Imatges de pÓgina

he might pay it. The impending destruction of Jerusalem he lamented with the most affectionate concern, and with tears.2 After having been compelled when he came to preach at Nazareth, the place where his youth was passed, to save his life by a miracle from the rage of his unbelieving countrymen ; he returned in the following year to that city to renew his efforts for their good at the risk of equal darger. With respect to friendship, our Saviour confirmed its obligations by the sanction of his own example. His whole conduct to his disciples is a pattern of tender friendship. St. John is particularly distinguished as “the disciple whom Jesus loved." Lazarus, who was not one of his disciples, is called by Christ himself his friend 4; and was one of the very few persons whom Christ raised from the dead. The affectionate regard of our Saviour to Lazarus and his sisters is beautifully expressed in the simple and touching language of the evangelist : “ Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus." Consider the remarkably kind attention of our Saviour towards Peter; who, after his shameful denial of his Lord, might justly apprehend that he should no longer be owned as a disciple. One of the angels who appeared to the women at the sepulchre on the morning of the resurrection, addressed them, conformably, we may presume, to the injunction of Christ, in these terms:- Depart, say to his disciples, and to Peter, he goeth before you into Galilee."6 To St. Peter and to him only, of their number, Christ shewed himself separately on the very day on which he arose;


1 Matt. xvii. 27.
3 Luke, iv. 16–30.
5 John, xi. 5.

2 Luke, xix. 41, 42.
Matt. xi. 54-58. 4 John, xi. 11.

6 Mark, xvi. 7.

and afterwards, in the presence of six of his other disciples, he confirmed St. Peter, with marks of great confidence and distinction, in the apostolical office. Finally, it was in the very act of blessing his disciples that Christ ascended into Heaven. 2

To the instances which have been produced of different virtues so gloriously exemplified in our Saviour's actions, many circumstances of his life evincing the same and other virtues might have been added.3 Far from wishing to exhaust, had it been possible to exhaust, the subject, my desire is to lead you to apply habitually to the sacred source, from which the preceding examples have been derived. Study the life of your Saviour, in his thoughts, words, and deeds. By prayer

and exertion endeavour to be conformed to his image upon earth, as you hope to be conformed to it in heaven. Take for your guide, imitate so far as human weakness, strengthened by divine grace, can imitate, this perfect pattern of perfect holiness. Far as you will ever remain short of it, labour still to approach nearer to it. The more earnestly you strive to be a faithful disciple of your Lord, the more of “ that mini will be in you which was in Christ Jesus.” 4

1 Luke, xxiv. 34. 1 Cor. xv. 5. 2 John, xxi. 15, &c.

3 Luke, xxiv. 51. A very copious selection, accompanied with many excellent observations, may be found in Archbishop Newcome's Observations on our Lord's conduct.

4 Philipp. ii. 5.





When the Divine Author of Christianity had withdrawn his visible presence from the earth; his religion speedily experienced, according to his predictions, the encreasing enmity of a world whose practices it condemned, whose forms of worship it superseded. The pure gold was to be tried in the furnace of adversity. Scarcely had the apostles of Christ opened their commission, when a violent persecution, commencing with the martyrdom of Stephen, was raised “ against the church which was in Jerusalem : and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles ? ;” who saw that it then was their own duty to remain at all hazards in that city. This sudden dispersion of the Christians was rendered by the over-ruling hand of God the cause of an immediate and extensive diffusion of the true faith.

They, which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen, travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word.”2 The implacable hatred of the Jews remained undiminished. Some few years afterwards, “ Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of

1 Acts, viii. 1.

2 Acts, xi. 19



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the church: and he killed James, the brother of John, with the sword. And, because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded farther to take Peter also.” The virulence with which St. Paul was constantly opposed, and his life repeatedly attempted, by the Jews, both in Judea and in distant countries, attests the rooted inveteracy with which that nation beheld Christianity and its preachers. From this enemy, however, the faith of Christ was in a great measure delivered by the victories of Titus.

But an enemy far more terrible remained: the idolatrous empire of Rome. From his throne in that capital the emperor from time to time“ stretched forth his hands,” not, like Herod, merely to seize some unfortunate victims within the walls of the city where he dwelt; but “ to vex and to kill,” even in the uttermost parts of the Roman world, those who conscientiously refused to burn incense to the gods of the pantheon. The persecutions which the Christian's endured under the emperors are usually enumerated as ten: a number not very accurate, as it exceeds in amount the persecutions which were general throughout the empire; and falls far short of those which raged at different times in particular provinces. Polytheism, limited by no bounds, was always ready to admit the reception of a new deity.2 The Romans had never scrupled to venerate the gods of the countries which

I Acts, xii. 1-3.

2 “ What can be the meaning," said Æmilian, Prefect of Egypt, to Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria, who was brought before him in the persecution under Valerian; “ What can be the meaning why you may not still adore that God of yours, supposing him to be a God, in conjunction with our gods ?” 6 We worship no other God,” replied Dionysius. In the ears of a polytheist this language was unintelligible or unpardonable.

they subdued : and the conquered countries had without hesitation united the gods of Rome with the original objects of their national worship. The Christians, therefore, who steadily refused all intercourse with idols, were regarded by the possessor of the throne of the Cæsars, as rebels alike against the majesty of heaven and his own. They suffered also from being to a certain degree confounded, in the common apprehension, with the Jews; whom in the words of Tacitus, the Romans, like the Persians and the Greeks, considered as “the most despicable portion of their slaves.” In addition to these causes of suspicion and abhorrence, they had to encounter the effect of the grossest and most malignant calumnies raised and spread abroad with unwearied activity by their Jewish and Pagan adversaries : calumnies partly calculated to rouse the imperial jealousy, by representing the Christians as the partisans of “ another king, one Jesus! ;" partly to render them objects of universal detestation, by describing them as addicted in secret to the most flagitious and horrible crimes, and as being the cause, by their impiety and vices, of every calamity, foreign or domestic, which afflicted the state. Hence arose the miseries which they sustained during nearly three centuries, sometimes from the fury of legal vengeance, at other times, from the unauthorized but unrestrained outrages of the people. Yet during these three centuries the continuance of the empire of Rome, of Pagan and persecuting Rome, was the object of special prayers in the liturgies of the Christian churches ; as being known to be the circumstance which retarded the manifestation of a more tre. mendous foe, Antichrist.

The Christians, for such were evidently the persons

1 Acts, xvii. 17.

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