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as true of Hindooism, in spite of the establishment of a Christian empire in the East. Buddhism still holds a third of the globe in almost undisturbed possession. Now a person comparing these two sets of facts will be very likely to say, Supposing your answers to the philosophical objectors, who maintain that Christianity is a decaying, nearly obsolete, creed be ever so relevant and strong, yet what are they when weighed against this startling confirmation of their statements? Must not that faith have had a fitness for other ages, an unfitness for ours, which during six centuries accomplished so much, which now seems to be accomplishing almost nothing; which could then encounter the wisdom and power of those nations that we still recognize as having been the wisest and mightiest in the world, which now fails in a conflict with the ignorant and incoherent worshippers of Buddha. And if you escape by pleading that the human professors of this doctrine are less sincere and energetic than they were, what is this but saying that it depends on human energy; that it is, in fact, a human system, strong whilst those who hold it are strong— sure to wither when their zeal withers?' Such an objection as this cannot he evaded. sidering it, I shall be led to examine the different steps we have taken, beginning with the question, How did Christianity address itself to the systems with which, in its infancy, it came into collision?
I am forced to use the word Christianity; for many purposes it is a convenient one. But I
THE APOSTLES WITNESSED OF A LORD And king. 221
must remind you, that it was not a word which was familiar to the Apostles, or to those who succeeded them in the first ages. We are not told that they went forth preaching Christianity. The writer of the Acts of the Apostles says that they preached the "Kingdom of God," or "the Gospel of God," or "Christ," or "the Gospel of Christ." To expound these words fully, would be to expound the New Testament. But this meaning lies upon the surface of them: the Apostles came witnessing of a Lord and King; the Lord and King of men. The proclamation of the Crucified Man, as the Son of God, was their Gospel, or good tidings. In that character men were invited to receive Him. The Apostles believed their own words; they could therefore trust God to prove them true. If this man were the King of the World, strange and ridiculous as the proposition might sound in the ears of Jews or Heathens, He would be shewn to be such by one means or other. Some of the Apostles knew nothing of the previous feelings and discipline of the nations; some, as the Apostle Paul, might have meditated on that subject, and have conversed much with men of different opinions. But all alike met the people among whom they came, not with arguments to prove this opinion true, or that false, but with the announcement of a Person who had a right to men's obedience, and whom it was good that they should obey.
I. St Paul at Athens encountered Epicureans and Stoics; he disputed with them in the market
place. When we are made acquainted with his words, we find they were of this kind, "Whom ye ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you."
Your poets have said, that we are the offspring of God; it is true; therefore do not make Him after the likeness of things you see. He is not far from any of us; for in Him we live, and move, and have our being. He has appointed a day in the which He will judge the world by that Man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead.' This language, you see, assumed that the Athenians were in search of God; that they were ignorantly worshipping Him; that they had a sense of His being a father; that they wanted some one living, human image of Him, to supplant those images of Him which they had made for themselves. In Athens itself the words were little heeded; men there were busy seeking for some new thing to talk of; they were occupied with schemes of the universe; of realities they had lost the perception. But the teaching was adapted to all that was sound and true in the Greek mind; it met whatever wants that mind was conscious of. The Greek asked for one who should exhibit humanity in its perfection; he was told of a Son of Man. He felt that whoever did so exhibit Humanity must be divine. The Son of Man was declared to be the Son of God. He had dreamed of one from whom the highest glory man could conceive must have proceeded. He was told of a Father. He
had thought of a divine Presence in every tree
and flower. He heard of a Presence nearer still to himself. He was not told that he must cease to believe in powers ruling in the Sun or Moon, or over any portion of the earth. The Apostles had no commission to declare there might not be such Powers, or whether they had actual personality; they were not to deny the existence of kingly men upon the earth, or of angels or saints in the unseen world; only they were to say, This Man is the King of kings, the Lord of lords. Of his fulness must they all have received who are anything, or ever were anything, here or elsewhere; their graces can only be a reflexion from His grace. They were to say, He is nearer to you-more directly related to you than all these can be; for He has taken the nature of all, and borne the sorrows and sins of all: in Him there is nothing partial, nothing imperfect; no feebleness of sympathy in any single direction. They were to say farther, If in any of the objects of your reverence there is anything earthly, sensual, evil; anything belonging to human nature in its corruption: then that must be contrary to Him; that must be at war with Him. So far as any creature is endued with such qualities, it is an evil creature; it has the evil spirit; it is not to be worshipped as if it were glorious, but renounced as devilish; as that which would draw you from the true estate into which Christ, by taking your nature, has redeemed you. Therefore the Greek mythology was met at all points by this
GOSPEL TO THE GREEKS.
Gospel. What was actually or possibly good in it, the Revelation of Christ comprehended; what was evil and degraded it wrestled with, by proclaiming the good which it had counterfeited. But this was its charm, The Greek had a world without a centre; the preachers of the Gospel made the centre known to him. What could revolve about it, fell into its proper orbit; what determined to move independently of the centre, was seen to be unnatural and distracted.
II. How the Gospel found its way into the Egyptian heart we are not informed so distinctly. This however we may remember; Our Lord spoke to His disciples in parables; through them he declared the mysteries of the kingdom. The facts of outward nature, the ordinary transactions of man, he recognized as a sacred writing, in which God had expressed part of his meaning, a meaning which he did not will to remain hidden, but which his Son unfolded. That the preachers of the Christian kingdom in Egypt should think much on this method of discovering the divine treasures was inevitable. But the substance of the communication was still the same. The Egyptian was questioning all nature to tell him of the Ammon, the hidden God: the Christian answer was still, "Him declare we unto you.
III. So it fared likewise with the Roman, whose worship had really, as we saw, a different direction from that of the Greek, however at various points they might intersect each other. The clear intellect, the beautiful form, were not in his mind