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191 1 








This little volume consists mainly of lectures 
delivered during the last forty years to my fellow- 
members of the Society of Friends. I have been 
frequently asked to publish them, and now that my 
lecturing days are of necessity drawing to a close, 
I decide to comply with that request. 

I have also included a few articles contributed 
to a literary periodical of the same Society, the 
Frie7ids Qua^'terly Examiner. 

It will be seen at once that there is no pretence 
of unity of subject in these papers, which deal with 
the biographies of men so different in social position 
as a Syrian king and a Leicestershire shepherd, but 
in the process of revision I have found more than 
I expected of a certain unity of idea pervading 
them. Most of them deal with the question how 
Faith may be won, and how it has been fought for 
in old times by men who felt the heavy hand of the 
persecutor. There is almost inevitably a good deal 
of repetition in the book, the same thought and 
sometimes the same illustration recurring in different 
lectures, but I have not thought it necessary to 
attempt to correct this blemish. 



As before said, in almost all these lectures I was 
addressing the members of my own Christian com- 
munity. Should the book attract the attention of 
any who belong to other churches, I ask them kindly 
to remember that I was not primarily speaking to 
them. Some things which I have said will, I fear, 
give them pain ; but such was not my intention, 
and I venture to hope that they may at least, from 
my pages, understand a little more than before the 
reason of so many of our strange divergences from 
the majority of our fellow-Christians. I have great 
faith in the maxim, '' Tout comprendre c est tout 




^th February 1 9 1 1 . 


The Trial of Our Faith 

The Central Mystery of Christianity 

Predestination . 

The Epistle to the Galatians 

Early Christian Worship 

The Feasts and Fasts of Israel 

The Epistles of Ignatius 

Paganism and Christianity 

On the Prospects of English Protestantism 

George Fox . . . . . 

James Parnel ... 

Antiochus Epiphanes and the Maccabees 













In the far-away ages of the childhood of our 
race, Greek philosophers and Hebrew poets spoke 
of God as Infinite and Eternal. 

The world was then believed to be a flat disc, 
above which sun, moon, and stars (bodies small in 
comparison therewith) rose out of the ocean in the 
east and sank beneath the ocean in the west, loyal 
servants and dutiful torch -bearers to the central 
earth. The Greek's conception of the age of our 
universe was perhaps somewhat indefinite, but the 
Hebrew apparently thought that it had all come 
into existence in the year which we now call 4004 
before Christ, or, let us say, about 3300 before the 
age of Isaiah. Seventy-six generations of mankind, 
according to the Hebrew genealogies, intervened 
between the days of Augustus Caesar and the 
absolute beginning of all this visible universe. 

Yet even then the philosopher, when he rose to 

the conception of one Highest God, declared that 

He is Infinite and Eternal (aTretpo? koX dlBco^), and 

the Hebrew Psalmist more beautifully said, '' If I 

ascend up into Heaven, thou art there : if I make 

my bed in Hades, behold, thou art there. If I take 

1 B 


the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost 
parts of the sea ; even there shall thy hand lead me 
and thy right hand shall hold me." That means 
that God is omnipresent. ** Before the mountains 
were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the 
earth and the world, even from everlasting to ever- 
lasting, thou art God." That means that He is 

Like little children talking of *' Father " and 
*• Mother," but knowing nothing of the long train 
of events which brought "Father" and ** Mother" 
together, of the slow process of the building of the 
home, of the daily cares which the government of 
the home even now brings with it : so these 
wondrous spirits in the childhood of the world 
named the names '* Infinite" and *' Eternal," under- 
standing but faintly the overwhelming thoughts 
which those words convey or conceal. 

We are children of a larger growth though still 
children, and we perhaps understand a little more 
of what those crushing words import. We know 
that if we could be started in an express train 
travelling night and day perpetually at the rate of 
60 miles an hour, it would take us, or rather our 
posterity in the sixth generation, 177 years to 
reach the sun. And yet we are told that this 
tremendous distance is an almost inappreciable 
quantity when we come to deal with the distance of 
the nearest fixed star. Though it is the only measur- 
ing rod that we can use, this distance is as inapplic- 
able to the purpose as if we had to measure the 


length and breadth of Yorkshire with a draper's 
yard ; and if we could continue our journey in an 
untiring express train travelling always at the rate 
of 60 miles an hour and never halting to stoke 
the locomotive, it would take the ghostly engine- 
driver 49,000,000 years to reach the very nearest 
of the fixed stars. 

Of course the word Infinite means far more 
than that : but just pause for a moment to reflect 
that in this stupendous journeying you have only 
gone, as it were, from one square of black marble 
to another on the floor of God's great star - built 
cathedral. And then let us consider how our con- 
ception of past eternity is aided by what Geology 
tells us of the long aeons during which this earth 
has been in existence. Itself a mere speck in the 
boundless universe ; the date when it sprang off 
from the parent sun, a spark from the anvil of 
creation, is no doubt a very modern date in the 
history of that universe ; and yet if we can imagine 
a human spirit watching the various stages of the 
earth's existence from that hour to this, how like 
an eternity would the slow procession of the ages 
appear to such an one ! Think through how many 
thousands or hundreds of thousands of years the 
sun sank into the west, looking forth upon a heaving 
waste of waters in which there was no life. Think 
of the slow but mighty change by which our own 
Cumbrian mountains were upreared, and remember 
that for ages after they had begun to battle with 
the frost and the rain-cloud, no mountain nor hill 


was visible where now the Alps of the Swiss 
Oberland, as seen from the Plateau of Berne, raise 
their majestic forms, covered with the snow which 
we call *' eternal." Think of the unnumbered years 
during which the trees of tropical forests rising, 
growing, dying, decaying, prepared the coal whose 
smoke hangs like a pall over the cities of to-day. 
Then of the monsters of the Saurian age ; of the 
slow advance of the glaciers over Northern Europe 
and their slow recession ; of the faint break of day 
when the animals, which are now the companions of 
man, appeared upon the scene, and at last, after such 
an eternity of waiting, let us behold in vision man's 
own appearance on the earth which he has so 
strangely scarred with his handiwork. Even these 
scattered hints of the teachings of the youngest of 
the sciences help us to listen with deeper reverence 
to the words of the Psalmist, ''Before the 7nountains 
were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the 
earth and the world, even from everlasting to 
everlasting, thou art God." 

Such thoughts as these may well fill our souls 
with an overpowering feeling of awe when we think 
of the Incomprehensible Creator. With an even 
more terrifying voice than that which thundered 
forth the law from Sinai, Astronomy and Geology 
seem to say unto us, '' Thou shalt not take the 
name of the Lord thy God in vain." Yet in this 
very town all through the working day and the 
convivial night how many voices of men are heard 
blaspheming the name of the Infinite Maker .^^ This 


insect man : how contemptible he is in his insolent 
ingratitude, and how patiently the Eternal One bears 
with his folly ! 

And not in ribald profanity only do men take 
the name of the Lord their God in vain. Perhaps 
none have sinned more grievously against the 
third commandment than the men who call them- 
selves theologians. When we think who He is and 
what we are, we shudder to remember the use 
which some of the theological system-mongers have 
made of the High and Holy name of God, how 
they have imagined that with their little line and 
plummet they could sound the depths of that 
unfathomable sea, how they have chattered about 
Ousia and Hypostasis, how even Milton, our own 
glorious Milton, has ventured on the presumptuous 
attempt to justify the ways of God to man by 
making the Eternal Father ''turn a school Divine," 
and putting speeches into His mouth which we can 
hardly read without irreverence. 

Verily, with veiled faces and unshod feet, should 
the sons of men approach the Holy of Holies. 
They should have the prayer '* Hallowed be thy 
name " ever in their hearts, if not on their lips, when 
they dare to speak to one another of the things 
of God. 

Yet let us not be cast down below hope by the 
thought of the almost infinite littleness of man. 
We are here but for a moment in God's eternity, 
and this earth which is our home is but a speck in 
His universe ; but a voice which does not lie assures 


us that we have a wonderful destiny, and that 
glorious possibilities are placed within our reach. 
After all the new vistas of truth which Astronomy 
and Geology have opened before us, this pro- 
position remains true, and it must take an early 
place in our spiritual Euclid : — 

Man, as far as we yet knoWy is a being unique in 
the universe. Neither in the heights above, with 
the telescope, nor in the depths beneath, with the 
geologist's hammer, have we found traces of any 
other being, able even in a small degree to imitate 
the works of the Creator ; to forecast far distant 
results, to store up the knowledge of the past and 
to make it available for the future ; to develop 
forms of beauty, the conscious reflections of some 
ideal of beauty within him : no one like man set in 
authority over a multitude of lower intelligences 
such as our servants in the animal world, no one 
able to form a thought of the mighty Maker, much 
less to aspire after communion with Him. As 
Tennyson sings : — 

For tho' the Giant Ages heave the hill 
And break the shore, and evermore 
Make and break, and work their will : 
Tho' world on world in myriad myriads roll 
Round us, each with different powers, 
And other forms of life than ours, 
What know we greater than the soul ? 
On God and Godlike men we build our trust. 

Even the long chain of delicate observations 
and abstruse calculations by which man has 
ascertained the fact of his infinite littleness is a 


proof of his mysterious greatness. And yet more 
sadly must we confess that the depth of ruin into 
which man may fall bears witness to the existence 
within him of most strange spiritual possibilities. 
That the same race should produce the saint, the 
patriot, the hero on the one hand, the wife-beater, 
the child-starver, the dynamitard on the other hand, 
is a proof of the vast scale over which the notes of 
man's spiritual being range. "The corruption of 
the best is still as ever the worst," and this 
marvellous being who, by his mysterious gift of 
free-will, is meant to rise so high above the 
brutes, can, if he abuse that gift, sink far below 

Thus then, even in the face of these newly 
discovered truths, we can still say that nothing that 
has yet been disclosed to us really alters man's 
spiritual relation to the universe. What secrets 
the other worlds may hide we know not, but we 
have seen nothing to shake our belief in the state- 
ment of the first chapter of Genesis that man was 
made in the likeness of God. Nor shall the starry 
heavens appal though they needs must awe us. 
They are the glories of a king's transcendent palace, 
but if that King is our Father we may pass through 
its courts with unfaltering footstep. Even when 
listening to the words of a Herschel, or reading 
the tidings of the latest discovery made at some 
great observatory, I seem also to hear the strong, 
consoling voice of Christ say, '' Fear not therefore : 
ye are of more value than many nebulae." 


The mention of that name brings me to that 
which is the second proposition in my religious 
Euclid : — 

Even as man is unique in the visible universe, so 
unique among the sons of men is Jestts Christ of 

I have no proof to offer : I am not going to try 
to prove in words that the sun of Italy can warm 
me, or that moonlight on the sea is beautiful. In 
every assembly of men who have only the intel- 
lectual knowledge of the story of the Gospels, the 
vast majority will heartily accept this statement for 
truth, though many will say that it is nothing like 
the whole truth. But I want to get down to the 
facts which are accepted by the common spiritual 
consciousness of all of us. You will remember, 
perhaps, what was said by Charles Lamb, a man 
who made no high religious profession, and who 
was not, I suppose, what would be commonly called 
an *' orthodox " believer : — -'' If Shakespeare were to 
come into this room In which we are now sitting, 
we should all rise up to do him reverence, but if 
That Other Person were to come in, we should all 
kneel down to kiss the hem of His garment." 

Whoever so thinks about Christ, whoever can 
truly say, '' He is to me unique among the sons 
of men. He brings to me a message from the 
Eternal One such as none other that I know of 
has ever borne," — such a man seems to me to be my 
brother in the faith. I know that many, perhaps 
most of those who are called * ' heterodox, " could come 


as far as this : still it seems to me that all who have 
got thus far have at least their faces towards the 
light, and I would say to all these, " Let us live 
with this Man, Who is above all other men, as much 
as we can, let us imitate His spirit, study His 
words, and translate them day by day into acts, and 
then our understanding of Who and What He is will 
grow. " 

" Obedience is the organ of Spiritual Know- 
ledge " : that was the scientific formula by which 
Frederick Robertson expressed the truth con- 
tained in the words of Christ, "If any man will 
do God's will, he shall know of the doctrine, 
whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." 
Logic was the organ, the tool by which Aristotle 
sought to open the secrets of the world of mind. 
Scientific experiment was the new instrument, the 
Novum Organon, by which Lord Bacon invited 
man to explore the secrets of the world of matter. 
Obedience to the words of Christ is the tool by 
which His disciples are to open the doors of the 
kingdom of Heaven and learn as much as it is 
right for us to know in our present low estate of 
its mysteries. Counsels of wrangling bishops, hair- 
splitting Greeks, fanatic Egyptian monks have 
sought to define that which the Saviour Himself 
left undefined of His relation to the Eternal Father, 
and to my mind all that they have done is but 
" darkening counsel by words without knowledge." 
It is not by the argument of an Ecclesiastical 
Debating Society nor by Bill and Answer in a 


great theological Chancery suit that men are meant 
to arrive at Truth. '* The secret of the Lord is 
with them that fear Him ; and He will show them 
His covenant." 

The clouded hill 
Attend thou still 
And Him that went within 

is the advice of a modern poet.^ And thus waiting 
in patience, but in obedience, some of us at least 
have found the awful mystery expressed in the 
words *' God manifest in the flesh " grow bearable, 
and then more than bearable, cheering, helpful, life- 
giving. We see that all other human messengers 
of God have been careful to emphasise the fact that 
they were but servants. The more saintly they 
have been, the more they have dwelt upon their 
own weakness and liability to fall : the greater the 
power with which they bore witness to the truths 
of the unseen world, the greater has been their 
anxiety that those who listened to their words 
should believe, not in the teacher but on Him who 
sent him. But in this one Teacher the law of the 
series fails. His standard of holy living is the 
highest of all ; His spiritual insight is clearest of 
all. He is meek and lowly of heart ; yet He never 
makes that confession of failure which every other 
servant has made. On the contrary, He says, '* The 
Prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing m 
me." He does not gently unfasten the clinging 
hands of His disciples and tell them to look away 

1 A. H. Clough in his poem *' The New Sinai.'' 


from Himself to Him that sent Him. On the 
contrary He says in His last tender leave-taking, 
when already '*the anguish of the olive-garden" is 
all but overshadowing His soul, "Ye believe in 
God ; believe also in me." 

I expect that most Christians whose religion is 
not a mere dead and formal thing would have to 
admit that they are not always equally able to 
accept this great central mystery of God manifest in 
the flesh in all its fulness. Perhaps contact with 
the ordinary commonplace world of selfish men and 
women puts us out of tune with the sublime self- 
sacrifice of Christ. Perhaps some fresh discovery 
of the marvels of the physical universe makes it 
for the moment harder to believe that its Maker 
stooped so low as to come in at the gate of birth, 
to live as a Galilean peasant, to pass out of human 
life again by a malefactor's death. 

I might almost say that our power of accepting 
this great truth varies with the varying moods of 
our spiritual health ; but when this life is strongest 
within us, when soul mingles with soul, and we 
claim the fulfilment of the promise, " Where two or 
three are met together in my name, there am I in 
the midst of them," or when temptation or sorrow, 
especially when the fear of unutterable bereave- 
ment comes over us, then we turn with renewed 
faith to Him who, as Son of Man, understands and 
sympathises with all our trials, who, as the Ever- 
lasting Son of the Father, can and will, in His 
own good time, "grant us a happy issue out of all 


our tribulations and temptations whensoever they 
beset us." 

And thus meditating, it seems to me that there 
is something in the doctrine of the Incarnation 
which makes it pre-eminently the message to these 
later scientific ages of the world. Even more than 
those earlier child-ages of which I have spoken do 
we in these latter days need the assurance that the 
Maker of this glorious but overwhelming universe 
is on our side and careth for us. We need to be 
lifted out of that abyss of pessimism into which the 
thought of our littleness, of the pathetic shortness of 
our life here might otherwise plunge us. In order 
that man may live rightly in the world and not in 
his despair lose all hold on God and goodness and 
throw away the spirit - life, living only for the 
pleasures of the senses, he needs to get a new and 
more vivid apprehension of the truth that the 
Maker has Himself been man and that His Spirit 
still dwells with us. 

For this is the last point which I wish to 
emphasise : — 

The Spirit of the risen Christ still dwells in the 
hearts of the children of men. It is not merely 
certain historical facts which occurred under the 
sway of Augustus and Tiberius Caesar that we as 
Christians believe ; it is a living and abiding 
Spiritual presence in the world to which we bear 

We agree with the champions of the so-called 
Catholic Church in this, that a theory which 


represents the Eternal Maker as having spoken 
once by His Son some twenty centuries ago, and 
then, having relapsed into unbroken silence, is 
inadequate and unworthy, and does not correspond 
with the promises of God. But while the Romanist 
too often limits the promise of the Comforter to his 
doctrine of the Infallibility of the Pope, we believe 

Here amidst the poor and blind, 
The poor and suffering of our kind. 
In works we do, in prayers we pray. 
Life of our life, He lives to-day. 

The ecclesiastical theory of "the Temporal 
Mission of the Holy Ghost " comes at last to this, 
that the Spirit who was to bear witness to Christ 
and to guide His disciples into all truth must work 
through one Italian bishop (chosen possibly by all 
the amazing intrigues of a Papal conclave), through 
some man like a Borgia or a della Rovere, who was 
not only no saint, but who would for his evil life 
be expelled in our days from all decent society. 
Through this man must the Spirit of the Holy 
One speak, and through him alone for the guidance 
and governance of the Church. 

Wretched perversion of the great truth of the 
continual witness for Christ in the souls of men, 
this theory of a mechanical transmission of spiritual 
gifts has too long distracted the thoughts of men 
from the glorious truth of which it is the travesty. 
From the day that the Saviour withdrew His visible 
presence from His disciples, His spirit has been 


waiting to dwell with all "holy and humble men of 
heart," clearing their spiritual vision, fashioning 
them into more complete conformity with the like- 
ness of their Master, guiding them even in the 
outward affairs of life, and much more exerting His 
restraining and constraining power in all the stages 
of their spiritual career. 

That official view of the gifts of the Spirit which 
prevailed too early in the Church, and which ruled 
almost supreme in the Middle Ages, may have 
prevented many a devout soul from seeing how it 
was being led, and from recognising the fulfilment 
of Christ's promise. Still He has not failed His 
believing people, and in every age, even the darkest, 
there have been many of whom it could be truly 
said, *' As many as are led by the Spirit of God, 
they are the sons of God." 

And now to us in this day when the Zeitgeist 
in one form or another presses heavily upon many 
minds, it is well that we should remind one another 
of the meaning of the words, ''the glorious liberty 
of the children of God." Materialism, secularism, 
agnosticism bring to the soul no true freedom. 
They leave us with all these high aspirations of 
ours at the mercy of all the chances and changes 
of this physical universe. "These thoughts which 
wander through eternity" are to them mere mocking 
dreams. The love which feels instinctively that it 
ought to be stronger than death turns away from 
the irresponsive clay which was but yesterday so 
dear, baffled, beaten, broken-hearted. But still as 


ever is it true that " if the Son makes us free, then 
are we free indeed." 

But if the trial of our faith is a hard one, there 
is no reason why it should fail in the trying. Every 
age has had its own difficulties, and possibly our 
own seems so hard only because we know our 
difficulties best. In any case, let us stand firm, 
trusting in Him who knows all the conditions of 
our spiritual environment, and who will, with the 
temptation, make a way to escape that we may 
be able to bear it. Slightly paraphrasing the words 
of an Apostle whose own faith once utterly broke 
down under the trial of his Master's apparent 
defeat, I pray that the trial of our faith being much 
more precious than that of gold that perisheth, 
though it too is tried in a very fierce fire, may be 
found unto praise and honour and glory at the 
end of this mysterious Age. 

Benwell, 1890. 


On a beautiful summer morning, not long ago, I 
was journeying in company with a friend over the 
wide sands which at low water intervene between 
Holy Island and the Coast of Northumberland. A 
liorht mist hid both mainland and island from our 
view. We seemed to be surrounded on all sides 
by sea. Myriads of tiny sand-heaps told of the 
work of as many industrious worms burrowing at 
a little distance below the surface. Occasionally 
a gull or a tern flew over our heads, scarcely seem- 
ing to move its strong, beautiful, white wings. 
Only the long procession of telegraph posts told 
of the handiwork of man : and to increase the 
feeling of loneliness came the thought that in a 
very few hours all this wide expanse, including 
even the road along which our patient horse was 
dragging us, would be covered by the waves of 
the German Ocean, and our road would become 
a veritable pathway of death for any who dared 
to linger in it too long. 

I said to my friend, " Does not such a scene 
as this make one feel the littleness of man ? What 



a small part we play in all this silent and wonderful 

**Yes," he answered, ** it reminds me of the 

Arab name for a desert, ' the place where 

H> )» 
e is. 

Why do I remind myself of this scene which 
will perhaps bring to the recollection of some of 
my hearers other similar scenes on the mountains 
or by the sea, or in the trackless forest when they 
have felt themselves alone with Nature or with 
Nature's King ? I remind you of them because 
I cannot but feel that we, of this age and country, 
need more solitude than we generally obtain, in 
order to think right and true thoughts about God. 
Our life in towns is such an artificial and conven- 
tional thing that it enables us to forget the glory 
and the mystery of the universe. We live too 
much on telegrams and newspapers and magazines. 
The chatter of the world's Babel is ever in our 
ears. Even our religion is too much a thing of 
phrase and convention : not enough grounded on 
deep-heart converse of each one of us with the 
Eternal. " We live by Admiration, Hope, and 
Love " — O ! truest words of the Seer of Rydal ! 
But so many of us who have Love, and who are 
not altogether destitute of Hope, do in our snug, 
street-bounded lives, while wielding all the mar- 
vellous contrivances which Man has invented for 
the subjugation, almost for the effacement of Nature, 
lack that feeling of admiring awe in the contempla- 
tion of this visible universe from which some of the 



simpler and happier generations before us have 
derived their nobleness. 

And yet, all the discoveries which the wise men 
of the last three centuries have made concerning 
the nature of that Universe should increase in us 
both admiration and reverence. The world which 
was supposed to have been created in the year 
4004 B.C., and to be lighted and warmed by a 
not very large nor very distant sun, was a much 
more easily imagined, a much less stupendous, 
a much less awe-inspiring thing than this planet 
of which Science tells us, which, with all its vast- 
ness, with all its unimaginable antiquity, is but a 
speck of dust in the starry universe, but a thing 
of yesterday in comparison with the ages of past 
creation. For my part I do not find that the 
Christian Revelation has any mysteries harder for 
faith to accept than some of the things which 
Science has disclosed, and which I know that I 
MUST believe concerning the visible universe. The 
thought of that Sun, from which we derive all 
that makes organic life here possible — of course 
also all that makes human life delightful — that this 
Sun at such an unimaginable distance from us, is 
the scene of such awful fiery tornadoes as Milton 
did not dream of when he was describing Hell ; 
that this tremendous elemental war has been going 
on for ages upon ages, and that, as I have said, our 
planet revolving round it for millions of years, day 
and night, summer and winter, century after century, 
millennium after millennium, has derived from that 


terrible conflagration all possibilities of life and 
happiness for her own children : all this I know 
must be true. I bow my head in awe and admira- 
tion and try to accept it, but it is with such a feeble 
and faltering faith that I hardly dare to say, " I 
believe it." 

From one point of view it seems to me that 
Science, which has made some of the old theological 
positions untenable, has lessened at least one of our 
difficulties. In reviewing the course of human 
history, and seeing the vast changes brought about 
by even a single century, it is difficult to think that 
events which occurred nearly 2000 years ago can 
at this moment be of prime importance for the 
human race. ''Where is the promise of His 
coming?" we are disposed to cry; ''for since the 
fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were 
since the foundation of the world." Thus we crave 
— I admit that I find something in me which craves 
— that if there be a revelation, it should be repeated 
as it were every century. In answer to this craving 
a Christian writer says : "Be not ignorant of this one 
thing that one day is with the Lord as a thousand 
years and a thousand years as one day." And here 
Science comes in with according voice and says that 
1900 years is really but a very small interval in the 
history of Man ; hardly more than a lightning-fiash 
in the history of the World. And it suggests by 
analogy that if we are every day lighted and 
warmed, and all the commonplace operations of 
daily life are regulated by a body which we could 


hardly reach in 200 years though we were travelling 
with railway speed, it is not strange that words 
which were spoken and deeds which were done 
nineteen centuries ago should still profoundly 
modify the life of every one of us. 

This fair face of Nature upon which we look 
may be likened to a picture. Now, there are 
two ways of looking at a picture. We may take a 
magnifying glass to it and enable ourselves to 
say : ** This canvas is of such a composition and 
was probably made at such a place. Here is 
vermilion and there is cobalt. This little bit of 
colour is mineral and that is vegetable in its origin." 
Or we may study the picture from a little farther 
off and allow the beauty of it to work upon our 
souls, and try to enter into the meaning of the 
artist, to grasp the story which he wished to tell 
us. Surely the latter is the truer method ; even 
though we may sometimes fail pitiably to do 
justice to the painter's secret purposes. While 
profoundly admiring the patience and even the 
humility with which some of our great men of 
science have explored the secrets of Nature, I 
think we must admit that sometimes they have been 
analysing the pigments when they would have done 
better to be studying the picture, and that upon 
us as human beings, endowed with a spiritual 
nature, there lies an absolute necessity to try to 
get at the mind of the great unseen Creator and 
to understand something of His purposes in making 
the world and giving us a place in it. That is, 


we crave and must crave for some Revelation of 

The one mode by which above all others, as 
we believe, the Creator has revealed Himself to 
us His creatures has been by human lives. To the 
untutored heathen He may seem to speak in the 
thunder and the whirlwind. An eclipse of the Sun 
tells such an one of the anger of the Gods, and a 
meteorite is ** the image which fell down from 
Jupiter." We know that all these things are but 
part of the great procession of natural events, and do 
not tell us more— perhaps not so much — about the 
Divine Nature than the joy of harvest and the 
fragrance of the rose. But the history of each human 
spirit, if we could read it right, would probably tell us 
something about the great Maker in whose likeness 
it was fashioned ; and certainly some human souls, 
athirst for God and righteousness, do seem to have 
been sent into the world for this very purpose, to bear 
witness to the mind of the Unseen. This revela- 
tion of God's Will through human lives we need 
not by any means claim as the exclusive privilege 
of the Christian or Jewish religion. I reverently 
believe that Socrates, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, 
Buddha, and many another " prophet and righteous 
man " in every land and every age have been true 
messengers and revealers of the Most High. We 
can trace the effect of many of these lives in the 
religious thought of the human race : we can see 
that after some of them have been lived, whole 
nations have thought more worthily of the Maker, 


the standard of man's duty to his fellow-man has 
been raised, that stream in human affairs '' which 
makes for righteousness " has flowed with a 
stronger and fuller current. 

If this is true of the lives of prophets, philo- 
sophers, reformers, at various points of Man's 
history, it is pre-eminently true of the one life 
which began at Bethlehem and ended at Calvary. 
The Life of Jesus is central in the history of our 
race. I think if we look at the way in which the 
shadows fall, we shall feel how true it is that He 
is the central Sun of humanity. There was one 
nation, as we all know, which with many stumblings 
and many backslidings did attain to the great truth 
of the Unity of God, did learn the lesson that He 
is not " like unto gold or silver or stone, graven by 
art or man's device." This nation of Israel had its 
spiritual teachers : the prophets who were perpetual 
witness-bearers on behalf of the "tendency which 
makes for righteousness." And how wonderful 
in their writings is the perpetual pointing forward 
towards One who is to come ; One who is to 
reign, but also to suffer ; One who is to be the full 
and perfect flower sprung from the chosen seed, but 
yet in whom the Gentiles also are to trust. I know 
that this argument has been sometimes too strongly 
pressed ; that passages in the Old Testament have 
been claimed as ** Messianic," which on all fair 
principles of interpretation have nothing to do 
with the expected Messiah. Still, after rejecting 
all these, there remain a number of passages in the 


writings of the Prophets which irresistibly suggest 
the inquiry made by the Ethiopian eunuch — " I 
pray thee, of whom speaketh the Prophet this? 
Of himself, or of some other man ? " and when 
we compare them with the known facts in the 
history of Christ, we cannot doubt Who was that 
'* other man," Whose image, seen as it were through 
the telescope of prophecy, impressed itself so many 
ages before His appearance in history on the recep- 
tive retina of the Hebrew seer. 

I ask myself, after all deductions have been 
made, after every concession has been yielded to the 
fair demands of a strenuous criticism, ** Is there not 
something absolutely unique in the history of the 
human race, in this persistent anticipation by a 
whole nation through at least eight centuries, of a 
coming Deliverer who in the end does come and 
fulfil, though in an utterly bewildering way to 
some of them, the highest anticipations of the 
noblest spirits of the race ? " 

This is what I mean by saying that in the ages 
before Christ appeared the shadows fell backward 
from Him Who was to come, but Who was even 
then the central Sun of Humanity. Nor is this 
true only of the Jewish race. " The unconscious 
Prophecies" of Heathendom, as Trench has fitly 
called them, do sometimes, in a marvellous way, 
give us a hint of the character of the coming 
Deliverer. And yet, even these tell us not only of 
joyous victory but also of suffering and apparent 
defeat. I shall never forget the thrill of emotion 


with which I first read the great passage in Plato's 
Repttblic, in which Socrates, in discussing the char- 
acter of the perfectly just and righteous man argues 
that he will not live a life of serene and sunny- 
happiness, but will be opposed and insulted and 
wronged, and in the end will die by a shameful 
death — I am hardly paraphrasing the words of 
Socrates when I say — will be crucified.^ 

Yes ! the shadows fell backward through those 
long ages, when men were moving up to the 
appearance of Christ, and during the eighteen 
centuries which have since elapsed, while we have 
been moving in a certain sense, but, as I trust, 
only in that sense, away from Him, the shadows 
have fallen forward and He is still the Central 
Sun. If we think of the best and holiest men 
that have served their generation according to the 
Will of God, and have fallen asleep since Christ 
came, if we think of Paul, Augustine, Bernard, 
a Kempis, Francis, Fenelon, Fox, Woolman, we feel 
that all that is best in them comes from likeness 
to Jesus Christ. Where His light has fallen upon 
their characters all is radiant. The shadows of 
human weakness and sin are on those parts which 
are turned away from Him. 

" I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw 

^ In the Republic^ ii. 5 : — Glaucon, who is painting the picture of a 
perfectly righteous man who loves righteousness for its own sake and not for 
the sake of the rewards which it might bring, says : " They " (the opponents) 
*' will tell you that a righteous man with such principles will be scourged, 
will be tortured, will be bound, will have his two eyes burnt out, and finally 
after having suffered all these calamities will be impaled (or crucified, avo.- 


all men unto me." Without attempting to explain 
why " Christ must needs have suffered," we can feel 
that there is a drawing power in the thought of 
that Mighty Sufferer who "poured out His soul 
unto death, and made intercession for the trans- 
gressors," a power which no merely serene and 
happy life, not grappling with this world's sin, 
nor going down into sympathy with its deep 
anguish, could possibly have exerted. Even the 
corruptions of Christianity, the thought of which 
oppresses and saddens our spirits, bear witness 
to this mighty attraction. The title '* Vicar of 
Christ " has bound a chain about the nations — a 
title falsely claimed as you and I believe, but, 
had it been *' Vicar of Moses " or '* Vicar of 
Socrates," it would have long ago lost its power. 
It is the remembrance of the real tragedy enacted 
on Calvary which draws the kneeling crowds to 
witness the sacrifice of the Mass, wherein as they 
believe that great event is not only commemorated 
but in a mysterious way performed anew before 
their eyes. With my whole heart I differ from 
them, but I dare not deride them. I see even in 
what seems to me their utterly mistaken reverence 
to " the Host " a proof, though a melancholy one, 
of the truth of the words, "And I, if I be lifted 
up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." 

It will be seen that in the fragmentary remarks 
which I venture to make on a great and solemn 
subject, I do not dwell on the miraculous side of 
our Lord's history. This is not from any doubt 


in my own mind as to the miraculous facts recorded 
in the Gospels : — 

" Declared to be the Son of God with power." 
" Whereof God hath given assurance unto all men, in 
that he hath raised him from the dead." 

" To whom also he shewed himself alive after his 
suffering, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of 
the things pertaining to the kingdom of God." 

I take these and many similar passages in their 
simple and literal meaninjj, and believe them to 
be true. Unimaginable they may be, not to be 
conceived of by our limited intellects, and yet less 
hard to be believed than some of those marvels 
of the visible creation to vy^hich I alluded at the 
beginning of this paper. 

But that which helps one generation may be a 
hindrance to another. To the generation to which 
Christ spoke, miracle was the expected seal upon 
His divine mission ; to our generation, or at least 
to many minds in our generation, that which was 
once a seal and an attestation has become a per- 
plexity and a distress. The "offence of the Cross" 
we may almost say has ceased. It causes us no un- 
easiness that the Holiest of men should have died 
the death of a common felon, but that He should 
be said to have walked on the sea and to have 
multiplied the loaves is a cause of sore pain and 
doubt to many a truly seeking soul to whom I 
believe Christ Himself, were He now on earth, 
would say : *' Thou art not far from the kingdom 
of God." And such souls will probably win their 


way back to faith, not through the Supernatural 
but through the Spiritual, not through Paley-like 
weighings of the evidence for or against the miracles 
of the Gospels, but through a reverent contempla- 
tion of the character of our Master, meditating 
on the words which He spoke while He was on 
earth, and listening to the inward voice wherewith 
He still speaks to the children of man. 

What, then, is the conclusion at which the mind 
arrives after it has thus waited reverently at the 
threshold of the Heavenly Temple and looked 
within for light ? Was Jesus Christ of Nazareth 
a Jewish teacher of signally pure and holy life ? 
Yes, but more, — Did he die a noble death, and 
set a splendid example of self-sacrifice to all the 
ages to come ? Yes, but more, — Was he emphatic- 
ally the Son of Man, the noblest offspring of the 
human race, cui nihil viget simile aut secundum ? 
Yes, but more, — Was He the Word of God, the 
one transcendent expression of the thought of the 
Maker to the creatures whom He has made, the 
one voice, helpful above all others to break this 
awful silence of Nature, who seems so regardless 
of the sorrows and aspirations of her inmate, Man ! 
Yes ! and that thought, perhaps more than all 
others, seems to me to bring soothing and help to 
the men who face the problem of life at the end 
of the nineteenth century. 

But, looking still towards the innermost recesses 
of the Temple, I feel that there may be courts even 
beyond this which we have reached. And, however 


far I look, I see no barrier to the veneration with 
which I may regard this Being, the embodied 
Thought of my Creator. I come across no protest 
such as the holiest of mere men would utter against 
the idolising love of his fellow-men. I come upon 
such words as these : " I and my Father are one" : 
'* He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." 

The dialectic propositions of the Athanasian 
Creed sound like a jangle of words. I know not 
whether they be true or false, but I can well believe 
that they are about as near to the truth as the 
guesses of a four-year-old child at the contents of 
the books in its father's library. Still I look 
towards the most holy place, and in thought I 
seem to see One issue therefrom whom I know 
to be my spirit's rightful King. He says to me : 
" Dost thou believe on the Son of God.^ " '' Who 
is He, Lord, that I might believe on Him?" the 
soul of man makes answer. *' Thou hast both seen 
Him, and it is He that talketh with thee." 

*' Lord, I believe," let us all say with thankful 
hearts, and let us worship Him ! 

Bamburgh, 1897. 


" For we are his workmanship, created in Christ 
Jesus unto good works, which God hath before 
ordained that we should walk in them."^ 

It is in the light of this glorious and profoundly 
suggestive passage from the writings of the great 
teacher of the doctrine of Salvation by Faith that 
I propose to consider what is the real meaning of 
the many passages in the Bible, but especially in 
the writings of the Apostle Paul, which deal with 
the doctrine of Predestination. 

It cannot be denied that this word and its 
cognate terms Election and Reprobation have 
lost much of the hold which they possessed in the 
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries on the minds of 
many Christian men. 

St. Paul, Augustine, Calvin — these are generally 
considered to be the great champions of the doctrine 
of Predestination, which they or their disciples have 
developed from one proposition to another, till at 
last in that severely logical book, the Institutes of 
Calvin, it assumes this startling shape : — 

" All are not created on equal terms, but some are 

1 Eph. ii. lo, 


preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation, 
and accordingly as each has been created for one or 
another of these ends, we say that he has been pre- 
destinated to life or death/ We say then that Scrip- 
ture clearly proves this much that God, by His eternal 
and immutable counsel, determined once for all those 
whom it was His pleasure one day to admit to salvation, 
and those whom, on the other hand, it was His pleasure 
to doom to destruction. We maintain that this counsel, 
as regards the elect, is founded on His free mercy without 
any respect to human work, while those whom He dooms 
to destruction are excluded from access to life by a just 
and blameless, but at the same time incomprehensible 

" Those, therefore, whom God has created for a life of 
scorn and a death of destruction, so that they may be the 
vessels of His anger, the examples of His severity — 
these, in order that they may come to their end, he now 
deprives of the capacity to hear His word, and now more 
and more blinds and bewilders them by its preaching. 

" This cannot be brought into question that God sends 
His word to many, whose blindness He wills shall be 
more increased. 

" Behold, He directs His voice to them, but that they 
may grow deafer. He sends light to them, but that they 
may be made blinder. He sets His doctrine before 
them, but that thereby they may be the more bewildered. 
He applies the remedy, but He does so lest they should 
be cured." ^ 

Such v\^as the conclusion to which the Genevan 
reformer deemed himself irresistibly driven by the 
language of the Apostle of the Gentiles. It did 

^ xxi. 5. '^ xxi. 7. ^ xxiv. 12 and 13. 


not need the further expansion and exaggeration 
of the doctrine by Jonathan Edwards (who seemed 
to triumph in the thought of infants only a span- 
long doomed to agonise to all eternity in the ever- 
burning fire of Hell) — it did not need these blas- 
phemies to outrage the conscience of Christendom, 
and make it impossible for thoughtful men to 
accept these statements of the actions of an All- 
holy and Righteous God. It is not, I think, too 
much to say that, even as stated by Calvin, the 
doctrine of Reprobation eternally decreed and 
inevitable was one which the moral sense of man- 
kind made it impossible long to hold, and that had 
Christianity been inextricably bound up with this 
doctrine, Christianity itself would ere now have 

The doctrine of Election to Eternal Life was no 
doubt, as described in the English prayer-book, one, 
*' full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to 
godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the 
working of the Spirit of Christ" ; but "for curious 
and carnal persons, lacking the Spirit of Christ, to 
have continually before their eyes the sentence of 
God's Predestination " is there pronounced to be 
** a most dangerous downfall, whereby the Devil 
doth thrust them either into desperation, or into 
wretchlessness of most unclean living, no less 
perilous than desperation." 

And in addition to this it has to be remembered 
that the doctrine of Reprobation, the terrible 
thought that it is possible for a human being to 


be born subject by an immutable decree to the 
wrath of the Almighty Maker, and doomed to 
spend endless ages in a place of torment, is a 
doctrine extremely likely to lay fatal hold of minds 
like the poet Cowper s, already predisposed to the 
terrible mental malady of melancholia and to drive 
them to absolute despair. 

For these reasons, then, 1 rejoice that the 
doctrine of Predestination as formulated by some 
of the great theologians of the Reformation has 
practically faded out of the minds of men, and is 
no longer insisted upon by any of the Churches. 
But it remains for us to ask, " What is, then, the 
meaning of the many passages in Scripture, 
especially in the writings of St. Paul, which use 
the word, and which seem to point to the 
doctrine ; and what lessons for the conduct of 
our own daily life can we draw from these 
passages ? " 

I. In the first place, then, I think we may 
consider that it is now practically proved that 
St. Paul, when he wrote the Epistles to the Romans 
and the Galatians, was not thinking or speaking 
of the admittance to Heaven, or the damnation to 
Hell, of individual men and women ; but of the 
choice of nations, pre-eminently of the Jewish 
nation, to be fellow - workers with God in the 
setting-up of His kingdom upon earth ; and of their 
rejection (or if we prefer to call it so, their repro- 
bation) when they failed to put their free-will 
alongside of the fore-ordaining will of God, and to 


co-operate in His gracious designs. To myself, 
personally, this view was first presented with con- 
vincing power by a dear friend and kinsman/ in 
a book published nearly half- a- century ago ; and 
every re-perusal of the chapters of the New Testa- 
ment from which the Calvinistic arguments are 
drawn has strengthened me in the conviction that 
his interpretation (not his only, but that of many 
other writers on the subject) is the true one. 

When I say that St. Paul, in writing the nth 
Romans and similar chapters, was not thinking 
definitely about the Heaven or Hell, of the in- 
dividual, I hold that I am stating a fact of 
much wider application than to the present sub- 
ject. I believe if any one were carefully to com- 
pare the books of the New Testament with the 
writings and sermons of almost all medieval and 
not a few modern divines, he would be astonished 
to find how vastly larger the subject of future 
rew^ards and punishments looms m the latter than 
in the former. That there shall be blessing for 
the righteous and punishment for the ungodly in 
the life to come is plainly and clearly stated in the 
New Testament, but it is not insisted on with the 
wearisome iteration of the seller of Indulgfences or 
of some Revivalist preachers. I am not sure that 
Gregory the Great (good and noble man that he 
was) did not lead the way to this disproportionate 
kind of teaching, especially with regard to future 

^ See The Doctrine of Election., an Essay by Edward Fry, London, 



punishment, by his four books of Dialogues, 
which are in fact a collection of ghost stories, 
meant to impress upon the reader the reality and 
the terror of Hell. Whoever set the example. It 
was abundantly followed throughout the Middle 
Ages. Monks and friars garnished their discourses 
with descriptions of the agonies of the damned : 
pious painters became familiar with the exact like- 
nesses of devils : it is hardly too much to say that 
much of medieval religion consisted in a mere en- 
deavour to wriggle out of the future torments of 
Hell without sacrificing too much of the earth-born 
pleasures of sin. And in the science of Salvation 
as thus understood, large gifts to monasteries and 
Cathedral Chapters bore an important place. 

As century after century rolled by, this Hell- 
centred teaching of what was still called the Gospel 
became stronger, more definite, and more terrible, 
and it was on minds steeped in this teaching that 
the light of the Reformation broke ; a glorious 
light, but not one which could in a moment destroy 
the morbid tendencies of many generations. Hence 
it was, as I believe, that so many of the great 
Reformation teachers failed to grasp the real 
meaning of the Apostle of the Gentiles ; and instead 
of rising to the height of the great conception, 
'* fellow- workers together with God," sank into 
the abyss of an attempted justification of hell filled 
with beings, some of them helpless babes, doomed 
to tormient throughout eternity ''all for Thy glory." 
But I repeat, it was of no such libels on the 


righteousness of the Judge of all the earth that 
the Apostle Paul was thinking when he wrote these 
celebrated election chapters. The election of Israel, 
its fall from the place of privilege, the bringing 
in of the Gentiles ; these were the thoughts that 
filled that great and earnest soul even to overflow- 
ing. Let us just glance for a moment at the spiritual 
history of that wonderful man, for I am persuaded 
that most of the difficulties, the undoubted diffi- 
culties, which the modern thinker finds in his 
writings would disappear, if only such a thinker 
would study St. Paul's " personal equation " and 
train himself to look at history and human life from 
his point of view. 

** Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of 
Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of 
the Hebrews, as touching the law a Pharisee — 
touching the righteousness which is in the law 
blameless," the young Asiatic brought up In Grecian 
Tarsus continually said to himself, " I have a nobler 
birthright than all these conceited Greeks around 
me. I am an Hebrew: I am one of the seed of 
Abraham, the father of the faithful. Tarsus may 
have been my birthplace, but Palestine is my 
spiritual fatherland : the true home of my soul is 
that far-off mountain city, Jerusalem." 

He came to the city of his fathers : the yearn- 
ing of the long years of his boyhood was satisfied. 
He trod the courts of the Lord's house, and he sat 
at the feet of the most famous teacher among the 
Pharisees, Gamaliel. Possibly while listening to 


his counsels of tolerance and moderation, the young 
enthusiast felt that this elderly Rabbi was not quite 
orthodox enough for him. "It may suit his calm 
temperament and his broad style of teaching to say, 
' Wait and see what comes of this new sect of the 
Nazarenes.' I must set to work to destroy the 
pestilent heresy of the madmen who say that a 
Sabbath-breaker, a despiser of the law, condemned 
to death by the unanimous voice of our greatest 
ecclesiastics, was the Son of God." So he wrought, 
rooting up and pulling down, and " being exceed- 
ingly mad against them, he persecuted them even 
unto strange cities." So this Grand Inquisitor 
laboured in his self-imposed task till that blazing 
noonday on the road to Damascus, when he heard 
the fateful words : *' Saul, Saul, why persecutest 
thou me ? " That day and the baptism of fire 
which came with it turned him into an ardent lover 
of the Christ ; but we are not to suppose that he at 
once rose to the full height of the revelation which 
was made to him concerning his future career. It 
was probably during those mysterious three years 
which he spent in the solitudes of Arabia that he 
learned his great lesson concerning the eternal 
purpose of God, that ** the Gentiles should be fellow- 
heirs with the Jews, and partakers of the promises 
of Christ through the Gospel." Then was made 
clear to his expanding soul the meaning of those 
solemn words which he heard from Ananias in the 
darkened chamber at Damascus : "He Is a chosen 
vessel unto me to bear my name before the Gentiles 


and kings and the Children of Israel. For I will 
show him how great things he must suffer for 
my name's sake." And then at length came the 
Vision in the Temple and the Heavenly Voice — so 
strangely contrasting with the wonted utterances 
of the worshippers in that Temple of Exclusiveness 
— '' Depart, for I will send thee far hence unto the 
Gentiles." It would not perhaps give an inaccurate 
picture of the Apostle's life-history if we said that 
from that day onward the one great purpose of his 
soul was to blend that divine voice to himself with 
that other voice heard two thousand years before 
by his great forefather, Abraham : '* in thee and 
in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be 

It is, of course, hard for us with so many genera- 
tions of Gentile Christianity behind us to sympathise 
with the agony of the struggle through which this 
" Hebrew of the Hebrews" must have passed ere 
he wholly surrendered himself to the conviction — 
" The Messiah foretold by the prophets has come, 
and one result of His coming is that the middle 
wall of partition between Jew and Gentile is broken 
down for ever." We may faintly represent to our- 
selves the force of this spiritual revolution by 
imagining the case of a man imbued with high 
Catholic doctrine, Roman or Anglican, who shall, 
in fixed middle life, come to the conclusion that 
Churchmen and Nonconformists, Romans and 
Anglicans, Sacramentalists and non-Sacramentalists 
are all one in Christ Jesus, and that it is his duty 


to proclaim this doctrine at church congresses and 
missionary conferences, and wherever the chief 
ecclesiastical leaders most do congregate. 

With these mighty thoughts concerning the 
apparently changed purpose of the Most High 
fermenting in his mind, what wonder that St. 
Paul's writings are full of references to the Election 
and Rejection of the Chosen People. I confess to 
having felt sometimes a certain weariness of those 
chapters in which peritome and akrobustia (circum- 
cision and uncircumcision) are terms perpetually 
recurring. Nor do I think that, unexplained and 
uninterpreted, they are likely to convey much 
instruction to a village audience. But when one 
has assimilated this thought of St. Paul's *' personal 
equation," when one can look at Israel's Election 
through his eyes, and can carry over by analogy 
into the ecclesiastical questions of to-day, some of 
the hardly learned lessons of his bitter experience, 
one feels that there is not a word too much about 
Election and Predestination, and — though I will 
not say that all difficulties vanish — a load is lifted 
from the heart when one sees that no thought 
of the Eternally foreordained damnation of in- 
dividual souls ever crossed the mind of the great 

II. Though without any exact warrant from 
Scripture, I think we may safely extend this thought 
of National Election to other nations besides the 

I believe it was Prof. Ewald who was wont to 


impress on the minds of his students the thought 
of a triple vocation of the nations — 

(i) Of Greece to Art and Philosophy, 

(2) Of Rome to Government and Law, 

(3) Of Israel to the knowledge of God, One, Invisible, 

and Eternal. 

Probably this thought is more or less present to 
the mind of every Christian reader of history. We 
must think that the division of labour between the 
two great Mediterranean nations symbolised in the 
words of Virgil : 

Others, belike, with happier grace 
From bronze or stone shall call the face. 
Plead doubtful causes, map the skies, 
And tell when planets set or rise : 
But, Roman, thou, do thou control 

The nations far and wide ; 
Be this thy genius, to impose 
The rule of peace on vanquished foes, 
Show pity to the humbled soul. 

And crush the sons of pride.^ 

was part of the Eternal Counsel of Him who did 
in an especial manner reveal Himself to the little 
Semitic people who dwelt in the highlands of 

Doubtless also even the great Oriental monarchies, 
Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, had their part assigned to 
them by the Almighty Poet in His great drama of 
the Ascent of Man ; and in truth we are continually 
discovering more and more of the greatness of the 
debt which we owe to these early promoters and 

^ Aeneidf vi. 848-854, Conington's Translation. 


guardians of civilisation, evil as their record may 
be in the books of the Hebrews, their age-long 

A similar distribution of various gifts and a similar 
call to various duties are surely observable among the 
nations of the modern world. Notwithstanding the 
high-pitched words of Milton: ''God would have 
no great design of His Providence in hand, but 
He would communicate some knowledge of it to 
His Englishmen," we have assuredly no desire to 
claim for ourselves the rights and privileges of the 
Chosen Nation, but we need not ignore or deny 
the fact that sometimes, notwithstanding all her 
follies and crimes, Great Britain has been a fellow- 
worker with God in causes which made for the 
uplift of humanity ; nor that she had some special 
gifts of national character, of climate, of geographical 
position which, had she used them more faithfully 
and unselfishly, would have made her a far mightier 
influence for good in the hands of the All-Ruler. 

