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The Twelve Cæsars.
Apollonius of Tyana, and Pagan missions.
Compared with the first.
Judaism still surviving in a fixed form.
THE TIME CHRISTIANITY APPEARED,
So is the Kingdom of God as if a man should cast seed into the
ground, and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.-S. MARK
iv. 26, 27
It is a
THE question is once more being asked in various The Subways, and with an importunity which will not be posed. put off and a freshness almost surprising, What was Christianity as first given to the world? question so practically brought to us, that our moral and social not less than our religious future must be concerned in its present solution. In the ensuing Lectures on the mission and writings of the great Apostle of the Gospel, we shall necessarily survey our Religion from the point of view of its first century, and it is not unreasonable to think that, with those authentic materials which are in fact the oldest Christian documents we possess, we may at least learn what it was that S. Paul taught when he went forth to the nations and proclaimed Jesus and the Resurrection.' It cannot be without use even to the well-in- Reasons for
considering structed believer in times like ours, when the pro- it. gress of new thought and the lengthening of the
must be real.
old traditions may seem to magnify the distance
back to breathe once more the air of that earlier day, and touch again, if it may be so said, the soil of his birthplace.
We know indeed that the appeal to Primitive Christianity is trite enough, and is made with unguarded confidence by many who identify it with an ideal of simplicity corresponding with very little in the past. But we have to think of some, who will now explore our origines very really, though with no sympathies of religious partizanship, and
perhaps even coldly, resolutely, and from without. Exegesis of And there are others, doubters whose half-implied the facts
challenge when sincere may not be declined. True
Some indulgence, it is hoped, may be conceded
Every one recognizes in some way the great change which passed over the world eighteen hun
AS CHRISTIANITY FOUND IT.
dred years ago, the full import of which is far from being yet known. Old Religions, old philo- The change
from the sophies, old nationalities were shattered, and even ancient their languages transmuted into other forms. It to the was not that large populations then changed their Renewal. masters, from the barbarian boundary of the North to the deserts of Africa in the South ; from the pillars of Hercules looking out on the Atlantic, to the confines of far-off India. No, for that kind of revolution had happened before. The change was now a more real one perhaps than human nature had ever gone through, so penetrating indeed, that it seemed as if implied on all hands that another order of things was coming, though as yet men knew not how. That renewal which soon began, in whatever terms we may describe it, is what this nineteenth century of ours inherits. From that epoch dates the generally accepted faith of
', modern civilization.
While as Christians we feel that the events of Its examithat time are associated with all our sentiments of not inconreverence, we are not the less called on to deal with them also as simple facts. Fully acknowledging, indeed, that there are depths in the early springs of the Christian life which no analysis can reach, we need not on that account reject any true and just scrutiny that has been made ; and we may not hold back, if the lamp has been carefully carried down, at any time, for the exactest exploration of our holy places. We shall be venturing into no forbidden ground.
sistent with reverence.
the times from Ausgustus to
here take Renan's admissions as suffi
I. If we look to the times immediately preceding the coming of our Deliverer, and next glance at
the days which followed the departure of His last Hadrian. Apostles,—view, that is, the conditions of the Empire
of Augustus and then the phenomena towards the days of Hadrian,—we have the interval of a century; and that is the Field' in which the Gospel was sown. It is there that we must find the substantial details of the transition which took place. Taking
only the facts which emerge after the most careful (We might examination, it is certain that towards the end of
that period a mighty growth had begun to show
itself throughout a considerable part of the social cient.)
system. It had been little noticed at first, among the world-embracing interests of the great Roman polity ; but it was plain enough when the second century arrived.
A seed' had surely been sown, and even if 'men knew not how,' it was springing on every side. Most true it had been, indeed, that 'men knew not how, and we may see this in the confused utterances of Pliny, or the obscure words of the historian Tacitus, or the fainter allusions of Juvenal. The very Apologies which bring our Religion to the more formal knowledge of the world's rulers, do but show that the 'light had been shining in darkness, while the darkness comprehended it not.'
But a world thus unconscious at first of the rising was then walting for Christianity had yet been waiting for it. It was not that came indeed, as some have suggested, a natural sequence
in the moral movement of the ages; yet in the