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Again: "The kingdom of Christ has no limits. Everywhere, there is faith in Him. All peoples honor Him. Everywhere He reigns and receives

the tribute of adoration."

Clement of Alexandria at the close of the second century, writes: "The word of our Master did not remain in Judea, as philosophy remained in Greece, but has been poured out over the whole world, persuading Greeks and Barbarians alike, race by race, village by village, every city, whole houses and hearers, one by one, nay not a few of the philosophers themselves."

It is worthy of note that all the writers whom I have quoted, lived in the first or second century, and the latest of them was removed from our Saviour by an interval of only about 150 years.

What a contrast is presented to us between the sanguinary conquests of the great generals of Pagan antiquity on the one hand, and the peaceful victories achieved by the Apostles and their successors, on the other, whether we consider the weapons with which they fought, the battles they won, or the duration of their victories.

Alexander the Great, the most successful perhaps of ancient captains, subdued kingdoms by wading through the blood of his fellow-man. By the sword he conquered, and by the sword he kept his subjects in bondage. But scarcely was he laid in his tomb, when his empire was dissolved, and his subjects shook off the yoke that had been forced upon them. The Apostles gained nations to Christ not by the

sword, but by the Cross. They conquered not by force, but by persuasion; not by shedding the blood of others, but by shedding their own blood; not by enslaving the bodies of men, but by rescuing their souls from the yoke of ignorance and sin. And the fruit of their victories remains unto this day. The spiritual Republic which they founded is extended and perpetuated not by frowning fortifications and standing armies, but by the divine influence of moral and religious impressions.

The propagation of the Christian religion is the more astonishing when we consider the absolute and enormous disproportion between the means employed and the results obtained. This disparity is manifested in the personal weakness of the men chosen to be the heralds of the new doctrine, the austerity of the message they were to deliver, the pride and sensuality of the world they were sent to subdue, and in the formidable opposition they everywhere encountered.

The Apostles were few in number. They were without wealth or position, without high mental endowments or acquired learning, without the prestige of fame, of obscure origin, and of neither social nor political consequence. They belonged to a race, hated and despised by both Greeks and Romans. They were in fine men quite without those qualifications which are commonly thought to be essential to success in any great enterprise.

Well, indeed, could St. Paul exclaim: "The foolish things of the world hath God chosen, to confound the wise and the weak things of the world hath


God chosen, to confound the strong: and the base things of the world, and the things which are despised, hath God chosen, and the things that are not, that He might bring to naught those things which are; that no flesh may glory in His sight," that the world might clearly see that the Christian religion was not the work of man, but of God.

For, if the Gospel had been propagated by the power of Tiberius Cæsar, and the governors of the Roman Provinces, the world could reasonably say: "There is no miracle here, for Christianity was established not by the finger of God, but by the might and majesty of kings."

Or if armies sword in hand had been sent to force the new religion upon the world, men could say with truth: "There is no marvel here; the Christian faith was propagated, not by the sword of the Spirit, but by the arm of the flesh."

Or if the orators, statesmen and philosophers, the historians and poets had united with voice and pen to champion the cause of the infant Church, the world could say that there was nothing supernatural in all that; that the Gospel was recommended, not by the folly of the cross, but by the "persuasive words of human wisdom." Or again, if money and the hope of temporal advantages had been held out to the Pagan peoples as inducements to join the standard of Christ, it might justly be claimed that these merely natural causes could sufficiently account

1 I. Cor. I., 27-29.

for the rapid spread of the Christian religion; that men of all classes and conditions had been drawn thither, not by Divine power, but the greed for gain. Now we know well that the Apostles had on their side neither wealth nor learning, nor the strength of armies, nor the favor of kings, nor any hope of temporal benefit.

Our wonder at the growth of Christianity is enhanced when we consider the doctrines which it offered to a scoffing world. It announced mysteries incomprehensible to human reason and a code of morality which demanded an habitual spirit of self-denial. What truths can be more difficult to reason than that there are three Persons in one divine Being, that the Son of God assumed human nature, that the Man-God died on an infamous gibbet? Hence the Apostle says: "We preach Christ crucified; to the Jews indeed a stumblingblock, and to the Gentiles, foolishness." They preached the resurrection of the flesh which, by the Gentile world, was regarded as impossible.

They enforced moral precepts which waged a relentless war on "the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life," which demanded a complete subjugation of our most inveterate and darling passions, and a contempt of wealth and vainglory.

But when to the personal insignificance of the Apostles, and to the austerity of their doctrine, is

1I. Cor. I., 23.

superadded the violent opposition which they met at every step from the Jewish and the Gentile world, we are lost in wonder and admiration at the success of their mission. A glance at the Epistles of St. Paul, the Acts of the Apostles, and the History of the early Church, is sufficient to convince us of the systematic hostility they encountered from their own


Every element of Pagan society was leagued against the rising Church. The Pagan priests resisted the progress of the Christian religion, because it threatened to put an end to their superstitious calling.

The craftsmen and merchants opposed it, because it was killing their traffic in idols and victims for sacrifice. We learn from the Acts that the silversmiths of Ephesus ran together in hot indignation denouncing the preaching of St. Paul, because it threatened to ruin their trade.1 Pliny, as we have already seen, complained to the Emperor Trajan that the temples were almost entirely deserted, the sacred rites suspended, and a purchaser of victims hard to be found.

The men of letters denounced Christianity with a bitterness of invective, equalled only by the grace and beauty of their style, because it rejected the gods who had been the inspiration of their labors. They could not endure the insolence that would bring into contempt the divinities whom a Homer, a Virgil and

1 Acts XIX.

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