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this alone, he ordered them away to death. Doubtless lives by reviling him, refused to do so. From the pubthey heard in their hearts the well-known words, “ Let lished rescript of the emperor, approving of Pliny's none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an course, and condemning to death all who were convicted evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. Yet of being really Christians; from the public circulars of if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; the apostles, warning them of “ fiery trials,”—“ Satan but let him glorify God on this behalf.”
casting some of them into prison,"—and exhorting them The morality of the Epistles, then, was not merely a to “be faithful unto death ;" and from such comments on fine theory, but an actual rule of life. The moral codes these as the torture and public execution of aged women of the apostles were received as actually binding on the as well as men— the terms of discipleship were well members of the Churches of the first century. In this known to the whole world. Yet we see that, in the face all-important matter of the rule of a good life-the fruits of all this, “ great numbers of persons, of both sexes, hy which the tree is known--the integrity, authority, and of all ages, and of every rank,” in Pliny's opinion, and success of the apostles, in turning licentious heathens were so steadfast in their faith, that "they were in into moral Christians, is authenticated by the unwilling great danger of suffering.” testimony of their persecutors. The Epistles of the Here, then, is another well-attested fact, in wbich the Apostles stand confirmed as to their ethics by the letters testimony of the apostles stands confirmed by the sigof Trajan and Pliny.
natures of the Bithynian Governor and the Roman Em4. The only other fact to which I call your attention, peror-a fact which stands forth clear, prominent, most from among the multitude alluded to in these letters, is undoubted, without the smallest trace of anything myththe cost at which these converts from heathenism em- ological or misty about it; that in A.D. 106, great num. braced this new religion. Every one who renounced bers of converted heathens did suffer exile, torture, and heathenism, and professed the name of Christ, knew very death itself, rather than renounce Christ; and that it well that he must suffer for it. “Beloved, think it not was well known that the Christian faith enabled its strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as possessor to overcome the world. though some strange thing happened unto you: but re- These four great facts of the later Epistles being joice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; thus established beyond dispute, in pursuance of our that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad plan, we ascend the stream of history some forty years, also with exceeding joy.” This was the relcome of the to the time of the earlier Epistles, when Paul lay in the Bithynian convert into the Church of Christ. Persecu- Mamertine dungeons, and his faithful companion Luke tion by fire and sword was then the common lot of the wrote the continuation of his narrative of the things Church. “I have never been present at any trials most surely believed among the Christians; when of the Christians,” says the governor. Such trials were apostles “ were made as the filth of the world and the well known to him, it seems. He was not sure whether offscouring of all things," and Christians “ were made he should murder all who ever had borne the name of a gazingstock, both by reproaches and afflictions;" Christ, or only those who proved themselves to be really “were brought before kings and rulers, and hated of all his disciples, by refusing to revile him and return to nations for Christ's name's sake;" “endured a great idolatry; and the merciful emperor commands him to fight of afflictions ;” “ were for his sake killed all the spare the apostates. About twenty years before-in day long, and accounted as sheep for the slaughter;" A.D. 86—there were apostates from the persecuted reli- “ were made a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to gion. In A.D. 90, John had written, “They went out men.” We remove the field of our investigation froun a from us, that it might be made manifest they were not remote province of Asia, to one equally remote from of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt Judea, and far more unfavourable for the growth of the have continued with us : but they went out, that it might religion of a crucified Jew—the proud capital of the be made manifest that they were not all of us.” So it world, imperial Rome. The time shall be shortly after seems Pliny thought: “They all worshipped your image the burning of the city in A.n. 64, and during the raging and other statues of the gods ; these also reviled Christ. of the first of those systematic imperial and savage perNone of which things, as is said, they who are really secutions through which the Church of Christ waded, in Christians can by any means be compelled to do.” What the bloody footsteps of her Lord, to world-wide influence these means were he tells us : "I put the question to and undying fame. Our historian shall be the wellthem whether they were Christians. Upon their con- known Tacitus, and the single extract from his history fessing to me that they were, I repeated the question a one of which the infidel Gibbon says :* “ The most second and a third time, threatening also to punish sceptical criticism is obliged to respect the truth of this them with death. Such as still persisted I ordered important fact, and the integrity of this celebrated passaway to be punished.” What is very remarkable, it age of Tacitus." I shall not insert quotations from was, it seems, “usual in such cases for the crime to Paul or Luke; that were merely to transcribe large spread itself even whilst under persecution.” In the portions of the Epistles and Gospels, which whoever face of such dangers, these heathens would still profess will not carefully peruse, disqualifies himself for forming faith in Christ; and when they might have saved their
“Decline and Fall," vol. ii. p. 407.
