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desolate rock. They seek for Jerusalem as it was ; but the daughter of Zion is changed ; the crown is fallen from her brow; the holy and beautiful house is gone forever; while the fountain of Siloam, fast by the oracle of God, flows full and bright as in the day when the priests filled their golden urns from it, singing “ with joy ye shall draw water from the wells of salvation." The traveller asks for the ruins of Capernaum, where our Saviour made his home. Once it was exalted to heaven in its pride ; now there is not a stone to show the place of its grave; while the sea of Tiberias, where he called his disciples, and where he reproved the winds and waves and they obeyed him, still spreads out its blue waters, though for ages, no dashing oar has broken the slumber of its tide.

He meant that his religion should endure ; and, therefore, he would not write it with an iron pen in the rock forever; he chose rather to have it engraven on the only immortal thing in this world; and that is the heart of man. The heart and impressions made in it will endure forever. This is the reason that Christianity still exists, while cities, kingdoms, and empires have passed away.

This is the reason, that it shall endure unchanged, when rocks and mountains shall melt, and the earth shall be a scorched and blackened ruin. It cannot perish like the works of man and the visible elements of nature. It is an immortal fountain to supply the thirst of the soul forever.

ART. III.- LOCAL VESTIGES OF THE EARLY PROPAGATION

OF CHRISTIANITY IN THE CITY OF ROME.

THE local testimonies of the evidences and the effects of Christian truth, at its first propagation among the nations and cities of the earth, present us with many interesting materials for serious thought. There are vestiges on the face of pature, and in the edifices of ancient cities, of apostolic labor and martyrdom. We read in the Acts of the Apostles, that after Paul had made his noble defence at Jerusalem, while he was confined by night in the castle, “ the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul; for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.” At Jerusalem, Paul had begun his work, but Jerusalem was only a city in a despised province of one mighty empire. To Rome, as the seat of universal dominion, his thoughts were now turned. All interests were then centred in that imperial city. Through the whole known world the name was familiar, and to all nations it bad attractions. Science and art, pleasure and philosophy, looked to Rome for excitements and novelties. How calmly does the Apostle utter his resolution to carry there the lessons of that new faith to which he was to die a martyr. The words of the humble Galilean were to be preached upon the seven hills of the all-conquering city of the Cæsars, and in the midst of the statues and temples of heathen worship, the Father Almighty was to be adored. After the lapse of eighteen centuries, during which the faith has triumphed, we can scarcely conceive the circumstances attending that apparently trivial event of the visit of Paul to Rome.

It is uncertain by whom the Gospel was first preached in that city. Our sacred books contain an epistle of Paul to the converts already made there. The date of this epistle is assigned to the spring of the year of our Lord 58. It is evident from it that Paul had not as yet visited the city. He tells the converts that he had often purposed to come to them, but had hitherto been prevented. Soon after he had written the letter he was carried there as a prisoner. After a restraint of two years he again travelled upon his labors for five years, when, upon his return to Rome, he suffered martyrdom, about the year_65. Only they who have closely studied his Epistle to the Romans, and have illustrated it by some knowledge of the time and the place, can truly estimate its subl me and solemn instruction. Some strangers from Rome had been present at Jerusalem at the feast of Pentecost, and are mentioned among those who were startled and impressed by the miraculous events of that day. When they returned to their home they carried back with them the story of what they had seen and heard. Among the thousand novelties which for a day or a year kept in motion the curiosity and interest of the inhabitants of Rome, it was scarcely to be supposed that the tale of a few wanderers would receive much credit. In a state of society corrupt to the very core, where only individual hearts were touched by virtue, where only shows of blood and scenes of gayety could move a listless and fatigued sensuality, there was but small place for the leavening influence of a mild and simple faith. But he that

reads understandingly the Epistle to the Roman Christians, will be impressed by the solemn appeals, the strong arguments, the eloquent exhortations of that lesson of divine counsel addressed to the conquerors of the world. Written by one who thoroughly knew the pagan faith, who acknowledged whatever little power it might possess to touch the feelings, but who realized how poorly its shrines, and statues, and sacrifices could fill the desires of a human soul, that epistle first breathed the breath of life into dead bones. Who were the first to read it, with what slow and uncertain faith they interpreted it, only our imaginations can inform us.

