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who had dwelt with the Father from all eternity. Secondly, they maintained that their teaching was according to the law of nature, and therefore as old as the world. Lastly, they declared that Christianity was substantially the same as the Hebrew religion, for which they claimed superior antiquity and worth, above all other religions. Having thus identified Christianity with Judaism, and being fully convinced these were the only revelations from God bimself, they very naturally ascribed everything that was good or true elsewhere to a Jewish origin. Philo intimates that Plato and Aristotle borrowed all that was excellent in their philosophy from the Hebrew Sacred Books, and that Zeno was an imitator of Moses. It was also a common opinion among Hellenistic Jews that Grecian legislators had transcribed from the tables of Moses all that was valuable in their own laws. The Christian Fathers readily imbibed these ideas. Some of them were accustomed to call Plato "the Hebrew Philosopher,” “the Athenian Moses," or “Moses speaking Greek.” Pythagoras was said to have been acquainted with Ezekiel in Babylon, and “Golden Verses" were attributed to him, which were in fact mere transcripts of Mosaic precepts against idolatry and theft. It was generally agreed that everything false in Greek or Roman writers was taught by the Evil Spirits, whom they worshipped as deities; but all that was true, they borrowed from the Hebrews. A few believed that the best philosophers, Plato especially, were enlightened in a lesser degree by the same Logos who taught the Patriarchs and inspired Moses and the Prophets.

But while they reverenced the same God, and the same Scriptures as the Jews, they were engaged in hotter controversies with them, than with the Gentiles. The allegorical mode of interpretation, established on no system whatever, and resorted to by both parties, was of itself sufficient reason why disputes should be interminable. The Jewish mind trained for centuries to regard the unity of God as inviolable, could not be made to view the doctrine of the Logos in any other light than as teaching a plurality of gods. The expectation of a personal Messiah had be: come much less strong among Hellenistic Jews, than it had been in Palestine; a fact indicated by the writings of Philo and Josephus. They were therefore less attracted toward those who believed they had found the long-promised one. Moreover, they continually disputed the evidence brought by Christians. It could not be made to appear clear to them that the life and character of Jesus fulfilled the

predictions of their prophets. When his birth was brought as a proof, they replied: “But if Joseph was not his father, he was not of the lineage of David.” To meet this objection it was asserted that Mary also was a descendant of the old royal line; and Justin Martyr thought it was satisfactorily proved. They continually accused the Christians of misquoting their Scriptures. These frequent charges induced Origen to undertake the vast labour of comparing all the different versions of the Old Testament.

But there is a pleasanter point of view, from which to contemplate those old heroes of the faith. Their credulity belonged to the age in which they lived; and polemical strife was inevitable, when old religions were breaking up, and giving place to the new; but their unfailing sympathy with the poor, and their patient instruction of the ignorant, were peculiarly their own. Origen says: “We openly avow our purpose of instructing all men in the Word of God. We give to every one such training as is adapted to him. We disdain not to teach slaves to conceive noble sentiments, and to obtain freedom by obedience to the Word of God.” When ridiculed for the great preponderance of the poor among them, they replied: "It is not our dishonour, but our glory. Yet how can that be

poor,

who wants nothing, who envies not another's possessions, and who is rich in God? He rather is poor, who, having much, desires more.” Athenagoras says: "With us you may find ignorant people, mechanics and women, who, though unable to prove with words the saving power of their religion, yet by their deeds prove the saving influence of the disposition it has bestowed on them; for they do not learn words by rote,

man

but they exhibit good works. When struck, they striko not again. When robbed, they do not go to law. They give to them that ask them, and love their neighbours as themselves.” Justin Martyr says: “We can point out many among us, who, from overbearing and tyrannical men, have been changed by a victorious power, when they have seen how their neighbours could bear all things, or observed the singular patience of their defrauded fellow travellers, or corne to be acquainted with Christians in any of the other relations of life." Origen says: “The work of Jesus is manifested among all mankind, where communities of God, founded by Jesus, exist. They are composed of men reclaimed from a thousand vices. To this day, the name of Jesus produces a wonderful mildness, decency of manners, humanity, goodness, and gentleness, in those who embrace the doctrines of Christ, and faith in the judgment to come; not hypocritically, for the sake of human advantage and selfish ends, but in sincerity and truth. The Christian communities, compared with those among whom they dwell, are as lights in the world.” Justin Martyr says: “We, who were once slaves of lust, now have delight only in purity of morals. We, who once practised arts of magic, have consecrated ourselves to the Eternal and Good God. We, who once prized gain above all things, give what we have to the common use, and share it with those who are in need. We, who once hated and murdered one another, who, on account of differences of customs, would have no common hearth with strangers, do now live together with them. We pray for our enemies; we seek to convince those that hate us without cause; so that they may order their lives according to Christ's glorious doctrine, and attain to the joyful hope of receiving like blessings with us from the Lord of all."

