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Mesopotanians, Cappadocians, Asiatics, Egyptians, Cretes, Arabians, and the people about Lybia and Cyrene; it is not difficult to conceive that the command to "preach the Gospel to every creature under Heaven," was obeyed to its greatest possible extent.1 ·
Peter addresses his Epistles to the converted Jews in Pontus, Asia, Cappadocia, and Bythinia, and it is certain that in most of these countries, churches were established thirty years after the death of Christ: 2 so that "the sound of the Preachers of the Gospel had gone "forth into all the Earth, and their words to the end of "the World." This prediction therefore was fulfilled within the limited time.
IV. The next in order of these great predictions, was that of the persecution of the Christians; and particu, larly of the Apostles: 5 a prophecy fully verified, and satisfactorily attested, by the writings of the Roman Historians.
Tacitus speaking of the terrible fire at Rome, wan
1 Vide Acts ii. 9, 10, 11. and Colos. i. 28,
2 Pliny, in his celebrated letter to Trajan (written seventy years after the death of Christ) speaking of the number of Christians in Bythinia and Pontus, "There are many says, of every age and of both sexes; nor has the conta, 56 gion of this superstition seized cities only, but smaller towns also, and the open country."-Multi, omnis ætatis, utrusque sexûs etiam: neque enim' "civitatis tantum, sed vicos etiam et agros superstitionis istius contagio 86 pervagata est."
s Rom. x. 18.
4 BUT BEFOREe all these, tHEY SHALL LAY THEIR HANDS ON YOU, AND PERSECUTE YOU, DELIVERING YOU UP TO THE SYNAGOGUES AND INTO PRISONS, BEING BROUGHT BEFORE KINGS AND RULERS FOR MY NAME'S SAKE.
AND YE SHALL BE BETRAYED BOTH BY PARENTS AND BRETHREN AND KINSFOLKS AND FRIENDS, AND SOME OF YOU THEY SHALL CAUSE TO BE PUT TO DEATH. AND YE SHALL BE HATED OF ALL MEN FOR MY NAME'S SAKE.-Luke xxi. 12, 16, 17. Vide also John xvi. 4.-xv, 20.-xvi. 33.
tonly kindled by Nero, adds, "that no human assist "ance, no liberality of the Emperour, or sacrifices of "atonement to the Gods, could do away the foul disgrace under which he lay, of having ordered the city to be set on fire: to suppress, therefore, the common rumour, Nero laid the guilt, and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on those men, who, under the "vulgar appellation of Christians, were already branded "with deserved infamy. They derived their name and origin from Christ, who in the reign of Tiberius was put to death, under the procurator Pontius Pilate. "For a while, this pernicious superstition was checked; "but it again broke out, and spread not only over "Judea, the first seat of this mischievous sect; but was
even introduced into Rome, the common asylum of "whatever is impure and atrocious. At first those only "were seized who confessed their persuasion, and after"wards, by their information, a vast multitude were "apprehended and condemned; not so much for the "crime of setting fire to the city, as for their hatred of "mankind. Their sufferings, at the place of execu
tion, were embittered by derision and insult; some "were disguised in the skins of wild beasts and torn "to pieces by dogs; some were crucified, while others "smeared over with combustible matter, were used as " torches to illuminate the night."1
1 Sed non ope humanâ, non largitionibus Principis, aut Deum placamentis, decedebant infamia, quin jussum incendium crederetur. Ergo abolendo, rumori Nero subdidit reos, et quæsitissimis pænis affecit, quos per flagitia invisos, vulgus Christianos appellabat. Auctor nominis ejus Christus, qui Tiberio imperante, per procuratorem Pontium Pilatum supplicio affectus erat. Repressaque in præsens exitiabilis superstitio rursus erumpebat, noņ modò per Judæam, originem ejus mali, sed per Urbem etiam, quo cuncta
These excessive cruelties were practised in the tenth year of the reign of Nero; and Sulpicius, a Christian writer of history of the fourth century, quoted by Lardner, makes mention of nearly the same circumstances in his description of the same persecution.1
Martial, the Epigrammatist, (quoted by Lardner and Paley on the same subject) according to his usual custom, made the sufferings of the Christians a topic of ridicule. Suetonius also, describing the transactions of the same reign, refers to the same persecution of the Christians; whom he denominates, "men of a new "and criminal superstition." And Juvenal refers, in the opinion of many learned men, to the same cruelties in those lines, in which he says, "Describe the true "character of any villain as great as Tigellinus (a creature of Nero), and you shall suffer the same punishment with those who stand burning in their 66 own
undique atrocia, aut pudenda, confluunt, celebranturque. Igitur primò correpti qui fatebantur, deinde indicio eorum multitudo ingens, haud perinde in crimine incendii, quum odio humani generis convicti sunt. Et pereuntibus addita ludibria, aut ferarum ter gis contecti, laniatu canum interirent, aut crucibus affixi, aut flammandi, atque ubi defecisset dies, in usum nocturni luminis ureretur.-Ann. xv. 44.
