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evil, or the shadow of it, never hesitate for a breath-on the instant speak to it—"Get thee behind me Satan." Then thou shalt be at peace with thyself. All men shall honor thee, and God and his angels shall bless thee and keep thee always.

T. B. T.


Indications of Providence in the Establishment of Chris


The philosophical mind has not failed to notice, in the tendency of those political events that immediately preceded the advent of Christianity, or in the condition of the civilized world at that period, very significant signs of preparation for the reign of that religion which Jesus Christ was to establish. In the new order of things, which it was his mission to initiate, we find the explanation of a course of events and of a posture of affairs, which, considered apart from their ultimate uses, must have appeared inexplicable. It is by the revelation of God's designs in the slowly unfolding results of ages, that he justifies his ways to man, interprets the anomalies of human experience, and makes history luminous to the wise. We

propose to consider a few indications of his directing providence, as seen in the introduction and establishment of Christianity.

For many years, the steady progress of Roman conquest had been obliterating the distinction of nations, appeasing the jealousy of hostile peoples by granting a similarity of social position and political privilege, and blending the apparently incongruous tribes in the equality of a vast commonwealth. With an insatiable ambition and an iron will, the genius of Rome had led her victorious armies through the most distant provinces, and brought back the spoils of nations to her capital; yet, after the heat of conquest had subsided with the exultation of victory, in the exercise of a tolerant and comprehensive policy, she embraced all the conquered within her im


perial jurisdiction, and extended to them the common rights of Roman subjects; so that, in the words of a popular historian, “the kingdoms, which were won by the most unjustifiable aggression, were, for the most part, governed with a judicious union of firmness and conciliation, in which the conscious strength of irresistible power was tempered with the wisest respect to national usages.' Thus, in the reign of Augustus Cæsar, the world was presented with the unexampled spectacle of an empire extending " from the Euphrates to the Atlantic; from the shores of Britain, and the borders of the German forests, to the sands of the African desert,” and consolidating a large part of the human family within a uniform social system, united by similar laws and commercial facilites, and by the general predominance of the Greek and Latin languages.

No sooner was this mighty political fabric completed, than a religion appeared, worthy to be enthroned in it as its living soul. As the Roman empire transcended all former political confederations, and moulded into a uni. form social condition the hostile and local diversities of the nations it conquered,-so Christianity, transcending all former religions, was prepared to unite the various peoples, thus made accessible to her teachings, into a uniform and everlasting spiritual commonwealth. This adaptation of the world to the advent of Christianity could not have been accidental. So perfect an adjustment of ample means to a great and lofty end, indicates divine forecast and an intelligible plan. Political Rome, fulfil. ling its ultimate mission in the reception and diffusion of the gospel, reveals a divine purpose in its gradual ascendency, and justifies its monopoly of the power, learning, and wealth of the world. Without the work which it accomplished in removing the barriers that had divided tribes and nations, it seems impossible that the new religion could have diffused itself, to any considerable extent, except by perpetual miracles—and miracles, too, of an order most violent and unprecedented. It is easy to estimate the difficulties it must have encountered, at an earlier period and under different outward circumstances, with all the petty tribes and powerful nations in a mutually

1 Milman.

2 Ibid.

hostile attitnde-both towards the new faith and towards each other,-irritated by local prejudices, estranged by opposing interests, and made irreconcilable by conflicting customs, laws and languages. In the slow, but momentous, processes of time, these obstacles were removed, so far as was accordant with divine pleasure; human ambition and the lust of power became God's instrumentalities for fusing together the divided race; and the dominion that was won by violence became the highway of the Prince of Peace.

Such is the evidence of providential preparation for Christianity, which we find in the outward, or political, state of the world. Equally impressive is the evidence afforded by the internal, or spiritual, state of mankind at the same period.