So with France, with Germany, with Italy, with 
Russia. Everywhere we see special national capa- 
bilities, some work for God and for Humanity done 
by each nation, much more that might have been 
done, but which no other than that particular nation 
was fitted to accomplish. 

But this brings us to the thought of what 
happens to a nation which persistently refuses to 
use the powers entrusted to it by God for the 
purposes for which He bestowed them. Such a 
nation becomes at last what St. Paul calls adokwios. 


which is translated in our Bible "reprobate." Again 
I must repeat that we are not here talking about 
Heaven and Hell, but about service or the absence 
of service rendered to the rightful Master of us all. 

When the coinage has become outworn through 
too long currency, and there is a panic among the 
public about "light sovereigns," you will perhaps 
see a clerk in one corner of the bank weighing 
gold. He slips one sovereign after another rapidly 
on to the plate of the machine ; many drop through 
being of sufficient weight : they will do : they are 
elect. But at last comes one which will not turn 
the scale , it is turned off into another receptacle : 
it is adokimos — it will not pass muster ; it is, if you 
like to use the word, "reprobate." Similarly, I was 
hearing the other day about a workman in a factory, 
whose sole business it is to handle daily thousands 
of thin iron rods or pins, to see if they are of the 
right size for the holes into which they are meant 
to fit. Those w^hich pass the t^.st of his delicate 
fingers are eklektoi (chosen), those which are found 
unsuitable are adokimoi. 

Rome Imperial was thus rejected at the fall of 
the Empire. I will not inquire which of the modern 
nations, our contemporaries, has incurred or is in- 
curring the same condemnation. In speaking of 
other nations the rule perhaps should be " De vivis 
nil nisi bonum " (speak only good of the living). 
But I think every true-hearted English patriot 
should very earnestly and constantly ask himself the 
question and press it home to the hearts of his 


countrymen : '* Are we falling in with the eternal 
counsels of God, who gave us this glorious nation- 
ality, or are we through sloth, or selfishness, or 
pride, or luxury, falling short of our high calling, 
and in danger of being rejected as adokimoi^ " 

III. May we not travel even beyond the wide 
circle of the Nation and say of the Race that it is 
''elect according to the eternal purpose and fore- 
knowledge of God " ? 

If we could imagine a being of finite intelligence 
watching through the ages the slow development 
of animal life upon our planet, we may well believe 
that it would not have been the far-off progenitors 
of man that he would have selected, as likely to 
produce the being who should be 

Heir of all the ages in the foremost files of time. 

Even as the prophet Samuel said : '* Surely the 
Lord's anointed is before him," when he looked 
on the stalwart frame of Jesse's eldest son, Eliab, 
and received the warning, " Look not on his 
countenance nor on the height of his stature, for 
I have rejected him," so our imagined spectator 
of the unfolding drama of the ages might have 
found many goodlier and nobler forms than the 
mean-looking '' anthropoid " creatures whom it pains 
us and humbles us, when we look upon them in 
an anthropological treatise, to associate with the 
thought of our physical ancestry. Yet it was even 
these mean-looking beings, as Science teaches us, 
whom the helping hand of the Almighty Designer 


gradually raised out of their low estate, preparing 
them, or rather their descendants, to be the re- 
cipients of the Divine gift of reason, ''looking 
before and after," and to be such of whom it could 
be said in the striking metaphorical language of 
Genesis, that " God created man in his own image, 
in the image of God created he him." When we 
think of all that is involved in this immense develop- 
ment, of the chasm which separates even the 
Tasmanian savage, far more the anthropoid ape, 
from a Plato, a Shakespeare, a Napoleon, we seem 
to realise more fully the meaning of the words, 
"according to the determinate counsel and fore- 
knowledge of God," and we seem to perceive a 
deeper meaning in our Lord's special appropriation 
to Himself of the title, ** The Son of Many The 
incarnation of the Son of God in human form put 
the crowning stone on an edifice which had been 
slowly rearing through ages which our little human 
intelligence aches to contemplate. 

But here, as always, the Divine Predestination 
involves and implies Human Responsibility. If 
Man, the ordinary man of to-day, especially a 
member of one of the races which have made the 
most advance in civilisation, be the product of so 
long and so arduous an upward struggle towards 
the light, what manner of person ought he to be 
in all earnestness and nobility of purpose, not 
frittering away these wonderful powers of his over 
frivolity and folly, still less living like his subjects 
the animals around him, merely to satisfy the lusts 


of the flesh, but ever grasping the hand of the 
Almighty Helper and rising 

On stepping-stones 

Of his dead self to higher things ? 

IV. This last train of thought leads me back 
to the text with which I started, and which, as 
I understand the matter, should always now be 
for us individually the dominant idea in all our 
musings on the meaning of Predestination. 

**For by grace have ye been saved through 
faith ; and that not of yourselves : it is the gift of 
God : not of works, that no man should glory. For 
we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus 
for good works, which God afore prepared that 
we should walk in them." ^ 

It is now more than forty years since I heard 
in a town on the Riviera an eloquent and striking 
sermon on this text from a Pastor of the French 
Evangelical Church, M. Delapierre. It is not 
often, unfortunately, that sermons, however forcible, 
remain so long in the memory, but I have always 
retained the impression made on me by that 
discourse. The glory of the sunlit world outside, the 
cool shade and stillness of the church, the striking 
appearance of the young black-haired preacher, his 
evident earnestness and the power with which he 
(presumably a Calvinist clergyman) pressed home to 
the hearts of his hearers this text — never noticed by 
me before — a text which certainly presents to our 
view a somewhat different side of truth from that on 

1 Eph. ii. 8-IO. 


which the ultra-Calvinist loves (or loved) to dwell 
— -all these things made that Sunday's sermon at 
Mentone a landmark in my spiritual experience. 

The preacher dwelt no doubt on the important 
words ** not of yourselves," and gave the usual 
Evangelical warning against supposing that any 
good deeds of our own can win us Heaven : but 
then he went on to describe " cette carriere immense 
de bons oeuvres," which the acceptance of salvation 
by Jesus Christ opens up to every Christian. 

'* I know not, my brethren, what may be the 
good works foreordained for each of you. It may 
be the bringing home of the Gospel hope to some 
one of your invalid countrymen who has come out 
to Mentone to die ; it may be a few words of 
sympathy and cheer to a poor tired servant at your 
hotel. Whatever it is, be sure that God has some 
good work prepared beforehand for you, and take 
heed that you do not miss of the joy which will 
come by the performance of it." 

As the mind dwells on such a passage as this, 
which I have quoted from St. Paul, it is raised into 
a region where harmony with the mind of the 
Almighty Worker and obedient performance of the 
work which He assigns to each of us seem the crown- 
ing joy of life. Browning represents the Arab 
physician, Karshish, as saying of the risen Lazarus : 

He loves both old and young, 
Able and weak, affects the very brutes 
And birds — how say I ? flowers of the field 
As a wise workman recognises tools 
In a master's workshop, loving what they make. 


And this thought of the Human Race as the tool- 
box of the Almighty seems to me infinitely more 
helpful and truer than the old theological schemes 
of Election and Damnation. 

This man is fashioned in the likeness of a saw, 
that man of a plane, another of a chisel, another of 
a hammer ; each of the countless souls born into the 
world has, if he only knew it, his own proper and 
peculiar work assigned to him and prepared for him 
by the Maker. Joy to him if he finds it out, and, 
yielding himself to the hand of the Almighty Artificer, 
succeeds in doing it, however imperfectly. Sorrow 
to him, unspeakable sorrow even in this life — we need 
not here bring in the thought of the fires of Hell — 
if having had such a work assigned to him by the 
Maker he goes away and says, " I will be no instru- 
ment in that Almighty Hand. I will take all the 
faculties and the possessions which He has lent to 
me and will use them for my own pleasure, amuse- 
ment, aggrandisement. I will live my own life " ; — 
"and die thy own death," says the voice of God, 
which cannot lie, in the oracular cell of that man's 
inmost consciousness. 

I will not by more words weaken the im- 
pression produced on our minds by this text so 
pregnant in meaning. I will only suggest how 
here, as in so many other cases, the systematised 
teaching of St. Paul is found when we dig deep 
enough to coincide with the picture teaching of 
the parables of Christ. Predestination rightly con- 
sidered is implied in the parables of the Pounds 


and the Talents. For the man who received five 
talents a different series of good works was prepared 
beforehand from that which was prepared for him 
who received two. The adokimos servant was 
reprobate, not because he failed to produce other 
two, but because, having received only one, he *' was 
afraid and went away and digged in the earth " — 
hard labour wrongly applied — ''and hid his Lord's 

One of the master minds of Pagan antiquity, 
Aristotle himself, had a glimpse of the same 
truth. As I remember it, the finest passage in the 
Nicomachean Ethics is that in which he develops 
the doctrine of the ergon, the special work which 
every organ of the body, every faculty of the mind, 
every member of the State is meant to perform. 
And what is that doctrine but the confession of an 
Almighty Artificer who ''hath foreordained us to 
good works which he hath before appointed that 
we should walk in them " : in brief, the doctrine of 
Predestination ? 

V. The contemplation of this eternal purpose of 
the Creator as to the work w^hich each one of His 
creatures is to perform brings us to two other facts 
in the spiritual world — Stewardship and Divine 
Guidance. Of the great truth that in Human Life, 
if rightly understood, there is no such thing as 
absolute ownership, but only universal Stewardship : 
that every man is ideally a trustee of his health, his 
wealth, his intellectual powers for the benefit of 
Christ and his brethren ; what more can we say 


than that it is the truth, and that if it were uni- 
versally believed and acted upon, the Millennium 
would be here, and the sorrow of the world would 
be a vanishing quantity. 

But if we are really to do the good works which 
our Father has foreordained for each of His children, 
we must have some means of ascertaining what is 
His will concerning us. General laws will not 
suffice us. A man may keep all the Commandments 
and yet entirely miss his vocation, and be attempt- 
ing though himself a plane, to do the work of a 
hammer, though an ear to do some other work 
than hearing. The necessity thus laid upon us as 
fellow-workers together with God involves the 
existence of a spiritual faculty by which we may 
understand so much of the will of the Eternal as 
it is necessary for each one of us to know. It is 
something more than and distinct from Conscience, 
for it means not the power to distinguish between 
Right and Wrong, but the power to decide which 
of two courses of action, each in itself harmless or 
even praiseworthy, it is our Father's will that we 
should choose. It is the continuance in our own day 
and the manifestation to the humblest and weakest 
of believers of the same Divine Guidance which in 
the days of the Apostles prevented Paul and Silas 
from going to preach in Bithynia and guided them 
to their world -important service in the cities of 
Europe. The churches have been slow to claim 
the benefit of this wonderful privilege. It might 
almost be said that they have put it from them and 


judged themselves unworthy of Heavenly Guidance ; 
but now their eyes are being more and more opened 
to the truth that this which men have called 
mysticism is an essential part of the scheme of 
Christianity, and that the assurance which Isaiah^ 
was commissioned to convey to the faithful among 
his countrymen still remains true for the spiritual 
Israel: "Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee 
saying, ' This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye 
turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the 

This, as I understand it, is part of the true 
doctrine of Predestination. 

^ Isaiah xxx. 21. 

HOBART, 1909. 



For eighteen centuries the Christian Church has 
treasured and studied the Epistle addressed by 
the Apostle Paul to his Galatian converts : but 
the theory suggested by Sir Wm. Ramsay, and 
supported by him with many cogent arguments, 
lends great additional interest to the document. 

That theory is, in brief, that the Galatia of 
St. Paul's day included most of that which is now 
marked in our maps as Phrygia and Pisidia, and 
that the Galatian converts, whose perversion into 
Judaism the Apostle deplores are none other than 
the men of Antioch in Pisidia, of Iconium, Lystra, 
and Derbe, the story of whose conversion to 
Christianity is told us in the 13th and 14th chapters 
of the Acts of the Apostles. 

With this theory in our minds, as at least highly 
probable if not yet actually proved, let us turn again 
to the document and try to read it, not as an 
" Epistle" solemnly divided into chapters and verses, 
but as an interesting letter from one of the greatest 
of his Christian teachers to some troublesome and 
weak-minded but much-loved friends. As they 
would certainly do so, let us read it, not a paragraph 



to-day and a paragraph to-morrow, but straight 
through from beginning to end. And in order 
to get rid of the effect of our too great familiarity 
with the mere sound of the words, we will allow 
ourselves to condense some of the arguments, to 
modernise some of the phrases, and occasionally to 
expand some of the allusions. 

The Apostle Paul is residing at Corinth or 
perhaps in Macedonia. The weight of his im- 
pending journey to Jerusalem, *'not knowing the 
things which shall befall him there," hangs heavy 
on his spirit. It is probably the year 57 and his 
first missionary journey with Barnabas ten years 
before, notwithstanding at least one intervening 
visit, is growing somewhat dim and distant.^ 
But suddenly all the scenes of that journey, and 
all the persons with whom it brought him into 
acquaintance, are brought vividly before him by 
tidings which are brought to him of the wholesale 
perversion of his Phrygian disciples to Judaism, 
or at least to a Judaising form of Christianity. The 
same thing has happened at Antioch and Iconium 
which happened ten years before at the Syrian 
Antioch. ** Certain men which came down from 
Judaea" have bewildered the simple-hearted people, 
saying to them, " Except ye be circumcised after 
the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved " : St. 

^ On Ramsay's theory the Epistle may have been written from Antioch 
four years earlier, in the year 53. But I do not think this early date for the 
Epistle is essential to his theory and the remarkable similarity in many 
respects between the Epistle to the Galatians and that to the Romans, which 
is generally admitted to have been written from Corinth about a.d. 56, makes 
a later date more probable. 


Paul's own action in circumcising Timothy, the 
son of a Pagan father and a Jewish mother, an 
action which was confessedly prompted by fear of 
*' the Jews that were in those quarters " has perhaps 
been quoted by the Judaising party as a strong 
precedent in their favour. And so we may imagine 
the healed cripple of Lystra and his fellow-towns- 
man, the ex-priest of Jupiter, and many another 
Gentile citizen of one of the four towns taking 
up solemnly with all the cumbersome ceremonial 
of the Jewish law, priding themselves on being no 
longer sinners of the Gentiles but circumcised sons 
of Abraham, keeping New Moons and Feasts of 
Trumpets, discussing learnedly about the meal- 
offering, and the peace-offering, and quoting the 
opinion of this Rabbi and that Doctor of the Law 
as to the precise weight of the packet which a man 
might carry in his pouch without violating the 
sanctity of the Sabbath. If some faithful souls like 
Lois and Eunice, loyal to the great preacher from 
whose lips they first heard the truth, venture to 
hint that this was not the kind of teaching which 
they heard from the Apostle Paul, the converts to 
Judaism shrug their shoulders, and, with a smile of 
superior orthodoxy, repeat the hints that have been 
delicately inserted into their minds by their new 

*' The Apostle Paul indeed : a worthy man in 
his way, but very ignorant or very careless on all 
points of ritual. Not at all a safe guide to follow, 
possessed as he is by his mystical theory of a 


personal union of soul with Jesus the Messiah. Is 
it for this that we are to discard the grand cere- 
monial which was at first commanded by Jehovah, 
and has been practised by pious Israelites for a 
thousand years ? A religion without sacrifices and 
vestments, and an altar and white-robed priests ; 
how can it endure ? How our bald and simple 
worship will expose us to the contempt of Jew 
and Gentile alike ! " 

"And then, how about the Apostleship of Saul of 
Tarsus ? True, we took him at his own valuation 
and called him an Apostle because he called himself 
so. But our friends from Jerusalem tell us that 
the twelve Apostles were all chosen by the Lord 
Jesus himself in his lifetime from among his own 
personal friends. And when it became necessary 
to fill up the place of the traitor Iscariot, Peter 
expressly said that his successor must be chosen 
from among those who had ' companied with them 
all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out 
among them.' So his claim to Apostleship seems 
very doubtful, and our friends tell us that the real 
Apostles, the friends and kinsmen of Christ at 
Jerusalem, are by no means satisfied with Paul's 
conduct in breaking down the hedge and letting 
the Gentiles in such numbers into the Church." 

Such probably were the kind of conversations 
going on in the Galatian towns when one day a 
messenger came over the ridges of Taurus, bringing 
with him a letter from the very man whose name 
had just been in all their mouths. 


The Letter 

** Paul, an Apostle, by no human appointment, 
but by the will of Jesus Christ and the Eternal 
Father who raised him from the dead, writes thus 
to the churches of Galatia, and all the brethren 
who are present with me join in the letter. 

** Grace be to you and peace from God who is 
our Father, and from Jesus Christ who is our Lord, 
and who gave himself for our sins, that he might 
deliver us from this evil world, which presses so 
sorely upon us, thus fulfilling the will of our 
Father, God : to whom be glory for the ages of 
ages. Amen. 

" I am amazed that you should so soon have 
deserted the teacher who first called you unto the 
grace of Christ, and have taken up with another 
Gospel. Another gospel, did I say ? Another 
glad tidings ? nay, rather another piece of most 
evil tidings. But there are some men who are 
unsettling you, and who want to subvert the Gospel 
of Christ. Now hearken to me while I say and 
say it again, * If I myself or an angel from Heaven 
come to you preaching any other gospel than that 
which you have already received, let such teacher be 

'* This is not a question of popular or unpopular 
doctrine. I do not seek to persuade men by 
plausible words. I do not seek to please men. If 
I did so I should become the servant of my hearers, 
whereas I am the servant of Christ. 


** Now, as to my message to you : you must know 
that I did not receive it from any man. I was 
not catechised into the truth by Peter or John or 
any of the other Apostles, but I received it straight, 
by way of immediate revelation, from Jesus Christ. 
You know how in my early days, when I was a 
Jewish persecutor laying waste the Church of God, 
I rose high above most of my coevals in the Jewish 
Church, being zealous beyond them all for the 
maintenance of the traditions of my fathers. The 
day on the road to Damascus changed all this. 
God had had another purpose for me ever since 
the days of my infancy, and when it pleased Him 
to reveal His son to me in my secret soul, that 
I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I kept 
that spiritual revelation pure, and conferred not 
with flesh and blood, nor went up to Jerusalem, but 
departed into the deserts of Arabia, whence after a 
time I returned to Damascus. It was not till three 
years after my conversion that I went up for one 
fortnight to Jerusalem, to make Peter's acquaintance, 
and then I saw none of the Apostles but him and 
James the Lord's brother. (I declare in the presence 
of God that this is the very truth of the matter.) 

** Later on I travelled through Syria and Cilicia, 
and became known to the Christians of Antioch 
and Tarsus, but I was still personally unknown to 
the Christians in Judaea, though they had of course 
heard the news that Saul the persecutor was now 
preaching the faith which ever he had sought to 
exterminate, and they glorified God on my behalf 


"Again, fourteen years after my conversion, I 
went up once more to Jerusalem accompanied by 
my fellow -labourer Barnabas, and taking Titus 
also with us. It was in obedience to a direct 
revelation that I undertook this journey, the object 
of which was to explain to the Christians at Jeru- 
salem the gospel which I had been preaching 
among the Gentiles, but I did it privately to those 
who were of chief reputation in the Church, lest 
by any possibility I had been mistaken in my 
previous course. 

''And what was the result.'^ Did they ask me 
to order my young companion Titus, whom every 
one knew to be a Gentile born, to submit to the 
rite of circumcision ? No [though I did once make 
this compliance in the case of Timotheus], not even 
this concession was asked of me to the scruples of 
those pseudo-Christians, Jews at heart, who have 
crept into the Church in order to spy out our 
liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, to bring us 
back again into bondage. To these men none of 
us would yield subjection, no, not for one hour. 
We were fighting your battle that the truth of the 
gospel might continue with you. 

" As for those who seemed to be of high reputa- 
tion in the Church of Jerusalem (I do not care to 
discuss the exact nature of their position towards 
me : that is a personal matter, and God is not an 
' accepter of persons '), when we met in conference 
they did not ask me to add ever so little element 
of Judaism to my previous teaching. On the 


contrary, when they saw, by the effect produced, 
that I had as genuine a call to preach to the 
Gentiles as Peter had to preach to the Jews, then 
James, Peter (or, as they called him, Cephas), and 
John, the pillars of that Jerusalem Church, gave 
to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship. 
' Do you go forth,' said they, * and preach the 
Gospel to the Gentiles, while we continue to 
preach to our brethren of the circumcision. Only 
when you are winning converts among the rich 
provincials of the Empire, remember our poor 
brethren here in Jerusalem ' — a thing which I 
myself have always been careful to do. 

'* There is one thing more that I must tell as to 
my relation to the older Apostles. Peter came 
down to Antioch, and I was forced to rebuke him 
openly because he was deserving of blame. At 
first he ate and drank freely with our Gentile 
brethren, but when there came down from Jerusalem 
certain of the disciples of James, he was afraid of 
their Jewish prejudices and withdrew himself from 
that friendly intercourse. His example infected the 
other Jewish Christians of Antioch insomuch that 
even my comrade Barnabas was carried away with 
their dissimulation. 

" When I saw them acting this base part, so un- 
worthy of the truth of the Gospel, I said to Peter 
openly in the presence of them all, ' If thou who 
art a Jew born hast laid aside thy allegiance to 
the law, and livest after the manner of the Gentiles, 
why shouldest thou compel those who were born 


Gentiles to adopt the customs which thou hast laid 
aside ? We have been wont to call ourselves '' Jews 
by nature," and to pride ourselves on not being 
''sinners of the Gentiles," yet we now do know 
that by the works of the Law can no flesh be 
justified, for it is not these, but faith in Jesus 
Christ, that justifies us in the sight of God.* 

*' Such were my words to Peter : but perhaps 
some of you who hear again these familiar words 
of your old teacher will raise this question. ' If, 
while we seek to be thus justified by Christ, we 
ourselves also are found sinners, do we not thus 
make Christ the minister of sin ? ' God forbid ! 
That pure and holy One can have no fellowship 
with sin. Every one who, professing faith in 
Christ, is himself continuing in wilful sin is just 
so far and so long building up again that edifice of 
wickedness which was destroyed by his acceptance 
of Christ's salvation. I, indeed, who was keeping 
the precepts of the law died to the law, that I might 
live unto God. I am crucified with Christ : never- 
theless I live ; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me : 
and the life which I now live in the flesh I live 
by my faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and 
gave himself for me. I do not, as you are disposed 
to do, frustrate the grace of God : for, if righteous- 
ness comes through the law, Christ died in vain. 

*'0 ye foolish Galatians, what serpent-charmer 
has fascinated your souls : ye before whose eyes 
Jesus Christ was vividly set forth even as though 
he were crucified among you ? 


" I now set these two things in contrast before 


The works of the law, 

The hearing of faith, 

and I ask you which was the cause of your 
receiving the gifts of the Spirit, which was the 
signal for the working of the miracles which 
astonished you. Tell me honestly. Was it the 
practice of circumcision, the keeping of new moons, 
the dissertations of the Scribes, or was it the 
preaching of the crucified Saviour which thus 
changed your lives and brought you from darkness 
into light ? 

''Are ye really so without understanding? 
Having begun in the Spirit, do you think you will 
be made perfect in the flesh ? Have you suffered 
so many things, such persecutions from the Jews in 
vain? I cannot bear to write the words 'in vain.' 

" Your new teachers are always magnifying the 
Law of Moses ; I will take you back behind Moses 
to Abraham, the father of the faithful, and as to 
that noble patriarch, will ask the same question, 
' The works of the law or the hearing of faith ? ' 

" What are the words of the book of Genesis 
when it describes God's revelation of Himself to 
the Patriarch, and His promise to him of a seed as 
numerous as the stars of Heaven, ' And Abraham 
believed God ; and it was counted unto him for 
righteousness.' That was the way in which 
Abraham was justified : by the hearing of faith, 
by believing that God would perform that which 


He had promised. All who have the same faith 
are His spiritual children : and the Scripture, written 
by a man who foresaw that one day even the 
heathen would be justified by the same faith, 
records this universal promise, * In thee shall all 
nations of the earth be blessed.' I repeat, therefore, 
that all who share this faith in God are blessed with 
faithful Abraham. 

" Contrast with these promises of blessing the 
bondage and the curse which mark the dispensation 
of the law. Not * The just shall live by faith,' but 
' The man that doeth all these things commanded 
in the Law shall live by them ' : not ' blessed with 
faithful Abraham,' but 'cursed is every one that 
continueth not in all things which are written in 
the book of the law to do them.' From this 
heavy, overhanging curse, Jesus Christ came to 
deliver us : yea, He took the curse upon Himself 
when He gave Himself up to be crucified by the 
Roman soldiers, for, as you will find, it is written 
in the book of the Law, * Cursed is every one 
that hangeth on a tree.' So Christ voluntarily 
underwent that curse that He might set us free 
from the bondage that He might bring back the 
dispensation of blessing, that we all, Jews and 
Gentiles, might once more share the blessing pro- 
nounced on faithful Abraham, that we might, be- 
lieving on Jesus Christ, receive the Spirit which 
He promised that His Father would send to those 
who loved Him. 

•' Let us look at the matter in the light of man's 


dealings with his fellow-man. After a covenant has 
once been made and duly ratified, it does not lie 
in the power of one of the contracting parties to 
break it, or add to it/ Now here Was a covenant 
made * with Abraham and his seed ' — not, that 
is to say, with all the millions who were to trace 
their bodily ancestry up to Abraham, but with that 
one pre-eminent child of Abraham, that * seed ' in 
whom all the families of the earth were to be 
blessed, even Christ. That covenant then made 
by God with Abraham, which prophetically included 
Christ, could not be disannulled and made void 
by the law which at least 430 years after was 
thundered forth from Sinai. If the spiritual in- 
heritance of which we are speaking was to be 
* of the Law,' it must be worked for, earned, given 
in payment ; but if it was to be given to us as it 
was to Abraham, then it comes to us by the free 
spontaneous promise of God. 

'' You will say, then, ' What place at all is left 
for the Law in the divine economy ? ' I will tell 
you. On account of the weakness and wickedness 
of men it was given as a hedge and a restraint, 
to keep the Truth of God from being altogether 
trampled down and effaced from the hearts of men. 
But it was essentially temporary and provisional, 
and, though ordained by angels at the hand of a 

^ Ramsay brings forward some strong arguments in favour of translating 
the word diatheke, which is used here, will^ not covenant. But it is admitted 
that in the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, with which the mind of 
St. Paul was saturated, diatheke is always used with the signification of 


Mediator/ it was only intended to endure till the 
promised seed, the destined Son of Abraham, should 

" Was the Law of Moses, then, an abrogation of 
the promises of God. No, by no means. It made 
for righteousness, and if any Law could possibly 
have given life, this Law would have done so. But 
the effect of it was to shut up all to whom it was 
imparted, as in a kind of prison-house of ordinances, 
where they tarried till the deliverer Christ should 
appear and should set them free by this one word, 
* Believe.' Or rather, to change the metaphor, the 
Law was like the slave whose office it is to guide his 
master's children to school. Even so did the Law 
guide us to Christ. But now that faith is reasserted in 
the world, that slave's guidance is no longer needed. 
For by faith in Christ Jesus ye are all the children 
of God. As many of you as have been baptized 
into Christ have put on Christ. All the old barriers 
are broken down. There is now neither Jew nor 
Greek, neither slave nor free man, neither male 
nor female, for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 
And if you belong to Christ you are of the spiritual 
posterity of Abraham, and heirs of the promises 
made to the great Patriarch. 

'' Let me dwell a little longer on that word * heirs.' 
You know that the heir, as long as he is a child, 
does not differ as far as freedom is concerned 
from a servant, though he is prospectively Lord 

1 I do not attempt to paraphrase the difficult passage, " Now a JNFediator 
is not a Mediator of one, but God is one." 


of all, but is subject to stewards and tutors till 
such time as the father has appointed for the 
attainment of his majority. Even so we, when 
we were still in our religious childhood, were in 
bondage under the physical restraints of the Law, 
but, when the fulness of the time was come, God 
sent forth His Son, made of a woman, subject by 
the circumstances of His birth to the Law of 
Moses, that He might redeem those who were 
under the Law, and that, instead of the tutelage of 
minors, we might receive the rights of full-grown 
sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth 
the spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, 
Father. Therefore thou art no more a servant nor 
in servant-like subjection, but a son : and if a son, 
then an heir of God through Jesus Christ. 

'' I am speaking to men who once were heathens. 
There was a time when you were without the 
knowledge of the true God, and were offering your 
slavish adoration to beings that were not Divine. 
But now all this is changed, now that you have 
come to the knowledge of God, or I should rather 
say have awoke to consciousness of the fact that 
God knows you, what do you mean by turning 
back to the weak and beggarly elements and, under 
the name of Judaism, beginning again a slavish 
ritual like that of the heathenism. You are observ- 
ing days and months and timps and years. You 
make me fear on your behalf lest all the labour 
which I have bestowed on you be in vain. 

'• O, my brethren, come up and share my freedom 


as I have shared yours. It is for this that I contend, 
not for any personal advantage of my own. In throw- 
ing aside my teaching you injure yourselves, not me. 
But oh, remember those early days of my preaching 
to you, how I came in broken health, how you 
bore with me in all the humiliation of my bodily 
infirmity, and did not on that account despise or 
reject me, but received me as if I had been an 
angel of God or the Saviour Himself. Where is 
all that blessedness which you then spoke of, and 
which so filled your hearts that if it had been 
possible you would have plucked out your own 
eyes and given them to me. Why should all that 
full tide of love be changed into hatred simply 
because I have told you the truth ? 

** These new teachers are desperately anxious to 
win, not your love as I had it, but your abject 
submission. Let them have their way and you 
will find yourselves barred out in the Court of the 
Gentiles, and with gracious condescension permitted 
to look reverently towards them who are 'of the 
circumcision.' Zeal, love, reverence — all these are 
good in a good cause, and should be shown when 
I am absent as they were when I was present with 


" O ! my own little ones, whom I once bore 
with the pangs of a mothers travail, those pangs 
of the spirit are upon me again, that Christ may 
be formed in you. I long to be once more present 
with you and to change my style of discourse, for 
I am altogether perplexed by what I hear of you. 


'* Now then, you who are so anxious to come 
under the Law of Moses, open that book of the 
Law and learn the lesson which it teaches you in 
type. It is written in Genesis that Abraham had 
two sons, one by the bond-slave Hagar and the 
other by the free woman Sarah. Hagar's son was 
born after the flesh, in the ordinary course of 
nature, but Sarah's son was the child of promise. 
Now, these things may be taken as an allegory, 
representing the two cov^enants, that of the Law 
and that of Grace. Hagar the bondwoman, whose 
home was in Arabia, represents the Law given on 
Mount Sinai and tending to bondage, while Sarah 
and her seed represent the heavenly Jerusalem 
which is free, and the mother of us all. 

** Long time was the covenant of grace in abey- 
ance while the covenant of works was triumphant. 
Even so was Sarah barren while Hagar could boast 
herself of a son. But the time has come for the 
reproach of its barrenness to be removed, as it 
is written, ' Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not ; 
break forth and cry, thou that travailest not : for the 
desolate hath many more children than she which 
hath an husband.' 

'* We, then, my brethren, are like Isaac, the 
children of promise, while the Judaisers are the 
children of the flesh. We are persecuted by them as 
Isaac was mocked by Ishmael. But ours, not theirs, 
the final victory, as it is written, ' Cast out the bond- 
woman and her son : for the son of the bondwoman 
shall not be heir with the son of the free woman.' 



'' Remember, then, brethren, your and our high 
calHng as children not of the bondwoman but of 
the free. Stand fast in that freedom wherewith 
Christ has emancipated us, and be not entangled 
again with any yoke of bondage. Behold, I, Paul, 
say unto you, that, if ye be circumcised, Christ shall 
profit you nothing. And I testify once more to 
every (Gentile) man among you who is circumcised, 
that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. 
Any of you who think to be justified by the law 
have cut yourselves off from Christ, have fallen from 
grace : while on the other hand we, through the 
Spirit, wait for the hope of that righteousness which 
comes by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circum- 
cision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith 
which is working through love. 

'*Ye were running well: who drove you back 
so that ye should not obey the truth ? This 
new persuasion does not come from him who 
called you. The new teachers wielded no great 
power, but, as the proverb says, ' a little leaven 
leavens the whole mass.' I have confidence in the 
Lord concerning you that you will not really 
abandon my teaching, and that he who has troubled 
you (whoever he may be) will be left to bear his 
condemnation alone. 

*' Of course the path of the Judaisers is for the 
moment the easier one. If I were still preaching 
circumcision should I have to endure persecution 
at the hands of the Jews? No, indeed! all that 
makes the cross of Christ a stumbling-block would 


have vanished. I wish that those who are thus 
disquieting you were even cut off from the Church. 

" I have told you to stand fast in freedom. To 
freedom are ye called, my brethren : only use not 
that freedom as an excuse for fleshly indulgence, 
but, while free men in the Lord, let every man be his 
brother's servant for love's sake. For the whole 
law is contained in this one word, ' Thou shalt 
love thy neighbour as thyself.' But if, on the 
contrary, ye are biting and devouring one another, 
take care that ye are not consumed one of another. 

'* Freedom, I say, the freedom of the spirit. Walk 
in the Spirit, and there will be no fear of your 
fulfilling the lusts of the flesh. For the flesh 
struggles against the restraints of the Spirit, and 
the Spirit strives to subdue the anarchy of the 
flesh : and these two principles are contrary one 
to the other, so that their strife prevents you from 
doing the things that ye would. But if ye are 
led by the free Spirit of God, ye are not under the 
slavery of the law. 

" Now the works of the flesh are well known, and 
they are such things as these — Fornication, impurity, 
wantonness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatreds, strifes, 
factions, sects, envyings, murders, drunken orgies, 
revellings, and all other things like these, as to 
which I solemnly warn you, as I also told you 
long ago, that those who do such things shall not 
inherit the kingdom of God. On the other hand, 
the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long- 
suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, 


temperance : against such qualities as these there 
is no law. But they who belong to Christ have 
crucified their flesh with all its passions and all 
its desires. If we are of a truth living in the 
Spirit, let our daily walk be in the same Spirit. 
Let us not become vainglorious persons provoking 
those who are below us by our ostentation and 
envying those who are above us for their wealth. 

" The spiritual man is no harsh judge of his 
brethren's actions. Even if a man does fall into 
some transgression, ye who are spiritual should 
pull him out of the pit and should restore him in 
the spirit of meekness, carefully considering your 
own steppings lest you, too, should be tempted as 
he was. 

" Bear ye one another's burdens and so fulfil the 
law of Christ [Who said, ' He that would be chief 
among you, let him be your servant' * I am among 
you as he that serveth ']. If any man forgets that 
rule and, unmindful of his own nothingness, thinks 
himself to be some great one, he is self-deceived. 

" But though ye are to bear one another's burdens, 
ye are also to mind your own work. Let every 
man bring his own work to the test, and if it 
stands that test, he will have a rejoicing all his 
own. Thus, though I said just now, * Bear ye 
one another's burdens,' I now say in a different 
sense, ' Every man must bear his own burden.' 

" As to the maintenance of your teachers, let him 
that is instructed in the work of life share in all 
good things with him that instructs him. Be not 


deceived : God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man 
sows that shall he also reap. He that sows to his 
flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption, but he that 
sows to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap eternal 
life. Say not that the harvest tarries long. Let 
us not be weary in well-doing : in due season we 
shall reap if we faint not. Therefore, as we have 
opportunity, let us do good to all men, but especially 
to those who dwell with us in the same home of faith. 

'* Now see the big letters of my autograph post- 

**A11 those who want to stand well with the 
world are trying to force you to be circumcised : 
but this is only that they may not themselves be 
persecuted for the cross of Christ. For these 
would-be circumcisers do not themselves keep the 
law ; but they want to have you circumcised, that 
they may glory in you as proselytes to Judaism. 
But far from me be any glorying except in the 
cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the 
world is crucified to me, and I to the world. For 
in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircum- 
cision is a matter of any account, but a new creation 
is essential. And for all that shall walk according 
to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and on 
the Israel of God. 

** Henceforth let no one molest me, for I bear in 
my body the scars of the Roman scourge, the marks 
of the Lord Jesus. 

'* The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with 
your spirits, my brethren. Amen." 


So spoke the Apostle of the Gentiles to his 
back-sliding converts : 

Souls that were over-free, 

Sick with the weight of too much Uberty. 

Are there any in our day who, having had a glimpse 
of the land of freedom, are now going back into the 
house of bondage, and who think that they will do 
God service by grovelling before a Judaising priest- 
hood. Let such as these ponder the words of the 
great teacher who won Europe for Christ. 

Bamburgh, 1896. 


The subject on which I am going to speak to-night 
is one of those on which there are deep and wide 
differences in the Churches of Christendom, but I 
hope, if not altogether, to avoid controversy, at 
any rate not to make it the staple of my discourse. 

It is patent to all of us that there is an immense 
variety of modes of ministry in the Churches of 
Christendom. I think it possible that if Christ 
returned to earth He would not altogether condemn 
that variety, but would recognise the fact that 
different races of men, different temperaments, 
different states of intellectual culture may require 
"diversities of helps" in their endeavours to reach 
out after the Infinite and the Eternal. 

Christian Ministry and Christian Worship are 

two subjects that we can hardly separate from one 

another. If we trace the river of Church History 

to its source, and inquire what was Christian worship 

like in the very earliest age, we shall perhaps be 

surprised to find how little we know about it. We 

must always remember that our Lord and His 

apostles were Jews, and Jews who at any rate for 

one generation conformed to all the external rites 



of the Jewish religion. Christ was circumcised on 
the eighth day : at twelve years old He went up 
to one of the Jewish festivals, and was with difficulty 
torn away from the precincts of the beloved Temple : 
He twice shewed himself jealous for the honour of 
"His Father's house" by casting forth the huck- 
sters and the money-changers. Are we to suppose 
that He ever brought a sacrifice to be offered there ? 
Perhaps that is improbable, but we know that the 
least Judaical of His apostles, Saul of Tarsus, was 
a sharer in certain '* offerings " which were offered 
for '' the four men which had a vow on them." I 
think we may say certainly that in the lifetime 
of our Lord, and for some years after, the chief 
worship that was offered by His disciples was 
Jewish worship, and thus it is only natural that 
we should find (Acts iii. i) Peter and John going 
up into the Temple at the hour of prayer, being 
3 o'clock in the afternoon. Yet side by side w ith 
this continued Jewish worship there was certainly 
something else, far less stately, more intimate, more 
domestic, " And they continued stedfastly in the 
Apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking 
of bread, and the prayers " (Acts ii. 42). In another 
passage, a few verses later, the two worships seem 
to be combined, " And day by day, continuing sted- 
fastly with one accord in the Temple, and breaking 
bread at home, they did take their food with glad- 
ness and singleness of heart, praising God, and 
having favour with all the people." 

I think we must recognise in these passages the 


existence of a certain '* breaking of bread," which 
has a reference to the last supper which Jesus ate 
with His disciples, though it is blended with the 
ordinary family meal, and its spirit is not far re- 
moved from the celebrated declaration of Stephen 
Grellet that he never sat down to eat without 
thinking of the body that was bruised, and the 
blood that was shed for him outside the gates of 

This, however, is not the main subject that is 
now before us. The worship of the early Christians 
would undoubtedly suffer some modifications, as the 
community spread to other centres than Jerusalem^ 
and pre-eminently, as under the guidance of men 
like Paul and Barnabas, it opened its doors to 
admit others besides the children of the stock of 
Abraham into its fellowship. At Antioch and at 
Ephesus there could no longer be the "going up 
into the Temple to pray at the ninth hour." With 
Tychicus and Trophimus, sons of Greek parents 
sharing in the religious life of the congregation, 
its worship could no longer rest on Levitical sacri- 
fices as its corner-stone. 

What indications have we in the Acts of the 
Apostles as to the character of this Gentile- 
Christian worship in which we may suppose the 
Apostle Paul to have shared ? They are very 
slight, but such as we have point to a very simple, 
and, as I have before said, domestic kind of worship 
rendered in the open air or in the upper rooms of 
private houses. Thus when St. Paul and his com- 


panions find that there is a certain place by the 
river-side outside the city of Philippi, where prayer 
is wont to be made on the Sabbath, they sit down 
and speak — hardly deliver set sermons, but speak 
almost in conversational tones — about the message 
of Jesus, to Lydia and the other women who 
resorted thither. Out of that idyllic scene by the 
banks of the river Ganges grew, as the result of 
the labour and the sufferings of Paul and Silas, the 
noble-hearted, generous Church of Philippi. We 
hear nothing of their later place of meeting : probably 
the river-side may have ceased to be resorted to, 
but with all the generosity of the Philippian converts 
we may be tolerably certain that they did not in 
the first generation tax themselves for the building 
of a stately basilica. At Corinth the slight hint 
given us that Paul *' departed thence [z.e. from the 
synagogue itself] and entered into a certain man's 
house named Justus, one that worshipped God, 
and whose house joined hard to the synagogue," 
will probably justify us in supposing that it was 
in this house, conveniently situated in the Jewish 
quarter of the city, that the Apostle taught for a 
year and six months, gathering in the *' much 
people " who, as his Lord had told him, were 
waiting for His servants' preaching in that city. 
If so, some room in the house of this Justus was 
the cradle of the great Church of Corinth. In the 
same way at Ephesus the lecture-room of the 
philosopher Tyrannus, which for two years echoed 
to the sound of the Apostle's voice " disputing and 


persuading the things concerning the Kingdom of 
God " was, doubtless, also the place in which the 
company of believers would be gathered together 
probably on the first day of the week, when disputa- 
tions and arguments with them that were without 
were hushed, and only the sounds of prayer and 
praise, with perhaps some rehearsal of the gracious 
words of the Master, and some telling over of His 
wonderful works, were heard in the sophist's lecture- 

Then we come to the well-lighted upper chamber 
at Troas, where, on the first day of the week, the 
disciples came together to break bread. Here was 
sitting in a window a certain young man named 
Eutychus who, '' as Paul was long preaching, sank 
down with sleep, fell down from the third storey, 
and was taken up dead." 

How graphically the whole scene is described 
for us by that wonderful artist Luke : but also how 
domestic (I must keep to this word) is Christian 
worship as here portrayed ! We do not feel that 
we are reading of what happened in a stately 
cathedral ; we know that we are in the house of 
a provincial, probably a middle-class provincial, of 
the little Asiatic town Alexandria Troas. We feel 
at once that elaborate spectacular performances of 
worship, processions with gilt cross and banners, 
surpliced choirs, the swinging of censers, frequent 
robings and disrobings, are impossible to be thought 
of in such surroundings. To say this is not to 
say that a florid and ornate ceremonial is neces- 


sarlly wrong : only that it cannot be of the essence 
of Christianity, and that the nearer we ascend to 
the source, the simpler seems to have been the 
worship of the believers in Jesus Christ. 

And now, from these intimations — confessedly 
slight as they are — respecting the character of 
Christian worship, which we find in the Acts of 
the Apostles, let us go to the Epistles of St. Paul 
and see what light these will throw upon the subject. 
We shall not be disappointed : there is one of these 
letters which gives us most valuable and copious 
information as to the manner of ordering Divine 
service within thirty years after the death of Christ. 
That letter is the first Epistle to the Corinthians. 
We all know that the eighteen months of toil which 
St. Paul spent in the rich and busy city by the two 
seas had resulted in the building up of a very 
powerful, very eager, but rather factious and very 
self-satisfied Christian community. 

We can see that the Apostle was — in so far as 
he allowed himself to glory in anything — inclined 
to glory over the Church which he had founded at 
Corinth : but we can see, also, that he was not 
so thoroughly at ease with these restless, talkative 
converts of his as he was with his simpler-hearted 
Macedonian friends. He was rather like a rustic 
father, whose son, having gone up to the capital 
and achieved distinction there, comes back to the 
old home and scarcely hides his gentle scorn of 
the ways of the paternal household. 

And they were not only self-satisfied and 


disagreeable some of these Corinthian Christians. 
As St. Paul truly told them, ** Knowledge puffeth 
up," and they in their vanity and inflation had not 
taken heed to their goings, and had, some of them, 
wandered grievously out of the way. They had 
got hold of the catch-phrase, ** Salvation by Faith 
alone," and applying it, as so many misguided men 
have done since, without regard to " the analogy of 
faith," without reference to the counter-balancing 
forces in the spiritual universe, had toppled over 
into Antinomianism ; were saying — in effect if not 
in words, — " Let us continue in sin that grace may 
abound," and were therefore tolerating offences 
against morality which St. Paul said — perhaps rather 
too broadly^ — were not so much as named among 
the Gentiles. 

About all these disorders the Apostle, when 
his friends '' of the household of Chloe " brought 
him the grievous tidings of their existence, felt 
himself constrained to use sharpness, and he there- 
fore wrote that First Epistle to the Corinthians, 
which stands to all later generations a monument 
of Christian outspokenness, and a model of fatherly 

Besides these graver matters, however, there were 
some things in the manner of conducting Divine 
worship at Corinth, which incurred the disapproval 
of the Apostle, though the general character of that 

^ My reason for making this qualification is that the particular scandal 
against which St. Paul remonstrates (i Cor. v. i.) "that a man should have 
his father's wife " was not only named but condoned when Antiochus married 
in the lifetime of his father Seleucus that father's wife Stratonice. 


worship, as we can collect it from his Epistle, seems 
to have been entirely according to his mind, and 
we may fairly suppose that it corresponded to that 
which prevailed at Philippi, at Ephesus, at 
Thessalonica, and at all the other churches planted 
by St. Paul. 

What, then, is the picture of a Christian con- 
gregation in the early ages of the Church that is 
brought before us by chapters xi.-xiv. of the First 
Epistle to the Corinthians. The first thing that 
strikes the reader is the large number of persons 
who evidently took part in the public service of the 
Church. Here we have no *' one-man-ministry." 

There are prophets both male and female, and 
these not only prophesy but also pray : for the 
Apostle gives directions as to the attire that is to be 
worn or not worn on the head of ** every man and 
of every woman praying or prophesying." Then 
there are also those mysterious "tongues" whose 
utterances sometimes break in upon the worship. 

In themselves startling and emotional they are 
accompanied, and in a certain sense justified, by 
another, more edifying, gift, " the interpretation of 
tongues." The Apostle does not condemn the 
exercise of these gifts : on the contrary he says, 
'' I would that ye all spake with tongues," but he 
values the prophetic gift more highly: "but rather 
that ye prophesied, for greater is he that prophesieth 
than he that speaketh with tongues, except he 
interpret that the Church may receive edifying. 
I thank my God I speak with tongues more 


than ye all : yet in the Church I had rather speak 
five words with my understanding, that by my voice 
I might teach others also, than ten thousand words 
in a tongue." 

This gift of prophecy, then, to which the Apostle 
attaches such a high value, what is its nature ? 
Certainly not mere prediction of future events, 
though the case of the prophet Agabus, who 
" signified by the spirit that there should be great 
dearth throughout all the world" (Acts xi. 28), and 
who by a symbolic action foretold the binding of 
"the man that weareth this girdle" by the Jews 
at Jerusalem (Acts xxi. 11) shews that prediction 
was sometimes a part of the prophet's office. But 
inasmuch as mere prediction could never make 
up the staple of a Christian Minister's work, the 
view which now generally prevails, that prophesying 
was a kind of inspired and fervent preaching is 
doubtless the correct one and entirely agrees with 
St. Paul's own words (i Cor. xiv. 3), '' He that 
prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and 
exhortation, and comfort." 

Besides these two forms of utterance, tongues 
and prophecy, there must have been another less 
emotional and more intellectual than either, which 
was exercised by those who had the gift of teaching. 
We hear less about this than about the others, 
probably because as it was a humbler style of 
service, and lent itself less to excitement and 
spiritual exaltation than they, it had the less need 
of the Apostle's regulating hand. 


These different classes of workers for the 
Church are all summed up by St. Paul near the 
end of the twelfth chapter of the First Epistle, 
" And God hath set some in the Church, first 
apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers, then 
miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, 
divers kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are 
all prophets ? Are all teachers ? Are all workers 
of miracles.^ Have all gifts of healings? Do all 
speak with tongues ? Do all interpret ? But desire 
earnestly the greater gifts. And a still more 
excellent way shew I unto you." And then he 
proceeds to give us that eloquent description of 
love which is the crowning glory of the whole 
edifice, and which makes us almost thankful that 
there were strifes and jealousies in the Corinthian 
Church since they forced out of the grieved heart 
of the apostle these noble words which were to 
be a precious inheritance of the Church universal 
for all ages. 

The Corinthian Church was not perfect : far 
from it ; but surely there is something in the ideal, 
present both to their minds and to their teacher's, 
which ought not to have perished out of Christian 
experience and which we are justified in striving 
to recover and to preserve. There is no distinction 
here between clergy and laity : no fencing off of 
certain members of the community in a beautifully 
decorated choir, while their humbler brethren are 
to worship in the nave. The words Bishop and 
Priest are unspoken : there is throughout an 


abundant and undoubting reference to "gifts" 
bestowed by the Divine Spirit on various believers, 
no hint anywhere in this Epistle of a regularly 
graded hierarchy of office. 

It has been truly said : ^ ''From St. Paul's 
epistles it would appear that the Apostle expected 
that every Christian community would furnish from 
its own membership the teachers required to in- 
struct the members, but it is evident, at least when 
we get beyond the apostolic period, that many gifted 
men, whose services were appreciated, went from 
church to church teaching and preaching, and that 
without having any pretension to the prophetic gift." 
These men were sometimes styled Apostles or Mis- 
sionaries, the term Apostle being by no means con- 
fined to the Twelve at Jerusalem, even with the 
addition of Paul, and these missionaries, of whom 
Paul was by far the most eminent, but of whom we 
may take as representative types Barnabas, Apollos, 
Aquila and Priscilla, went the round of the Churches 
stimulating their spiritual life and sometimes setting 
in order things which, either through morbid over- 
excitement, or coldness and forgetfulness and the 
'' leaving of their first love," had gone wrong during 
the years which had elapsed since the Church was 
first planted. 

