, perhaps, require a large
exercise of self-denial, if sincere in their belief that the fires were
just ready to burst out which were to wrap the world in flames.

As the year 999 drew near its end, men almost held their breath
to watch the result. For a whole generation, all the pulpits of
Christendom had been ringing with the text,――

“And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the
Devil and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into
the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he
should deceive the nations no more; and, after that, he must be loosed
a little season.”[201]

But the dawn of the eleventh century rose, and all things continued
as they were from the beginning of the creation. Christians, finding
that the world was not coming to an end, rallied for more energetic
effort to make the world better. All Christendom combined in the
crusades to arrest the progress of Mohammedanism, and to reclaim the
Holy Land from Mohammedan sway. The churches were repaired. Stately
cathedrals rose,――those massive piles of imposing architecture which
are still the pride of Europe.

The impression that the world was to be stable for some centuries
longer led to the projection of buildings on the most gigantic scale
and of the most durable materials. Architecture became a science
which enlisted the energies of the ablest minds; and here originated
that Gothic architecture so much admired even at the present day. The
foundations of these time-defying edifices were broad and deep; the
walls of immense thickness; the roofs steep, effectually to shed rain
and snow; the towers square, buttressed to sustain the church, and also
to afford means, then so necessary, of military defence.

The castle of the noble rose by the same impulse which reared such
majestic sacred edifices. Thus Melrose and Kenilworth, Heidelberg and
Drachenfels, came into being.

In France alone, at the beginning of the eleventh century, there
were a thousand four hundred and thirty-four monasteries. Poverty
was universal. The cottages of the peasants were mere hovels, without
windows, damp and airless,――wretched kennels in which the joyless
inmates crept to sleep. By the side of these abodes of want and woe the
church rose in palatial splendor, with its massive walls, its majestic
spire, its spacious aisles, and its statuary and paintings, which
charmed the docile and unlettered multitude. The whole population of
the village could assemble beneath its vaulted ceiling. It was the
poor man’s palace: he felt that it belonged to him. There he received
his bride. In the churchyard he laid his dead. The church-bell rang
merrily on festal-days, and tolled sadly when sorrow crashed. Life’s
burden weighed heavily on all hearts. To the poor, unlettered, ignorant
peasant, the church was every thing: its religious pageants pleased his
eye; the church-door was ever open for his devotions; the sanctuary was
his refuge in danger; its massive grandeur filled his heart with pride;
its gilded shows and stately ceremonies took the place of amusements;
the officiating priests and bishops presented to his reverential eyes
an aspect almost divine.

We see the remains of this deep reverence in the attachment to their
forms of religion of nearly all the peasantry of Catholic Europe at
the present day. The Church, with its imposing ceremonies, hallowed
to them by all the associations of childhood and by the traditions of
past generations, still exerts over them a power which seems almost

The wonderful vitality which there is in the Church of Christ, and the
amazing influence which the teachings of Jesus exert over the human
mind, are in nothing more remarkable than in the stability with which
Christianity and its doctrines survive all the ordinary changes of
time. Dynasties rise and fall like ocean-waves, leaving no perceptible
influence behind them; but Christianity rides over all these storms
of time with immortal life. The Roman empire crumbles to dust; the
Eastern and Western empires moulder away; the Gothic kingdoms appear,
and vanish like a vision of the night; the Vandals and the Huns, the
Ostrogoths and the Normans, flit across the scene, each with their
brief span of life.

Yet Christianity, like the sun struggling through the clouds of a
stormy day, calmly, steadily, surely, continues on its course. Though a
storm-cloud may transiently obscure its brightness, nothing can impede
its onward progress; and, at the present day, Christianity, triumphant
over all the conflicts of centuries, shines brighter, clearer, with
more world-wide healing in its beams, than ever before.

The Bishop of Rome had become the recognized head of the Western
Church. Wielding both temporal and spiritual power, the pope towered
in dignity above all the monarchs of Europe. Towards the close of the
eleventh century, Hildebrand, with the title of Gregory VII., occupied
the pontifical chair. Henry IV., Emperor of Germany, claimed the right
of appointing bishops in his own realms. The pope haughtily summoned
the emperor immediately to repair to his presence in Rome, and answer
for his conduct. Henry, indignant at such an insult, issued a decree
declaring Gregory VII. no longer worthy of being regarded as pope.

In retaliation, the exasperated pontiff excommunicated the emperor,
deposing him from his throne, and prohibiting his subjects, under pain
of eternal damnation, from supporting the emperor, or from ministering
in any way to his wants. The superstitious people, believing that
the pope had entire power to send them all to hell, in their terror
simultaneously and universally abandoned the emperor. No servant dared
to engage in his employ; no soldier dared to serve under his banner.
The emperor found himself in an hour utterly crushed and helpless. The
pope summoned a congress, and appointed another emperor in the place of
his deposed victim.

Henry, finding himself thus overwhelmed beyond all possibility of
resistance, in dismay and despair crossed the Alps in the dead of
winter to throw himself at the feet of the offended pontiff, and
implore forgiveness. Gregory VII. was then at the Castle of Canossa,
in Tuscany. For three days, in mid-winter, the abject monarch stood
a suppliant at the gate of the castle before he could be admitted.
Barefoot, bareheaded, and clothed in a woollen shirt, he was compelled
thus to wait, day after day, that all might witness his abject
humiliation. At length, the haughty pontiff consented to grant
absolution to the humiliated and penitent emperor.

The extravagance of the claims of Hildebrand seem to approach insanity.
He published a collection of maxims, which is still extant. Among them
are the following, which evince his spirit, and the arrogance of the
papacy at that day:――

“There is but one name in the world; and that is the pope’s. All
princes ought to kiss his feet. He alone can nominate or displace
bishops, or dissolve councils. Nobody can judge him. He has never erred,
and never shall err in time to come. He can depose princes, and release
subjects from their oaths of fidelity.”

All the monarchs of Europe sustained these assumptions of the pope;
for, by sustaining them, they easily held their subjects under perfect
control. Nothing can be conceived more awful than was then the idea
of excommunication to the popular mind. It exposed one to almost all
possible misery in this world, and to the eternal flames of hell in the

One becomes weary of the recital of the crimes and woes of those days.
There is, however, one truth which stands forth prominent from every
page of history: it is, that in the religion of Jesus alone can be
found the remedy for the ills of earth; it is the democracy of the
gospel, the recognition of the brotherhood of man, where only is to
be found hope for the world. Forms of government are of little avail
so long as the men who wield those forms are selfish and depraved.
Governments will become better only so fast as the men who administer
them become better.

It is one of the signal developments of human depravity that men will
reject and oppose the religion of Jesus because bad men, assuming
the Christian name, ignore, and trample beneath their feet, all the
teachings of the gospel. Christianity advocates every thing that is
lovely and of good report, urging all “to do justly, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with God; to visit the widow and fatherless in their
affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world;” while at the
same time it denounces, under penalty of the divine displeasure, every
act which is not consistent with love to God and love to man.

Notwithstanding papal pride and corruption, the spirit of Christ,
in those dark ages, was beautifully developed in thousands of hearts,
among the lofty as well as among the lowly. There is a great deal
of false religion now, a great deal of ritualistic pomp and of empty
profession. It was so then. Still, everywhere, then as now, could
be seen the most attractive evidences of the power of true religion.
Devoted missionaries had penetrated the most remote and savage wilds;
and not a few who wore regal crowns and ducal coronets were numbered
among the disciples of Jesus.

On the 19th of May, 1126, Monomaque, one of the most renowned of
the early sovereigns of semi-barbaric Russia, died at the age of
seventy-six. He had developed a very beautiful character, often praying
with a trembling voice and tearful eyes for suffering humanity. Just
before he fell asleep in Jesus, he wrote a farewell letter to his sons
and daughters. The letter was written in the Palace of Kief, nearly a
thousand years ago, and is still preserved on parchment in the archives
of the monarchy. Every reader will admire its truly Christian spirit.

“My dear children,” he wrote, “the foundation of all religion is
the love of God and the love of man. Obey your heavenly Father;
and love man, your brother. It is not fasting, it is not monastic
seclusion, which will confer the favor of God: it is doing good to your
brother-man. Never forget the poor: take care of them. Do not hoard up
riches: that is contrary to the teachings of our Saviour. Be a father
to orphans; protect widows; and never permit the powerful to oppress
the weak.

“Abstain from every thing that is wrong. Banish from your heart all
pride. Remember that we all must die: to-day full of life, to-morrow
in the tomb. When you are travelling on horseback, instead of allowing
your mind to wander upon vain thoughts, recite your prayers, or at
least repeat the best of them all: ‘O Lord! have mercy upon us.’

“Never retire at night without falling upon your knees before God in
prayer. Always go to church at an early hour in the morning to offer to
God the homage of your first and freshest thoughts. This was the custom
of my father, and of all the pious people who surrounded him. With the
first rays of the sun they praised the Lord, and exclaimed with fervor,
‘Condescend, O Lord! with thy Divine Spirit to illumine my soul.’”

Near the commencement of the twelfth century, nearly all Christendom
combined for the recovery of Jerusalem and the Holy Land from the
Moslems. The crusades are generally regarded as among the strangest
of all earthly frenzies. In the first crusade, a rabble, unorganized
band of three hundred thousand persons, of all ages and both sexes,
set out on an insane expedition to drive out of Syria the warlike
Moslems. Though the crusaders deemed their enterprise a sacred one,
their conduct was often such as could scarcely have been exceeded in
wickedness by incarnate fiends. Not one of those who embarked in this
first crusade ever reached Jerusalem: only a remnant of about twenty
thousand, after extreme sufferings, ragged and starving, regained their
homes. The well-armed and organized Turks cut down the fanatic rabble
as the mower does the grass.

The next year there was another campaign commenced, still more
imposing in numbers, and a little more formidable in warlike character.
All the steel-clad knights of Europe mounted their chargers, eager to
gain and to win the favor of Heaven by the slaughter of the infidel
Turk. Six hundred thousand men――as motley an assemblage as ignorance
and fanaticism ever brought together――commenced their march across
Europe to the Holy Land. Trusting that they should receive supernatural
aid, they made but slight provision for their wants. Soon all the
horses died: famine and sickness decimated their ranks. There was no
discipline, no self-command; and the wildest excesses reigned. Their
track was strewn with the bodies of the dead.

As they drew near to Jerusalem, their numbers had dwindled to sixty
thousand; but these were the boldest, the strongest, the hardiest.
With energy which religions enthusiasm alone could inspire, they
hurled themselves upon the defences of Jerusalem, broke open the gates,
clambered the walls, and, after a scene of awful carnage, succeeded in
recapturing the city. This was in July, 1099. Of the vast army which
had left Europe, not ten thousand survived to return to their native

Though Jerusalem was taken, there were many portions of Palestine still
in the hands of the Moslems. The insane idea then arose of organizing a
crusade of children against them. Fanaticism affirmed that Christ would
interpose in their behalf, and give the weak a victory over the strong;
thus showing how God, out of the mouths of babes and sucklings, could
perfect his praise. It seems almost incredible, but it is apparently
well authenticated, that ninety thousand boys, of but ten or twelve
years of age, commenced their march across Europe to present their
innocence and helplessness to the cimeter of the bearded Turk.

“When the madness of the time,” writes Rev. James White, “had
originated a crusade of children, and ninety thousand boys, of but ten
or twelve years of age, had commenced their journey, singing hymns and
anthems, and hoping to conquer the infidels with the spiritual arms of
innocence and prayer, the whole band melted away before they reached
the coast. Barons and counts, and bishops and dukes, all swooped down
upon the devoted march; and, before many weeks’ journeying was achieved,
the crusade was brought to a close. Most of the children had died of
fatigue or starvation; and the survivors had been seized as legitimate
prey, and sold as slaves.”[202]

The introduction of Christianity into Russia early in the eleventh
century is one of the most interesting events in the history of the
Church. Vladimir the king, a pagan, but a thoughtful man, had heard
of Christianity, and became anxious respecting his own destiny beyond
the grave. He made earnest inquiries of the teachers of all forms of
religion respecting their peculiar tenets.

He summoned the Mohammedan doctors from Bulgaria, the Jews from
Jerusalem, and Christian bishops from the Papal Church at Rome and the
Greek Church at Constantinople. He soon rejected the systems of Jews
and of the Mohammedans as unworthy of further consideration, but was
undecided respecting the apparently-conflicting schemes of Rome and

He therefore selected ten of the wisest men in his kingdom, and sent
them to visit Rome, and then Constantinople, and report in which
country divine worship was conducted in a manner most worthy of the
Supreme Being. The ambassadors seem to have made a very thorough
investigation in both capitals. Upon their return to Kief, they
reported in favor of the faith and ceremonies of the Greek Church.
The king, still undecided, and impressed with the importance of the
measures upon which he had entered, assembled a number of his most
virtuous and distinguished nobles, and took counsel of them. Their
voices also were in favor of the Greek Church.

This wonderful event is well authenticated. Nestor gives a recital of
it in its minute details. An old Greek manuscript, preserved in the
royal library of Paris, records the visit of these ambassadors to both
Rome and Constantinople.

There must have been a commingling of many motives which influenced
Vladimir in his course. He had been a very wicked man. He had sought,
but in vain, to appease the gnawings of conscience by the debasing
rites of paganism. Some light from Christianity had reached his mind,
as Christian missionaries occasionally traversed his semi-barbaric
realms. Indeed, the gospel had been already preached in idolatrous
Kief, and some converts had been won to it. Vladimir had also
sufficient intelligence to perceive that the paganism into which his
realms were plunged was brutalizing. It is not probable that thus far
he had been the subject of a change of heart: it was merely a change of
policy,――an intellectual rather than a spiritual transformation.

Having resolved to renounce paganism, and to adopt Christianity,
he deemed it important that the event should be accompanied with
pageantry so imposing as to produce a deep impression upon his simple
and ignorant subjects. The extraordinary measures he adopted show how
little he then comprehended the true spirit of Christianity.

He assembled an immense army; with it descended the Dneiper in boats;
sailed across the Black Sea; and entering the Gulf of Cherson, near
Sevastopol, after several bloody battles took military possession
of the Crimea. Thus victorious, he sent an embassage to Basil and
Constantine, the two emperors then unitedly reigning at Constantinople,
announcing that he wished the young Christian Princess Anne, daughter
of one of the emperors, for his bride; and that, if she were not
immediately sent to him, he would advance upon Constantinople, and
utterly destroy the city.

The emperors, trembling in view of this menace, which they were
conscious they had not the power to avert, after much anxious
deliberation returned the answer, that they would accede to his request
if he would first embrace Christianity. To this proposition Vladimir
cordially assented, as it was quite in accordance with his plans. He,
however, demanded that the Princess Anne should be sent immediately to
him, stating that he would be baptized at the time of his nuptials.

The unhappy maiden was overwhelmed with anguish in view of what
appeared to her a dreadful doom. She regarded the pagan Russians
as ferocious savages, and would have preferred repose in the grave
to her union with Vladimir. But policy, which is the religion of
cabinets, demanded the sacrifice. The princess, weeping in despair, was
conducted to the camp of Vladimir, accompanied by several of the most
distinguished ecclesiastics and nobles of the empire. She was received
with the most gorgeous demonstrations of rejoicing. The whole army was
drawn up in battle-array to add the brilliancy of military pageantry to
nuptial festivities.

The ceremony of baptizing the king was performed in the church of
Basil, in the city of Cherson. Immediately after this ceremony, the
marriage-rites with the princess were solemnized. Vladimir ordered a
large church to be built at Cherson in memory of his visit. He then
returned to Kief with the bride whom the sword and diplomacy had won,
taking with him several preachers distinguished for their eloquence.
He also obtained from Constantinople a communion-service wrought in the
most graceful proportions of Grecian art, and also several exquisite
specimens of statuary, that he might inspire his subjects with a love
for the beautiful.

With great docility the king accepted the Christian teachers as
his guides, and devoted himself with untiring energy to the work of
abolishing idolatry and establishing Christianity throughout his realms.
Vigorous and sagacious measures were adopted to throw contempt upon the
ancient paganism. The idols were collected, and burned in huge bonfires
amidst the derisive shoutings of the people. The statue of Péroune,
the most illustrious of the pagan gods, was dragged ignominiously
through the streets with a rope round its neck, followed by the hooting
multitude pelting it with mud and scourging it with whips; until at
last, battered and defaced, it was dragged to the top of a precipice,
and tumbled headlong into the river.

Vladimir now issued a decree to all the inhabitants of the capital and
of all the adjoining region to repair to the banks of the Dneiper, in
the vicinity of Kief, to be baptized. The rich and the poor, the nobles
and the serfs, were alike summoned. At the appointed day the multitude
assembled by tens of thousands, and crowded the banks of the stream.
The emperor himself at length appeared, accompanied by a large number
of ecclesiastics from Constantinople. He took his seat upon an elevated
throne that he might witness the imposing ceremonies.

At a given signal, the whole multitude waded slowly into the stream.
Some boldly advanced up to their necks; others, more timid, ventured
only up to their waists. Fathers and mothers led their children by the
hand. When all were standing quietly in the stream, the clergy upon
the shore offered baptismal prayers, chanted hymns of thanksgiving,
and then declared that all were Christians, having been baptized in
the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. The
multitude then came up from the water nominal Christians.

Vladimir, who was sincere and truthful in all these strange movements,
was in a transport of joy. Profoundly excited by the sublimity of the
scene, he raised his flooded eyes to heaven, and, with great fervor,
offered the following simple and touching prayer:――

“O thou Creator of heaven and earth! extend thy blessing to these thy
new children. May they know thee as the true God, and be strengthened
by thee in the true religion! Come to my help against the temptations
of the Evil Spirit, and I will praise thy name.”

Thus, at a blow, paganism was demolished throughout nearly all Russia,
and Christianity was introduced in its place. Imperial energies were
expended in rearing artistic churches of stone all over the empire.
Christian missionaries, under the patronage of the emperor, traversed
the realm, teaching the people the new religion. Nearly all the
population gladly received the Christian faith. Some, however, still
adhered to paganism. Vladimir respected their rights of conscience, and
for a few years the wretched delusions of idolatry lingered in secluded
spots; but Russia became nominally a Christian land.

Light dawned rapidly upon the mind of Vladimir, and he became a
warm-hearted Christian,――one of the most loving and lovable of men.
War had been his passion. In this respect his whole nature seemed to be
changed. Nothing but dire necessity could lead him to an appeal to arms.
The Princess Anne appears to have been a sincere Christian. She found
a happy home in the Palace of Kief. Her virtues and piety won the love
and reverence of her husband. Her whole life was devoted to doing good;
and, when this Christian sister fell asleep in Jesus, she was soon
followed to the tomb by her grief-stricken husband.

The name of Vladimir is still revered throughout all Russia. He was
the greatest benefactor Russia ever knew. In his career we see how
noble is the life of the Christian: it is the only life which is truly
noble. Christianity, as a principle, embraces every virtue which can
glow in an angel’s bosom: as an agent of beneficence, it promotes all
conceivable good for time and eternity; as an agent of happiness, it
fills all homes and all hearts with joy; as a motive to action, it
combines all the conceivable joys of an endless life to inspire one
with tireless energies to promote God’s glory and man’s welfare.

                             CHAPTER XXII.

                           THE REFORMATION.

  Two Aspects of Catholicism.――Jubilee at Rome.――Infamy of Philip
    of France.――Banditti Bishops.――Sale of Indulgences.――Tetzel the
    Peddler.――The Rise of Protestantism.――Luther and the Diet at
    Worms.――Intolerance of Charles V.――Civil War and its Reverses.
    ――Perfidy of Charles V.――Coalition against the Protestants.
    ――Abdication of Charles V.――His Death.

THE Papal Church presents two aspects quite different from each other.
The one is that of a spiritual and practical religion, in which that
branch of the Church of Christ has furnished some of the most lovely
exhibitions of piety the world has ever seen. Fénelon and Pascal were
among the noblest of the disciples of the Redeemer. Through all the
darkest ages of the Church there have been a multitude, which no man
can number, who have followed their Saviour, even to the cross, in his
lowly life of benevolence, and his self-sacrifice for others.

The Catholic Church was, for centuries, almost the only organized
representative of the religion of Jesus. It contained within its bosom
all the piety there was on earth. These humble Christians, sometimes
buried and almost smothered beneath the ceremonies which the Church
imposed upon them, manifested through life the true spirit of Jesus,
and passed away, in death, triumphant to their crowns.

But there is another aspect in which the Papal Church presents itself
on the pages of history. It is that of a political organization,
grasped by ambitions men, and wielded by them as an instrument of
personal aggrandizement.

