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was so far carried on in concert and correspondence with them, that, when they heard of the success of their emissaries in a particular country, they sent two of their number to the place to complete and confirm the mission.
An event now took place of great importance in the future history of the religion. The persecution* which had began at Jerusalem, followed the Christians to other cities, in which the authority of the Jewish Sanhedrim over those of their own nation was allowed to be exercised. A young man, who had signalized himself by his hostility to the profession, and had procured a commission from the council at Jerusalem to seize any converted Jews whom he might find at Damascus, suddenly became a proselyte to the religion which he was going about to extirpate. The new convert not only shared, upon this extraordinary change, the fate of his companions, but brought upon himself a double measure of enmity from the party which he had left. The Jews at Damascus, upon his return to that city, watched the gates night and day with so much diligence, that he escaped from their hands only by being let down in a basket by the wall. Nor did he find himself in greater safety at Jerusalem, whither he immediately repaired. Attempts were there also soon set on foot to destroy him, from the danger of which he was preserved by being sent away to Cilicia, his native country:
For some reason, not mentioned, perhaps not known, but probably connected with the civil history of the Jews, or with some dangert which engrossed the public attention, an intermission about this time took place in the sufferings of the Christians. This happened, at the most only seven or eight, perhaps only three or four years after Christ's death; within which period, and notwithstanding that the late persecution occupied part of it, churches, or societies of believers, had been formed in all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria ; for we read that the churches in these countries “ had now rest, and were editied, and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied. I The original preachers of the religion did not remit their labours or activity during this season of quietness ; for we find one, and he a very principal person
Aets ix. +Dr. Lardver (in which he is followed also by Dr. Benson) ascribes tbis cessation of the persecution of the Christians to the attempt of Caligula to set up his own statue in the temple of Jerusalem, and to the consternation thereby excited in the minds of the Jewish people; which consternation for a season excluded every other contest.
Acts ix. 31.
amongst them, passing throughout all quarters. We find also those, who had been before expelled from Jerusalem by the persecution which raged there, travelling as far as Phenice, Cyprus, and Antioch :* and lastly, we find Jerusalem again the centre of the mission, the place whither the preachers returned from their several excursions, where they reported the conduct and effects of their ministry, where questions of public concern were canvassed and settled, from whence directions were sought, and teachers sent forth.
The time of this tranquillity did not, however, continue long. Herod Agrippa, who had lately acceded to the government of Judea, “ stretched forth his hand to vex certain of the church." He began his cruelty by beheading one of the twelve original apostles, a kinsman and constant companion of the founder of the religion. Perceiving that this execution gratified the Jews, he proceeded to seize, in order to put to death, another of the number; and him like the former, associated with Christ during his life, and eminently active in the service since his death. This man was, however delivered from prison, as the account states, miraculously, and made his escape from Jerusalem.
These things are related, not in the general terms under which, in giving the outlines of the history, we have here mentioned theny, but with the utmost particularity of names, persons, places, and circumstances; and, what is deserving of notice, without the smallest discoverable propensity in the historian to magnify the fortitude, or exaggerate the sufferings, of his party. When they fled for their lives, he tells us.
When the churches had rest, he remarks it. When the people took their part, he does not leave it without notice. When the apostles were carried a second time before the Sanhedrim, he is careful to observe, that they were brought without violence. When milder counsels were suggested, he gives us the author of the advice, and the speech which contained it. When, in consequence of this advice, the rulers contented themselves with threatening the apostles, and commanding them to be beaten with stripes, without urging at that time the persecution farther, the historian candidly and distinctly records their forbear
When, therefore, in other instances, he states heavier persecutions or actual martyrdoms, it is reasonable to believe that he states them because they were true ; and not from any wish to aggravate, in his account, the suffer
t Acts xii. I.
| Acts xii, 3--17. D
• Arts xi. 19.
ings which Christians sustained, or to extol, more than it deserved, their patience under them.
Our history now pursues a narrower path. Leaving the rest of the apostles, and the original associates of Christ, engaged in the propagation of the new faith, (and who, there is not the least reason to believe, abated in their diligence or courage) the narrative proceeds with the separate memoirs of that eminent teacher, whose extraordinary and sudden conversion to the religion and corresponding change of conduct, had before been circumstantiaily described. This person, in conjunction with another, who appeared amongst the earliest members of the society at Jerusalem, and amongst the immediate adherents* of the twelve apostles, set out from Antioch upon the express business of carrying the new religion through the various provinces of the lesser Asia. During this expedition, we iind, that in almost every place to which they came, their persons were insulted, and their lives endangered. After being expelled from Antioch in l'isidia, they repaired to Iconium. I At Iconium an attempt was made to stone them. At Lystra, whither they fled from Iconium, one of them actually was stoned, and drawn out of the city for dead. These two men, though not themselves original apostles, were acting in connexion and conjunction with the original apostles; for, after the completion of their journey, being sent upon a particular commission to Jerusalem, they there related to the apostles, and elders the events and success of their ministry, and were in return recommended by them to the churches, “as men who had hazarded their lives in the cause." . The treatment wbich they had experienced in their first progress, did not deter them from preparing for a second. Upon a dispute, however, arising between them, but not connected with the common subject of their labours, they acted as wise and sincere men would act; they did not retire in disgust from the service in which they were engaged, but, each devoting his endeavours to the advancement of the religion, they parted from one another, and set forwards upon separate routs. The history goes along with one of them; and the second enterprize to him was attended with the same dangers and persecutions as both had met with in the first. The apostle's travels hitherto had been confined to Asia. He now crosses, for the first time, the Ægean
+ Acts xiii. 2. Acts xiii. 50. Acts xiv, 6. # Acts xv. 12-26.