This Apostolic care and superintendence we 
must not leave out of sight, but still the fact 
remains, and it is abundantly proved not only by 

^ By Principal Lindsay, The Church and the Ministry in the Early 
Centuries^ p. 105. 



the First of Corinthians but by all the Epistles, 
that St. Paul did look to the Church itself to provide 
its own prophets and its own teachers. So long 
as they remained faithful, so long as they had not 
grown cold and forsaken their first love, there was 
good reason for believing ^ that the Divine Spirit 
would bestow on one here and on another there 
the gifts of teaching, of ruling, of prophecy, of 
interpretation which were needed for maintaining 
the life and health of the Church. 

That was the glorious ideal of the earliest 
Church. Why should it not be our ideal now ? 

Can we not see — 1 am persuaded that we can 
see — that just in so far as Churches in these later 
days have kept this ideal before them, in so far 
have they truly accomplished their mission and 
attained the object of their being. If the ideal 
of worship is that all the members of the Church 
have a duty to discharge regarding it, if the souls 
of all are reverently waiting on God, and if it is not 
absolutely known and arranged beforehand who 
shall pray or prophecy or teach, it is surely 
probable that some spiritual faculties will be trained 
and developed which are atrophied where one man 
stands between the congregation and God, taking 
on himself to lead all the praise, to guide all 
the prayers, to convey all the instruction that is 
needed. It will probably be said — the objection 
comes naturally from those who have all their lives 
been accustomed to an elaborately prepared and 
systematically ordered service — that any such 


liberty left to the congregation must lead in- 
evitably to anarchy and disorder. And yet the 
Apostle Paul did not think that the recognition of 
the diversity of gifts was fatal to good order in the 
Church. He says (i Cor. xiv. 26), " What is it then, 
brethren ? When ye come together, each one hath 
a psalm, hath a teaching, hath a revelation, hath a 
tongue, hath an interpretation. Let all things be 
done unto edifying." . . . '' For ye all can prophesy 
one by one, that all may learn and all may be com- 
forted : and the spirits of the prophets are subject 
to the prophets : but God is not the God of con- 
fusion, but of peace. Let all things be done decently 
and in order." 

Doubtless even in the presence of this beautiful 
ideal, of a Church supplying its own needs by means 
of the gifts bestowed on its several members, some 
sort of guidance or even rule would be necessary, 
and though the earlier Epistles give very slight 
indications of the existence of these rulers, what 
they do say accords with the hints given in the 
later Epistles and the later chapters of the Acts in 
which we meet with '*the elders of the Church," 
" them that are over you in the Lord," and '' him that 
ruleth," who is exhorted to do so with diligence. 
Towards the end of the Apostolic age this ruling 
class comes into greater prominence and seems to 
be generally denoted by the words which are for 
a long time practically synonymous, '' presbyters " and 
*' bishops." 

The equivalence of these two terms in the early 


ages of the Church is not, I think, now disputed. 
As Jerome says, writing in the fourth century when 
the predominance of the bishop had been estabHshed 
for centuries, "The presbyter therefore is the same 
as the bishop, and before the Devil stirred up strife 
in the Church, and people began to say, ' I am of 
Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas,' the Churches 
were governed by a common council of presbyters. 
As therefore the presbyters know that by the 
custom of the Church they are subject to him who 
is set over them : so let the bishops know that they 
are superior to the presbyters rather by a Church 
custom than by the actual arrangement of the Lord, 
and that they ought to rule the Church for the 
common good." 

However, I am not going to enter upon the long 
and weary controversy between Presbyterian and 
Episcopalian ; between those who hold that the 
Church ought to be governed by a committee of 
Elders and those who think that it should be 
governed by an Overseer. All that is away from 
my present object, which is to recall our minds from 
the official hierarchies of later days to the free, self- 
governed, self-supplying Churches of the earliest 

It was in the second century that the Ministry 
of Gifts, the Charismatic Ministry as it has been 
called, gave way to the Ministry of Office. It was 
then that the order of Prophets once so powerful 
faded away out of the Church, and that in their 
stead an order of Priests began to appear. The 


clergy are beginning to be differentiated from the 
laity : the community of Christian believers is losing 
its freedom. The freshness of the dawn is beginning 
to die away and to fade into the light of common, 
very common, and sometimes very squalid day. 

I wish that some one would write the history 
of the second century in the Church. It would 
be a hard work, for the materials are scanty and 
confusing. It would be a dreary work, for it was 
to my apprehension chiefly a century of waning 
faith and lessening love : but it is, I think, a 
necessary work to be done as a part of that great 
and melancholy work, " The Decline and Fall of 
Christianity," which is a far sadder page in human 
history than the " Decline and Fall of the Roman 
Empire." (Lest any be shocked by the words the 
Decline and Fall of the Christian religion, I would 
say that I see in Church History many grievous 
falls, but also many risings again. Throughout the 
long centuries Christ has been, as the aged Simeon 
foretold, '* set for the fall and rising again of many 
in Israel, and for a sign that should be spoken 

Yet though a sad century, from a religious point 
of view, it is also an interesting century. The keen 
intellect of the Greek, the mystically absorbed 
spirit of the Oriental came into contact with this 
new and wonderful phenomenon, the Revelation 
of God in Christ, and began the attempt to fit it 
into their own categories of thought. Strange and 
wild cosmogonies and theologies were the result. 


All that jungle growth of Gnosticism, which 
amuses, appals, and wearies us when we read of it in 
Irenseus or in Neander, was sprouting everywhere 
throughout the Roman Empire in that strange 
century. The official hierarchy which then arose, 
and whose arising I partly deplore, did, let us admit, 
do battle bravely with many of these wild imagin- 
ings, and we probably owe it chiefly to its influence 
that Christianity finally emerged from the conflict 
a reasonable faith, and one not wholly at variance 
with common sense. It was then, may we not 
sav, that the words " Catholic" and ** Heretic" had 
a rightful sense, quite different from that which 
they mostly bear in the present day. But in the 
clash of opposing systems, in the war of speculative 
doubt and dour official conservatism, much of the 
charm of the early faith vanished, and Christi- 
anity emerged from the Gnostic controversy a very 
different system from that which had entered 

Moreover, other influences were at work and 
made for change, made for a colder and less en- 
thusiastic belief than that of Aquila and Priscilla, 
of Lydia and the gaoler at Philippi. Pre-eminent 
among these influences was the mere fact that the 
first generation of believers had passed away 
without having seen their returning Saviour. 

We cannot be blind to the fact that all the 
Christians of whom we read in the Acts and the 
early Epistles lived in the full expectation that at 
any rate in the lifetime of some of them Christ 


Himself would come back in visible presence to 
the world. The effect which the gradual decay 
of this hope, the fading away of the last streak of 
red in the West, without any dawn streak in the 
East, produced on the minds of the last survivors 
of the Apostolic group has been admirably set forth 
in Browning's poem, "A Death in the Desert." 

But then, besides this there was the simple fact 
that the generations were changing, that instead of the 
fathers were the children, and then the grandchildren, 
who, however they might imbibe Christianity as a 
lesson, had not received it as those before them did, 
with adult and fully persuaded minds, as the key 
to the mysteries of life and the deliverer from the 
life-long bondage of the fear of death. 

It often occurs to me when we hear lamentations 
over the decline of this Church, or the changed 
mood of that Society, that we expect too much 
from the men who are now sitting In seats of old 
renown when we expect them to reproduce the 
spiritual lineaments of their forefathers. The 
words which we use to express identity veil an 
absolute diversity. Even as the river which flows 
under the arches of London Bridge is not in any 
one of its particles the same river Thames which 
we may have seen there six months ago, so the 
Society of Friends to-day is not really the same 
Society, nor the Church of England to-day the 
same Church that each was at the accession of 
Queen Victoria : and the marvel is not that there 
should be some points of difference, but that there 


should be so many points of resemblance between 

Whatever the cause mav be, I think no one who 
carefully and impartially studies the question will 
deny that there are profound and wide-reaching 
differences between the Church of the first century 
and that of the third, between the Church as it 
existed at Philippi, or at Corinth, in the days of 
St Paul, and the Church as it existed at Carthage, 
in the days of Cyprian. From our point of view 
that change was almost entirely a change for the 
worse. In those two centuries the community of 
Christian believers lost the freedom which was 
their birthright, and became the subjects of a 
hierarchy which was ever increasing its claims and 
its pretensions, till it perpetrated the crowning 
infamy of the tortures of the Inquisition and the 
Autos-da-fd of Philip II. of Spain. 

At the Reformation some part, a large part, of 
the lost heritage of freedom was won back. Thank 
God for that. Some part, but not all. Our 
ancestors who founded the Society of Friends en- 
deavoured to vindicate the liberty of prophesying 
for the whole congregation, as it existed in the days 
of the Apostles. Perhaps they have not realised 
the full beauty of their ideal : who does in this im- 
perfect world ^ But I am persuaded that they have 
accomplished something. When I hear, as one 
often does hear, the expression of wonder that a 
body, numerically so small, should have exercised 
so large an influence on the minds and thoughts 


of men, I always feel that the answer is that by 
their system of worship and ministry, leaving the 
responsibility of worship on the whole congregation, 
and refusing to delegate it to a single minister with 
his precentor or his clerk, they have in some 
measure trained the spiritual faculties of the whole 
body, and caused all its members to be exercised by 
reason of use. They have got away thoroughly 
from the official, hierarchical, sacerdotal view of the 
Church's ministry, and have taken at any rate some 
steps towards the charismatic view which St. Paul 
would have understood and owned. '' For to each 
one is given the manifestation of the Spirit to profit 
withal— but all these worketh the one and the same 
Spirit, dividing to each one severally as he will." 

If it be asked, how can you practically arrange 
that in the meetings of the faithful there shall be 
room for all, who feel themselves called upon to do 
so, to take part, our answer is, that we accomplish it 
by providing that at least a portion of every meeting 
shall be spent in silent, reverent waiting upon God. 
This silent worship, which has often perplexed and 
sometimes amused those who judge us from the 
outside, we feel to be a most precious possession. 
Something, I believe, of the same feeling which 
animates devout recipients of the Eucharist is often 
felt by us when we thus gather together, *' with one 
accord in one place," for the worship of Our 
Almighty Father. We constantly feel that the 
Saviour Himself thus fulfils His promise, ** Where 
two or three are gathered together in my name, there 


am I in the midst of them." But the Silence is 
not only precious in itself, it also makes possible 
that many - sided, many - voiced Congregational 
worship and ministry of which I have spoken. 
No doubt '' one good custom " here as elsewhere 
may degenerate into something useless or even 
harmful. There may be a form of Silence as dead 
as the prayer- wheels of Thibet. Nor can it in 
my opinion ever be right that the worship of a 
Christian congregation should be habitually and 
entirely a silent one. Where that is the practice 
there must be something wrong in the spiritual 
state of the members. In my conception of the 
matter, Silent Worship is a beautiful, still lake. It 
is studded with lovely islands, the vocal utterances 
of members of the congregation. In these islands 
grow the harvests of spiritual food : in them the forests 
of praise are waving : from them the fountains of 
prayer rise on high : but all are surrounded by the 
fair still water, and that water reflects in its surface 
the pure blue of the Eternal Heavens above. That 
is our Ideal. May we strive to bring our own, 
sometimes poor and mean Real nearer to this high 
conception of Christian Worship and Ministry. 

Manchester, 1906. 


The festivals of the Jewish people will always 
have a certain interest for us who have succeeded 
to so large a part of their spiritual inheritance. 
Some knowledge of them is indispensable to the 
student of the Old Testament ; it is especially- 
needful for him who would intelligently follow the 
discussions concerning the chronology of the 
Gospels ; and, as we all know, it is upon the chief 
of these festivals, the Passover, that the Christian 
Easter, with its peculiar effect on every European 
Calendar, is based. 

I propose to give in this Lecture a short popular 
account of the chief Feasts and Fasts of the Jews, and 
to indicate their bearing on the Life of Christ and 
His Apostles. 

The central point of the Jewish calendar, the 
command around which all the other observances 
group themselves, is to be found in Exodus xxiii. 
17, and is repeated in Deuteronomy xvi. 16. 

" Three times in a year shall all thy males 
appear before the Lord thy God in the place which 
He shall choose " ; and these three General 
Assemblies were : — 



1. The Passover. 

2. The Feast of Weeks, or of Pentecost. 

3. The Feast of Tabernacles. 

The point which we ought most strongly to 
impress upon our minds is the vast influence which 
these national gatherings must have had in keeping 
the nation one, and true to one worship ; in counter- 
acting the dividing and '* Gentilising" influences 
whereby Israel was assailed on all sides. There came 
to Shiloh in the days of the tabernacle, to Jerusalem 
while David and Solomon yet reigned, dwellers 
from the maritime plain of the South-west ; men who 
lived in sight of those strongholds of Ekron and 
Gaza, within the walls of which Philistian warriors 
worshipped the fish-god Dagon ; men past whose 
vineyards the caravans slowly wended their way 
into Egypt, that oldest and most idolatrous of 
empires ; there came Asherites from the borders of 
Tyre, and herdmen from Bashan, who dwelt almost 
in sight of Damascus, almost in hearing of the 
tramp of the armies of Nineveh ; Gileadites from 
Jabbok ; Reubenites from the salt solitudes of the 
Dead Sea ; Danites from the foot of snowy 
Lebanon — all came to this one spot at one time. 

How strongly of all these were assailed by the 
temptation to break away from the commonwealth 
of Israel and the worship of Jehovah, to bow down 
before Astarte, or Baal, or Nisroch, or Osiris, their 
history shows us but too clearly. We can easily 
understand how mighty was the help towards 
national unity furnished by these periodical 


gatherings at Jerusalem. The Psalms are full of 
it, especially those later ones (Songs of Degrees), 
which were sung during one, at least, of these 
Festivals : '* I was glad when they said unto me. 
Let us go into the house of the Lord. Our feet 
shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem ! 
Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact 
together : whither the tribes go tip, the tribes of 
the Lord, unto the testimony of Israel, to give 
thanks unto the name of the Lord" (Ps. cxxii. 1-4). 

I. By none of the Jewish Festivals would this 
ardour of religious patriotism be more strongly 
excited than by that which gave to the month in 
which it occurred the title of *' the beginning of 
months." The Passover, otherwise known as The 
Feast of Unleavened Bread, was celebrated through- 
out the interval between the 14th and 21st days 
of Nisan, or Abib, a month nearly corresponding 
with our April. 

The leading incidents of the deliverance which 
it commemorated, and the chief characteristics of the 
feast itself, are so well known to all of us, that a 
brief allusion to them will suffice. There is death, 
death, death everywhere in Egypt — wherever the 
love of father or of mother in all that crowded land 
has gone forth towards a first-born son, there is 
now weeping and desolation. 

Yet not everywhere ; in the mean abodes of the 
land of Goshen a different sight is seen. There is 
no death-wail there ; yet, though it is midnight, the 
dwellers are not asleep, but gathered round the 


table, standing and equipped as for a journey. 
With shoes on their feet, and staves in their hands, 
they are partaking of an unusual but simple meal. 
A roasted lamb in the centre of the table, bitter 
herbs around it ; by every guest a pile of thin 
wafer-like cakes, made without leaven ; a cup of 
pure juice of the grape unfermented, in his hand ; — 
such is the repast which they are sharing. Above, 
on the lintel of the door-posts, is sprinkled the 
blood of the sacrifice for the Destroying Angel 
to behold, that he may pass over them in his errand 
of death. 

The two most prominent characteristics of the 
Paschal Feast — the sacrifice of the lamb, and the 
abstinence from everything of the nature of leaven 
— remained unchanged through all ages of the 
Jewish Commonwealth, down to the destruction 
of the Temple ; but some smaller particulars seem 
to have been modified as time went on. The 
blood ceased to be sprinkled on the door-post ; 
the prohibition to depart out of the house, lest 
the protection from the destroyer should fail, seems 
to have been in practice discontinued ; the standing 
posture of the banqueters — the staff in their hands, 
the shoes on their feet — were all disused, and at 
the time of our Saviour they reclined on couches, 
as at all other feasts, their loose robes probably 
not girded up, and their feet unsandalled. Now, 
since the destruction of the Temple as the house 
of Israel has no longer a sacrificing priest in its 
midst, the Paschal lamb itself has vanished from 


the ritual. Still, however, many singular observ- 
ances connected with it are practised by them, 
and it is probable enough that the greater part 
of these have been in use for thirty-four centuries. 

What was the exact nature of the connection 
between the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened 
Bread it is not easy to say. My own conjecture 
would be, that the abstinence from leaven may 
have originally applied especially to the day of 
the great Paschal Feast (14th of Nisan), and that 
the abstinence for the whole of the seven following 
days may have been meant to commemorate a 
natural result of their hurried departure — the bread 
which they had for the feast being unleavened, 
and there being no time to leaven or bake any 

However this may be, certain it is that the 
modern Jews are determined that, if human exertions 
can ensure it, no jot or tittle of this Mosaic ordin- 
ance shall be violated by them. No inquisitor 
ever scented out heresy with keener nostril than 
the devout Israelite does the least trace of leaven 
or ferment (for the word used includes both) that 
may lurk in his dwelling on the eve of the 14th 
of Nisan. Of course, not only whatever remnants 
of leaven itself may be left in the jar, but all bones 
and scraps of leavened bread remaining in the 
house, are at once thrown into the fire. Not only 
so, but the whole house has to be swept, and every 
pan and pitcher, every cup and saucer, every vessel 
of every kind, has to be plunged separately into 


boiling water, the opinion being that if two are 
in the water at once, the purification is not com- 
plete, for the water may not have touched all 
parts of each. One old German, who enters very- 
minutely into the subject of these purifications, 
after giving a number of details, which I will not 
enumerate, winds up by saying, 

Hence the custom of cleansing the whole house and all 
the furniture a little before Easter has come down to the 
females of our nation, who practise it, however, without 
any superstitious feeling (Leusden, PhilologuSy p. 274). 

I was not aware till I read this passage that our 
''Spring cleanings" could claim so august an 

The house thus purged of the old leaven, the 
family sets to work with great alacrity to make 
the new unleavened bread. The flour must have 
been ground at least three days previously, so that 
it may have had full time to cool ; the sack con- 
taining it may not be thrown over the horse's bare 
back in the journey from the mill, lest the heat of 
the should warm it ; the water must be 
drawn on the previous evening from a deep well, 
so that it may have been for twenty-four hours 
unexposed to the heat of the sun, and all this lest 
the subtle principle of fermentation should, through 
any nook or crevice, creep back into the purified 
abode. Then, in a cool place, the dough is kneaded 
and pricked, and spread out into thin wafer-like 
biscuits, which are placed in the oven, and emerge 


thence as the Passover cakes, with which many 
readers will be familiar. 

These preparations accomplished, at length, on 
the 14th of the month, ** between the evenings," 
the Paschal lamb was slain. This was done, at 
any rate during the later periods of the observance, 
before the altar, and the priests sprinkled the blood 
upon the bottom of it. It was roasted whole (the 
command that " not a bone of it should be broken " 
appearing to have been religiously observed through 
all ages), and two transverse spits of pomegranate 
wood, in the shape of a cross, were passed through 
it — a mode of dressing the meat which is said to 
be even now expressed in Arabic by the same word 
as to crucify. 

The number of guests was never to be less than 
ten nor more than twenty ; and every one, however 
abstemious in his habits, was bound to drink four 
cups of the (unfermented) wine placed before him. 
This fourfold drinking was in memory of the four- 
fold deliverance wrought for Israel by Jehovah : 

1. " I will bring you out of the land of Egypt." 

2. " From out of the House of Bondage." 

3. '* I will redeem you with a high hand and 
with a stretched-out arm." 

4. *' And I will take you unto myself for a 
peculiar people." 

1 1. The next great Feast was the Feast of Weeks, 
otherwise known as the Feast of Harvest or the 
Day of the First Fruits, but best known to us by its 
Greek name Pentecost or the Fiftieth. This was 



the essential element in the festival, that it was to 
be celebrated on the fiftieth day after the Passover. 
That was the festival of first fruits, while this was 
the festival of the ingathering of the completed 
harvest. Of course as Passover, which is represented 
by our Easter, fell in the month Nisan, which cor- 
responds roughly with our April, and Pentecost, 
which is our Whitsunday, fell in Sivarty which cor- 
responds with June, these agricultural features of 
the two festivals applied only to the climate of a 
country 20 degrees lower in latitude than ours. 
Still their symbolical character is well worthy of 
our remembrance, especially in the case of Pentecost, 
which yielded such an abundant harvest to the 
labours of the Apostles. 

Our information as to the Feast itself is but 
small. Unlike the other two great festivals, this 
lasted not for seven or eight days, but for one only ; 
though the modern Jews, from some uncertainty as 
to the proper time for commencing it, celebrate it 
for two. 

Its main characteristic was " Thanksgiving for 
the now completed harvest!' Two loaves made of 
new meal and the tenth part of an ephah of grain 
were offered as the first-fruits of the harvest-field 
to " the Lord of the Harvest." As Passover had 
marked the commencement of this gladsome time, 
so Pentecost marked its close : yet with all the 
gladness there was need for a sad remembrance to 
be made also of sin. Besides the *' meat-offering," 
— that is the offering of fiour, and the ''burnt- 


offering for a sweet savour unto the Lord " of two 
bullocks, one ram, and seven yearling lambs — there 
was also to be offered ** one kid of the goats to make 
atonement for you'' (Num. xxviii. 27-30). 

It was in harmony with the time of year and the 
harvest-associations of the day that the book of Ruth 
was, at any rate by the later Jews, read in the 
synagogues at this festival. 

It seems to be thought that, besides ** the joy of 
harvest," there was contained in this feast a com- 
memoration of the giving of the Law from Mount 
Sinai, which must have occurred about fifty days, 
and certainly may have been on the exact fiftieth 
from the celebration of the first Passover. 

During the four intensely hot summer months 
which followed the day of Pentecost there appear to 
have been no great gatherings or festivities of the 
Jews. During all this time the sky is absolutely 
devoid of clouds, no rain waters the parched ground, 
the streams dwindle into rivulets, the rivulets dis- 
appear. If it were not for the ''dew of heaven," 
the ''fatness of the earth" would soon vanish. It 
was mercifully ordained that, throughout this period 
of fiercest heat, there should be no necessity for 
a single journey connected with the worship of 
Jehovah laid on any inhabitant of Palestine. 

On the first day of Tisri (October) it was ordered 
that there should be " a Sabbath, a memorial of 
blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation " (not, 
however, a gathering of all the people to Jerusalem), 
"Ye shall do no servile work therein, but shall offer 


an offering made by fire unto the Lord" (Lev. xxiil. 
24, 25). Of this, which is generally known as The 
Feast of Trumpets, we have hardly any more in- 
formation than what is contained in this text. 

Let a little more than a week elapse from the 
Feast of Trumpets and we shall have reached the 
tenth day of Tisri, and shall be at that point of the 
Jewish year which corresponds roughly to the early 
days of our own October. We need not remark 
how little similarity exists between the crisp fresh- 
ness of those autumn mornings which we associate 
with that name and the yet fierce heat (as our 
Northern frames would feel it) of a Syrian autumn. 
Yet indications are not wanting that the sceptre of 
summer is broken. A fine gentle rain is falling, 
borne on the wings of the west and south-west 
winds from the purple Mediterranean, falling 
mainly at night, but partly also by day, and occupy- 
ing altogether a space of three or four days' 
duration. This is "the early rain" for which the 
husbandman waits with patience (James v. 7), for 
he knows that it is loosening the pores of the 
parched earth, baked as it is with the heat of an 
almost absolutely rainless summer, and that seed- 
time is at last now nigh at hand. 

For this purpose he will have, to begin with, 
about twenty days of bright, warm, cloudless 
weather, during all of which the wind will be 
coming hot and dry from the Eastern deserts, or 
milder, but still devoid of moisture, from snowy 
Lebanon. Then, when the early wheat is all well- 


sown, and the fruits of the earth are completely 
gathered in, will this ''Indian summer" come to a 
close, and the drenching and well-nigh continual 
rains of winter commence, the skies weeping with 
the weeping husbandman as he goes forth '' bear- 
ing precious seed " to his ungenial task, sowing the 
rest of his wheat, and all his barley, rye, and millet. 
And thus, attended by chilly north winds indeed, 
but otherwise marked by swollen streams, brooks 
magnified into rivers, thunderstorms and misty 
vapours shrouding the mountain-tops, rather than 
by the crystal clearness of the true winter of the 
North, will the next four months, the " rainy 
season " of Palestine sweep over the land. 

But this is all by way of anticipation. We are 
still at the tenth of Tisri, probably in one of the 
few warning days of the early rain ; seed-time is 
before us : the ingathering of the fruits of the 
earth is just coming to a close. Some grateful 
remembrance of the bounteous provision made for 
us by the Giver of all good things should surely be 
expressed. On the point of committing our seed 
to the ground in the faith that He will grant us 
another season of bountiful increase, we must thank 
Him for that which is drawing to a close ; for the 
grapes and the olives, the figs and the pomegranates 
wherewith He is lading us, ** crowning the year 
with His goodness while His paths drop fatness." 
So a devout Jew might naturally argue, and so it 
was ordained. 

HI. The last of the three great feasts, a festival 


of pious thankfulness and national rejoicing, is before 
us — the Feast of the Ingathering, or the Feast of 
Tabernacles. But that our joy may be perfect 
and unclouded we must be assured that our sins 
are forgiven by this all-loving Father : before the 
brightness of the Feast of Tabernacles we must 
pass through the solemn gloom of the Great Day 
of Atonement. The Day of Atonement was 
solemnised on the loth day of Tisri. 

The central idea of this most solemn of all the 
Jewish observances is contained in these words of 
the 1 6th verse of the i6th chapter of Leviticus: 
" And he (the high priest) shall make an atonement 
for the holy place, because of the uncleanness 
of the Children of Israel, and because of their trans- 
gressions in all their sins, and so shall he do for 
the Tabernacle of the Congregation that 7'emameth 
among them in the 7nidst of their uncleanness .'' 

There are sacrifices, it might be said, appointed 
for the purging away of sin, and priests standing 
in the House of God, ''daily ministering and 
offering oftentimes the same sacrifices " ; but how 
shall these priests, who are themselves sinful men, 
be purged from their iniquity.'^ How shall even 
the Holy House itself be cleansed from the defile- 
ment brought thither by impure worshippers; ''the 
iniquity of your holy things," the taint of earth 
which clings to even your purest service of Jehovah, 
how will ye wash it away, O house of Levi ; 
how wilt thou, even thou, Aaron, or the son of 
Aaron, who ministerest in the very office of the 


High Priest, be just in the sight of the All Holy- 
One? Thou wilt have to ''bear the sin of many," 
of thy nation, of thy tribe, but most emphatically 
of thyself, and of thy fathers house, alone into 
the presence of the Most High, and there, in 
acted prophecy, be it thine, as Mediator between 
God and man, to '' make intercession for the 

This view of the meaning of the day of Atone- 
ment is well illustrated by its origin. From Lev. 
xvi. I it would appear to have been first instituted 
when Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, under 
the influence apparently of intoxicating drinks 
(see Lev. x. 9, and compare Blunt's Undesigned 
Coincidences^ p. 61), presumed to go unbidden into 
the Holy Place, and ''offer strange fire before the 
Lord, which He commanded them not." Some 
contend, I do not clearly understand upon what 
grounds, that it was instituted at an earlier period, 
by way of commemoration of "the Iniquity of the 
Golden Calf," but you will see that, on either 
hypothesis, the sin of Aaron, or of those very 
nearly akin to him, is conspicuous among the 
transgressions that have to be done away. 

On the morning of the Great Day, having 
washed his flesh in water, the High Priest arrayed 
himself in "holy garments," not the gorgeous robes 
of purple and blue, the jewelled breast-plate, the 
fringe of bells and pomegranates, in which he 
appeared in the other great days of the nation. 
Not in that regal splendour must the High Priest 


on this day present himself before the most High 
God, but dressed in mantle and girdle, and turban 
of fine linen, foreshewing, doubtless, the ''fine linen 
clean and white^ which is the righteousness of 
saints," wherewith the Church was seen arrayed 
in the Apocalyptic vision, and the cause of whose 
spotless purity was revealed to the same seer in the 
words, *' These are they which came out of great 
tribulation, and have washed their robes and 
made them white in the blood of the Lamb." 

Thus purified and thus arrayed, the High Priest 
proceeded to offer to the Lord the appointed 
sacrifices for his own sins, and for the sins of the 

1. For the people, the appointed sin-offering 
consisted of two young goats (alike, the Talmud 
tells us, in colour, size, and age). The High Priest 
was to bring these to the door of the Tabernacle, 
and there cast lots over them, which was to be 
for Jehovah, and which for banishment (or as it 
is in the Hebrew, La-azazel, for Azazel). The 
goat which was for Jehovah was slain at once 
by the High Priest ; the other was presented 
alive before the Lord, to make an atonement 
with Him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into 
the wilderness. 

2. The High Priest then slew the sin-offering, 
which was for himself and for his house, and for 
which a bullock was the appointed victim ; and now, 
armed with the blood of these two sacrifices, he 
prepares to enter into the Holy Place. But before 


he enters in, all the assistants whom we may- 
suppose to have helped in subordinate capacities 
during the previous ministrations must withdraw. 
In all the Tabernacle of the Congregation there 
must be no human being present during the actual 
atonement save the High Priest. 

The Court of the Gentiles, the Court of the 
Women, have no worshippers in them ; in the inner 
courts the ceaseless hum of priests and Levites 
busied with the burnt-offerings and the thank-offer- 
ings of a nation of sacrificers is for one day hushed. 
Doubtless in order to point more distinctly to the 
one Mediator between God and man, it is ordained 
that in all that stately tabernacle there shall be 
but one beating heart ; the High Priest is alone 
with God. On this one sole day in all the year 
is he permitted and commanded to enter the Most 
Holy Place, where, over the outspread wings of 
the cherubim, rests the Shechmahy or visible glory 
of the God of Israel. It may be the first time that 
the priest is ministering in this holy office : the 
father or brother, who a year before made atone- 
ment there, has himself, perhaps, since then passed 
within the veil of the unseen world. And even 
if it be not so, and he has been many times upon 
this mysterious errand, it must ever be full of awe 
to the reverent Israelite, called thus to go with 
the iniquities and idolatries of a whole nation upon 
his head, into the presence of God — the holy and 
the jealous God. 

With a censer full of burning coals from the 


altar of incense, and with two handfuls of ''sweet 
incense beaten small," he passes within the cherubim- 
covered veil, and immediately places the censer 
between the poles of the ark, and "puts the incense 
upon the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of 
the incense may cover the mercy-seat that is upon 
the testimony that he die not'' He then brings 
in the blood of the bullock, and sprinkles it seven 
times upon and before the mercy-seat, so making 
atonement for his own sins, and those of his father's 
house, and returning once again with the blood of 
the slain goat, he makes the like atonement for the 
sins of the people ; and these things so accomplished, 
he passes for the last time outside the veil, and 
darkness and mystery settle down once more upon 
the silent sanctuary. 

The same work is done in the Second Court, 
upon the golden altar there, and then, "When he 
hath made an end of reconciling the holy place, 
and the tabernacle of the congregation and the 
altar, he shall bring the live goat : and Aaron shall 
lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, 
and confess over him all the iniquities of the 
Children of Israel, and all their transgressions 
in all their sins, putting them upon the head 
of the goat, and shall send him away by the 
hand of a fit man into the wilderness, and the 
goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities into a 
land not inhabited, and he shall let go the goat in 
the wilderness." 

You have doubtless seen that wonderful picture 


by Holman Hunt, In which the death-scene of 
the solitary Azazel is set forth with such ghastly 
reality. There you have the rugged wall of the 
mountains of Moab behind, the waters of the lake 
which was supposed to cover the sinful Cities of 
the Plain in front, and on its margin, that salt- 
encrusted wilderness, through which the hapless 
bearer of the Iniquities of a nation has been picking 
its painful way, and In which It Is now about to 
perish alone. Yet though it is probable that this 
picture of forsaken misery is the one which will 
now always occur to the minds of men when the 
name of ''the scapegoat " is mentioned, and though 
I believe that, in practice, ''the tradition of the 
elders " did almost necessitate that the animal 
should suffer this lingering death, still death is 
not, If I rightly understand the meaning of the 
symbol, the essential Idea connected with this sin- 
offering. Its companion Is put to death by the 
priest, Azazel lives, but is sent away into the wilder- 
ness, far from the haunts of men. 

Finally the High Priest, now no more in his 
character of a sinful man, but as the accredited 
representative of Jehovah, put off his linen garments, 
washed himself with water In the holy place, arrayed 
himself in his "garments of glory and of beauty," 
and offered the ram for the burnt -o^^xm^ (not sin- 
offering) for the House of Israel. 

And now, at length, on the 15th day of Tisri, 
began the Feast of Tabernacles, otherwise called 
the Feast of Ingathering, called also by the Rabbis 


The Feast, and by Philo the Greatest Feast. This, 
the most joyous of all the festivals of the Jews, 
appears to have been instituted with a double 
object : 

(i) As before stated, to enable them to express 
to the Most High their gratitude for the goodness 
wherewith He had crowned the year, whose harvests 
and vintages were now all ended ; and 

(2) As a continual remembrance of their forty 
years' march through the wilderness, of that period 
during which they were still dwelling in tents, 
having no abiding city, no land flowing with milk 
and honey, whose fruits they might gather in. To 
prevent their saying at this time of completed 
labour, like the rich man in the parable, " Soul, 
thou hast much goods laid up for many years, 
take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry," they were 
to be reminded of those days in the dawn of their 
history, when they reaped no harvests, and built 
no enduring houses, but sojourned in tents, and 
received each day their daily bread from heaven. 
Again the character of the festival is illustrated 
by the portion of Scripture read in the synagogues 
during its continuance. Ecclesiastes — that book 
so rich in comments on the vanity of wealth, and 
the instability of all earthly possessions — was "the 
proper lesson " for these days. 

For eight days, therefore, from the 15th to the 
22nd of Tisri (inclusive), they abode in booths 
(succotk) constructed entirely of palm-branches, 
willow - boughs, and other trees of the thickest 


foliage they could find. In these booths they 
passed both night and day, eating, drinking, and 
sleeping in these green and pleasant bowers. I 
think there is a small "undesigned coincidence" 
in the very time appointed for this festival ; for the 
eight days of its duration would fall almost certainly 
somewhere within those twenty days of clear bright 
autumn weather, the ** Indian summer" of Palestine, 
which I have before mentioned as coming between 
the early and the latter rain. And thus, neither 
exposed to Jonah's calamity of seeing their shelter- 
ing bower scorched up by the fierce sun of summer, 
nor, on the other hand, to the discomfort of drench- 
ing rain pouring through the many crevices of 
their leafy dwellings, they ate their meat with 
gladness of heart, giving glory to the God of 

We may be allowed, perhaps, to conjecture, that 
not the least share of "gladness" would fall to the 
lot of the children. How they would enjoy the 
expeditions to the Mount of Olives in search of 
palm, and willow, and olive branches, the twining 
them in and out about the roof and walls ; how 
many busy little volunteers would crowd around 
the father of the family, eager to be employed in 
this impromptu masonry ! And then the delight 
of living out of doors all day long, and sleeping 
all together, with only a few leaves between them 
and the stars I Cannot one well understand that 
not to those weary old Talmudists alone, but to 
many a happy little Hebrew boy, this would be 


the Feast, the memorable epoch of gladness for 
the whole year ? 

It must be remembered that the Feast of Taber- 
nacles, like the Passover and the Feast of Pentecost, 
was an occasion on which all the males of the 
Jewish nation, were bound to present themselves 
before the Lord in one place. Consequently under 
Solomon, Nehemiah, or the Maccabean Princes, 
by whom the law was studiously obeyed, Jerusalem 
would be the central scene of the whole nation's 
gladness. Tens of thousands of these green arbours 
would line the streets of the city, and cluster round 
its walls ; and at every turn one would meet an 
Israelite bearing a palm branch entwined with 
willow and myrtle in the right hand, and a citron 
fruit in the left, for this, too, as they read it, was 
part of the ordinance of the Feast. 

It is interesting to notice the constancy with 
which up to the present time the Israelite, in every 
region of his world-wide wanderings, has observed 
this picturesque custom. Not only in the sunny 
lands which girdle the blue Mediterranean — the 
great sea of his forefathers ; not only in the coasts 
of Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim ; but in the 
far-off and unlovely regions of Gomer and of 
Meshech, in Lithuanian deserts, in Batavian 
marshes, under the uncertain skies of England, 
the Jew, still, on a certain day of October, con- 
structs his little bower of laurel, poplar, and willow 
branches (alas ! for the vanished palms and olives 
of his home), hangs from its wattled roof his store 


of melons and cucumbers, of gourds and oranges, 
of lemons and citrons (for which, two centuries ago, 
a special deputation of sixteen Jews from Holland 
and England were wont yearly to proceed to 
Spain to do what modern commerce doubtless now 
performs without their intervention) ; he spreads 
his richest carpets on the ground, puts his costliest 
plate upon the table, and in order that the Divine 
command for these observances may be ever before 
his eyes, he hangs up a number of little tablets, on 
which is engraved in Hebrew the 42nd verse of 
the 23rd chapter of Leviticus: *'Ye shall dwell in 
booths seven days ; all that are native-born Israelites 
shall dwell in booths." 

We have now completed our account of all the 
Festivals originally instituted for the observance 
of the Jewish people. During the five remaining 
months of the year, when (as before stated) the 
streams would be often swollen by winter rains, and 
travelling would be rendered difficult and dangerous, 
it was wisely ordered that there should be no 
general gathering of the nation to the place which 
the Lord their God should chose. There were yet, 
however, two Feasts, instituted by themselves in 
memory of great events in their national history — 
the Feast of the Dedication, and the Feast of 

IV. The Feast of the Dedication, in Greek 
Encaenia (called also by Josephus — Ant. xxi. 7-6 — 
Lights, Phota), was a Festival held on the 25 th day 
of Chisleu, about the time of our New Year's Day, 


in commemoration of the reopening and purification 
of the Temple by Judas Maccabeus, 164 B.C., after its 
three years' defilement, under Antiochus Epiphanes. 
Like others of the Jewish Festivals, it lasted eight 
days. It was celebrated with feasting and mirth, 
with sacrifices and general illuminations, the latter 
suitable enough for those long nights of the winter 
solstice. On each of the first seven nights, too, 
they lighted a fresh branch of the seven-branched 
candlestick in the Temple, and coupled with this 
ceremony a story of the miraculous increase of a 
cruse of oil, found by Judas Maccabeus in the 
Temple, in consequence whereof one night's supply 
availed for seven ; the necessity for the miracle 
lying in the fact that the nearest repository for 
sacred oil was four days' journey from Jerusalem. 
They also chanted many times over the following 
benediction : — 

Blessed be the Lord our God, King of the Universe, 

Who hath sanctified us by His precepts, and hath bid us light 

the lamp of Chanuccah (consecration) ; 
Who wrought wonders for our fathers in their days, and in 

this time also ; 
Who hath revived us again, and strengthened us, and made us 

continue, even unto this time. 

V. The Feast of Purim, also called Mordecai's 
Day, was celebrated on the 14th and 15th of Adar, 
the last month of the Jewish year, corresponding 
nearly with our March. 

The design of it was to commemorate the de- 
liverance of the Jews from the massacre planned by 


Haman. Hence the name of the Feast, Purim (said 
to be a Persian word signifying Lots), to keep in 
memory the providential interposition by which the 
bloody counsels of Haman and his friends were post- 
poned to as distant a period of the year as possible (see 
Esther iii. 7). ''In the first month, that is the month 
Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, they 
cast pur, that is the lot, before Haman, from day 
to day, and from month to month, till the twelfth 
month, that is the month Adar." The 13th day of 
Adar was the day originally fixed for the massacre, 
and afterwards used by the Jews, with the royal 
permission, for their own defence. " Therefore the 
Jews of the villages that dwelt in the un walled 
towns, made the 14th day of Adar, a day of gladness 
and of feasting, and a good day, arid a day of sending 
portions to one another'' (Esther ix. 17, 18, 19). 

This seems to be, in brief, the description of 
both days. The religious observances of the 
Festival seem to have consisted mainly of as- 
sembling in the synagogue to hear the book of 
Esther read through from beginning to end. At 
this one time it took precedence even of the Law, 
and unlike all the other sacred books, it might be 
read in the vernacular, and not necessarily in the 
original Hebrew. Whenever the name of Mordecai 
was syllabled forth by the reader, there rose to the 
lips of all the approving murmur, '* Blessed be 
Mordecai " ; when the name of Haman came — there 
burst from the excited auditors a shriek of execra- 
tion, '* May his memory perish," and withal the 



grown-up men thumped on walls and benches with 
fists and hammers ; while the boys, jumping from 
their seats, sprang their rattles, hissed and screamed, 
and were encouraged to express in a hundred ways 
the energy of their boyish hate. 

Through the whole observances of this Feast, 
the taint of a very human origin shows itself con- 
spicuously. The Jews seem at this time to have 
gloried in playing the buffoon, not only in the 
streets of their cities, but in the synagogues them- 
selves ; the Mosaic command against masquerading 
in the attire of the other sex was on these two days 
wholly set at nought ; drunkenness was not only 
permitted, but almost commanded, in order to keep 
alive the memory of those potations of King 
Ahasuerus which softened his heart to Esther's 
entreaties. There is a passage in the Talmud 
which says, "A man is bound to drink to that 
degree that he shall cease to perceive any difference 
between * Cursed be Haman,' and * Blessed be 
Mordecai.' " It was in fact, as has been remarked 
by many writers, the Jewish analogue to the Roman 
Bacchanalia, and it is no wonder that some of the 
Jews should (as is also stated in the Talmud) 
have been for this reason greatly opposed to its 

In modern times, many of the less pleasing 
features of the Festival have been retrenched ; the 
service in most of the English synagogues is 
orderly and decorous ; drunkenness is discounte- 
nanced, and alms-giving to Christians, as well as 


Jews, is a conspicuous part of the day's employ- 

The question which most interests us, as 
Christians in connection with these Jewish festivals 
is, ** How many of them do we know that Our 
Saviour attended ?" but the answer is not easy. In 
the first place we know that the memorable scene 
of ** The Finding in the Temple " occurred at the 
close of a visit to Jerusalem to attend the feast of 
the Passover. His parents went every year, and 
when Jesus had reached the age of twelve years, 
which was regarded by the Jews as the boundary 
line between childhood and youth, they took Him 
with them. It is quite possible that He as the 
youngest person present may have been selected at 
this time to ask the question prescribed in Exodus 
xii. 26, *' What mean ye by this service ? " and may 
have received from the President of the Feast ''the 
declaration " setting forth God's ancient mercies to 

After that, whether the Lord before His Cruci- 
fixion attended one Passover only, at which He 
cast forth the buyers and sellers out of the Temple, 
or whether he attended three is a disputed point. 
As is well known, the question whether the Last 
Supper was strictly a Paschal Feast or not, and 
consequently, whether the Crucifixion took place on 
the 14th or the 15th of Nisan, is one of the most 
difficult in the whole range of New Testament 
chronology. There is apparent divergence on this 


point between the Synoptic Gospels and that of 
St. John, and there is real and sometimes bitter 
controversy between modern interpreters. 

It has been contended, but on hardly sufficient 
grounds, that Purim was the Feast of the Jews at 
which Christ healed the lame man at the Pool 
of Bethesda. We are expressly told that the 
Feast recorded in the 7th chapter of John to 
which Jesus went up not openly, but as it were in 
secret, was the Feast of Tabernacles, The streets 
of Jerusalem were then green with the countless 
bowers of Israelite visitors from all parts of 
Palestine ; in the spacious Court of the Women 
candles blazed every evening in four golden candle- 
sticks, 75 feet high, while the sons of Levi standing 
on the fifteen steps of the Inner Court sang the 
fifteen " Songs of Degrees," and the chief men of 
Israel bearing lighted torches in their hands danced 
to the tune of the sacred music. Every morning 
for seven days the priests went in joyful procession 
to the Pool of Siloam and drew thence in a golden 
vessel a gallon of water from the sacred brook, 
which with songs of thanksgiving they poured out 
at the south-west angle of the altar. 

Then on the eighth day, '* that great day of the 
Feast," the Psalms were still sung, but no water 
was drawn from Siloam. Then stood Jesus and 
cried, saying, '* If any man thirst, let him come unto 
me and drink. I am the Light of the World : he 
that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but 
shall have the Light of Life." 


Yet once more He was at Jerusalem at the Feast 
of the Dedication, when He walked in the Temple 
in Solomon's Porch ; and the Jews took up stones to 
stone Him for His imagined blasphemy. 

Then came the Last Passover and the First 
Easter and soon after, Pentecost, and so our study 
of the Festivals of the Hebrews comes to an end. 

Benwelldene, 1870 (Abridged). 



The discussion as to the genuineness of the Epistles 
of Ignatius is one which has attracted and per- 
plexed many generations of ecclesiastical students. 
It is not surprising that this should be the case 
since those Epistles, if genuine, are among the 
earliest, perhaps the very earliest, Christian writings 
that have come down to us except the books of the 
New Testament. The evidence borne by them to 
the supernatural events which form the external 
attestation of Christianity is powerful and difficult 
for its opponents to combat ; but, on the other 
hand, the tone adopted by them with reference to 
the Episcopal office is so decided — let us say at 
once so hierarchical — that the Puritan champions of 
the Christian revelation have hardly known whether 
most to welcome them for their witness to Catholic 
doctrine, or to suspect them for their zeal on behalf 
of the Catholic Episcopate. 

For two centuries the discussion has been pro- 
ceeding with various fortunes. It is perhaps too 
much to assert that the voluminous work recently 

* Originally published in the Friends' Quarterly Examiner^ 1886-7. 



put forth by Bishop Lightfoot, as the result of some 
twenty years of labour, will absolutely close the 
controversy ; but it is reasonable to expect that 
nothing short of the discovery of a whole series of 
MSS., which can be proved to belong to the early 
part of the second century, will shake the con- 
clusions which the Bishop has here arrived at. 

The effect of the whole book is to re-establish 
the authority of what Dr. Lightfoot calls the Middle 
Recension of the Letters of Ignatius, and thus to 
defend a position which the scholars of the last 
generation were disposed to abandon as untenable. 
But in part of his argument — that which relates to 
the stories of the Saint's martyrdom which were 
long current in the Church, and which are still 
found in many of our standard Church histories — 
the Bishop's tenets are destructive. He holds, in 
common with most scholars of the present day, that 
the Acts of the Martyrdom of Ignatius — both those 
which he calls the Antiochene and those which he 
calls the Roman Acts — are spurious, though he 
thinks \t possible that the former may contain some 
small nucleus of valuable and contemporary narra- 
tive. But by striking out these long and rhetorically 
expressed documents it is surprising how much 
of the popular history of the Saint is abandoned. 
We are left in fact, as far as external history goes, 
with little more than a few meagre sentences of 
Eusebius, which, however, are quite enough to 
illustrate and explain the allusions in the Letters. 

The story of the life of Ignatius, when thus 


reduced to its most trustworthy form, is not too 
long to be told here. Dr. Lightfoot says : ^ 

Of the origin, birth, and education of Ignatius we are 
told absolutely nothing. The supposition that he was a 
slave is a very uncertain inference from his own language 
(Ep. ad Roman. 4). It may be conjectured, however, 
with probability, from expressions in his letters, that he 
was not born of Christian parentage, but that he was 
brought up a pagan and converted in maturer years to 
Christianity ; and that his youth had been stained by 
those sins of which as a heathen he had made no account 
at the time, but which stung his soul with reproaches in 
the retrospect, now that it was rendered sensitive by the 
quickening power of the Gospel. There had been some- 
thing violent, dangerous, and unusual in his spiritual 
nativity. His was one of those " broken " natures out of 
which, as Zahn has truly said, God's heroes are made. 
If not a persecutor of Christ, if not a foe to Christ, as 
seems probable, he had at least been a considerable 
portion of his life an alien from Christ. Like St. Paul, 
like Augustine, like Francis Xavier, like Luther, like John 
Bunyan, he could not forget that his had been a dislocated 
life ; and the memory of the catastrophe, which had 
shattered his former self, filled him with awe and thanks- 
giving, and fanned the fervour of his devotion to a white 

He became a Christian, when and how we can- 
not say : and he assumed the epithet Theophorus, 
apparently in order to illustrate the doctrine which 
he rightly held to be a central one in the Christian 
system, that those who really come to God through 
Christ have a new and Divine life formed within 

1 Vol. i. p. 28. 


them, and that Christianity is not a philosophy, 
nor a ritual, but a perpetual manifestation of this 
life of God in the soul of the believer to the world 

It is admitted that he was chosen Bishop of 
Antioch, and that he was the second or the third who 
held that office, according as Peter is omitted from 
or included in the list. The common chronology, 
following Eusebius, assigns the beginning of his 
episcopate to the year 69, and its end to 107. For 
neither date does Dr. Lightfoot consider that there 
is any real historical evidence. He leaves the 
former date unfixed, and decides that the martyrdom 
probably occurred in one of the years between 100 
and 118, but that it is hopeless to attempt to fix 
the year more precisely.^ 

" The pitchy darkness," he continues,^ " which envelops 
the life and work of Ignatius is illumined at length by a 
vivid but transient flash of light. If his martyrdom had 
not rescued him from obscurity, he would have remained, 
like his predecessor Euodius, a mere name and nothing 
more. As it is, he stands out in the momentary light of 
this event a distinct and living personality, a true father 
of the Church, a teacher and an example to all time." 