But the Apostle Paul not only wrote to the Roman Christians, he visited them in person. Soon after sending his epistle, he was imprisoned in Jerusalem, and here he appealed from the unjust decision of an inferior officer to the Roman Emperor. The dangerous voyage of the Mediterranean, the appearance of Paul before the Roman Jews, and his two years' confinement in his own hired house, are all minutely detailed in the Acts of the A postles. A year after he was set at liberty, there occurred that disastrous conflagration in Rome, for which Nero is considered chargeable. On the testimony of the profane historian, Tacitus, we learn that the Christians

were already very numerous and very much contemned in Rome, so that the populace permitted their cruel sacrifice by excruciating deaths, when Nero accused them as the authors of the devastation. Milman, in his recent History of Christianity, suggests,* that some "incautious or misinterpreted expressions of the Christians themselves might have attracted the blind resentment of the people. The minds of the Christians were constantly occupied with the terrific images of the final coming of the Lord to judgment in fire; the conflagration of the world was the expected consummation, which they devoutly supposed to be instantly at hand.” Mr. Milman, with great ingenuity and probability, imagines, that the more fanatical, the Jewish part of the Christian community, may have looked with fierce and eager exultation upon the great Babylon of the West, blazing in one vast sheet of devouring flame. They may have dropped some unguarded and triumphant language, have attributed the ruin to the vengeance of the Lord, have hailed it as the opening of his kingdom, and have gloried in their own hope, in the midst of the common misery. The city of idolatry and blood was blazing like a furnace before them, and they alone looked upon it with joy and hope. Thus they may have excited the rage of their tormentors, and have been put to the excruciating sufferings, which, we are told by an historian of the times, who would not deign to examine their faith, they obstinately endured. This was the occasion of the first heathen persecution of the Christians.

* Vol. II. p. 36.

Four years afterwards, while Paul was at Corinth, Nero, that monster of cruelty, went thither to witness its celebrated games, and the Apostle, according to tradition, used the opportunity to revisit Rome, where, after a short imprisonment, he was put to death by “the freed slave, Helius, a fit representative of the absent tyrant.” As a Roman citizen he was beheaded, rather than ignominiously executed on the cross.

These are facts in history, which connect the early Christian faith with the scenes of human life. A deeply interesting train of thought passes through the mind as it identifies the places, which, with any reasonable degree of certainty, are consecrated as connected with the first propagation of Christianity. Our faith, drawn from books, from education, and from meditation, will linger around a hallowed spot, and be revived even by the stones and the soil.

But now, in our first efforts to specify any consecrated localities, we are met with an exhibition of human frailty, which ever seems to mingle with the best of human means and purposes. Our readers need scarcely be informed, that in the history of Christianity, we very frequently meet with the phrase, pious frauds," namely, falsehoods and deceptions invented and repeated, with the hope of confirming faith ; evil done that good may come of it; fictions and tales circulated among the ignorant for the sake of terrifying or convincing them. The early history of the Church is deformed by a thousand legends and artifices, the purpose of which, namely, faith, was supposed to justify the means, namely, falsehood. The scenes of

apostolic labor and of Christian martyrdom are overloaded with monkish tales and with absurd superstitions. Every Catholic church in the world possesses some alleged relic, not only of Christian apostles, but of ancient patriarchs, sometimes even of angels and of the Saviour, and there are a thousand localities in Rome, believed by the common people to be thus invested with heavenly glory. Not only the chains and instruments of martyrdom, and the bones and ashes of saints, are kept in reverent care, but there are likewise exbibited miraculous fountains, and the footsteps of heavenly messengers upon the solid stone. Some of these deceptions are, of course, in open defiance of historical fact. For instance, Eusebius expressly states that Constantine deferred bis baptism, intending to have it performed in the Jordan, but dying suddenly of an ague at Nicomedia, the service was there performed on the day upon which he expired. Yet in connexion with the Church of St. John Lateran, is a splendid Baptistery, maintained by Catholics to have been erected and first used by Constantine. In the same church are exhibited the skulls of Peter and Paul, the wellstone of the woman of Samaria, the table, upon which the Saviour celebrated the Last Supper, the pillar, to which he was tied when scourged, and that upon which the cock was perched, when Peter was reminded of his denial. There is also a large slab supported by four stone pillars, the space beneath which is alleged to be the exact height of the Saviour, and it is added by the priest who exhibits it, that no individual bas ever exactly fitted the interval. It is hard to say whether there was any sincerity mingled with the fraud in the mind of him who fabricated this last mentioned relic, for the sole purpose of deceit. Very near by is an edifice erected expressly for the reception of twenty-eight blocks of Tyrian marble, now encased in oak, said to have been those which conducted to Pilate's judgment hall. At least a hundred persons daily ascend those stairs upon their knees, to obtain an indulgence of three thousand years from the pains of purgatory, which is proinised upon a large placard at the bottom. The altar-piece at the summit is a picture of the Saviour, attributed to St. Luke and some angels. These may serve as specimens of a thousand deceptions, yet more gross and revolting, which are presented in every church in Rome.

Here, as elsewhere, may we realize the issue of all deception, even though it assume the name of “ pious fraud.”

The true effect of a consecrated scene is wholly lost in the ridicule and disgust which many most absurd triflings with sacred things excite. It is altogether probable that among the heterogeneous mass of relics gathered in Rome, some may be genuine. Disciples of Christianity early made their way thither ; and if in the time of the Saviour there were some who thought there was sanctity in the hem of his garment, confirmed believ

- 3D S. VOL. X. NO. III. 42

VOL. XXVIII.

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