a judgment of their veracity. The confirmation of the 1. That without the power of force or the help of four facts already established, of the existence, worship, governments, and in spite of them, they did convert vast morals, and sufferings of the disciples of Christ, and multitudes of idolaters, from a senseless worship of stocks these facts as well known within thirty years after his and stones, to the worship of the one living and true death, will sufficiently appear by the perusal of the fol- God-a thing never done by the preachers of any other lowing testimony of Tacitus.*
religion before or since. After relating the burning of the city, and Nero's at- 2. That without the help of power or civil law, and tempt to transfer the odium of it to the sect“commonly solely by moral and spiritual means, they did persuade known by the name of Christians,” he says :
multitudes of licentious heathens to give up their vices, “ The author of that name was Christ, who, in the reign
and obey the pure precepts of the morality contained in of Tiberius, was put to death as a criminal, under the pro
their Epistles-a thing never done by the preachers of curator Pontius Pilate.
But this pestilent superstition, any other religion before or since. checked for awhile, broke out afresh, and spread not only
3. That these converts were so firmly persuaded of over Jadea, where the evil originated, but also in Rome, the truth of their new religion, that, with the choice of where all that is evil on the earth finds its way and is prac- life and worldly honour or a death of infamy and torture tised. At first, those only were apprehended who confessed
before them, multitudes deliberately chose to suffer torthemselves of that sect; afterward, a vast multitude dis
ture and death rather than renounce the belief in one covered by them; all of whom were condemned, not so much for the crime of burning the city, as for their enmity to man.
God, obedience to his laws, and the hope of eternal life kind. Their executions were so contrived, as to expose them
through Jesus Christ, which they had learned from the to derision and contempt. Some were covered over with the sermons and letters of these apostles—a thing never skins of wild beasts, that they might be torn to pieces by done by the professors of any other religion before or dogs; some were crucified ; while others, having been daubed since.* over with combustible materials, were set up for lights in the night-time, and thus burned to death. For these spectacles their minds, which caused such a blessed change in
4. The faith which produced such an illumination of Nero gare his own gardens, and, at the same time, exhibited there the diversions of the circus; sometimes standing in the
their lives, which filled them with joy and hope, and crowd as a spectator, in the habit of a charioteer, and at
enabled them even to despise torture and death-was other times driving a chariot himself ; until at length these briefly this : “That Christ died for our sins, according men, though really criminal and deserving of exemplary to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he punishment, began to be commiserated, as people who were rose again on the third day, according to the Scriptures; destroyed, not out of regard to the public welfare, but only
that he ascended up into heaven, and will come again to gratify the cruelty of one man."
to judge the world, and reward every man according to We add no comment on this remarkable passage. his works ; and that whosoever believes these things Take up your New Testament and read the contemporary in his heart, and confesses them with his mouth, shall history-Acts xxii. to the end of the book—and the be saved; and he that believeth them not, shall be letters of Paul from Rome to Philemon, Titus, the damned.” Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and the second to It is a fact, then, indisputably proved by history, that Timothy, written when the aged prisoner was ready to the New Testament does teach a religion which can enbe offered, and the time of his departure, amidst such lighten men's minds, reform their lives, give peace to scenes and sufferings, was at hand. Then form your their consciences, and enable them to meet death with a own opinion as to the origin and nature of that faith in joyful hope of life eternal. It has done these things in Jesus which enabled him to say: "None of these things times past, and is doing them now. These are its unmove me, neither count I my life dear unto me, that I doubted fruits. Reader, this faith may be yours. It may finish my course with joy, and the testimony which will work the same results in you as it has done in I have received of the Lord Jesus.” “I know in whom others. Like causes ever produce like effects. Jesus I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep waits to deliver you from your sins, to fill you with joy that which I have committed to him against that day." and peace in believing, and make you abound in hope,
Whatever may be your opinion of the apostles' hope by the power of the Holy Ghost. He has promised, if for the future, you must acknowledge that we have as- you will ask it: “I will give them a l.eart to know me certained, beyond contradiction, these four facts of the that I am the Lord.” past :
* The sufferings of the Jews under Antiochus are no exception.
They suffered for their faith in the true God, the Messiah to come, Lib. xv. chap. xliv.
and a resurrection to life eternal.
The Icressons of Grace in the Language of Nature.
BY THE EDITOR.
THE GOOD SHEPHERD.
“I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall bear
my voice; and there shall be one flock, and one Shepherd.”—JOAN X. 15, 16.