Still, of that martyrdom all that is really known 
historically is contained in the following sentences 
of Eusebius : * 

^ From this name Theophorus, which, according to the accent, may 
mean either "God borne "or "God bearer," probably sprang the utterly 
baseless tradition that Ignatius was the little child whom the Saviour set in 
the midst of His disciples, as related in Mark ix. 36, 37. 

2 II. p. 470. 3 I, p. 31, 4 [JE^ iii. p 36^ 


Tradition says that Ignatius was sent away from 
Syria to Rome, and was cast as food to wild beasts, on 
account of his testimony to Christ : and that being carried 
through Asia under a most rigid custody, he fortified the 
different churches in the cities where he tarried by his 
discourses and exhortations, particularly cautioning them 
against the heresies which even then were springing up 
and prevailing. He exhorted them to adhere firmly to 
the tradition of the Apostles, which for the sake of 
greater security he deemed it necessary to attest by 
committing it to writing. 

In many Church histories we find inserted at 
this point a long and — v^ere it true — interesting 
narrative of a conversation between Ignatius and 
the Emperor Trajan, who is represented as having 
come to Antioch on his way to a campaign against 
the Parthians. The conversation turns chiefly on 
the Bishop's epithet Theophorus, and ends with 
the Emperor s sentence, pronounced in these words : 
" It is our order that Ignatius, who saith that he 
beareth about the Crucified in himself, shall be put 
in chains by the soldiers and taken to mighty Rome, 
there to be made food for wild beasts as a spectacle 
and diversion for the people." The whole of this 
narrative, however, belongs to what Bishop Lightfoot 
calls the Antiochene ActSy the composition of which 
he consigns conjecturally to the fifth or sixth 
century. No visit of Trajan to Antioch nor camT 
paign against the Parthians is recorded in the 
ninth year of his reign, to which the Acts assign 
this interview, nor can such visit or campaign easily 
have taken place at that time. The violent persecu- 


tion described in the Acts is inconsistent with all 
that we know of the policy of Trajan : and neither 
Eusebius nor any other author till the close of 
the sixth century appears to have been acquainted 
with this story of the martyrdom. There can 
therefore be little doubt that the whole story of 
the interview between Ignatius and Trajan must 
be struck out of authentic Church History. 

Even more necessary is it to dismiss from our 
view the account of the death of Ignatius contained 
in what Bishop Lightfoot calls the Roman Acts, 
" for internal evidence condemns this work as a 
pure romance. The exaggerated tortures inflicted 
on the saint, the length and character of the dis- 
courses attributed to him, and the strange overtures 
made to him by the Emperor, all alike are fatal 
to the credit of the narrative."^ ''On the whole 
we may say that these Roman Acts cannot well 
have been written before the fifth century, and 
probably were not written later than the sixth." ^ 
** Certain indications seem to point directly to 
Egypt, and therefore probably to Alexandria as 
their birthplace."^ 

A very short summary of these unauthentic 
Roman Acts will enable the reader to detect, and 
detecting to avoid them, when he meets with them 
in manuals of Church History. Ignatius is escorted 
by ten body-guards of Trajan, savage wretches 
with the temper of wild beasts. They travel 
through Asia and thence to Thrace and Rhegium 
1 II. p. 376. 2 II. p. 382. 3 n, p. 380. 


by land and sea. Having set sail from Rhegium 
they arrive in Rome and announce his coming to 
the Emperor, who orders him to be brought before 
him in the presence of the Senate. Trajan asks 
him if he is that Ignatius who has turned the city 
of the Antiochenes upside down and is drawing 
away all Syria from the religion of the Greeks to 
that of the Christians. Ignatius answers that he 
would gladly draw the Emperor also away from 
his idolatry and present him as a friend to Christ, 
thus making his Empire more secure to him. 
A long discussion follows between the Bishop 
and the Emperor, in which the Senate occasionally 
takes part. Trajan at first tries to entice him by 
offers of honour and preferment if he will sacrifice 
to the gods, and then inflicts upon him various 
tortures. His back is lacerated with xki^ plumb at ae^ 
his sides are torn with hooks, and salt is rubbed 
into his wounds, his hands are opened out and 
filled with fire, he is made to stand on live coals, 
and between each torture Ignatius, exhorted by 
Trajan to sacrifice to the gods, inveighs against 
the folly of the popular mythology, and taunts the 
Emperor to some fresh manifestation of his im- 
potent power. At length the wearisome disputation 
ends. Trajan orders that he shall be taken to 
the inner prison, have his feet made fast in the 
stocks, be kept without bread and water for three 
days and three nights and then thrown to the wild 

' Whips loaded with lead. 


On the third day Ignatius is brought into the 
amphitheatre and, after one more ineffectual adjura- 
tion from the Emperor, the wild beasts are let loose 
upon him. The saint bears his final testimony to 
Christ, and then '* the lions rushed upon him, and 
attacking him from either side crushed him to 
death only, but did not touch his flesh, so that 
his reliques might be a protection to the great city 
of the Romans, in which likewise Peter was crucified 
and Paul was beheaded, and Onesimus was made 
perfect by martyrdom." 

On beholding this scene the Emperor rises up 
and is filled with wonder and amazement. At the 
same time he receives the celebrated letter from 
Plinius Secundus, Governor of Bithynia, informing 
him of the exemplary lives of the Christians and 
asking for directions as to their treatment.^ The 
concurrence of these two events leads Trajan to 
issue a decree that the Christians shall not be 
sought out but only punished when accidentally 
discovered. He also gives permission for the 
burial of the reliques of Ignatius, which, according 
to the view of the writer of this document, remained 
at Rome. 

All these details as to the martyrdom must then, 
as has been said, be dismissed from our minds if 
we wish to deal with ascertained fact. All that 
history has really to say about the death of Ignatius 
is that he was taken from Antioch to Rome and 

^ This statement alone is quite fatal to the authority of the Roman Acts. 
They themselves place the martyrdom of Ignatius in io6, and it is now quite 
settled that Pliny's letter was written in 112. 


there suffered martyrdom in the amphitheatre at 
some time between loo and ii8. But what makes 
his name and his sufferings memorable to the 
Christian Church is the seven letters which, still 
following the guidance of Eusebius, we are able 
to assert that he wrote to various addresses during 
his long and, as it seems, leisurely journey from 
Antioch to Rome. These seven letters according 
to the enumeration of Eusebius,^ and accepting his 
order, are : 

To the Church of Ephesus. 
Do. Magnesia. 

Do. Tralles. 

Do. Rome. 

Do. Philadelphia. 

Do. Smyrna. 

Do. Polycarp, 

Bishop of Smyrna. 

It will be seen that we have in this list three 
of the Seven Churches in Asia mentioned in the 
Apocalypse, namely Ephesus, Philadelphia, and 
Smyrna. Magnesia and Tralles were two cities 
in the valley of the Maeander on the road from 
Ephesus to Laodicea, distant about fifteen and 
thirty -three miles respectively from the former 
place. The letters to Polycarp at Smyrna, and to 
the Church of Rome make up the number to seven. 

It may be said at once that if Bishop Lightfoot's 
argument be sound, we are now in possession of 
all these seven letters of the martyred Bishop, and 

^ H.E, Hi. p. 36. 


that, as far as can be seen, we have them sub- 
stantially in the same shape in which they came 
forth from his hand. But it has taken a long time 
and the labour of many lives before they have been 
disentangled from the mass of fictitious and un- 
authentic matter which in the Middle Ages was 
attributed to the pen of Ignatius. 

I. In the first place, it was long supposed that 
the Church possessed a series of letters which 
passed between Ignatius on the one hand and 
St. John and the Virgin Mary on the other. 

" This correspondence," says Lightfoot, " consists of 
four brief letters: (i) A letter from Ignatius to St. John, 
describing the interest aroused in himself and others by 
the accounts which they have received concerning the 
marvellous devotion and love of the Virgin. (2) Another 
from the same to the same, expressing his earnest desire 
to visit Jerusalem for the sake of seeing the Virgin, 
together with James, the Lord's brother, and other saints. 
(3) A letter from Ignatius to the Virgin, asking her to 
send him a word of assurance and exhortation. (4) A 
reply from the Virgin to Ignatius, confirming the truth of 
all that John has taught him, and urging him to be 
steadfast in the faith. 

" These letters are found only in Latin, and internal 
evidence seems to show that this was their original 
language. As the motive is evidently the desire to do 
honour to the Virgin, we are naturally led to connect this 
forgery with the outburst of Mariolatry, which marked 
the eleventh and following centuries. The workmanship 
is coarse and clumsy, and could only have escaped 
detection in an uncritical age. 

" Certainly the writer succeeded in his aim. The 


MSS. of this correspondence far exceed even those of the 
Long Recension in number, and the quotations are 
decidedly more frequent. In some quarters, indeed, 
St. Ignatius was only known through them, the other 
letters not possessing sufficient interest for the age, and 
therefore gradually passing out of mind. 

" At the first streak of intellectual dawn this Ignatius 
spectre vanished into its kindred darkness. In vain 
feeble attempts were made to arrest its departure. ... It 
was held a sufficient condemnation of this correspondence, 
in an age when internal characteristics were not over 
narrowly scrutinised, that it is never quoted by the 
ancients, and accordingly it was consigned at once and 
for ever to the limbo of foolish and forgotten things." 

There still remained, however, after the ex- 
posure of this forgery, what are called the 
'* Epistles of the Long Recension." These were 
thirteen letters in all, purporting to be the seven 
mentioned by Eusebius, and in addition — 

1. The letter to Ignatius. 

Mary of Cassiobola. (The site of Cassiobola is 
unknown, but from the contents of the letter it 
must be placed somewhere in Cilicia.) 

2. The reply of Ignatius to Mary. 

3. The letter of Ignatius to the Church of Tarsus. 

4. The letter of Ignatius to the Church of Philippi. 

5. The letter of Ignatius to the Church of Antioch. 

6. The letter of Ignatius to Hero (apparently addressed 

as deacon of the Church in Laodicea). 

These six letters, wholly unmentioned by Eusebius 
in a passage in which he seems to be intent on 
describing accurately the true Ignatian literature, 
were looked upon with suspicion soon after the 


revival of learning, and the defence of them seems 
always to have been of a faint-hearted kind. 

Very different, however, was the case with the 
seven undoubtedly mentioned by Eusebius, and 
apparently existing in their genuine form, both 
in the original Greek and in the Latin translation* 
But there are circumstances calculated to arouse 
suspicion even as to these. The passages which 
Eusebius quoted did not correspond with those 
which were evidently meant to represent them 
in these letters. Heresies which first sprang into 
being after Ignatius's death were condemned by 
name in them. A much more elaborate system of 
Church organisation was presupposed by them 
than could be found from any other source to 
have existed at the beginning of the second century. 
And in later times it has been observed that there 
are in them evident marks of plagiarism from the 
so-called Apostolic Constitutions, which are them- 
selves probably the work of an imaginative ecclesi- 
astic of the third or fourth century. The question 
soon became complicated by polemical considera- 
tions. The strong bias of the letters towards 
Episcopacy, and some expressions in them which 
seemed to favour the supremacy of the see of 
Rome, made it a point of honour with Roman 
Catholic disputants to maintain their genuineness, 
while the Reformers of Geneva felt themselves 
equally bound to denounce them as impostures. 
Calvin declared ^ that " nothing was more foul than 

^ See Lightfoot, vol. i. p. 227. 



those nursery stories which were published under 
the name of Ignatius"; and Milton called them, 
** the tainted scraps and fragments from an un- 
known table, and the verminous and polluted rags 
dropt overworn from the toiling shoulders of 

Men of learning who were not touched by the 
bitterness of controversy were puzzled by the 
phenomena presented by the letters, and seem to 
have been inclined to accept the verdict of one of 
their number, '* Esse quidem epistolas hasce Ignatii, 
sed adulteratas, sed interpolatas.'* 

Such was the state of the discussion when the 
critical genius of an English ecclesiastic and the 
diligent research of a Dutch scholar turned the 
suspicions of interpolation into a certainty, and by 
the discovery of what used to be called the Shorter, 
but what Dr. Lightfoot prefers to call the Middle^ 
Recension, altered the whole aspect of the con- 

James Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh, one of 
the first three students who entered at Trinity 
College, Dublin, and the friend of Camden, Cotton, 
and Selden, in the course of his controversies with 
Romanists on the one hand and Puritans on the 
other, was led into a very careful examination of 
the Epistles of Ignatius. At first he quoted the 
text of the Long Recension without doubt or mis- 
giving, but somewhere between 1625 and 1628 he 
altered his tone and began to hint to his friends an 

^ The reason for this name will be explained hereafter. 


intention of bringing out " a large censure of the 
Epistles of Ignatius/' which was evidently meant to 
include a fresh recension of the text. The "large 
censure " was long in coming. The times were 
troublous, especially for a Primate of the Protestant 
Church in Ireland, and Ussher was also engaged in 
preparing his great work on the " Antiquities of 
the British Churches." However, after something 
like twenty years of labour (less, we believe, than 
his follower at Durham has given to the same 
author), his Polycarpi et Ignatii Epistolae was 
given to the world (1644), and soon was recognised 
by scholars as having changed the whole face of 
the battlefield in the Ignatian controversy. He 
produced overwhelming evidence in favour of what 
was called the Shorter Recension of the Epistles 
(now the Middle Recension), and since that time 
the Long has practically ceased to be of any 

Bishop Lightfoot thus describes the process by 
which Ussher was led to his discovery.' 

To the critical genius of Ussher belongs the honour 
of restoring the true Ignatius. He observed that the 
quotations in S. Ignatius in three English writers, Robert 
Grosseteste, of Lincoln^ {cir. A.D. 1250), John Tyssington 

^ I. pp. 232 and 276. 

'^ This is the celebrated Bishop Grosseteste, who, with a profound 
veneration for the claims of the Papacy, withstood the Pope himself 
(Innocent IV.) when ordered by him to confer a canonry on his boy-nephew. 
Frequently at strife with his Chapter, with other sees, with the King, or 
even with the Pope, he seems always to have acted under a strong sense of 
his duty to the Church, and to have been intellectually and spiritually one 
of the noblest prelates of the Middle Ages. 


{cir. A.D. 1 381), and William Wodeford {cir. A.D. 1396), 
while they differed considerably from the text of this 
father as hitherto known (the Greek and Latin of the 
Long Recension), agreed exactly with the quotations in 
Eusebius and Theodoret. He therefore concluded that 
the libraries of England must somewhere contain MSS. 
of a version corresponding to this earlier text of Ignatius, 
and searched accordingly. His acuteness and diligence 
were rewarded by the discovery of two MSS. the Caiensis 
given to Gonville and Caius College, by Walter Crome, 
formerly a fellow of the College, and copied by Crome 
himself in the year 1440; and the Montacutmnus, a 
parchment MS. from the library of Richard Montague, or 
Montacute, Bishop of Norwich.^ 

When at length Ussher saw this Latin version he 
expressed a suspicion that Grosseteste was himself the 
translator. He noticed that Grosseteste's quotations were 
taken from this version. He found, moreover, in one of 
the two MSS. several marginal notes, in which the words 
of the translation were compared with the original Greek, 
and which therefore seemed to come from the translator 
himself. One of these marginal notes (on Polyc. 3) 
betrayed the nationality of their author. " Incus est 
instrumentum fabri : dicitur Anglice An/eld [Anvil]." 
But if the translator were an Englishman, no one could 
be named so likely as Robert Grosseteste. 

These two Latin MSS. then contained a text of which 
the Long Recension was directly an expansion, and 
agreeing exactly with the quotations in Eusebius, 
Theodoret, and others. There could be no doubt that 
this Latin translation represented the Ignatius known to 
the fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries. But the 
Greek text was still unknown, and Ussher could only 

1 These particulars are abridged from pp. 80 to 82 of Lightfoot, vol. i. 


restore it from the Long Recension with the aid of his 
newly discovered Latin version, by lopping off the 
excrescences, and otherwise attempting to bring it into 
conformity thereto. 

Not long, however, was even this top-stone of 
the edifice, the original Greek of the genuine 
Ignatius, to be left unlaid. There was a rumour of 
a MS. in the Medicean Library at Florence which 
would supply the deficiency : and two years after 
the appearance of Ussher's work, Isaac Vossius, of 
Leyden, a scholar and the son of a scholar, 
published this MS., which he had discovered in 
that library, and which, in all substantial particulars, 
entirely agreed with Ussher's text framed from the 
Latin version supposed to be made by Robert 
Grosseteste. It is true that this MS. was deficient 
in one of the genuine Epistles, that to the 
Romans, which apparently had once been written at 
the end of the volume, and had since been torn 
away ; but the missing Epistle was discovered 
about fifty years later in the Colbert collection at 
Paris, and thus the original Ignatius was complete. 

It will be seen that the chief merit of the 
discovery belongs to our Irish fellow-countryman 
Ussher : but as the actual text of the original was 
first published by Vossius, it bears his name, and 
" the Vossian text " is always that which is 
contrasted with "the Long Recension." 

Before parting company with that recension, 
which for ten centuries or more imposed itself upon 
the world as the genuine presentation of the 


thoughts of the martyred Bishop of Antioch, it is 
natural to inquire what can have been the motive 
of the author of such a forgery, and what was his 
probable date. The answer to these questions is 
not easy. The doctrinal differences between the 
forged and the genuine text have been thought to 
show a leaning towards Arianism on the part of the 
forger. Bishop Lightfoot, however, points out that 
some of his derivations point in the direction of the 
heresy of Apollinaris, the earliest of those teachers 
who confounded the Divine and the Human in the 
person of Christ, and who in later generations were 
called Monophy sites. His final summing up, on 
the question of the interpolator's theological position, 
is as follows : 

On the whole it seems impossible to decide with 
certainty the position of this Ignatian writer. Notwith- 
standing the passages which savour of Apollinarianism, 
the general bearing of this language leans to the Arian 
side. But if Arianism in any sense can be ascribed to 
him, it is Arianism of very diluted quality. Perhaps we 
may conceive of him as writing with a conciliatory aim, 
and with this object propounding in the name of a 
primitive father of the Church as an Eirenicon, a state- 
ment of doctrine in which he conceived that reasonable 
men on all sides might find a meeting point. 

As to the time and place in which the interpolator 
lived, there appears to be a general convergence 
of opinion towards the latter half of the fourth 
century for the former, and Syria for the latter. 

By the discoveries of Ussher and Vossius the 


Ignatian controversy was practically set at rest for 
two centuries. It was generally admitted that the 
genuine epistles of Ignatius were now in the hands 
of scholars, and though still here and there a sturdy 
opponent of Episcopacy muttered the words, " but 
interpolated and corrupt," as this was a mere a 
priori judgment with no evidence from MSS. to 
support it, on the whole it did not find favour with 
impartial critics. The chief disputants at this stage 
of the conflict were M. Daill6 (1666), against the 
Ignatian Epistles, and Bishop Pearson (in his 
Vindiciae epistolarttm S, Ignatii, 1672) in their 
defence. This last work, '*in England at least, 
seemed to be accepted as closing the controversy," 
though a more recent scholar, the one with whom 
we have next to deal, unkindly says, ''In the 
whole course of my inquiry respecting the Ignatian 
Epistles, I have never met with more than one 
person who professes to have read Bishop Pearson s 
celebrated book." ^ 

Such was the position of the question when, a 
little more than forty years ago, the learned world 
was excited by the intelligence that the feat of 
Archbishop Ussher had been repeated, that an 
English clergyman named Cure ton had discovered 
a Syrian MS. containing the genuine uninterpolated 
text of Ignatius, and that what had been known as 
the Shorter Recension, henceforth superseded by 
the Shortest, would have to take its place in the 

^ Cureton, Preface to Corpus Ignatianum, xiv. He goes on to quote 
Poison's opinion that it was a very unsatisfactory work. 


pillory beside its discredited Longer brother. For 
many years this discovery, in Bishop Lightfoot's 
language, "dominated the field." Of later time 
there has been a reaction towards the seventeenth- 
century view of the matter, and this reaction is 
seen in every page of the great work now before 
us, but its author himself says : 

It would not be easy to overrate the services which 
Cureton has rendered to the study of the Ignatian letters 
by the publication and elucidation of the Syriac 
texts. ... It may confidently be expected that the 
ultimate issue will be the settlement of the Ignatian 
question on a more solid basis than would have been 
possible without his labours. 

He adds : 

But assuredly this settlement will not be that which 
he too boldly predicted ; neither his method nor his results 
will stand the test of a searching criticism.^ 

William Cureton, D.D., born in 1808, took 
orders in the Church of England in 1832, and after- 
wards became successively sub-librarian of the 
Bodleian and (in 1837) assistant-keeper of MSS. 
in the British Museum.^ He had studied Syriac, 
and had been for some years endeavouring to 
follow up a hint given by Archbishop Ussher that 
additional light would probably at some future 
period be thrown on the obscure and difficult 
subject of the Ignatian Epistles by means of a 
Syriac version.^ About 1840 a large collection of 
very ancient Syriac MSS. was brought to the 

^ I. p. 271. ^ Encydopcsdia Britannica — Cureton. 

3 Corpus Ignatianum^ xxiii. 


British Museum, procured from the monastery of 
St. Mary Deipara in the Egyptian desert of Nitria, 
by the Rev. Henry Tattam, afterwards Archdeacon 
of Bedford. Cureton eagerly pounced upon this 
collection, and had the delight of discovering not 
only several extracts from the Epistles of St. 
Ignatius, cited by different ecclesiastical writers, 
but also the entire Epistle to St. Polycarp in a 
volume of great antiquity. Stimulated by this 
discovery and knowing that *' there were still lying 
in obscurity in the valley of the Ascetics at least 
200 volumes, of an antiquity anterior to the close 
of the ninth century," Cureton obtained from the 
Treasury, through the intervention of the trustees 
of the British Museum, a special grant for the 
purchase of these MSS. Mr. Tattam started again 
for Egypt, and returned thence in 1843, ^^^^ 
between 300 and 400 additional volumes from 
Nitria, won for our great National Library. 
Among these, Cureton, to his intense delight, 
discovered three Ignatian Epistles — to St. Polycarp, 
to the Ephesians, and to the Romans — in a volume 
of considerable age. Four years afterwards the 
British Museum became the possessor of all the 
remaining MSS. from the convent of St. Mary 
Deipara ; among them was found another copy of 
the same Epistles. 

These MSS. were all in Syriac, and are all 
assigned to the sixth or seventh century. One of 
them has the following note in its first page : 

This book belongs to the monastery of Deipara of 


the Desert of Scete of the Syrians. Whosoever taketh 
this book and maketh any fraudulent use of it, or taketh 
it out of the convent, or cutteth anything from it, or 
eraseth this memorial, may he be accursed and estranged 
from the Holy Church of God. Amen. 

Another has a long note giving the story of its 
acquisition by the monastery, and ending with these 
words : 

It is not lawful for any one, by the living word of 
God, to use any fraud with respect to any one of these 
books in any manner whatever ; either that he should 
appropriate them to himself, or wipe out this notice, or 
tear or cut them. He who presumes and dares to do 
this, may the curse be upon him. 

When Cureton came to examine these MSS. he 
found that they contained a far shorter recension 
than that which had hitherto been known as the 
shorter text.^ The sense, as Cureton maintained, 
was wholly unimpaired by the omissions ; the 
Epistles ran on uninterruptedly from the beginning 
to the end, and each sentence adhered un- 
interruptedly to that which preceded it. Motives, 
he considered, could easily be imagined for the 
interpolations which had turned the Curetonian 
text into the Vossian, none for an abridgment 
which should have curtailed the Vossian into the 
Curetonian. In short, Ussher had been out- 
Usshered by Cureton ; and as he himself said in a 
somewhat arrogant dedication to Prince Albert : 

1 In Lightfoot's translation the proportions are as follows : The 
Curetonian text of the Epistle to Polycarp is to the Vossian as 2 to 3 : of the 
Epistle to the Ephesians, i-|^ to 7 : of that to the Romans as 2h to 4. 


I esteem it a peculiar happiness that my own humble 
researches should have been rewarded by a discovery 
which seems to throw a clearer light upon the writings of 
one of the companions of the holy Apostles, than the 
united labours of several of the highest and most dis- 
tinguished Prelates who have adorned the English Church 
[Grosseteste, Ussher, Pearson]. 

Mr. Cureton, who had by this time been 
appointed a Canon of Westminster, published his 
" Ancient Syriac version of the Epistle of St. 
Ignatius," in 1845, ^^^ follov^ed it up by his more 
elaborate Corpus Ignatianunt (1849), and Vindiciae 
Ignatianae (1846). The sensation produced by his 
discovery on theological critics v^as extraordinary. 
The new text was welcomed by many of these as 
both less hierarchical and less dogmatic than the 
old. A crowd of adherents, among whom some of 
the most noteworthy were Chevalier (afterwards 
Baron) Bunsen, Lipsius, Pressense, Ewald, and 
Milman, ranged themselves under his banner. On 
the other hand a violent attack appeared on his 
work in the English Review, which stigmatised his 
vaunted new Syriac text as ** a miserable epitome 
made by an Eutychian heretic." As it became 
known that the author of this attack was Christopher 
Wordsworth, at that time fellow-canon of West- 
minster with Cureton (more recently Bishop of 
Lincoln), there were evidently here the materials 
for something very like a family quarrel. 

Still, with the great majority of students, 
Cureton's star was in the ascendant. His discovery, 


according to the already quoted words of Dr. 
Lightfoot, "dominated the field," and the Bishop 
owns that he " with many others was led captive by 
this dominant force." Even yet one, like myself, 
unversed in the controversy, glancing through the 
Corpus Ignatianum, is disposed to believe that 
either the long or the short text must be right, but 
that the middle cannot be. If you are in a mood 
for suspecting interpolation, the Curetonian text 
attracts you ; if abridgment, the old-fashioned Long 
Recension puts forward its claims ; but the Vossian 
text looks like an unsatisfactory compromise, and, 
to use a homely proverb, is in danger of '* falling 
between two stools." 

Not such, however, is the judgment of experts, 
especially of the chief expert whose work is now 
before us, and who having himself once believed in 
Cureton's discovery, now, after applying the micro- 
scope of criticism to the question for many years, has 
quite abandoned that belief and looks upon the 
vaunted Syriac MS. as a mere abridgment, a work 
of ** careless, rough and capricious manipulation," 
made probably somewhere about the year 400, and 
possibly dictated by no higher motive than the 
desire to economise paper. 

A scribe, having copied out the task which he had set 
himself, finds that he has a few leaves of parchment or 
paper still unfilled. It would be a sinful waste to leave 
his MS. so. How shall he cover the vacant space? A 
volume of Ignatius happens to be at hand. He will 
copy out just so much as there is room for. Of course 


the historical parts must be omitted. Of the rest there 
are some passages which he does not understand, others 
which are bhirred in the copy before him. As he turns 
over the leaves of the portions which he is omitting, a 
terse maxim here and there strikes him. They must 
have a place. He is desirous perhaps of finishing his 
volume before a certain time. The Ignatian matter is 
only a stopgap after all, and he does not care for com- 
pleteness. So he breaks off the Epistle to the Ephesians 
abruptly in the middle of a subject. . . . This mode of 
procedure is not without parallels. The history of 
literature, Greek, Latin, and Syrian abounds in examples 
of abridgment and mutilation, ranging from the carefully 
executed epitome or the well-selected collection of extracts 
illustrative of some particular subject, to the loose and 
perfunctory curtailment, such as we have here, which is 
neither epitome nor extract, but something between the 

It may be stated that in this judgment of the 
Bishop's the chief scholars of Germany who have 
examined the subject seem prepared to coincide ; in 
fact it was in some degree anticipated by one of 
them, Zahn, whose work Ignatius von Antiochen 
(1873) went far towards demolishing the claims of 
the Curetonian Recension.^ 

It should be added that Lightfoot, while admit- 
ting that he has entirely lost faith in Cureton's 
Recension states that he still attaches a high value 

^ The arguments on which this judgment are founded are too detailed and 
technical to make it possible to give even a short summary of them here, 
but it may be stated that one of the chief of them is the evidence which exists 
of another Syriac text, coinciding with Cureton's in those passages which he 
supplies, but practically coextensive with the Middle Recension. 

2 I. pp. 311, 312. 


in many places to the Curetonian Readings. The 
nature of the difference may perhaps be illustrated 
in the following way. In the old days of thirty or 
forty years ago, when the Summary of the Parlia- 
mentary Debates in the Times was a work of high 
art entrusted to a highly paid professional corre- 
spondent, I have heard it said that you would often 
get the very words of some striking sentence of 
Peel, or Russell or O'Connell better in the 
Summary than in the verbatim Report. That is to 
say, that just in these particular passages the 
reading, being the work of a high -class reporter 
who could appreciate the literary importance of each 
word in a highly finished sentence, was better than 
the reading furnished by the drudge who was 
employed on the full Report to be reproduced in 
small print. Still, as a Recension of the actual text 
of the speech of course the verbatim Report (the 
longer text) would have claims far superior to the 
shorter text of the Summary. 

I have now ended all that I propose to say on 
this somewhat technical yet not uninteresting 
question of the genuine text of the letters of 
Ignatius. It was necessary to dispose of this 
before proceeding, as I hope to do in another paper, 
to some discussion of the results, as to discipline 
and doctrine in the Early Church, which may be 
drawn from these letters. For while every word of 
a Christian martyr who was probably for twenty or 
thirty years of his life a contemporary of some at 
least of the Apostles is interesting to us, we feel an 


absolute indifference as to the thoughts and words 
of the Arian elongator or the Eutychian abbreviator 
who in the fourth or fifth century may have 
tampered with the text of Ignatius. But now, 
having put these questions behind us, we may 
proceed to consider in a future number the more 
important question, ** What do the genuine Ignatian 
letters prove ? " 


In a previous article on this subject I endeavoured 
to state the conclusions at which Bishop Lightfoot 
has arrived on the long-debated question of the 
original form of the text of the Ignatian Epistles. 
I now proceed to explain as briefly as possible the 
bearing of these Epistles : — 

(I.) On the history of Ignatius himself. 
(II.) On the state of Christian doctrine. 
(III.) On his teaching with reference to the office of a 

I. Now that both forms of the ''Acts of Martyr- 
dom" of Ignatius are discredited, it is the more 
important to treasure up every indication afforded 
by the letters as to the closing scenes in the life of 
their writer. 

" It is clear," says Bishop Lightfoot,^ " from the mode 
of his punishment, that he was not a Roman citizen. As 
a Roman citizen he would have been spared the cruel 

1 Vol. i. p. 33. 


horrors of the Amphitheatre, and would, like St. Paul 
according to the ancient tradition, or like those martyrs 
of Vienna and Lyons of whom we read, have been be- 
headed by the sword. . . . The sword of which he speaks 
in one passage (Smyrn. 4) is not the guillotine of the 
executioner, but the knife of the * confector,' who would 
be ready at hand to give him the coup de grdce in case 
the wild beasts did their work imperfectly. 

" Thus condemned to the wild beasts he sets out on 
his journey Romeward in the custody of a ' maniple ' or 
company of ten soldiers, or rather * leopards ' whose 
character he describes in the Epistle to the Romans 
quoted below." 

Guarded by these ten " leopards " he probably 
was put on shipboard at Seleucia, the harbour of 
Antioch, and sailed thence to some Pamphylian port. 
Through the Pisidian highlands he would be con- 
veyed into the valley of the Cogamus, a tributary 
of the Hermus. Here, at the city of Philadelphia, 
the sixth of the seven Churches of the Apocalypse, 
a city in which doubtless there were many still 
living who had read the message sent by the exile 
of Patmos from *'him that is holy, him that is true," 
is our first undoubted evidence of the tarriance of 
the saintly prisoner. 

His reception at Philadelphia was not in all respects 
satisfactory. From Philadelphia he would go to Sardis, 
where doubtless he halted, though this city is not named 
in his extant letters. From Sardis he would travel to 
Smyrna. At Smyrna he was hospitably received by 
Polycarp and the Church. ... Of the members of the 
Smyrnaean Church, with whom he came in contact 


during- his sojourn there, the martyr mentions several 
by name. First and foremost is the bishop Polycarp — 
a prominent figure alike in the history of the early 
Church and in the career of Ignatius. What strength 
and comfort he drew from this companionship may be 
gathered from his own notices.^ 

At Smyrna he received messages from three 
churches situated in the valley of the Maeander — 
Tralles, Magnesia, and Ephesus, which, as they 
had not been fortunate enough to vi^elcome him 
personally amongst them, desired to express by 
these delegates their admiration and their sympathy 
for the destined martyr. Each Church was repre- 
sented by a bishop, accompanied by a few presbyters 
and deacons. The Ephesian embassy headed by 
its bishop Onesimus — not in all probability the 
Onesimus mentioned in St. Paul's Epistle to 
Philemon — was especially refreshing and helpful" 
to the soul of Ignatius. 

While at Smyrna the traveller wrote letters to 
the three Churches which had thus communicated 
with him in his affliction, and also to that Church 
which was to witness his final confession, the 
Church of Rome. This last letter is the only one 
which is dated, having been written on the 24th of 
August. Unfortunately the year, the mention of 
which would have cleared up many controversies, 
is not given. 

The Epistle to the Romans deals far less with 
doctrinal and ecclesiastical matters than any of the 

I Vol. i. pp. 34-5. 


others, and hence it has suffered less than they 
either from expanders or abbreviators ; in fact much 
the largest part of it is absolutely the same in all 
the three recensions. It is chiefly occupied with 
expressions of his desire to be found faithful to 
the end of his sufferings, and earnest entreaties 
to the Roman Christians not to defraud him of 
the crown of martyrdom by interposing any in- 
fluence that they might possess for his deliverance. 
I extract some paragraphs from this Epistle.^ 

Ignatius, who is also Theophorus, unto her that hath 
found mercy in the bountifulness of the Father Most 
High and of Jesus Christ, His only Son, to the Church 
that is beloved and enlightened through the will of Him 
who willed all things that are, by faith and love towards 
Jesus Christ our Lord ; even unto her that hath the 
presidency in the country of the region of the Romans, 
being worthy of God, worthy of honour, worthy of 
felicitation, worthy of praise, worthy of success, worthy 
in purity, and having the presidency of love, walking in 
the law of Christ and bearing the Father's name ; which 
Church also I salute in the name of Jesus Christ, the 
Son of the Father ; unto them that in flesh and spirit 
are united unto His every commandment, being filled 
with the grace of God without wavering, and filtered 
clear from every foreign stain ; abundant greeting in 
Jesus Christ our God in blamelessness. ... I dread your 
very love lest ye do me an injury, for it is easy for you 
to do what ye will, but for me it is difficult to attain 
unto God unless ye shall spare me. For I would not 
have you to be men-pleasers, but to please God, as 
indeed you do please Him. For neither shall I myself 

^ Throughout this paper I quote from Bishop Lightfoot's translation. 


ever find an opportunity such as this to attain unto God, 
nor can ye, if ye be silent, win the credit of any nobler 
work. For if ye be silent and leave me alone I am a 
word of God, but if ye desire my flesh [desire to save my 
bodily life], then shall I be again a mere cry. Nay, 
grant me nothing more than that I be poured out a 
libation to God, while there is still an altar ready ; that 
forming yourselves into a chorus in love ye may sing to 
the Father in Jesus Christ, for that God hath vouchsafed 
that the bishop from Syria should be found in the West, 
having summoned him from the East. It is good to set 
from the world unto God, that I may rise unto Him. . . . 
I write to all the Churches and I bid all men know that 
of my own free-will I die for God, unless ye should hinder 
me. I exhort you, be ye not an unseasonable kindness 
to me. Let me be given to the wild beasts, for through 
them I can attain unto God. I am God's wheat, and I 
am ground by the teeth of wild beasts, that I may be 
found pure bread [of Christ]. Rather entice the wild 
beasts, that they may become my sepulchre, and may 
leave no part of my body behind, so that I may not, 
when I am fallen asleep, be burdensome to any one. 
Then shall I be truly a disciple of Jesus Christ, when the 
world shall not so much as see my body. Supplicate 
the Lord for me that through these instruments I may 
be found a sacrifice to God. I do not enjoin you, as 
Peter and Paul did. They were apostles, I am a 
convict ; they were free, but I am a slave to this very 
hour. Yet if I shall suffer, then am I a freed man of 
Jesus Christ, and I shall rise free in Him. Now I am 
learning in my bonds to put away every desire. 

From Syria even unto Rome I fight with wild beasts, 
by land and sea, by night and by day, being bound 
amidst ten leopards, even a company of soldiers who 


only wax worse when they are kindly treated. Howbeit 
through their wrong-doings I become more completely 
a disciple, " yet am I not hereby justified." May I have 
joy of the beasts that have been prepared for me ; and 
I pray that I may find them prompt ; nay, I will entice 
them that they may devour me promptly, not as they 
have done to some, refusing to touch them through fear. 
Yea, though of themselves they should not be willing 
while I am ready, I myself will force them to it. Bear 
with me. I know what is expedient for me. Now am 
I beginning to be a disciple. May naught of things 
visible and things invisible envy me, that I may attain 
unto Jesus Christ. Come fire and cross and grapplings with 
wild beasts, cuttings and manglings, wrenching of bones, 
hacking of limbs, crushing of my whole body, come cruel 
tortures of the devil to assail me. Only be it mine to 
attain unto Jesus Christ. . . . Now I write these things 
to you from Smyrna by the hand of the Ephesians who 
are worthy of all felicitation. And Crocus also, a name 
very dear to me, is with me, with many others besides. 

As touching those who went before me from Syria 
to Rome unto the glory of God,^ I believe that ye have 
received instructions. Them also apprise that I am near 
for tl>ey all are worthy of God and of you, and it be- 
cometh you to refresh them in all things. These things 
I write to you on the 9th before the Kalends of September 
(24th of August). Fare ye well unto the end in the 
patient waiting for Jesus Christ. 

This letter brings before us the character of the 
Syria bishop in all its strongly-marked individuality. 
The style is not good. Considered as mere literary 
compositions, the Ignatian Epistles must rank far 

* We have no other information as to this journey of Syrian delegates to 


below the closely-packed wealth of the sentences of 
St. Paul or the sublime and pathetic simplicity of the 
exhortations of St. John. Neither can we feel that 
all this eagerness for martyrdom is quite in accord- 
ance with the highest ideal of character as disclosed 
to us in our Lord, or the approximation to it made 
by His most eminent apostle. "If it be possible, 
let this cup pass from me." " Nevertheless, not as 
I will, but as thou wilt." " I am now ready to be 
offered, and the time of my departure is at hand." 
There is a calm and quiet strength in these utter- 
ances, a perfection of resignation to the perfect 
Will, which is healthier, and therefore nobler, than 
these fervent entreaties that Ignatius may not be 
robbed of his crown, this half-hysterical talk about 
goading the wild beasts and provoking them to 
attack him. 

Still there breathes through all these ill- 
constructed sentences a noble enthusiasm, an 
almost passionate loyalty to the person of the 
Saviour, and a power of '* not counting the be- 
liever's life dear unto himself" which we, in these 
days of ease, and after centuries of rest from 
persecution, should find it hard to follow afar off. 
Every one of the noble army of martyrs was, in 
fact, fighting our battle, and by their blood and 
sweat we earned ''this great quietness." 

They met the tyrant's brandished steel, 

The lion's gory mane ; 
They bowed their necks the death to feel : 
Who follows in their train ? 


Often when reading the not very wise or well- 
expressed utterances of Ignatius, and half inclined 
to smile at what Milton calls his " insulse and ill- 
laid comparisons," ^ I have seemed to myself like a 
passenger in a ship listening to the garrulous talk 
of an old weather-beaten sailor. A feeling of 
something like contempt at the curious and crude 
fancies of the old man rises occasionally in the 
mind of the hearer, but is instantly checked when 
he remembers that it was by this man's courage and 
skill that he and his fellow-passengers, not many 
days before, were saved from peril of shipwreck. 

From Smyrna Ignatius was led to Troas, 
and here he met Rhaius Agathopus, a deacon 
(apparently) of the Church of Antioch, and Philo, 
a deacon of Cilicia. From Troas he wrote the 
three letters which complete our present collection 
— to Philadelphia, to Smyrna, and to the Smyrnaean 
bishop Polycarp. The two next stages in his 
journey were Neapolis and Philippi, and with these 
our positive knowledge of his movements ceases. 
No doubt, however, he was conducted along the 
Via Egnatia, across Macedon and Epirus to 
Dyrrachium, thence by sea to Brundusium, and 
thence probably along the Appian Way to Rome. 

Authentic information as to his actual martyrdom 
we have none. We must imagine for ourselves 
how the awful ruin of the Colosseum looked, within 
the first half-century of its age-long life, bright with 
gilding and with purple awnings ; how the Emperor 

* Quoted by Lightfoot, i. 231, n. i. 


Trajan, the best and noblest of all the rulers of 
Rome, decked, it may be, with laurels for some Dacian 
victory, took his seat upon the podiuniy and gave 
the signal for the bringing forth of the captives ; 
how the base mob of Rome shouted " Christianos 
ad leones " when they saw the white hair and 
travel -stained garb of the Syrian bishop; how 
he may have tried in the midst of the roars and 
shouts of wild beasts and brutish men to utter some 
words expressive of his faith in Christ and joyful 
readiness to die for Him. Then the thunderous 
growl of the Numidian lion, the fatal spring, the 
crunching of the mighty jaws, and all was over. 
Another blood-stain in that oval space so often 
drenched with the blood of human victims, the 
noblest and the vilest. But the blood of martyrs 
was the seed of the Church, and at this very day 
the '* stations of the Cross " in the Colosseum, and 
the sweet voices of the multitudinous church bells 
of Rome proclaim to eye and ear the victory of 

II. I now proceed to consider the witness borne 
by the Ignatian Epistles as to the doctrine taught 
in the Christian Church at the beginning of the 
second century. 

Upon the most important point of all, the 
teaching of the Church as to the Divinity of her 
Founder, we find already the same general charac- 
teristics which prevailed throughout the greater 
part of the Ante-Nicene period. That is to say, 
we find an entire absence of some of the terms 


which became famous two hundred years afterwards 
as the battle-cry of the Athanasian champions : — 
neither the Trinity nor the Homoousion^ being 
once named by Ignatius — but on the other hand 
the doctrine itself, though not clothed in Athanasian 
words, is evidently Athanasian in its tendency. 
The following are the chief passages in which 
St. Ignatius alludes to the Divinity of our Lord : — 

(i) (The Church of Ephesus) "Which hath been pre- 
ordained before the ages, to be for ever unto abiding and 
unchangeable glory, united and elect in a real suffering by 
the will of the father and of Jesus Christ our God " 
(Ephesians : title). 

Upon this passage Lightfoot remarks, " Where 
the Divine Name is assigned to Christ in these 
Epistles it is generally with the addition of the 
pronoun ''our God,' or 'my God,' or else it has 
some defining words added to it. The expression 
just below, * in the blood of God,' can hardly be 
regarded as an exception." 

(2) " I welcomed in God the well -beloved name 
which ye bear by natural right, in an upright and 
virtuous mind, by faith and love in Christ Jesus our 
Saviour, being imitators of God and having your hearts 
kindled in the blood of God " ^ (Eph. i). 

(3) "Jesus Christ, our inseparable life, is the mind 
(7) rfvwfiTi) of the Father " (Eph. 3). 

(4) " There is one only physician of flesh and of 
spirit, generate and ingenerate, God in man, true life in 

* "Of one substance with the Father." 

2 Compare Acts xx. 28, ** To feed the Church of God, which He hath 
purchased with His own blood." 


death, Son of Mary and Son of God, first passible and 
then impassible, Jesus Christ our Lord " (Eph. 7). 

(5) "For our God, Jesus the Christ, was conceived 
in the womb by Mary, according to a dispensation, of 
the seed of David, but also of the Holy Spirit " 
(Eph. 18). 

(6) " Assemble yourselves together in common, every 
one of you severally, man by man, in grace, in one faith 
and in one Jesus Christ, who after the flesh was of 
David's race, who is Son of Man and Son of God " 
(Eph. 20). 

(7) " The deacons who are most dear to me, having 
been entrusted with the diaconate of Jesus Christ, who 
was with the Father before the world and appeared at 
the end of time " (Magnesians 6). 

(8) " Hasten to come together all of you, as to one 
temple, even God ; as to one altar, even to one Jesus 
Christ, who came forth from One Father and is with 
One and departed unto One " (Mag. 7). 

(9) " The divine prophets lived according to Christ 
Jesus. For this cause also were they persecuted, being 
inspired by His grace, to the end that they which are 
disobedient might be fully persuaded that there is one 
God who manifested Himself through Jesus Christ His 
Son, who is His Word that proceeded from silence, who 
in all things was well-pleasing unto Him that sent Him " 
(Mag. 8). 

(10) " Be ye fully persuaded concerning the birth 
and the passion and the resurrection, which took place 
in the time of the governorship of Pontius Pilate ; for 
these things were truly and certainly done by Jesus 
Christ, our hope, from which hope may it not befall any 
of you to be turned aside" (Mag. 1 1). 

(11) "Be obedient to the bishop and to one another, 


as Jesus Christ was to the Father [according to the 
flesh ^], and as the Apostles were to Christ and to the 
Father, that there may be union both of flesh and of 
spirit " (Mag. i 3). 

(12) "Be ye deaf therefore, when any man speaketh 
to you apart from Jesus Christ who was of the race of 
David, who was the son of Mary, who was truly born 
and ate and drank, was truly persecuted under Pontius 
Pilate, was truly crucified and died in the sight of those 
in heaven and those on earth and those under the earth : 
who moreover was truly raised from the dead, His Father 
having raised Him, who in the like fashion will so raise 
us also who believe in Him, — His Father, I say, will 
raise us — in Christ Jesus, apart from whom we have not 
true life. 

" But if it were as certain persons who are godless, 
that is unbelievers, say, that He suffered only in semblance, 
being themselves mere semblance, why am I in bonds ? 
And why also do I desire to fight with wild beasts? 
So I die in vain. Truly then I lie against the Lord " 
(Trallians 9, 10). 

(13) " Pray that I may not only be called a Christian, 
but also be found one. For if I shall be found so, then 
can I also be called one and be faithful, then, when I am 
no more visible to the world. Nothing visible is good. 
For our God Jesus Christ being in the Father is the more 
plainly visible." (Lightfoot explains this to mean that 
during Christ's earthly ministry. He was misunderstood 
and traduced, but now His power is manifested and 
acknowledged in the working of His Church. The 
sentence is meant to sound like a paradox, " Christ 
Himself is more clearly seen, now that He is no more 
seen ") (Romans 3). 

^ There is some doubt as to the genuineness of these words. 


(14) "And Jesus Christ shall make manifest unto you 
these things, that I speak the truth — Jesus Christ the 
unerring mouth in whom the Father hath spoken truly " 
(Romans 8). 

(15) "I heard certain persons [Judaizers] saying, 
' If I find it not in the Charters [the Old Testament] I 
believe it not in the Gospel.' And when I said to them, 
' It is written,' they answered me, * That is the question/ 
But as for me, my Charter is Jesus Christ : the inviolable 
Charter is His Cross and His death and His resurrection, 
and faith through Him, wherein I desire to be justified 
through your prayers " (Philadelphians 8). 

(16) "The Gospel hath a singular pre-eminence [over 
the Law] in the advent of the Saviour, even our Lord 
Jesus Christ, and His passion and resurrection. For the 
beloved Prophets in their preaching pointed to Him ; 
but the Gospel is the completion of immortality " 
(Philadelphians 9). 

(17) "I give glory to Jesus Christ the God who 
bestowed such wisdom upon you : for I have perceived 
that ye are established in faith immovable, being as it 
were nailed on the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, in flesh 
and in spirit, and firmly grounded in love in the blood of 
Christ, fully persuaded as touching our Lord that He is 
truly of the race of David according to the flesh, but Son 
of God by the Divine will and power, truly born of a 
virgin and baptized by John, that all righteousness might 
be fulfilled by Him, truly nailed up in the flesh for our 
sakes under Pontius Pilate and Herod the Tetrarch (of 
which fruit are we — that is, of His most blessed passion) ; 
that He might set up an ensign unto all the ages through 
His resurrection, for His saints and faithful people, whether 
among Jews or among Gentiles, in one body of His 
Church. For He suffered all these things for our sakes 


that we might be saved : and He suffered truly, as also 
He raised Himself truly : not as certain unbelievers say, 
that He suffered in semblance, being themselves mere 
semblance. And according as their opinions are, so shall 
it happen unto them, for they are unsubstantial and 
phantom-like. For I know and believe that He was 
in the flesh, even after the resurrection ; and when He 
came to Peter and his company He said to them, ' Lay 
hold and handle Me, and see that 1 am not an incorporeal 
spirit ! ' And straightway they touched Him, and they 
believed, being joined unto His flesh and His blood. 
Wherefore also they despised death. Nay, they were 
found superior to death. And after His resurrection He 
both ate with them and drank with them as one in the 
flesh, though spiritually He was united with the Father " 
(Smyrnaeans i, 2, 3). 

(18) " For what profit is it to me, if a man praiseth 
me but blasphemeth my Lord, noc confessing that He 
was a bearer of flesh ? " (Smyrnaeans 5). 

(19) "I salute your godly bishop and your venerable 
presbytery, and my fellow-servants the deacons, and all of 
you severally and in a body, in the name of Jesus Christ 
and in His flesh and blood, in His passion and resurrection 
which was both carnal and spiritual, in the unity of God 
and of yourselves " (Smyrnaeans i 2). 

(20) " Await Him that is above every season, the 
Eternal, the Invisible who became visible for our sake, 
the Impalpable, the Impassible, who suffered for our sake, 
who endured in all ways for our sake " (Polycarp. 3). 

(21) "I bid you farewell always in our God Jesus 
Christ in whom abide ye in the unity and supervision of 
God " (Polycarp. 8). 

