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writes, and throughout a material portion of his narrative, a companion.
What the epistles of the apostles declare of the suffering state of Christianity, the writings which remain of their companions and immediate followers expressly confirm.
Clement, who is honourably mentioned by Saint Paul in his Epistle to the Philippians,* hath left us his attestation to this point, in the following words: “Let us take (says he) the examples of our own age. Through zeal and envy, the most faithful and righteous pillars of the church have been persecuted even to the most grievous deaths. Let us set before our eyes the holy apostles. Peter, by unjust envy, underwent, not one or two, but many sufferings; till at last, being martyred, he went to the place of glory that was due unto him. For the same cause did Paul, in like manner, receive the reward of his patience. Seven times he was in bonds; he was whipped, was stoned; he preached both in the East and in the West, leaving behind him the glorious report of his faith ; and so having taught the whole world righteousness, and for that end travelled even unto the utmost bounds of the West, he at last suffered martyrdom by the command of the governors, and departed out of the world, and went unto his holy place, being become a most eminent pattern of patience unto all ages. To these holy apostles were joined a very great number of others, who, having through envy undergone, in like manner, many pains and torments, have left a glorious example to us. For this, not only men, but women, have been persecuted; and, having suffered very grievous and cruel punishments, have finished the course of their faith with firmness.”+
Hermas, saluted by Saint Paul in his Epistle to the Romans, in a piece very little connected with histori. cal recitals, thus speaks : “ Such as have believed and suffered death for the name of Christ, and have endured with a ready mind, and have given up their lives with all their hearts."I
# Philipp. iv. 3.
Shepherd of Hermas, c. xxviii.
Polycarp, the disciple of John (though all that remains of his works be a very short epistle), has not left this subject unnoticed. “I exhort (says he) all of you, that ye obey the word of righteousness, and exercise all patience, which ye have seen set forth before your eyes, not only in the blessed Ignatius, and Lorimus, and Rufus, but in others among yourselves, and in Paul himself and the rest of the apostles ; being confident in this, that all these have not run in vain ; but in faith and righteousness; and are gone to the place that was due to them from the Lord, with whom also they suffered. For they loved not this present world, but Him who died, and was raised again by God for us."'*
Ignatius, the contemporary of Polycarp, recognises the same topic, briefly indeed, but positively and precisely. “ For this cause (i.e. having felt and handled Christ's body after his resurrection, and being convinced, as Ignatius expresses it, both by his flesh and spirit), they (i.e. Peter, and those who were present with Peter at Christ's appearance) despised death, and were found to be above it.”+
Would the reader know what a persecution in these days was, I would refer him to a circular letter, written by the church of Smyrna soon after the death of Poly. carp, who, it will be remembered, had lived with Saint John; and which letter is entitled a relation of that bishop's martyrdom. “ The sufferings (say they) of all the other martyrs, were blessed and generous, which they underwent according to the will of God. For so it becomes us, who are more religious than others, to ascribe the power and ordering of all things unto him. And indeed who can choose but admire the greatness of their minds, and that admirable patience and love of their Master, which then appeared in them? Who, when they were so flayed with whipping, that the frame and structure of their bodies were laid open to their very inward veins and arteries, nevertheless endured it. In like manner, those who were condemned to the beasts, and kept a long time in prison, underwent many cruel torments, being forced to lie upon sharp spikes
* Pol. ad Phil. c. ix.
† 19 Ep. Smyr. c. iii.
laid under their bodies, and tormented with divers other sorts of punishments; that so, if it were possible, the tyrant, by the length of their sufferings, might have brought them to deny Christ."*
CHAP. V. There is satisfactory evidence that many, professing to be
original witnesses of the Christian miracles, passed their lives in labours, dangers, and sufferings, voluntarily undergone in attestation of the accounts which they delivered, and solely in consequence of their belief of those accounts, and that they also submitted, fros
the same motives, to new rules of conduct. On the history, of which the last chapter contains an abstract, there are a few observations which it may be proper to make, by way of applying its testimony to the particular propositions for which we contend.
