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at Rome, he seems to have revisited Ephesus, where he left Timothy to exercise the episcopal office; to have preached in Crete, where Titus was invested with similar powers ; and to have passed through Macedonia, and even into Spain ; whence returning to Rome, he suffered for Christ about A.D. 68.
The other apostles also preached the Gospel among the heathen; though St. Paul declared that “ he laboured more abundantly than they all.” The north of Asia Minor, or Cappadocia, Pontus, and Bithynia (addressed by St. Peter in his epistle), probably received the Gospel from that apostle some time after A.D. 52; for St. Paul intended in that year to preach in Bithynia, which he would not have done, had St. Peter already evangelised that province, as his rule was, never to build on another's foundation. The date of St. Peter's epistle from Babylon suggests the probability of his having preached in Chaldæa; and St. Thaddæus is said to have taught at Edessa and in Mesopotamia. In Egypt the Church was founded by St. Mark, who constituted Anianus the first bishop of Alexandria. There are also traditions, that Persia, Arabia, Ethiopia, and Britain, were visited by some of the apostles.
Thus, in about thirty years, that little grain of mustard-seed had grown into a mighty tree, the roots of which had struck themselves deep in all parts of the civilised world; and already it extended “ from the river (Euphrates) to the ends of the earth.” Nor was the success of its propagation in each locality inferior to the wideness of its dissemination throughout the world. We have seen examples of its rapid increase at Jerusalem, at Samaria, and Antioch. The heathen historian Tacitus, in describing the persecution which Christians suffered
1 Acts xvi. 7.
2 Rom. xv. 20.
at Rome in the time of Nero, A.D. 64-68, says, first, those only were apprehended who confessed themselves of that sect; afterwards, a vast multitude discovered by them, all of whom were condemned.” It appears
from a letter of Pliny, the Roman governor of Pontus and Bithynia, about A.D. 107, that Christianity had nearly caused the heathen worship in those countries to be deserted. Consulting the Emperor Trajan as to the mode of dealing with Christians, he says, “ Therefore, suspending all judicial proceedings, I have recourse to you for advice; for it has appeared to me a matter highly deserving consideration, especially upon account of the great numbers of persons who are in danger of suffering; for
many of all ages and every rank, of both sexes likewise, are accused, and will be accused. Nor has the contagion of this superstition seized cities only, but the lesser towns also, and the open country. Nevertheless it seems to me that it may be restrained and corrected. It is certain, that the (heathen) temples, which were almost forsaken, begin to be more frequented; and the sacred solemnities, after a long remission, are revived. Victims (for the sacrifices) likewise are every where brought up, whereas for some time there were few purchasers.' pears from this remarkable testimony, that Christianity had, in the course of about fifty years, almost subverted idolatry in those provinces.
Little is known of the progress of Christianity for some years after the death of the apostles. The Church was probably engaged chiefly in the labour of converting the population more immediately around it; and we hear little of new missions to the heathen ; yet Justin Martyr, about A.D. 150, wrote in his Apology, that “there is no race of men, whether barbarian or Greek, or by whatever other name they be designated, whether they wander in waggons, or
dwell in tents, amongst whom prayers and thanksgivings are not offered to the Father and Creator of all, in the name of the crucified Jesus.” We learn from Irenæus, bishop of Lyons, about A.D. 178, that the light of the Gospel had, at that time, been received in Germany, France, Spain, and in Libya: and Tertullian, a few years later, declares that Parthia, Media, Armenia, the Getuli and Moors in Africa, all the borders of Spain, many nations of Gaul, those parts of Britain which were inaccessible to the Romans, the Sarmatians, Dacians, Germans, Scythians, and other nations and islands innumerable, were then subject to the dominion of Christ. “ We are but of yesterday,” he said ;
yet we have filled your empire, your cities, your islands, your castles, your corporate towns, your assemblies, your very camps, your tribes, your companies, your palace, your senate, your forum; your temples alone are left to you."
“ We constitute,” he elsewhere says, 46 almost the majority in every town.”
In the succeeding century new nations were gathered within the fold of Christ. The assiduous labours of Origen converted many of the Arabs to Christianity. The Goths of Mysia and Thrace followed their example; and a number of pious missionaries successfully disseminated the Gospel throughout Gaul, and founded several Churches in Germany.
So great was the progress of religion, notwithstanding the violent and cruel persecutions to which it was continually exposed, that it became no less the interest than the duty of the first Christian emperor, Constantine the Great, to relieve the Church from persecution, to act as the defender of its faith, and to distinguish it ministers and members by marks of his favour and generosity.
ON THE FAITH OF THE CHURCH.
UR Lord's promises to his disciples,
that the Spirit of truth should lead them into all truth and abide with them for ever, that the gates of hell should
not prevail against his Church, and that he would himself be always with his disciples,—imply that the faith revealed by Jesus Christ should, in every age, continue to purify and sanctify the hearts and lives of his real followers; and we may hence infer, that the belief which has, in all ages, been derived by the Church from holy Scripture; the great truths which Christians have always unanimously held to be essential to the Christian profession, which have supported them under the tortures of martyrdom, and transformed them from sin to righteousness,—that such doctrines are, without doubt, the very same which God himself revealed for the salvation of man.
What, then, was the belief received by all Christians from the beginning ? Let the martyr Irenæus, the friend of St. John's disciple Polycarp, reply: 66 The Church,” he says,
though disseminated throughout the whole world, even unto the ends of the earth, hath received from the apostles the belief in one God, the Father almighty, who made heaven and earth, and the seas and all that in them is; and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who was made man for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who, through the prophets, announced the dispensations (of God), the advent of the beloved Christ Jesus our Lord, his birth of a virgin, his suffering, resurrection from the dead, and bodily ascension into heaven, and
his coming (again) from the heavens in the glory of the Father, to gather together all things in one, and to raise up all flesh of mankind, in order that, according to the invisible Father's will, every knee of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, may bow to Christ Jesus our Lord, our God, our Saviour, and our King, and every tongue confess unto him; and that he may exercise righteous judgment on all—may send spiritual wickedness, and the angels that transgressed and became apostate, and the impious, unrighteous, wicked, and blasphemous among men, into eternal fire; and bestow life and immortality and eternal glory on the righteous, the pious, and those who observe his commandments, and continue in his love, either from the beginning, or from the time of their repentance.
“ This preaching, and this faith (as we have said), the Church, though disseminated throughout the whole world, guards as carefully as if she dwelt in one house ; believes as if she had but one soul; and proclaims, teaches and delivers, as if she possessed but one mouth."
Such was the universal belief of Christians in the second century, as it still continues in the nineteenth. We here find the most plain assertions of the Godhead of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; the incarnation and satisfaction of our Lord ; the resurrection and future judgment; and the necessity of obedience and the love of God. That Christians worshipped our Lord Jesus Christ as God, is attested even by the heathen writer Pliny, A.D. 107. They affirmed,” he says, “ that the whole of their fault lay in this, that they were wont to meet together on a stated day, before it was light, and sing among themselves, alternately, an hymn to Christ as God." The condemnation of heresies in these
ages affords an additional illustration of the belief of the