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his arrival in the metropolis, the apostle being permitted to reside alone, accompanied by a soldier who guarded him, he convened a meeting of the leading men among the Jews, to whom he explained the circumstances of his imprisonment, and the reasons of his appealing unto Cæsar. As they seemed disposed to hear what Paul had to say in defence of his faith in Christ, he appointed a day on which many came to his lodgings, to whom he discoursed from morning to evening; and the result was that “ some believed the things that were spoken and some believed not.” In this way Paul spent two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him, Acts ch. xxviii.
And here the account of the apostle's labours and travels as contained in the Acts of the Apostles terminates. He appears to have been released in the spring of the year 62, when he embarked with Titus, and probably Timothy also, at some of the ports of Italy, intending to visit the churches of Judæa, according to his promise, Heb. xiii. 23. But in the course of his voyage, happening to touch at Crete, he preached in many cities there, and either gathered new churches or increased those already gathered, Titus, i. 1. Having arrived in Judæa, the apostle visited the church of Jerusalem, and the other churches in that country, to which he had lately sent an epistle from Rome, inscribed to the Hebrews. · Accompanied by Timothy, Paul travelled through Syria and Cilicia, taking Antioch in his way, where he had so often and so successfully ministered in the Gospel. Thence he proceeded to Galatia, and after that to Colosse, where he desired Philemon to provide him a lodging (ver. 22), intending to spend some time in that city. Having finished his business at Colosse, he went to Ephesus, in his way to Macedonia, where he visited the several churches, and, among the rest, that at Philippi, from which he had received great kindness and to which he was much attached.
About this time the emperor Nero began that persecution of the Christians which is reckoned the first of the ten general persecutions. He set fire to the city of Rome, July 10, A. D.
REFLECTIONS ON THE SUCCESS OF THE GOSPEL. 139
64, laying a great part of it in ashes, and, to clear himself from the imputation of so odious a crime, in November following he began to punish the Christians as the incendiaries. Paul was at the moment in Crete; but, thinking his presence might be useful in comforting his brethren, he hastened with Titus into Italy, where he arrived in the beginning of the year 65, and was soon after apprehended and imprisoned in order to be punished. How long he continued in prison at this time we know not; but from his being twice brought before the emperor, or his prefect, it may be presumed that he was imprisoned a year or more before he was condemned. At his first examination, all his associates forsook him and fed, 2 Tim. iv. 11, 16. He however escaped for a time out of the mouth of the lion ; but, according to early Christian writers, he was condemned and put to death, in the twelfth year of the reign of Nero, answering to A D. 66; and two years after, viz. A. D. 68, Nero put an end to his own life and to this terrible persecution, which had lasted four years, and swept off a prodigious number of the disciples of Christ.
In concluding the present Lecture, it may be useful to take a review of the principal points touched upon, both in this and the foregoing Lecture--the difficulties which Christianity had to encounter among Jews and Gentiles-the total inadequacy of the instruments employed in propagating it to give it effect--the wonderful success, nevertheless, with which it was crowned, and the evidence which we therefore deduce from the whole in favour of its heavenly origin. The argument may be thus concisely stated :—The Gospel, when first published to the world, had difficulties to surmount of the most formidable description, both among Jews and Gentiles, arising from the unpopularity of its tenets and the obscurity and fate of its founder. The human and natural means employed for the propagation of it were so inadequate that they must, without the divine interposition, have proved utterly unavailable in answering the purpose : the purpose, nevertheless, was answered; consequently they must have been accompanied by the divine interposition, and, if so, Christianity is not of man but of God.