The extreme charitableness of Christians doubtless might sometimes induce the poor to join their communities, without becoming Christians by conviction; but at that period of the church, there were so many perils to be encountered,

some are so.

and so few worldly advantages to be gained, that they were not liable to receive many spurious converts. Tertullian says: “If you assert that Christians are the worst of men, in avarice, riotousness, and dishonesty, I will not deny that In the purest body, some freckles may

doubt. less be discovered.”

Many Christians were in the habit of setting apart days for private self-examination and prayer. They usually fasted during such seasons, and what was saved from daily food was given to the poor. Sometimes, when there was distress in other Christian communities, the bishop appointed a general fast, to raise money for their relief. If the smaller towns were too poor to do all that was needed, the wealthy metropolitan churches were always ready to make up the necessary sum. Many converts, at baptism, gave most of their property, or all of it, to the church fund for charity; guided by the precept: “If thou wilt be perfect, sell all that thou hast and give to the poor.” In times of persecution, magistrates were surprised to find how young patrician girls in Rome had privately sold their jewels to relieve the indigent. While Christians were still limping from the rack, and marked with the brands and scars of the Decian persecution, a pestilence began to rage in North Africa, and the terrified people deserted the dead and the dying. Cyprian called his church together, and said: “If we do good only to our own, we do no more than publicans and heathens. But if we are children of God, who makes his sun to shine on the just and the un. just, who scatters blessings not merely on his own, but even on those whose thoughts are far from him, we must manifest it by our actions; striving to be perfect even as our Father in Heaven is perfect; blessing those that curse us, and doing good to those that despitefully use us.” Ani. mated by this advice, the rich gave their money liberally, and the poor their labour. The sick were carefully tended, and the dead bodies scattered in the streets, infecting the whole city, were soon buried. When barbarians made an irruption into Numidia, and carried some of the Christians away captive, Cyprian speedily raised more than four thousand dollars, and transmitted it to the Numidian bishops, for their ransom. In his letter, he says: “Who ought not to look on the distress of his brother as his own? Who that is a father, and respects the claims of humanity, ought not to feel as if his own children were among those barbarians ?” The Apostle Paul tells us, if one member suffers all the members suffer with it. It is our earnest hope that you may never again be visited with a like affliction; but should any similar calamity befall you, to try the love and faith of our hearts, delay not to inform us of it; for be assured all the brethren here are ready to assist you, cheerfully and abundantly." During the reign of Trajan, a Pre

. fect of Rome, named Hermes, was converted to the Christian faith, with his wife and children. At the succeeding festival of Easter, he proved how deeply the teaching of Christ had taken possession of his soul, by emancipating one thousand two hundred and fifty slaves; and on that joyful occasion they all received baptism and liberty. The thoughtful kindness of the conscientious master went still further. Knowing that their condition as slaves had deprived them of the means of acquiring property, and fearing that their families might suffer for a time, from dearth of employment, he added a liberal donation to each one, to assist him in commencing business for himself. Christians had such strong sympathy with their own brethren who were sold into slavery, either by war or persecution, that they often sold themselves to redeem others. Bishops considered that no more pious use could be made of the funds of the church, than to redeem a Christian brother from bondage; and for this purpose they did not hesitate to sell the silver goblets and plates used for the Lord's Supper. Clement of Rome, in his Epistle to the Corinthians, writes thus: “We have known many among us, who have delivered themselves into bonds and slavery, that they might restore others to their liberty; many that have let themselves out as servants, that by their wages they might sustain those who are in need." Clement of Alexandria bears

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