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this world and its enjoyments; and that they courage. ously endured many afflictions on account of their principles, and sometimes surrendered themselves to sufferings.
"Honesty and probity prevailed so much among them that they trusted each other without security. Their Master had earn rnestly recommended to all his followers mutual love, by which also they were much distinguished. In his piece entitled Alexander or Pseudomantis, he says, that they were well known in the world by the name of Christians; that they were at that time numerous in Pontus, Paphlagonia, and the neighbouring countries; and finally, that they were formidable to cheats and impostors." Horne's Introduction. 1 vol.
Reader, these statements, from the haters of the gospel, would be amply sufficient (if no one else had written) to furnish us with all the information we desire concerning the meekness and integrity of the early disciples. Go and collect and condense that which has been writ. ten by friends and enemies until you are satisfied; then come and follow on with us to notice what they must believe who cast away the Bible.
Before we proceed, however, we have still another preparatory remark or two to make. As it regards the number of the early Christians, any one who wishes, or who chooses, may inform himself in the same way we have mentioned. For instance, if I read the pagan historian, Tacitus, concerning the persecution at Rome, during which St. Paul was put to death, and find him calling those who were burned ingens multitudo, (a vast crowd,) I have testimony concerning the church in that city. For if those martyred were ingens multitudo, then it is no tortured inference to suppose the congregations
from which they were taken, considerably numerous. Again, if we read from Pliny that the heathen temples had been almost deserted, that this superstition (he calls it) had seized, not cities only, but the lesser towns and open country, we may make some inference regarding the number and strength of Christian congregations there and then. The same information may be had from other authors, either friends or foes, or both; but at present we must proceed with our narrative—
We have said that the aged school teacher had picked up some information concerning the Augustan age and the times which followed it. He had a particular friend with whom he was willing at times to converse on the subject of religion, without growing angry, (but not long at once.) This friend made to the old man a certain statement, and asked his belief on several different points. The following is as near the substance of that statement, and of those inquiries, as recollection will restore.
My friend, I am about to ask you to draw a picture, then to look at it, and to meditate on it calmly, for a few minutes. I am not about to ask you to describe, and then observe, all the churches and congregations of the Roman empire in the time of Nero or of Trajan. I will only ask you to notice closely for a time one or two hundred churches, or Christian assemblies; these you may select wherever you choose; from Greece, Asia Minor, or from Africa, or collect some from every portion of the mass. No matter, only fix your eye on one or two hundred of these congregations. Let them be neither the larger nor the smaller, but churches of the medium size. You know that as it is now, so it was then, these congregations were not composed of any one
class of society alone, but some were seen of every des. cription in each assembly. Some were poor, some were not; some ignorant, some learned. Variety has been found in every Christian assembly throughout the earth, in every age. I do not ask you to observe these congregations through all the time that Christ and his apostles were on earth, or as long as miracles continued to be performed in the churches; but fix your eye upon them during just thirty years of that time. Enter now with me into one of them, (we may say the church at Corinth,) -here is a congregation of, say one or two hundred members; some of them ignorant, others well-informed; male and female, young and old. They were once all Jews or pagans, and very zealous for the religion of their ancestors. Now they are professed Christians, although it is dangerous to wear that name, both to property and to life. These Christians say that some of their num ber were once blind; but that they received their sight by virtue of the name of Jesus Christ, which was called over them. These Christians are altered in their con
duct very much. They were, whilst pagans, very fond of theatres, feasts, and revels; they were very sensual. Now, whether sincere or not, according to the statement of friends and enemies, their external conduct at least is very different. They are very careful to exhort each other every Sabbath, and to pledge themselves to each other continually, to abstain from all that is false or wicked. Now they seem to believe that Sabbath after Sabbath these wonders are performed by themselves and brethren in the name of Christ.
"They think that they understand and speak the languages of the nations and people around them. The apostles are writing to them month after month, and
year after year, not to be lifted up or exalted because they have these or the gift of healing &c., because pride is unlovely in the view of heaven. The members of this congregation seem to think that they converse continually about the wonderful works of God with their neighbours, in all their different tongues-Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and dwellers in Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, in Pontus and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, Lybia, and Cyrene; Cretes, and Arabians, Jews and Proselytes.
"Let us now enter into another congregation, and look round for a time, and then another, and another, and so continue until we have just reached one hundred, in some five or six of the nations nearest Palestine. Now let us observe them closely for the first five years only out of the thirty. Do you suppose that these congregations were deceived, thinking all the time that they spoke with tongues when they really did not? Do you suppose that only one hundred of these churches, for the space of five years, did think that they saw Sabbath after Sabbath, and month after month, the blind cured, the dead raised, and then lived with them afterwards, whilst all the time it was mere delusion?"
The old man allowed that to take one hundred congregations out of any one nation of the Roman Empire, and these congregations made up of members of every sect, temperament, class, and condition of mind and of body, set their enemies to watch, to hate, and to kill them for their faith; and it would be hard to believe that they all thought these things done, when they were not done, by themselves, for the space of fifteen years, instead of thirty. That one hundred churches should all happen at the same time to be thus deceived in matters
of eye-sight, for fifteen years, he thought would be hard to believe; and we agree with him.
He was also reminded of a piece of information, which the reader may obtain whenever he chooses. We have at present a need for a distinct view of the fact. It is concerning the meekness and patience under suffering which belonged to Christians, and which nothing could shake. The reader, who may not wish to take the account of the Church on this point, can have the testimony of enemies whenever he chooses, and wherever he turns. We will cite but one example, and that is from the page of the celebrated Pliny, which is already before us. Note his words: "I have put the question to them, whether they were Christians? Upon their confessing to me that they were, I repeated the question a second, and a third time, threatening also to punish them with death; such as still persisted, I ordered away to be punished, for it was no doubt with me, whatever might be the nature of their opinion, that contumacy and inflexible obstinacy ought to be punished." Others who were accused "denied that they were Christians, or had ever been so, who repeated after me an invocation of the gods, and with wine and frankincense, made supplication to your image, which, for that purpose, I had caused to be brought and set before them, together with the statues of the deities. Moreover, they reviled the name of Christ, none of which things, as is said, they who are really Christians can by any means be compelled to do. These, therefore, I thought proper to discharge."
From the pen of this pagan ruler, the reader may gather all the praise which has ever been bestowed by friends. It is not hard to see to what he alludes in the