The Bishop of Rome, claiming to stand in God’s stead, with power
to admit to heaven or to consign to hell, became, in many cases,
a conspirator with kings and princes to inthrall mankind. As an
illustration of this infamous perversion of Christianity, it may
be mentioned, that, early in the fourteenth century, Pope Boniface
designed to get up a magnificent celebration in honor of the popedom.

He appointed a jubilee at Rome. As an inducement to lead an
innumerable band to cluster in homage around him, he promised that all
who came to Rome to attend the jubilee should not only have their past
sins pardoned, but should also receive an indulgence, or, as it was
popularly understood, permission to commit any sins they wished for a
limited time to come. We easily believe that which we wish to believe.
The proud and dissolute barons of Europe were glad to accept a doctrine
by which they could so easily escape the penalty of their enormous
sins. They were also only too eager to support the pope in all his
pretensions, receiving in return his powerful, almost supernatural
influence in holding the fanatic peasantry in subjection to their will.

At this magnificent jubilee the pope led the procession, dressed in
imperial robes. Two swords, the emblems of temporal and of spiritual
power, and the globe, the emblem of universal sovereignty, were carried
before him. A herald went in advance, crying,――

“Peter, behold thy successor! Christ, behold thy vicar upon earth!”
Such crimes not unfrequently in this life meet with conspicuous
punishment. Pope Boniface became insane, broke from his keepers, and
foaming at the mouth, and gnashing his teeth, died uttering the most
horrid blasphemies.

After the death of Boniface, Philip, King of France, surnamed the
Handsome, who was then the most powerful monarch in Christendom,
bribed a majority of the cardinals to elect one of his creatures to the
pontifical chair. There was a vile, unscrupulous courtier in the palace,
who had been promoted to the high ecclesiastical position of Archbishop
of Bordeaux. He made as little pretence to piety as did the hounds he
followed in the chase. The king summoned the archbishop, whose name was
Bernard de Goth, to meet him at one of his hunting-lodges in the forest.
There he said to him,――

“Archbishop, I have power to make you pope if I choose. If you will
promise me six favors which I shall ask of you as pope, I will confer
upon you that dignity.”

The astonished and overjoyed archbishop threw himself at the king’s
feet, saying, “My lord, it is for you to command, for me to obey. I
shall be always ready to do your will.”

“The six special favors I have to ask are these: first, that you will
reconcile me entirely with the Church, that I may be pardoned for my
arrest of Pope Boniface VIII.; second, that you will give me and all
my supporters the communion; third, that you will grant me tithes of
the clergy for five years, to meet the expenses of the war in Flanders;
fourth, that you will destroy the memory of Boniface VIII.; fifth, that
you will confer the dignity of cardinal upon Messrs. Jacobo, Piero, and
others of my friends. The sixth favor I reserve for the proper time and
place: it is a great and secret thing.”

The archbishop, having taken the most solemn oaths to grant these
requests, ascended, by the intrigues of the king, the papal throne,
with the title of Clement V. He became as obsequiously the servant of
the King of France as any slave is submissive to his master. The king
and his pope joined hands to oppress and rob the world.

“His Holiness Clement V. was, therefore, the thrall and servant of
Philip le Bel. No office was too lowly or sacrifice too large for
the grateful pontiff: he became, in fact, a citizen of France, and a
subject of the crown. He delivered over the clergy to the relentless
hands of the king. He gave him tithes of all their livings. As the
Count of Flanders owed money to Philip which he had no means of paying,
the generosity of the pope came to the rescue; and he gave tithes of
the Flemish clergy to the bankrupt count, in order to enable him to
pay his debt to the exacting monarch. The pope did not reduce his
own demands in consideration of the subsidies given to those powers:
he completed, indeed, the ruin the royal tax-gatherers began; for
he travelled in more than imperial state from end to end of France,
and ate bishop and abbot and prior and prebendary out of house and

Christendom, then miserably poor, became impoverished by their
exactions. These imperial robbers turned to the Jews, and robbed them
mercilessly. The unarmed peasantry could present no resistance to the
steel-clad warriors mounted on powerful chargers; which steeds were
also caparisoned in coats of mail. These knights, in their impenetrable
armor, could plunge upon almost any multitude of the peasantry, and
disperse them like sheep when wolves rush into the fold. But it is not
always that the battle is to the strong. We can often see in history
the indications of God’s retributive providence. There were seasons
when these proud knights fell before their despised victims.

In the beginning of the fourteenth century an army of these mailed
warriors entered Flanders, hacking and hewing in all directions. The
manufacturing citizens at the town of Courtrai secretly dug a blind
ditch in the path of the invaders. The impetuous knights, breathing
through their cross-barred visors, and goggling through the holes left
for their eyes, spurred their horses forward in solid mass, and fell
headlong, horse and rider, with their heavy and inextricable weight
of armor, into the trap set for them. It was a horrible massacre,――an
avalanche of overthrown, struggling horses and human bodies cased in

The momentum of the vast mass was such, that their onward movement
could not be checked. The pressure behind forced forward those in
the advance, till thousands were plunged into the abyss, writhing,
struggling, choking, like vipers in a vase. The infuriated peasants and
mechanics on the other side of the ditch, with clubs and every other
available weapon, beat out the brains of those who endeavored to escape
from the maelstrom of death. This enormous slaughter nearly depopulated
France of its lords and princes.

The corruptions which had crept into the secularized Church more
and more appalled the more devout both of the clergy and of the laity.
True men began to speak loudly against these corruptions, and continued
so to speak, notwithstanding all the denunciations of temporal and
ecclesiastical power.

The leading cardinals, archbishops, and bishops, appointed by infamous
popes and kings, were almost universally irreligious and corrupt men.
There were some noble exceptions; but sincere piety was more generally
found only with the more humble of the clergy, and with the common

In order to raise money, Pope Leo X., early in the sixteenth century,
devised the plan of selling indulgences. A regular tariff of prices
was fixed for the pardon of all crimes, from murder downwards. If a man
wished to commit any outrage, or to indulge in any forbidden wickedness,
he could do so at a stipulated price, and receive from the pope a full
pardon. These permits, or indulgences as they were called, were peddled
all over Europe, and an immense revenue was gathered from them. There
was one man, by the name of John Tetzel, a brazen-faced miscreant,
who made himself very notorious as a peddler of these indulgences.
He traversed Northern France and Germany, engaged in this nefarious

In a cart gorgeously embellished, and accompanied by a musical band, he
would approach some populous town, and tarry somewhere in the suburbs
until his emissaries had entered the place and informed the inhabitants
of the signal honor which awaited them from the advent of a nuncio from
the pope with pardons for sin at his disposal.

All the church-bells would be set ringing for joy: the whole population
would be thrown into the greatest excitement to receive the brilliant
pageant. At the annotated hour the cavalcade entered, bedizened with
all the gorgeous finery of a modern menagerie display. Tetzel carried,
in the capacious box of his peddler’s cart, the parchment certificates
of pardon for every imaginary sin. Murder, adultery, theft, sacrilege,
blasphemy,――every crime had its specified price.

One could purchase pardon or absolution for any crime which had
already been committed, or he could purchase permission to commit the
crime if it were one he wished to perpetrate. With music and banners
the procession advanced to the public square. Here Tetzel, mounted upon
his box, with all the volubility of a modern mountebank palmed off his
wares upon the eager crowd.

“My brothers,” said this prince of impostors, “God has sent me to
you with his last and greatest gift. The Church is in need of money.
I am empowered by the pope, God’s vicegerent, to absolve you from any
and every crime you may have committed, no matter what it may be. The
moment the money tinkles in the bottom of the box, your soul shall be
as pure as that of the babe unborn.

“I can also grant you indulgence; so that any sins you may commit
hereafter shall all be blotted out. More than this: if you have
any friends now in purgatory suffering in those awful flames, I am
empowered, in consideration of the money you grant the Church in this
its hour of need, to cause that soul to be immediately released from
purgatory, and to be borne on angel-wings to heaven.”

Enlightened as the masses of the people are at the present day, we
can hardly imagine the effect these representations produced upon an
ignorant and superstitious people who had ever been trained to the
belief that the pope was equal in power to God. These peddlings of
indulgences for sin were carried on all over Europe, and enormous sums
of money were thus raised. The certificates, which were issued like
government-bonds, ran in this form:――

“I, by the authority of Jesus Christ, his blessed apostles Peter
and Paul, and the most holy pope, absolve thee from all thy sins,
transgressions, and excesses, how enormous soever they may be. I
remit to thee all punishment which thou dost deserve in purgatory on
their account, and restore thee to the innocence and purity thou didst
possess at baptism; so that, when thou diest, the gates of punishment
shall be shut against thee, and the gates of paradise shall be thrown
wide open.”

It was this sale of indulgences which opened the eyes of Luther and
other devout men to the corruptions which had crept into the Church. We
have not space here to enter into the details of the great Protestant
Reformation which ensued: the reader can find in the pages of D’Aubigné,
which are easily accessible, a graphic narrative of its incidents.
Notwithstanding the ferocious hostility of popes and kings, the
Reformation spread rapidly among the masses of the people; and several
sovereigns and princes of high rank, disgusted with the arrogance of
the popes, espoused its principles. The Emperor Maximilian wrote to one
of the leading men in the Saxon court in reference to Luther,――

“All the popes I have had any thing to do with have been rogues and
cheats. The game with the priests is beginning. What your monk is doing
is not to be despised. Take care of him: it may happen that we shall
have need of him.”

Providentially, the Elector of Saxony was the friend and protector of
Luther. The intrepid monk wrote to the pope a remonstrance against the
iniquities which were practised at Rome.

“You have three or four cardinals,” he wrote, “of learning and faith;
but what are these three or four in so vast a crowd of infidels and
reprobates? The days of Rome are numbered, and the anger of God has
been breathed forth upon her. She hates councils, she dreads reform,
and will not hear of a check being placed on her desperate impiety.”

A diet was summoned at Worms, composed of the princes and potentates
of the great German empire. The Emperor Charles V. presided. Such a
spectacle the world had never witnessed before. Luther was summoned to
appear before this body to be tried for heresy. In those treacherous
days it was not deemed safe for Luther to place himself in the hands
of his enemies, though he had obtained a safe-conduct from the emperor.
His friends urged him not to go to Worms. He replied,――

“If there were as many devils in Worms as there are tiles on the roofs
of the houses, I would still go there.”

Before that august assembly, which had predetermined his condemnation
and death, Luther made an eloquent defence, which he concluded in the
following words:――

“Let me, then, be refuted and convinced by the testimony of the
Scriptures, or by the clearest arguments; otherwise I cannot and
will not recant; for it is neither safe nor expedient to act against
conscience. Here I take my stand. I can do no otherwise, so help me
God! Amen.”

He was suffered to depart under his safe-conduct; but he was closely
followed, and measures were taken to arrest him the moment his
safe-conduct should expire.

As, on his return home, he was passing through the gloomy paths of a
forest, some horsemen suddenly appeared, seized him, dressed him in the
disguise of military costume, put on him a false beard, mounted him on
a horse, and drove rapidly away.

“His friends were anxious about his fate; for a dreadful sentence
had been uttered against him by the emperor on the day when his
safe-conduct expired, forbidding any one to sustain or shelter him,
and ordering all persons to arrest and bring him into prison to await
the judgment he deserved.”[204]

To rescue him from this doom, the Elector of Saxony had sent these
troops, who conveyed him secretly, but in safety, to the Castle of
Wartburg. Thus, while it was generally supposed that he had been
waylaid and slain, he was peacefully prosecuting his studies within
the walls of the fortress, safe from his foes.

The conflict between the reformers and the opponents of reform
soon became the all-engrossing question of the age. Many were of the
opinion that the end of the world was at hand. The whole continent of
Europe was shaken by religions and political commotions. The religious
question rallied powerful princes on the opposite sides. The Turks, in
apparently overpowering numbers, were thundering at the gates of many
of the Eastern cities. France was a maelstrom of excitement. Bigoted
Spain declared “heresy” punishable with death. Terrible earthquakes
shook the globe. A large portion of Lisbon in a moment was whelmed in
ruin, burying thirty thousand of the inhabitants beneath the _débris_.
An enormous ocean-wave swept the coast of Holland, consigning four
hundred thousand people to a watery grave.

In the year 1530, the Emperor Charles V. determined to enforce by
military power the oppressive decrees adopted by the Diet at Worms. But
the Reformation in Germany had made extraordinary progress. Many German
princes had adopted its principles, and were ready to draw the sword
in its defence. These princes united in a solemn protest against this
papal intolerance. This protest was signed by such men as John, Elector
of Saxony, George, Margrave of Brandenburg, two Dukes of Brunswick, the
Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel, and the governors of twenty-four imperial
cities. From this formidable protest, which was issued in the spring of
the year 1529, the reformers took the name of Protestants, which they
retain at the present day.

The Emperor Charles V., alarmed by this protest, after several
long interviews with the pope, assembled a new diet at Augsburg
in April, 1530. Hoping by menaces or bribes to silence the voice
of ♦Protestantism, he assumed the air of candor. “I have convened,”
he said, “this assembly to consider the difference of opinion upon
the subject of religion. It is my intention to hear both parties
impartially, to examine their respective arguments, and to reform what
requires to be reformed, that there may be in future only one pure and
simple faith, and that, as all are the disciples of the same Jesus, all
may form one and the same church.”

The Protestants appointed Luther and Melancthon to draw up a confession
of their faith. Luther was a stern, unyielding man: Melancthon was
amiable and pliant. Though they agreed in their confession, it did not
exactly suit either. It was a little too yielding for Luther, and too
uncompromising for Melancthon. Subsequently the document was revised
by Melancthon, and somewhat softened to meet his own views. As thus
modified, it was adopted by the German people who took the title of
German Reformed. The Lutherans adhered to the original document.

The emperor, in co-operation with the pope, now threw off the mask, and
resolved by force of arms to compel all to conform to the doctrines and
usages of the Papal Church. He began to gather his armies to crush the
Protestants. They entered into a league for mutual protection. A civil,
religious war was just about to burst upon Germany, when the Turks,
with an army three hundred thousand strong, commenced the ascent of the
Danube. The emperor, alarmed by this terrible invasion, was compelled
to call upon the Protestants for aid; but they feared the dungeons and
flame of the Papal Inquisition more than they did the cimeter of the
Turk. They knew full well, that, as soon as the Turks were repelled,
the emperor would turn the energies of his sword against them. Still
Germany, Protestant and Catholic, had every thing to fear from the
ravages and outrages of the barbarian Turk.

After long negotiations, the Protestants consented to co-operate
with the emperor in repelling the invasion, upon receiving his solemn
pledge to grant them freedom of conscience and of worship. Charles was
astonished at the energy with which the Protestants came forward to
the war. They even tripled the contingents which they had promised,
and fell upon the invaders with such intrepidity as to drive them back
pell-mell to the banks of the Bosphorus. Charles then, in violation of
his pledge, began to proceed against the Protestants. But they, armed,
organized, and flushed with victory, were in no mood to submit to this
perfidy. Some of the more considerate of the Papal party, foreseeing
the torrents of blood that must flow, and the uncertain issue of the
conflict, succeeded in promoting a compromise.

Still Charles was merely temporizing. He at once entered into
vigorous efforts to marshal a force sufficiently powerful to crush the
Protestants. He concluded a truce with the Turks for five years; he
formed a league with Francis King of France, who promised him the whole
military force of his kingdom. In the mean time, the Protestants were
busy wielding those moral powers more potent than sabres or artillery,
than chains or flames. Eloquent preachers were everywhere proclaiming
the corruptions of the Papacy. The new doctrines of the Protestants
involved the principles of civil as well as religious liberty. The most
intelligent and conscientious all over Europe were rapidly embracing
the new doctrine. Several of the ablest of the Catholic bishops
espoused the Protestant cause. The emperor was quite appalled when he
learned that the Archbishop of Cologne, who was one of the electors of
the empire, had joined the Protestants. So many of the German princes
had adopted the principles of the Reformation, that they had a majority
in the electoral diet. In Switzerland, also, Protestantism had won the
majority of the people. Still, throughout Europe, Catholicism was in
the vast ascendency.

Charles resolved to attempt by stratagem that which he recoiled from
undertaking by force. He proposed to the Protestants that a general
council should be convened at Trent, and that each party should pledge
itself to abide by the decision of a majority of votes. The council,
however, was to be summoned by the pope; and Charles, by co-operation
with the pope, had made arrangements that the overwhelming majority of
the council should be opposed to the reformers. The Protestants, of
course, rejected so silly a proposition.

Still the emperor and the pope resolved to hold the council, and to
enforce its decrees by their armies. The pope furnished the emperor
with thirteen thousand troops and over a million of dollars. Charles
raised two large armies of his own subjects,――one in the Low Countries,
and one in the States of Austria. His brother Ferdinand, King of
Hungary and of Bohemia, also raised two armies of co-operation,
one from each of those countries. The King of France mustered his
confederate legions, and loudly proclaimed that the day of vengeance
had come, in which the Protestants were to be annihilated. The pope
issued a decree, in which he offered the pardon of all their sins to
those who should engage in this war of extermination of the Protestants.

The reformers were in consternation: the forces marshalled against
them seemed to be resistless. But Providence does not always side with
the heavy battalions. With energy which surprised both themselves and
their foes, they raised an army of eighty thousand men, nearly every
individual of whom was a hero, fully comprehending the cause for which
he had drawn the sword, and ready to lay down his life in its defence.
Battles ensued, blood flowed, and a wail of misery spread over the
unhappy realms, which we have no space here to describe. Charles was
apparently triumphant. He crushed the Protestant league, subjected the
pope to his will, and was about to convene a council to confirm all he
had done, when wide-spread disaffection, which had long been slumbering,
blazed forth all over the German empire.

The intolerance of the haughty monarch caused a general burst of
indignation against him. Maurice, King of Saxony, which was the most
powerful State of the Germanic confederacy, headed the insurrection.
France, annoyed by the arrogance of the emperor, readily joined the
standard of Maurice. The Protestants in crowds flocked to his ranks;
for he had issued a declaration that he had taken up arms to prevent
the destruction of the Protestant religion, to defend the liberties
of Germany, and to rescue from the dungeon innocent men imprisoned for
their faith alone. Nominal Catholics were found shoulder to shoulder
in co-operation with the Protestants. Whole provinces rushed to join
this army. Maurice was regarded as the advocate of civil and religious
liberty. Imperial towns threw open their gates joyfully to Maurice. In
one month, the aspect of every thing was changed.

The Catholic ecclesiastics, who were assembling at Trent, alarmed
at this new attitude of affairs, dissolved the assembly, and fled
precipitately to their homes. The emperor was at Innspruck――seated
in his arm-chair, with his limbs bandaged in flannel, enfeebled, and
suffering from a severe attack of the gout――when the intelligence of
this sudden and overwhelming reverse reached him. He was astonished,
and utterly confounded. In weakness and pain, unable to leave his
couch, with his treasury exhausted, his army widely scattered, and so
pressed by their foes that they could not be concentrated, there was
nothing left for him but to endeavor to beguile Maurice into a truce.
But Maurice was as much at home in all the arts of cunning as was
the emperor, and, instead of being beguiled, contrived to entrap his
antagonist. This was a new and very salutary experience for Charles.
It is a very novel sensation for a successful rogue to be the dupe of

Maurice pressed on, his army gathering force at every step. He
entered the Tyrol, swept through all its valleys, and took possession
of all its castles and sublime fastnesses; and the blasts of his bugles
reverberated through the cliffs of the mountains, ever sounding the
charge and announcing victory, never signalling a defeat. The emperor
was reduced to the terrible humiliation of saving himself from capture
only by flight. He could scarcely credit the statement when he received
the appalling tidings that his foes were within a day’s march of
Innspruck, and that a squadron of horse might at any hour cut off his

It was night when this communication was made to him,――a dark and
stormy night,――the 20th of May, 1552. The rain fell in torrents, and
the wind howled through the fir-trees and through the crags of the
Alps. The tortures of the gout would not allow him to mount his horse,
neither could he bear the jolting in a carriage over the rough roads.
Some attendants wrapped the monarch in blankets, took him into the
courtyard of the palace, and placed him upon a litter. Servants led
the way with lanterns; and thus, through the inundated and storm-swept
defiles, they fled with their helpless sovereign through the long hours
of the tempestuous night, not daring to stop one moment, lest they
should hear behind them the iron hoofs of their pursuers.

What a change for one short month to produce! What a comment upon
earthly grandeur! It is well for man, in the hour of exultant
prosperity, to be humble: he knows not how soon he may fall.
Instructive, indeed, is the apostrophe of Cardinal Wolsey, illustrated
as the truth he uttered is by almost every page of history:――

           “This is the state of man: To-day he puts forth
            The tender leaves of hope, to-morrow blossoms:
            The third day comes a frost, a killing frost,
            And――when he thinks, good easy man, full surely
            His greatness is a-ripening――nips his root;
            And then he falls as I do.”

