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element finds its expression in the Sacraments in which it is believed the present activity of Jesus is experienced. Dogmas and sacraments therefore have ousted Jesus and His community. Now the dogmatic statements were from the first incomprehensible for the most part; the interpretation, the gnosis, was only a later addition. As for religious ceremonies, incomprehensibility is of their very essence. Henceforth, almost immediately after St Paul's death, salvation is experienced in the acceptation of mysterious propositions and in participation in mysterious rites. It was only after the laying of this foundation that the second step was reached the Christianity of those that have the full knowledge. It might then be said : Christianity exists either as a superstition or as a philosophy. But we are as yet a long way from having reached this stage. The early and marked prominence, however, attached to dogma and sacrament instead of to the actual and historical realities Jesus and the community--was the beginning of Catholic Christianity. This was far indeed from ever having been St Paul's object, but he did not check the tendency. The Christianity of the earliest Church had been guarded against this perversion.

There was, however, yet one other characteristic which distinguished the Christian from the world, and this constitutes the splendour of the early days of the faith : it was the earnest endeavour to develop the new life of the individual. Conversion was no empty word for great numbers of Christians, but an actual breach with an earlier life which had frequently been stained by vice. The watchful care of the brethren,

the compulsion exercised by ecclesiastical discipline, the preaching of the ideal, the expectation of the day of judgment, were all means to perfect that which had been begun. The standard was furnished by some few sayings of Jesus, rather more numerous texts from the Old Testament, and the preaching and the letters of the apostle. And so the brethren began to reorganize the social life of the community in every direction. The worship of idols and immorality were laid aside, marriage was sanctified, attention was paid to the education of children, honesty and truthfulness were encouraged, temperance advocated, vengeance and strife suppressed.

There was

an increasing eagerness to serve, a growing joy in making sacrifices, in forgiveness and patient endurance, and a striving to yield wherever possible and to give a good example to their heathen neighbours. In a word, the foundation was laid for the regeneration of a society that was for the most part diseased and degenerate. Some Churches—that at Philippi, e.g.-must have been especially bright and shining lights in the midst of their dark surroundings. Paul was a stern judge, but he distributed praise liberally and frequently. And now add to all that has been said the courage and the glad joyfulness of these Churches in supporting petty vexations and trials of every kind, the fervour of their life of prayer, the constancy of their hope—Christians are men that hope, whereas heathen have no hope and we shall still have but a very weak and imperfect idea of the bright side of this first missionary life which filled the apostle with the fulness of joy.

The dark side to this picture was, of course, not wanting. Even in this first age the forerunners of


future decadence can be noticed. . We may call them “extra Christianity' and “average Christianity.' Either separation from the world is exaggerated till it becomes fanaticism and asceticism, or the old world is carried over into the new Church. The very certainty of the hope in the approaching end of the world often disturbed the quiet course of a normal development of character. Still more often the disgust which a man felt when he thought of his own filthy past, drove him into an opposite extreme. One of the strangest features of the age are those Christian betrothals which the First Epistle to the Corinthians mentions without blame when a maiden entrusted herself to the protection of an older man.

Thus far everything had gone on well, but it was a dangerous precipice whereon to walk. There are other instances of ascetic tendencies at Corinth. St Paul was officially asked whether a Christian was bound to practise complete continence in marriage. In Rome, on the contrary, total abstinence and vegetarianism were the favourite practices, only, it is true, amongst the weaker brethren. St Paul had to write more than one letter to Thessalonica in order to urge the people not to abandon their daily work. Generally speaking, it will be found that he treated these ascetic tendencies too leniently, out of sympathy with these Christians, who at least had the merit of entire sincerity in their striving after perfection. Later on, the ascetic ideal of chastity was set up in certain churches, not as a commandment but as an extraordinary virtue. The enthusiasm of those who sought for spiritual gifts at Corinth was surely a great deal less dangerous. It quickly evaporated. At Thessalonica there were

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even some who despised prophesyings. But for all that the opinion remained firmly rooted that the Spirit of God was to be recognized by abnormal manifestations, and that such belong to the Christian perfection.

St Paul's attitude to “average Christianity 'was one of uncompromising hostility. He still hoped that it would be rooted out. But in vain. It had been present from the very first in the life of the Christian congregations, in the lives of those members who believed that they themselves were converted because of the conversion of others. It had not crept in, therefore, as a consequence of decay. Each congregation had no doubt a heavy task in combating the most formidable vice of the great cities, sexual excesses; and in the East, resistance was doubly difficult. Then came the specially Greek sins, dishonesty and trickery in the lower classes, litigiousness and wrangling in the upper. And then finally all that the Christian calls superstition, participation in secret, mostly immoral rites, magic books, amulets, incantations. All this existed from the very first in the Christian congregations themselves. The establishment of ecclesiastical discipline always involved a certain amount of loss alongside of the indubitable gain. By the suppression of the coarser elements, room was secured for the development of the finer. But the benefit thus secured was speedily counterbalanced by the substitution of fixed rules and rigid customs for the free exercise of the apostle's judgment.

This imperfect state of affairs was not without influence upon the feelings of those individuals who had conceived of the task of the new life in the meaning which St Paul had attached to it. Was there any certainty of salvation, and

upon what did it depend ? Paul urged his converts to place all their trust in the doctrine of election. Whoever did that placed his reliance upon Christ and upon faith. This could be done either with or without moral earnestness. And there were instances of both these courses, just as there are to-day. Whoever, on the contrary, was more impressed by the fact that Christians fell into sin and were lost, practically abandoned the certainty of salvation, and of such there were very soon a great number. Contrary conclusions

a were, however, in turn drawn from this fact again. Some would work out their salvation with fear and trembling, and ensure salvation through entire consecration of life. Others suffered things to take their course, and thought it would be time enough in the last hour. Even the Pauline Epistles themselves refer to all these different possibilities, and we also meet with them later on in close connection. A clear distinction between St Paul and Jesus now manifests itself as regards the effects of their labours : both bound up indissolubly—religion, the life as God's child in God's love—and the claims of morality; but the emphasis was a very different one.

Jesus gives prominence to the moral claim, to the true will of God instead of the false. Hence the danger which threatened His community was legalism. Whereas St Paul, building upon grace and the atonement, had almost from the first to guard against the danger of moral corruption. True he struggles against it with all his might and main, especially in Rom. vi., but.

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