HE relation between the Shepherd in the course of time. Here lies “the reason of
and his sheep is employed frequently the hope that is in” believers. “Behold the and freely in the Scriptures to set Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the
forth the loving care of Christ on the world !” He who clothed himself with a human one hand, and the blessed privileges of Christians body clothes his thoughts towards us in forms on the other. Several aspects of the analogy- which, being taken off humanity, fit humanity some of them unique and peculiar—are presented again. He is the Shepherd, and his people are in this text.
the flock. The Shepherd lays down his life for Before we proceed to deal directly with the the sheep. He takes their place, that they may parable, however, it will be very instructive to enjoy his; he bears their guilt, that they may glance for a moment at the words which go im- wear his righteousness; he endures their curse, mediately before it. Here the preface to the that they may inherit his glory." He saved parable is greater than the parable itself. Christ others; himself he cannot save.” Because he tells his disciples first that he died for them, and saved others, he could not save himself. If he then that he lived for them. His first intimation had come down from the cross, we could never is, “I lay down my life for the sheep;” and his have ascended to the crown. second is
, “ I have other sheep, and them also I. When sin gnaws in your conscience, and the must bring." There is a grand reason why these judgment-seat gleams before your eyes, here lies two are brought together, and arranged in this your help. Listen to the voice of Jesus"I order. In the plan of this wise Master Builder, lay down my life for the sheep." From an the foundation is first laid, and then the super. accusing conscience and a condemning law, hide structure is reared. It is first his satisfying in the suffering Redeemer; as the Hebrews hið atonement, and next his ingathering ministry. under the sprinkled blood, till the night oi death
The estimate that should count resistance to passed over, and salvation came with the dawn. the doctrine of the atonement the chief ingre- This is the turning-point; this is the key of dient in the sceptical spirit of the age would not the position. Around this spot the conflict of be far wide of the mark. It is free salvation ages has raged. Christ was for this sacrifice, and through the sacrifice of the Substitute that most the devil against it, from the beginning. When offends human philosophy in our day. The the Lord intimated to his disciples that he was great Prophet himself, seeing the end from the about to lay down his life, Peter, or rather Satan beginning, and seeing in the end of the world within him, replied, “Far be this from thee, that specific form of enmity to the cross, pre- Lord.” The cross is still to the Jews a stumbling sciently supplied the antidote in his Word. He block and to the Greeks foolishness; but to the speaks first of his atoning death, and next of his that are saved it is the power of God and the ministering life. No effective ministry without wisdom of God. a full expiation : on the sacrifice the ministry In this his greatest plan and greatest work, leans, as a structure on its foundation.
God has not missed his mark. The Eternal Son “I lay down my life for the sheep.” Here, in has not thrown his life away; he laid down his a few simple words, is recorded the greatest fact life to save. I shall trust him that he knew what he did, and did what he meant to do. It has gathered into his fold a flock more numerous is his life laid down that shall support me in my than the stars that stud the plains of heaven, he depths. Into this ark I enter when the foun- still cries, “ Other sheep!” “ Come unto Me, all tains of the great deep are broken up, and the ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will flood overwhelms the world.
give you rest.”
Besides the expansive out-going of the After the shortest and simplest announcement Redeemer's love, you may mark here its allof his atoning death comes a description of his encompassing sovereignty: other sheep I have. saving ministry. “And other sheep I have, He does not say, I may acquire others at some which are not of this fold.”
future time: he has them already. They were 1. This fold: the seed of. Israel—the visible his in the covenant from the beginning, and he Church of those times. It became Christ to ful-held them, every one, at that moment, in disfil all righteousness. He came not to destroy tinguishing love upon his heart. At a time the law, but to fulfil. He was born in Bethlehem. when they had not learned to follow him—when He came in the track of the old sacrifices, and they were neither born nor born again—he came unto his own. The faithful in Jerusalem counts and calls them his. Ah, believing brother, were waiting for the Consolation of Israel ; and thy soul lay on the Redeemer's heart that day. at the appointed time the Consolation of Israel Thy backsliding hurt him, but did not make appeared.