The fugitive emperor did not venture to stop for refreshment or repose
until he had reached the strong town of Villach in Corinthia. The
troops of Maurice soon entered the city which Charles had abandoned,
and the imperial palace was surrendered to pillage. Heroic courage,
indomitable perseverance, always command respect. These are noble
qualities, though they may be exerted in a bad cause. The will of
Charles was unconquerable. In these hours of disaster, tortured with
pain, driven from his palace, impoverished, and borne upon his litter
in humiliating flight before his foes, he was just as determined to
enforce his plan as in the most brilliant hour of victory.[205]

The emperor was at length constrained, in view of new menaces from
the Turks, to assent to the celebrated Treaty of Passau, on the 2d of
August, 1552. The spirit of true toleration was then scarcely known
in the world. After long debate, in which both parties were often at
the point of grasping arms, it was agreed that the Protestants should
enjoy the free exercise of their religion in the places specified by
the Augsburg Confession. In all other places Protestant princes might
prohibit the Catholic religion in their States, and Catholic princes
might prohibit the Protestant religion; but in each case the expelled
party were to be at liberty to sell their property, and to emigrate
without molestation to some State where their religion was dominant.
Even this wretched burlesque of toleration was so offensive to the
pope, that he threatened to excommunicate the emperor and his brother
Ferdinand if they did not immediately declare these decrees to be null
and void throughout their dominions.

Charles V. unquestionably inherited a taint of insanity. His mother,
the unhappy Joanna, daughter of Isabella, Queen of Spain, after
lingering for years in the most insupportable glooms of delirium, died
on the 4th of April, 1555. Her imperial son had already become the
victim of extreme despondency. Harassed by disappointments, mortified
by reverses, and annoyed by the undutiful conduct of his son, he shut
himself up in his room, refusing to see any company but his sister and
servants, and rendering himself insupportable to them by his petulance
and moroseness. For nine months he did not sign a paper. He was but
fifty-five years of age, but was prematurely old, and the victim of
many depressing diseases. There was probably not a more wretched man
in all Europe than the Emperor Charles V.

He resolved, by abdicating the throne, to escape from the cares which
tortured him. The important ceremony took place with much funereal pomp
on the 4th of April, 1555.

The emperor had fixed upon the Convent of St. Justus, in Estremadura,
Spain, as the place of his retreat. The massive pile was far removed
from the busy scenes of the world, imbosomed among hills covered with
wide-spread and gloomy forests, with a mountain rivulet murmuring by
its walls. There is considerable diversity in the accounts transmitted
to us of convent-life. According to the best evidence which can now be
obtained, it was as follows:――

The emperor caused to be erected within the walls of the convent
a small building, two stories high, with four rooms on each floor.
These rooms, tapestried in mourning, were comfortably furnished. Choice
paintings ornamented the walls, and the emperor was served from silver
plate. Charles was not of a literary turn of mind, and a few devotional
books constituted his only library. A pleasant garden, with a high
enclosure which sheltered the recluse from all observation, invited the
emperor to gravelled walks fringed with flowers.

The days passed monotonously. The emperor attended mass every morning
in the chapel, and dined at an early hour in the refectory of the
convent. After dinner he listened for a short time to the reading of
some book of devotion. He was scrupulously attentive to the fasts and
festivals of the Church, and, every evening, listened to a sermon in
the chapel. In penance for his sins, he scourged himself frequently
with such severity of flagellation, that the cords of the whip were
stained with blood.

Being fond of mechanical pursuits, he employed many hours in carving
puppets and children’s playthings, and constructed some articles of
furniture. His room was filled with timepieces of every variety of
construction. It is said, that, when he found how impossible it was to
make any two of them keep precisely the same time, he exclaimed upon
his past folly in endeavoring to compel all men to think alike upon the
subject of religion.

His bodily sufferings were severe from the gout, by which he was
helplessly crippled. Most of the time he spent in extreme dejection.
It was evident that his health was rapidly failing, and that, ere long,
he must sink into the grave. Under these circumstances, he adopted
the extraordinary idea of rehearsing his own funeral. As the story
has generally come down to us, all the melancholy arrangements for
his burial were made, and the coffin provided. The emperor reclined
upon his bed as if dead: he was wrapped in his shroud, and placed in
his coffin. The monks and all the inmates of the convent attended in
mourning; the bells tolled, requiems were chanted by the choir, the
funeral-service was read; and then the emperor, as if dead, was placed
in the tomb of the chapel, and the congregation retired.

The monarch, after remaining some time in his coffin to impress
himself with what it is to die and be buried, rose from the tomb,
kneeled before the altar in the chill church for some time in worship,
and then returned to his room to pass the night in meditation and
prayer. The shock and chill of these melancholy scenes were too much
for the feeble frame and weakened mind of the monarch. He was seized
with a fever, and in a few days breathed his last; and his spirit
ascended to that tribunal where all must answer for the deeds done in
the body.

The reformers of the sixteenth century, in the various countries of
Europe, have acquired renown which will never die. We give a group
containing the portraits of five, who were among the most illustrious
of these men, with the accompanying brief sketch of their lives.

  Illustration: REFORMERS OF THE 16th CENTURY

John Calvin was born at Noyon, in Picardy, one of the northern
provinces of France, on the 10th of July, 1509. In his earliest years
he developed remarkable intellect; and his father, who was a cooper,
dedicated him to the Church. When twelve years of age, he received a
benefice in the cathedral of his native city; and, when but eighteen
years old, was appointed to a cure. While still pursuing in Paris his
theological studies, the great truths of the reformers dawned upon his
mind, and so disturbed him, that he renounced his intention of serving
in the priesthood, and devoted himself to the study of the law.

When but twenty-two years of age, he published a Latin commentary
upon the “De Clementia” of Seneca; and, being suspected of favoring
the new doctrine of the reformers, he was compelled to flee from Paris.
The Canon of Angoulême gave him refuge; and under his hospitable roof
he commenced writing his world-renowned work, “The Institutes of the
Christian Religion.” He devoted two years to this treatise, and in the
mean time repaired to Navarre. Queen Margaret of Navarre, who was the
cordial patron of learned men, received him hospitably. Here Calvin
continued to pursue his studies, and made the acquaintance of many of
the most eminent men of Europe in all the various branches of learning.
After a time, returning to France, he was again compelled to seek
safety in flight; and he established himself at Basle.

Here he published, in August, 1535, his “Institutes.” It was a
carefully-drawn-up confession of the faith of those who in France were
condemned to the most terrible persecution, and even to the stake, for
their opinions. The excitement and peril of the times were such, that
the work had an immense circulation among the reformers all over Europe,
and placed Calvin at the head of the advocates of the new doctrines.

“Scattered far and wide through schools, the castles of the _noblesse_,
the houses of the citizens, even the workshops of the people, ‘The
Institutes’ became the most powerful of preachers. Around this book
the Protestants gathered as around a standard. They found every thing
there,――doctrine, discipline, church organization.”[206]

The work was dedicated to the king, Francis I. In this dedication
Calvin said, “It is your office, sire, not to turn away your ears or
your heart from so just a defence, especially since it is a question
of great importance to know how the glory of God shall be maintained
on the earth. Oh subject worthy of your attention, worthy of your
jurisdiction, worthy of your royal throne!”

It is said that the king did not deign even to read this epistle.
In 1536 Calvin was appointed pastor of a church, and professor of
a theological school, in Geneva. His voluminous writings continued
to attract the attention of all Europe, and the French Protestants
generally took the name of Calvinists. The amount of labor performed
by Calvin seems almost incredible. He preached daily, delivered
theological lectures three times a week, and attended all the meetings
of the Consistory of the Association of Ministers, and was the leading
mind in the councils. He was continually consulted for advice upon
questions of law and theology. He issued a vast number of pamphlets in
defence of his opinions, commentaries on the Bible, and maintained a
very extensive correspondence with distinguished men all over Europe.
Besides his numerous printed sermons, he left in the library of Geneva
two thousand and twenty-five in manuscript.[207]

The burning of Michael Servetus at the stake for heresy is often urged
as an irreparable blot upon the character of Calvin. Candid men will
attribute much of the intolerance of individuals in those days to the
spirit of the times. Speaking upon this subject, M. G. de Félice says
very judiciously,――

“The execution of Michael Servetus has furnished the subject of a
disputation constantly renewed. An able historian of our day, M. Mignet,
has just devoted a long and learned dissertation to it. It would lead
us entirely beyond our plan to enter into these details. 1. Servetus
was not an ordinary heretic. He was a bold pantheist, and outraged the
dogma of all Christian communions by saying that God in three persons
was a Cerberus,――a monster with three heads. 2. He had already been
condemned to death by the Catholic doctors at Vienna, in Dauphiny.
3. The affair was judged, not by Calvin, but by the magistrates of
Geneva; and, if it is objected that his advice must have influenced
their decision, it is necessary to recollect that the councils of
the other reformed cantons of Switzerland approved the sentence with
a unanimous voice. 4. It was, in fine, of the highest interest for
the Reformation to separate distinctly its cause from that of such an
unbeliever as Servetus. The Catholic Church, which in our day accuses
Calvin of having participated in his condemnation, much more would
have accused him in the sixteenth century with having solicited his

Naturally, Calvin was impatient and irascible. In one of his letters to
Bucer, he writes,――

“I have no harder battles against my sins, which are great and numerous,
than those in which I seek to conquer my impatience. I have not yet
gained the mastery over this raging beast.”

Calvin died the 27th of May, 1564, in the fifty-fifth year of his
age. He was of middle stature, pale countenance, brilliant eyes, and
was extremely abstemious in his habits of living. For many years, he
partook of but one meal a day. In the will which he dictated a short
time before his death, he called God to witness the sincerity of
his faith, and rendered thanks to him for having employed him in the
service of Jesus Christ.

Philip Melancthon was alike distinguished for his native force of
character, his intellectual culture, his piety, and his amiability.
He was born in the palatinate of the Rhine, on the 16th of February,
1497. In early boyhood, his progress in study, especially in the
acquisition of the ancient languages, was very extraordinary. At the
age of thirteen, he entered the University at Heidelberg. Here he so
distinguished himself by his scholarship, that in one year he took the
degree of bachelor of arts, and became tutor to several of the sons of
the nobility. In 1512, when fifteen years of age, he repaired to the
University of Tübingen, where he devoted himself with great assiduity
to the study of theology. At the age of eighteen he received the degree
of master of arts, gave lectures on the Greek and Latin authors, and
published a Greek grammar. His erudition and eloquence gave him such
celebrity, that, when twenty-two years of age, he was invited to
Wittenberg as professor of the Greek language and literature. Here
he warmly embraced the cause of evangelical truth as advocated by
the reformers. His sound judgment, rich classical taste, ardent piety,
and fervid imagination, gave a peculiar charm to every thing which
proceeded from his pen. Bringing these qualities into alliance with the
energy, impetuosity, and enterprise of Luther, he contributed greatly
to the spread of the doctrines of the Reformation. His mild spirit
in some degree softened the rigor of Luther, and his writings were
universally admired by the Protestant world. Associated with Luther,
he drew up the celebrated “Confession” of Augsburg in 1530. This, with
the “Apology” for it which he subsequently composed, gave him renown
through all Europe.

“He was nowhere more amiable than in the bosom of his family. No
one who saw him for the first time would have recognized the great
reformer in his almost diminutive figure, which always continued meagre
from his abstemiousness and industry. But his high, arched, and open
forehead, and his bright, handsome eyes, announced the energetic,
lively mind which this slight covering enclosed, and which lighted
up his countenance when he spoke. In his conversation, pleasantries
were intermingled with the most sagacious remarks; and no one left
him without having been instructed and pleased. His ready benevolence,
which was the fundamental trait of his character, embraced all who
approached him. Open and unsuspicious, he always spoke from the heart.
Piety, a dignified simplicity of manners, generosity, were to him so
natural, that it was difficult for him to ascribe opposite qualities
to any man.”[209]

For nearly half a century, Melancthon was one of the most prominent
actors in that tremendous conflict between the Papal Church and
Protestant reform which then agitated all Europe. Few men have been
so universally and ardently loved. Notwithstanding the vehemence
of Luther’s character, and the mildness of Melancthon’s spirit, the
friendship between these two remarkable men continued unabated through
life. From all parts of Europe students flocked to Wittenberg, lured
there by the mental and moral attractions of Melancthon.

It is recorded of this illustrious man, that, in the commencement
of his ministry, he fancied that no one could resist the glad tidings
of the gospel. With powers of eloquence which fascinated thronging
audiences, he depicted the love of God, the joys of heaven, the
companionship of angels,――all offered to the repentant sinner without
money and without price; but the multitudes who listened with delight
to his glowing descriptions and his powerful appeals scattered from
the church with no disposition manifested to give their hearts to
the Saviour, or to consecrate their lives to his service. At length,
the preacher, around whose pulpit the incense of popular applause was
continually ascending, was heard to say in bitterness of lamentation,
“Old Adam is too strong for young Melancthon.”

This great and good man died at Wittenberg on the 19th of April, 1560,
in the sixty-third year of his age.

Martin Luther has generally been regarded as the father of the
Reformation. He was certainly one of the greatest men of the sixteenth
century. He was the son of very poor parents, his father being a miner;
and was born at Eisleben, Nov. 10, 1483. Martin’s childhood was simply
such as was to be expected in the home of poor but very religious
parents. At the age of fourteen he was sent to school at Magdeburg;
but his destitution was so great, that he often obtained a few pence,
which contributed essentially to his support, by singing in the streets.
Still he made rapid progress in study; and, being taken under the
care of a maternal relation, at the age of eighteen he entered the
University of Erfurt. Here the closeness of his application and his
attainments soon attracted the attention of his teachers.

The Bible at that time was a sealed book to the laity. Luther, to his
great delight, found a copy in the Latin language in the library of
the university. He studied it with the utmost diligence, and became so
interested in its contents, that he resolved to devote himself to the
study of divinity. The sudden death of a friend at this time, who fell
dead at his side, so impressed him with melancholy emotions, that he
decided to withdraw from the world, and immure himself in the glooms of
the cloister. Accordingly, he entered the monastery of the Augustines
at Erfurt in the year 1505, and patiently submitted to all the rigors
and penances imposed upon him by his superiors. But he was tortured
with a sense of sin: none of his self-inflicted sufferings appeased his
conscience. His mental agitation threw him into severe and dangerous
illness. He felt that he had no good works upon which he could rely as
atonement for his many infirmities, and his good sense enabled him to
contemplate with thorough disgust the traffic in indulgences.

But a gleam of new light dawned upon his mind as one of the brothers
spoke to him of salvation from sin and its penalty through faith in the
atonement of Jesus Christ,――salvation through faith, and not by works.

The high intellectual endowments of Luther could not be concealed.
The provincial of the order released him from the menial duties of
the cloister that he might devote himself to the study of theology.
In 1507 he was ordained a Catholic priest; and, one year after, was
made professor of philosophy in the University of Wittenberg. Here his
commanding intellect, and independence of character, collected around
him a large number of disciples. A visit to Rome in 1510 revealed to
him the corruption of the clergy, and utterly destroyed his reverence
for the pope. Upon his return to ♦Wittenberg, at the age of twenty-nine,
he was made a doctor in theology, and became a preacher.

At this time the impudent charlatan Tetzel was traversing Germany,
peddling out his indulgences. The zeal and indignation of Luther were
aroused: he preached against the outrage vehemently, and published
ninety-five propositions, which contained an irrefutable attack upon
the infamous traffic. The propositions were at once declared to be
heretical; but no arts of flattery, or terrors of menace, could induce
the fearless Luther to recant. Pamphlet after pamphlet proceeded from
his pen, assailing the corruptions of the Church; while thousands
gathered to listen to his bold denunciations from the pulpit. In
1520 the pope issued a bull of excommunication against Luther and
his friends, and his writings were publicly burned at Rome, Cologne,
and Louvain. Luther, unintimidated, publicly burned the bull of Papal
excommunication at Wittenberg on the 10th of December, 1520.

Several of the German princes, and many of the most illustrious nobles,
had embraced the doctrines of Luther; so that he was not left without
powerful support. Still the world was amazed at the boldness of an
obscure monk, who thus ventured to bid defiance to the Catholic clergy,
to the fanatic emperor of Germany, and to the pope himself. Luther
was summoned by the emperor to appear at the Diet of Worms, and was
provided with a safe-conduct from his Majesty. Yet his friends trembled
in fear of his assassination. It was upon this occasion, when urged not
to expose himself to such danger, that he gave his memorable reply:――

“If there were as many devils in Worms as there are tiles on the roofs
of the houses, I would still go there.”

As Luther approached Worms, when within three miles of the city, a
cavalcade of two thousand citizens came out to honor him with their
escort. The Emperor Charles V. presided at the diet. The body was
composed of the Archduke Ferdinand, six electors, twenty-four dukes,
seven margraves, and many princes, counts, lords, and ambassadors.
Luther’s defence was considered by his friends unanswerable; and his
foes seemed to think that the only reply to be made was by the dagger
of the assassin. To rescue him from this peril, his powerful friends
kidnapped him on his return, as we have mentioned, and conveyed him to
the Castle of Wartburg, where for ten months he was concealed. These
months of retirement he devoted to the translation of the New Testament
into German.

But his impetuous spirit chafed to escape from the prison-bars which
protected him. Through a thousand perils he at length returned to
Wittenberg, and there commenced anew his life of tireless zeal in
assailing the corruptions of the Church. He drew up a new liturgy for
the service of his followers, expurgated of its empty forms; urged
the abolition of monasteries, which had mainly become the resort of
ignorance and vice; and trampled under his feet the prejudices of
papal ecclesiasticism by marrying a nun, Catherine von Bora. Luther
was forty-two years of age when he took this important step.

The virtues as well as the imperfections of this extraordinary man were
those of impetuosity, courage, self-reliance, and indomitable zeal. He
was often very severe. “The severity which he used in the defence of
his faith by no means diminishes the merit of his constancy. An apology
may easily be found for the frequent rudeness of his expressions in
the prevailing mode of speaking and thinking; in the nature of his
undertaking, which required continual contest; in the provocations with
which he was continually assailed; in his frequent sickness; and in his
excitable imagination.”[210]

Even the enemies of Luther, who so bitterly censure the severity often
found in his writings, are constrained to admit that he was impelled by
honest and honorable motives. Luther says of himself,――

“I was born to fight with devils and factions: this is the reason that
my books are so boisterous and stormy. It is my business to remove
obstructions, to cut down thorns, to fill up quagmires, and to open and
make straight the paths. But, if I must necessarily have some failing,
let me rather speak the truth with too great severity than once to act
the hypocrite, and conceal the truth.”

No one can be informed of the amount of labor performed by Luther,
without astonishment. While preaching several times each week,
and often every day, conducting a very extensive and important
correspondence with the reformers all over Europe, he was one of
the most prolific writers of any age, and rendered his name immortal
by translating the Bible into the German language. This latter work
alone one would deem sufficient to have engrossed the most industrious
energies for a lifetime. His admirable hymns are still sung in all the
churches; and the tune of “Old Hundred,” which he composed, will last
while time endures. In the performance of such labors, he lived until
he was sixty-three years of age. Just before he died, he wrote to a
friend in the following pathetic strain:――

“Aged, worn out, weary, spiritless, and now blind of one eye, I long
for a little rest and quietness. Yet I have as much to do, in writing
and preaching and acting, as if I had never written or preached or
acted. I am weary of the world, and the world is weary of me. The
parting will be easy, like that of the guest leaving the inn. I pray
only that God will be gracious to me in my last hour, and I shall quit
the world without reluctance.”

A few days after writing the above, Martin Luther died, at
Eisleben,――on the 18th of February, 1546. He was buried in the Castle
Church at Wittenberg.

John Wickliffe is often called “the morning star” of the Reformation.
He was born in Yorkshire, England, about the year 1324. In his
earliest years he developed unusual mental endowments, and graduated
at Queen’s College, Oxford, with high honors. At the age of thirty-two
he published a treatise upon “The Last Age of the Church,” in which he
ventured to assail some of the assumptions of the pope, and severely to
attack the encroachments of the mendicant friars. In 1372, Wickliffe,
having received the title of D.D., delivered lectures on theology at
Oxford with great applause. At that time a controversy was beginning
to arise between the pope and Edward III., King of England. Edward,
sustained by his parliament, refused to submit to the vassalage which
the pope had exacted of his predecessors. Wickliffe with his pen
very successfully defended the position taken by the king. He thus
secured the favor of his monarch, but exasperated the pope, Gregory XI.
Wickliffe was accused of heresy. The pope issued a bull, and nineteen
articles of alleged false doctrine were drawn up against him. Gregory
issued three bulls addressed to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the
Bishop of London, ordering the seizure and imprisonment of Wickliffe.