1 Sulp. Sever. Sacr. Hist. 2, xli. 29.
Vide Lardner's Works, vol. 7, p. 255.
2 In matutinâ nuper spectatus arena
Ure manum: plus est dicere, non facio.
Lib. x. Epig. 25.
3. Afflicti suppliciis Christiani, genus hominum, SUPERSTITIONIS NOVÆ ET MALIFICÆ. In vitâ. Neros, xvi.
"own flame and smoke; their heads being held up by a stake fixed to their chins, till they make a long "stream of blood and melted sulphur on the ground."1 These events took place within the first thirty years after the death of Christ, and clearly verify the prediction foretelling the persecution of the Christians in particular.
V. That the Apostles accomplished the same pro phecy as it related to themselves, may also be collected from the writings of St. Luke, which inform us that shortly after the ascension of Christ, Peter and John were called before the Jewish council, and were imprisoned and beaten ;2-that Stephen, an eminent disciple, suffered death by stoning.-James, the brother of John, was beheaded by Herod-Agrippa, who shut up Peter
1 Pone Tigellinum, tædâ lucebis in illâ
Sat. i. 155.
The conflagration kindled by Nero, with a view to burn the city, was discovered to have broken out in the house of Tigellinus, who from his vices and debauchery had made himself the favourite of that Emperour. Enraged at this discovery, Nero, with the hope of averting the odium from his favourite, basely taxed the Christians with setting fire to his house.-With this interpretation, Gifford thus renders the passage:
Now glance at Tigellinus, and you glare
In that pitched shirt, in which such crowds expire,
Vide Gifford's Translation of Juvenal, and his Note upon this passage. 2 And when they had called the Apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus.-Acts v. 4.
3 And they cast him out of the city and stoned him.-Acts vii. 58.
4 And about that time Herod the King stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the Church, and he killed James the brother of John with the sword.-Acts xii. 2.
Peter in prison with an intention of putting him to death, had he not been miraculously delivered.1
Paul, formerly himself a persecutor, but afterwards a convert, was in his turn frequently persecuted. He was kept in prison two years in Judea, as long at Rome, and was with Silas imprisoned and beaten in the synagogue of Philippi.2-He pleaded before Festus and Felix, at Jerusalem, and also before the younger Agrippa; and last of all before Nero, at Rome, as it is commonly supposed. The catalogue of his sufferings he thus records:-" In labours abundant, in stripes “above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths "oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I "stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day "I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in
perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by my "own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils "in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weari"ness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger "and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and naked
ness. Besides those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the "Churches."
1 And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. But when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quarternions of soldiers, to keep him, intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people; Peter, therefore, was kept in prison.-Acts xii. 3, 4, 5,
2 And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely.-Acts xvi. 23.
Acts xxii. 30, and xxiii. 1–35. Also 2 Cor. xi. 23—33,