Acts iv. 36.
Sea, and carries with him, amongst others, the person whose accounts supply the information we are stating. The first place in Greece at which he appears to have stopped, was Philippi in Macedonia. Here himself and one of his companions were cruelly whipped, cast into prison, and kept there under the most rigorous custody, being thrust, whilst yet smarting with their wounds, into the inner dungeon, and their feet made fast in the stocks.f Notwithstanding this unequivocal specimen of the usage they had to look for in that country, they went forward in the execution of their errand. After passing through Amphipolis and Appollonia, they came to Thessalonica ; in which city the house in which they lodged was assailed by a party of their ene-mies, in order to bring them out to the populace. And when, fortunately for their preservation, they were not found at home, the master of the house was dragged before the magistrate for admitting them within his doors. Their reception at the next city was something better; but neither here had they continued long before their turbulent adversaries, the Jews, excited against them such commotions amongst the inhabitants, as obliged the apostle to make his escape by a private journey to Athens. The extremity of the progress wa3 Corinth. His abode in this city for some time seems to have been without molestation. At length, however, the Jews found means to stir up an insurrection against him, and to bring him before the tribunal of the Roman president.l! It was to the contempt which that magistrate entertained for the Jews and their controversies, of which he accounted Christianity to be one, that our apostle owed his deliverance. **
This indefatigable teacher, after leaving Corinth, returned by Ephesus into Syria ; and again visited Jerusalem, and the society of Christians in that city, which, as hath been repeatedly observed, still continued the centre of the mission.ff It suited not, however, with the activity of his zeal, to remain long at Jerusalem. We find him going from thence to Antioch, and, after some stay there, traversing once more the northern provinces of Asia Minor. 11. This progress ended at Ephesus; in which city the apostle continued in the daily exercise of his ministry two years, and until his success, at length, excited the apprehensions of those who were interested in the support of the national worship. Their clamour produced a tumult, in which he + V. 23, 24, 33. Acts xvii. 1-5. Š V. 13. | Acts xviii. 12. had nearly lost his life.* Undismayed, however, by the dangers to which he saw himself exposed, he was driven from Ephesus only to renew his labors in Greece.f After passing over Macedonia, he thence proceeded to bis former station at Corinth. When he had formed his design of returning by a direct course from Corinth into Sy. ria, he was compelled by a conspiracy of the Jews, who were prepared to intercept him on his way, to trace back his steps through Macedonia to Philippi, and from thence to take shipping into Asia. Along the coast of Asia he pursued his voyage with all the expedition he could command, in order to reach Jerusalem against the feast of Pentecost. His reception at Jerusalem was of a piece with the usage he had experienced from the Jews in other places. He had been only a few days in that city, when the populạce, instigated by some of his old opponents in Asia who attended this feast, seized him in the temple, forced him out of it, and were ready immediately to have destroyed him, had not the sudden presence of the Roman guard rescued him out of their hands. The officer, however, who had thus seasonably interposed, acted from his care of the public peace, with the preservation of which he was charged, and not from any favour to the apostle, or indeed any disposi.. tion to exercise either justice or humanity towards him ; for he had no sooner secured his person in the fortress, than he was proceeding to examine him by torture.**
tt v. 22. #1 V. 23.
Acts xvj. 11.
• Acts xviii. 15.
From this time to the conclusion of the history, the apostle remains in public custody of the Roman government. Aster escaping assassination by a fortunate discovery of the plot, and delivering himself from the influence of his enemies by an appeal to the audience of the emperor,tt he was sent, but not until he had suffered two years imprisonment, to Rome.ff. He reached Italy after a tedious voyage, and after encountering in his passage the perils of a desperate shipwreck.$$ But although still a prisoner, and his fate still depending, neither the various and long-continued sufferings which he had undergone, nor the danger of his present situation, deterred him from persisting in preaching the religion ; for the historian closes the account by telling us, that, for two years, he received all that came unto him in his own hired house, where he was permitted to dwell with a soldier that guarded him, "preaching the kingdom of
• Actu xix. 1, 9, 10. + V. 29, 31, Acts xix. 1. $ Acts xix. 16. | Acts xxi. 27-33. ** Acts xxii. 12, 24.
tt Acts xxv, 4, 114 # Acts xxiv. 27.
of Acts xxii,