In the mean time, Edward III. had died; but the British court and the
populace of London rallied so enthusiastically around Wickliffe, that
no judgment could be taken against him. Soon after this, Gregory XI.
died; and all proceedings against the English reformer were dropped.
But the zeal of Wickliffe was thoroughly aroused; and, encouraged by
the powerful support he received from the British court and from the
people, he assailed with increasing freedom the exorbitant pretensions
of the court of Rome. Speaking of his labors, McIntosh says,――

“The new opinions on religion which now arose mingled with the general
spirit of Christianity in promoting the progress of emancipation, and
had their share in the few disorders which accompanied it. Wickliffe,
the celebrated reformer, had become one of the most famous doctors of
the English Church. His lettered education rendered him no stranger to
the severity with which Dante and Chaucer had lashed the vices of the
clergy without sparing the corruptions of the Roman see itself. His
theological learning and mystical piety led him to reprobate the whole
system of wealth and worldliness, by which a blind bounty had destroyed
the apostolical simplicity and primitive humility of the Christian

This eminent man, who in the end of the fourteenth century commenced
the assault upon the corruptions of the court of Rome, died of a
paralytic stroke on the 31st December, 1384. His doctrine and his
spirit survived him, and paved the way for the final and entire
separation of the Church of England from that of Rome. The exasperation
which his writings created in the bosoms of the advocates of the Papacy
may be inferred from the fact, that in the year 1425, forty-one years
after his death, the Council of Constance pronounced his writings
heretical, and ordered his bones to be taken up and burned; which
sentence was executed.

John Knox, who was the most distinguished of the advocates of the
Reformation in Scotland, was born of an ancient family, at Gifford,
East Lothian, in 1505. In early youth he took the degree of master of
arts at St. Andrew’s, and entered upon the study of theology. He soon
became weary of studying the dogmas taught in the Catholic schools,
and eagerly sought light in the plainer precepts of a more common-sense
and practical philosophy. Thus instructed, he abandoned all thoughts
of officiating in the Church of Rome, whose pageants and encroachments,
both secular and ecclesiastical, disgusted him. Some of the doctrines
of the reformers had already penetrated Scotland. Two of the lords who
had embraced these principles employed him as tutor to their sons. Here
he preached, not only to his pupils, but to others, who were drawn in
ever-increasing numbers by his fervid eloquence.

The Catholic Church was still an immense power in Scotland; and
Cardinal Beaton, Archbishop of St. Andrew’s, commenced proceedings
against Knox, which compelled him to take shelter in the Castle of
St. Andrew’s. Here, under powerful protection, he continued boldly to
preach the principles of the Reformation, notwithstanding the hostility
of the Papal priesthood. In July, 1547, the Castle of St. Andrew’s
capitulated to the French, with whom Scotland was then at war. Knox
was taken captive, and was carried with the garrison to France, where
he remained a prisoner on board the galleys for nearly two years. Upon
being released, he returned to London, where he recommenced preaching
as an itinerant, with vehement eloquence which gave him thronged
audiences wherever he went.

Upon the accession of Mary, a fanatic Catholic, to the throne of
England, the most sanguinary laws were revived against the reformers.
Knox fled to Geneva, and was soon invited to become the minister
to a colony of English refugees at Frankfort. Notwithstanding the
persecution by Mary, the advocates of the reformed religion, both in
England and Scotland, rapidly increased, so that in 1555 Knox ventured
to revisit his native land, and preached with increasing energy and
boldness. His fearlessness won for him the admiration of his friends,
and the execration of his foes. Knox being at one time absent on
a visit to Geneva, the Papal bishops condemned him to death as a
heretic, and burned him in effigy at the stake at Edinburgh. Knox drew
up an energetic remonstrance against this condemnation of a man absent
and unheard, and published a pamphlet, written in his most furious
style of eloquence, entitled, “The First Blast of a Trumpet against
the Monstrous Regimen of Women.” This violent pamphlet was aimed at
Bloody Mary, Queen of England, and Mary of Lorraine, widow of James V.,
Queen-Regent of Scotland.

But the shaft aimed at Mary the Papist pierced the bosom of Elizabeth,
a Protestant queen who succeeded her. This haughty princess could not
forgive a man who had written a diatribe against the “monstrous regimen
of women.” But Knox, surrounded by menaces, and in constant peril of
liberty and life, continued fearlessly to assail the corruptions of
the Church. Though the Papal powers in Scotland were sustained by the
armies of Catholic France,――for Mary of Lorraine was sister of the
powerful Duke of Guise,――still, marshalled under so dauntless a leader
as Knox, the reformers of Scotland advanced from victory to victory.
At one time he so inflamed the populace by a vehement harangue against
idolatry, that the excited multitude broke into the churches, destroyed
the altars, tore the pictures to shreds, dashed the images into
fragments, and levelled several monasteries with the ground. These
lawless proceedings were severely censured by the prominent men of
the reform party in Scotland, and by the leaders of the Reformation
throughout Europe.

Protestant England sent an army to aid the Protestants in Scotland.
The Papal queen-regent Mary, with her army of French supporters, was
driven from the kingdom; the Scottish parliament was re-established,
the majority of the members having embraced Protestant opinions; the
old Papal courts were abolished; the exercise of religious worship
according to the rites of the Roman Church was prohibited, and the
doctrine and discipline of the Presbyterian Church established as the
religion of the realm.

In August, 1561, the unfortunate Mary, Queen of Scots, arrived
in Scotland to reign in her own right. She was a zealous Catholic,
and immediately commenced measures to re-establish the religion of
Rome throughout her dominions. Knox, from the pulpit, opened warfare
upon the queen and her partisans with consummate ability, and with
intrepidity which never flinched from any danger. Upon the marriage of
the queen with the youthful Darnley, Knox declared from the pulpit,――

“God, in punishment for our ingratitude and sins, has appointed women
and boys to reign over us.”

At length, worn out with incessant toil and anxiety, and shocked by
the tidings of the massacre of St. Bartholomew, he took to his bed,
and died Nov. 24, 1572, in the sixty-seventh year of his age. The most
distinguished men in Scotland attended his funeral, paying marked honor
to his memory. As his body was lowered into the grave, Earl Morton,
then Regent of Scotland, said,――

“There lies one who never feared the face of man; who hath been often
threatened with dag and dagger, and yet hath ended his days in peace
and honor; for he had God’s providence watching over him in an especial
manner when his life was sought.”

Robertson the historian, commenting upon the character of this
illustrious reformer, remarks, with obvious truthfulness, that the
severity of his deportment, his impetuosity of temper, and zealous
intolerance, were qualities which, though they rendered him less
amiable, fitted him to advance the Reformation among a fierce people,
and to surmount opposition to which a more gentle spirit would have

It is pleasant to turn from these scenes of sin and misery to a
beautiful exemplification of true piety,――a spirit of devotion to God
so true, that it is scarcely sullied by the errors and imperfections of
an age of darkness.

In every denomination you can find those who are a disgrace to the
cause of Christ. There was a Judas even among the apostles. In every
Christian denomination you will find those who are burning and shining
lights in the world; who live the life of the righteous, die the death
of the righteous, and go home to glory.

About a hundred and sixty years ago, there was in the heart of
Germany a young duchess, Eleonora, residing in the court of her father
Philip, the elector palatine. In childhood she became a Christian,――an
earnest and warm-hearted Christian. Guided by the teachings of her
spiritual instructors, who, though doubtless sincere, had ingrafted
upon the precepts of the Bible the traditions and superstitions of
that dark age, she was taught to deprive herself of almost every
innocent gratification, and to practise upon her fragile frame all the
severities of an anchorite. Celibacy was especially commended to her as
a virtue peculiarly grateful to God; and she consequently declined all
solicitations for her hand.

Leopold, the widowed emperor of Germany, sent a magnificent retinue to
the palace of the grand elector, and solicited Eleonora for his bride.
It was the most brilliant match Europe could furnish; but Eleonora,
notwithstanding all the importunities of her parents, rejected the
proffered crown.

As the emperor urged his plea, the conscientious maiden, that she might
render herself personally unattractive to him, neglected her dress, and
exposed herself, unbonneted, to the sun and wind. She thus succeeded in
repelling his suit; and the emperor married Claudia of Tyrol.

The elector palatine was one of the most powerful of the minor princes
of Europe; and his court, in gayety and splendor, rivalled even that
of the emperor. Eleonora was compelled to be a prominent actor in the
gorgeous saloons of her father’s palace, and to mingle with the festive
throng in all their pageants of pleasure.

But her heart was elsewhere. Several hours every day were devoted
to prayer and religious reading. She kept a minute journal, in which
she scrupulously recorded and condemned her failings. She visited
the sick in lowly cottages, and with her own hands performed the most
self-denying duties required at the bedside of pain and death.

After the lapse of three years, Claudia died; and again the widowed
emperor sought the hand of Eleonora. Her spiritual advisers now urged
that it was her duty to accept the imperial alliance, since upon the
throne she could render herself so useful in extending the influence of
the Church. Promptly she yielded to the voice of duty, and, charioted
in splendor, was conveyed a bride to Vienna.

But her Christian character remained unchanged. She carried the
penance and self-sacrifice of the cloister into the voluptuousness
of the palace. The imperial table was loaded with every luxury; but
Eleonora, the empress, drank only cold water, and ate of fare as humble
as could be found in any peasant’s hut. On occasions of state, it
was needful that she should be dressed in embroidered robes of purple
and gold; but, to prevent any possibility of the risings of pride,
her dress and jewelry were so arranged with sharp brass pricking the
flesh, that she was kept in a state of constant discomfort. Thus she
endeavored, while discharging with the utmost fidelity the duties of
a wife and an empress, to be ever reminded that life is but probation.

These mistaken austerities, caused by the darkness of the age,
only show how sincere was her consecration to God. When Eleonora
attended the opera with the emperor, she took with her the Psalms
of David, bound to represent the books of the performance, and thus
unostentatiously endeavored to shield her mind from the profane and
indelicate allusions with which the operas of those days were filled,
and from which, as yet, they are by no means purified.

She translated the Psalms and several other devotional books into
German verse for the benefit of her subjects. She was often seen, with
packages of garments and baskets of food, entering the cottages of the
poor peasantry around her country palace, ministering like an angel of
mercy to all their wants.

At length her husband, the emperor, was taken sick. Eleonora watched
at his pillow with all the assiduity of a Sister of Charity: she hardly
abandoned her post for a moment, by day or by night, until, with her
own hands, she closed his eyes as he slept in death.

Eleonora survived her husband fifteen years, devoting herself through
all this period to the instruction of the ignorant, to nursing the sick,
to feeding and clothing the poor. All possible luxury she discarded,
and endeavored as closely as possible to imitate her Saviour, who had
not where to lay his head.

Her death was like the slumber of a child who falls asleep upon its
mother’s bosom. At her express request, her funeral was unattended
with any display. She directed that there should be inscribed upon her
tombstone simply the words,――

                      “ELEONORA,――a POOR SINNER.”

This brief narrative shows very truly what is the true nature of
religion,――the religion of Jesus. It shows its spirit independently of
all external customs and manners. No one can doubt that Eleonora was a
Christian; and yet we can all see, that, in that dark age, she was not
well instructed. She practised austerities which Jesus does not require;
and yet who can doubt the cordiality of her welcome at the celestial

She took up a far heavier cross than any which the disciples of Jesus
are ordinarily required to lift. She simply did what she thought it her
duty to do as a disciple of Jesus. And now, for a century and a half,
she has been an angel in heaven; and she finds that all these light
afflictions of her earthly life have indeed worked out for her a far
more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.

Mothers and daughters, Jesus loves you; he loves you with inconceivable
love. He has died to redeem you. He now lives to intercede for you.
With tearful eyes he says, “How can I give thee up? My daughter, give
me thy heart: come unto me, and be saved.”

He is ready to meet you at the celestial gates, and to give you a
cordial welcome. He is ready to lead you to the heavenly mansion, and
to say, “This is your home forever.” He is ready to introduce you to
angel-companionship, that you may, through endless ages, share their
songs and their everlasting joy.

                            CHAPTER XXIII.


  Principles of the two Parties.――Ferdinand’s Appeal to the Pope.
    ――The Celibacy of the Clergy.――Maximilian.――His Protection of
    the Protestants.――The Reformation in France.――Jeanne d’Albret,
    Queen of Navarre.――Proposed Marriage of Henry of Navarre and
    Marguerite of France.――Perfidy of Catharine de Medici.――The
    Nuptials.――The Massacre of St. Bartholomew.――Details of its
    Horrors.――Indignation of Protestant Europe.――Death of Charles IX.

THE Papal party was mainly a political party, consisting of those
who were rioting in possession of despotic power. They considered
the Protestant religion as peculiarly hostile to despotism in the
encouragement it afforded to education, to the elevation of the masses,
and to the diffusion of those principles of fraternal equality which
Christ enjoined. The Catholic religion was considered the great bulwark
of kingly power, constraining, by all the terrors of superstition, the
benighted multitudes to submit to civil intolerance.

Ferdinand I., brother of Charles V., was king of the two realms of
Hungary and Bohemia. He devoted all his energies to eradicating the
doctrines of the Reformation from his domains: the most rigorous
censorship of the press was established, and no foreign work,
unexamined, was permitted to enter his realms; the fanatic order of
Jesuits was encouraged by royal patronage, and intrusted with the
education of the young.

Still Protestantism was making rapid strides through Europe. It had
become the dominant religion in Denmark and Sweden, and was firmly
established in England by the accession of Elizabeth to the throne:
in France, also, the reformed religion had made extensive inroads,
gathering to its defence many of the noblest in rank and intellect in
the realm: in Spain and Portugal, the terrors of the Inquisition had
checked the progress of religious truth.

Ferdinand, King of Hungary and Bohemia, as Archduke of Austria,
inherited the Austrian States, and thus became virtually the founder of
the Austrian monarchy. The majority of the inhabitants of the Austrian
States had become Protestants. They were so strong in intelligence,
rank, and numbers, that Ferdinand did not dare to attempt to crush
them with a merciless hand; though he threw every obstacle he could in
the way of Protestant worship, forbidding the circulation of Luther’s
translation of the Bible. The Protestants insisted that communicants at
the Lord’s Supper should receive both the bread and the wine: this the
Papal court vehemently rejected. Ferdinand was in favor of granting
this concession: he wrote to the pope,――

“In Bohemia, no persuasion, no argument, no violence, not even arms and
war, have succeeded in abolishing the use of the wine as well as the
bread in the sacrament. If this is granted, they may be re-united to
the Church; but, if refused, they will be driven into the party of the
Protestants. So many priests have been degraded by their diocesans for
administering the sacrament in both kinds, that the country is almost
deprived of priests. Hence children die or grow up to maturity without
baptism; and men and women of all ages and of all ranks live, like the
brutes, in the grossest ignorance of God and of religion.”

The celibacy of the clergy was another point upon which the Protestants
were at issue with the Papal councils. Upon this subject Ferdinand
wrote to the pope in the following very sensible terms:――

“If a permission to the clergy to be married cannot be granted, may
not married men of learning and probity be ordained, according to the
custom of the Eastern Church; or married priests be tolerated for a
time, provided that they act according to the Catholic or Christian
faith? And it may be justly asked whether such concessions would
not be far preferable to tolerating, as has unfortunately been done,
fornication and concubinage. I cannot avoid adding, what is a common
observation, that priests who live in concubinage are guilty of greater
sin than those who are married; for the last only transgress a law
which is capable of being changed, whereas the first sin against a
divine law which is capable of neither change nor dispensation.”

The pope, thus pressed by the importunity of Ferdinand, reluctantly
consented to the administration of the cup to the laity in his
domains, but resolutely refused to tolerate the marriage of the clergy.
Ferdinand was so chagrined by this obstinacy, which rendered any
conciliation between the antagonistic parties in his State impossible,
that he was thrown into a fever, of which he died on the 25th of July,

The eldest son of Ferdinand succeeded to the throne of the Austrian
monarchy with the title of Maximilian II. He appears to have been
a truly good man,――a sincere disciple of Jesus, of enlarged and
cultivated mind. Though he adhered nominally to the Catholic faith,
he was the consistent and self-sacrificing friend of the Protestants.
Before his accession to the crown he appointed a clergyman of the
Protestant faith for his chaplain, and received the sacrament in both
kinds from his hands. When warned that by such a course he could never
hope to win the imperial crown of Germany, he replied,――

“I will sacrifice all worldly interests for the sake of my salvation.”

His father threatened to disinherit him if he did not renounce all
connection with the Protestants.

But this noble man, true to the teachings of his conscience, would not
allow the loss of a crown to induce him to swerve from his faith. In
anticipation of disinheritance, and banishment from the kingdom, he
wrote to the Protestant elector palatine,――

“I have so deeply offended my father by maintaining a Lutheran preacher
in my service, that I am apprehensive of being expelled as a fugitive,
and hope to find an asylum in your court.”

Though Maximilian, upon succeeding to the throne, maintained in his
court the usages of the Papal Church, he remained the kind friend of
the Protestants, ever seeking to shield them from persecution, claiming
for them a liberal toleration, and endeavoring in all ways to promote
fraternal religious feeling throughout his domains.

The prudence of Maximilian greatly allayed the bitterness of religions
strife in Germany, while other portions of Europe were desolated with
the fiercest warfare between the Catholics and the Protestants. In
France particularly, the conflict raged with merciless fury. John
Calvin soon became the recognized head of reformation there.

Jeanne d’Albret, Queen of Navarre, was a Protestant. Her husband was a
Catholic. They had one son,――Henry, subsequently Henry IV. of France.
Gradually the strife between Catholics and Protestants became so fierce,
that all Europe was in arms,――the Catholics combining to annihilate
the Protestants, the Protestants arming for self-protection. Anthony
of Bourbon, Duke of Vendôme, the husband of the Queen of Navarre,
and father of Henry IV., abandoned his Protestant wife and his child,
and placed himself at the head of the Catholic armies. The Queen of
Navarre, the most illustrious Protestant sovereign on the Continent,
was then recognized as the head of the Protestant armies. Henry, her
son, following the example of his noble Christian mother, espoused the
same cause.

The kingdom of Navarre, a territory of wild ravines and majestic
swells of land, often rising into towering mountains upon the northern
slope of the Pyrenees, bordered France upon the south: its annexation
to France was deemed important by the French court. An impotent,
characterless, worthless boy, Charles IX., was nominally king of France:
his mother, the infamous Catharine de Medici, was the real sovereign.
She was as fanatical, as cruel, as wicked a woman as ever breathed.
History, perhaps, records not another instance where a mother did
every thing in her power to plunge her own son into every species of
debauchery, that she might enfeeble him in body and in mind, so as to
enable her to retain the supreme power.

This vile woman had a daughter, Marguerite, as infamous as herself.
That Navarre might be annexed to France, the plan was formed of uniting
in marriage Henry and Marguerite, the heirs of the two thrones. The
scheme was formed by the statesmen of the two countries. Henry and
Marguerite, though thoroughly detesting each other, made no objection
to the arrangement, which would promote their mutual ambition. The
marriage-tie had no sacredness for either of them. Catharine was
delighted with the arrangement; for she had formed the plan of inviting
all the leaders of the Protestant party to Paris to attend the nuptials,
and there to assassinate them. Out of respect to their devoted friend,
the Protestant Queen of Navarre, and her Protestant son, they would
be all likely to attend. The leaders being all thus assembled in Paris,
she would have them entirely at her disposal. Then, having cut off
the leaders, in the consternation which would ensue, she would, by a
wide-spread conspiracy, have the Protestant population throughout all
France――men, women, and children――put to death.

With measureless hypocrisy, feigning the highest satisfaction in
prospect of the union of the Catholics and the Protestants, Catharine
sent very affectionate messages to the nobles, and all the men of
prominence of the reformed faith, begging that there might be no more
hostility between them. She entreated them to attend the nuptials,
and assured them of the high gratification with which she contemplated
the marriage of her daughter with a Protestant prince, who was thus
destined to become king of France.

While plotting the details of perhaps the most horrible massacre
earth has ever known, she did every thing in her power to lull her
unsuspecting victims into security. The Queen of Navarre and her
son were invited to the Castle of Blois to make arrangements for the
wedding. They were received by Catharine, and her weak, depraved son,
Charles IX., with extravagant displays of affection. The Protestant
nobles and influential clergy flocked to Paris. The Admiral Coligni,
one of the most illustrious of men in all excellences of character,
was received as the special guest of the king and his mother. He was
unquestionably the most influential man in the Protestant party in
France. His death would prove an irreparable blow to the cause of
reform. Some of his friends urged him not to place himself in the
power of so treacherous a woman as Catharine de Medici.