Notwithstanding some turns of expression virhich 
sound somewhat strange to us, I think it will be 


admitted that, upon the whole, the language here 
used with reference to the central mystery of our 
faith is very similar to that employed by orthodox 
Christians of the present day ; more so, it seems 
to me, than the artificial language, and the subtle 
theological distinctions which came into use during 
the fourth and fifth centuries, after the Councils of 
Nicsea, Ephesus, and Chalcedon. Surely the fact 
that a Christian Bishop in the early part of the second 
century spoke always with calm and settled convic- 
tion of the divinity of Christ is one of no small 
evidential value. In some ways, that age must 
have been one of severe trial for the faith of the 
Church. The firm persuasion under which the 
Apostle Paul, at any rate, and probably most of 
his colleagues laboured, that Christ's second coming 
and the end of the world should happen in the life- 
time of some members of the Apostolic company, 
must by this time have been dissipated. It must 
have been as clear to Ignatius as it is to us that 
that at all events was not the meaning of the 
difficult words, ** This generation shall not pass till 
all be fulfilled." And then the reaction from the 
early fervour of faith ; the sad discovery that tares 
would still spring up close to the very finest of 
the wheat ; the impossibility of transmitting to the 
children the energy of conviction and the singleness 
of heart which had been possessed by the parents : 
all these causes, which in all subsequent ages have 
made the second generation of a Church or a sect 
or a religious order its time of greatest danger, were 


doubtless present in the Christian Church in the 
hundredth year from the birth of its Founder. On 
the other hand there was not that rich gathered 
store of Christian experience, those multitudes of 
lives made holy and deaths made fearless by the 
indwelling Spirit of Christ, which gives to our 
faith a support whereof we are ourselves often 
unconscious, and which is the one great counter- 
poise in the scale to the difficulty caused by the 
mysterious apparent delay in the fulfilment of the 
Divine purposes. 

Still, notwithstanding all these temptations, the 
faith of those early believers stood firm. They had 
an invincible persuasion that the life which had 
been witnessed by Apostles, and recorded by 
Evangelists, was a life unlike any other that had 
ever been lived on this earth, and that in it the 
Creator had condescended to share the sorrows and 
to heal the diseases of the creatures whom He had 
made. Then, as now, the reason of man well-nigh 
fainted under this overwhelming thought, " God 
manifest in the flesh " ; but the way of escape for 
feeble souls was not by denying the Godhead of 
Christ, but by doubting His true humanity. One 
of the earliest forms of heresy (as we see from the 
Epistles of St. John) was that adapted by the 
Docetae, who maintained that the life, death, and 
resurrection of our Lord were only, so to speak, a 
glorious drama enacted on the stage of the world, 
and that it was destitute of reality, since Christ as 
God was exempted from the sufferings and death 


incident to humanity. Against this alluring error, 
which with Antinomianism may be likened to two 
serpents threatening to destroy Christianity in its 
very cradle, Ignatius battles manfully. Among the 
passages from his Epistles quoted above, Nos. 4, 
5, 10, 12, 17, 18, and 19 are all aimed at the 
doctrine of the Docetae, and No. 17 especially, 
taken from the beginning of the Epistle to the 
Smyrnaeans, is most full and emphatic in its protest 
against their perversions of the truth of the Gospel. 
Unquestionably, the general character of the 
teaching of the Ignatian Epistles is primitive. It 
is hardly necessary to say that if we compare it 
with Medieval Christianity, wide tracts of thought 
and practice, which belong to the latter, are wholly 
absent from the former. For in the letters of 
Ignatius we have no invocation of saints, no 
doctrine of purgatory, no worship of the Virgin,^ 
no penance, no Papal supremacy (though there is 
most courteous and respectful mention of the 
Church of Rome), no stated fasts, no dispensations, 
no indulgences. The absence of all these things 
from Ante - Nicene Christianity is one of the 

^ There is a rather curious passage in which allusion is made to the 
Virgin ; but though it certainly goes beyond the cautious language of Scrip- 
ture, there is nothing in it which really amounts to Mary- worship. "And 
hidden from the Prince of this world were the virginity of Mary and her 
child-bearing, and likewise also the death of the Lord — three mysteries to be 
cried aioud — which were wrought in the silence of God. How then were 
they made manifest to the ages ? A star shone forth in the heaven above all 
the stars ; and its light was unutterable, and its strangeness caused amaze- 
ment ; and all the rest of the constellations, with the sun and moon, formed 
themselves into a chorus about the star ; but the star itself far outshone them 
all ; and there was perplexity to know whence came this strange appearance 
which was so unlike them" (Ephesians 19). 


commonplaces of Church history ; but it is im- 
portant also to note how many of the religious 
ideas even of the fourth century are unrepresented 
in this literary remnant of the early years of the 
second century. Let any one think how large a 
part of the writings of St. Jerome — and not an 
inconsiderable part of those of St. Augustine — are 
occupied with the praises of virginity, with recom- 
mendations to lead a life of celibacy, with praises 
of eremitic and monastic life. Of all this it is safe 
to say that we have scarcely a trace in St. Ignatius ; 
in fact, it would be far easier to extract from St. 
Paul's letters than from his, passages appearing to 
exalt the unmarried above the married state. 

On the other hand, we have in one of these 
letters (that to the Church of Smyrna) probably 
the first use of a phrase which has since " made 
the tour of the world " — the Catholic Church. 
It is true that it is defined in a manner which all 
Christians would gladly accept, " Wheresoever Christ 
Jesus may be, there is the Catholic Church."^ We 
have also, as we shall see under the next section, 
much emphasis laid on one particular form of 
Church organisation, the Episcopal. And though 
the general teaching of the Epistles is not perhaps 
highly sacramental — the word sacrament was of 
course not yet imported from the Roman army 
into the Christian Church — it is plain that both 
baptism and the eucharist held a prominent position 
in the life of the believers of that day, and there 

* Sttou h.v 77 Xpurrbs 'Iriaovt (kcT t) KadoKiKT) iKKXrjffia (Smym. 8). 


are one or two passages in which, not of course 
Transubstantiation, but something like the Real 
Presence of Christ in the Supper, seems to be 
hinted at.^ 

It must be admitted that the religious teaching 
contained in these Epistles is of a x'dL\\\^x jejune kind. 
When we have read the passages in which the 
writer earnestly insists on the reality of Christ's 
manifestation and sufferings, and when we have 
also read those in which he insists to weariness on 
the necessity of obeying the Bishop, we have nearly 
heard his last word. Apparently the great contro- 
versy as to the eating of meats offered to idols, 
which raged so fiercely in St. Paul's day, and which 
gives animation to so many of that Apostle's pages, 
had burned itself out ; at all events Ignatius has 

^ Some passages relating to the eucharist are : — 

Ephesians 20 : " Breaking one bread, which is the medicine of immortality, 
and the antidote that we should not die but live for ever in Jesus Christ." 

Romans 7- "I have no delight in the food of corruption, or in the 
delights of this life. I desire the bread of God, which is the flesh of Christ, 
who was of the seed of David ; and for a draught I desire His blood, which 
is love incorruptible." (Lightfoot remarks on this passage that as Ignatius 
is here contemplating his union with Christ through martyrdom, "the refer- 
ence is not to the eucharist itself, but to the union with Christ which is 
symbolised and pledged in the eucharist.") 

Philadelphians 4 : *' Be ye careful, therefore, to observe one eucharist 
(for there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, one cup, unto union in His 
blood ; there is one altar as there is one bishop, together with the presbytery, 
and the deacons my fellow-servants), that whatsoever ye do, ye may do it 
after God." (Lightfoot observes that " these passages in Ignatius are the 
earliest instances of euxapio-ria applied to the Holy Communion,") 

Smyrnaeans 6 : " They abstain from eucharist (thanksgiving) and prayer, 
because they allow not that the eucharist is the flesh of our Saviour Jesus 
Christ, which flesh suffered for our sins and which the Father of His goodness 
raised up." 

Ibid. 8 : " Let that be held a valid eucharist which is under the bishop, 
or one to whom he shall have committed it." 



nothing to say concerning it. On the mutual 
relation of faith and works, a subject of such deep 
interest to the Church in all ages, he is equally 
silent. The questions of man's free will, of God's 
foreknowledge, of the genesis of sin in the human 
heart, questions which go down to the very roots 
of our nature, which so profoundly interested St. 
Paul, and which three centuries later were to be 
so earnestly discussed by Pelagius and St. Augustine 
— these appear to be altogether beyond his range. 
Occasionally he takes an illustration from St. Paul, 
and amplifies it after his own peculiar fashion, as 
when he tells the Ephesians that they are "stones 
of a temple prepared beforehand for a building of 
God the Father, being hoisted up to the heights 
by the engine of Jesus Christ, which is the cross, 
the rope being the Holy Spirit, while their faith 
is the windlass, and love is the way that leadeth 
up to God." It is not often, however, that he rises 
even to this level. Upon the whole, if one were 
asked to give a practical definition of Inspiration, 
one might fitly reply, " That quality which is present 
in every one, even the least fervid and the least 
edifying of the Epistles in the New Testament, and 
which is absent from the Epistles of Ignatius." 

III. We come, last of all, to that which assuredly 
did not occupy the last place in the thoughts of 
Ignatius, the question of Church order and govern- 

As has been already hinted, these letters are full 
of earnest exhortations to the receivers of them not 


to despise the authority of the Bishop. I do not 
propose to extract all the passages in which this 
duty is insisted on, for in truth were I to do so I 
should have to transcribe more than half of the 
Seven Letters. But the general purport of them 
may be summarised as follows : — 

The Bishop presides in the Church after the likeness 
of God, the Presbyters after the likeness of the Council of 
the Apostles, and under them are the Deacons who are 
entrusted with the diaconate of Jesus Christ.^ As Christ 
did nothing without the Father, either by Himself or by 
the apostles, so the believers are to do nothing without 
the Bishop and Presbyters.^ The Presbytery, if it be 
worthy of God, is attuned to the Bishop, even as its 
strings to a lyre. By the concord and harmonious love 
of these and the Church a sweet chorus is formed by 
which Jesus Christ is sung, the key-note being given by 
God.^ If a believer sees that his bishop is silent, let 
him fear him all the more, for every one whom the 
master of the household sends to be steward over his 
own house ought to be received like him that sent him. 
Manifestly, therefore, the Bishop should be regarded like 
the Lord Himself.* 

Believers are not to presume upon the youth of 
their Bishop. Ignatius is glad to find that at Magnesia 
where the Bishop is a young man, the Presbyters have 
not taken advantage of his youth, but give place to 
him as to one endowed with heavenly prudence — yet 
not in truth to him but to the Father of Jesus Christ, 

1 7rapaLvQ> iv o/xopoia Qeov (nrovdd^ere Trdvra Trpdaanv, TrpoKadrj/xivov rod 
iirLffKbirov eis riirov GeoG koL rdv irpea^vripiou els tvttou avvedpiov tQv diroaToKwv, 
Koi tC}v diaKdvwv rCjv ifiol yXvKVTdrcjp, TreTncrevfi^vujv 5iaKoviav 'ItjctoO XptcrroO, 
ds irpb aldiVbjv vapa Trarpl ijv Koi ev riXet i(p6.vr] (Magnesians 6). 

2 Ibid. 7. 3 Ephesians 4, * Ibid. 6. 


even to the Bishop of all. A man who obeys with 
dissimulation deceives not so much the Bishop whom 
he sees, as that other who is invisible, and will have to 
reckon not with man but with God who sees the hidden 
things of the heart.^ 

Some people have the Bishop's name perpetually on 
their lips, but in everything act separately from him. 
Such people have not a good conscience since they do 
not assemble themselves together lawfully according to 
the commandment.^ Let all men respect the Deacons 
as Jesus Christ. Even as they should respect the Bishop 
as being a type of the Father and the Presbyters as the 
Council of God and as the College of Apostles. Apart 
from these there is not even the name of a Church. . . . 
He that is within the sanctuary is clean ; but he that is 
without the sanctuary is not clean, that is he that doeth 
aught without the Bishop and Presbytery and Deacons, 
this man is not clean in his conscience.^ 

I cried out when I was among you ; I spoke with 
a loud voice, with God's own voice, " Give ye heed to 
the Bishop and the Presbytery and the Deacons." How- 
beit there were those who suspected me of saying this 
because I knew beforehand of the division of certain 
persons. But He in whom I am bound is my witness 
that I learned it not from flesh of man ; it was the 
preaching of the Spirit who spake in this wise : " Do 
nothing without the Bishop ; keep your flesh as a temple 
of God ; cherish union ; shun divisions ; be imitators of 
Jesus Christ, as He Himself also was of His Father." 
Now the Lord forgiveth all men when they repent, if 
repenting they return to the unity of God and to the 
Council of the Bishop.* 

1 Magnesians 3. ^ Ibid. 4. 

3 Trallians 3, 7. * Philadelphians 7, 8. 


Shun divisions as the beginning of evils. Do ye 
all follow your Bishop as Jesus Christ followed the Father, 
and the Presbytery as the Apostles ; and to the Deacons 
pay respect as to God's commandment. Let no man 
do aught of things pertaining to the Church apart from 
the Bishop. Let that be held a valid Eucharist which is 
under the Bishop or one to whom he shall have com- 
mitted it. Wheresoever the Bishop shall appear, there 
let the people be ; even as where Jesus Christ may be, 
there is the universal Church. It is not lawful apart 
from the Bishop either to baptize or to hold a love-feast ; 
but whatsoever he shall approve, this is well-pleasing also 
to God ; that everything which ye do may be sure and 
valid. ... It is good to recognise God and the Bishop. 
He that honoureth the Bishop is honoured of God ; he that 
doeth aught without the knowledge of the Bishop rendereth 
service to the Devil.^ 

Lastly, in the Epistle to Polycarp we read — the 
passage is important, because it is found in the very 
shortest form, the Curetonian, as well as in the 
Middle and the Long Recensions — 

It becometh men and women when they marry to 
unite themselves with the consent of the Bishop, that 
the marriage may be after the Lord. Let all things 
be done to the honour of God. Give ye heed to the 
Bishop, that God also may give heed to you. I am 
devoted to those who are subject to the Bishop, the 
Presbyters, the Deacons. May it be granted me to 
have my portion with them in the presence of God.^ 

In reading over these passages we can easily 

^ Smyrnseans 8, 9. ^ Polyc. 5, 6. 


understand why many scholars of the seventeenth 
and eighteenth centuries struggled so earnestly 
against the admission of the genuineness of the 
Ignatian Epistles in any form whatsoever. To our 
ears they certainly seem to sound of an age much 
later than that immediately succeeding the Apostolic ; 
at first the mind can hardly refuse entrance to a 
suspicion that they are the work of some forger 
of the third or fourth century, intent, for reasons 
of his own, on bolstering up Episcopal authority 
by the venerated name of Ignatius. This kind of 
a priori criticism, however, though we are obliged 
sometimes to resort to it, is full of danger, and 
requires a very full and accurate knowledge of the 
times with which we assert a particular document 
to be out of harmony. We must admit that our 
knowledge of the state of the Christian Church for 
fifty years after the writing of the last Pauline 
Epistle is not, and probably can never be, of this 
full and accurate kind : and since upon the whole, 
after two centuries of eager debate, the judgment 
of the ablest scholars appears to be pronounced 
affirmatively on behalf of the genuineness of the 
Ignatian Epistles in the Middle Form ; since the 
more learned even of the opponents of their genuine- 
ness do not seem to contend for a later date for 
the forgery than about a.d. 150,^ it is better and 
more consistent with the character of a seeker after 

1 I mention this date because it seems to be admitted that the Ignatian 
letters were known to Lucian (a.d. 165-170) and to Irenseus (175-190). It 
is true that we cannot prove that the letters then existing contained the strong 
Episcopal passages. 


truth frankly to accept the fact of these, as they 
seem to us, exaggerated claims put forward at a 
very early date on behalf of the Episcopal office, 
than to try to argue the evidence out of court 
because it does not happen to accord with our 
own ecclesiastical sympathies. 

Let us then ask ourselves what was the nature 
of the Episcopacy for which St. Ignatius so 
zealously contended. In doing this we may leave 
on one side the question whether he was right or 
wrong — though I apprehend that few of the most 
enthusiastic upholders of the Divine right of 
Episcopacy would like to be fastened down to 
the defence of all the expressions quoted above 
— and we may confine ourselves to the humbler 
attempt to understand his position and to read his 
thoughts, and his thoughts only, in his words. 

To us, after more than eighteen centuries that 
the Christian Church has been in the world, the 
word Bishop suggests at once an immense variety 
of associations : some noble and venerable, some 
base and cruel and full of irreconcilable discord 
with the mind and character of Christ. When we 
hear the word we may think of Augustine, of 
Anselm, of Ken, and of Heber ; or the dark forms 
of the Borgias, the Cossas, and the Bonners, may 
rise before us. The name covers saintly men who 
in our own day have willingly laid down their lives 
for their Lord in African deserts. Popes who have 
said, ** What good things that old fable about 
the Galilean have been the means of procuring 


for us!" and *' Greek-play Bishops" who have 
conscientiously abstained from reading the New 
Testament lest they might injure their classical 
style. Visigothic prelates hugging the life out 
of the State which they virtually governed by 
their Councils ; the mail-clad Bishops of Charle- 
magne ; the great ecclesiastical Electors of Germany ; 
the Episcopal parasites of Louis XV. ; are all in- 
cluded in this one widely extended class, and 
would assuredly have been stared at with eyes 
of unbelieving wonder by Ignatius if they could 
have stood beside him and told him that they were 
even what he was. 

Clearing away, then, as far as we can, all these 
accretions of later ages, let us try to look upon a 
Bishop of a Church in Syria or Asia Minor soon 
after Divus Nerva had given place to Trajanus 
Caesar at the head of the Roman world, and see 
what manner of man he would appear to himself 
and his contemporaries. Not assuredly one of the 
great ones of this world : the Asiarchs at Ephesus 
would deem that they condescended if they favoured 
Onesimus, the Christian Bishop of that city, with 
their friendship, and the mighty Prefect of Syria 
may have administered his province for years with- 
out becoming aware of the existence of Ignatius. 
His Cathedral Church may be, and probably is, 
spacious, in such a city as Antioch, but it is assuredly 
unadorned, and erected at as little cost as possible 
in one of the humbler quarters of the city. The 
Bishop himself is not even in spiritual things ruler 


of a wide extent of country/ His energies are 
confined to one city — certainly in the instance 
before us a populous and important city — and in 
that city he is, so to speak, queen-bee in the hive, 
centre of all the Christian activity of the Church, 
sustaining with reference to that one Church what 
St. Paul, in a pathetic moment of weariness, speaks 
of as " that which cometh upon me daily, the care 
of all the Churches." Who is weak and the Bishop 
is not weak ? Who is made to stumble and he 
burns not with righteous indignation ? In the 
warfare which is being constantly waged with 
idolatrous practices around them — practices which by 
the banks of the soft Orontes are still exceptionally 
tainted with moral uncleanness — he must be ever 
ready to advise, to exhort, to admonish the mass of 
the believers. Even as to their marriages (as we 
see from the above-quoted passage in the Letter to 
Polycarp), Christian men and women are recom- 
mended to seek the consent of the Bishop, a 
recommendation easily explained by the danger of 
introducing a consort secretly inclined to heathenism 
into the midst of a Christian family. 

' This is well brought out by Lightfoot, i. 383: — "Of a diocese, 
properly so called, there is no trace. It is quite a mistake to suppose that 
Ignatius is called 'Bishop of Syria' (Romans 2). Episcopacy has not 
passed beyond its primitive stage. The Bishop and Presbyters are the 
ministry of a city, not of a diocese. What provision may have been made for 
the rural districts we are not told. The country folk about Ephesus or 
Smyrna were probably still pagans^ not only in the original sense of the 
word, but also in its later theological meaning. This fact, however, can 
hardly be used as a criterion of date, as it would hold throughout the second 
century, and no critic would now think of assigning a later date than this to 
the Ignatian letters." 


In short, if we would truly comprehend the 
position of a Bishop in the days of Ignatius, we 
must think rather of a parish clergyman, or the 
minister of a large congregation, than of the best 
type of diocese-ruling Bishops. The late Dr. Hook, 
during his residence at Leeds ; John Angell James, 
at Birmingham ; Charles Spurgeon, at Southwark 
(I purposely choose my examples from different 
denominations of Christians), may probably not 
unfitly represent to us the kind of labours, and 
anxieties amid which the life of one of these early 
Bishops would be passed, except for one difference 
and that is an important one. There was always 
the possibility that the warfare between Christianity 
and Heathenism might pass out of the spiritual 
sphere into the material : that the Jews might 
excite a tumult against the Nazarenes, or that some 
Emperor or Prefect might deem that his duty to 
the State required him to extirpate by force this 
** novel and detestable superstition." Then the 
Bishop became more than ever the general of the 
army of believers. Then was it his duty to cheer 
the wavering, to restrain the rash, to comfort the 
bereaved relatives of those who fell in the glorious 
strife, to provide for their orphaned children, and 
finally, when he himself was summoned before the 
Prefect's tribunal, to die. 

Around the Bishop were grouped "the fitly- 
wreathed spiritual circlet of the Presbytery,"^ and 
*' the Deacons entrusted with the diaconate of Jesus 

^ rov d^toir\6/foi; Trvevfia.Ti.KOV (rreipavov tov irpeff^vrepiov (Magnesians I3). 


Christ." ^ The duties of the Presbyters, as Lightfoot 
points out in his dissertation on the Christian 
Ministry,^ were twofold, as pastors and teachers 
of the flock. With the growth of the Church the 
visits of Apostles and Evangelists to any particular 
community would become less frequent, and the 
Presbyters, the local officers of the congregation, 
would have a larger and larger share in the work 
of instruction. '' There is no ground for supposing 
that the work of teaching and the work of governing 
pertained to separate members of the Presbyterial 
College. As each had his special gift, so would he 
devote himself more or less exclusively to the one 
or other of these sacred functions." ^ 

The office of the Deacons was probably still 
chiefly connected with the relief of the physical 
wants of the poorer members of the congrega- 
tion, but upon this point the vague and rhetorical 
language of Ignatius throws unfortunately little 
or no light. 

If we ask ourselves why had the Christian 
Church which "interposes no sacrificial tribe or 
class between God and man," and in which ''each 
individual member holds personal communion with 
the Divine Head,"* thus early assumed the form 
of a well-organised hierarchy, the answer is partly 
contained in the slight sketch already given of the 
Bishop's functions. Christianity in the midst of 
the heathen world was still pre-eminently a militant 

1 Magnesians 6. 

2 Appended to his edition of the Epistle to the Philippians, p. 192. 

3 Ibid, 193. * Ibid. p. 179. 


force, bound to fight, every day and every hour, for 
bare life against " the rulers of the darkness of this 
world." Now there can be no doubt that for 
fighting purposes a monarchical form of government 
is the best,^ and the Order of the Jesuits, the 
Wesleyan Connection, and the Salvation Army, in 
their very different lines of movement, have power- 
fully illustrated the truth of this maxim with 
reference to spiritual warfare. 

But in addition to this there was a special need 
why in the second century the Christian Church 
should close its ranks and submit to stern, almost 
martial, discipline. Already the nomad hordes of 
Gnosticism were in the field, ready with their 
spectral bands of ^ons and Emanations, to lay 
waste the fair regions won for Christ from heathen- 
ism.^ And to meet this foe what was there 
(speaking after the manner of men) within the 
Christian stronghold.-^ If we put out of sight the 
Bishops, Priests, and Deacons (the officers of the 
garrison), the rank and file were composed largely 
of recent converts from heathenism, men and women 

1 How, it may be said, can this be asserted in the face of the victorious 
career of the Roman Republic? The answer is that republican principles 
were always in abeyance when the army was in the field. The recognised 
contrast between the imperhuii of the military officer and the magistratus 
which was exercised within the bounds of the City, is one of the most familiar 
features of the constitution of the Roman State. 

2 Looking to the character of the Gnostic teaching, and the dissolving 
effect which it would inevitably have exercised on Christianity, we are 
justified in using these strong terms of condemnation of the system (or 
rather the many systems) of the Gnostics. Yet, withal, we may gladly 
recognise that many of these men may have been sincere seekers after God : 
only they were trying to solve a hopelessly insoluble problem, that of the 
existence of evil in a world of which God is the Creator and Governor. 


in whose blood there still ran the inherited instincts 
of generations of idolaters, who had suffered from 
the fever of impure and unholy service rendered to 
" them that were no gods." Many slaves were to be 
found in every Christian congregation, many freed- 
men with all the thoughts and habits of the slave. 
The men of education among them were probably 
still few ; copies of the Gospels and Epistles an ex- 
pensive luxury, beyond the reach of the many. In 
these circumstances there can be little doubt that 
it was, under God's providence, the existence of a 
well-organised, disciplined hierarchy, possessing the 
sacred books and well instructed in their contents, 
which alone prevented the Christian Church from 
fading away into a fantastic Gnostic sect, or yielding 
to the temptations of a plausible Antinomianism, or 
taking up with some wild scheme'of social regenera- 
tion, and, like the Fifth Monarchy men of a later 
age, dashing itself in its ignorance and its fury 
against the justly drawn sword of the Civil 

Thus then, it seems to me, we can well under- 
stand why, in the Divine ordering of the affairs of 
the Christian Church, a man holding the position 
of Ignatius wrote as emphatically as he did con- 
cerning the absolute necessity of obedience to the 
Bishop, the Presbyters, and the Deacons.^ 

^ I have not space to do more than indicate the relation of the writings 
of Ignatius to the theory of " Apostolical Succession " in its fully-developed 
form. Bishop Lightfoot very clearly points out — 

I. That "there is not throughout these letters the slightest tinge of 
sacerdofal [\ in reference to the Christian ministry" (i. 381). 


The question what bearing these writings of an 
early Christian martyr have on the true form of 
Church government in our own day is one far too 
wide and too weighty for me to deal with here. As 
before said, my object has been rather to find out 
what Ignatius thought than whether he was right 
in thinking it. Three conclusions, however, I may 
bring before the mind of the reader. 

First, not only the letters of Ignatius, but the 
later letters of St. Paul, certainly seem to prove 
that government by Bishops, Presbyters, and 
Deacons (the first two titles in the earliest stages 
practically interchangeable) was at least a permitted 
— divinely permitted — form of government for the 
Christian Church. Now that the smoke of the 
seventeenth -century controversies has somewhat 
rolled away, I find it difficult to understand how any 
fair-minded man, examining the evidence afforded 
by the New Testament and the earliest post- 

2. "Nor again is there any approach even to the language of Irenaeus, 
who, regarding the Episcopate as the depositary of the doctrinal tradition of 
the Apostles, lays stress on the Apostolical succession as a security for its 
faithful transmission" (i. 382). In fact, as has been often pointed out, 
Ignatius seems to make the Presbyters, rather than the Bishops, the repre- 
sentatives of the Apostles, in order that he may claim for the Bishop the 
authority and position of Christ. 

3. *' There is no indication that he is upholding the Episcopal against any 
other form of Church government, as, for instance, the Presbyterial. The 
alternative which he contemplates is lawless isolation and self-will" {ibid.). 
This point is also well brought out by Canon Travers Smith, in the article 
"Ignatius," in Smith's Dictionary of Christian Biography', and it is the 
more noteworthy, because there is reason to believe that Episcopacy, though 
firmly established in Syria and Asia Minor, was not in the days of Ignatius 
universally adopted throughout the Christian Church. Indeed the Ignatian 
letters themselves make it doubtful whether there was even a Bishop at 
Rome {ibid. i. 383). 


apostolic writers, can think the office of a Bishop 
to be in any sense Anti- Christian, or can allow 
himself to speak, as I have heard some do un- 
advisedly, in contempt of "the undrained bog of 

Secondly : Nor do I think that the view which 
has sometimes been advocated by members of the 
Society of Friends, that the appointment of a 
Bishop is in some way a usurpation of Christ's own 
right to govern His Church, is one which will bear 
investigation. The unseen Shepherd and Bishop 
of the Church rules and guides and feeds His flock, 
partly at least, through visible and human delegates ; 
and I cannot see why a Bishop, exercising his office 
in constant and prayerful dependence upon Christ, 
is any more truly a usurper of the functions of the 
Head of the Church than a Moderator of a Synod, 
or a Clerk of a Yearly Meeting. 

Thirdly : It is one thing, however, to say that 
Episcopacy is a permitted form of Church govern- 
ment, and one which, in the good providence of 
God, has been blessed to the preservation of the very 
life of Christianity, and quite another to say that 
it is the only form under which a Christian Church 
may be lawfully administered. Here, I think, we 
must set against certain strong and rash sentences 
of Ignatius, the clear voice of experience through- 
out the last three centuries. He says, " Apart 
from Bishop, Presbyters, and Deacons, there is not 
even the name of a Church." But there have been 
since the Reformation, and are now many Churches 


manifestly bringing forth the fruits of the Spirit, 
and united to Christ by true and Hving faith, from 
which one or all of these classes of officers have been 
absent. The human mind loves these sharp lines 
of demarcation, these rough-and-ready ways of 
arriving at truth. '' Have you an officer in your 
Church called a Bishop ? " asks the controversialist. 
''Yes." ''Then you are a true Church." "No." 
" Then you are no Church at all, but altogether 
outside of the fold." But God seems to apply more 
subtle and deep-searching tests, and to attach less 
importance to the forms and shows of things than 
these eager disputants. What happened at the 
close of the Apostolic era, and during the genera- 
tion immediately following it, it is confessedly 
difficult to determine. But if we enlarge our scope, 
and endeavour to trace the course of the divine 
government of the Church through many centuries, 
we seem to see a continual adoption of fresh forms 
and fresh institutions according to the varying 
needs of succeeding ages. God causes the chosen 
people to be ruled by judges. They are dissatisfied 
with this form of government and desire a king. 
Even while rebuking their fickleness He grants 
their request, and makes with the second king thus 
chosen a covenant even more solemn and fuller of 
import for the world than that which He made with 
Abraham. The priesthood becomes corrupt : He 
raises up prophets as witnesses to His righteousness. 
The kingship comes to an end, and the Sanhedrin 
bears sway in Israel. Antiochus seeks to crush out 


the religious life of the nation, and the Maccabees 
are raised up for its deliverance. The Maccabees 
lose the consciousness of their great mission, and 
are allowed to be set aside by an Idumean usurper 
The Sabbath, once solemnly instituted by God, 
becomes the centre of a new and burdensome code 
of duty, and Jesus Christ comes to lessen, well-nigh 
to abrogate, the law of the Sabbath. For genera- 
tions ** the people " have been taught to consider 
themselves the chosen people of God, and to shun 
all intermixture with other nations as defilement. 
The Apostle Paul is sent to break down this middle 
wall of partition, and, at the cost of a life-long 
martyrdom, to proclaim that henceforth there is 
neither Jew nor Gentile, but all are one in Christ 

Through all the later ages it seems to me that 
we may see this same law of selection and rejection 
working. Looking to the necessities of a barbarised 
world we must surely admit that it was not without 
a Divine command that St. Benedict withdrew into 
the desert to prepare his code of laws for the regula- 
tion of monasticism. The monks became indifferent 
and corrupt, and the mendicant orders were em- 
ployed in the great religious revival of the thirteenth 
century. Dominicans and Franciscans lost their 
first love ; the voice of Luther was heard, and the 
mission both of monk and friar was ended. Yet 
neither Luther, nor Cranmer, nor Fox, nor Wesley 
was able to replace the obsolete medieval Church 
by an organisation which fully expressed all the 



response made by Christianity to the manifold 
needs of the human race. Thus still, not only at 
sundry times, but in the most diverse manners, 
does God continue to unfold to the world the 
meaning of that revelation of Himself which He 
made by Jesus Christ. 

The thorough-going advocate of any form of 
Church-government, the Episcopal, or the Presby- 
terian, or the Congregational, holds himself bound 
to argue that it is the only true Scriptural scheme 
of administration. To me it seems more reason- 
able to suppose that all are lawful, and all have, in 
a certain sense, come into being in conformity with 
the will of God, but that all must prove their right to 
be, by their fruit-bearing. There is the Episcopalian 
with his monarchical system of government, so 
splendidly adapted for covering the whole ground, 
and for providing that the sound of the Gospel 
shall be heard in the remote country village as well 
as in the crowded city. There is the Presbyterian 
with that aptitude of his for bringing the doctrines 
of Christianity home to the intellect of a nation, 
and for interesting the taught as well as the teacher 
in the routine of Church government, which has 
so powerfully contributed to form the character of 
the Scottish people. There are the various sects 
of Methodists with their extraordinary power of 
planting vigorous churches in the midst of new 
and poor and scantily educated communities. 
There are the Congregationalists and the Baptists 
with their skill in discovering, and wisdom in using 


great and impressive preachers. And, lastly, there 
is our own Quaker Church, less conspicuous than 
any of the others, but yet with a special message of 
its own to quiet and thoughtful natures, weary of 
doctrinal disputations, and longing for the reality 
of spiritual communion with the Most High. 
There may be different degrees of spiritual attain- 
ment among all of these ; but I cannot believe that 
any one of them has a right to say to another, '* I 
forbid thee because thou followest not me." To 
each the Master of the household seems to have 
distributed somewhat according to his several 
ability, and the watchword, the weighty watchword, 
for each is, ** Occupy till I come." 



This book, which describes the recovery of an early 
defence of Christianity, after it had been lost for 
something like thirteen centuries, must excite a 
deep interest in the minds of all students of Christian 
antiquity. For me it has a peculiar and personal 
interest because I had the privilege of meeting the 
finder when he was just setting forth on the quest 
which has proved so successful. 

It was on a hot March morning in Cairo that I 
heard from a waiter at Shepheard's Hotel the 
pleasant news that my friend Rendel Harris was 
waiting to see me. We found an unoccupied corner 
in the great square verandah in front of Shepheard's, 
which all visitors to Cairo know so well, and 
there we sat and talked for two hours, finding them 
all too short for what we had to say. A *' khamseen " 
was blowing, and a dust-storm darkened the pure 
sky of Egypt. The ceaseless stream of wayfarers 
of all nations flowed past us ; English officers in 

1 Originally published in the Friends^ Quarterly Examiner ^ 189 1-2. 



their dog-carts, preceded by their running footmen, 
bare-legged, but with splendid silver-embroidered 
jackets ; veiled Egyptian women with the Nilometer 
ornament between their eyes ; full-blooded negroes 
from the Soudan, carrying their heavy water-jars on 
their heads; long strings of camels, with that look 
of patient pessimism which the camel always wears 
— such was the picture, ever changing, yet un- 
changeable, which the visible world presented to 
us. Our talk was of many things, all deeply 
interesting to me. Jerusalem, which I had not 
yet seen, but where he had spent many months, and 
whose spell was strong upon him still. " Jerusalem," 
he said, *'is the place where men ought to worship." 
We talked of Tatian's Diatessaron, and its recently 
discovered MS. ; of Syrian Nisibis, and the possi- 
bility of visiting it ; of the Greek Patriarch at 
Jerusalem, and many more subjects of interest to 
us both ; but most of all, of his impending visit to 
the Monastery at Sinai, for the sake of which he 
had come to Cairo. For he hoped that the memor- 
able discovery of the Codex Sinaiticus did not 
exhaust the possibilities of finding hidden treasure 
in those venerable solitudes, and in that hope he 
was going to cross the desert and visit the monastery 
of St. Catherine, taking with him letters of intro- 
duction from the Greek Patriarch, and a photo- 
grapher's camera, at once the safest and speediest 
of all transcribers. 

Some weeks after I heard to my great delight 
that the visit which he then spoke of as future had 


been paid, and had been crowned with success. 
Besides other acquisitions which are not yet pub- 
lished, Prof. Harris told me that he had found and 
photographed the long-lost Apology of Aristides in 
a Syriac version ; and that is the book now presented 
to the world. 

Perhaps some, when they see the name of 
Aristides at the head of this paper, may think that 
they are going to hear something about the sturdy 
old Athenian statesman, the contemporary of Themis- 
tocles. I therefore hasten to assure them that 
there is no need for them to renew the old sentence 
of ostracism : they are in no danger of once more 
hearing Aristides called '' the Just." We have to do 
not with him, but with another citizen of Athens, who 
lived some six centuries later, and who, as Eusebius 
and Jerome inform us, was a most eloquent philo- 
sopher, who still preserved the philosophic garb after 
his conversion to Christianity, and presented an 
Apology for the Christians to the Emperor Hadrian, 
which Apology, says Eusebius, "is still preserved 
by many persons even until this day." 

No professed extracts from the Apology had 
been handed down by any ancient writer, and the 
few lines in which these meagre notices of the 
author were contained were all that, three years 
ago, was known about Aristides. It was rumoured 
soon after the revival of Greek learning that a copy 
of the Apology was still in existence at the 
monastery of Mount Pentelicus in Attica, but 
Dr. Spon, the celebrated French traveller in the 


Levant in the seventeenth century, sought for the 
book there without success. 

All this has now been changed by Prof. Harris's 
interesting discovery. Among the Syriac MSS. in 
the Sinaitic Convent he found one, apparently 
written in the seventh century, and containing two 
columns to each page. The book is made up of 
a number of separate treatises or extracts, almost 
all of which are ethical in character, Lives of the 
Fathers of the Desert, an essay of Plutarch on the 
help which a man receives from his enemy, a 
discourse by a female Pythagorean, and so forth. 
Imbedded in this curious collection, and occupying 
about twelve pages of the MS., is '' The Apology 
which Aristides the Philosopher made concerning 
the worship of God." When the Haverford Pro- 
fessor saw these words, he knew that he had 
found a prize, and calling on his camera for aid, he 
secured a faithful copy of the MS., which he after- 
wards deciphered, and translated at leisure in his 

The Apology thus recovered for us is a most 
valuable document, and has an important bearing 
on the history of the development of Christian 
doctrine. But, — it is better to state the fact at once, 
— it is almost valueless as an addition to Christian 
Apologetics, and it shows very little insight into 
the nature of the religion which it undertakes to 
defend. Probably the feeling of most readers of 
the Apology at the present day will be that, had 
they been in the Emperor's place, they would have 


listened to it quite unmoved, and would have found 
nothing in its arguments to induce them to in- 
quire more minutely into this '* new and strange 

But who was the Emperor to whom it was 
addressed ? The consentient voice of ecclesiastical 
tradition has hitherto declared that it was Hadrian ; 
but the MS. now before us speaks on this point 
with uncertain sound. It has, in fact, a double 
title : — 

** Again the Apology which Aristides the philo- 
sopher made before Hadrian the King concerning 
the worship of God. 

" [To the Emperor] Caesar Titus Hadrianus 
Antoninus Augustus Pius, from Marcianus Aristides, 
a philosopher of Athens." 

Thus the first title seems to assert that the 
Apology was addressed to Hadrian, who reigned 
from 117 to 138, and the second, that it was 
addressed to his adopted son and successor, 
Antoninus Pius, who reigned from 138 to 161. 
The second title, which gives the other name of 
Aristides (Marcianus), and calls him a philosopher 
of Athens, looks the more authentic of the two, 
and as each Emperor at this time always took the 
name of his adoptive father, an error in the upward 
is more probable than in the downward direction, 
for Antoninus was really also called Hadrian, 
though Hadrian was not called Antoninus. The 
difference, which may perhaps amount to about 
twenty years, is of no great consequence, though, 


of course, the earlier the date, in a certain sense, 
the more important the document. 

If we wish to imagine the scene of the presenta- 
tion of the Apology, the difference between the 
two possible hearers is of much greater significance. 
In the one case, it was Hadrian, the artistic, restless, 
highly cultured Emperor, who was for ever wander- 
ing from end to end of his vast dominions, like 
Solomon, a mighty builder, but, like Solomon, a 
slave to sensual lusts, ^ and in his later years an 
eloquent preacher of the vanity and weariness of 
the world. In the other, it was Antoninus, a man of 
grave, earnest, and noble character, of simple tastes 
and kindly nature, friendly to the Christians, and 
one whose maxim for life was well expressed by 
the watchword which he gave to his soldiers on 
his death-bed, '* Aequanimitas." Even the saintly 
Marcus Aurelius, his successor and adopted son, 
was not more worthy to have sat down in the 
kingdom of heaven than the man who, as Emperor, 
bore the name of the Pious Antoninus. 

The Apology of Arts tides (who, we must 
always remember, speaks as a philosopher, not as 
a preacher) begins on this wise : — 

I, O King, by the grace of God, came into this world : 

^ The immoralities of Hadrian are, I think, an important element in the 
question to which emperor the Apology was addressed. All the empire 
knew what was the chief stain on his private character, and it happens that 
this is the vice which meets with the especial condemnation, five times 
repeated, of the Apologist. Antoninus Pius was entirely free from reproach 
on this score ; and it certainly seems more probable that Aristides (who is 
not a Hebrew prophet denouncing sin, but an Athenian philosopher pleading 
for toleration) spoke these words before Antoninus than before Hadrian. 


and having contemplated the heavens and the earth and 
the seas, and beheld the sun and the rest of the orderly 
creation, I was amazed at the arrangement of the world ; 
and I comprehended that the world and all that is therein 
are moved by the impulse of another, and I understood 
that he that moveth them is God, who is hidden in them 
and concealed from them, and this is well known that 
that which moveth is more powerful than that which 
is moved. 

Now I say that God is not begotten, not made ; a 
constant nature without beginning and without end ; im- 
mortal, complete and incomprehensible ; and in saying that 
He is complete, I mean this : that there is no deficiency 
in Him, and He stands in need of naught, but everything 
stands in need of Him ; and in saying that He is without 
beginning, I mean this : that everything which has a 
beginning has also an end, and that which has an end 
is dissoluble. He has no name, for everything that has 
a name is associated with the created. He has no like- 
ness nor composition of members, for he who possesses 
this is associated with things that are fashioned. He 
is not male, nor is He female : the heavens do not con- 
tain Him, but the heavens and all things visible and 
invisible are contained in Him. Adversary He has none, 
for there is none that is more powerful than He ; anger 
and wrath He possesses not, for there is nothing that can 
stand against Him. Error and forgetfulness are not in 
His nature, for He is altogether wisdom and understanding, 
and in Him consists all that consists. He asks no sacrifice 
and no libation, nor any of the things that are visible ; 
He asks not anything from any one, but all ask from Him. 

The orator then proceeds to divide all mankind 
into four " races " : Barbarians and Greeks, Jews 
and Christians : — 


The Barbarians reckon the head of the race of their 
reHgion from Saturn and Rhea ; the Greeks from Helenus, 
the son of Zeus ; and the Jews from Abraham. But the 
Christians reckon the beginning of their religion from 
Jesus Christ, who is named the Son of God most high ; 
and it is said that God came down from heaven, and from 
a Hebrew virgin took and clad Himself with flesh, and in 
a daughter of man there dwelt the Son of God. . . . This 
Jesus then was born of the tribe of the Hebrews ; and He 
had twelve disciples in order that a certain dispensation 
of His might be fulfilled. He was pierced by the Jews, 
and He died and was buried ; and they say that after 
three days He rose and ascended to heaven ; and then 
these twelve disciples went forth into the known parts of 
the world, and taught concerning His greatness with all 
humility and sobriety ; and on this account those also 
who to-day believe in this preaching are called Christians, 
who are well known. 

He then deals with the various forms of error 
which have been held by each of the first three 
races. The folly of the Barbarians consists in 
worshipping the elements instead of God : — 

The Greeks, though wiser than the Barbarians, have 
erred even more than they, in that they have introduced 
m^ny false gods, and some they have represented as male 
and some as female ; and some of them have turned out 
to be adulterers and murderers, and jealous and envious, 
and angry and passionate, and murderers of fathers, and 
thieves and plunderers. 

Aristides then goes through all the chronique 
scandaleuse of the gods of Olympus, Saturn's 
repasts of child's -flesh, the discreditable amours 


and transformations of Jupiter, the lameness of 
Vulcan and the knavery of Mercury ; and has not 
much difficulty in proving that beings with such 
a record attached to their names could neither be 
gods nor goddesses. 

These remarks about the folly of the idolatry 
of the Greeks are followed by an attack upon the 
Egyptians, whom the orator describes, not very 
appropriately, as ** more ignorant than all other 
nations upon the earth," and whom he justly 
derides for their worship of animals, **the sheep 
and the calf, the pig and the shad-fish, the crocodile, 
the hawk and the cormorant, the cat and the dog, 
the serpent, the asp, the lion, and the leopard/' 
As the Egyptians were not enumerated among 
the four races of men at the beginning of the 
oration, this long and ill-tempered tirade against 
them somewhat spoils the flow of the argument. 
There is reason to think that in the earliest copies 
there was " a triple division — worshippers of false 
gods, Jews, and Christians " : and that " the first 
class was subdivided into Chaldeans, Greeks, and 
Egyptians, as being the ringleaders and teachers 
of heathenism to the rest of the world." 

Aristides then devotes a short paragraph to the 
Jews, praising their monotheistic faith, and their 
imitation of God by acts of philanthropy, relief of 
the poor, ransom of captives, and burial of the 

Nevertheless they, too, have gone astray from accurate 
knowledge, and they suppose in their minds that they 


are serving God, but in actual practice their service is to 
angels, and not to God, in that they observe sabbaths, 
and new moons, and the passover, and the great fast, and 
the fast, and circumcision, and cleanness of meats : which 
things not even thus have they perfectly observed. 

Lastly he comes to the Christians, who, as he 
says, ** by going about and seeking the truth, as 
we have comprehended from their writings, are 
nearer to the truth and to exact knowledge than 
the rest of the peoples." Their superiority consists 
in their pure monotheistic faith, which bears fruit 
in a holy and beneficent life : 

On this account they do not commit adultery nor 
fornication ; they do not bear false witness ; they do not 
deny a deposit, nor covet what is not theirs ; they honour 
father and mother ; they do good to those who are their 
neighbours, and when they are judges, they judge up- 
rightly. Their wives, O King, are pure as virgins, and 
their daughters modest. As for their servants or hand- 
maids, or the children of such, they persuade them to 
become Christians for the love that they have towards 
them, and when they have become so, they call them 
without distinction brethren. They rescue the orphan 
from him who does him violence, and he who has gives to 
him who has not, without grudging. When one of their 
poor passes away from the world, and any of them sees 
him, then he provides for his burial according to his 
ability ; and if they hear that any of their number is 
imprisoned or oppressed for the name of their Messiah, 
all of them provide for his needs, and if it is possible that 
he may be delivered, they deliver him. And if there is 
among them a man that is poor or needy, and they have 
not an abundance of necessaries, they fast two or three 


days that they may supply the needy with their necessary 
food. . . . Every morning, and at all hours, on account 
of the goodness of God towards them, they praise and 
laud Him, and over their food and over their drink they 
render Him thanks. 

In conclusion, the orator appeals to **the 
writings " of the Christians, as confirming his state- 
ments of their faith and practice. He says : 

Truly this people is a new people, and there is some- 
thing divine mingled with it. I have no doubt that the 
world stands by reason of the intercession of the Christians, 
while the rest of the world are deceivers and deceived, 
grovelling before the elements of the world, groping in 
darkness, and staggering like drunken men. 

Let all those then approach to this gateway of light 
who do not know God, and let them receive incorruptible 
words, those which are so always and from eternity : let 
them therefore anticipate the dread judgment which is to 
come by Jesus the Messiah upon the whole race of men. 

The Apology of Aristides the Philosopher is ended. 

From the slight sketch here given (in which I 
have compressed the contents of sixteen pages into 
four), the reader will perhaps be able to form some 
idea of the strong and weak points of the Apology. 
Aristides is strong (as every Christian Apologist 
was strong) in his attack upon the immoral poly- 
theism of the Greeks. Old myths which had once 
expressed with beautiful poetic imagery the thoughts 
of a young race in the childhood of the world, con- 
cerning the mysterious processes of Nature, had 
become degraded and sensualised under the 
handling of generations of ungodly men till the 


mythological Heaven had become full of all manner 
of foulness and debauchery. So long as he is 
attacking these fables of *'a creed outworn," 
Aristides wins an easy victory. And when he is 
painting the pure and beneficent life of the early 
Christians, he is also interesting, if not powerful ; 
and we cannot help feeling that the picture which 
he draws is, in the main, probably a true one. 
There was still in the year 150 no material or 
social inducement to make a profession of Christi- 
anity, and we may fairly believe that though then, 
as always, there were some tares among the wheat, 
the character of Christians did for the most part 
correspond with that which is attributed to them 
by their Apologist. 

But when we have said this, I think we have 
about exhausted all that can be said in praise of 
the oration of Aristides. Though professedly the 
work of a philosopher, it contains no clear philo- 
sophical statement of the relations of Christianity to 
the false religions which it proposed to overthrow, 
or to the incomplete Jewish religion which it pro- 
posed to develop. It would not, I think, be unfair 
to say that in one sentence of Butler's Analogy 
there will be found more fruitful thought on these 
subjects than in all the sixteen pages of our 
Apologist. Nor does the orator even give us any 
good popular statement of the scheme of Christian 
doctrine. Except the two sentences, apparently 
extracted from a creed, concerning the Founder of 
the Christian religion, there is really nothing to 


explain to an intelligent inquirer what the new 
'*race" of men believed. And how could a Roman 
Emperor, however willing to be taught, gather the 
purport of the new and strange Glad-tidings from 
a short and hurried statement such as this? 
Assuredly not thus would the Apostle Paul have 
wasted his great opportunity, had he stood before 
Hadrian or Antoninus to plead for '* the faith 
once delivered to the saints." 

Moreover, it is impossible not to feel that in his 
arguments against the anthropomorphic conceptions 
of the Deity held by the Greeks, the orator uses 
some expressions which might have been easily 
turned against his own position. He is not satis- 
fied with denouncing the immoralities of the gods 
of the heathen ; he also says that it is impossible 
to think of God as lamenting or having joy over 
corruptible beings ; and the fact that Osiris was 
killed by Typhon is at once a proof that he could 
not be a God. It is easy to see how any one 
acquainted with the Christian Scriptures, and 
having read of the tears of Jesus at the grave-side 
of His friend, and of His violent and shameful 
death, would turn this argument of Aristides against 
his own clients. 

