« PreviousContinue »
he speaks of his life or ministry, but is also, in many instances, attested by a specific correspondency of time, place, and order of events. If the historian puts down in his narrative, that at Philippi the apostle
was beaten with many stripes, cast into prison, and there treated with rigour and indignity we find him, in a letter f to a neighbouring church, reminding his converts, that, “ after he had suffered before, and was shamefully entreated at Philippi, he was bold, nevertheless, to speak unto them (to whose city he next came) the Gospel of God.” If the history relate I, that, at Thessalonica, the house in whịch the apostle was lodged, when he first came to that place, was assaulted by the popuļace, and the master of it dragged before the magistrate for admitting such a guest within his doors; the apostle, in his letters to the Christians of Thessalonica, calls to their remembrance“ hoy they had received the Gospel in much affliction S.” If the history deliver an account of an insurrec, tion at Ephesus, which had nearly cost the apostle his life, we have the apostle himself, in a letter written a short time after his departure from that city, describing his despair, and returning thanks for his deliverance *. If the history inform us, that the apostle was expelled from Antioch in Pisidia, attempted to be stoned at Iconium, and actually stoned at Lystra, there is preserved a letter from him to a favourite convert, whom, as the same history tells us, he first met with in these parts ; in which letter he appeals to that disciple's knowledge “ of the persecutions which befel him at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra t." If the history make the apostle, in his speech to the Ephesian elders, remind them, as one proof of the disinterestedness of his views, that, to their knowledge, he had supplied his own and the necessities of his companions by personal labour.; we find the same apostle, in a letter written during his residence at Ephesus, asserting of himself,
* Acts, xvi. 23, 24,
+ 1 Thess. ii. 2. $ 1 Thess. i. 6.
Acts, xvii. 5.
66 that even
* Acts, xix. 2 Cor. i. 8, 9, 10.
Acts, xx. 34.
to that hour he laboured, working with his own hands * "
These coincidences, together with many. relative to other parts of the apostle's history, and all drawn from independent sources, not only confirm the truth of the account, in the particular points as to which they are observed, but add much to the credit of the narrative in all its parts; and support the author's profession of being a contemporary of the person whose history he writes, and, throughout a material portion of his narrative, à companion.
What the epistles of the apostles declare of the suffering state of Christianity, the writings which remain of their companions and immediate followers, expressly confirm.
Clement, who is honourably mentioned by Saint Paul in his epistle to the Philippians t, hath left us his attestation to this point, in the following words : take (says he) the examples of our own age.
66 Let us
* 1 Cor. vi. 11, 12.
+ Philipp. iv. 3,
Through zeal and envy, the most faithful and righteous pillars of the church have been persecuted even to the most grievous deaths. Let us set before our eyes the holy Apostles. Peter, by unjust envy, underwent, not one or two, but many sufferings ; till at last, being martyred, he went to the place of glory that was due unto him. For the same cause did Paul, in like man. ner, receive the reward of his patience. Seven times he was in bonds'; he was whipped, was stoned ; he preached both in the East and in the West, leaving behind him the glorious report of his faith; and so having taught the whole world righteousness, and, for that end, travelled even unto the utmost bounds of the West, he at last suffered martyrdom by the command of the governors, and departed out of the world, and went unto his holy place, being become a most eminent pattern of patience unto all ages. To these holy apostles, were joined a very great number of others, who having through envy undergone, in like manner, many pains and torments, have left a glorious example to us.
For this, not only mên, but women have been per
secuted : and, having suffered very grievous and cruel punishments, have finished the course of their faith with firmness *;">
Hermas, saluted by Saint Paul in his epistle to the Romans, in a piece very little connected with historical recitals, thus speaks : “ Such as have believed and suffered death for the name of Christ, and have endured with a ready mind, and have given up their lives with all their hearts 4."
Polycarp, the disciple of John (though all that remains of his works be a very short epistle), has not left this subject unnoticed. “ I exhort (says he) all of you, that ye obey the word of righteousness, and exercise all patience, which ye have seen set forth before your eyes, not only in the blessed Ignatius, and Lorimus, and Rufus, but in others among yourselves, and in Paul himself and the rest of the apostles ; being confident in this, that all these have not run in vain, but in faith and righteousness; and are gone to the
* Clem. ad Cor. c. V. vi. Abp. Wake's Trans. + Shepherd of Hermas, c. xxviii.