“I confide,” said the noble admiral, “in the sacred word of his

The admiral, as he entered the palace, was greeted with lavish caresses
by both mother and son. The king threw his arms around the admiral’s
neck, and hugged him in an Iscariot embrace, saying, “This is the
happiest day of my life.”

At length, the nuptial morn arrived. It was the 15th of August, 1572.
The unimpassioned bridegroom led his scornful bride to the Church of
Notre Dame. Before the massive portals of this renowned cathedral, and
beneath the shadow of its venerable towers, a magnificent platform had
been reared, canopied with gorgeous tapestry. Hundreds of thousands
thronged the surrounding amphitheatre, swarming at the windows, and
crowding the balconies and the house-tops.

The gentle breeze, breathing over the multitude, was laden with the
perfume of flowers. Banners, pennants, and ribbons, of every varied hue,
waved in the air, or hung in gay festoons from window to window, and
from roof to roof.

Upon that conspicuous platform Henry received the hand of the haughty
princess, and the nuptial oath was administered. Marguerite however,
even in that hour and in the presence of all those spectators, gave
a ludicrous exhibition of her girlish petulance and her ungoverned
wilfulness. When, in the progress of the ceremony, she was asked if
she willingly received Henry of Navarre for her husband, a sudden freak
of perversion seized her. She pouted, coquettishly tossed her proud
little head, and was silent. The question was repeated. The spirit
of Marguerite was now up, and all the powers of Europe could not give
pliancy to the shrew.

The question was again repeated. She fixed her eyes defiantly upon
the officiating bishop, and, refusing by word or gesture to give the
slightest assent, remained as immovable as a statue. Embarrassment
and delay ensued. There was a pause in the ceremony; and every eye was
fixed, in wonder as to what would be the result.

Suddenly the king, Marguerite’s brother, who with his court was
conspicuously seated upon the platform, fully conscious of his sister’s
indomitable spirit, quietly walked up to the termagant at bay, and
placing one hand upon her bosom, and the other upon the back of her
head, compelled an involuntary nod. The bishop smiled and bowed, and
acting upon the politic principle, that small favors are gratefully
received, proceeded with the ceremony. Such were the vows with which
Henry of Navarre and Marguerite of France were united. Such is too
often love in the palace.

We must now pass by the festival-days which ensued, and turn from
the nuptials to the massacre. Admiral Coligni, anxious to return home,
called at the Louvre to take leave of the king. As he was passing
through the streets to the lodgings which had been provided for him,
two bullets from the pistol of an assassin pierced his body. His
friends bore him bleeding to his apartment. Though the king and queen
feigned great indignation, the evidence was conclusive that they had
instigated the crime. The Protestants were thunderstruck. All their
leaders had been lured to Paris; and there they were,――caught in a trap,
unarmed, separated from their followers, and helpless. Henry of Navarre
immediately hastened to the bedside of his revered and wounded friend.
While he was sitting there, Catharine and Charles were deliberating
whether Henry himself should be included in the general massacre. After
much debate, it was decided to spare him, as he would be powerless
after all the Protestants were cold in death.

The Duke of Guise led the movement of the Catholics. Troops had been
stationed at all the important positions in Paris, and the Catholic
population had been secretly armed. The Catholics were enjoined to
wear a white cross upon the hat, that they might be distinguished. The
conspiracy extended throughout the whole of France, and the storm of
death was to burst at the same moment upon the unsuspecting victims in
every city and village of the kingdom.

While Catharine and Charles were arranging the details for the
massacre, they employed all their arts of duplicity to disarm suspicion.
The very evening of the fatal night, the king invited many of the most
illustrious of his victims to a sumptuous entertainment at the Louvre.
In a fine glow of spirits he detained them until a late hour with his
pleasantries, and induced several to remain in the palace to sleep,
that they might be slain beneath his own roof.

The conspiracy had been kept a profound secret from Marguerite, lest
she should betray it to her husband. In the mean time, aided by the
gloom of a starless night, preparations were making in every street
of Paris for the enormous perpetration. Soldiers were assembling
at their appointed rendezvouses. Guards were stationed to cut off
flight. Fanatic men, armed with sabres and muskets which gleamed in
the lamplight, began to emerge through the darkness, and to gather in
motley assemblage. Many houses were illuminated, that, by the blaze
from the windows, the bullet might be thrown with precision, and the
dagger might strike an unerring blow.

Catharine and her son Charles were now in one of the apartments of
the Louvre, waiting for the clock to strike the hour of two, when
the signal was to be given. Catharine, inexorable in crime, was very
apprehensive that her son might relent. Petulant and self-willed, he
was liable to paroxysms of stubbornness, when he spurned his mother’s

Weak as well as depraved, the wretched king was feverishly excited.
He paced the room nervously, peering out at the window, looking at
his watch, wishing yet dreading to have the appointed hour arrive. His
mother, witnessing these indications of a faltering spirit, urged him
to order the alarm-bell immediately to be struck, which was to be the
signal for the massacre to commence. Charles hesitated, and a cold
sweat oozed from his brow.

“Are you a coward?” tauntingly inquired the fiend-like mother.

This is a charge which no coward can stand. It almost always nerves
the poltroon to action. The young king nervously exclaimed, “Well,
then, let it begin!” There were in the room at the time only Catharine,
Charles, and his brother, the Duke of Anjou. It was two hours after
midnight. There was a moment of dreadful suspense and of perfect
silence. All three stood at the window, in the Palace of the Louvre,
looking out into the rayless night.

Suddenly through the still air the ponderous tones of the alarm-bell
fell upon the ear, and rolled the knell of death over the city. The
vibration awakened the demon in ten thousand hearts. It was the morning
of the sabbath, Aug. 24, 1572,――the anniversary of the festival of
St. Bartholomew.

The first stroke of the bell had not ceased to vibrate upon the ear
when the uproar of the carnage commenced. The sound, which seemed to
rouse Catharine to frenzy, almost froze the blood of the young monarch.
Trembling in every nerve, he shouted for the massacre to be stopped.

It was too late: the train was fired. Beacon-fires and alarm-bells
sent the signal with the rapidity of light and of sound through entire
France. The awful roar of human passion, the crackling of musketry, the
shrieks of the wounded and of the dying, blended in appalling tumult
throughout the whole metropolis. Old men, terrified maidens, helpless
infants, venerable matrons, were alike smitten down mercilessly to the
fanatic cry of “Vive Dieu et le Roi!”――“Live God and the King!”

The Admiral Coligni, who had been shot and desperately wounded the
day before, faint and dying, was lying upon his bed, surrounded by a
few faithful friends, as the demoniac clamor rolled in upon their ears.
The Duke of Guise, a fanatic Papist, with three hundred followers,
hastened to the lodgings of the admiral, stabbed the sentinels, and
burst through the gates. A wounded servant rushed to the chamber of
the admiral, exclaiming,――

“The house is forced; and there are no means of resisting!”

“I have long,” said the heroic Christian admiral, “prepared myself to
die. Save yourselves if you can: you cannot defend me. I commend my
soul to God.”

The murderers were now rushing up the stairs. They pursued, shot,
stabbed, and cut down the flying friends of Coligni. The admiral, thus
for a moment left alone, rose from his bed, and, being unable to stand,
leaned against the wall, and, in fervent prayer, surrendered himself
to the will of his Maker. The assassins burst into the room. They saw
a venerable man in his night-robe, with bandaged wounds, engaged in his

“Art thou the admiral?” demanded one with brandished sword.

“I am,” replied Coligni; “and thou, young man, shouldst respect my gray
hairs. Nevertheless, thou canst abridge my life but a little.”

The wretch plunged his sword into the bosom of Coligni, and then,
withdrawing it dripping with blood, cut him down. The admiral fell,
calmly saying,――

“If I could but die by the hand of a gentleman, instead of by the hands
of such a knave as this!”

The rest of the assassins immediately fell upon him, each emulous to
bury his dagger in the bosom of his victim. The Duke of Guise, ashamed
to encounter the eye of the noble Coligni, whom he had often met in
friendly intercourse, remained impatiently in the courtyard below.

“Breme!” he shouted to one of his followers, looking up to the window,
“have you done it?”

“Yes,” Breme replied: “he is done for.”

“Let us see, though,” replied the duke: “throw him out of the window!”

The mangled corpse fell heavily upon the paving-stones. The duke
wiped the blood from the lifeless face, and, carefully scrutinzing the
features, said, “Yes: I recognize the man.” Then, giving the pallid
face a kick, he exclaimed, “Courage, comrades! we have happily begun.
Let us now go for others.”

The tiger, having once lapped his tongue in blood, seems to be imbued
with a new spirit of ferocity. There is in man a similar temper:
the frenzied multitude became drunk with blood. The houses of the
Protestants were marked. The assassins burst open the doors, and rushed
through all apartments, murdering indiscriminately young and old,――men,
women, and children. The gory bodies were thrown from the windows, and
the pavements were clotted with blood.

Charles soon recovered from his momentary wavering, and, conscious
that it was too late to draw back, with fiend-like eagerness engaged
himself in the work of death. Fury seized him: his cheeks were flushed,
his lips compressed, and his eyes glared with frenzy. Bending eagerly
from his window, he shouted words of encouragement to the assassins.
Grasping a gun, he watched like a sportsman for his prey; and when he
saw an unfortunate Protestant, wounded and bleeding, flying from his
pursuers, he would take deliberate aim from the window of his palace,
and shout with exultation as he saw him fall pierced by his bullet.

A crowd of fugitives rushed into the courtyard of the Louvre to throw
themselves upon the protection of the king. Charles sent his own
body-guard into the yard with guns and daggers to butcher them all.

Just before the carnage commenced, Marguerite, oppressed with fears of
she knew not what, retired to her chamber. She had hardly closed her
eyes when the outcry of the pursuers and the pursued filled the palace.
She sprang up in her bed, and heard some one struggling at the door,
and shrieking “Navarre! Navarre!”

The door was burst open; and one of her husband’s attendants rushed
in, covered with wounds and blood, and pursued by four soldiers of her
brother’s guard. The captain of the guard at that moment entered the
room, pursuing his victim.

Marguerite, almost insane with terror, fled to the chamber of her
sister. The palace was filled with shouts and shrieks and uproar. As
she was rushing through the hall, she encountered another Protestant
gentleman flying before the crimsoned sword of his pursuers: he was
covered with blood flowing from many ghastly gashes. Just as he reached
the young Queen of Navarre, his pursuer plunged a sword through his
body; and he fell dead at her feet.

No tongue can tell the horrors of that night: it would require volumes
to detail its scenes. While the carnage was in progress, a body of
soldiers entered the chamber of Henry of Navarre, and conveyed him
to the presence of the king. The imbecile monarch, with blasphemous
oaths and a countenance inflamed with fury, ordered him to abandon
Protestantism, or prepare to die. Henry, to save his life, ingloriously
yielded, and, by similar compulsion, was induced to send an edict to
his own dominions, prohibiting the exercise of any religion but that
of Rome.

When the gloom of night had passed, and the sabbath sun dawned upon
Paris, a spectacle was witnessed such as even that blood-renowned
metropolis has seldom presented. The city still resounded with tumult;
the pavements were gory, and covered with the dead; men, women, and
children were still flying in every direction, wounded and bleeding,
pursued by merciless assassins, riotous with demoniac laughter, and
drunk with blood.

The report of guns and pistols, and of continued volleys of musketry,
from all parts of the city, proved the universality of the massacre.
Miserable wretches, smeared with blood, swaggered along with ribald
jests and fiend-like howlings, hunting for the Protestants; corpses,
torn and gory, strewed the streets, and dissevered heads were spurned
like footballs along the pavements; priests in sacerdotal robes, and
with elevated crucifixes, urged their emissaries not to grow weary in
the work of exterminating God’s enemies; the most distinguished nobles
of the court and of the camp rode through the streets with gorgeous
retinue, encouraging the massacre.

“Let not one single Protestant be spared,” the king proclaimed, “to
reproach me hereafter with this deed.”

Charles, with his mother and the high-born profligate ladies who
disgraced the court, emerged in the morning light in splendid array
into the reeking streets. Many of the women contemplated with merriment
the dead bodies piled up before the Louvre. One of the ladies, however,
appalled by the spectacle, wished to retire, alleging that the bodies
already emitted an offensive odor. Charles brutally replied,――

“The smell of a dead enemy is always pleasant!”

The massacre was continued in the city and throughout the kingdom for
a week. On Thursday, after four days spent in hunting out the fugitives
from all their hiding-places, the Catholic clergy paraded the streets
of Paris in a triumphal procession, and with jubilant prayers and hymns
gave thanks to God for their victory. The Catholic pulpits resounded
with exultant harangues. A medal was struck off in honor of the event,
with the inscription, “La Piété a réveille la Justice,”――“Religion has
awakened Justice.”

In some of the distant provinces in France, the Protestants were in
the majority; and the Catholics did not venture to attack them. In some
others they were so few that they were not feared, and were therefore
spared. In the sparsely-settled rural districts, the Catholic peasants,
kind-hearted and virtuous, refused to imbrue their hands in the blood
of their neighbors. In these ways, several thousand Protestants escaped.

But in nearly all the cities and populous towns the slaughter was
indiscriminate and universal. The number who perished in the awful
massacre of St. Bartholomew is estimated at from eighty to a hundred

But there were some noble Catholics, who, refusing to surrender
conscience to this iniquitous order of the king, laid down their own
lives in adhering to the principle, that they would “obey God rather
than man” when God’s law and man’s law came into antagonism.

The governor of Auvergne, an heroic and a noble man, replied in the
following terms to the king’s secret missive commanding the massacre:――

“Sire, I have received an order, under your Majesty’s seal, to put all
the Protestants of this province to death; and, if (which God forbid!)
the order be genuine, I still respect your Majesty too much to obey

The infamous decree of the king was sent to the Viscount Orthez,
commandant at Bayonne. The following was his intrepid reply:――

“Sire, I have communicated the commands of your Majesty to the
inhabitants of the town, and to the soldiers of the garrison; and I
have found good citizens and brave soldiers, _but not one executioner_.
On which account, both they and I humbly beseech your Majesty to employ
our arms and our lives in enterprises in which we can _conscientiously
engage_. However perilous they may be, we will willingly shed therein
the last drop of our blood.”

Both of these men of intrepid virtue soon after suddenly and
mysteriously died. Few entertained a doubt that poison had been
administered by the order of Charles.

From these revolting scenes of blood let us briefly glance at the
impression which the massacre of St. Bartholomew produced upon Europe.

The pope received the tidings with exultation, and ordered the most
imposing religious ceremonies in Rome in gratitude for the achievement.
The Papal courts of Spain and of the Netherlands sent thanks to Charles
and Catharine for having thus effectually purged France of heresy.

But Protestant Europe was stricken with indignation. As fugitives
from France, emaciate, pale, and woe-stricken, recited, in England,
Switzerland, and Germany, the story of the massacre, the hearts of
their auditors were frozen with horror.

In Geneva, a day of fasting and prayer was instituted, which is
observed to the present day. In Scotland, every church resounded with
the thrilling tale. John Knox proclaimed, in language of prophetic

“Sentence has gone forth against that murderer, the King of France; and
the vengeance of God will never be withdrawn from his house. His name
shall be in everlasting execration.”

The French court, alarmed by the foreign indignation it had aroused,
sent an ambassador to the court of Queen Elizabeth with a poor apology
for the crime. The ambassador was received by England’s queen with
appalling coldness and gloom. Arrangements were studiously made to
invest the occasion with solemnity. The court was shrouded in mourning,
and all the lords and ladies appeared in sable weeds. A stern and
sombre sadness was upon every countenance. The ambassador, overwhelmed
by this reception, was overheard to exclaim to himself,――

“I am ashamed to acknowledge myself a Frenchman!”

He entered, however, the presence of the queen; passed through the
long line of silent courtiers, who refused to salute him even with a
look; stammered out his miserable apology; and, receiving no response,
retired covered with confusion.

It has been said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”
There are apparent exceptions to this rule. Protestantism in France has
never recovered from this blow. But for this massacre, one-half of the
nobles of France would have continued Protestant. The reformers would
soon have constituted so large a portion of the population, that mutual
toleration would have been necessary. Intelligence would have been
diffused; religion would have been respected; and, in all probability,
the horrors of the French Revolution would have been averted.

God is an avenger. In the mysterious government which he
wields,――mysterious only to our feeble vision,――“he visits the
iniquities of the fathers upon the children even unto the third and
fourth generation.”

As we see the priests of Paris and of France, during the awful tragedy
of the Revolution, massacred in the prisons, shot in the streets, hung
upon the lamp-posts, and driven in starvation and woe from the kingdom,
we cannot but remember the day of St. Bartholomew. The 24th of August,
1572, and the 2d of September, 1792, though far apart in the records of
time, are consecutive days in the government of God.

Henry of Navarre, by stratagem, soon escaped from Paris, renounced the
Catholicism which he had accepted from compulsion, and was accepted
as the military leader of the Protestant party throughout Europe. The
surviving Protestants rallied in self-defence, and implored aid from
all the courts which had embraced the principles of the Reformation.
England and Germany sent troops to their aid. Catholic Spain, the
Netherlands, and Italy sent armies to assist the Papists. Again France
was deluged in the woes of civil war, and years of unutterable misery
darkened the realm.

Charles IX., as weak as he was depraved, became silent, morose, and
gloomy. Secluding himself from all society, month after month he was
gnawed by the scorpion fangs of remorse. A bloody sweat, oozing from
every pore, crimsoned his bedclothes. His aspect of misery drove
all companionship from his chamber. He groaned and wept, exclaiming

“Oh, what blood! oh, what murders! Alas! why did I follow such evil

He saw continually the spectres of the slain with ghastly wounds
stalking about his bed; and demons, hideous and threatening, waited to
grasp his soul. As the cathedral bell was tolling the hour of midnight
on the 30th of May, 1574, his nurse heard him convulsively weeping.
Gently she drew aside the bed-curtains. The dying monarch turned his
dim and despairing eye upon her, and exclaimed,――

“O my nurse, my nurse! what blood have I shed! what murders have I
committed! Great God, pardon me, pardon me!”

A convulsive shuddering for a moment agitated his frame: his head
fell upon his pillow, and the wretched man was dead. He was then but
twenty-four years of age. He expressed satisfaction that he left no
heir to live and suffer in a world so full of misery.

The order of knighthood deserves record, as one of the outgrowths of
Christianity. This institution, originating in the eleventh century,
was continued through several hundred years as one of the most potent
of earthly influences. Guizot, speaking of its origin, says,――

“It was at this period when in the laic world was created and developed
the most splendid fact of the middle ages,――knighthood, that noble
soaring of imaginations and souls towards the ideal of Christian virtue
and soldierly honor. It is impossible to trace in detail the origin and
history of that grand fact, which was so prominent in the days to which
it belonged, and which is so prominent still in the memories of men;
but a clear notion ought to be obtained of its moral character, and of
its practical worth.”[212]

The young candidate for knighthood was first placed in a bath,――the
symbol of moral and material purification. After having undergone a
very thorough ablution, he was dressed in a white tunic, a red robe,
and a close-fitting black coat. The tunic was the emblem of purity; the
red robe, of the blood he was bound to shed in the service of his order;
and the black coat was a reminder of death, to which he, as well as all
others, was doomed. Thus purified and clothed, the candidate underwent
a rigid fast for twenty-four hours. He then, it being evening, entered
a church, usually accompanied by a clergyman, and passed the whole
night in prayer.

The next morning, after a full confession of his sins, he received
from the father-confessor the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. A sermon
was then preached to him directly, usually in the presence of a large
assembly, enforcing the duties of the new life of knighthood upon which
he was about to enter. The candidate then approached the altar with
a sword suspended at his side. The officiating priest took the sword,
implored God’s blessing upon it, and returned it to the young man. The
young knight then kneeled before his sovereign, or the lord of high
degree, who was to initiate him into the honors of knighthood; and the
following questions were proposed to him:――

“Why do you purpose to become a knight? If it be that you may become
rich, or to take your ease, or to acquire honor, without performing
deeds worthy of renown, you are unworthy of the sacred order.”

The young man replies, “I desire to acquit myself honorably of all the
noble deeds of knighthood, without regard to wealth or ease.”

A number of beautiful ladies then approached the candidate: and one
buckled upon his feet the spurs; another girded around his chest the
coat of mail; a third placed upon his breast the cuirass; a fourth
brought the highly-polished and glittering helmet; while a fifth
presented him the armlets and gauntlets. Thus clothed by the fair hands
of ladies, he again kneeled at the altar; and his sovereign, or the
officiating lord, supported by a splendid retinue of veteran knights,
approached him, and, giving him three slight blows with the flat of the
sword, said, “In the name of God, St. Michael, and St. George, I make
thee knight. Be valiant, bold, and true.”