But this very defect of the recovered Apology 
constitutes, I think, its peculiar interest and value. 
We can see from its pages how the essence of 
Christianity was being silently transformed, even in 
the second century, by the process of controversy 
with Pagan antagonists. In a certain sense I would 


not shrink from confessing that the Bible, both Old 
Testament and New, does hold anthropomorphic 
language concerning God. Not only the words of 
Moses and the Prophets, which may be said to be 
accommodated to the childish nature of those to 
whom they are addressed, but even our Saviour's 
own words, through the human, figure forth for us 
the Divine. The prayer '* Our Father which art in 
Heaven," is in a certain sense "anthropomorphic" ; 
and I, who cannot worship a Force or a Stream of 
Tendency, am for ever grateful to the Teacher who, 
condescending to my weakness, has used the human 
image of a Father to help my flagging spirit '*in its 
ascensions up to heaven." But language such as 
this is really condemned by some of the arguments 
incautiously used not only by Aristides, but also by 
other early Christian philosophers.^ 

Thus we see in this work of Aristides, Chris- 
tianity, which had been originally a revelation to 
a Semitic people, gradually becoming a Greek 
philosophy. This constitutes the importance of 
the book, and gives it a profound interest. I have 
not space here to indicate the many other literary 
questions which are raised by it ; the connection 
with the "Teaching of the Apostles," and with 

^ Take, for instance, Clement's ''appalling definition of the Supreme 
Being" as summarised in Dr. Bigg's Christian Platonists of Alexandria: — 
" We know not what He is, only what He is not. He has absolutely no pre- 
dicates, no genus, no differentia, no species. . . . He is formless and name- 
less, though we sometimes give Him titles, which are not to be taken in 
their proper sense — the One, the Good, Intelligence, or Existence, or Father, 
or God, or Creator, or Lord. These are but honourable phrases, which we 
use, not because they really describe the Eternal, but that our understanding 
may have something to lean upon."' 



the apocryphal "Preaching of Peter"; or the pro- 
babihty that it may have been read by Celsus, the 
author of the " True Word," to which Origen 
repHed. For all these points, as well as for the 
strange discovery that the Apology itself has been 
lying hid for centuries in an Eastern theo- 
sophical romance, called " Barlaam and Josaphat," 
I must refer my readers to Rendel Harris's 
monograph, and to the appendix by J. Armitage 

I heartily congratulate Professor Harris on the 
important addition which he has been enabled to 
make to our knowledge of the early history of 
Christianity, and hope that he may be permitted 
to make other journeys to the East, and bring back 
like precious spoil from the land of buried faiths 
and empires. 


In a former paper under this title I gave a short 
sketch of the recently discovered *' Apology " of 
Aristides, and suggested some reasons why the 
line of argument pursued by this early champion 
of Christianity seems unsatisfactory to us, who, 
coming into the world seventeen centuries later, 
ask ourselves, " What was the nature of the struggle 
between Christianity and Paganism, and how did 
that struggle terminate ? " 

The obvious, superficial answer to the last part 
of this question is, '' Of course, Christianity was 


the conqueror. From being merely a religio licita 
(and often not even enjoying that immunity), the 
religion of the Crucified One became the dominant 
faith of the civilised world. Roman Emperors 
caused the cross to be borne at the head of their 
victorious legions. Barbarian kings bowed their 
heads low at a signal from the Christian bishop, 
and over all the fairest portion of the globe, from 
the Euphrates to the Tagus, might be heard re- 
sounding the hymns of the Christians' worship." 

Yes ; the outward victory was complete ; and if 
spiritual forces are accurately measured by the 
nation's statute-book, the fact that the laws which 
had once sought to compass the forcible suppression 
of Christianity were, in the fourth and fifth centuries, 
all turned against its foes, settles the question, and 
proves that the religion of Jesus obtained an 
absolute triumph over its opponents. Only, when 
we come to look a little closer into the matter, — 
when we apply to the wrangling bishops, the 
corrupt and sycophantic courtiers, the bloodthirsty 
and fanatical mobs of these very centuries, those 
texts by which St. Paul has taught us to distinguish 
between " the works of the Spirit" and " the works 
of the flesh " — we feel that the apparent victory 
masked a real defeat. The Pagan world seemed 
to accept the religion of the Nazarene, but, In 
accepting, transformed It into something wholly 
unlike its pure and beautiful ideal. *'The light 
shone in darkness, and the darkness comprehended 
it not." When it was turned into a dismal fog, 


blotting out the light of the sun and of the stars, 
and causing men to stumble at noonday as in the 
night-time, then the darkness was willing to accept 
it, and in many pompous words to explain its 
comprehension of it. 

The inquiry into the mutual reactions of Christi- 
anity and Paganism is not one of merely academic 
interest. If it be true (as I am persuaded it is 
true, and that men will more and more clearly 
recognise), that the nominal victory of Christianity 
was purchased at the cost of assimilating Christianity 
in some important points to the Paganism which 
surrounded it, we have at once an explanation — at 
least a partial explanation — of the cause of its com- 
parative failure to purify and regenerate the world ; 
and we have also an indication of the purifying 
process to which it must itself submit before it 
can become a truly world-wide religion. 

We are distressed, and rightly distressed, at 
the slow progress which the religion of our Saviour 
makes among the vast populations of Asia, — 
Mohammedans, Brahmins, Buddhists, Confucians. 
But who shall say if the slow rate of progress is 
not due to the fact that we have been presenting 
to them, not the pure, unalloyed truth, as the 
Saviour of men Himself presented it to the women 
of Samaria or to His disciples in Gethsemane, but 
that truth blended with foreign or even hurtful 
ingredients, derived from Roman jurisconsults, 
Greek philosophers, and Anglo - Saxon traders ? 
It may be that some of those spiritual conflicts 


which our generation is sadly passing through, 

Still struggles in the Age's breast ! 
With deepening agony of quest, 
The old entreaty, " Art thou He ? 
Or look we for the Christ to be ? " 

are in truth but the travail-pangs which shall bring 
to birth a deeper and simpler Christianity ; true, 
not for the Aryan races only, but for the Semitic 
and the Turanian also ; a religion which shall pour 
the new wine of the kingdom into the vessels of 
Confucian morality, and shall persuade the world- 
weary disciple of Buddha that there is something 
better in store for him than annihilation. 

Should some future Aristides, in framing his 
Apology for our Faith, enter deeply and seriously 
into the consideration of "Christianity conquered 
as well as conquering," he will probably find that 
he has to contemplate the influence of Paganism 
on Christianity under three chief aspects : — 

1. Greek Philosophy. 

2. The State-religion of the Roman Empire. 

3. The faiths of the barbarians of the West and 
of the great Oriental nations. 

I. The bearing of Greek philosophy on the 
development of the Christian religion is far too 
vast a subject to be even hinted at here. I would 
only remark that it was through her philosophy 
and not through her mythology that the Hellenic 
mind was really influencing the world when the 
early Apologists were writing. It was natural and 


it was easy for the Christian Fathers to point out 
the absurdity of supposing that Jupiter had trans- 
formed himself into a bull and galloped with Europa 
across the sea. The shower of gold that visited 
the imprisoned Danae, the strained conjugal rela- 
tions that existed between the King and Queen 
of Heaven, the rogueries of Mercury and the 
servitude of Apollo, — all these products of the 
myth-making faculty of 

The lively Grecian in a land of hills, 

Rivers and fertile plains and sounding shores, 

Under a cope of sky more variable, 

had long ceased to be believed by men of reflection 
and intelligence. They were like our stories of 
fairies and pixies, toys which remind us of the 
childhood of the world, and which may still retain 
a certain place in poetry and fiction, but do not 
really satisfy any craving of man's spiritual nature, 
and are not entitled to claim for themselves the 
great name of religious faith. 

But the speculations of Greek philosophers exer- 
cised a very different influence on the minds and 
souls of men. All through the early Christian 
centuries, Plato, Epicurus, Zeno, were profoundly 
affecting the thoughts of the best part of the human 
race, on the great questions which lie at the root 
of all religion. Stoicism, especially, had formed 
for itself something very like a Church, and 
numbered among its members some of the noblest 
spirits of the time. It could point to its saints, 
Epictetus and Aurelius ; to its martyrs, Cato and 


Seneca. But having merely indicated this fact, 
that it was the Philosophy, not the Mythology, 
of Hellas which was the real rival of Christianity 
in the second century, I must pass on from that 
subject to consider the second great antagonistic 
influence, the State-religion of the Empire. 

2. The religion of the Roman people was singu- 
larly unlike the poetical mythology of Hellas, with 
which it had been almost violently identified. It 
was easy to say that the goddess of the harvest- 
field, who was called Ceres at Rome, must be the 
same deity as the Demeter of the Greeks. *' Jupiter, 
best and greatest," must be the Zeus who sat on 
the summit of Olympus. Vulcan must be Hephaestus, 
and Venus, Aphrodite. To impose upon the old 
deities of Latium these famous Hellenic names 
was as easy as to clothe a regiment of Turkish 
Bashi-bazouks in European uniform ; but, after 
all, the heart of the matter remained unchanged. 
The " Dii Indigetes," the home-gods of Latium, 
were a colder, more abstract, but also more moral 
set of beings than the gay but lawless tribe who 
inhabited the Greek Olympus. The Roman of 
the early Republic was stern, selfish, and prosaic ; 
he could also, when occasion offered, be pitilessly 
cruel ; but he knew what Conscience meant, and 
he owned that he was under a Law ; and such 
a man, who reverenced the sanctity of family 
life, could not make to himself utterly unmoral 

The general characteristic, however, of Roman 


indigenous theology, was Its abstract and shadowy 
character, its utter lack of the charm of form and 
colour, which, with all their wickedness, was to be 
found in the gods of Greece. The tribe of lesser 
divinities, which, as Varro tells us, presided over the 
events of human life ; the god Vaticanus, who gave 
the baby -lungs power to emit the first cry after 
birth ; the god Fabulinus, who taught him to utter 
his first intelligible word; the god Educa, who enabled 
him to eat ; the goddess Potina, who showed him 
how to drink ; Cuba, who soothed him in his little 
crib at night ; — all of them are, as one feels, abstrac- 
tions, not living personalities ; and it is no marvel 
if their worship failed to hold itself erect in pres- 
ence of the vivid, poetical mythology of Greece, or 
the sensational, orgiastic worships of Egypt and 

Still, if I am not mistaken, there was something 
in the old Roman religion which did communicate 
itself to the infant Christianity. The Romans had 
been accustomed for centuries to the sight of a 
succession of priests and fiamens and supreme 
pontiffs, who possessed a purely official right to 
mediate between man and his Maker. The Pontifex 
Maximus was like the Minister of Public Worship 
under the present Republic of France, a man who 
need neither have, nor profess to have, any spiritual 
gifts or weight of religious character, but who was 
designated by the popular voice for the discharge of 
certain official duties. At Rome he might be even a 
professed Freethinker, as Julius Caesar was when he 


held this office ; but all that was required of him 
was as much respectability of private character as 
was expected from any other public officer, and the 
faithful performance of certain ceremonies which 
the State, for the State's own sake, in order to avert 
the anger of the gods, without any thought of 
religious edification, ordered to be performed in 
the temples of Rome. Can we not see how easily, 
when faith was growing cold in the Christian Church, 
this official view of the members of the hierarchy 
was likely to prevail? "True," it might be said, 
*'the bishop of this see or the patriarch of that 
Metropolitan Church is * alienated from the life of 
God through the ignorance that is in him ' ; by not 
one word or action does he remind us of the Master 
whom he pretends to serve ; but after all he is the 
bishop, or he is the patriarch, and no one else has 
so good a right as he to offer * the bloodless sacri- 
fice ' on behalf of our city." Of all the many evil 
lessons which Christianity has learned from Pagan- 
ism, few have done her more harm than this notion 
of an official holiness, a right conferred by office to 
interpose between the soul and its Maker. 

It is a less important resemblance, but I think 
we may also trace some influence of the religious 
mind of ancient Rome on the liturgical and ritual- 
istic development of Christianity.^ Here is the 

^ If any one should think it a fanciful suggestion that the Christian Church 
borrowed some elements from Pagan Rome, I would ask him to consider 
how much ecclesiastical literature has gathered round the one word 
' ' sacrament. " And yet this word is, beyond all contradiction, taken over 
from Pagan Rome, being the word used to describe the oath of military 
fidelity which was taken by the Roman legionaries. 


description, which an inquirer (who is not think- 
ing of any parallel between heathen and Papal 
Rome) gives of the character of the old Roman 
worship : — 

The Romans supposed that the gods resemble the 
Praetor, and that before them, as before the judges, one 
will lose one's cause, if the request which is presented to 
them is not in the proper form. When you do not know 
what you ought to say to them, you go to inquire of the 
pontifices. These are the consecrated jurisconsults, insti- 
tuted for the express purpose of watching over the 
scrupulous maintenance of all the details of worship- 
[How exactly these words describe a recent suit about 
ritual in the Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury.] 
They have books in which all is foreseen, and which 
contain prayers for all occasions. These prayers greatly 
resemble the formulae of jurisprudence. Eastern nations, 
accustomed to abandon themselves to the impulses of 
their hearts when they pray, find them prolix and diffuse. 
'' Use not vain repetitions," says Christ in the Gospel of 
St. Matthew, " as the heathen do, for they think that they 
shall be heard for their much speaking." This abundance 
of words, which is especially remarkable in the ritual of 
the Roman religion, arises from the necessity of being 
clear. The Roman who prays is always afraid of not 
expressing clearly what he wishes to say ; he is careful to 
repeat things several times over, in order to be perfectly 
understood. As he does not wish to leave any room for 
ambiguity, he does not hesitate to give precision to his 
thoughts by material means. When he dedicates a 
temple, he lays hold of the door ; he touches the earth 
whenever he pronounces the word tellus ; he lifts his 
arms to heaven when he speaks of Jupiter, and strikes 
his breast when the prayer refers to himself. If the gods 


do not understand him, it certainly will not be the fault 
of the worshipper.^ 

Who can read a passage like this, and call to mind 
many of the characteristic features of '' Catholic " 
ritual, the reiterated prayers of the Litany, the use 
of the sign of the Cross, the bowing at the name 
of Jesus and at the '* Gloria Patri," the turning to 
the East at the recitation of the Creed and so forth, 
and not feel that the wonderful race who conquered 
the world were not utterly beaten when they came 
in conflict with the religion of Jesus ? Rome pro- 
fessed to bow the knee to Nazareth, but she suc- 
ceeded in impressing something of her own character 
on the religion which came forth from Galilee. The 
voice of the Roman fiamen — a voice of this world 
— still partially overpowers the deep, low voice of 
Christ, a voice out of Eternity, *'Your Father 
knoweth what things ye have need of before ye 
ask Him." 

I might multiply examples of this kind of borrow- 
ing by Christianity from the rites of Pagan Rome. 
I might point out that the Emperor Claudius, on the 
day of his triumph, mounted the steps of the Capitol 
on his knees, just as pilgrims are this very day 
ascending on their knees the steps of the Scala 
Santa ; that the processions, the dressings and 
undressings, the sittings down and risings up of 
the Arval brethren, seem almost like a parody of 
a High Mass performed in some cathedral on one 

1 Boissier, Religion romaine, i. i6, a book from which many of the 
facts used in this paper are drawn, and which I can strongly recommend to 
any one who desires to study the subject more fully. 


of the great days of the Church ; that these same 
Arval brethren chanted a prayer in the ancient 
dialect, which had become as unintelligible to them 
as the Latin of the mass-book is to a peasant of 
Brittany ; that the lighting of candles in the day- 
time was a well-known rite of Roman paganism ; and 
that a ceremony resembling extreme unction seems 
sometimes to have taken place by heathen death- 
beds.^ But the subject is one which has been often 
treated of by ecclesiastical historians, and probably 
no candid Catholic apologist would deny that many 
rites and ceremonies were thus taken over by the 
Christian Church from Paganism ; only he would 
say, as Keble does in one of his most beautiful 
hymns,^ that this was an allowable, nay praise- 
worthy, "spoiling of the Egyptians," an adoption 
by the new and conquering faith of usages and 
practices which had been for many generations 
associated with thoughts of worship, and which, 
not being absolutely idolatrous, might lawfully be 
received into the service of the sanctuary. 

There is still, however, one side of Roman 
Paganism to which no reference has yet been made, 
and which ought to be noticed, since it was that 
with which the Christian martyrs came most fre- 
quently into collision — I mean the worship of the 
deified Emperors. To a believer in the central 

' A bas-relief in the Louvre shows us, by the bed of a woman who is at 
the point of death, and by the side of her weeping family, priests and the 
apparatus of sacrifice (Boissier, i. 345). 

2 "See Lucifer like lightning fall" (Hymn for the Third Sunday in 


doctrine of Christianity it must ever be an astound- 
ing marvel that in the same age of the world such 
a truth and such a lie — the Incarnation of the Son 
of God and the Apotheosis of the Roman Caesars 
— should have existed side by side. It seems as 
if then, as ever, when the good seed was being 
sown in the field of the world, the enemy was 
bent on sowing his Zizania, which should grow 
up alongside of the wheat and bear some strange 
resemblance to it ; as if by some magical incanta- 
tion a lurid fire had been kindled, which was to 
throw a ghastly and mocking shadow of the Eternal 
Verity on the wall of human life. Listen to the 
well-known words of **the Word who was made 
flesh and dwelt among us," as spoken to His 
sorrowing disciples on the eve of His departure : — 
" And ye now therefore have sorrow : but I will 
see you again and your heart shall rejoice, and 
your joy no man taketh from you. And in that 
day ye shall ask me nothing : verily, verily, I 
say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father 
in my name He will give it you. Hitherto have 
ye asked nothing in my name : ask and ye shall 
receive, that your joy may be full." And now hear 
the words which the deified master of the world, 
Tiberius, from his delicious retreat in sunny 
Caprese, addressed to the trembling Senate of his 
slaves: — **What I shall write to you, Conscript 
Fathers, or how I shall write, or what I shall not 
write at this time, may the gods and goddesses 
plague me yet worse with their torments (though 


under those torments I feel that I am daily perishing) 
if I know." Strange and almost overwhelming 
thought ! Each of these men was worshipped as 
God. He who had the calm outlook backward and 
forward into the Eternal World, and who with a 
soul that was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death, 
and almost under the shadow of the felon's cross, 
spoke with this serene assurance of the fulness of 
joy which lay before his faithful followers ; and he 
who, at the very summit of the world, could not 
hide from those who trembled at his frown the 
utter and hopeless misery of his soul, the blackness 
of darkness which lay about his path. 

Fearful as was the error involved in the deifica- 
tion of even the best of the Emperors, it is not 
difficult to see how the practice took root in the 
soil of Paganism. It had long been a favourite 
thought of the heathen world that great men, when 
they died, ascended to heaven, and shared in the 
banquets of the gods. The servile nations of the 
East, the Syrians and Egyptians, had anticipated 
this posthumous glorification, and offered divine 
honours in their lifetime to their kings, the Antiochi 
and the Ptolemies. To republican Rome this kind 
of adulation was odious; but when the great Julius 
fell under the dagger of assassins the popular grief 
and indignation at his murder demanded some such 
recognition of his greatness. Signs and portents 
were seen by the excited populace, and even the 
Senate, which had hated him when alive, was 
obliged to sanction the worship of divus Jztlius 


after his death. Under Augustus the movement 
went steadily forward. The poets helped it by 
their lays. ** Deus nobis haec otia fecit" (a god 
hath given us this rest) sang Virgil ; and Horace 
says, with what seems to us amusing naivetd, " As 
we believe in Jupiter's godship when we hear him 
thundering from heaven, so we must look upon 
Augustus as a present divinity now that the Britons 
and the dreaded Parthians have bowed to his sway." 
Still, the prudence of Augustus, who saw how the 
Eastern adoration of the sovereign would jar upon 
the old republican spirit of Rome, kept the practice 
in some sort of bounds during his lifetime. The 
provinces, which were for the most part honestly 
desirous to express their gratitude to the wonderful 
statesman who had established the Pax Romana 
over nearly the whole habitable globe, were per- 
mitted to raise temples and altars to Augustus 
and Rome. 

Cautiously and tentatively the new Emperor- 
worship was introduced into the other cities of 
Italy ; but apparently, so long as Augustus lived, 
not into Rome itself. Upon the death of that 
Emperor the torrent of adulation, gratitude, enthu- 
siasm, burst all barriers. He was at once enrolled 
amongst the gods as divus Augustus, and the eagle 
which soared up to heaven from his funeral pyre 
typified the ascent of the Imperial spirit to the 
stars. From this time onward the deification of 
the Emperors became almost a matter of course. 
A madman like Caligula would insist upon claiming 


divine honours during his life. He had a gallery 
built from the Palatine to the Capitoline Hill, 
that he might, when he wished, pay a visit to 
his brother deity Jupiter of the Capitol, and he 
expected his courtiers to believe him when he 
averred that he was nightly visited by the goddess 
Luna. However, when the magnificent madmen of 
the Julian line had vanished from the scene, and 
sober common sense, in the persons of the Flavian 
and Antonine Emperors, ascended the throne, a some- 
what less preposterous version of the Apotheosis 
prevailed, and the Emperor was not deemed to 
have "increased the number of the gods" till the 
spirit had parted from the body. Hence it was 
that the homely old Emperor Vespasian said (with 
a little touch of humour), as he felt his end 
approaching, " Already I perceive that I am be- 
coming a god." 

To us, who have lived for generations under 
the sway of the solemn words, '* Hear, O Israel, 
the Lord thy God is one Lord," the actual deifica- 
tion of Emperors, living or dead, seems like the 
dream of a lunatic. But perhaps the Positivists' 
worship of Humanity may help us somewhat to 
understand the state of mind in which such a 
dream was possible, and it is also a little ex- 
plained to us by the fascination which some of 
the great figures of history have exerted upon 
their contemporaries. Had Europe and America 
been for some centuries polytheistic, it might 
not have been a difficult matter to procure the 


deification of a Washington, a Napoleon, or a 

But whatever was its origin, or its imagined 
justification, there is no doubt that the worship of 
the Emperor was the one element in Paganism 
most terrible to the early Church. The Roman 
State was not by its nature a persecutor, and it 
was extremely tolerant of diversities of theological 
opinion among its subjects. A mere speculative 
belief, that the Son of God had become incarnate, 
and had lived and died in Palestine, would perhaps 
have brought no martyr to the stake ; but when the 
holder of it refused, at the bidding of the Praetor, 
to throw a little incense on the flame as a sacrifice 
'*to the Genius of the Emperor" (that modified 
worship was always rendered in the Emperor's 
lifetime), then it was clear that the recusant was 
a disloyal subject, and that if the judge let such an 
one go unpunished '* he was not Caesar's friend." 

The strange thing to notice is, that so deeply 
did the Apotheosis of the Emperors root itself in 
the political system of Rome, and so many harm- 
less, or even beneficent, practices clustered around 
it, that it did not perish even with the triumph of 
Christianity. Constantine himself permitted, under 
certain conditions, the inhabitants of Hispellum to 
erect a temple in his honour, and, for at least a 
century after the publication of the Edict of Milan, 
a deceased Emperor — though he had been a fervent 
Christian in his lifetime, was always spoken of as 
divus. His palace was still **the divine house"; 


his charitable gifts were ''the sacred largesses " : and 
everything about him bore a sacrosanct character. 
It is thus indirectly from the Imperial Apotheosis 
that the Churches of Christendom have derived 
the flattering titles which they apply officially to 
the head of the State, however unspiritual or un- 
moral his character may be. The sad necessity 
which lay upon a conscientious Anglican priest of 
speaking of " His most Sacred Majesty Charles II.," 
or "our most religious and gracious King George 
IV.," was derived by lineal succession from the 
determination of the Roman multitude that the 
mighty Julius should be enthroned above the stars. 
3. Lastly, something must be said concerning 
those barbaric religions both of the East and West, 
which were jostling for precedence both with the 
old classical religions and with the new-born 
Christianity during the centuries from Augustus to 
Constantine. The religion of Rome was, as I have 
said, remarkably tolerant, — nay, more than tolerant, 
— anxious to conciliate the other religions with 
which it came in contact. When the legions en- 
compassed a city to take it, one of the first cares 
of the general was to pronounce the evocatio, in 
which the gods of the besieged city were solemnly 
invited to quit its doomed enclosure, and to come 
and dwell in all-conquering Rome, where temples 
and sacrifices should be theirs. Again, when the 
legions found themselves quartered in newly con- 
quered countries, they ever showed their earnest 
desire to conciliate the favour of the stranger gods 


upon whose domain they were trespassing. Almost 
any museum containing Roman inscribed stones 
will furnish proofs of this assertion. In our 
Antiquarian Museum at Newcastle there is a little 
altar inscribed **dis cvltoribvs hvivs loci ivl 
VICTOR TRIE." "To the gods who foster this place 
Julius Victor the Tribune " dedicates his altar. 
Julius Victor, who is, as we should say, the Colonel 
of the regiment (quartered at Halitaneum, near the 
pleasant valley of the Rede), knows little about the 
gods who have a fostering care of "this place"; 
but whoever they are, he wishes to be on good 
terms with them, and accordingly has his little 
altar carved in their honour. Hard by is an altar 
dedicated by Julius Firminus, a Decurion, " dis 
MOVNTiBVS," which is interpreted (somewhat, it must 
be confessed, in defiance of grammar) " to the gods of 
the mountains." Here is one dedicated by Audacus 
to the god Belatucader, in discharge of a vow 
for his safety. Here is one to Cocidius and the 
Genius of the garrison. And here — almost the 
finest objects in the whole collection — are two 
magnificent altars which were found, some five- 
and-twenty years ago, in making a new flower-bed 
in a gentleman's garden at Benwell. They bear 
long and easily deciphered inscriptions, recording 
that they are dedicated to the god Anociticus or 
Antenociticus, for their witness is not quite 
coherent as to the spelling of the name. We know 
nothing more of the habits or characters of these 
strange and uncouthly named divinities, only that 


the officers of the legion, who were living doubtless 
among their British worshippers, wished to be on 
good terms with them. The motive for the 
erection of these altars appears to be exactly the 
same which led the Cuthites and the Avites and 
the Sepharvites, who were settled in the land of 
Israel after the captivity of its inhabitants, to desire 
instruction as to "the manner of the God of the 
land, because Jehovah sent lions among them which 
slew some of them." ^ Even so these Roman 
soldiers in the long nights of winter, in the dark 
November days, when the dreary north wind was 
whistling through the vast primeval forests around 
them, were filled with ghostly terrors, from which 
they felt that the bright and joyous gods of the 
south land could not guard them, and sought to 
propitiate the unknown gods who have held sway 
in this desolate island for centuries, to make their 
peace with Belatucader and Anociticus (or whatever 
his name may be), and Cocidius, and all the gods 
who fostered this wild place. 

In the same museum is to be found one of the 
most interesting religious monuments of the Roman 
Empire, the well-known confession of faith of a 
Roman centurion. The Iambics in which this 
curious creed is recorded may be thus translated : — 

The Virgin by the Lion hath her throne, 
Bringer of corn, of laws, of cities free ; 

By all which gifts the blessed gods are known, 
Mother of gods, Peace, Virtue, Ceres, She, 

1 2 Kings xvii. 25, 26. 


And Syrian Goddess — all these names are hers 
Who weighs both Life and Laws in equal scale, 

Her star first shone on Syrian worshippers, 

Who thence to Libya spread the wondrous tale. 

Thus, taught by thee, we all do understand. 

This faith, oh Goddess, I upon this stone, 
Tribune and Prefect, serving in this land, 

Marcus Caecilius Donatianus, own.^ 

This curious little bit of religious autobiography 
reveals to us an officer of high rank, serving in 
Britain, who professes his boundless trust and vene- 
ration for the Dea Syria, whose worship had spread 
from Antioch to Carthage, and whom he identifies 
with Ceres and with Rhea, mother of the gods.^ 
Moreover, he considers that she is the same being 
with the Virgin whose constellation stretches in the 
zodiac from Leo to Libra, and whose radiant ear of 
corn (Spica Virginis) certainly favours her identifica- 
tion with Ceres. But we are here upon the threshold 
of the Oriental religions, — a most interesting subject 
of inquiry, but one upon which I will not now 

* The original runs thus : — 


^ Since writing the above paper I have come to the conclusion that this 
inscription is probably in reality a sort of apotheosis of Julia Domna, 
herself a Syrian, and wife of the African -born Emperor Severus (see 
Archaeologia Aeliana^ 1899, pp. 289-292). 


enter. Meanwhile, however, I would remark that 
in the gallant devotion of M. Caecilius Donatianus 
to his goddess, we already see how the soil is being 
prepared for the worship of another Virgin than her 
of the Zodiac or the Dea Syria. It may have been 
three centuries after Donatianus ordered his con- 
fession of faith to be engraved on stone, that another 
and more famous general (Narses) ''used to pro- 
pitiate the Deity with prayers and other acts of 
piety, paying due honour also to the Virgin and 
Mother of God, so that she distinctly announced to 
him the proper season for action ; and he never 
engaged until he had received the signal from her." ^ 
If Narses, the Christian, had left us the true record 
of his religious convictions, they probably would 
not have been on a much higher level than the 
quaint creed of Marcus Caecilius Donatianus. 

^ Evagrius, Hist, EccL iv, 24. 


{Address at Cambridge^ Free Church Summer School^ 1907) 

I HAVE undertaken to say something to-night about 
the prospects of Protestantism in our country. I 
cannot speak on this subject without explaining why 
I cling to the name — by no means so widely accepted 
in England as it once was — which recalls the great 
Protest made by the German Reformers at the 
Diet of Spires in 1529; nor can I defend that 
name without seeming to attack that which in the 
general usage of European nations is accepted as 
its antithesis, the word Catholic. 

Much as I dislike polemics, there will therefore 
be somewhat of a polemical tone in the following 
pages. But I hope I shall be preserved from that 
bitter and acrimonious spirit which has sometimes 
spoiled the utterances of Protestant controversialists 
in past days. I remember, and for my own part I 
condemn, some of the language which was used 
about our Catholic fellow-Christians at the time of 
** the Papal Aggression " and throughout the middle 
of last century. The religion of some of our 
countrymen at that day seemed chiefly to consist in 



chalking up ** No Popery " on the walls, or shouting 
it at popular meetings, sometimes accompanying 
the anathema with terms of vulgar abuse, which one 
would gladly banish from one's memory. I need not 
say that this is not the spirit in which I or any of 
my audience desires that the question should be 

I think perhaps Tolerance comes more easily into 
our spirits from the daily increasing sense of our 
own littleness and ignorance. Here are we on this 
little island of an earth, living our short and 
precarious life, with thick mists hanging over the 
Whence and Whither of our being. What are we 
that we should anathematise and condemn ? Our 
Catholic fellow-Christians are confideat that theirs 
is the only way of Salvation. The Church is to 
them the one Ark of Safety riding over the stormy 
waves of a deluge - covered earth : and Extra 
Ecclesiam nulla salus. It is this very conviction 
of theirs which in past ages often made them cruel, 
causing them to drag with remorseless hands the 
heretic from his place of refuge, and to force him 
even by martyrdom into the only true Church. 

We are persuaded that they were utterly mis- 
taken, that their Church is no sole Ark of Safety 
riding on a pathless sea ; but has often been an 
ill-found ship full of fever and pestilence, and that 
sometimes pirates have boarded her and, under the 
Banner of the Cross, have steered her to strange 
shores, where they have sold her unhappy passengers 
into cruel slavery. Still let us gladly recognise that 


this has not always been her history, and that many 
a saintly soul has been borne by her over the ocean 
of life to the desired haven, to that "rest" which 
**remaineth for the people of God." 

One of the most precious of the sayings of Christ, 
one of the most helpful for the needs of the present 
age, is contained in two verses of the Gospel of 
Mark (ix. 38-40). 

And John answered and said, '' Master, we saw 
one casting out devils in thy name, and he 
followeth not us : and we forbad him, because he 
followeth not us." But Jesus said, ** Forbid him 
not : for there is no man which shall do a miracle in 
my name that can lightly speak evil of me. For he 
that is not against us is on our part." 

These verses I take to be our Master's standing 
order to His disciples through all succeeding 
ages, as to their relation one to another. By this 
truly golden rule ought the intercourse of the 
Greek Church with the Roman, of Catholic with 
Protestant, of Episcopalian with Presbyterian, of 
Congregationalist with Wesleyan, of Baptist with 
Quaker to have been regulated. 

**This Eastern Patriarch," you say, ''does not 
recognise the primacy of the Pope : these Scottish 
Churches have rejected the government of Bishops : 
these Methodists have a conference instead of a 
presbytery : these Quakers have disused the baptism 
by water." We will forbid them because they follow 
not with us. 

" Not so," the Master seems to say to us, now in 


this twentieth century. " Are those men with whom 
you are so grievously offended working spiritual 
miracles in My name ? Are they casting out the 
devils of intemperance, of gambling, of lust ? Are 
they bringing men in any way nearer to My likeness? 
Are they making the home sweeter, happier, fuller 
of My spirit of sympathy and love ? Are they at 
all working for the coming of My Father's Kingdom 
of righteousness and peace? If so — I need not 
say, Do not burn them or torture them : only the 
devils which they have cast out would venture on 
such wickedness as that — but do not even * forbid ' 
them. In My Father's house are many resting- 
places ; and you will find that there is room there for 
them as well as for you." 

In the face of this mighty command I find it hard 
to understand how the upholders of what is called 
*'The Apostolic Succession" can even dream of 
" unchurching " the Christian communities which 
do not accept the government by Bishops. But 
then let us always remember that the command is 
for Christians of this day a two-edged sword. If 
" Judah shall not vex Ephraim, also Ephraim must 
not envy Judah." With all our abhorrence of many 
of the methods of the Medieval Church we must 
not forget the services which she often rendered to 
Christianity and Civilisation ; her Missionary zeal, 
to which we owe the conversion of our own fore- 
fathers ; her preservation of the Scriptures, the 
protests which she often made against the immorality 
of kings ; her efforts for the enfranchisement of 


slaves ; her frequent endeavours to promote peace 
between Christian sovereigns. Throughout those 
ten Christian centuries she was constantly casting 
out devils in the name of Christ, and, therefore, we 
must not wholly ban her memory. And the 
Catholics of to-day : widely as we differ from them, 
we can only admire and reverence the work which 
thousands of them are doing to lessen the misery of 
the down-trodden ones in our great cities. We 
gladly recognise that at any rate in our own land 
their influence is generally thrown on the side of 
purity and of temperance. I would go even further 
and say that among the really devout and earnest 
Catholics a peculiar type of character has been 
evolved, fervid in its gentleness, strong and noble 
in its self-surrender — the type of character which 
was seen long ago in St. Francis, in Thomas a 
Kempis, and in Fra Angelico, and that this type, 
though not absent from the Protestant Churches, 
grows not so easily in our somewhat stiffer soil and 
amid the blasts of our theological controversies. 
Therefore while we say with St. Paul, '' To whom 
we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour," 
we say also, " We would not if we could forbid you." 
We are persuaded that in your Church and in ours 
there are a countless host who are really one 
another's brethren in Christ, though a confusion of 
tongues like that of Babel prevents their recognising 
their common brotherhood. 

I come back to the question concerning the 
name "Protestant," whether we do well to retain 


it on our banners. Fully admitting that the title 
of " Christian " should be sufficient for all believers 
in Christ, I still hold that so long as the Roman 
Church clings to the name of Catholic, and brands 
us as heretics for refusing her claim to rule over 
us, we cannot dispense with that word which recalls 
the great Protest made at the foot of the throne of 
the Emperor Charles V., that word which justifies 
and claims a share in the great liberating movement 
of the sixteenth century. The word Protestant, it 
seems to me, is in Church History very much the 
same as the word Metamorphic in Geology. Where 
certain stratified rocks, the result of the slow deposit 
of ages, have come in contact with the fiery streams 
of lava or basalt bursting upwards from the eternal 
fire beneath our feet, they undergo a change of 
texture which the geologist can at once recognise, 
and which he denotes by the word Metamorphic. 
Now, at the Reformation even such a change 
passed upon the Christianity of Europe. It affected 
even the countries which remained in the obedience 
of Rome. No careful student of history will deny 
that post-Tridentine Catholicism is a different thing 
— in some respects, I believe, a better thing — than 
the Catholicism of the Popes of Avignon. But as 
to England, the Scandinavian countries, and most 
of Northern Germany, the change is obvious. 
These nations can no more ignore the transforma- 
tion which they have undergone than the Meta- 
morphic schists can re-make themselves into the 
primitive sedimentary rocks out of which they have 


been evolved. Can you imagine any of these 
countries submitting to that financial system which 
under the name of Annates, Reservations and so 
forth diverted large portions of the wealth of the 
nation — not as a matter of voluntary generosity, 
but as a persistently urged claim of right^ — into the 
coffers of the Roman Curia ? Or the subordination 
of the common law of the realm to the canon law, 
founded as we now know the canon law to have 
been on the forged and fraudulent '* Decretals of 
Isidore " ? Or can you imagine even the Pope 
himself so utterly uninfluenced by the spirit of 
the age as to say with Boniface VIII., '* Therefore 
we declare and pronounce that it is of the necessity 
of faith that every human creature should be subject 
to the Roman Pontiff." "All persons of whatever 
rank must appear when summoned before the 
apostolical tribunal of Rome, since such is the 
pleasure of Us, who by divine permission rule 
the world." 

We have only to contrast the history of our 
own country for the last four centuries with the 
history of Austria or of Spain to realise the im- 
mense change in the national character — a change, 
I freely admit, not all for good — which has been 
wrought by the Reformation. What, then, is to be 
gained by ignoring that change ^, Why the word 
Protestant should be ruled out as unbecoming and 
ill-bred by the compilers of our latest ecclesiastical 
fashion-books, who have not as yet taken the last 
step and submitted themselves toto corde to the 


authority of the See of Rome, it is not easy to 

But, undoubtedly, for the whole of this anti- 
Protestant movement we have chiefly to thank 
one man whose influence, with all our admiration 
for his saintly sweetness of character, we feel to 
have been most disastrous on our countrymen ; I 
mean, of course, John Henry Newman. I have 
sometimes thought that if one were called upon to 
give the names of the two men (both of them sons 
of the nineteenth century), whose influence has 
been the most fatal to the true progress of the 
human race, one would have to name Bismarck 
and Newman. It will seem paradoxical to some 
of my audience thus to couple together the remorse- 
less man of blood and iron and the delicate-fibred, 
almost over-conscientious doctor of theology ; but 
my point is that the influence of both these men 
tended to bring us back into bondage. Europe in 
the middle of the nineteenth century had some 
aspirations after a reign of righteousness and peace ; 
Germany had still an Ideal ; when the Pomeranian 
squire, with his jack-boots and clanking sword, 
stalked on to the stage and said, " Brute Force is 
the only arbiter ; down with the Idealists and their 
dreams ; I am going to make Deutschland supreme ; 
no matter how many millions of lives are sacrificed ; 
no matter how many falsehoods I may have to tell ; 
by Blood and Iron I will prevail." And thus, as 
I conceive, has Otto von Bismarck put back the 
clock of human progress for a century. 


Now think what might have been the course 
of religious history in England had Newman never 
lived. If we may imagine a spirit from the other 
world looking forth upon our nation seventy or 
eighty years ago, he would surely have seen there 
much religious earnestness, but coupled therewith, 
no doubt, a good deal of superficiality and cant. 
But knowing, as such a spirit surely would do, that 
the thoughts of men were about to undergo a 
momentous change, that the stupendous discoveries 
of science, the freshly disclosed marvels of the 
telescope and the microscope, the more thorough 
and critical study of all the literatures of the ancient 
world, and the comparative anatomy of Religions 
were about to compel a new orientation in Theology, 
different from that which had prevailed for three 
centuries, would he not have perceived that wise 
and tender guidsincQ /orward, in the path of believ- 
ing freedom, was the one great necessity for the 
religious mind of England ? 

Instead thereof a teacher arose, with marvellous 
powers of persuasion, steeped in the lore of the 
Early Fathers, ignorant of the real wants and 
tendencies of his own age, seeing only too clearly 
the superficiality and cant of much of the fashion- 
able religion of the time, and rushing to the lament- 
able conclusion that the only way to eradicate these 
was *' to un-Protestantise, un-Miltonise " his country- 
men, and lead them back into Medievalism. We 
had struggled out into a land of religious freedom : 
and there seemed a possibility of at least all the 


Protestant Churches in our land coming to a better 
mutual understanding and working together, in 
the spirit of Christ, for the elevation of their 
countrymen. Then the Oxford Movement began, 
urging us back towards the land of bondage, 
separating brother from brother, reviving once 
more the jargon of forgotten controversies : and 
(when I think of some of the absurdities of the 
Lives of the Saints which it put forth) erecting 
a calf in those days and saying, *' These be thy 
gods, oh Israel, which brought thee out of the land 
of Egypt." 

To understand the meaning of '' The Oxford 
Movement," one should of course study and re- 
study that great piece of religious autobiography, 
Newman's Apologia pro Vita sua, a book which 
I read with earnest interest when it came out in 
numbers forty-three years ago, and which I have 
always loved, while I have utterly differed from its 
conclusions. One sees from that book that it was 
the history of the Monophysite controversy of the 
fifth and sixth centuries which finally dislodged 
Newman from his cherished Via Media, and shunted 
him off" into the Roman obedience. 

About the middle of June [1839] I began to study 
and master the history of the Monophysites. I was 
absorbed in the doctrinal question. This was from about 
I 3th June to 30th August. It was during this course of 
reading that for the first time a doubt came upon me of 
the tenableness of Anglicanism. I recollect, on the 30th 
of July, mentioning to a friend whom I had accidentally 


met how remarkable the history was : but by the end of 
August 1 was seriously alarmed. 

I have described in a former work how the history 
affected me. My stronghold was antiquity : now here, 
in the middle of the fifth century, I found, as it seemed 
to me, Christendom of the sixteenth and seventeenth 
centuries reflected. I saw my face in that mirror, and I 
was a Monophysite. The Church of the via media was 
in the position of the Oriental Communion. Rome was 
where she now is, and the Protestants were the Eutychians. 
Of all passages of history, since history has been, who 
would have thought of going to the sayings and doings 
of old Eutyches that delirus senex, and to the enormities 
of the unprincipled Dioscorus, in order to be converted 
to Rome ? 

The Church then, as now, might be called peremptory 
and stern, resolute, overbearing, and relentless : and 
heretics were shifting, changeable, reserved, and deceitful, 
ever courting civil power, and never agreeing together 
except by its aid : and the civil power was ever aiming 
at comprehensions, trying to put the invisible out of view, 
and substituting expediency for faith. 

What was the use of continuing the controversy or 
defending my position, if, after all, I was forging arguments 
for Arius or Eutyches, and turning devil's advocate against 
the much-enduring Athanasius and the majestic Leo? 

Be my soul with the Saints, and shall I lift up my 
hand against them ? Sooner may my right hand forget 
her cunning and wither outright as his who once stretched 
it out against a prophet of God. 

Anathema to a whole tribe of Cranmers, Ridleys, 
Latimers, and Jewels ! Perish the names of Bramhall, 
Ussher, Taylor, Stillingfleet, and Barrow from the face of 
the earth, ere I shall do aught but fall at their feet in 


love and in worship [szc], whose image was continually 
before my eyes, and whose musical words were ever in 
my ears and on my tongue. 

There you have the secret of Newman's change 
and the raison d'etre of the Oxford Movement. 
He is determined to get back into the fifth century 
and to rank himself on the side of the champions 
of the Catholic faith in the days of the dying 
Empire. Is it possible for any man, or, at any 
rate, for any great body of men, really to do this ? 
Has not the whole horizon of our thoughts been 
changed by all the great discoveries of the inter- 
vening centuries ? Monophysite and Monothelite, 
are they really words which even, by way of 
antagonism, stir now the souls of men? Is it 
desirable, if we could do it, to get back into the 
same state of mind, the same atmosphere of thought 
on things religious which prevailed under Theodosius 
or Justinian? I do not think so. I have studied 
pretty carefully the history of those times, and they 
seem to me, from the religious point of view, un- 
utterably dreary : men taking the name of Christ 
perpetually into their mouths, but showing miserably 
little of the spirit of Christ in their lives : crowds 
of courtier-bishops galloping to and fro over the 
highways of the Empire to make and unmake 
creeds at the bidding of a sometimes blood-stained 
Emperor : armies of mad monks swarming forth 
from the desert into the cities, and often murder- 
ously assaulting their opponents who differed from 
them on some minute point of metaphysical theology. 


Oh, no ! Christ is not here, and when we go to 
that period of Church history in search of Him, 
we can only say, '* They have taken away my Lord, 
and I know not where they have laid Him." 

Some one, I know not who, has said of Newman 
that '*he was always horribly afraid of being damned." 
It is a coarse way of putting it, but I think it is not 
far from the truth. I cannot read the Apologia, I 
cannot look at his portrait, with the face so furrowed 
by anxiety and distress, without feeling that his 
predominant emotion was fear, fear lest after all 
his searchings and strivings the Almighty should 
cast him into Hell because he did not belong to 
the true Church. Looking at that face, I cannot 
feel that the Gospel was to him really ''Glad 
Tidings." I am sure that he knew something of 
the Spirit of the Lord, but, owing to a certain 
morbidness of his nature, not to him did the Spirit 
of the Lord bring the rightful liberty. 

Of course the keynote of the whole of Newman's 
Apologia is the word " Catholic," as it is the one 
great battle-cry of all who have heartily thrown 
themselves into the Oxford Movement. 

As he said in a letter published soon -after Tract 

The age is moving towards something, and most 
unhappily the one religious communion which has of late 
years been practically in possession of this something is 
the Church of Rome. She alone amid all the errors and 
evils of her practical system [the words were written, of 
course, before he had yet gone over] has given free scope 


to the feelings of awe, mystery, tenderness, reverence, 
devotedness, and other feelings which may be especially 
called " Catholic." 

What is, after all, the origin and the force of 
this word Catholic which is pronounced with such 
reverence by some, with such aversion and terror 
by others ? It is, as we all know, essentially a 
Greek word, a word of Aristotelian logic, a word 
which distinguishes the General or the Universal 
from the Particular. When David said in his haste, 
'' All men are liars," he was uttering a Universal 
or Catholic proposition. When St. Paul said, 
" There are some that trouble you," he was uttering 
a Particular proposition. There is in itself no 
special atmosphere of holiness about the word 

Shelley has well said : — 

Oh that the words which make the thoughts obscure 
From which they spring, as clouds of glimmering dew 
From a white lake blot heaven's blue portraiture 
Were stripped of their false forms and varying hue, 
And frowns and smiles and splendours not their own, 
Till in the nakedness of False and True 
They stand before their Lord, each to receive its due. 

The Nicene Creed professes belief in " One 
Catholic and Apostolic Church." The word Apostle 
(admittedly not confined entirely to the Twelve) 
means a messenger or missionary. The word 
Ecclesia used in the Creed, which we have translated 
Church, was applied, as we all know, to the popular 
assembly at Athens, and is used as a translation 
of the Hebrew Kahel, a congregation. Stripping, 


therefore, from the words the associations which, 
like a beautiful creeper, have grown over them in 
the course of seventeen centuries, we find that the 
Creed asserts belief in "one Universal Missionary 
Assembly." We may perhaps notice in passing 
how much this word Apostolic has changed its 
meaning and its associations in the course of the 
ages. His Apostolic Majesty is now the proud 
title of the Royal and Imperial Sovereign of 
Austria. Could James or John or Thaddeus revisit 
earth and behold all the pomp and splendour of the 
mighty Hapsburg Emperor, how greatly would 
those simple Galilean fishermen be surprised to 
learn that from them that stately potentate had 
derived his proudest title ? 

But the word Catholic or Universal, if I may go 
back to it for a few minutes, what does it really 
connote ? Its use may have been justified, or at 
least convenient, in the second century after Christ, 
when it was employed to distinguish the general 
run of Christians from the over-subtle, imaginative 
manufacturers of strange theologies who went by 
the name of Gnostics. Already in the fourth 
century it was a term of controversy ; a missile 
slung by the Arian at the Athanasian and by the 
Athanasian at the Arian : and now for many genera- 
tions it has been claimed as the peculiar possession 
of those churches which are under the government 
of Bishops. But whatever it may be, according to 
the ideal of its votaries, Universal the Catholic 
Church is 7iot, To deny the existence of large 


bodies of Christians outside of it is simply to shut 
one's eyes to an obvious fact. Nor is it one even 
if you accept the definition of the Catholic Church 
which binds it fast to Episcopacy. The Anglo - 
Catholic Church is not yet one with the Roman, and 
probably no two religious bodies hate one another 
more cordially than the Roman and the Eastern : 
though in argument with outsiders they may each 
admit one another's title to the name Catholic. 

I remember hearing of an English traveller to 
the monasteries of Mount Athos, who saw upon 
the convent wall a portrait of Garibaldi. He ex- 
pressed some surprise at seeing the likeness of so 
great a revolutionary leader in that ecclesiastical 

*' Not at all," said his hosts ; '' we like to have the 
portrait of Garibaldi, because he is the enemy of 
that wicked man, the Pope of Rome." 