him change. Thy sins wounded him, but did By his own personal ministry he founded the not provoke him to let thee go. “I am Jekingdom in Israel, and left to his followers the hovah ; I change not: therefore ye seed of Jacob task of propagating it through the world. Some are not consumed." of the seed of Abrabam were gathered in. The 3. "Them also I bring.” There is no respect of common people heard him gladly, and here and persons with God. Of every nation, and kingthere a ruler also was subdued. At the word of dom, and tongue will be the multitude whom no Jesus, living children of Abraham's faith sprung man can number, who stand round the throne in from those stones which then constituted the white clothing." Them also.” No poor slave will bulk of his natural offspring. The Redeemer's be left out because he is black, or bears the soul was from time to time satisfied as he felt the mark of lashing; no servant is pushed aside parched lips of a daughter of Israel pressed to to make way for his master; no rich or powerhimself, the Fountain of living water. He was ful man who cleaved to Christ is kept out at the filled with joy as he felt branch after branch cry of a mob who envied him. If any were growing into himself, the Vine, for life and kept back, the Lord would pause as he came fruitfulness. They got life-he gave it: both across the sky like the lightning-would pause were blessed, but the Giver most. In “this and say, as he beckoned to attending angels, fold” he had some of his flock gathered and Them also.” Gather up the fragments, that sheltered and fed, even during the time of his none of them be lost. O ye least in the kingown personal ministry. But
dom of God, I have never heard that the law of 2. “ Other sheep I have, which are not of this gravity, God's servant, attended to the worlds fold.” Here the expansive love of Jesus breaks and mountains, letting the drops and atoms go forth. He began at Jerusalem, but he did not because they were small! Be assured God, the end there. Even while his feet stand on the soil master of that law, and of all laws, will not perof Palestine, the longings of his heart go out to mit his little ones to slip through an opening in the ends of the earth. He was getting some, his love. “Them also ” is a cheering word. I but he longed for more: his appetite was not like to hold it in my hand; I like to roll it as satisfied. The King is still sending out relays a sweet morsel under my tongue, to taste it long of servants into the highways and hedges of the and leisurely. Lazarus, with his sores all healed world to compel the poor to come in, that his now, must not glide into his old habit of lying table may be furnished with guests. After he at the door: he also must come into the palace
of the great King, and there abide. The prodi-“Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's gal, who went far from his father, and remained elect? It is Christ that died." long, and had nothing to recommend him when He brings them through the regeneration into he returned, he also must come in, and come as the fold during their life on earth. It oiten a son to a father's bosom, without a fear. And takes much bringing to bring the distant nighthese, who only came to Christ when they grew the prodigal home; but all power in heaven and old, after spending their lifetime for the world; in earth is given to the Captain of our salvation. and these, who, though they came in youth, He will not fail nor be discouraged. To bring a came not till they felt the hand of death upon drunken father home from his cups and his comtheir hearts-come in. The Master stands and panions may take much power says, " Them also." Manasseh, Saul of Tarsus— weeping wife and hungry children can exert; the blood of the martyr Stephen all off his hands but when the love of Christ gets hold of him by at last--"them also."
the heart, it leads him whithersoever it will. “ Them I bring." He sends none forward to That love has laid hold of a miser, and drawn make or find their own way. He goes before him from his gold; that love has laid hold of a them, and bids them follow; he goes with them, sinner, whose right hand was bound indissolubly and bears them through. They are not alone to his lust, and drawn the man to heaven, leaving in trouble; for in all their afflictions he was his right hand behind. “ Art thou a king then?" afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved they said to Jesus, at that unrighteous tribunal; them. He does not permit them to cross the and he condescended to tell them that they had valley of the shadow of death alone : the High stumbled upon the truth : “Thou sayest.” He Priest goes into the midst of Jordan, and there is a king, and acts in a kingly way:
*I fore Israel pass safely over. "I will fear no bring;” and when his strength is put forth, the evil, for thou art with me.” He will not send threefold chains of the devil, the world, and the any disciples to the judgment-seat to make the flesh give way like threads. He leads; they best of their own case: he will be there before follow. Thy people, Lord, shall be willing in them, and will bring them to himself. Once the day of thy power. At his bringing they more it
may be recorded, “ Then were the dis- come from east and west; at his command the ciples glad when they saw the Lord.” Those north gives up, and the south keeps not fuck. guilty brothers, although they trembled at the Those that cleaved most firmly to the dust fr 25 first hint of Joseph's power, were, after full re- doves to their windows, their wings glittering in conciliation, glad to find that Joseph ruled the beauty like yellow gold. kingdom. When they were convinced of their
That same bringing power that rent asunder brother's love, they rejoiced in their brother's the chains of sin and liberated the soul, shall preregal power. Although I find upon the throne vail to burst the gates of death, and bring the of judgment Him whom I have crucified, yet body in life and beauty from the grave. I am when he manifests his forgiving love, I shall re- the resurrection and the life, said Jesus: then joice with a joy unspeakable to find that all also—the bodies of his saints, as well as the judgment has been committed into his hands. spirits--I bring with me; that where I am, they We learn (Eph. v. 27) that when Christ has Avashed and sanctified his Church, he will present
Arise, yea, rise again thou must, it to himself, without spot or wrinkle, in that
After a little rest, my dust :
Thee God thy Maker gives day.
Life that for ever lives. Hallelujah !" He brings his sheep home by going before them. He makes a way through the sea of 4. “Them also I must bring.” What a word wrath, that they may safely pass. “I am the is this! He commands the winds and the sea, way, and the truth, and the life; no man cometh and they obey him; who then can stand over unto the Father but by me.” When he brings him with authority, compelling him to fulfil bis them to the Father, they are welcome home. | task? It is the mightiest of all task-masters,