The young man, thus arrayed as a knight, went from the church, and
mounted a magnificent horse held by a groom. Brandishing both sword and
lance, he displayed to the assembled multitude the wonderful feats of
horsemanship to which he had been trained.

Such was, in brief, the ceremony in the admission of knights. It will
be seen that the religious element entered largely into its spirit.
Indeed, the knight took a solemn oath to serve God religiously, and to
die a thousand deaths rather than ever renounce Christianity. A poet
of the fourteenth century, in verses upon the character and duties of
knighthood, in the following lines shows us what was then understood to
be the true elevation of knighthood:――

             “Amend your lives, ye who would fain
              The order of the knights attain;
              Devoutly watch, devoutly pray;
              From pride and sin, oh! turn away;
              Be good and true; take nought by might;
              Be bold, and guard the people’s right:
              This is the rule for the gallant knight.”

This institution, which manifestly sprang from Christianity, exerted a
powerful influence, amid the anarchy and barbarism of the middle ages,
in rectifying disorders, and in protecting the weak against the strong.

                             CHAPTER XXIV.

                      THE CHURCH IN MODERN TIMES.

  Character of Henry III.――Assassination of the Duke of Guise.
    ――Cruel Edicts of Louis XIV.――Revocation of the Edict of Nantes.
    ――Sufferings of Protestants.――Important Question.――Thomas
    Chalmers.――Experiment at St. John.――His Labors and Death.
    ――Jonathan Edwards.――His Resolutions.――His Marriage.――His Trials.
    ――His Death.――John Wesley.――His Conversion.――George Whitefield.
    ――First Methodist Conference.――Death of Wesley.――Robert Hall.
    ――His Character and Death.――William Paley.――His Works and Death.
    ――The Sabbath.――Power of the Gospel.――Socrates.――Scene on the
    Prairie.――The Bible.

THE seventeenth century opened with almost universal corruption,
outside of the limited circle of the true disciples of Jesus Christ.
The moral and political world presented the aspect of a raging sea
darkened by storm-clouds, with the waves dashing upon every shore.
The utmost profligacy of manners prevailed generally in courts; while
the masses of the people were ignorant and degraded. The Papal Church,
which had degenerated into a towering organization of worldly ambition,
had become corrupt almost beyond the power of the pen to describe.

Henry III. had succeeded his miserable brother, Charles a IX.,
upon the throne of France. While Duke of Anjou, he had distinguished
himself by his malignant hostility to the Protestants, or Huguenots
as they were there called. He was as weak as he was wicked, and never
hesitated to employ the dagger of the assassin to rid himself of
those he feared. Impelled by his infamous mother, Catharine de Medici,
he endeavored to wage exterminating war against the Protestants who
had survived the massacre of St. Bartholomew. But they, led by Henry
of Navarre,――subsequently Henry IV. of France,――and aided by other
Protestant powers, made a vigorous defence. Wretched France was thus
devastated by the most cruel civil war.

Fearing the rising power of the Guises, who were the devoted partisans
of the Papacy, Henry secured the assassination of the Duke of Guise,
and of his brother the cardinal. This exasperated the pope. Henry was
stabbed by a fanatic monk. The Pope, Sixtus V., in full consistory,
applauded the deed. He apparently wished to encourage the assassination
of all sovereigns who were not obsequiously obedient to the Papacy.
The regicide he pronounced, in declamatory phrase, “to be comparable,
as regards the salvation of the world, to the incarnation and the
resurrection, and that the courage of the youthful assassin surpassed
that of Eleazar and Judith.”

The Catholic historian, Chateaubriand, declares that “it was of
importance to the pope to encourage fanatics who were ready to murder
kings in the name of the Papal power.” The annalist Brantome says that
he saw a bull of the pope ordering the assassination of Elizabeth, the
Protestant queen of England.

Upon the accession to the throne of France of Henry IV.,――who, with his
mother, had been at the head of the Protestant armies of Europe,――Henry,
who had been politically a Protestant, not spiritually a disciple of
Jesus, found it expedient to adopt the Catholic faith, saying with
nonchalance, “A crown is surely worth a mass.” He, however, continued
to befriend the Protestants. In the year 1598 he issued a famous decree,
called the Edict of Nantes, which allowed Protestants the free exercise
of their religion, and gave them equal claims with Catholics to all
offices and dignities. They were also left in possession of certain
fortresses which had been ceded to them for their security.

But Louis XIV., grasping at absolute power, grew more and more fanatic
during his long reign, oppressing the Protestants with ever-increasing
cruelty. Edict after edict deprived them of their civil rights; and
dragoons were sent into their provinces to compel them to abjure their
faith. The persecution was so merciless, that, notwithstanding the king
guarded his frontiers with the utmost vigilance, more than five hundred
thousand Huguenots escaped to the Protestant countries of Switzerland,
Germany, Holland, and England.

The fanaticism of the Catholics was such, that the Edict of Nantes
undoubtedly cost Henry IV. his life. The assassin Ravaillac, who
twice plunged his dagger into the bosom of the king, said in his

“I killed the king, because, in making war upon the pope, he made war
upon God, since the pope is God.”

Louis XIV., while assuring the Protestant powers of Europe that he
would continue to respect the Edict of Nantes, commenced issuing a
series of ordinances in direct contravention of that contract. He
excluded Protestants from all public offices; forbade their employment
as physicians, lawyers, apothecaries, booksellers, printers, or even
nurses. In many of the departments of France, the Protestants composed
nearly the entire population. Here it was impossible to enforce the
atrocious decrees. In other places, where parties were more equally
divided, riots and bloodshed were excited.

These ordinances were soon followed by others prohibiting marriages
between Catholics and Protestants. Catholic servants were forbidden
employment in Protestant families; and Catholics were also forbidden to
employ Protestant servants. On the 17th of June, 1680, the king issued
the following decree:――

“We wish that our subjects of the pretended reformed religion, both
male and female, having attained the age of seven years, may, and it
is hereby made lawful for them to embrace the Catholic, Apostolic, and
Roman religion; and that, to this effect, they may be allowed to abjure
the pretended reformed religion, without their fathers and mothers and
other kinsmen being allowed to offer them the least hinderance under
any pretext whatever.”

This law enabled any one to go before a Catholic court, and testify
that any child had made the sign of the cross, or kissed an image of
the Virgin, or had expressed a desire to enter a Catholic church, and
that child was immediately wrested from its parents, and placed in a
convent for education, while the parents were compelled to defray all
the expenses.

A decree was then issued, that all Protestants who would abjure their
faith might defer the payment of their debts for three years; should be
exempt from taxation, and from the burden of having soldiers quartered
upon them. Those who refused were punished with a double portion of
taxation and a double quartering of soldiers. Officers were sent to the
sick-beds of Protestants, that, by importunity and urgent solicitation,
they might convert them to the Catholic faith. Physicians were ordered,
under a heavy penalty, to give notice if any Protestants were sick. If
any convert from Catholicism were received into any Protestant church,
that church edifice was immediately closed, and the further privilege
of public worship prohibited; while the Catholic convert was punished
with confiscation of property, and banishment from the realm.

From four to ten dragoons were lodged in the house of every Protestant.
These fanatic and cruel men were ordered not to kill the Protestants
with whom they lodged, but to do every thing in their power to
constrain them to abjure their Christian faith.

“They attached crosses to the muzzles of their muskets to force
the Protestants to kiss them. When any one resisted, they thrust
these crosses against the face and breasts of the unfortunate people.
They spared children no more than persons advanced in years. Without
compassion for their age, they fell upon them with blows, and beat them
with the flat of their swords and the ♦butt of their muskets. They did
this so cruelly, that some were crippled for life.”[213]

The Protestants were prohibited from attempting to leave the kingdom,
under penalty of perpetual consignment to the galleys. Every book in
advocacy of Protestantism, which the most rigorous search could find,
was burned. When a representation was made to the king of the terrible
suffering these enactments were inflicting upon two millions of
Protestants, he replied,――

“To bring back all my subjects to Catholic unity, I would willingly
with one hand cut off the other.”

The king flattered himself that he was thus absolutely exterminating
Protestantism from France. His officers wrote him very flattering but
false accounts of the success which was attending their efforts. It
was reported to him, that, by the persuasive energies of this rigorous
persecution, sixty thousand Protestants in the district of Bordeaux,
and twenty thousand in Montauban, had been converted to the Catholic

In September, 1685, Louvois wrote to the king,――

“Before the end of the month, there will not remain ten thousand
Protestants in all the district of Bordeaux, where there were a hundred
and fifty thousand the 15th of last month.”

The Duke of Noailles wrote, “The number of Protestants in the district
of Nîsmes is about a hundred and forty thousand. I believe, that, at
the end of the month, none will be left.”

Deluded by these reports, Louis XIV., on the 18th of October, 1685,
signed the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. In the preamble to this
fatal act, he said,――

“We see now, with the just acknowledgment we owe to God, that our
measures have secured the end which we ourselves proposed, since the
better and greater part of our subjects of the pretended reformed
religion have embraced the Catholic faith; and the maintenance of the
Edict of Nantes remains, therefore, superfluous.”

By this act it was declared that the Protestant worship should be
nowhere tolerated in France. All Protestant pastors were ordered to
leave the kingdom within fifteen days, under penalty of being sent
to the galleys. Protestant pastors who would abjure their faith were
promised a salary one-third more than they had previously enjoyed.
Parents were forbidden to instruct their children in the Protestant
religion. Every child born in the kingdom was to be baptized and
educated by a Catholic priest. All Protestant Frenchmen, out of
France, were ordered to return within four months, under penalty of
confiscation of property. Any Protestant layman or woman who should
attempt to leave France, was, if arrested, doomed to imprisonment for

Such were the infamous decrees enacted in France but two hundred
years ago. The woes they caused can never be gauged: the calamities
they entailed upon France have been awful. Hundreds of thousands, in
defiance of poverty, the dungeon, and utter temporal ruin, adhered
to their faith: thousands, haggard with want and despair, through all
conceivable suffering, effected their escape.

At the time of the Revocation, the Protestant population of France
was estimated at between two and three millions. Though the edict was
enforced by the government with the utmost severity, many noble-hearted
Catholics sympathized with the Protestants, befriended them in various
ways, and aided them to escape. Though guards were placed upon every
road leading to the frontiers, and thousands of fugitives were arrested,
still thousands escaped. Some, in armed bands, fought their way with
drawn swords; some obtained passports from kind-hearted Catholic
governors; some bribed their guards; some travelled by night from
hiding-place to hiding-place; some assumed the disguise of peddlers
selling Catholic relics. It is estimated by Catholic writers that about
two hundred and thirty thousand escaped. Antoine Court, one of the
Protestant pastors, places the number as high as eight hundred thousand.
M. Sismondi thinks that as many perished as escaped: he places the
number of each at between three and four hundred thousand.

The suffering was awful. Multitudes perished of cold, hunger,
and exhaustion. Thousands were shot by the soldiery. So many were
arrested, that the prisons and galleys of France were crowded with
victims. Among these were many men illustrious in rank and culture. The
arrival of the fugitives, emaciate and woe-stricken, upon the soil of
Protestant countries, created intense sensation. From every Protestant
court in Europe a cry of indignation arose. England, Switzerland,
Holland, Prussia, Denmark, Sweden, received the sufferers with warm
demonstrations of hospitality and sympathy.

The loss to France was irreparable. Only one year after the Revocation,
Marshal Vauban wrote,――

“France has lost a hundred thousand inhabitants, sixty millions of
coined money, nine thousand sailors, twelve thousand disciplined
soldiers, six hundred officers, and her most flourishing manufactures.”

The fanatic king, instead of being softened by these woes, became more
unrelenting. He issued an ordinance requiring that all the children
between five and sixteen years of age, of parents suspected of
Protestantism, should be taken from their homes, and placed in Catholic
families. All books which it was thought in any way favored the
Protestant faith were seized and burned. “The Bible itself, the Bible
above all, was confiscated and burned with persevering animosity.”[214]

But no power of persecution could utterly crush out between two and
three millions of Protestants, nearly every one of whom was ready to
go to the stake in defence of his faith. In some of the provinces the
Protestants were in so large a majority, and were organized under such
able military leaders, that the king was unable to enforce with any
efficiency his sanguinary code.

In contemplation of such scenes of fanaticism and suffering, one is
led to inquire if Christianity has, on the whole, proved a blessing to
mankind. But let it be remembered, that as secular history is mainly
occupied with a record of the wars and the woes of humanity, while
years of tranquillity and peace have no annalists; so historians
of the Church have been mainly occupied with the corruptions which
human depravity have introduced into the pure, simple, and beneficent
principles of the religion of Jesus. But there is little to be recorded
of the millions upon millions of Christians in private life, who,
from youth to old age, have had their hearts purified, their manners
softened, their homes cheered and blessed, by those quiet virtues which
their faith has inculcated. Every joy of their lives has been magnified,
and every grief solaced, by their piety.

They have fallen asleep in Jesus, triumphant over death and the grave,
and are now with angel-companions in the paradise of God. No man can
estimate the multitude of these redeemed ones: their number is “ten
thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands.” And now, to
use the glowing language of inspiration,――

“Are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his
temple; and He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They
shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun
light on them, nor any heat: for the Lamb which is in the midst of the
throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of
waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”[215]

In the accompanying group of portraits, the reader will find correct
likenesses of some of the most distinguished of the Protestant clergy
during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.


Thomas Chalmers, one of the most eloquent and renowned of the
Presbyterian clergy of Scotland, was born at Anstruther, in Fifeshire,
the 17th of March, 1780. At the early age of twelve, he entered the
University of St. Andrew’s. Distinguishing himself as a scholar, he was
licensed to preach in his nineteenth year. When he was first ordained
minister of a small parish at Kilmany, his mind was chiefly occupied
with studies of natural science, and in speculating upon moral, social,
and political questions. Though he devoted little time, comparatively,
to the pulpit, still, with powers of glowing and impassioned eloquence
which drew great multitudes to hear him, he enforced the highest
principles of worldly morality. Though the audiences listened, charmed
by his eloquence, he testifies, that, at the close of twelve years, he
could not perceive that any good had been accomplished by his preaching.
This led him to inquire why the preaching of the gospel by the apostles
produced results so different from those which he witnessed.

These anxious questions, in connection with a dangerous illness and
severe domestic bereavements, led him to a renewed examination of the
New Testament. He then perceived that he had been a stranger to the
gospel of Christ, and that he had been preaching simply a code of
morals, without regard to those great doctrines which are the “wisdom
of God, and the power of God unto salvation.” From his sick-bed he
returned to the pulpit, a new man, to proclaim to his congregation,
with increasing fervor of utterance, salvation through faith in an
atoning Saviour. The style of his preaching was thoroughly changed. The
themes upon which he dwelt, and upon which he brought to bear all the
powers of his rich and varied culture and his impassioned eloquence,
were the lost state of mankind by the fall; the atonement for human
guilt made by the sufferings and death of the Son of God upon the
cross at Calvary; redemption from sin and its penalty, obtained
through penitence and faith in this atoning Saviour; regeneration,――the
recreating of the soul by the energies of the Holy Spirit; and the
endeavor to live a Christ-like life, as the result of this renewal
by the Holy Ghost.

There was vitality in these doctrines; they inspired the preacher
with zeal unknown before; and, from that hour to the day of his death,
Thomas Chalmers preached the glad tidings of the gospel with power,
and with success unsurpassed, perhaps, by any other preacher in Great
Britain or America. He still continued to prosecute his literary and
scientific studies, but brought all his resources to the advocacy
of the gospel. In one of his published articles, he alludes with
admiration to the history of Pascal, “who, after a youth signalized
with profound speculations, had stopped short in a brilliant career
of discovery, resigned the splendors of literary reputation, renounced
without a sigh all the distinctions which are conferred upon genius,
only to devote every talent and every hour to the defence and
illustration of the gospel.”[216]

His pulpit eloquence attracted listeners from great distances. An
article which he wrote for “The Encyclopædia” in 1813, upon “The
Evidences of Christianity,” attracted great attention, and was
immediately republished in separate volumes. Several review articles
which he wrote upon scientific and political questions added greatly
to his renown. In 1815 he was invited to the pastoral charge of a
parish in Glasgow. Here, for eight years, he stood, as a pulpit orator,
without a rival. The most distinguished philosophers and the most
unlettered men were alike charmed by his address.

Jeffries describes the impression produced by his sermons as
similar to the effect created by the most impassioned strains of
Demosthenes. Wilberforce wrote in his diary, “All the world is wild
about Dr. Chalmers.” He delivered a series of weekly lectures on
“The Connection of the Discoveries of Astronomy and the Christian
Revelation.” They were listened to with intense admiration, and, being
published in 1817, secured an immense sale, rivalling even the Waverley
Novels in popularity.

His fame was such, that, being invited to London to preach, the most
distinguished men in the kingdom crowded the church, and listened
with admiration to his glowing utterances. Several articles which he
contributed to “The Edinburgh Review” added much to his celebrity as
a philosopher, a statesman, and an accomplished scholar. Through his
influence, the old parochial system of Scotland was thoroughly revised;
and the whole community was divided into small sections, so as to
bring every individual under educational and ecclesiastical influences.
The parish of St. John, which contained two thousand families, eight
hundred of whom were not connected with any Christian church, was
intrusted, as an experiment, entirely to his supervision. The support
of the poor in that parish had been costing seven thousand dollars a
year. In four years the poor were in far more comfortable circumstances,
and the expense of their support amounted to but fourteen hundred
dollars a year. Every street and lane was systematically visited.

In the year 1823, Dr. Chalmers accepted the professorship of moral
philosophy in the University of St. Andrew’s; and in the year 1828
he was transferred to the higher sphere of professor of theology
in the University of Edinburgh. Here he remained for fifteen years.
The enthusiasm inspired by his ardor and eloquence crowded his
lecture-room, not only with students, but with men of the highest
literary distinction, and clergymen of every denomination. In the year
1833 he made a tour through Scotland, collecting funds, and urging
forward a movement which would so increase the churches of the country,
that the claims of religion should be urged upon every individual heart.
He had became the recognized leader of what was called the Evangelical
party. In the General Assembly of 1834――of which Dr. Chalmers was
moderator――a resolution was passed, that no minister should be forced
upon any parish against whom a majority of the congregation should
remonstrate. This gave rise to a very violent controversy. The civil
courts declared this to be contrary to the law of the land. Thus the
church and the civil courts came into collision.

The result was, that, after a struggle of ten years, four hundred and
seventy clergymen withdrew from the Established Church, and associated
themselves as the “Free Church of Scotland,” choosing Dr. Chalmers
their moderator. The last four years of Dr. Chalmers’s busy life
were spent in organizing the new church, in performing the duties of
president of the Free Church College which had been founded, and in
writing for “The North-British Review,” which had been established
under his superintendence. In the midst of these arduous labors, Dr.
Chalmers was suddenly called to his final rest. He had just returned
from London, where he had been consulting some eminent statesmen upon
his views of national education, when he was found, on the morning of
the 31st of May, 1847, dead in his bed, at Morningside, near Edinburgh.
During the night, he had “fallen asleep in Jesus.” The tranquillity
of his features showed that the soul had taken its upward flight from
the body without a struggle or a pang. He had attained the age of
sixty-seven years.

Jonathan Edwards, perhaps, takes the rank of the most illustrious of
American divines. He was born at East Windsor, Conn., on the 5th of
October, 1703. Dr. Chalmers said of him,――

“On the arena of metaphysics, Jonathan Edwards stood the highest of his
contemporaries. The American divine affords, perhaps, the most wondrous
example in modern times of one who stood gifted both in natural and
spiritual discernment.”

Sir James Mackintosh says of him, “This remarkable man――the
metaphysician of America――was formed among the Calvinists of New
England. His power of subtle argument, perhaps unmatched, certainly
unsurpassed, among men, was joined with a character which raised his
piety to fervor.”

Robert Hall writes, “Jonathan Edwards ranks with the brightest
luminaries of the Christian Church, not excluding any country or any

In a family of ten sisters, Jonathan was an only son. His father and
his grandfather, on his mother’s side, were both eminent ministers of
the gospel. His father was distinguished for scholarship in Hebrew,
Greek, and Latin. Under the tuition of his father and his accomplished
elder sisters, the youthful intellect of Jonathan was very rapidly
developed. Before he was ten years of age, he became deeply concerned
for his soul’s salvation, and engaged very earnestly in a life of
devotion, praying five times a day in secret. At that early age he
wrote a treatise, ridiculing the idea that the soul is material. When
twelve years of age, there was a remarkable revival in his father’s
parish. In a letter to an absent sister, he wrote,――

“The very remarkable outpouring of the Spirit of God still continues:
but I have reason to think that it is in some measure diminished; yet,
I hope, not much. Three have joined the church since you last heard;
five now stand propounded for admission; and I think above thirty
persons come commonly on a Monday to converse with father about the
condition of their souls.”