We Protestants sometimes use the word Catholic 
as a term of praise for Christians whom we admire, 
meaning thereby that they are men of wide and 
liberal sympathies, men who are not intent on 
emphasising points of difference, but who would 
rather find out all that they can that is noble and 
Christ- like in the members of other Christian 
churches, and cultivate to the utmost brotherhood 
and sympathy with these. A beautiful and holy 
aspiration truly, and one, as I have already tried 
to explain, with which I entirely sympathise: but 
I am not sure that we deal wisely in labelling that 
aspiration by the name Catholic, a name which, as 


I have said, Is so innocent, so non-religious in itself, 
but which has gathered round it, in the course of 
centuries, such a cluster of bitter polemical associa- 
tions : a name which is to some of us so painfully 
suggestive of martyrdoms and priestly tyranny, a 
name which after all, as it seems to me, has in it 
none of the promise of the future but is only a 
harking back to a disputatious and uncharitable 

For this is surely true of the word Catholic in 
its real use in the present actual world in which we 
live, however different may be its ideal signification, 
that it is a term not of inclusion but of exclusion : 
that the chief charm of it, to most of those who use 
It, lies in the fact that it does not connote a universal 
Christian church : that it Is as they conceive, their 
own special and peculiar heritage into which the 
multitude of heretics round them have no right to 

The condition of the so-called " Catholic " world 
at the present day is one which must excite the 
liveliest interest in Protestant minds. In Italy we 
see the Catholic Church and the National spirit 
permanently at war with one another, so that, as 
an eminent Italian scholar once said to me: "We 
are in this painful dilemma, that we must bring up 
our children either as bad Christians or as bad 
Patriots." For Pope they now have a worthy 
parish priest, personally one of the most saintly 
men that ever filled St. Peter's chair, but narrow- 
minded and (it Is said) ignorant, a man, I should 


fear, almost as little fitted to work and to control 
the mighty engine of Papal administration as poor 
Pope Celestine himself, the pontiff " Che fece per 
viltate il gran rifiuto." And, meanwhile, men's minds 
are stirring; Loisy in France, Fogazzaro in Italy, 
Tyrrell in England, and, doubtless, many besides 
are raising the standard, I will not say of revolt, 
but of religious freedom, and claiming the right to 
think, the right to refuse a profession of belief in 
what is demonstrably absurd. Will they conquer 
or will they survive that fatal hug with which the 
all-embracing Infallible Church has crushed the life 
out of so many victims ? None can say : and I will 
not pretend to prophesy, but this much I think we 
may say that if they do come forth victorious out 
of the prison-house, they will not be flying the 
colours of Protestantism. Protestantism, as we 
understand it, seems to be a system of belief and 
practice which the Latin mind cannot assimilate. 
To go back to my simile of the metamorphic rock, 
the Italian and the Frenchman may be igneous, or 
they may be sedimentary, but it seems as if they 
could not, in any large numbers, accept that peculiar 
blend of Faith and Free Inquiry which in the 
religions of the world goes by the name of 
Protestantism. Yet, if they do succeed in burst- 
ing the chains with which the Roman Curia has 
bound them ; if they go forth into the wide pastures 
of Evangelical Christianity ; if they study the Bible 
for themselves without the guidance of a confessor, 
and without parti pris ; that they will thus reach a 


place whereat their Catholicism and our Protestant- 
ism will be within easy speaking distance of each 
other, I for one do assuredly believe. 

I have referred to the present position of the 
Roman Church in Italy. Her dispute with the 
French Government is in a much more acute state, 
and I am not sure that we Englishmen have the 
necessary materials for forming a judgment con- 
cerning it. Every one knows that after the ruin 
of the old Pre- Revolution Church, Napoleon I. 
made a concordat with the Pope, which, on the one 
hand, secured to all the Bishops and Clergy of the 
Catholic Church in France a tolerably handsome 
maintenance, but, on the other, retrenched con- 
siderably the old Gallican liberties and made Pope 
and Emperor joint masters of the situation. That 
arrangement which lasted under the Bourbons 
of both lines, under the Second Empire, and under 
the Republic has now been terminated by the will 
of the French Government. Everything seemed 
to call aloud for a compromise, for the establish- 
ment of a modus vivendi by which the Catholic 
congregations could at least retain possession or 
occupancy of the churches if they had to take upon 
themselves the burden, hitherto borne by the State, 
of the maintenance of the clergy. But a com- 
promise or a modus vivendi are not things which 
commend themselves to the taste of the estimable, 
narrow-minded Pius X. How the dispute stands 
at present probably few Englishmen know : how 
it will eventually be settled, no one knows. But 


meanwhile evidently no little hardship is being 
inflicted on many worthy men who find the career 
of a lifetime suddenly closed, and though the 
Minister of Public Worship has tried to execute 
the decrees with as much forbearance as possible, 
it cannot be denied that some of his actions 
have been harsh, and that things have been done 
which to our English minds wear the appear- 
ance of persecution. Also the professed and 
militant Atheism of some — I fear of manv — 
of the French political leaders inclines one to 
say : 

Oh, my soul, come not thou into their secret, 

Unto their assembly, mine honour be not thou united. 

We must wait and see how the slowly evolving 
drama shapes itself. Obviously we have no duty 
to interfere, no right even to offer advice. We 
can only hope against hope that the upshot of the 
whole debate may be the triumph of some freer 
and less venomous form of Catholicism than that 
which engineered the conspiracy against Dreyfus, 
and which inspires the writers oi La Croix. 

And, meanwhile, one indirect result of the 
struggle — not a pleasant one for us — is the horde 
of monks and nuns who have been driven over 
to our own country by the Suppression of the 
Orders, and who would not be "religious" if they 
did not improve the occasion by attempting to 
make proselytes. 

But now, if we ask ourselves what are the pros- 
pects of Protestant Christianity in our own land, 


and in the daughter nations which have gone 
forth from its shores, I think we may come to the 
conclusion that its greatest danger, after all, is not 
in Romanism. It will be seen from the tenor of 
my previous remarks that I do not underrate that 
danger, that I think it would be a lamentable thing 
w^ere our free Christian churches to be once again 
entangled in the Roman yoke of bondage. But 
is there not a greater peril than this to be recognised 
by any one who with unblinded eyes looks at the 
course of the national life both here and in 
America? I mean the peril of sheer Paganism, 
not, of course, the noble Paganism of Socrates, 
of Epictetus, and of Marcus (I might almost say, 
** Would that there were any danger of such 
Paganism amongst us "), but the utterly anarchic, 
sensual Paganism which St. Paul described in the 
first chapter of his Epistle to the Romans, and the 
fruits of which are seen in the pages of Tacitus 
and of Juvenal. 

I hate the spirit of pessimism, and I know that 
our querulous Elijahs are often ignorant of the 
existence of thousands like-minded with themselves 
who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. 
But unless all the pictures drawn for us in the 
daily papers are utterly out of drawing, the Christian 
religion is losing its hold on rather large sections 
of our countrymen, especially perhaps at the two 
opposite ends of the social system, among the 
selfish rich and the brutalised poor. Those 
sermons in which Father Vaughan denounced the 


godlessness of "the smart set" (hateful phrase!) — 
was it not generally admitted that there was in 
them a large proportion of truth, and did not some 
of us feel a certain regret that the modern 
Savonarola should have had to be sought for within 
the limits of the Roman obedience, and that no 
Protestant minister had been sufficiently honest 
and fearless to utter that most necessary warning ? 

And then the atheistic misery which, as all our 
faithful witnesses report, hangs like a thick cloud 
over the slums of the great cities both here and 
in the United States. It may be called Secularism 
or Agnosticism, or some other scientifically sounding 
name, but it means the de-Christianisation of great 
masses of our people, and that, as I understand it, 
is Paganism, and Paganism of a poor and ignoble 
type, which, if it becomes dominant, will bring forth 
its old and deadly fruits. 

Against this rising tide of Paganism, and in 
defence of the great spiritual truths of Christianity, 
all the living and loyal churches of Christ will have 
to strive, shoulder to shoulder, and it may be that 
— as is sometimes seen in heathen lands— the very 
necessity of facing one common foe may bring the 
long-estranged brethren nearer together, and may 
make a reunion of Christendom— on other lines 
than those which the English Church Union 
dreams of — seem less impossibly far off than it 
does now at this beginning of the twentieth century. 

But always, when the word *' reunion of the 
Churches " is mentioned, we are forced to remember 


the gigantic obstacle to such reunion which is 
presented by Rome's proud claims to infallibility 
and immutability. There is a certain order of 
minds on which these claims exercise an irresistible 
fascination. To me, so long as they continue to 
be insisted on, they make the thought of reunion 
inconceivable. I feel that they bind down the 
champions of the Roman Church to the defence 
of all her greatest crimes, to the advocacy of all her 
most illogical propositions : that instead of allowing 
her converts to associate themselves with the Best 
in her history, they force them to homologate her 
Worst ; and that for me at least to profess a belief 
that that church has always been infallibly guided 
by the Spirit of the All -wise and All -holy one 
would be to take a lie in my right hand. 

It is not possible to forget the unspeakably wicked 
lives which, as all students of history know, have 
been led by some of the so-called Vicars of Christ 
sitting in the chair of St. Peter. ** We grant you 
this," the honest Roman controversialist will say, 
"We do not ask you to believe in the impeccability 
of the Pope: we only plead for his Infallibility." 
To which I answer, ''Where in the teaching of 
Christ do you find the warrant for the claim of 
knowledge of Divine Truth apart from holiness ? 
If we were talking about teachers of Mathematics 
or Physics, we would grant you that the private 
life of the Teacher was irrelevant to the discussion, 
but in things of the kingdom it is otherwise. ' If 
any man will do his will, he shall know of the 


doctrine, whether it be of God or whether I speak 
of myself.' " 

As Frederick Robertson has well expressed the 
teaching of Christ, '' Obedience is the organ of 
spiritual knowledge," or, as I think Savonarola 
uttered it, *' Tanto sa ciascuno quanto opera." 

Therefore, as I said, that claim which some find 
so magnetic, of Papal infallibility and ecclesiastical 
immutability, will always, while it lasts, fatally bar 
the door to the union of Christendom. But if it be 
possible, let us imagine the great historic church 
humbling herself in the dust before her Lord, and 
saying, *' Oh Christ, we have sinned with our fathers 
and done wickedly : we have shed the blood of Thy 
saints, and made Thy name a byword among the 
heathen : we have stained Thy pure and beautiful 
Truth with all manner of inventions of our own, 
and have laid on the minds of consciences of men 
burdens heavy and grievous to be borne. But, oh 
Lord, Thou knowest that through it all we have 
loved, and now do Thou Thyself guide us whither 
Thou wilt, only leave us not to ourselves and take 
not Thy Holy Spirit from us." 

With such a Church, fallible but penitent, laying 
aside her age-long pretensions, and only longing 
to do the will of her Lord, it might well be the duty 
and the high privilege of all other Christian 
churches to seek reunion. 

Barmoor, 1907. 


There are two great classes of rocks, so geologists 
tell us, in the crust of this globe on which we dwell. 
There are the sedimentary rocks which have been 
deposited at the bottom of primeval seas, and have 
been built up by the slow labour of the ages into 
what were once horizontal strata, however now 
contorted and broken by subsequent dislocations. 
And there are the igneous rocks, the prime causes 
of these dislocations, which have come up hissing 
hot from the heart of the earth, have broken 
through the orderly regularity of the sedimentary 
rocks above them, and have changed the face of 
our Planet. 

A difference somewhat like this the historical 
student may discover among the persons whose 
names are landmarks in the history of our race. 
There are the men who have gone on quietly 
building on the old foundations, the generals who 
have fought the battles of some ancient state, the 
rulers who have administered her laws, the poets 
and artists who have produced beautiful works 
while obeying the rules of Art handed down to 
them by the greatest of their predecessors, the 



divines who have cheerfully devoted the toil of a 
lifetime to the work of expounding and illustrating 
the sacred books of their religion. Most useful 
work has been done by many of these toilers ; and 
the Human Race would not stand where it does 
to-day but for their patient labour. 

But, then, there is another class of men whose 
most remarkable characteristic is that they seem to fit 
in to nothing that has gone before them. Without 
being themselves necessarily of a violent character 
— in fact some of them are proverbially gentle and 
forbearing — the thoughts which possess their souls, 
and to which they are compelled to give utterance, 
have such an upheaving and disruptive force that 
the world upon which their dying eyes close is 
utterly unlike that which heard the cry of their 
infancy. A brief enumeration of some of the chief 
of these transforming characters will best explain 
my meaning. Such I hold to be a true description 
of Moses, who broke up that bondage of his people 
which had lasted four hundred years ; of Buddha, 
who substituted a democratic unceremonial religion 
for the rigid caste-system and costly sacrifices of 
the Brahmins ; of Socrates, who by his terrible 
dialectic shattered the superficial systems of the 
Sophists ; of Paul, who broke down the middle 
wall of partition between Jew and Gentile ; of 
Mohammed, who turned the degraded idolaters 
of Arabia into enthusiastic missionaries of the One 
Unseen God, most mighty and most merciful ; of 
Luther, who in his monastic cell heard the liberating 


voice, " The Just shall live by Faith " ; in our own 
day, of Thomas Carlyle, who, to a self-satisfied, 
talkative, and somewhat hypocritical age, preached 
his hard Gospel of Work, Silence, Reality. 

From whence came to these men the strange 
volcanic force which enabled them thus to revolu- 
tionise the world of Thought I will not now pause 
to inquire, but will only record my own conviction 
that some, at any rate, among them did truly hear 
that Divine Voice which Moses, Socrates, and Paul 
declared that they heard summoning them to their 
great enterprises. 

Now, without comparing the work of the great 
Quaker Prophet with the achievements of the 
men whom I have just named, in respect of 
the magnitude and importance of the results which 
they may have respectively attained, what I wish 
to express is that as a matter of classification 
he belongs to the same family of men ; that his 
work like theirs was fresh, unprecedented, dis- 
ruptive of the pre-existing order of things ; in a word, 
that he was an original thinker. Born at an age 
and in a country in which all things were tending 
towards the mighty struggle between Cavalier and 
Roundhead he gave unquestioning allegiance 
neither to king nor parliament. In the sphere 
of religious thought the same struggle was repre- 
sented by the antagonism between the Catholic 
and the Puritan conceptions of Christianity. The 
first he persistently ignored, the second he 
often bitterly opposed, and in consequence Anglo- 



Catholic and Puritan when they agreed in nothing 
else could always find one ground of common 
action when it was a question of repressing by 
the strong arm of the law the pestilent heresy of 
the Quakers. 

I feel that this last assertion as to the antagonism 
between George Fox and the Puritan party will 
sound paradoxical to some of my hearers who have 
been accustomed to look upon the Society of 
Friends as the most intensely Puritan of all the 
Churches that owe their origin to the seventeenth 
century. In a certain sense this is true. As far 
as externals went, in the plainness of their attire, 
in the measured gravity of their speech, in their 
antagonism to the world of fashion and frivolity, 
it may be truly said that the Quaker out-Puritaned 
the Puritan. But these things were, after all, 
but straws on the stream of Puritanism. With 
that which constituted the essence of that mighty 
current, Fox and his followers had no sympathy. 
The Puritan derived most of his elements of 
religious thought from Calvin's Institutes, and looked 
with more or less of longing approval towards the 
great Church-State of Geneva. Fox had not the 
slightest sympathy with Calvinism, and the ablest 
work in defence of his position — Barclay's Apology 
— is a scarcely veiled attack on the Westminster 
Confession. The Puritan attached immense im- 
portance to preaching, and sermons for him could 
hardly be too long, too elaborately divided, too 
minute in their microscopical examination of the 


letter of Holy Scripture. For all this kind of 
preaching Fox had only condemnation ; it was not, 
he averred, the office of the true minister of Christ 
to take a text of Scripture and try to beat it out 
thin for the people. 

The Puritan called the Scriptures of the Old and 
New Testament the Word of God, and held them 
for **the Primary Rule of Faith." Fox refused 
to give to a book the title which he considered to 
belong to Christ alone, and, with all his reverence 
for the Bible, strongly insisted that not it but the 
Holy Spirit's voice to the individual Christian was 
the Primary Rule. Lastly (though many other 
points of difference might be enumerated), the 
Puritan was always ready to wield " the sword of 
the Lord and of Gideon " in defence of his creed, 
while Fox held that war, in even the most righteous 
cause, was utterly forbidden to the Christian. 

After this general indication of that which I 
conceive to have been Fox's position in the religious 
history of England I proceed to lay before you the 
chief facts of his life. You will easily understand 
that my picture can be only an outline sketch. 
Time would quite fail me to fill in any of the 
details. He was born in July 1624 at the little 
Leicestershire village of Drayton in the Clay, a few 
miles from the battlefield of Bosworth. His birth- 
year preceded by one year the death of the " British 
Solomon," King James I. : he was twenty-four years 
old at the time of the execution of Charles I., and 
he lived till two years after the *' Glorious Revolu- 


tion," the flight of James II. and the accession of 
William and Mary. 

His parents were fine specimens of the honest 
industrious English cottager. As he himself says : 

My father's name was Christopher Fox : he was by 
profession a weaver, an honest man, and there was a seed 
of God in him. The neighbours called him Righteous 
Christen My mother was an upright woman : her 
maiden name was Mary Lago, of the stock of the martyrs 
[doubtless in the Marian persecution]. 

Born into this quiet, religious family he was 
always of a grave, serious turn of mind, untouched 
by the frivolities as well as by the vices of youth, 
astonishing his elders by his questions and his 
answers concerning Divine things ; intensely truth- 
ful and stable in his purposes, so that it was a 
common saying among his acquaintances, *' If George 
says Verily, there is no altering him." I am afraid 
it must be admitted that he was also somewhat 
inclined to self-esteem, and was deficient in the 
saving grace of humour. It should be added that 
though he was a diligent student of the English 
Bible, large portions of which he had committed 
to memory, he was not what we should now call an 
educated man, both the writing and spelling of his 
letters being those of an illiterate person. 

As he was growing up to manhood there was some 
talk among his relations of making this grave and 
devout lad a minister, probably in the Presbyterian 
Church, "but others," as he says, "persuaded to 
the contrary." He does not appear at this time to 


have had any invincible repugnance to the clerical 
profession. Eventually he was apprenticed to *' a 
man that was a shoemaker by trade, and that 
dealt in wool and used grazing and sold cattle," and 
a great deal ** passed through his hands." Ap- 
parently the only secular occupation that he ever 
practised was that of a shepherd or agricultural 
labourer. As his friend William Penn said of 
him : ** As to his employment he was brought up in 
country business ; and as he took most delight in 
sheep, so he was very skilful in them, an employ- 
ment that very well suited his mind in several 
respects, both from its innocency and solitude ; and 
was a just figure of his after ministry and service." 

I am not able to say whether Leicestershire was 
in the seventeenth century as renowned for its 
breed of sheep as it has since become, but there 
seems a certain fitness in the fact that one of the 
most famous of Leicestershire's sons should have 
been a shepherd. But the young peasant of Drayton 
in the Clay was not to develop mto a prosperous 
grazier. Apparently the circumstances of his 
parents were such that it was not absolutely neces- 
sary for him to work for a livelihood — as he says, 
*' I had wherewith both to keep myself from being 
chargeable to others and to administer something to 
the necessities of others " — and all the years of his 
earliest manhood, from his twentieth to his twenty- 
fourth year, seem to have been a time of unsettle- 
ment and spiritual depression, as, ** having left his 
relations and broken off all familiarity or fellowship 


with old or young," he wandered from place to 
place, often in great distress of mind, seeking for 
some light on the spiritual enigmas which troubled 
his soul. He spent some months apparently in 
lodgings in London ; then again he was in the 
country, fasting much and walking abroad in 
solitary places, and often taking his Bible and 
sitting in hollow trees and lonesome places till 
night came on, and frequently in the night walking 
mournfully about by himself, for (as he says) *' I was 
a man of sorrows in the times of the first workings 
of the Lord in me." 

These years, which are represented by so many 
sad, strange pages in George Fox's wonderful 
Journal, were years during which England was 
passing through an agony of conflict, such as not 
even the great struggle with Napoleon or the 
Indian Mutiny can have equalled in intensity, for 
then her own sword was turned against herself, 
and at Edgehill, at Naseby, at Marston Moor, 
the whole portentous problem of her future was 
being decided by thrust of pike and discharge of 
culverin. But of all this (though Fox must often 
have been moving about in the track of the warring 
hosts) there is not a hint in the pages of h\s Journal, 
As the Romans and Carthaginians fought on at 
Lake Thrasymene, while 

An earthquake rolled unheededly away, 

SO the roar of the great Civil War seems to have 
passed unnoticed by the wandering Leicestershire 


shepherd, so intent was he on the mighty conflict 
between Hope and Despair in his own tribulated 

As we might naturally have expected, the 
young man went to one clergyman after another 
seeking counsel as to his spiritual distresses. None 
of them, however, were able to help him. Priest 
Steevens (the minister of his own parish) asked 
him a question about Christ's cry of forsakenness 
on the cross and approved his answer; but **what 
I said to him in discourse on the week-days, that 
he would preach on the first days, for which I did 
not like him." An "Ancient Priest at Mancetter" 
bade the young anxious inquirer take tobacco 
and sing psalms; unseasonable advice, **for tobacco 
was a thing I did not love, and psalms I was 
not in a state to sing : I could not sing." At 
the next interview the old clergyman became 
angry and pettish, and after it was over he violated 
the young man's confidence and told his troubles to 
his servants, so that they became the talk of the 
milk lasses, which grieved him that he should 
have opened his mind to such an one. 

At another time Fox went to "one called Dr. 
Cradock, of Coventry," and asked him " the ground 
of temptations and despair." Cradock began 
catechising him as to his belief in the Gospel 
history, but while the conversation was going 
forward, they walked about in his garden, and 
the young man, intent on the deep questions which 
they were discussing, accidentally set foot on a 


flower-bed. The doctor of divinity's un-Christian 
rage at this trifling offence quite destroyed any 
chance that he might have had of helping the 
young pilgrim out of the Slough of Despond. 

" I saw they were all miserable comforters," 
says Fox, "and this brought my troubles more 
upon me." But the men whom he thus vainly 
consulted, though he calls them Priests, were evi- 
dently, in fact, Presbyterian ministers, who had 
obtained their benefices under the new ecclesiastical 
settlement made by the Long Parliament. When 
we find that most, if not all of them, figure in the 
list of Calamy's " Ejected Ministers," having given 
up their livings for conscience' sake on Black 
Bartholomew's Day, 1662, we feel that they hardly 
deserve the odium which has fastened upon their 
names by reason of the mention made of them 
in the great Journal. They were probably very 
dry preachers, but good men. They were painfully 
elaborating the '* fifteenthly " or ''sixteenthly " of 
their discourses for next Sabbath, when this strange 
young man came into their rooms desiring to pour 
forth the troubles of his soul. Sedimentary rocks 
themselves, they were bewildered and exasperated 
by his disruptive, volcanic energy. They could 
have held forth to him by the hour on the subject 
of effectual calling, or the Number of the Beast in 
the Apocalypse, but he, the spiritual descendant 
of Job and of Asaph, was wrestling with the dark 
problems of the Universe, and on these they could 
give him no help. 


I must here transcribe a few sentences from the 
Journal to indicate the nature of the struggle which 
was going on in Fox's mind and the source of 
his final victory. 

Now, though I had great openings [Fox's favourite 
expression for revelations of God's purposes], yet great 
trouble and temptation came many times upon me : so 
that when it was day I wished for night, and when it 
was night I wished for day : and by reason of the 
openings I had in my troubles I could say as David 
said, "Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto 
night showeth knowledge." When I had openings they 
answered one another and answered the Scriptures, for 
I had great openings of the Scriptures, and when I was 
in trouble one trouble also answered to another. 

Though my exercises and troubles were very great, 
yet were they not so continual but that I had some 
intermissions, and was sometimes brought into such a 
heavenly joy, that I thought I had been in Abraham's 
bosom. As I cannot declare the misery I was in, it 
was so great and heavy upon me, so neither can I set 
forth the mercies of God unto me in all my misery. O ! 
the everlasting love of God to my soul when I was in 
great distress : when my troubles and torments were 
great, then was his love exceedingly great. 

Now after I had received that opening from the Lord, 
that to be bred at Oxford or Cambridge was not sufficient 
to fit a man to be a minister of Christ, I regarded the 
priests less and looked more after the Dissenting people 
[probably the Baptists and Independents]. Among 
them I saw there was some tenderness, and many of 
them came afterwards to be convinced, for they had 
some openings. But as I had forsaken the priests, so 
I left the separate preachers also, and those called the 


most experienced people : for I saw there was none 
among them all that could speak to my condition. 
When all my hopes in them and in all men were gone, 
so that I had nothing outwardly to help me, nor could 
I tell what to do : then, oh then, I heard a voice which 
said : " There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak 
to thy condition " ; and when I heard it my heart did 
leap for joy. Then the Lord let me see why there 
was none upon the earth that could speak to my con- 
dition, namely, that I might give Him all the glory, 
for all are concluded under sin, and shut up in unbelief, 
as I had been, that Jesus Christ might have the pre- 
eminence, who enlightens and gives grace, and faith, and 
power. Thus when God doth work, who shall let it ? 
and this I knew experimentally. 

I was still under great temptations sometimes, and 
my inward sufferings were heavy, but I could find none 
to open my condition to but the Lord alone, unto whom 
I cried night and day. I went back into Nottingham- 
shire, and there the Lord shewed me that the natures of 
these things which were hurtful without were within, in 
the hearts and minds of wicked men. The natures of 
dogs, swine, vipers, of Sodom and Egypt, Pharaoh, Cain, 
Ishmael, Esau, etc. ; the natures of these I saw within, 
though people had been looking without. I cried to 
the Lord, saying, " Why should I be thus, seeing I was 
never addicted to commit those evils ? " and the Lord 
answered, " That it was needful 1 should have a sense 
of all conditions : how else should I speak to all con- 
ditions ? " and in this I saw the infinite love of God. 
I saw also that there was an ocean of darkness and 
death, but an infinite ocean of light and love which 
flowed over the ocean of darkness. In this also I saw 
the infinite love of God, and I had great openings. 


Thus, then, from the conflicts and the despairs 
of those four troubled years Fox emerged with a 
faith and confidence which never afterwards left 
him, and which supported him through many a 
conflict with visible foes, the '* rulers of the darkness 
of this world " : but which, though based on the 
great facts of the Christian Revelation, was quite 
unlike the stereotyped conventional creed of either 
Cavalier or Roundhead. For Fox, though he 
would probably not have accepted, perhaps hardly 
have understood, the designation, was now, and 
remained to the end of his days, a Mystic, and 
one of the most strongly marked specimens of his 

The larger part of the Christian world, as we 
know it, has been for centuries divided between 
two great schools of thought, the Catholic and 
the Evangelical. But there has also been ever 
a third school marked off by less definite boundaries, 
and, in fact, often claiming its secret adherents 
among the other two, which is most fittingly de- 
noted by the word Mystical. A word, this, which 
has been often used as a term of contempt, and 
which, from mere similarity of sound, is often 
supposed to imply a cloudy mistiness of thought, 
and a general weakness of intellect, but which 
students know to have a noble origin, and to have 
been borne by some of the greatest thinkers that 
the human race has produced. 

The best thing, probably, that could be found 
in the old, bewildered world of Greek Paganism 


was the so-called mysteries of Eleusis, wherein 
certain selected souls, after undergoing ceremonies 
of probation and cleansing, were admitted into the 
inner circle of the initiated, and learned, apparently, 
a higher and a purer doctrine concerning the 
Divine Nature than was set forth by the poets 
and traded upon by the priests. As he who was 
admitted into this inner circle of believers, whose 
eyes had been opened by purifying knowledge, 
was called a Mystic, the same word has been used 
for near two thousand years to denote all those 
thinkers who yearn for a spiritual intuition of the 
unseen kingdom of God. 

In this, the true and historical sense of the 
word, the Christian religion is undoubtedly mystical. 
Whoever seeks by faith to penetrate ever so little 
way behind the veil of visible Nature ; whoever 
believes that '' things which are seen were not 
made of things which do appear," is in so far forth 
a Mystic. Whoever believes that Jesus of Nazareth, 
once lifted up on the cross of Calvary, is still, by 
invisible cords, ''drawing all men unto Him," is 
a Mystic. Whoever believes that the Holy Spirit, 
the Promise of the Father, still warns, reproves, 
comforts, guides the believers in Christ is a Mystic. 
Though the mystical habit of mind be rare, a 
certain half-conscious element of mysticism must 
surely be admitted to exist in the mind of every 
Christian man and woman whose Christianity is 
not a mere name. If we would seek for a man 
who may be pronounced altogether clear from 


this weakness (if weakness it be), we shall find 
him in the thorough -going Agnostic. For the 
true Agnostic, if I understand his position, is 
willing to learn all that the educated senses can 
tell him concerning the material universe, and to 
accept the conclusions which mathematical science 
deduces from the facts thus observed, but is deter- 
mined to stop there. As to anything which a 
supposed spiritual faculty whispers, of the Nature 
of the Almighty Maker, and the possibility of 
communion with Him, the Agnostic is resolutely 
ignorant. Therefore, he, at least, is quite free 
from the reproach of mysticism. 

The strength of mysticism is in the courage 
and elevation imparted to the soul by its conviction 
of being the receiver of a message from the 
Almighty. Its weakness lies in the difficulty of 
bringing the conclusions, which the soul has thus 
arrived at, to a practical test, and of finding some 
common measure of truth between one Mystic and 
another. In Mathematics, in Logic, in Physics, 
there are means of detecting fallacies and of forcing 
the utterers of them to confess their mistakes : 
but if a man says he has been caught up into 
Heaven, and heard unspeakable things, who can 
disprove his assertion ? Socrates says that he has 
a Daimon, a Divine Monitor within him, restrain- 
ing him from a certain course of action : George 
Fox says that he has had an opening concerning 
the qualifications of a minister of Christ : who 
shall affirm or deny either proposition ? From 


this impossibility of arguing with the Mystic, he 
is no doubt in danger of becoming what we call 
'* positive " or *' wrong-headed " ; in danger of mis- 
taking the suggestions of a heated imagination for 
the voice of the Most High God. We admit the 
danger ; we allow that it has in all ages been the 
besetting sin of the mystical temperament : yet, 
believing as we do that all that is best and happiest 
in the history of the human race has been the 
work of the Divine Spirit acting in a mysterious 
manner on the spirit and soul of man, we cannot 
consent to anathematise the Mystic as such, or to 
deny his claim to be listened to by his fellowmen. 
Probably when such a man, not obviously of un- 
sound mind, appears in the world, professing to 
have received a message from the Most High, 
our wisest course is to adopt the attitude of 
Gamaliel, and say. Let us wait and see what comes 
of this man's teaching. If it tends towards greater 
holiness of life, towards the development of the 
Christian virtues, towards the lightening of the 
burdens and the disentanglement of the perplexities 
of human life, we will thankfully accept it as a 
message from the Eternal. If, on the other hand, 
it tends downwards towards immorality, unreason, 
and spiritual anarchy, we shall know **that the 
Lord hath not spoken by this man." 

Behold then this new mystical teacher setting 
forth on a life-long journey, intent on imparting 
to his fellow-countrymen the thoughts wherewith 
his soul has been filled during the four years of his 


spiritual travail. His life from 1648 till 1691 was 
one of almost incessant locomotion except for the 
intervals, the long and frequent intervals, which 
he spent in the loathsome dungeons of England 
in the seventeenth century. In the earlier part 
of his mission he generally travelled on foot, in 
later years on horseback. Sometimes he spent 
the night in the country house of a squire, more 
often in a little village pot-house, or the cottage 
of a peasant. Not unfrequently we find such 
entries as this in his Journal: — 

When it grew dark I spied a haystack, and went 
and sat under it all night till morning. 

The next day we travelled on, and at night got a 
little fern or bracken to put under us, and lay upon a 

One fact which people have heard of, who know 
nothing else about Fox, is that he was clothed with 
leather : " partly " (as the Quaker historian Sewel 
says) "for the simplicity of that dress, and also 
because such a clothing was strong, and needed 
but little mending or repairing, which was com- 
modious for him who had no steady dwelling-place, 
and everywhere in his travelling about sought to 
live in a lonely state." Fox himself records, not 
without some self-satisfaction, how his preaching 
** shook the earthly and airy spirit in which the 
priests and professors held their profession of re- 
ligion and worship, so that it was a dreadful thing 
unto them when it was told them, The man in 
leather breeches is come." Let me give you one 


extract from his Journal^ a somewhat long one, 
but containing a sort of rdsumd of his teaching, 
and a sample of hundreds of others which I am 
unable to bring before you. 

He goes one Sunday (1652) to Firbank Chapel 
in Westmorland, where two of his disciples have 
been preaching in the morning to a crowded 
audience. Some of the congregation disperse for 
dinner, but many remain in the chapel waiting for 
the afternoon service. 

Now John Blakelin [apparently a clergyman and 

afterwards one of Fox's converts] and others came to me 

not to reprove them publicly, for they were not parish 

teachers but pretty tender men. I could not tell them 

whether I should or not (though I had not at that time 

any drawings to declare publicly against them), but I said 

they must leave me to the Lord's movings. While the 

others were gone to dinner I went to a brook and got a 

little water ; and they came and sat down on the top of a 

rock hard by the chapel. In the afternoon the people 

gathered about me with several of their preachers. It 

was judged there was above 1000 people, amongst whom 

I declared God's everlasting truth and word of life freely 

and largely for about the space of three hours, directing 

all to the Spirit of God in themselves, that they might be 

turned from the darkness to the light, and believe in it, 

that they might become the children of it, and might 

be turned from the power of Satan, which they had been 

under, unto God, and by the spirit of Truth might be led 

into all truth and sensibly understand the words of the 

prophets and of Christ and of the Apostles ; and might all 

come to know Christ to be their Teacher to instruct them, 

their Counsellor to direct them, their Shepherd to feed 


them, their Bishop to oversee them, and their Prophet 
to open divine mysteries to them ; and might know their 
bodies to be prepared, sanctified, and made fit temples for 
God and Christ to dwell in. In the openings of heavenly- 
life I explained unto them the prophets, and the figures 
and shadows, and directed them to Christ, the substance. 
Then I opened the parables and sayings of Christ, and 
things that had been long hid, shewing the intent and 
scope of the Apostles' writings, and that their epistles 
were written to the elect. 

When I had opened that state I shewed also the state 
of the apostacy since the Apostles' days, that the priests 
have got the Scriptures, but are not in that spirit which 
gave them forth, and have put them into chapter and verse 
to make a trade of the holy men's words ; and that the 
teachers and priests now are found in the steps of the 
false prophets, chief priests, Scribes and Pharisees of old, 
and are such as the true prophets, Christ and His Apostles, 
cried against, and so are judged and condemned by the 
Spirit of the true prophets, and of Christ and of His 
Apostles ; and that none who was in that spirit and guided 
by it now could cure them. 

Now there were many old people who went into the 
chapel and looked out at the windows, thinking it a 
strange thing to see a man preach on a hill or mountain 
and not in their church as they called it, whereupon I 
was moved to open to the people that the steeple-house 
[George Fox's favourite word for a church : he will not 
admit that the building has any right to be called a 
church] and the ground whereon it stood were no more 
holy than that mountain, and that those temples which 
they called the dreadful houses of God were not set up 
by the command of God and of Christ ; nor their priests 
called as Aaron's priesthood was, nor their tithes appointed 


by God as those amongst the Jews were, but that Christ 
was come who ended both the temple and its worship, and 
the priests and their tithes, and all now should hearken 
unto Him, for He said, " Learn of me," and God said of 
Him, " This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, 
hear ye him." 

Very largely was I opened at this meeting, and the 
Lord's convincing power accompanied my ministry and 
reached home unto the hearts of the people, whereby 
many were convinced, and all the teachers of that 
congregation (who were many) were convinced of God's 
everlasting truth. 

This specimen of one of Fox's sermons may give 
us an idea of the purport of most of his utterances 
during the forty years of his career as a preacher. 
Various consequences were deduced by him from 
his central doctrine ; the non-necessity of baptism 
and the communion ; the inconsistency of a Priest- 
hood, or even of a separate class of paid ministers, 
with the spirit of the Gospel ; the unlawfulness of 
all war under the Christian dispensation ; the literal 
acceptance of the command, " Swear not at all ": 
but these and many other features distinctive of 
Quakerism were all in Fox's mind subordinate to 
his one great principle, obedience to the Light of 
Christ kindled in the human soul. " Come to the 
Light ; wait in the Light that you may grow up in 
the Life that gave forth the Scriptures ; dwell in 
that Life in which you will know dominion over evil ; 
witness the Seed, Christ in you that you may be 
heirs of the promise " : these are the exhortations 


which are perpetually repeated in his sermons and 
in his manifold epistles to his disciples. 

Without entering into the large and difficult 
questions connected with Fox's disuse of Sacra- 
ments, and his ** testimony " against Oaths and 
War, I may here allude to two points at which 
his teaching seems to touch the circle of modern 

I. As to the Universal and Saving Light. In 
opposition to the dominant Calvinistic teaching 
of Election and Reprobation, the Elect Few and 
the Reprobate Many, Fox strongly and earnestly 
insisted on the text, " Who will have all men to be 
saved and to come to the knowledge of the Truth " 
and others like it : and, in further illustration of the 
same thought concerning the largeness and uni- 
versality of God's purposes of redemption for sinful 
man, he and his friends strenuously contended that 
even in the wide domain of Heathendom, where 
the outward knowledge of Christianity had never 
penetrated, still some of the Divine Seed was sown, 
and that though these dwellers in heathen lands 
had never heard the name of Christ, still some 
measure of Christ's light was kindled in their souls, 
which they could either nurse to greater brightness or 
quench to extinction. When he was in America he 
had a discussion with a certain doctor in the house 
of the Governor of Carolina. "And truly," says Fox, 
" his opposing us was of good service, giving 
occasion for the opening of many things to the 
people concerning the Light and Spirit of God, 


which he denied to be in every one, and affirmed 
that it was not in the Indians. Whereupon I called 
an Indian to us, and asked him whether or not, 
when he did lie or do wrong to any one, there was 
not something in him that did reprove him for it ? 
He said, ' There was such a thing in him that did 
so reprove him, and he was ashamed when he had 
done wrong or spoken wrong.' " 

Obviously Fox was here dealing rather with 
what we should call Conscience, as concerned with 
Morals, than with any strictly religious illumination 
of the soul of the heathen. But his readiness to 
acknowledge religious instincts and aspirations in 
minds which have never come under the influence 
of the Christian Revelation, distinguished him 
favourably from almost all the theologians of his 
time, and is in harmony with some of the best and 
most hopeful teaching of our own day. 

2. The authority of the Hebrew and Christian 
Scriptures. Though Fox and his disciples were 
men deeply versed in the Scriptures (of which, as I 
have said, he had committed a large part to memory), 
and, though practically in all their discussions with 
opponents they based their arguments chiefly on 
Scripture texts, they protested from the outset 
against calling the Bible *'the Word of God," 
maintaining that this title should be reserved for 
Him of whom the Evangelist wrote that, '' In the 
beginning was the Word, and the Word was with 
God, and the Word was God." Deeply as the other 
usage has worked itself into the habitual language 


of the Christian Church, I think it cannot be doubted 
that the protest was one which, in the interests of 
truth and clear thinking, required to be made, since 
in loose popular usage there is a danger of language 
being used concerning the message which, in the 
mysterious depth of its meaning, can only be applied 
to the great Messenger. We in our generation can 
see more clearly than most of the seventeenth- 
century disputants, the peril to faith itself which 
results from representing the Almighty as the author 
of the Bible, in the same sense in which we speak 
of Milton as the author oi Paradise Lost : and, there- 
fore, we might have some hesitation in accepting 
even Fox's position, " The Bible is not the Word, 
but the words, of God "; but in that day no such 
need for caution was felt. The Bible, especially in 
the hands of Protestant Divines, was the Infallible 
Book wherewith one might batter down the Infallible 
Church, and the disputant who stated its perfection 
in most uncompromising terms was the most certain 
to win popular applause : and thus the unjust but 
easy accusation, " George Fox denies the Scriptures," 
was often the means of exciting the fury of the mob 
against the itinerant preacher in that fierce theo- 
logical England over which the Long Parliament 
bore sway. 

I have dwelt long enough on the teaching of 
George Fox and on the experiences of his inner 
life. Let me now very briefly describe the events 
of his outer life, a life of perpetual storm and turmoil, 
almost to the very end of his career. 


The preachings which marked these missionary 
journeys of his, however diffuse to our modern 
notions, were evidently no ordinary pulpit platitudes. 
Sometimes hundreds of hearers would be brought 
into sympathy with the preacher ; sometimes, more 
often probably, they would, by some unwise or un- 
comprehended word, be " stirred up to sudden act of 
mutiny," and would be ready to stone the audacious 
blasphemer. Thus sometimes one finds such an 
entry in th^ Journal as this : — 

There came a great lady from Beverley to speak to 
Justice Hotham about business, and in discourse she told 
him that the last Sabbath day there came an angel or 
spirit into the Church of Beverley and spoke the wonderful 
things of God to the astonishment of all that were there 
and when it had done it passed away, and they did not 
know whence it came nor whither it went, but it astonished 
all, both priests, professors, and magistrates of the town. 
This relation Justice Hotham gave me afterwards, and 
then I gave him an account how I had been that day at 
Beverley steeple-house and had declared truth to the priests 
and people there. 

Here there was an admiring if somewhat puzzled 
audience, but far commoner are such entries as 
this : — 

Now, while I was at Mansfield Woodhouse I was 
moved to go to the steeple -house there and declare 
the truth to the priest and people, but the people fell 
upon me in great rage, struck me down, and almost 
stifled and smothered me ; and I was cruelly beaten 
and bruised by them with their hands, Bibles, and sticks. 
Then they haled me out, though I was hardly able to 


stand, and put me into the stocks, where I sat some 
hours ; and they brought dog-whips and horse-whips, 
threatening to whip me. After some time the magistrates 
set me at liberty ; but the rude people stoned me out of 
the town for preaching the word of life to them. I was 
scarce able to go or well to stand, by reason of the ill-usage 
I had received, yet, with much ado, I got about a mile 
from the town and then I met with some people that 
gave me something to comfort me because I was in- 
wardly bruised, but the Lord's power soon healed me 
again. That day some people were convinced of the 
Lord's truth, and turned to his teaching, at which I 

He was a young man of twenty-five when he 
received this harsh treatment. 
Take again this entry : — 

At Warmsworth in Yorkshire as soon as I began to 
speak, the people violently rushed upon me and thrust me 
out of the steeple-house and locked the door on me. As 
soon as they had done their service and were come forth 
the people ran upon me, and knocked me sorely with 
their staves, threw clods and stones at me, and abused me 
much : the priest also, being in a great rage, laid violent 
hands on me himself 

And again a little while after, at Tickhill : — 

I was moved of God to go to the steeple-house, and 
when I came there I found the priest and most of the 
chief of the parish together in the Chancel. So I went 
up to them and began to speak, but they immediately 
fell upon me, and the Clerk up with his Bible, as I was 
speaking, and struck me on the face with it so that my 
face gushed out with blood and I bled exceedingly in the 


steeple-house. Then the people cried, " Let us have him 
out of the Church," and when they had got me out they 
beat me exceedingly, and threw me down and over a 
hedge ; and afterwards they dragged me through a house 
into the street, stoning and beating me, as they dragged 
me along, so that I was all over besmeared with blood 
and dirt. They got my hat from me, which I never got 
again. Yet when I was got upon my legs again, I 
declared to them the word of life, and shewed them the 
fruits of their teacher, and how they dishonoured 

It was certainly a somewhat boisterous and 
turbulent England, but also an England very zealous 
for the maintenance of doctrinal orthodoxy, in 
which Fox fulfilled his life-long mission. It will be 
observed that these scenes of violence frequently 
followed some address delivered by Fox in the 
parish Church, and it may be said that they were 
the mob's coarse way of punishing the offence, 
technically known as " brawling in Church." But, 
on the other hand, as we are dealing with the time 
between 1650 and 1660, we may safely say that 
the authorised occupant of the pulpit was almost 
always a Presbyterian minister, who had himself 
very recently ousted the Episcopalian incumbent ; 
and the laxer notions which prevailed as to the 
order to be observed in the parish Church are 
sufficiently shown by the fact that Fox himself was 
often invited to address the people from the pulpit. 
After the Restoration all this free discourse in the 
Churches came to an end, and I believe it may 


be safely said that after that date {1660) we have 
no instance of Fox's committing the offence of 
"brawling in Church." 

But for one reason or other he and his friends 
were constantly coming under the lash of the law. 
If no other offence was committed, Fox's refusal to 
stand bareheaded in the presence of the magistrate 
(which, he maintained, amounted to rendering to 
man a homage due only to God) was itself enough 
to exasperate the Judges against him, and then his 
conscientious refusal to take any oath, whether of 
fidelity to the Parliament, of allegiance or supre- 
macy, completed the case against him. *' Take him 
away, gaoler, take him away," shouts the offended 
Judge of Assize or Justice of the Peace, and for the 
next year or two the earnest Preacher's voice is 
heard no more in the market-place, and we have 
instead the recital of his sufferings in the unutter- 
ably foul, fever- haunted dungeons of seventeenth- 
century England. 

His chief imprisonments were at Derby, Carlisle, 
Launceston, Lancaster, Scarbro', and Worcester. 

At Derby he was immured for about a year 
(1650- 1 651), the committal being made under the 
Blasphemy Act, which had been recently passed by 
the two Houses of Parliament. Undoubtedly there 
must have been something in his discourse, 
delivered in the Church, which sounded wild and 
blasphemous in the ears of the preaching Colonel 
(Barton) who committed him to prison, but as 
Fox himself reports his utterances, and probably as 


he himself intended them to be understood, he said 
nothing more than had been said by the Apostle 
John when he wrote, *' God is love, and he that 
dwelleth in love dwelleth in God and God in him." 
This assertion of the Divine Immanence in the 
Human Soul was that which generally brought Fox 
into trouble with the authorities on the charge of 

Prison regulations at Derby in the year 1650 
must have been strangely unlike those of the 
present day. After this he says : — 

The Justices gave leave that I should have liberty to 
walk a mile. 

I perceived their purpose and told the gaoler if they 
would set down to me how far a mile was, 1 might 
take the liberty of walking it sometimes, for I had 
a sense that they thought I would go away. And the 
gaoler confessed afterwards that they did it with that 
intent, to have me go away to ease them of their plague, 
but I told him I was not of that spirit. 

At length, partly because of some calamities 
which had befallen the town, and which they 
interpreted as Divine judgments upon them for 
keeping him in captivity, partly because of a genuine 
change in their opinion concerning the man whom 
they had at first looked upon as a seducer and 
blasphemer, but now held for an honest and virtuous 
man, the magistrates turned Fox out of the gaol 
about the beginning of winter in the year 1651. 

If not the longest, yet quite the most terrible of 
Fox's imprisonments (January to September 1656) 


was in Launceston Castle, where to this day is 
shown a little chamber about twelve feet square 
which local tradition identifies with Doomsdale, 
''a nasty stinking place, where they used to put 
murderers after they were condemned. The place 
(he says) was so noisome that few that went in 
ever came out again in health." It was reputed to 
be haunted by the ghosts of the prisoners, who 
had died there, but Fox told the '' wild people " who 
thought to terrify him by this kind of talk that, " if 
all the spirits and devils in hell were there, he was 
over them in the power of God, and feared no such 
thing." The cruelties, however, the physical hard- 
ships which he and his friends suffered at the hands 
of a ruffianly gaoler in that unutterably foul dungeon, 
might well have tamed the boldest spirit and under- 
mined the strongest constitution. Let whoso will 
read the sickening pages of the Journal which 
record the horrors of Doomsdale, and thank God 
that no such scenes can now be enacted in any 
English (I hope, we may say, in any European) 

The imprisonment in Launceston Castle was not 
on any theological ground, but on account of Fox's 
refusal to take the oath of Abjuration. The same 
pretext availed for the abrogation of his liberty 
when the Cromwellian rule was over, and the Merry 
Monarch was enthroned at Westminster. Whether 
it were the reign of the Saints or the reign of the 
Sinners made little difference to the hard-pressed 
Quaker. ** Men might come and men might go," 


but it seemed as if his calamities were to go on 
for ever. 

The Launceston imprisonment took place when 
Fox was still a young man. His imprisonment 
in Lancaster and Scarbro' Castles — practically one 
captivity, for he was transferred under guard from 
one fortress to the other — lasted nearly three years 
(January 1664 to September 1666), and, coming as 
it did in middle life, left ineffaceable traces on his 
weakened constitution. The hardships which he 
endured at Scarbro' Castle were especially severe 
though perhaps the result rather of carelessness on 
the part of his gaolers than of intentional cruelty. 
He says : — 

Next day they conducted me up into the Castle, put 
me into a room, and set a sentry on me. I being very 
weak and subject to fainting they for a while let me go 
out sometimes into the air with the sentry. They soon 
removed me out of this room and put me into an open 
room, where the rain came in and the room smoked 
exceedingly, which was very offensive to me. One day 
the governor, who was called Sir John Crossland, came to 
see me. I desired him to go into my room and see what a 
place I had. I had got a little fire made in it, and the 
room was so filled with smoke that when they were in 
they could hardly find their way out again, and he being 
a Papist I told him that was his Purgatory which they 
had put me into. I was forced to lay out about fifty 
shillings to stop out the rain and keep the room from 
smoking so much. When I had been at that charge, and 
made the room somewhat tolerable, they removed me out 
of it and put me into a worse room, where I had neither 


chimney nor fire-hearth. This room being to the seaside, 
and lying much open, the wind drove in the rain forcibly, 
so that the water came over my bed and ran about the 
room so that I was fain to skim it up with a platter. And 
when my clothes were wet I had no fire to dry them, so 
that my body was benumbed with cold, and my fingers 
swelled that one was grown as big as two. Though I 
was at some charge in this room also, yet I could not 
keep out the wind and rain. 