While the local governments were losing their indepen. dence by the aggressions of the imperial power, the local religions were gradually losing their authority by the growth of the human mind. The time had been, when these had exerted an unquestioned sway over all classes in the nation, and when the mandate of the priest was more potent than the will of the king. But these provincial religions were limited, in their adaptation, to the tribes from which they severally sprang, and to a condition of prevalent barbarism. Each was prevented from propagating itself abroad by some local peculiarity, and denied the privilege of perpetuity by the poverty of its resources and the crudeness of its teachings. None could minister but to a narrow mental developement, and to a superficial moral experience. Hence, as mankind advanced in intelligence, and as they learned to analyze more critically their spiritual functions and necessities, and to calculate their probable relations to the universe, the inadequacy of their religions became more manifest, and their pretensions more ridiculous. In the age of Augustus, not one of the nominal faiths whose authority had been established in the heathen world, enjoyed the confi. dence of the learned, as an authentic interpreter of the mystery of life ; and the chief motive of the philosophers, in tolerating these effete religions, seems to have been the supposed need of them as a restraint on the lawlessness of the ignorant masses. “ Historians must be pardoned,"

says Polybius, " if, for the sake of maintaining piety among the many, they occasionally introduce miraculous or fabulous tales." It was the opinion of this writer, that religion would, perhaps, be unnecessary in a commonwealth of wise men. “But," he adds, " since the multitude is ever fickle, full of lawless desires, irrational passions, and violence, it is right to restrain it by the fear of the invisible world and such tragic terrors. Whence our ancestors appear to have introduced notions concerning the gods, and opinions about the infernal regions, not rashly or without consideration. Those rather act rashly and inconsiderately who would expel them.”3 “It is impossible," remarks Strabo," to govern a mob of women, or the whole mixed multitude, by philosophic reasoning, and to exhort them to piety, holiness, and faith ; we must also employ superstition, with its fables and prodigies. For the thunder, the ægis, the trident, the torches, the serpents, the thyrsi of the gods, are fables, as is all the ancient theology; but the legislature introduced these things as bugbears to those who are children in understanding." 4 "To such dishonor and weakness had the popular faith become reduced, and to such base uses were they applied, throughout the realm of Polytheism.

Nor was Judaism, though founded by divine authority, an exception to the practical impotency of the religious systems. Judaism, in the exclusive form which it had assumed, had exhausted its legitimate influence, and finished its appointed work. It is true that its wonderful vigor still manifested itself in the proselytes that were made by Jewish teachers, and in the Jewish colonies; but it had become corrupted by an infusion of heathen tradition and oriental philosophy, and could no longer be identified with the faith of the prophets. Since the fall of Solomon's temple, no symbolic presence of the Deity had shone in the sanctuary, 5 in assurance of divine protection; and more than four hundred years had elapsed since the prophetic line was closed by Malachi, with vivid predictions of an approaching dispensation which was to supercede the perverted faith of Judea. 6 There was this distinction, 3 Polyb. vi. 56.

Strabo, lib. i. p. 19. See also the mass of evidence quoted in the histories of Milman and Neander, 5 Milman's History of the Jews, ii. 11. 6 Mal. iii. iv.





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however, between the aspect of Judaism and that of the polytheistic religions : that, while the latter were essentially false, and required to be uprooted, the former preserved the fundamental truth of things in its doctrine of divine unity, and typified, in the unlimited significance of its symbols, all the elements of a comprehensive and absolute religion. But, since it remained unconscious of those latent elements, and gave no evidence of a self-expanding power, it is evident that Judaism, like the heathen faiths that were expiring around it, had no claim on the confidence and sympathy of mankind.

Thus was the world, by the expansion of its intelligence and the refinement of its experience, borne beyond the sphere of the old religions. At the point of culture to which it had now advanced, it found no faith capable of securing its allegiance. In the expressive words of the Cliristian historian, “The world, peacefully united under one temporal monarchy, might be compared to a vast body without a soul : the throne of the human mind appeared vacant; among the rival competitors for its dominion, none advanced more than claims local, or limited to a certain class.' In this remarkable destitution of mankind, as regards any authoritative religion, we see God's spiritual preparation for the advent of Christianity; which came with a breadth of purpose that embraced all nations, and with an affluence of resources adequate to all the emergencies and capacities of man. So obvious a fitness of the time to the event, of the human want to the divine response, has led a certain class of speculative minds to suppose that Christianity is the spontaneous production of the age in which it appeared ; in other words, that it was developed by the peculiar circumstances, desires, expectations, facilities of the time. While we reject this theory as utterly void of probability, and as hostile alike to the facts of history and the analogies of experience, we may adduce it as indicating the power with which this providential preparation has impressed the minds of reflective men.

7 I cannot avoid transcribing, in this place, Milman's eloquent protest against the developement theory: “Christ is as much beyond his own age, as his own age is beyond the darkest barbarism. The time, though fitted to receive, could not, by any combination of prevalent opinions,


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