In September, 1716, when in his thirteenth year, Jonathan entered Yale
College. He devoted himself assiduously to study; and the character of
his mind may be inferred from the fact, that, when but fifteen years
of age, he was discussing with the utmost interest such questions as
“whether it were possible to add to matter the property of thought:”
he argued that “every thing did exist from all eternity in uncreated
idea;” that “truth is the agreement of our ideas with the ideas of
God;” that “the universe exists nowhere but in the divine mind;” &c.

When about sixteen years of age, while in college, his mind seems to
have settled into a calm trust in God. His theological opinions became
unalterably formed. The peace which thus dawned upon his mind he
describes in his diary in glowing language:――

“The appearance of every thing was altered. There was, as it were, a
calm, sweet cast, or appearance, of divine glory in almost every thing.
God’s excellency, his wisdom, his purity and love, seemed to appear
in the sun, moon, and stars; in the clouds and blue sky; in the grass,
flowers, trees; in the water, and in all nature.”

After taking his degree, he remained for two years at New Haven,
studying theology; and, before he was nineteen years of age, was
invited to preach in a Presbyterian church in New York. He preached
with great fervor, and in the enjoyment of intense spiritual delight,
for eight months, when he returned to his father’s home in East Windsor,
where he continued his severe and unremitting studies. Here, with much
prayer, the young Christian wrote a series of seventy resolutions to
guide him in the conduct of life. We find in them the resolves,――

To act always for the glory of God and for the good of mankind in
general; to lose not one moment of time; to live with all his might
while he did live; to let the knowledge of the failings of others only
promote shame in himself; to solve, as far as he could, any theorem
in divinity he might think of; to trace actions back to their original
source; to be firmly faithful to his trust; to live as he would if it
were but an hour before he should hear the last trump; to strive every
week for a higher and still higher exercise of grace.

In the diary of this young man of nineteen we find the following
narrative: “They say there is a young lady in New Haven who is beloved
of that great Being who made and rules the world; and that there are
certain seasons in which this great Being, in some way or other, comes
to her, and fills her mind with exceeding sweet delight; and that she
hardly cares for any thing except to meditate on him; that she expects
after a while to be received up where he is,――to be raised up out of
the world, and caught up into heaven, being assured that he loves her
too well to let her remain at a distance from him always. There she
is to dwell with him, and to be ravished with his love and delight
forever. Therefore, if you present all the world, with the richest of
its treasures, she disregards it, and cares not for, and is unmindful
of, any path of affliction.

“She has a singular purity in her affections; is most just and
conscientious in all her conduct; and you could not persuade her to do
any thing wrong or sinful if you would give her all this world, lest
she should offend this great Being. She is of a wonderful sweetness,
calmness, and universal benevolence, especially after this great God
has manifested himself to her mind. She will sometimes go about from
place to place, singing sweetly; and seems to be always full of joy
and pleasure, and no one knows for what. She loves to be alone, walking
the fields and groves; and seems to have some one invisible always
conversing with her.”

This young lady, Sarah Pierrepont, eventually became the wife of
Mr. Edwards. Though several congregations invited him to become their
pastor, he decided to devote two more years to study before assuming
the responsibilities of a parish. In June, 1724, he was appointed tutor
in Yale College. The duties of this station he fulfilled with great
success, devoting himself with tireless assiduity to study, practising
great abstinence both from food and sleep. In February, 1727, he
entered upon the office of colleague-pastor with Rev. Solomon Stoddard,
his mother’s father, in Northampton, Mass., then, as now, one of the
most beautiful towns in New England. Immediately after his settlement,
he sought the hand of Sarah Pierrepont as his bride.

“She listened to his urgency; and on July 28, about five months after
he was settled, the youthful preacher was joined in wedlock at New
Haven with the wonderfully-endowed bride of his choice. She was pure
and kind, uncommonly beautiful and affectionate, and notable as a
housekeeper; he, holy and learned and eloquent, and undoubtedly the
ablest young preacher of his time; she seventeen, he twenty-three.
What was wanting to their happiness? The union continued for more than
thirty years; and she bore him three sons and eight daughters.”

Rapidly the fame of the young preacher spread; for in his sermons
were found a union of the closest reasoning, glowing imagination, and
fervid piety. A wonderful revival of religion soon followed his earnest
ministrations, exceeding any thing which had then been known in North
America. Edwards wrote an account of the surprising conversions which
took place, which narrative was republished in England and in Boston.

Thus the years passed rapidly, prosperously, and happily away, as his
powers of eloquence and the productions of his pen extended his fame
through Europe and America. But suddenly a bitter controversy arose in
the church to which he ministered. The Rev. Mr. Stoddard, a man of mild
character and lax discipline, had introduced to the church many who did
not profess to be in heart Christians, the subjects of renewing grace.
It had been tacitly assumed that the Lord’s Supper was a converting
ordinance, and that any person of respectable character might unite
with the church, and partake of the Lord’s Supper, as he might attend
upon the preaching of the gospel. But Edwards urged that true
conversion should precede admission to the communion. In these views
Edwards was overborne by the majority of the church, who refused to
allow him to deliver a course of lectures upon the subject. Thus, after
years of a very unhappy controversy, Mr. Edwards was driven from his
parish in the twenty-fourth year of his pastorate. He was drawing near
the decline of life, had ten children dependent upon him, and was left
without any visible means of support. The magnanimity and firmness
which Mr. Edwards displayed has won for him the admiration of posterity.

In the town of Stockbridge, among the mountains of Berkshire, there was
a remnant of a band of Indians called Housatonics. A few white settlers
had also purchased lands, and reared their farm-houses in that region.
A society in London, organized for the purpose of propagating the
gospel, appointed him as missionary to these humble people. His income
was so small, that it was found necessary to add to it by the handiwork
of his wife and daughters, which was sent to Boston for sale.

As Mr. Edwards preached to the Indians extempore, and through an
interpreter, he found more leisure for general study than he had ever
before enjoyed; and from this retreat in the wilderness, during six
years of intense application, he sent forth productions which arrested
the attention of the whole thinking world. His renowned dissertations
upon “The Freedom of the Will,” upon “God’s Last End in the Creation
of the World,” upon “The Nature of True Virtue,” and on “Original Sin,”
placed him at once in the highest ranks of theologians and philosophers.

While thus laboring in his humble home in the then inhospitable
frontiers of Massachusetts, he was invited to the presidency of
Princeton College, one of the most prominent seminaries in the country.
The small-pox was raging in the vicinity, and he was inoculated as an
act of prevention. The disease assumed a malignant form; and on the 22d
of March, 1758, he died at Princeton, N.J., thirty-four days after his
installation as president. He had attained the age of fifty-four years.
Fully conscious that death was approaching, he sent messages of love to
the absent members of his family. His last words were, “Trust in God,
and you need not fear.”

There is probably no name in the modern history of Christianity more
prominent than that of John Wesley. It is certain that the denomination
of Methodists, of which he is the father and the founder, has exerted
an influence in reclaiming lost souls to the Saviour second to that of
no other branch of the Church of Christ. In November, 1729,――less than
a hundred and fifty years ago,――John Wesley, then a young student but
twenty-six years of age in Oxford University, England, with his younger
brother Charles and two other students, united in a class for their own
spiritual improvement. Their strict habits and methodical improvement
of time led their fellow-students to give them, somewhat in derision,
the name of Methodists. They accepted the name, and made it honorable.

Such was the origin of a denomination of Christians which has now
become one of the largest and most influential in the world. According
to the statistics given in the Methodist Almanac for 1872, the
denomination now numbers, in the United States alone,――

           21,086  Preachers.
        1,436,396  Church-members.
          193,979  Sunday-school teachers.
        1,267,742  Sunday-school scholars.
      $64,098,104  Value of church edifices and parsonages.[217]

John Wesley was the son of a mother alike remarkable for her piety and
her intellectual endowments. He was born at Epworth, England, on the
17th of June, 1703. At the age of seventeen, he entered the University
at Oxford. Taking his first degree in 1724, he was elected fellow
of Lincoln College, and graduated master of arts in 1726. He was at
this time quite distinguished for his attainments, particularly in the
classics, and for his skill as a logician. Being naturally of a sedate,
thoughtful turn of mind, he had from childhood been strongly inclined
to the Christian ministry. The teachings of his noble mother had
inspired him with the intense desire of being useful to his fellow-men.
Being ordained to the ministry, he was for a short time his father’s
curate. Returning to Oxford still further to prosecute his studies,
he expressed strong dissatisfaction at the want of zeal manifested in
the Established Church for the conversion of sinners. This led him to
consecrate himself with great solemnity to the more strict observance
of the duties of religious life.

He formed a society for mutual religious improvement, which consisted
at first only of himself, his younger brother Charles, and two others
of his fellow-students. The number was, however, soon increased to
fifteen. Ten years passed away with their usual vicissitudes, nothing
occurring worthy of especial note. In 1735, Mr. Wesley was induced to
go to Georgia to preach to the colonists there, and more especially
to labor as a missionary among the Indians. The mission proved very
unsuccessful. The disturbed state of the colony was such, that he
could get no access to the Indians. Though at first he had a large
and flourishing congregation of colonists to address in Savannah,
there soon sprang up very bitter alienation between him and the people
of his charge. They rebelled against the strictness of discipline
which he attempted to introduce. He refused to admit dissenters from
the Episcopal Church to the communion, unless they were rebaptized;
insisted upon immersion as the mode of performing that rite; and became
involved in a very serious matrimonial difficulty.

The result was, that he soon found his influence at an end in Georgia.
After a residence of two years at Savannah, he returned to England,
“shaking the dust off his feet,” as he said, in testimony against the
colonists. Recrossing the Atlantic, he visited the colony of Moravian
Christians, or United Brethren as they were also called, at Hernhult,
in Upper Lusatia. This colony was founded by Count Zinzendorf upon
what he considered as the model of the primitive apostolic Christians.
Leaving out all the distinctive doctrines of the various Protestant
denominations, he adopted as articles of faith only those fundamental
scriptural truths in which all evangelical Christians agree.

Mr. Wesley soon made the extraordinary discovery, as he himself
states, that he had never been truly converted. While crossing the
ocean to lead others to the Saviour, he had never come to that Saviour
himself. “He felt,” he said, “a want of the victorious faith of more
experienced Christians.” Agitated by these thoughts, he at length, in
his estimation, became a subject of that renewing grace entitled in
the Bible being “born again.” So sudden was this change, that he could
not only point out the day and the hour, but the moment also, when it
took place. “It was,” he says, “at quarter before nine o’clock on the
evening of May 24, at a meeting of a society in Aldergate Street, when
one was reading Luther’s Preface to the Epistle to the Romans.”

In this respect, the experience of Mr. Wesley was somewhat similar
to that of Dr. Chalmers. He at once began his labors of preaching
the gospel of Christ, with zeal and success, perhaps, never surpassed.
George Whitefield, one of the most impassioned and eloquent of sacred
orators, joined him. They both preached several times a day in the
prisons, and at all other places where they could gain an audience.
Their fervor attracted crowds; and strong opposition began to be
manifested against them. As the Established clergy refused to open
their churches to these zealous preachers, they addressed audiences
in the open fields, and particularly in an immense building called the
Foundery at Moorsfield. Here Mr. Wesley organized his first church of
but eight to ten persons. There was at that time great deadness in the
Established Church. Many of the nominal pastors were utterly worldly
men, who made no profession of piety. The clergy were often younger
sons of nobles, who had been placed over the churches simply through
the influence of their fathers, that they might enjoy the revenues
of the church. Reckless men, devoted to pleasure, they were called
“fox-hunting parsons;” and the church became often the scene only of
a heartless round of ceremonies. The masses of the people found nothing
in such a religion either to cheer them in their sorrows, or to animate
them to a holy life.

The preaching of Wesley and his companions came directly home to the
hearts of the people. It was the earnest and impassioned utterance to
weary souls of the good news and glad tidings of the gospel. The little
church of eight or ten members which he established at the Foundery was
composed of those who, as Wesley testifies, “came to him and desired
him to spend some time with them in prayer, and advise them how to
escape from the wrath to come.”

The church at the Foundery rapidly increased in numbers: crowds flocked
to listen to the earnest preaching. The building was converted into a
chapel, and became the centre of operations. From this centre, Wesley
and his associates made constant journeys into the surrounding country,
sometimes to a great distance, preaching wherever they went. They
generally preached twice every day, and four times on the sabbath. At
Kensington Common, Wesley at one time addressed a concourse estimated
to be not less than twenty thousand persons.

“Wesley devoted himself to his work in Great Britain with such
completeness, that scarcely an hour was abstracted from the cause on
which he had set his heart. He seldom travelled less than forty miles a
day; and until near the close of life, when he used a chaise, generally
went on horseback. It is said that not an instance can be found, during
a period of fifty years, wherein the severest weather hindered him for
a single day. His journeys extended to Ireland, Scotland, and Wales,
in each of which countries he preached with great success. He formed
societies, and placed lay preachers over them; appointed class-leaders,
and established schools, the most important of which was that of
Kingswood, near Bristol, which was designed more particularly for the
education of the sons of preachers. The most extraordinary revivals
followed his ministry, especially among the poor and destitute in the
mining and manufacturing districts.”[218]

Though Wesley continued to adhere to the Established Church, still the
principles of tolerance which he advocated tended more and more, every
day, to cause the rapidly-increasing Methodist churches to be regarded
as a distinct sect. At the first conference of the Methodist clergy at
the Foundery Chapel, in 1744, eight preachers were present. Wesley then

“You cannot be admitted to the church of Presbyterians, Baptists,
Quakers, or any others, unless you hold the same opinions with them,
and adhere to the same mode of worship. The Methodists alone do not
insist upon your holding this or that opinion; but they think, and let
think. Neither do they impose any particular mode of worship; but you
may continue to worship in your former manner, be it what it may. Now,
I do not know any other religious society, either ancient or modern,
wherein such liberty of conscience is now allowed, or has been allowed
since the days of the apostles. Here is our glorying, and it is a
glorying peculiar to us.”

In the year 1752, Wesley married a widow with four children. But the
religious zeal which inspired him was singularly manifested in the
marriage contract, in which it was stipulated that he should not preach
one sermon the less, nor travel one mile the less, on account of his
change of condition. It is, perhaps, not strange that the marriage did
not prove a happy one. After a life of activity and usefulness to which
few parallels can be found, John Wesley died in London on the 2d of
March, 1791, in the eighty-third year of his age. The last four days of
his life were days of Christian triumph, in which the veteran servant
of Christ found that faith in Jesus did indeed make him victor over
death and the grave. It is estimated, that, during his ministry of
sixty-five years, he travelled about two hundred and seventy thousand
miles, and delivered over forty thousand sermons, besides addresses,
exhortations, and prayers. The denomination of which he was the founder
is now exerting in England and the United States an influence second
certainly to that of none other; and it is every hour increasing in all
the elements of prosperity and power.

Robert Hall, one of the brightest ornaments of the Baptist Church, by
universal assent occupies one of the most prominent positions among men
of genius and of culture, his works having given him renown throughout
Christendom. The celebrated Dr. Parr, who was his intimate friend, says
of him,――

“Mr. Hall has, like Jeremy Taylor, the eloquence of an orator, the
fancy of a poet, the subtlety of a schoolman, the profoundness of a
philosopher, and the piety of a saint.”

Robert Hall was born at Arnsby, Leicestershire, England, in August,
1764. His father, who was a Baptist clergyman of considerable note,
early perceived a wonderful degree of intellectual development in his
child. He said to a friend,――

“Robert at nine years of age fully comprehended the reasoning in
the profoundly argumentative treatises of Edward on the Will and the

When fifteen years old, Robert became a student in the Baptist College
at Bristol; and in his eighteenth year entered King’s College, Aberdeen.
Here he became acquainted with Sir James Mackintosh, which acquaintance
ripened into a life-long friendship.

Upon leaving college, Mr. Hall commenced preaching, and with a power
which immediately drew around him, and elicited the admiration of,
crowds of the most intellectual of hearers. His biographer says of

“Mr. Hall’s voice is feeble, but very distinct: as he proceeds,
it trembles under his energy. The plainest and least-labored of his
discourses are not without delicate imagery and the most felicitous
turns of expression. He expatiates on the prophecies with a kindred
spirit, often conducting his audience to the top of the ‘Delectable
Mountains,’ where they can see from afar the gates of the Eternal
City. He seems at home among the marvellous revelations of St. John;
and, while he dwells upon them, he leads his hearer breathless through
ever-varying scenes of mystery far more glorious and surprising than
the wildest of Oriental fables. He stops where they most desire he
should proceed, where he has just disclosed the dawnings of the inmost
glory to their enraptured minds, and leaves them full of imaginations
of things not made with hands, of joys too ravishing for similes.”

Robert Hall’s life was devoid of adventure, having been spent almost
exclusively in the study and the pulpit. His conversational powers
were of the highest order; and, in every social circle, crowds gathered
around him, charmed by the unstudied eloquence which flowed from his
lips. He was an indefatigable student; and, though one of the most
profound thinkers, was one of the most childlike of men in unaffected
simplicity of character. His pre-eminence in the pulpit was universally
acknowledged, and his extraordinary powers ever crowded his church
with the most distinguished auditors. During his life he issued
several pamphlets, which obtained celebrity throughout all Christendom.
A sermon which he preached upon Modern Infidelity was published in
repeated editions, and “sent a thrill to every village and hamlet of
Great Britain.” Its arguments were so unanswerable, that no serious
attempt was made to reply to them.

“Whoever,” Dugald Stewart wrote, “wishes to see the English language
in its perfection, must read the writings of that great divine, Robert
Hall. He combines the beauties of Johnson, Addison, and Burke, without
their imperfections.”

A very severe chronic disease of the spine caused him throughout his
whole life severe suffering. Once or twice the disease so ascended to
the brain, that the mind lost its balance; and Mr. Hall was compelled
for a short time to withdraw from his customary labors.

The works of this distinguished man are still read with admiration,
and will be ever regarded as among the highest productions of the human
intellect. He died, universally beloved and lamented, on the 21st of
February, 1831, in the sixty-eighth year of his age.

There is, perhaps, no divine of the Church of England whose name
is more prominent in ecclesiastical annals, or more widely known
throughout the Christian world, than that of William Paley. He was born
in Peterborough, England, in July, 1743. His father, who was curate of
a parish, carefully instructed him in childhood, and, when his son was
sixteen years of age, entered him at Christ College, in Cambridge. The
superior intellect even then developed by the young man is evidenced by
the remark of his father, “He has by far the clearest head I ever met

At the university he applied himself very diligently to his studies,
and rapidly attained distinction. After graduating in 1763, he spent
three years as a teacher, and then returned to his college as a tutor.
In 1775 he was presented to the rectory of Musgrove, in Westmoreland;
and, marrying, he retired from the university to his living.

The life of Paley was in many respects quite the reverse of that of
Wesley. He was by no means an ardent Christian. His piety, and his
appreciation of Christianity, were intellectual far more than spiritual
or emotional. He was not a popular preacher: his appropriate field
of labor was the silence and solitude of the study. From this retreat
he issued works upon God, Christian Morals, and the Evidences of
Christianity, which greatly baffled infidelity, and silenced its cavils.

Being promoted from one living to another as he gained reputation, in
1782 he was advanced to the Archdeanery of Carlyle. Three years after
this he published his first important work, entitled “The Principles
of Moral and Political Economy.” Though some of its principles were
violently assailed, it commanded the respectful attention of all
thoughtful men. The work became exceedingly popular even with the
masses, as Paley had the power of making the most abstruse truths
clear and entertaining to the popular mind.

Five years after this, in 1790, Paley published another work,
entitled “Horæ Paulinæ,” which is generally deemed the most original
and ingenious of all his writings. In this work, which obtained renown
through all Christendom, he maintained with irresistible force of logic
the genuineness of St. Paul’s Epistles and of the Acts of the Apostles,
from the reciprocal supports they received, from the undesigned
coincidences between them. This work added greatly to the celebrity
of the already distinguished writer, and secured for him still more
lucrative offices in the English Church.

Four years later, in 1794, he issued another volume, entitled “View
of the Evidences of Christianity.” It may be safely said that the
arguments here brought forward in attestation of the divine origin of
the religion of Jesus of Nazareth never have been, and never can be,
refuted. In clearness of diction, beauty of illustration, and force
of logic, the work has never been surpassed. It has been adopted as
a text-book in many of the most distinguished universities, and is
considered one of the most cogent arguments to be found in any language
in favor of the divine authority of Christianity.

