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to everyone that believeth; it is the revelation of God's righteousness through faith therein unto the believer's faith. This is the Gospel statement. Then appeal is made to the pagan consciousness: God's wrath against unrighteousness is revealed from heaven in man' and unto man. For the invisible nature of God, his everlasting power and divinity, has been ever manifest in his creation; and men senselessly worship the likeness of an image of corruptible man and of beasts. The truth of God they exchanged for a lie; hence God gave them over to all the wickedness and abominations which flowed from wilful ignorance of him. God's long-suffering is to
the end that men repent. But he will render to every man according to his works, to the righteous, eternal life, to the wicked, anguish and tribulation. And in that day your own consciences (O Gentiles!) shall approve or condemn you, when God judgeth the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to this Gospel of Christ which I set forth to you.'
Tertullian reflects these preachings of Paul: Christians worship the great one God, creator of all, invisible, yet to be seen in his works. The greatest crime is to ignore him of whom man cannot be ignorant. When the soul of man comes to its true self, it calls "God!"-Deum nominat, -exclaims at his greatness and goodness, prays to him instinctively, and proclaims him judge. O testimonium animæ naturaliter Christianæ !'
The pagan world knew its abominations; it had a conscience. So far, it had not recognized that all worships which did not correspond to lofty conceptions of God were productive of immorality. The presentation of the Gospel would make this plain, and at the same time would appeal to the general sense of shortcoming and immorality, the broader sense of need of God, the feeling of separation and estrangement from the power and pu
1 By his moral conscience; compare Rom. i, 19 with Rom. ii, 15. 9 Rom. ii, 15, 16.
rity of the divine, all of which it would change to a sense of sin; and then it would show that the true reconcilement and elevation of the man to the level of his highest thoughts, and so to God, was through repentance and forgiveness in the faith of Christ. Again one notices that the Christian reconcilement was made up of most real elements; for, when once the conscience is awakened as to God, the sense of sin is very real, and repentance, forgiveness, and love's faith are very real salvation.
vert a New Creature.
Thus with the assurance of indubitable revelation, Christianity offered itself to the world. It excluded no real and good element of life; it appealed to much of the pagan best, and so obtaining foothold, gradually confirmed itself from out the greatened life of him who "was being saved." And the Christian character was a new character in the world. Many of its elements had existed in men before, even in races; but as a whole it was novel, and to pagans incomprehensible; therefore it often excited contempt. For a man to add a new cult to his religious habits, was an everyday matter in the Empire; it caused no surprise, roused no opposition; it had no effect. Christianity was an all-comprehensive and inner force, seizing and shaping all the motives of the man. It changed the convert from what he was before. Ancient religions were forms in which race character was shown. They developed or changed with the character of the people. Never did they transform a single man. But pagans who had become Christians were transformed; their standpoints were reversed, they saw life differently. In the first centuries, the change was so complete, and apparently so sudden, that it is difficult to follow the transition stages. The man has ceased to care, at least in the same way, for what he had cared before; he now cares overwhelmingly for a new kind of life, new in its contents, its hopes and loves; his life is changed and he is changed, a new creature, literally a new created being.
The Opposition Roused.
Pagans would not have been so angered at the conversion of relatives and friends, had it not worked such change as to lift the convert out of sympathy with his previous round of habits and associations. All this was incomprehensible to those who remained pagan. For no pagan ever understood Christianity, since there could be no understanding of it without love of Christ, which meant conversion. From the general fact that the Christian life and faith was incomprehensible to pagans, yet in palpable and manifold opposition to their modes of thought and life; and from the further general fact that whatever pagan prejudices were left undisturbed by Christians as individuals, were roused to repugnance and alarm by the Christian communities as organizations, it follows that pagan opposition to Christianity was so broad and various that it is impossible exhaustively to specify the modes and
Men are usually irritated at enthusiasms which they do not feel. Propagandist zeal disturbs and alarms, especially when the zeal is unconquerable and the propaganda resistless, while at the same time threatening every habit and prejudice. To pagan conservative habit, missionary zeal for anything was unreasonable and disturbing; let all people continue in the worship to which they were born, and to which ties of family and race should bind them.' It is unwise to disturb the relations of the gods to men.