1. As to the difficulties which it had to encounter, we have seen how inveterate were the prejudices of the Jewis against a suffering Messiah—the doctrine of Christ crucified was indeed to them a stumbling block. Considered as an article of faith in this new religion it both shocked the understandings, and was most humiliating to the pride of persons principled as they were. And, if we were to turn our attention to the Gentile world, the Gospel had to combat the vices of an age which, according to all the accounts that have been given of it, appears to have exceeded the usual measure of depravity. According to prophetic language, “darkness covered the earth and gross darkness the people.” Idolatry, superstition, and vice, reigned triumphant among the great mass of the people-while the philosophers, to whom they looked up as guides, despised the Gospel for its simplicity, so different from the subtleties of the schools. Thus the two great divisions of mankind viewed it differently, according to their different national characters; but the effect, an indignant rejection, was the same in both. “The Jews required a sign,” that is, an evidence of the interposition of heaven which might overpower their minds, and command an unlimited assent: and “the Greeks sought after wisdom”-that is, the elaborate productions of oratory and ingenuity, which might at once convince their reason and gratify their curiosity. But to both parties the apostles preached Christ crucified-a doctrine so far from suiting the inclinations of either that to the Jew it was a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness to the one it was an object of abhorrence, to the other of contempt: but to such as were divinely instructed to understand its import and see the glory of God shining in it, whether Jews or Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God unto salvation. So much for the spirit of the doctrine-let us next look,
2. To the weakness of the instruments employed to publish it. What were they? And we may learn from it how very different was the policy of heaven from the wisdom of this world! The apostle Paul thus states the matter to the Corinthians :-“ God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise : and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are, that no flesh should glory in his presence,” 1 Cor. i. 27-9. How just
SUCCESS OF THE GOSPEL PROVES ITS DIVINITY.
a description of the fishermen of Galilee, and their associates--some of the lowest class of the people, poor, illiterate, and totally unacquainted with the world—destitute of all advantages of education (Paul excepted)---men, who before they received this extraordinary commission to go and convert the world, had been obliged to earn their bread by a toilsome occupation, and had probably never dared to open their mouths in the presence of their superiors. Such were the agents employed in effecting the greatest revolution that was ever produced on the earth. And then look at the time when this took place. Was it in a rude and unlettered age, or was it only to the illiterate that these heralds of mercy and grace were charged to communicate the glad tidings of salvation ? On the contrary, it was when Rome was in the zenith of her power; it was at the time when all the Grecian arts and sciences shone forth in their highest splendour. It was then that these plain untutored men were commissioned to preach the Gospel to every creature---to proclaim it indiscriminately as from the house-tops: and this they accordingly did, to the Jews in the temple and in the synagogues, and to the Gentiles in the forums of the cities, and in other places of public resort, and with what success has been already shown.
Under all the disadvantages now enumerated---with all this complicated and combined opposition—“the word of God grew and multiplied”-“a great number of the priests were obedient to the faith.” Without the aid of power or wealth, and in despite of inveterate prejudices---without accommodating itself to reigning vices or popular opinions---without drawing the sword, or fomenting sedition, or tempting mankind by the prospect of the honours, emoluments, or riches of this world; but solely by the power of their doctrine, which commended itself to the consciences of men--by humble, peaceable, laborious teaching, they spread abroad the savour of the knowledge of Christ in every placethey turned men from the worship of idols to the service of the living and true God, and to wait for the return of the Son of God from heaven, even Jesus, who delivers from the wrath to come. How is this fact to be accounted for? Only by admitting the interpretation of heaven---that the finger of God was there-and, this admitted, the inference is irresistible--ChrisTIANITY IS DIVINE.
Sketch of the History of the Evangelists and Apostles with
some of the earliest Fathers-their Lives, Labours, Sufferings, Writings, &c. &c.—Credibility of their Testimony.
· I intend, in the present Lecture, to take a survey of the pillars by which the Gospel-history is more immediately sustained, with the view of ascertaining whether they are of sufficient strength for bearing the weight of so great a superstructure. Christianity has come down to us by means of testimony-the only way in which it was possible for it to reach us. We were, none of us, either eye or ear witnesses of the things which we believe. Are the individuals who have reported them unto us worthy of credit ?-have we sufficient evidence that their writings are authentic and genuine ?-in a word, that the Gospel is not a cunningly-devised fable? This is a most important enquiry, as must strike every reflecting mind; but it is one from which Christianity does not shrink; on the contrary, it invites the most rigid scrutiny. By accurately examining every part, we shall be sensible that this magnificent structure has been planned by the wisdom, and reared by the hand of God, for the benefit of mankind; and that it justly claims the Deity himself both as its proprietor and architect. Such of you as have had an opportunity of dipping into the writings of the Deists, must have observed with what Alippancy they move their objections against the Gospel of our Salvation in this way:-"Christianity is obviously founded upon the New Testament—that book was professedly written by several different persons, at different times and places. But what proof have we that they really were written at the time and by the individuals they profess to be? How do
the Gol with wing into a