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he added, “I wrote unto thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say.”

Paul's letter to Philemon shows the influence of the gospel upon the relation between master and servant. Slaveholding was an established institution throughout the Roman empire, and both masters and slaves were found in most of the churches for which Paul labored. ,

In the cities, where slaves often greatly outnumbered the free population, laws of terrible severity were regarded as necessary to keep them in subjection. A wealthy Roman often owned hundreds of slaves, of every rank, of every nation, and of every accomplishment. With full control over the souls and bodies of these helpless beings, he could inflict upon them any suffering he chose. If one of them in retaliation or self-defense ventured to raise a hand against his owner, the whole family of the offender might be inhumanly sacrificed. The slightest mistake, accident, or carelessness was often punished without mercy.

Some masters, more humane than others, were more indulgent toward their servants; but the vast majority of the wealthy and noble, given up without restraint to the indulgence of lust, passion, and appetite, made their slaves the wretched victims of caprice and tyranny. The tendency of the whole system was hopelessly degrading.

It was not the apostle's work to overturn arbitrarily or suddenly the established order of society. To attempt this would be to prevent the success of the gospel. But he taught principles which struck at the very foundation of slavery, and which, if carried into effect, would surely undermine the whole

system. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty,'' he declared. When converted, the slave became a member of the body of Christ, and as such was to be loved and treated as a brother, a fellow-heir with his master to the blessings of God and the privileges of the gospel. On the other hand, servants were to perform their duties, “not with eye-service, as men-pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.”.

Christianity makes a strong bond of union between master and slave, king and subject, the gospel minister and the degraded sinner who has found in Christ cleansing from sin. They have been washed in the same blood, quickened by the same Spirit; and they are made one in Christ Jesus. 32 Cor. 3:17.

* Eph. 6:6.

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CHAPTER XLIV

Caesar's Household

THE gospel has ever achieved its greatest success among the humbler classes. “Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.”'' It could not be expected that Paul, a poor and friendless prisoner, would be able to gain the attention of the wealthy and titled classes of Roman citizens. To them vice presented all its glittering allurements, and held them willing captives. But from among the toil-worn, want-stricken victims of their oppression, even from among the poor slaves, many gladly listened to the words of Paul, and in the faith of Christ found a hope and peace that cheered them under the hardships of their lot.

Yet while the apostle's work began with the humble and the lowly, its influence extended until it reached the very palace of the emperor.

Rome was at this time the metropolis of the world. The haughty Cæsars were giving laws to

11 Cor. 1:26.

nearly every nation upon the earth. King and courtier were either ignorant of the humble Nazarene, or regarded Him with hatred and derision. And yet in less than two years the gospel found its way from the prisoner's lowly home into the imperial halls. Paul is in bonds as an evil-doer; but “the word of God is not bound."?

In former years the apostle had publicly proclaimed the faith of Christ with winning power; and by signs and miracles he had given unmistakable evidence of its divine character. With noble firmness he had risen up before the sages of Greece, and by his knowledge and eloquence had put to silence the arguments of proud philosophy. With undaunted courage he had stood before kings and governors, and reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, until the haughty rulers trembled as if already beholding the terrors of the day of God.

No such opportunities were now granted the apostle, confined as he was to his own dwelling, and able to proclaim the truth to those only who sought him there. He had not, like Moses and Aaron, a divine command to go before the profligate king, and in the name of the great I AM rebuke his cruelty and oppression. Yet it was at this very time, when its chief advocate was apparently cut off from public labor, that a great victory was won for the gospel; for from the very household of the king, members were added to the church.

Nowhere could there exist an atmosphere more uncongenial to Christianity than in the Roman court. Nero seemed to have obliterated from his soul the last trace of the divine, and even of the human, and

? 2 Tim. 2:9,

to bear the impress of Satan. His attendants and courtiers were in general of the same character as himself - fierce, debased, and corrupt. To all appearance it would be impossible for Christianity to gain a foothold in the court and palace of Nero.

Yet in this case, as in so many others, was proved the truth of Paul's assertion that the weapons of his warfare were "mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. Even in Nero's household, trophies of the cross were won. From the vile attendants of a viler king were gained converts who became sons of God. These were not Christians secretly, but openly. They were not ashamed of their faith.

And by what means was an entrance achieved and a firm footing gained for Christianity where even its admission seemed impossible? In his epistle to the Philippians, Paul ascribed to his own imprisonment his success in winning converts to the faith from Nero's household. Fearful lest it might be thought that his afflictions had impeded the progress of the gospel, he assured them: “I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel.”

When the Christian churches first learned that Paul was to visit Rome, they looked forward to a signal triumph of the gospel in that city. Paul had borne the truth to many lands; he had proclaimed it in great cities. Might not this champion of the faith succeed in winning souls to Christ, even in the metropolis of the world? But their hopes were crushed by the tidings that Paul had gone to

32 Cor. 10:4.

4 Phil. 1:12.

30

Acts

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