Then, the mode and content of Christian propaganda outraged social forms and threatened every social tie. Says Celsus, for instance: "Ignorant Christian artificers and slaves in private households do not dare to speak to the elders and the wise, but to women and children, and teach them to disobey. They are in fear when they see a teacher or father approaching, except indeed the bold'The ordinary Roman view; see Celsus in Origen, Contra Celsum, iii, 5 ; v, 25, 35; Minucius Felix, Octavius.
est, who whisper to the children to throw off the yoke, leave their fathers and instructors, and go with them to the women's apartment or the fuller's shop to attain perfection! Again says Celsus, "Those who bid to other mysteries invite everyone with clean hands, pure from evil, who has lived justly; but Christians invite everyone who is a sinner, who is a child, or whoever is unfortunate. Is not this calling together the unjust and robbers and thieves and poisoners and sacrilegious? What others would a man invite to an assemblage of robbers?"
Thus pagan prejudice saw the matter. If propagandism was itself distasteful to educated pagans, and if Christianity countered their prejudices and threatened their institutions, it is easy to understand their doubled rage at incomprehensible Christian zeal to spread pernicious doctrines by ways and means which ignored all proprieties.
Almost any change of life in a community touches someone's livelihood. To threaten men's livelihoods is to rouse their hate. Hence some of Christianity's earliest troubles. In Philippi the men whose gain from their slave's faculty of divination has ceased, incite the magistrates to imprison Paul and Silas;' at Ephesus, the riot is caused by the makers of silver shrines for Artemis.* Many trades were connected with festivities and public games and popular worship of the gods. wide source of hate and popular outcry."
Here was a
By action in accordance with their faith, the Christians at Jerusalem first incurred the hatred of the Jews; on the other hand, because of the resemblance of their faith to the Jewish religion, and because Christianity at first was 3 Acts xvi, 19.
Origen, contra Celsum, iii, 55.
2 Ib., iii, 59.
4 lb., xix, 23, etc. See Ramsay, Church in the Roman Empire, ch. vii. 5 This matter of the pocket was a burning one within Christianity. Could converts who had been actors or sculptors continue to practise their trades? Tertullian said not; so did Cyprian (Epist., lxi). See also Pliny's letter to Trajan, and Ramsay, ib., pp. 198–200.
deemed a more malignant type of Judaism, Christians inherited the detestation in which all peoples held the Jews.
Hated by Jews and as Jews.
Notwithstanding the crucifixion of their Lord, strong ties of blood and education held the first Jewish Christians to Judaism. These Christian brethren did not cease to think themselves Jews; but as they felt the mission of their Christ, and broadened with the consciousness thereof, their freed activities brought on them that violent persecution from the Jews which quieted into settled hate only after Christianity had completely gone forth from the synagogues to the Gentiles. Stephen was foremost in this first free Christian activity, and the first martyr to the hatred it aroused. Jewish persecution made Christians realize more clearly the differences between their faith and Judaism.' Thus they became conscious of severance from the Jews, or rather of being themselves the only true Israel, soon after their realization that Christianity was for all mankind.' But not so soon did the pagan world recognize that Christians were not what their origin betokened, a Jewish sect.
Naturally, had the various peoples of the Empire detested that one race which drew back its robe from everything outside itself as from defilement, a race not only hatefully repellant, but, as it was unappreciative of the finer sides of pagan life, so was it what that unappreciativeness implied, ugly and unrefined in modes of living. Pagan gods were not jealous; their anger was not roused by honors paid to other divinities, if only they received their due. Neither was there any spirit in their
'See Weizsäcker, Das Apostoliche Zeitalter, second ed., pp. 58, etc.
9 By the end of the apostolic age, Christianity found itself more actively opposed by paganism than by Judaism, it having somewhat passed out of the range of the latter. See Lechler, Apostolic Age, i, 258–262.
This quite often appears in Celsus; see e. g., Origen, Contra Celsum, viii, 21.