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The scanty records of Acts lift the curtain from a small part of the immense field of the missionary labors of the apostolic times. The other apostles went elsewhere, possibly Peter to the far eastern provinces of Mesopotamia and Babylon, and Thomas to northern Africa, and a rapidly increasing body of Christian evangelists penetrated the cities and towns of all the provinces. There can be no doubt but that they followed in the main the method which was used by Paul, and that his phenomenal work in the provinces of Asia Minor, in the islands of the gean, in Macedonia and Greece and Syria, was paralleled by other Christian workers. Everywhere there were the dividing of synagogues, the gathering of the Gentile proselytes, tumults, mobs, violence, persecution, death, and triumph. The synagogical converts became opening wedges into the pagan world, lifting temples from their foundations and overturning ancient faiths. And what more natural than that the new Christian churches should be organized after the manner of the synagogues, with a council of elders in each local church, a chief ruler or bishop, a body of deacons or almoners to care for the charitable interests of the new Christian community? What more natural than that the rectangular synagogue, with its simple arrangements and raised platform facing rows of pews, should become the model for the Christian edifices which were springing up everywhere?
Gibbon has given five causes for the spread of early Christianity: the zeal which the Christians inherited from the Jews; the doctrine of future rewards and punishments and of the immortality of the soul; the miraculous powers claimed by the Church; the severe morality of the early Christians; their splendid ecclesiastical organization. We would venture to add as a sixth the influence of the synagogues of the dispersion, as it has been presented in this article. One would venture also the opinion that for the first generation after the crucifixion of Jesus its influence was greater than any one of the other five. Christian men will also believe that there was one element of power, greater than all of the others, which naturally escaped the observation of the skeptical historian. It was that of which Jesus spake in his parting words, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” It was the dynamic of the Holy Ghost, through whom "mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.”
Thus it was that through bitter birth woes Judaism gave birth to Christianity, her mighty child. The curtain drops after those centuries, and when it lifts again we behold a crumbling paganism and an aggressive, victorious Christianity. The provinces of the empire swarm with Christians; the soil is reddened with the blood of their martyrdom; but, as it had been with their suffering Master, the way of the cross is the way of their triumph.
bonth he tifopy.
NOTES AND DISCUSSIONS.
HENRY WARD BEECHER said, “My conception of religion is to let every faculty effulge, touched with celestial fire.”
HORACE BUSHNELL, writing in 1872 to Dr. Bartol, expresses his feeling about the liberalism and looseness of the Unitarians: “I have a certain pity, as I read, for what I should call your unstandardliness. I think of an egg trying to get on without a shell, and it seems to be a rather awkward predicament. I am very fond of liberty, it is true, but I should not like to have the astronomic worlds put up in it, even if it were given them to go by their inspirations. Liberties are good, inspirations are good, but I like to have some standard forces to which I can advert when I get tired.”
ONE fine, green, cool May day in 1845, at nine o'clock in the morning, Robert Browning, sitting by an English window outside of which he saw his favorite chestnut tree dancing in the southwest wind,“ all its baby-cone-blossoms rocking like fairy castles on a hill in an earthquake,” wrote in a love letter to Miss Elizabeth Barrett the following sentence, worth quoting here because indicative of his and her habitual feeling toward the greatest of subjects: “Sydney Smith laughs somewhere at some Methodist or other whose wont was, on meeting an acquaintance in the street, to open at once on him with some enquiry after the state of his soul ; Sydney knows better now, and sees that one might quite as wisely ask such questions as the price of Illinois stock or condition of glebe-land.”
One of our theological professors recently said that our ministry may be too apologetic. A pulpit occupying itself predominantly with the defense of the Faith is undesirable and unwise. A Gospel minister who takes the truth of his message for granted and confidently gives it a positive proclamation with an air of unhesitating conviction, as did Spurgeon and Moody, is likely to carry conviction home to the heart of the average hearer and be a powerful preacher. It is possible to be unduly concerned for the defense of God's eternal truth. The founda. tions of the Christian Faith are deep and indestructible.
A reminiscence of college days is that the sophomores have a custom of burying mathematics. A mysterious procession of students winds through the night to some secluded spot and inters with singular ceremonies a number of volumes-algebra, geometry, or analytics. It is reported that they bury or burn mathematics somewhere every year.
But no matter how often this grotesque ceremony is repeated, the bee still keeps to her geometry, building her cell on the same good old plan; the snowflake shapes its geometric polyhedrons as before; the comet keeps its calculable track; the planets roll along the same invisible elliptic grooves; the rifle ball follows its mathematic curve; the flood of crystal and emerald at Niagara still falls regular into the abyss; the trains of numeric reasoning still roll safe to sure conclusions along well-worn tracks that are not torn up nor spread apart; the square root and the cube root uncover themselves to the same old lines of approach; and the sailor still ciphers out with precision, by the aid of trustworthy logarithmic tables, his whereabouts on the great deep from shore to far-off shore.
Evidently nature has not heard of the funeral which the students conducted, and does not know that they have made an end of mathematics. Even the great omniscient God above does not seem to know of it, for he too still geometrizes. Morever, this world's business still goes on by the rules of arithmetic, and the sophomores themselves presently find that there is not even physical subsistence for them not so much as bread-and-butter salvation in this life except in accordance with the reckoning of the mathematics they buried.
As it is with the principles of the science of numbers, so it is with Christian truth. As the mathematical formulas, which were stamped even on the earliest cosmical vapors, refuse to be set aside by a ceremony, so the great spiritual laws, part and parcel of God's universe, of which Christianity is the exposition, are not to be set aside. And whenever we hear the toothorns of those wise fools who attempt to dispose of the Bible, of Christianity, of God, and of religion, by no matter what ceremony, argument, resolutions, or dictum, we say to ourselves, “ The sophomores are burying mathematics again ;” and we know that they must presently come back to them and live by them or starve and perish.
The truth wants publishing and embodying more than it wants arguing and proving. Largely the Gospel carries its own evidences, goes armed with its own credentials. It has prevailed by proclamation and by its fruits rather than by syllogisms. It needs not defending as much as it needs obeying, and its primal command to all who accept it is, “Go, teach all nations." There is no occasion to fear that, while the Church is at work with might and main converting the nations, some small infidel will stick his tiny crowbar into the everlasting foundations of the Faith and
Our chief business is to give the truth a tongue and a temple in every land of human habitation, and then, though the antichristian sorcerers, fakirs, and medicine men perform their manifold incantationsthough the skeptical sophomores go through the form of burying or burning the Christian mathematics as often as they please —they will not prevent the world from finding out that the foundation of God standeth sure, and that the Gospel of Jesus Christ furnishes the only working plan for human welfare, temporal and eternal.
THE UNDIMINISHED CHRIST.
The mythical theory concerning Jesus Christ is confessedly dead and done for, but upon this undeniably historic and mightily influential Personage criticism, rationalism, æstheticism, and naturalism make their attacks, each in its own way endeavoring to discrown the King of Glory.
1. The destructive biblical critics seek to undermine his throne by discrediting parts of Holy Scripture. They offer us a depreciated Christ on the authority of a mutilated New Testament. According to the best of such critics Jesus was a supremely admirable man, the flower of human kind, the greatest of spiritual seers, having a unique conception of the fatherly love of God and the brotherhood of man, a high moral idealism, and an absorbing enthusiasm for humanity, but was not superhuman