I. Although our Scripture history leaves the general account of the apostles in an early part of the narrative, and proceeds with the separate account of one particular apostle, yet the information which it delivers so far extends to the rest, as it shews the nature of the service. When we see one apostle suffering persecution in the discharge of his commission, we shall not believe, without evidence, that the same office could, at the same time, be attended with ease and safety to others. And this fair and reasonable inference is confirmed by the direct attestation of the letters, to which we have so often referred. The writer of these letters not only alludes, in numerous passages, to his own sufferings, but speaks of the rest of the apostles as endur. ing like sufferings with himself. “I think that God hath set forth us the upostles last, as it were, appointed to death; for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men;-even unto this present hour, we both hunger and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling-place; and labour, working with our own hands: being reviled,
* Rel, Mor. Pol. c, ii.
we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it; being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and as the offscouring of all things unto this day."* Add to which, that in the short account that is given of the other apostles in the former part of the history, and within the short period which that account comprises, we find, first, two of them seized, imprisoned, brought before the Sanhedrim, and threatened with farther punishment;t then, the whole number imprisoned and beaten :( soon afterward, one of their adherents stoned to death, and so hot a persecution raised against the sect, as to drive most of them out of the place; a short time only succeeding, before one of the twelve was be. headed, and another sentenced to the same fate; and all this passing in the single city of Jerusalem, and within ten years after the Founder's death, and the commencement of the institution.
II. We take no credit at present for the miraculous part of the narrative, nor do we insist upon the correctness of single passages of it. If the whole story be not a novel, a romance; the whole action a dream; if Peter, and James, and Paul, and the rest of the apostles mentioned in the account, be not all imaginary per. sons; if their letters be not all forgeries, and, what is more, forgeries of names and characters which never existed; then is there evidence in our hands sufficient to support the only fact we contend for (and which, I repeat again, is, in itself, highly probable), that the original followers of Jesus Christ exerted great endeavours to propagate his religion, and underwent great labours, dangers, and sufferings, in cousequence of their undertaking.
III. The general reality of the apostolic history is strongly confirmed by the consideration, that it, in truth, does no more than assign adequatecauses for effects which certainly were produced, and describe consequences naturally resulting from situations which certainly existed. The effects were certainly these, of which this history sets forth the cause, and origin, and progress. It is acknowledged ou all hands, because it is recorded . 1 Cor. iv. 9, &c.
+ Acts iv. 3. 21, | Acts y. 18. 40.
by other testimony than that of the Christians themselves, that the religion began to prevail at that time, and in that country. It is very difficult to conceive how it could begin, or prevail at all, without the exertions of the Founder and his followers in propagating the new persuasion. The history now in our hands describes these exertions, the persons employed, the means and endeavours made use of, and the labours undertaken in the prosecution of this purpose. Again, the treatment which the history represents the first pro pagators of the religion to have experienced, was no other than what naturally resulted from the situation in which they were confessedly placed. It is admitted that the religion was adverse, in a great degree, to the reigning opinions, and to the hopes and wishes of the nation to which it was first introduced ; and that it overthrew, so far as it was received, the established theology and worship of every other country.Wecannot feel much reluctance in believing, that, when the messengers of such a system went about not only publishing their opinions, but collecting proselytes, and forming regular societies of proselytes, they should meet with opposition in their attempts, or that this opposition should sometimes proceed to fatal extremities. Our history details examples of this opposition, and of the sufferings and dangers which the emissaries of the religion underwent, perfectly agreeable to what might reasonably be expected from the nature of their undertaking, compared with the character of the age and country in which it was carried on.
IV. The records before us supply evidence of what formed another member of our general proposition, and what, as hath already been observed, is highly probable, and almost a necessary consequence of their new profession ; viz. that, together with activity and courage in propagating the religion, the primitive followers of Jesus assumed, upon their conversion, a new and peculiar course of private life. Immediately after their Master was withdrawn from them, we hear of their “continuing with one accord in prayer and supplication ;'* of their
* Acts i. 14,