Thus does God raise up different instruments to accomplish his
great purposes of benevolence. While Wesley and his coadjutors were
traversing thousands of miles, and, by their impassioned eloquence,
were rousing the humble and unlettered masses to an acceptance
of the glad tidings of the gospel, Paley, in the lonely hours of
entire seclusion in his study, was framing those arguments which
intellectually enthroned Christianity in the minds of the thoughtful
and the philosophic.

At the close of a studious life of sixty-two years, spent in his study
and his garden, with but few companions and few exciting incidents,
this illustrious servant of the Church of Christ fell asleep on the
25th of May, 1805.

For nearly nineteen centuries, Christianity has struggled against
almost every conceivable form of human corruption. All the energies of
the powers of darkness have been combined against it. In this unholy
alliance, kings have contributed imperial power; so-called philosophers,
like Voltaire, have consecrated to the foul enterprise the most
brilliant endowments of wit and learning; while all “the lewd fellows
of the baser sort” have swelled the ranks of infidelity with their
legions of debauchees, inebriates, and blasphemers; but all in vain:
generation after generation of these despisers have passed away, and

Christianity has been steadily triumphing over all opposition, and was
never before such a power in the world as at this day. Could you, upon
some pleasant sabbath morning, look down from a balloon, as with an
angel’s eye, over the wide expanse of Europe, witnessing the movement
of its myriad population, and, as with an angel’s ear, listen to the
sounds which sweep over its mountains, its valleys, and its plains, how
wonderful the spectacle which would meet the eye, and the vibrations
which, like the fabled music of the spheres, would fill the air!
Suppose it to be such a sabbath morning as Herbert describes,――

              “Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright,
                 The bridal of the earth and sky:”

you would hear the chime of millions of church-bells floating in
Æolian harmony over crowded cities and green fields, melodious as
angel-voices proclaiming the praises of God. As you inquire, “What
causes this simultaneous clangor of sweet sounds over thousands of
leagues of territory, regardless of the barriers of mountains and
rivers, of national boundaries and diverse tongues? whence comes the
impulse which has created this wondrous summons to hundreds of millions
of people, spread over a majestic continent, under diverse institutions,
speaking different languages, inhabiting different climes, and under
all varieties of forms of government?” you would be told,――and not
an individual on the globe would dispute the assertion,――“It is the
religion of Jesus of Nazareth.”

As you listen, you look; and, lo! thronging millions are crowding
towards innumerable temples of every variety of form, size, and
structure. The gilded chariot waits at the portals of the castle and
the palace for the conveyance of nobles and kings to these sanctuaries.
Through all the streets of the cities, and over many green-ribboned
roads of the country, vehicles of every description may be seen,
crowded with men, women, and children, all peacefully pressing on to
alight at the doors of these temples. The pavements of the crowded
towns are thronged; pedestrians, in their best attire, are hastening
along the banks of the rivers, and crossing the pastures and the
flowery plains; while, some in wagons, some in carts, some on horseback,
the mighty mass, unnumbered and innumerable, moves on to ten thousand
times ten thousand cathedrals and village churches, and to the humblest
edifices, where coarsely-clad and unlettered peasants meet for praise
and prayer.

The innumerable throng sweeps along the base of the Carpathian
Mountains, threads the passes of the Tyrol, and winds its way through
the gorges of the Alps and the Apennines. In Russia, wrapped in furs,
they struggle through snow-drifts, and breast the gale, as they crowd
to the Greek Church. On the sunny banks of the Mediterranean, in Italy,
France, and Spain, through vineyards and orange-groves, cheered by the
songs of birds and the bloom of flowers, nobles and peasants, princes
and subjects, press along to the massive, moss-covered churches where
their ancestors for centuries have worshipped according to the rites
of the Catholic Church. In Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and through all
the highways and byways of England, Scotland, and Wales, the inmates of
lordly castles, and humble artisans from mines and manufactories, are
moving onward to the churches where the religion of Jesus is inculcated
in accordance with the simple rites of the Protestant faith.

And, if we cross the Atlantic, we witness the same sublime spectacle,
extending from the icy regions north of the St. Lawrence to the Gulf
of Mexico, and from the Atlantic coast almost to the base of the Rocky
Mountains, and again repeated upon the Pacific shores through the
rapidly-populating plains of California and Oregon. Scarcely have the
hardy settlers reared half a dozen log-huts ere the spire of the church
rises, where the religion of Jesus is taught as the first essential to
the prosperity of the growing village. And so through South America:
through its conglomeration of States, where light is contending with
darkness; through Chili, Peru, Bolivia, and along the majestic streams
and wide-spreading savannas of the vast empire of Brazil,――the religion
of Jesus of Nazareth, notwithstanding the imperfections which fallen
humanity has attached to it, is potent above all other influences in
enlightening the masses, and in moulding their manners and their minds.
And now we begin faintly to hear, along the western coast of Africa
and the southern shores of India, and upon many a green tropical island
emerging from the Pacific, the tolling of the church-bell, indicating
that that religion which has became dominant in Europe and America
is destined to bring the whole world, from pole to pole, under its
benignant sway.

And it is worthy of note that the most thoroughly Christian nations are
the most enlightened, moral, and prosperous upon the globe. Where we do
not find this religion, we meet effeminate Asiatics, stolid Chinamen,
wandering Tartars, and Bedouins of the desert. They are the Christian
nations who stand forth luminous in wealth, power, and intellect. These
are the nations which seem now to hold the destinies of the globe in
their hand; and it is the religion of Jesus which has crowned them with
this wealth and influence.

And again: it is well to call attention to the fact, that every
literary and scientific university in Christendom, where the ablest men
in all intellectual culture do congregate, is mainly under the control
of those who bow in cordial assent to Jesus of Nazareth as their
Teacher and Lord.

The Universities of Cambridge and Oxford in England, of Edinburgh and
Glasgow in Scotland, of Harvard and Yale in the United States, declare
through their learned professors, with almost one united voice, that
the salvation of humanity can come only through the religion of Jesus
the Christ. In France, Italy, Germany, Russia, in all the renowned,
time-honored universities of Continental Europe, the name of Jesus
is revered as above every name, and his teachings are regarded as the
wisdom of God and the power of God. There is hardly a university of
learning of any note, in Europe or America, where Jesus of Nazareth is
not recognized as the Son of God, who came to seek and to save the lost.

The standard of what is called _goodness_ in this world greatly varies.
“There is honor among thieves.” A gang of debauchees, gamblers, and
inebriates, has its code of morals. The proudest oppressors who have
ever crushed humanity beneath a merciless heel have usually some
standard of right and wrong, so adroitly formed as to enable them to
flatter themselves that they are to be numbered among the good men.

Socrates, unenlightened by revelation, simply through the teachings of
his own honest mind, declares him only to be a good man who tries to
make himself, and all whom he can influence, as perfect as possible.
The definition which Jesus gives of goodness, even more comprehensive
and beautiful, is, that a man should love his Father, God, with all
his heart, and his brother, man, as himself. This is the only real
goodness,――angelic goodness, divine goodness. Now, it may be safely
said that you cannot find at the present time, or through all past ages,
a truly good man, in either of the above definitions of the term, whose
character has not been modelled by the principles laid down by Jesus of

Let the mind run along the list of great and good men, who, with loving
hearts and pure lives and beneficent actions, have been the ornaments
of humanity; men and women who have made their own homes happy, who
have ever had an open hand to relieve the distressed, whose hearts
have yearned over the wandering, and whose lips have entreated them to
return to the paths of virtue; and where can you find one who has not
manifested the spirit of Jesus, and drawn his main inspiration from the
principles which he has inculcated?

There are now many men and women all over Christendom, of self-denying
lives, active in every good word and work, sympathizing with the
afflicted, helping the needy, praying for and trying to reclaim their
brothers and sisters of the human family who are crowding the paths of
sin; searching out the children of abandonment, destitution, and woe,
from the depravity of the streets and from homes of wretchedness, that
they may be clothed and educated and made holy,――there are thousands of
such; and yet it would be difficult to find one, a single one, who does
not recognize the religion of Jesus as the only moral power which can
reclaim a lost world.

We have in the Bible the history of the world, and the biography of
its leading individuals, from the dawn of creation until those modern
days in which secular history takes up the record. Through all these
ages not a single man can be found, who by the purity of his own life,
by the beneficent influence of his example, and by his self-denying
efforts to promote the happiness of others, has not developed the
principles uttered by the lips of Jesus.

Indeed, there is an absolute, invincible necessity that every truly
good man should embrace these principles, and diffuse them to the
utmost of his power. The moment one awakes to the grandeur of his own
being,――an immortal created in the image of God,――and begins to breathe
the prayer, “O God! help me to resist every sin, and aid me to cherish
every virtue,” he finds at once, that, infinitely above all other books,
the Bible is the book to help him in this new and noble life. He finds
that every duty which his conscience suggests that he ought to perform,
the religion of Jesus urges upon him by motives of infinite weight. He
finds that every allurement, every indulgence, which would retard his
moral growth, the religion of Jesus urges him, by motives of infinite
weight, to avoid.

All through the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, there is one
continual strain of urgency, enforced by every variety of argument,
warning, and illustration, to aid a man to attain a celestial character.

Ought we to watch over our bodies, that by appetite and passion they
be not defiled; over our thoughts, that impurity enter not the secret
chambers of the soul; over our words, that we may ever speak as in
the audience-chamber of God; over our minds, that we may store them
with all valuable knowledge; over our hearts, that we may love God our
Father, and man our brother; over our actions, that every deed may be
such as God will approve? Then it is to Jesus of Nazareth we must look
as our teacher, our guide, our helper.

The Bible is the book which the good mother gives her boy as he goes
from home; and she knows full well, that if her boy will read that
book daily, and make it the guide of his life, he will be safe for time
and for eternity. Many a man has said years after a sainted mother has
ascended to her crown, “It was the Bible which my mother gave me which
rescued me from ruin.”

How noble is the character of the Christian wife and mother formed upon
the model of Jesus the Christ! Many of our readers have seen the most
beautiful exemplification of this in their own homes. You have seen
your mother all-forgetful of herself in her generous devotion to others.
You have seen her moving like an angel of light in the dark homes of
poverty, and around beds of suffering and death, ever unmindful of her
own ease if she could only heal broken hearts and soothe the cry of
anguish. Such nobility the world will ever recognize, and love to honor.

Many such are found in the homes of our own land. Many a reader can
say, “Such was my mother, God bless her!” You have seen her bending
over the cradle, pale, gentle, loving as an angel; you have seen her
placid and cheerful amidst all the annoyances and wasting cares of
domestic life; you have seen her return home in the morning, after
watching during the night with a sick neighbor, to toil all day long
with fingers which never seem to tire, and with a gentle spirit which
even your waywardness could never discompose.

And, when the village-bell tolled her funeral, you have seen every
house emptied as rich and poor came together to weep over the departure
of one who was the friend and benefactor of them all. Oh, how glorious
must be the flight of such a spirit, ennobled by suffering, victor over
death and the grave, to join the peerage of heaven, and to receive a
coronet in the skies! Now, characters of this stamp――of imperial type,
though found in lowly homes――are invariably formed upon the model which
Jesus Christ has presented.

The men of true nobility who are found in almost every village of our
land――men devoted to every thing that is good, opposed to every thing
that is bad――are men who have deliberately enlisted in the service
of Jesus Christ as his disciples, his imitators. They perseveringly
struggle against all that is unworthy; they hunger and thirst for every
celestial virtue; they battle against temptation in whatever form it
may come; cultivate moral courage, that they may boldly advocate the
cause of their Saviour, amidst opposition and derision if need be; and
thus they are nerved to glorious achievements in triumphing over the
allurements to sin, and in bringing themselves into entire subjection
to their divine Master.

Material grandeur of crag and cataract has its sublimity; but there is
something in moral excellence which far surpasses, in all the elements
of the sublime, any combinations of ocean, earth, or sky. When a man
towers above his fellow-men in self-denial, in devotion to the welfare
of others, in the endeavor to extend virtue, piety, and happiness, a
spectacle is presented upon which angels gaze with admiration. When
we reflect upon what we may become in social loveliness, in majesty of
virtue, in dignity of character, we can hardly wonder that even the Son
of God should be willing to die upon the cross to save such a one from
the ruin of sin. Here below, in the midst of all man’s frailties and
wickedness, we catch glimpses of the angel dignity from which he has
fallen, and to which he may again soar.

The wreck is to be repaired; the ruin is to be rebuilt. What a glorious
creation will man become, when, redeemed, regenerated, created anew in
Christ Jesus, he emerges from the fall in more than the majesty of his
original grandeur, no longer but a “little lower” than the angels, but
on an equality with the loftiest spirits who bow before God’s throne!

And, oh! it is so sad――the saddest sight of earth――to see one who
is created of a noble nature, with glowing intellect and gushing
affections, formed to move like an angel of light amidst sorrowing
humanity, to cheer the heart-stricken, to strengthen the tempted, to
support the weak, to win and save the lost,――it is, indeed, a sad sight
to see such a one, all unmindful of his lofty lineage and glorious
inheritance, casting every thing that is noble away, and living
miserably for self and sin! Earth is full of such melancholy wrecks, as
of archangels ruined. All material ruins, all mouldering turrets, and
towers of baronial castles,――Melrose, Drachenfels, Heidelberg,――before
such moral wrecks, pale into insignificance.

There is a ship in a foreign port. The rude sailors from the forecastle
have gone on shore to the drinking-saloon and the dancing-hall to spend
the night in revelry and sin. But one has remained behind. With the
moral courage of a martyr, he has braved the insults and ridicule of
his companions. And now it is midnight. He is kneeling beside his berth
in prayer. There is a half-closed book by his side. Does any one doubt
what that book is? Is there any other book but the Bible which can
inspire him with such moral courage as this? It is from its pages that
he has learned that it is better “to suffer affliction with the people
of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.”[219]

Far away upon the lonely prairie, there was a settler in his solitary
log-cabin. From his humble door-sill, nought was to be seen in the wide
expanse of many leagues but the prairie’s undulating ocean of grass and
flowers, broken here and there with a clump of trees, emerging as an
island from the silent sea. In that vast solitude there was a Christian
family, impoverished by misfortune, struggling to rear for themselves
a new home: it consisted of a father, mother, and nine children. Death
came. The mother, who had ever been an angel of light in her home, was
stricken down by death. There were no neighbors to help; there was no
Christian minister near to offer the supports of the gospel. Sadly the
father dug the grave; sadly, with the aid of his weeping children, he
bore the sacred remains to their burial; sadly, silently, with a broken
heart, he filled up the grave, which entombed all his earthly hopes and

The evening sun was just sinking beneath the distant horizon of the
prairie: that Christian father, in his desolated cabin, crushed with
grief, had assembled, as had ever been his wont, his little household
around him, to seek the blessing of God. They were all bowed together
upon their knees. The angels hovering over them could hear the sobs of
the children and the moaning prayer of the father.

Upon the table there was one book,――one open book, from which the
husband and father had been reading. Can any one doubt what that book
was? It was opened at the consoling passage,――

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God; believe also in me.
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have
told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And, if I go and prepare
a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that
where I am, there ye may be also.”[220]

What words of comfort to the mourner! O precious Bible! thou instructor
of the ignorant, guide of the erring, consoler of the afflicted,
supporter of the dying; thou unfailing friend of all the weary and the
heart-crushed; thou only hope of humanity,――thou art indeed God’s best
gift to our fallen race.

In the natural world there is infinite variety,――room for the
gratification of every diversity of taste. Here rise the craggy
mountains, with their eternal glaciers,――their pinnacles, thunder-riven,
storm-torn, piercing the skies; there sleeps the placid lake, embowered
in groves, fringed with blooming meadows, and upon whose bosom float
the graceful many-colored waterfowl undisturbed: here extends the
limitless prairie, an ocean of land, embroidered with flowers whose
hues Solomon, arrayed in all his glory, could not outvie; there
Sahara’s boundless sands in dreary desolation glisten in the sun; and
there the Dismal Swamp, which even the foot of the moccasoned Indian
cannot penetrate, frowns in eternal gloom,――all subserving some good
end, all ministering to the glory of God and the good of his children.

So in the Bible, God’s Word, we find that which is adapted to every
variety of taste, every condition of mind, every gradation of intellect
and of culture. One page conducts you back to the pastoral simplicity
of the world’s infancy: you wander with the patriarchs as they pitch
their tents and tend their flocks beneath the sunny skies of the Orient.
Another page moves your soul with the sublime denunciations of the
prophets, before which denunciations monarchs trembled, and empires
crumbled to ruin. You turn the leaf; and the majestic dynasties of
the long-buried ages pass before you in sombre procession, with all
their vicissitudes of pomp and of death, of revelry and of wailing. You
open to another chapter; and your soul is soothed with the penitential
sweetness of the Psalms of David, whose pensive strains bring solace
to your soul in its hours of deepest sadness. Again your spirit is
ennobled by the precepts of Jesus, who spake as never man spake; and
your whole being is inspired by the magnificent revelations of life and
immortality brought to light in the gospel.

Here is food alike for all,――for the peasant, for the philosopher, for
the dairyman’s untutored daughter, and for the profoundest philosopher
who ever honored humanity by his intellectual achievements. Indeed,
Christianity carries its own evidence. “If any man will do his will,”
says Jesus, “he shall know of the doctrine.”[221] And again: “He that
believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself.”[222]

It is true that any child can ask questions which no philosopher
can answer. The infidel, be he never so weak in mind and shallow in
attainments, can easily present difficulties which no philosopher can
solve. The infidel is almost invariably a self-conceited man of “little
learning.” To him the remark of Lord Bacon is applicable: “A little
learning tendeth to unbelief; but more bringeth us back to religion.”

And what is this religion of Jesus, which is ever winning in
such increasing numbers the homage of human hearts? What are those
principles which have undermined and overthrown the proudest systems
of ancient idolatry, and which seem to be now commanding the assent of
every honest mind?

There is one God, existing as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. He is the
common Father of us all; and therefore we are bound to love and worship
him. All men are brothers, of whatever race, color, or condition: as
kind brothers, they should seek to promote each other’s welfare. All
men have been and are sinners: they should therefore repent, implore
forgiveness, and abandon every thing which an enlightened conscience
teaches to be wrong. The Son of God, the second person in the Trinity,
assumed human nature, and, by his sufferings and death, made atonement
for sin. Salvation is now freely offered to all who will accept that
Saviour, and honestly and perseveringly endeavor to return to a holy
life. God’s desire to save his rebellious children is so strong,
that not only has he given his Son to die for us, but he has sent the
Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, on a special embassage
to plead with us, that we may return to him. All who yield to these
strivings of the Spirit, and, with penitence and faith, try to live as
the Son of God by example and precept has taught us, will be received
to heaven, and made eternally happy there, as if they had never sinned.
All those who refuse and continue in rebellion will be forever excluded
from heaven, and will be imprisoned with the Devil and his angels,
where their wickedness will make them ever wretched, but where they
can no longer mar the happiness of those who love and serve God.

Now, these are the fundamental principles of Christianity, as avowed in
the creeds and confessions of the overwhelming majority of Christians,
of all languages and every name, through all the centuries. How simple
and how grand are these principles! It must be manifest to every candid
mind, that in their acceptance is to be found the only hope of our lost
world. It is manifest that each individual can here only hope for any
permanent happiness in this life or in that which is to come. In this
wilderness of time, in the midst of the storms with which we are driven
and shattered here, there can be no repose for the soul but in the
well-founded conviction that peace is made with God through penitence
for sin, and the cordial acceptance of salvation through the atonement
of Jesus Christ.

One fact is certain,――no man will deny it,――there have been hundreds
and thousands, who, on a dying-bed, have mourned most bitterly, with
anguish more dreadful than words can describe, that they have not lived
in accordance with the teachings of Christianity. In that dread hour,
gloom impenetrable has settled down upon the soul as the dying sinner
has exclaimed, “The harvest is past; the summer is ended; and we are
not saved.”[223]

Another fact is equally certain: there never was an individual,
who, on a dying-bed, regretted that he had repented of sin, accepted
Jesus as an atoning Saviour, confessed him before men, and that he had
endeavored to live the life of the Christian. There cannot be found,
in the history of the world, one single such case. On the contrary,
there are millions――more than can be numbered――who have found, in
the hour of death, that faith in Jesus has dispelled all gloom from
the dying-chamber, and has inspired the departing soul with the most
triumphant and rapturous joy. It is the Christian alone who can say
with Paul, when upon the pillow of death,――

“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.”[224]


    1 – Luke i. 5–38.

    2 – Isa. vii. 14.

    3 – Mic. v. 2.

    4 – Mark i. 15.

    5 – Mark i. 22.

    6 – Luke iv. 32.

    7 – Life of Christ by William Hanna, D.D., p. 198.

    8 – Luke iv. 40.

    9 – Jesus of Nazareth. p. 178.

   10 – Luke vi. 12.

   11 – Matt. x.