What was the crime for which this man, in 
delicate health, was subjected to hardships such as 
no burglar or ravisher is now subjected to in an 
English prison ? Simply the crime of interpreting 
literally the words of Jesus Christ, *' Swear not at 
all," and being determined to obey them. This 
enabled a county magistrate who had a spite 
against Fox to tender to him the oath of allegiance, 
and, when he refused it, to procure his condemna- 
tion to a captivity which might have been life- 
long under the terrible statute of " Praemunire." 
It is true that this statute was originally passed with 
the intention of guarding the English Church against 
the encroachments of the Papal court, and that Fox's 
persecutors, in all their rage against him and all 
their ignorance of his religious belief, knew perfectly 
well that he was at the opposite pole from the 
emissaries of the Roman Curia. No matter ; the 
words of the Statute were that if any person not 
noble, above the age of eighteen, should refuse the 
oath of allegiance, when tendered by a bishop or 
a magistrate, he should be liable to the penalties 


of a Praemunire — that is, to confiscation of all his 
property, and imprisonment during the king's 
pleasure. At last the pleasure of the king, who by 
some means was informed of the real character of 
the man imprisoned in the windy turrets of Scarbro' 
Castle, was signified in favour of his release. 

A few years after his liberation (October 1669) 
came the one event which sheds a gleam of 
romantic light over the life of the tribulated 
Apostle, his marriage to Margaret Fell, widow 
of Judge Fell, of Swarthmoor Hall, in the north 
of Lancashire. This noble -hearted woman had 
become a convert to Quakerism in the early days 
of Fox's mission (1652). Her account of the effect 
produced on her mind and the minds of almost all 
her household by the preaching of the Quaker 
Missionary, and his debates with the parish Minister, 
" Priest Lampitt," is one of the most interesting 
pages in the history of the Society of Friends, and 
I regret that I must pass it by here with only 
the briefest reference. Her house became for 
some years thereafter a sort of Zoar, to which Fox 
and his fellow -preachers could flee when per- 
secution waxed hottest, her husband, though not 
actually joining the new sect, viewing them with 
some measure of approval, and extending to them 
his protection. But Judge Fell himself had been a 
Commonwealth Judge, a colleague on the bench 
of the great '* Regicide " Bradshaw, though no 
sharer in his most celebrated performance, and, 
therefore, his patronage would probably have been 


of no great value after the Restoration. However 
this may be, he died little more than two months 
after the death of Cromwell, and his widow had 
consequently to fight her battles with the per- 
secutors alone. Under the infamous juggle of the 
Praemunire statute she spent four and a half years 
in prison (January 1664-June 1668), and not long 
after her liberation (October 27, 1669) she and 
George Fox, in the meeting-house of Broad Mead, 
Bristol, "took each other in marriage, the Lord 
joining them together in the honourable marriage 
state in the Everlasting Covenant and immortal 
Seed of Life." 

Very quaint is the husband's description of the 
marriage offer; of her acceptance, '* feeling the 
answer of life from God thereunto " ; of his letting 
the thing rest while he went on in the work and 
service of the Lord, travelling up and down in this 
nation and through Ireland, till at last, "being in 
Bristol, and finding Margaret Fell there, it opened 
in me from the Lord that the thing should be 
accomplished." Very honourable also to him is the 
sedulous care he took that Mrs. Fell's large family 
by her first husband should suffer no pecuniary 
loss through their mother's re -marriage, and the 
steadfast friendship which existed ever after between 
the daughters of the family and their mother's 

A renewed imprisonment of Margaret Fox, as 
we must now call her (1670- 1 671), a long and 
severe illness of Fox, probably due to the hardships 


of his imprisonment, and then a long journey to 
America (1671-1673) were grievous interruptions to 
the wedded happiness of the elderly couple. And 
then, when at last they were journeying down to 
Swarthmoor, hoping for rest and happy days, there 
came the last of Fox's imprisonments, by which he 
was detained in Worcester gaol for fourteen months 
(December 1673-February 1675). After this, the 
fire of persecution somewhat abated. The two 
Stuart brothers, Charles and James, were beginning 
to show some favour to the Protestant Dissenters 
in order to obtain toleration for the Roman Catholic 
faith which they both held, one secretly and the 
other openly, and for the sake of which in November 
1688 James went forth a crownless exile from his 
native land. 

During these later, comparatively quiet, years, 
Fox was chiefly engaged in the work of legislation 
and administration for the little church which he 
had, one may almost say unintentionally, founded. 
He had perhaps come to see that his preaching, 
and that of his friends, though successful to a 
degree which we find it hard to realise (in some 
parts of England quite half the population had 
turned Quakers) was not going to convert the 
whole nation, much less the whole world, and 
that therefore some sort of Church government 
and some form of discipline would be required for 
this new religious society. Moreover he had seen, 
and had cordially detested, what he called the 
" Anarchy of the Ranters " ; and in conflict with 


some unruly spirits among his own followers he 
had learned the truth that, after all, in every 
religious organisation there must be some agree- 
ment as to the terms of membership, some sacrifice 
of the inclinations of the individual to the collective 
judgment of the body, that it is not quite possible 
for every man to be a law unto himself. These 
considerations led to his maturing, with some help 
from his friends, a system of Church government, 
which, while making no claim to be the only one 
permissible for Christians, has yet in a marvellous 
degree blended Liberty and Law, admitting all the 
members of the Church to a share in its govern- 
ment and yet never degenerating into anarchy or 

As a psychological phenomenon it is interesting 
to observe how the fervid and ecstatic utterances 
of Foxs youth are matured into the ripe wisdom 
of his old age. If in reading some of the earlier 
pages of his Journal one almost trembles for his 
sanity, one is reassured by seeing how the current 
of his thoughts flows calmer and clearer as he is 
nearing the end of his career. 

A few words written by his friends contain the 
simple record of his closing hours : 

Our said dear brother George Fox was enabled by 
the Lord's power to preach the truth fully and effectually 
in our public meeting in White Hart Court by Grace- 
church Street, London, on the eleventh day of this instant 
eleventh month 1690 [Jan. 11, 1 691], after which he said, 
" I am glad I was here : now I am clear, I am fully clear." 



Then he was the same day taken with some illness or 
indisposition of body more than usual, and continued 
weak in body for two days after, at our friend Henry 
Goldney's house in the same court, close by the meeting- 
house, in much contentment and peace, and very sensible 
to the last. . . . He signified to some Friends, " that all 
is well and the Seed of God reigns over all, and over 
death itself: that though he was weak in body, yet that 
the power of God is over all, and the Seed reigns over 
all disorderly spirits," which were his wonted expressions, 
being in the living faith and sense thereof which he kept 
to the end. 

On the 1 3th instant, between the ninth and tenth 
hour in the night, he quietly departed this life in peace, 
being two days after the Lord enabled him to publish 
and preach the blessed truth in the meeting as aforesaid. 
He was about sixty and six years of age — as we under- 
stand — when he departed this life. 

So lived and died the founder of Quakerism. 
Could he now behold the body of Christians who 
profess to follow his principles, would he own them 
as his followers ? I know not. In the two hundred 
years which have intervened, many changes have 
taken place, and several layers of sedimentary rock 
have been deposited above the fierce lava-stream 
of Fox's preaching. Yet while admitting that here, 
as so often in the world of thought, the enduring 
structure does not in all things correspond with 
the idea of the earliest builders, I venture to 
express my own individual belief that George Fox, 
though neither faultless nor infallible, was a real 
prophet of the Most High, and that the world 


even at the present day is in some respects a 
better and a happier world because the shepherd 
of Leicestershire was ''not disobedient unto the 
Heavenly Vision." 

Bamburgh, 1896. 


We are met here to-day to commemorate the 
short but eventful life and the cruel death of 
James Parnel, who died two hundred and fifty 
years ago, imprisoned in Colchester Castle. 

His short life, I have said. It is most important 
for us in judging both this man's actions and the 
actions of his enemies to remember how young 
he was when his career ended. Only nineteen : 
the age at which the public -school boy is just 
taking leave of Eton or Harrow, and preparing to 
go up to the University ; the age at which the 
young artisan is emerging from his apprenticeship, 
and rejoicing in the prospect of earning a man's 
wages ; the age at which the officer in the Army 
is receiving his first commission : this was the 
age at which James Parnel died, after preaching 
hundreds of sermons, holding long and fiercely 
contested religious debates, writing letters and 
pamphlets — letters which fill nearly five hundred 
pages of a small quarto volume — and finally enduring 
ten months of cruel imprisonment. 

He was born at Retford in 1637, and, though 

1 An address delivered at the Parnel Commemoration, at Colchester 
Castle, 2 1 St June 1906. 



of somewhat obscure origin, seems to have received 
a fair education, possibly at Retford Grammar 
School. His childhood was passed in a stormy 
period — such a period as must have filled every 
cottage in England, however lowly, with stirring 
tidings and strange vicissitudes of hope and fear. 
His birth coincided with Laud's attempt to fasten 
the English Prayer Book on the Scottish people, 
with the throwing of Jenny Geddes's cutty-stool, 
and the beginning of the great Stuart downfall. 
When Parnel was seven years old Cromwell won 
the battle of Marston Moor ; at eleven he must 
have heard the awful news of the execution at 
Whitehall. All these world - important events, 
however, leave no impress on Parnel's auto- 
biography,^ which is entirely taken up with the 
history of his own inner life. 

Unlike George Fox, and like John Bunyan, 
Parnel draws a dark picture of his own unregenerate 
youth : 

" I was as wild as others," he says, '' during the time 
I was at school, and after I was taken from school I 
still continued in the same nature, growing and increasing 
in sin and iniquity, following the vain courses of the 
wicked world. I may well say with Paul, ' Of sinners 
I was chief,' for according to my years I was as perfect 
in sin and iniquity as any in the town where I lived, yea, 
and exceeded many in the same." 

He describes, however, how through all his 
wanderings the Spirit of God was working within 

^ The Fruits of a Fast (Collection of the writings of J. Parnel), p. 231. 


him, rebuking him for sin and leading him to 
repentance ; and how at length — apparently under 
no influence of any human teacher — he was brought 
to renounce his sinful manner of life. 

So did the goodness of God lead me to repentance, 
and the grace of God wrought in my heart a reformation, 
and so I was found of Him whom I sought not, and thus 
He both wrought the will and the deed of His own good 
pleasure, and plucked me as a brand out of the fire, to 
make me a vessel of honour to his name. Thus, though 
aforetime there was as little hope of my conversion as of 
any in the town, yet, though it is a place of many people, 
I was the first in all that town which the Lord was 
pleased to make known His power in, and turn my heart 
towards Him and truly to seek Him, so that I became 
a wonder to the world and an astonishment to the 
heathen round about. But they were such enemies to 
goodness, and so given up to idolatry, that as much as 
before they had loved me in my vain conversation, so 
much the more they hated me in my conversion. Yea, 
and they of my family came to ensnare me, and lay 
wait for me to entrap me ; but when they could not 
prevail they stood afar off from me and reproached me 
with lies and proved my greatest enemies ; yea, and my 
relations became my adversaries, and laboured to destroy 
what God had begun in me, because that thereby I came 
under the reproval and shame of the world, because I 
could not conform to the world, but was made subject to the 
law of God. 

This momentous change in the lad's life took 
place when he had reached the age of fourteen or 
fifteen, and we may fairly conclude, notwithstand- 
ing his own words of severe self-condemnation, 


that he had never led what the world would con- 
sider a vicious or disreputable life. 

At the time of his conversion Parnel does not 
seem to have met with any Quaker preachers, a 
fact which makes his testimony to their great 
doctrine of "the Inward Lio^ht " all the more 
valuable. He says that "there was a people with 
whom I found union, a few miles from the town 
where I lived, whom the Lord was a-gathering out 
of the dark world to sit down together and wait 
upon his name " ; but these persons were apparently 
not themselves members of the Quaker community, 
which was still only in its infancy. In our sketch 
of Parnel's life we have reached the year 1652, 
and it was only two years before that date that 
Gervase Bennet, the magistrate, called George Fox 
and his adherents "Quakers," because he bid his 
hearers tremble at the word of the Lord. 

Before many months had passed, however, 
Parnel was, as he says, " called forth to visit some 
Friends in the north of England, with whom I had 
union in spirit before I saw their faces." Possibly 
some rumours of George Fox's visit to Swarthmoor, 
and of the marvellous results which had followed 
his preaching there — so that for a time it seemed 
as if the whole county of Cumberland would 
accept the Quaker teaching — may have penetrated 
to Retford. At any rate Parnel made his way to 
Carlisle — it is a continual subject of wonder how 
these early Friends, often with very slender re- 
sources, contrived to perform the long journeys 


through ill-roaded England which fill the pages 
of their biographies — and at Carlisle he found 
George Fox himself, thrust down among the moss- 
troopers in a vermin -haunted dungeon, but loved 
and listened to by his fellow -prisoners, notwith- 
standing all the bullyings and cudgellings of an 
iron-hearted gaoler. 

George Fox himself, in his Jour7ial, thus 
describes the interview : 

Whilst I was In the dungeon at Carlisle, James 
Parnel, a little lad of about sixteen years of age, came 
to see me and was convinced. And the Lord quickly 
made him a powerful minister of the word of life, and 
many were turned to Christ by him, though he lived not 

These words of the founder of Quakerism help 
us to form an idea of the personal appearance of 
his convert. Parnel w^as not only very young, but 
little of stature : "the little Quaking lad" being the 
name under which he was contemptuously known 
by his adversaries. But if his bodily presence was 
weak, "his speech was" not "contemptible." He 
evidently had a considerable gift of natural elo- 
quence and, I conjecture, a strong and resounding 
voice. In reading his pamphlets, with their long 
tiowing sentences, and their cataract of Scripture 
texts, I feel that I can imagine the enthusiasm of 
his followers, and the fury of his opponents, as they 
heard the little Quaking lad pouring forth his 
torrent of warning, reproof, and fiery testimony. 
It must be admitted, if we may judge from his 


published works, that these, rather than the con- 
soling influences of the Gospel, were the chief 
characteristics of his ministry. 

In the next year after Fox's and Parnel's meeting 
in Carlisle gaol we find them again together, this 
time in Fox's own native country, on the borders of 
Leicestershire and Warwickshire. Here, at Ather- 
stone, on the Watling Street, there was a theological 
battle royal. Stephens, the Presbyterian minister 
of Fenny Drayton (Fox's birthplace), had seven of 
his colleagues to help him, while Fox had on his 
side a certain Thomas Taylor, who had been a priest, 
James Parnel, and several other Friends. Hundreds 
of people were collected, some of whom grew rude as 
the ministers became ** light" or jocular. The pro- 
ceedings were lively. Fox, who refused to conduct 
the argument in the church, was set on *' something 
like a footstool under the church wall," and when 
he called the clergy '* hirelings " was knocked off it 
again ; but in the end his earnest argument seems 
to have touched some chord in his old opponent's 
heart, for ''priest Stephens" brought him a form of 
prayer, which he craved that they might each use 
for one another's enlightenment. Unfortunately the 
Journal of George Fox, from which all these details 
are taken, does not tell us what was the precise 
part taken by Parnel in the great arbitrament. 

When Parnel was betwixt seventeen and eighteen 
years of age he was, he says 

. . . moved of the Lord to go to Cambridge, and in obedi- 
ence unto the Lord I came to see what He had for me to 


do, not knowing one foot of the way but as I was directed, 
neither knowing when I came there where to be received ; 
but I had heard before of two of my friends that were 
there whipped, at the order of the mayor that then was, 
only for declaring the truth as they passed through the 
town, against the deceit thereof Neither did I know 
but it might be my portion also when I came there, but 
without conferring with flesh and blood I passed on my 
journey, and He that called me forth went along with me 
and did direct me. 

It would be interesting if we could learn whether 
Parnel when he was at Cambridge had any inter- 
course, friendly or hostile, with any of the members 
of the University, at that time strictly but not un- 
wisely ruled by the Puritan heads of houses, most 
of them once members of the famous Westminster 
Assembly, whom the Long Parliament had planted 
there instead of the uprooted Episcopalians. On 
such matters, however, Parnel's autobiography is 
silent. All that we learn therefrom is that at the 
end of a fortnight, William Pickering, the mayor of 
Cambridge, committed him to prison for publishing 
two papers (apparently not now extant) : one 
"Against the Corruption of the Magistrates," the 
other "Against the Corruption of the Priests." 
" And there they kept me in prison the space of two 
sessions, and tossed me from prison to dungeon, 
and had nothing to lay against me whereby to prove 
the breach of any law." When he was at last 
brought to trial, the jury refused to find that the 
two documents were scandalous and seditious libels, 


and would only affirm the undoubted fact that 
they were written by Parnel. He was accordingly 
liberated, after three more days' imprisonment, in 
as ungracious style as possible. 

They sent me away with a pass, under the name of a 
rogue, yet durst not give me the law which belongs to 
rogues, but had me away with clubs and staves ; and I 
could not see the pass until I was three miles out of the 
town where I lodged that night ; and the next day there 
came a justice of the peace from Cambridge, who, knowing 
me to be innocent of what was laid to my charge, witnessed 
the pass to be false and took it back to Cambridge, and so 
I was set free. And not long after I went to Cambridge 
again, and went abroad, preaching and declaring the truth 
freely in the countries about. 

In reading this and many other descriptions of 
the collision between the early Quakers and the 
magistrates, we must often feel a sentiment of pity 
for the latter, who, in many cases, do not seem to 
have been either bigoted or cruel, but who were 
thoroughly perplexed by the cases brought before 
them, and became persecutors in their own despite. 
Here they were, commonplace men doubtless, for 
the most part, but desirous to *' execute justice and 
maintain truth " according to their lights. Suddenly 
a man appears in their town or village, preaching 
what seems to some of the hearers a new Gospel ; 
what the minister of the parish holds for blas- 
phemy. The preacher is generally a young man, 
sometimes, as in the case of Parnel, a very young 
man ; he denounces the corruption of magistrates, 


the corruption of priests ; he appears like one of the 
old Hebrew prophets, thundering against all that 
the conventional Englishman holds — I will not say 
most sacred, but most obviously essential to the con- 
duct of human affairs. He has, perhaps, forced on 
the minister a theological discussion in what he calls 
" the steeple-house " ; he has rebuked in unmeasured 
terms the hypocrisy of " the high professors." If 
this sort of thing goes on, thinks the magistrate, 
we shall be having a renewal of civil war (he does 
not know how utterly impossible it is for the Quaker 
to fight), and at any rate I am bound to protect the 
minister from obloquy and abuse in his own parish 
church. And yet there was a note of earnestness 
in that young man's voice. He speaks of having a 
message from the Lord to deliver. When he ap- 
pealed to the witness in my heart, there was some- 
thing which seemed to echo his words. Thus, 
probably, many a magistrate, and some even of the 
judges of the land, communed with themselves when 
the Quaker was brought before them for trial ; and 
sometimes, while the magistrate looked his sternest, 
the question was being debated in his own heart : 
''Shall I order this young man to be whipped as a 
rogue and a vagabond, or shall I descend from the 
bench, take him for my spiritual guide, and follow 
him into the social wilderness ? " 

And the young Quaker enthusiast himself, how 
shall we account for his irresistible impulse to dash 
himself against the religious and social conventions 
of his age ? I cannot, to my own mind, explain it 


better than by Browning's description of the mental 
attitude of the risen Lazarus : 

So here — we call the treasure knowledge, say, 

Increased beyond the fleshly faculty — 

Heaven opened to a soul while yet on earth, 

Earth forced on a soul's use while seeing Heaven. 

The man is witless of the size, the sum. 

The value in proportion of all things, 

Or whether it be little or be much ; 

He holds on firmly to some thread of life 

(It is the life to lead perforcedly) 

Which runs across some vast distracting orb 

Of glory on either side that meagre thread, 

Which, conscious of, he must not enter yet, — 

The spiritual hfe around the earthly life : 

The law of that is known to him as this — 

His heart and brain move there, his feet stay here. 

The duality of purpose which Browning attributes 
to Lazarus was not perhaps exhibited by the early 
Friends ; but in the clashing between their spiritual 
perceptions and the conventional rules of conduct of 
the people, even the good people, round them, we 
may see reproduced something ot the same conflict 
which is here so vividly portrayed. 

Before v/e contemplate the cruel end of Parnel's 
short career, let us devote a little time to the 
description of his teaching. 

One of the points on which he seems to have been 
most bitterly denounced by his Puritan adversaries 
was his assertion that the Christian can attain per- 
fection in this life. In his queries to the ** chief 
priests in Essex," he asks whether those preachers, 
who, like himself, '' witness forth perfection from 


sin here, or those who tell people ' they can never 
be perfect or be wholly set forth from sin so long as 
they are upon the earth,' " are most likely to be the 
ministers of Anti-Christ : 

Where had you this doctrine, to tell people " They 
could never be wholly cleansed or be set free from sin so 
long as they are upon the earth " ? And is not this in 
opposition to the doctrine of Christ, who saith, " Be ye 
perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect " ? 

He that is justified by the righteousness of Christ, 
doth he not dwell in it, and it in him ? And doth he 
sin that dwells in the righteousness of Christ ? 

We come here upon a question which is still one 
of the living issues in Christian theology, and which 
was, not many years after Parnel's death, to be hotly 
debated in the Roman Church itself, when Molinos 
and Madame Guyon were shut up in prison for 
advocating that system of Quietism, one of the 
essential elements of which was the possibility of 
attaining Christian perfection. With the Catholic 
Ouietist the motive force was antagonism to the 
priestly system of confession, penance, indulgences, 
on which so much of the power and wealth of 
the clergy depended. With Parnel and his fellow- 
preachers it was rather a revolt against the practical 
antinomianism into which the impassioned preachers 
of ** salvation by faith alone " were ever in danger 
of sliding, though in theory they accepted the 
anathema of Paul, "If they say, ' Let us continue 
in sin that grace may abound,' their condemnation 
is just." 


Can we not easily see how, in those years of 
Puritan triumph, when the downtrodden ones of 
Tudor and Stuart had become the conquerors, and 
were riding in the high places of the earth ; when 
grave matters of State were decided at the prayer- 
meetings of the soldiers, and when "godliness" had 
indeed become a ** gainful trade " ; there would be 
thousands of insincere, or but half-sincere professors 
of evangelical doctrine, to whom the reiterated state- 
ment, ** You can never be wholly cleansed from sin 
while you are in the flesh," would be only too 
welcome. Against this antinomian tendency Parnel, 
while he was but a boy of seventeen, thundered, in 
a pamphlet called A Tryal of Faith : 

Come, try your faith, all you professors of Godliness, 
of God, and of Christ. Come, search the ground and 
bottom of your faith what it is built upon ; for the faith 
and hope of the hypocrite perisheth, which stands in 
words and on an unsteady foundation. You say, " You 
are saved by the blood of Christ and by His stripes you 
are healed," and so would make Him the ground of your 
faith ; but what are you saved from, and what are you 
healed of? Christ came to save and redeem sinners 
from their sin, and to heal them of the wound of sin ; to 
bruise the serpent's head, and to bind the strong man, 
and to cast him out of his house. . . . He came to 
make a separation betwixt the precious and the vile, 
betwixt the wheat and the tares, the sheep and the goats, 
and to purchase to man that which man hath lost, and 
to this end is He come. Those who can witness this 
can witness Him, and may claim an interest in Him, and 
have an assurance of their salvation. But they who 


cannot witness this cannot witness Christ, and so are 
reprobates concerning the faith. Now here all you 
drunkards are shut out ; here all you swearers are shut 
out ; here all you proud and covetous and lustful ones are 
shut out ; here all you scoffers and scorners and back-biters 
and revilers and extortioners and whoremongers and 
envious ones and gamers and sporters ; and all you self- 
righteous professors who live in the fashions and customs 
of the world, delighting in its pleasures and vanities ; you 
are all shut out from the true faith which purifieth the 
heart. The serpent is head over you, and your strong 
man keeps the house, and a stronger than he is not yet 
come. The imprisoned lies in prison, and the wound 
of sin is yet fresh. Christ lies low in the manger, and 
the inn is taken up with other guests. Here you can 
challenge no interest in the blood of Christ, . . . and all 
your faith is vain, and your hope vain, and the founda- 
tion thereof is sandy and will not stand in the day of 

Another paragraph of the same discourse seems 
to show that the England of the Protectorate was 
not altogether so austere and melancholy a place as 
the satirists have represented it : 

And all you wilful blind, carnal, ignorant creatures, 
whom my soul pitieth to see how ignorantly you are led, 
who pin your faith upon the sleeves of your forefathers 
and live in lightness and wantonness, spending your 
youth in vanity, in gaming, pleasures and sporting, in 
drunkenness, in swearing and lying, in vain talk and 
foolish jestings, in pride and lust and filthiness, and say, 
" You follow your fathers," and say, " What is become of 
them ? " and say, " Your pleasures are pastime and 
recreation, and your vain talk and foolish jesting is 


pastime and merriness," and so you pass the time 
away, and say your drinking and rioting and feasting 
is good fellowship and neighbourhood, and so you cover 
over your sins and iniquities ; woe unto him that hides 
his sin and covers his iniquity, and all this will not profit 
you anything, neither can your forefathers excuse you 
before the Lord. 

Passing from the question of doctrine to the much 
less important but practically more often discussed 
questions of external behaviour, I find Parnel saying, 
in his pamphlet called A Shield of the Truth : 

We are accused to be destructive to all superiority 
and honour, breeding, and manners, because we cannot 
put off our hats, nor follow the fashions of the world, nor 
respect any persons, but speak the plain word Thou to 
any one, rich or poor. 

On this last point, the use of the second person 

singular, the change of manners which has taken 

place in two centuries has taken the heart out of the 

Quakers' argument. Their scruple about the use of 

the plural number was an intelligible and a living 

thing when Judge Jefferies said from the Bench to 

Richard Baxter, '' I thou thee, thou traitor." Now, 

when the King of England says *'You" to the 

humblest menial in his household, ** Thou " has 

become nothing more than a grammatical survival. 

As for the general principle, however, it deserves 

consideration, whether our Christianity does not 

require us to make a stand, some in one way and 

some in another, on behalf of simplicity of behaviour 

and truthfulness of speech, and against those insincere 



and flattering courtesies of language and gesture 
with which, in our highly conventionalised state of 
society, we are too apt to lubricate the working 
of its wheels. 

Though the early Friends were never Levellers, 
and carefully abstained from taking part in any 
agitation for political changes, one can trace in 
some of their writings an instinct of the kind which 
we now call democratic ; and this perhaps shows 
itself in none more plainly than in the utterances 
of "James Parnel, labourer." Thus he seems to 
attribute to '' Lucifer " the distinction of society 
into various classes : 

He hath invented ways whereby he is honoured and 
exalted and worshipped, and he calls this manners and 
breeding ; and those who can honour him the most and 
exalt him the highest are, he saith, " the best bred 
and of the best breeding," and those he calls noblemen 
and gentlemen, and the others he calls yeomen and 
common people and inferiors, though they all honour 
him, but they observe it [the rule of " manners "] not 
so much as the others. 

In reading such a passage as this one has to 
remember that the writer was a lad of seventeen, 
with a very limited experience of the world. Had 
he lived some years longer, and come into contact 
with such a truly high-bred Christian gentleman 
as William Penn, he had perhaps expressed his 
thoughts in different words. Even as it is, there 
is in him a yearning after a true aristocracy : 

True nobility we own ; the seed of God is noble, 


wheresoever it is born up. Where this seed reigns and 
rules there is true nobility, there is true gentility, no more 
after the flesh but after the spirit, and honour is due to 
this both in magistrate and minister, fisherman and 
ploughman, herdsman and shepherd, wheresoever it rules, 
without respect of persons. . . . And thus all the true 
prophets of God were noblemen and gentlemen, sprung 
of the noble seed, though of the nobles and great ones of 
the earth they were disdained and reproached, because, 
according to the world, they were of low degree, some of 
them ploughmen, some herdsmen, some shepherds, and 
therefore they persecuted them and destroyed them, yet 
were they gentle and bore all. 

In the middle of May, 1655, Parnel entered 
Essex, a county previously untrodden by Quaker 
missionaries, and began a course of preaching there 
which was crowned with extraordinary success. 
Essex was one of those counties which had con- 
tributed largely to the success of the Parliamentary 
cause in the first Civil War ; and in the miserable 
episode of the second Civil War, the town of 
Colchester, Parliamentarian at heart but captured 
and occupied by the Stuart partisans, had suffered 
severely from both armies. Perhaps there was in 
the minds of many a weariness of all these religious 
discussions ; perhaps the Independent preachers, 
who now ruled supreme in most of the churches, 
had borne themselves somewhat too haughtily in 
their new dominion. At any rate, Parnel found 
/'the fields white unto harvest," and some important 
citizens of Colchester, notably Stephen Crisp, were 
converted to Quakerism by his ministry. His 


success at last roused some of the fanatics to 
fury. One day, as he was leaving the beautiful 
old church of St. Nicholas, a man struck him with 
a big stick, saying, ** There, take that for Jesus 
Christ's sake." He meekly answered, " Friend, I 
do take it for Jesus Christ's sake." 

Alarmed and mortified by the success of Parnel's 
ministry, the Puritan ministers appointed fasts, 
preachings, and special prayers ''against the errors 
of the people called Quakers." One such fast was 
appointed for Sunday, 12th July, at the little town of 
Coggeshall. Thither Parnel repaired, and entering 
the church, stood quietly while the preacher, an 
Independent minister named Willis, delivered his 
diatribe against Quakerism. When this was ended, 
Parnel claimed the liberty conceded by St. Paul, 
" that all should speak one by one, and that if any- 
thing were revealed to him that was standing by, 
the first should hold his peace." With fairness 
which we must admire, Willis granted him per- 
mission to speak in vindication of the Quakers ; 
but either he went on too long, or he used some 
words which exasperated his opponents. ** The 
priests [that is, the Independent ministers] ran out 
into many words and caused great confusion." The 
debate seems to have degenerated into a war of 
words about the meaning of the word "church." At 
last Willis announced his intention to offer prayer, 
and Parnel, who had remained covered till then, was 
ordered to put off his hat, which he refused to do, and 
so refusing, he quietly departed from the church. 


A strange scene undoubtedly to be transacted in 
a church, and one very unlike our present decorous 
and peaceable ways. But every line of the picture 
reveals an utterly different state of manners and 
society from that which now surrounds us, and the 
whole story is eloquent of the upheavings and 
down-thrustings through which the Churches of 
England had been passing during ParneFs short 
life. The Independent minister who was now 
vicar of Coggeshall had probably supplanted a 
Presbyterian ; either Independent or Presbyterian 
had certainly supplanted a Church of England 
clergyman, who was probably in exile or obscurity, 
striving to eke out a scanty living by teaching in 
the family of some *' malignant" squire. 

But this altercation with the preacher at Cogges- 
hall, no more and no less, was the offence for which 
the boy-preacher of nineteen suffered the terrible 
imprisonment, the memory of which is in all our 
hearts to-day. A magistrate, named Dionysius 
Wakering, one of the members of Parliament for 
Essex, followed him out of the church, and arrested 
him in the name of the Protector. The indictment 
against him set forth that " he riotously entered 
the church at Coggeshall, stood up and told the 
minister that he blasphemed, and spoke falsely, 
with other reproachful words ; went out into the 
common highway with a great number of his 
followers [this was quite untrue] and gave out 
menacing and threatening speech, tending to the 
breach of the peace and against law." 


Two months' imprisonment at Colchester Castle 
followed while he waited for the assizes. Then, in 
September, he was marched through the county to 
Chelmsford (twenty-two miles distant), handcuffed 
to a murderer, and brought up for trial, manacled, 
before Serjeant Roger Hill. We need not go 
through the familiar story of the trial, the trouble 
about the removal of the hat, the reading of some 
fiery pamphlets which he had written in reply to 
the indictment, the cautious verdict of the jury, 
almost amounting to an acquittal, the insistence of 
the judge, and at last, after some hesitating words 
from the foreman of the jury, the judge's sentence 
that he should be fined in two sums of ;^20 each — 
one for contempt of the magistracy, and the other 
for contempt of the ministry ; and in default of 
payment should be committed to gaol or Colchester 
Castle; and "see," said the judge to the gaoler, 
" that you do not allow any of the giddy-headed 
people to come at him." 

Colchester Castle, the scene of the poor young 
preacher's sufferings and death, needs no descrip- 
tion for us who are standing under the shadow of 
that mighty pile, reared out of the ddbris of Roman 
Camalodunum ; who stand in the great quadrangle ; 
who can lift up our eyes to see the lofty gallery 
running round the keep, in one of the chambers of 
which Parnel was imprisoned ; who can step forth 
into the forum in which the terrified colonists 
huddled together eighteen hundred and fifty years 
ago, in vain hope of escaping the onslaught of the 


maddened Britons under Boadicea ; who see the 
green turf whereon, sixteen centuries later, the two 
Stuart generals, Lisle and Lucas, were shot by 
order of Fairfax. The great castle itself, built 
about the same time as the Tower of London, and 
not unlike it in shape, reared in the first twenty- 
years after the Norman Conquest, tells of the stern 
determination of the Conqueror and his barons to 
hold by ruthless force the dominion which they 
had so hardly won on the battlefield of Hastings. 
Brute force was typified by its erection under the 
orders of the Norman seneschal Eudo ; brute force 
repressing the growth of unwelcome opinion was 
exemplified by the closing scenes of James Parnel's 
life, which shall now be described in the exact 
words of the old Quaker historian Sewell. 

Thereupon J. Parnel was carried back again to the 
prison, being an old ruinous castle, built, as it is reported, 
in the time of the ancient Romans. Here he was to be 
kept until the fine should be paid, and the gaoler was com- 
manded not to let any giddy-headed people (by which 
denomination they meant his friends) come at him. 

The gaoler was willing enough to comply with this 
order, suffering none to come to him but such as abused 
him ; and his wife, who was a wicked shrew, did not only 
set her man to beat him, but several times herself laid 
violent hands on him, and swore she would have his blood ; 
she also set other prisoners to take away the victuals 
brought to him by his friends, and would not let him have 
a trundle bed which they would have brought him to lie 
on, so that he was forced to lie on the cold and damp 
stones. Afterwards he was put into the hole in the wall, a 


room much like a baker's oven, for the walls of that build- 
ing, which is indeed a direful nest, are of an excessive 
thickness, as I have seen myself, having been in the hole 
where this pious young man ended his days, as will be said 
by and by. Being confined in the said hole, which was, 
as I remember, about twelve feet high from the ground,^ 
and the ladder too short by six feet, he must climb up 
and down by a rope on a broken wall, which he was 
forced to do to fetch his victuals or for other necessities ; for 
though his friends would have given him a cord and a 
basket to draw up his victuals in, yet such was the malice 
of his keepers that they would not suffer it. 

Continuing in this moist hole his limbs grew be- 
numbed, and thus it happened, that as he was climbing up 
the ladder, with his victuals in one hand, and had come to 
the top thereof, catching at the rope with his other he 
missed the same, and fell down upon the stones, whereby 
he was exceedingly wounded in his head, and his body so 
bruised that he was taken up for dead. Then they put 
him into a hole underneath the other, for there were two 
rows of such vaulted holes in the wall. This hole was 
called the oven, and so little that some bakers' ovens 
were bigger, though not so high. Here (the door being 
shut) was scarcely any air, there being no window or hole. 
And after he was a little recovered from his fall they 
would not suffer him to take the air, though he was 
almost spent for want of breath ; and though some 
of his friends, viz. William Talcot and Edward Grant, 
did offer their bond of forty pounds to the Justice 
Henry Barrington, and another, whose name was Thomas 
Shortland, to lie body for body, that Parnel might have 
liberty to come to W. Talcct's house and return when 
recovered ; yet this was denied ; nay, so immovable were 

^ According to our present information, more like twenty ; but there may 
have been some changes in the level of the great quadrangular yard. 


they set against him, that when it was desired that he 
might only walk a little sometimes in the yard they would 
not grant it by any means ; and once the door of the hole 
being open, and he coming forth and walking in a narrow- 
yard between two high walls, it so incensed the gaoler that 
he locked up the hole and shut him out in the yard all 
night, being in the coldest time of the winter. This hard 
imprisonment did so weaken him, that after ten or eleven 
months he fell sick and died. At his departure there 
was with him Thomas Shortland and Ann Langley ; 
and it was one of these (that came often to him) who long 
after brought me into this hole where he died. 

Several things which are related here I had from the 
mouth of eye-witnesses who lived in that town. When 
death approached he said, " Here I die innocently." A 
little after he was heard to say, " Now I must go," and 
turning his head to Thomas, he said, " This death I must 
die ; I have seen great things ; don't hold me, but let me 
go." Then he said again, " Will you hold me ? " To which 
Ann answered, " No, dear heart, we will not hold thee." 
He had often said that one hour's sleep would cure him of 
all ; and the last words he was heard to say were, " Now I 
go," and then stretched out himself, and slept about an 
hour, and breathed his last. Thus this valiant soldier of 
the Lamb conquered through sufferings ; and so great 
were the envy and malice of his persecutors, that to cover 
their guilt and shame, they spread among the people that 
by immoderate fasting, and afterwards with too greedy 
eating, he had shortened his days. But this was a wicked 
lie ; for though it be true he had no appetite to eat some 
days before he fell sick, yet when he began to eat again, 
he took nothing but a little milk. . . . 

This story about his suicidal fast w^as probably 
invented by the gaoler in order to shield himself 


from blame for the hardships which had caused the 
death of his victim. In reading the narratives of 
the sufferings of Parnel and many like him in 
prison, we are naturally stirred to indignation 
against the persecutors who perpetrated these 
cruelties in the name of Christ. In this respect 
there is nothing to choose between the different 
religious parties which in their turn ruled seven- 
teenth-century England. Parnel was done to 
death under Cromwell, though assuredly not with 
his cognizance. The imprisonment of George Fox 
at Launceston, under the Commonwealth, was at 
least as cruel as those which he endured under 
Charles II. in Lancaster and Scarborough. All 
sects, except the Friends, were more or less stained 
by the crime of persecution ; it was only a few 
solitary thinkers such as Jeremy Taylor and 
Roger Williams who descried the coming dawn, and 
pleaded for the toleration which is now, at least in 
theory, accepted by all Englishmen. 

Yet, in reflecting on this and similar passages in 
the religious history of the seventeenth century, I 
feel that we must beware of attributing too large 
a share in the actual infliction of cruelty to the 
religious leaders on either side, whether Puritan or 
Episcopalian. The English prisons of that age 
were detestable ; no one doubts it. Read the 
graphic picture of them drawn in Macaulay's 
History of England, and remember how, as he says, 
the gaol fevers bred in these pestilential holes often 
came forth at the assizes and avenged the prisoners 


on the ministers of the law. The gaolers, whether 
they called themselves Republicans or Loyalists, 
were for the most part brutal, uneducated men, 
whose only thought was how to make the most 
money out of the prisoners committed to their 
charge. If the prisoner had friends who would 
bribe handsomely, such rough comforts as the 
gaol could afford were his ; if not, so much the 
worse for him. Then came in the instinct of cruelty 
which slumbers in so many vulgar souls, and the 
fact, as old as humanity, that^ — 

Man, proud man, 
Drest in a little brief authority, 

Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven 
As make the angels weep. 

For failing to inquire into these villainies ; for dis- 
missing the unfortunate enthusiast from their minds 
as soon as they had once "handed him over to the 
secular arm," do I hold the Puritan or the Episco- 
palian minister guilty, rather than for actually con- 
triving, or even conniving at, the cruelties of which 
we read. 

But, after everything has been said, it must be 
admitted that the condition of our prisons at that 
time, and right down for some way into last century, 
is a dark blot on the record of Christian England. 
Here were divines disputing on Election and Repro- 
bation, on Baptismal Regeneration and Apostolical 
Succession, on all sorts of abstract theological and 
political questions, and all the time here was this 


grievous scandal to our very civilization lying at their 
doors, uninquired into, unredressed, unremedied. 
Then, at last, John Howard and Elizabeth Fry 
arose ; they sounded once more in the ears of 
thoughtful men the words, " I was sick, and in 
prison, and ye visited me " ; and one great stigma on 
English Christianity was removed, we hope, for ever. 
For Parnel himself we can have only words of 
admiration. The intolerance which we note in 
some of his early utterances would probably have 
been softened had his life been prolonged ; 
according to the judgment of his latest biographer 
it was already disappearing during the weary 
months of his imprisonment. His intense zeal for 
what he believed to be the cause of truth ; his 
dauntless courage ; his patient endurance of cruelty 
and wrong, are all marks of a noble nature. If 
we ever pause to reflect on the complete religious 
freedom which we now enjoy, let us remember 
that this did not come of itself; that, on the 
contrary, it was with a great price that Parnel, 
and men like him, obtained for us this freedom. 

Note. — Any of my readers who may desire further 
information as to the life and character of this young 
martyr for the truth are referred to the little volume by 
Charlotte Fell Smith, with preface by Wilson Marriage, 
published by Headley Brothers. As for the spelling 
of the martyr's name, I have adopted that which I find 
on the title-page of his works and in Sewell's History ; 
but the baptismal certificate, as given in facsimile in Miss 
Smith's biography, gives the name as Parnell, with a 
double final letter. 


(A Lecture delivered to the Ladies' Summer School^ 
Durham^ July igo6) 

The heroic struggle of a little band of Jewish 
patriots with the kings of Syria, commemorated 
by Josephus and in the books of Maccabees, has 
an undying interest for all lovers of liberty, and 
has also some special points of contact with the 
thoughts and aspirations of our own time. It was not 
merely a struggle between tyranny and freedom. 
Antiochus represented Hellenism, the religion of 
Nature, the victory of the Beautiful over the Holy : 
while the Maccabees fought for a ctrong, stern, un- 
compromising faith in Jehovah, the God who had 
made covenant with their fathers, and claimed a 
Covenant -obedience from them. ''Art for Art's 
sake " was, perhaps we might say, the unconscious 
motto of the Hellenist, while something of the 
intensity, and at the same time of the narrowness 
of Puritanism was characteristic of the triumphant 

Again, the sufferings which Israel for a time 
endured at the hands of the Seleucid lords of 
Asia vividly suggest some of the tragedies which 



have lately been enacted in another great empire 
of even vaster extent than that of the Antiochi, 
while the hatred which the Jew inspired in many 
of the neighbouring nations points to something in 
the national character which continues to this day 
and prompts the Anti-Semitic movement of modern 
politics. But, after all, it is the religious interest of 
the struggle that is rightly uppermost in our minds. 
'' The noble army of martyrs,'* says the great hymn 
of the Church, '* praise Thee, oh God." 

As has been remarked by a modern historian,^ 
*' The figure of the martyr, as the Church knows 
it, dates from the persecution of Antiochus : all 
subsequent martyrologies derive from the Jewish 
books which recorded the sufferings of those who 
in that day "were strong and did exploits." 

Let me try briefly to bring before you the two 
mighty opposites in the strife — Antiochus Epiphanes, 
King of Syria, and Maccabean Israel. 

I. Antiochus IV., surnamed Epiphanes, was de- 
scended in the fifth generation from Seleucus, one 
of the fortunate players in the game of crown - 
winning and crown -losing which was enacted for 
twenty troublous years after the death of Alexander 
the Great. The more we read of the career which 
was ended by Alexander s premature decease, the 
more wonderful does it seem. Macedonian conquest 
was one of the very few victories with any approach 
to permanence that Europe has won in its age-long 

^ E. R. Bevan, TAe Housi of Seletuus, ii. 1 75. I have been throughout 
this narrative under constant obligation to this very scholarly book. 


struggle with Asia. Rome, Russia, England have 
conquered great tracts of Asiatic territory, but will 
it be the judgment of history that any of them 
have stamped their image upon it with an abiding 
impress ? The spirit of Hellas, hovering behind 
the Macedonian phalanx, did undoubtedly Hellenise 
for many centuries almost the whole of Western 
Asia. I need not waste words in enforcing this 
universally admitted fact of history ; it is enough 
to refer to the mere existence of the Greek New 
Testament. But for Alexander the Great and his 
three world- transforming victories of Granicus, Issus, 
and Arbela, Aramaic, not Greek, would have been 
the language used by Evangelists and Apostles in 
the composition of the book which stands at the 
head of the world's literature. But the mighty 
king died and his kingdom was broken and 
divided toward the four winds of Heaven. Let 
us see how the wind blew upon its eastern quarter. 

There is something attractive in the history of 
Seleucus, the far-off ancestor of Antiochus. Born 
probably in the same year with Alexander, and 
emerging to notice as a young but efficient officer 
in his army, he at first plays no prominent part in 
the battlings for empire between the " Successors '* 
(the Diadochi) : but at length he gets a place in 
the front rank as Satrap of Babylonia. He is over- 
mastered by a jealous rival, the mighty Antigonus : 
he flies for his life to the court of his old friend 
Ptolemy, King of Egypt, but returns before long ; 
and in a daring expedition, not unlike that of 


Garibaldi in i860, confronting the forces of a great 
kingdom at the head of only a thousand followers, 
he succeeds in winning back his lost satrapy, and 
from that time forward sits in the palace of Babylon 
as lordly and as firm -seated on his throne as 
Nebuchadnezzar himself. This wonderful return and 
recovery of empire took place in the year 312 B.C., 
and from that date, commonly called **The Era of 
the Seleucidse," all events were reckoned for many 
centuries in the Grecian East, as in Greece itself 
they were reckoned by the Olympiads and in Rome 
from the foundation of the city.^ 

In the thirty years which followed this return 
Seleucus utterly overthrew Antigonus : made him- 
self supreme over the eastern part of the Empire 
to the Jaxartes and the Indus, and, finally, by his 
victoryoveranother of the '* Successors," Lysimachus, 
became the undoubted Lord of Asia Minor. Thus 
his power extended over all the vast regions which 
we now call Turkey in Asia, Persia, and Afghan- 
istan, from the Dardanelles to the Punjab. This 
was the climax of Seleucian greatness ; none of his 
descendants ever ruled so wide a domain. Seleucus 
himself seemed to be on the point of adding 
Macedonia to his Empire, the home-land which 
all these ** successors" longed for in the midst 
of their Oriental magnificence. The victory over 
Lysimachus left Macedon prostrate before him ; 
but immediately after he had crossed into Europe, 

* This chronological system is the only one known in the books of 


while he was, with antiquarian zeal, examining an 
old monument said to be the altar of the Argonauts, 
he was foully murdered by the son of his old friend 
Ptolemy, a scoundrel to whom he had given shelter 
and hospitality when his crimes had banished him 
from his father's house. 

The death of Seleucus happened 281 B.C. : the 
accession of Antiochus Epiphanes a little more 
than a century later, 176 B.C. I am not going to 
trace the history of the Seleucid Empire during 
that century, but I must call your attention to the 
fact of its greatly reduced extent at the close of 
this period. The murder of Seleucus was itself a 
terrible blow to his still imperfectly organised 
kingdom. Then his son Antiochus the Saviour 
had to bear the brunt of that terrible Gaulish 
Invasion (278 B.C.) which was the distant precursor 
of the storms that overthrew the Roman Empire : 
the invasion which has left its mark on our New 
Testament in the title of St. Paul's Epistle to the 

The sixteen elephants of Antiochus enabled him 
to win a notable victory over the invaders, but the 
Gauls remained, a foreign body in the realm, a 
disturbing element in the politics of Asia Minor. 
At this time also, partly perhaps in consequence 
of the Gallic anarchy, arose the powerful dynasties, 
half-Greek, half-Oriental, which ruled in Cappadocia, 
in Bithynia, and in Pergamos and grievously curtailed 
the power of the Seleucid kings in Western Asia. 

A generation later (about 240 B.C.), when the 


house of Seleucus was sorely hampered by family 
dissensions, a Scythian chief named Arsaces con- 
quered Parthia and set up there, in the east of 
Persia (as we now call it), an independent kingdom 
which blocked the way to Bactria and separated the 
Seleucid kings from the young and not unpromis- 
ing Hellenic civilisation, for which the victories of 
Alexander had opened the way in cities like Merv, 
Herat, and Kandahar. From that time forward the 
loss of all the territory east of the Tigris was only 
a question of time. 

Meanwhile there was a perpetually simmering 
feud between the descendants of Seleucus and those 
of his old comrade Ptolemy. Sometimes the feud 
would be suspended for a short time when a 
Ptolemy married a Cleopatra, or an Antiochus 
married a Berenice, the daughter of a king of the 
rival house, but often these dynastic alliances were 
themselves the cause of fresh wars. The main 
subject of dispute, however, was always the same ; 
the question who should possess Southern Syria 
and Palestine, or, as it was called in the political 
language of that day, the satrapy of Phoenicia 
and Coele- Syria. The term Phoenicia needs no 
explanation except to observe that this narrow strip 
of sea-coast extended far north of Tyre and Sidon, 
the chief Phoenician cities, and, in fact, came within 
a hundred miles of Antioch itself. But Coele-Syria, 
or *' the hollow Syria," though an appropriate name 
enough for that which is now called the Bukaa, 
the long and beautiful valley which lies between 


Lebanon on the West and Anti-Lebanon on the 
East, is a strange name to apply to a region which 
included what is to us the infinitely more interesting 
region of Palestine. For this country from Dan 
even to Beersheba is emphatically a land that is 
convex in shape rather than concave, a high central 
ridge of mountains rising between the Maritime Plain 
on the west and the deep gorge of Jordan on the 
east. However, so as the satraps of Ptolemy and 
Antiochus named it, we must be content to receive 
it, always remembering that when the historians 
talk of Coele- Syria they include therein that old 
battle-ground between Egypt and Assyria, the 
land that was given to the children of Israel for a 

The grievance of the Seleucid kings with 
reference to Coele- Syria was an old one. When 
Ptolemy and Seleucus joined their forces in order 
to war against the mighty Antigonus, the Egyptian 
King stipulated for Coele- Syria as his share of the 
spoil. Before the day of battle, however, his heart 
seems to have failed him, and he slunk out of the 
Hollow Syria almost as soon as he entered it. This 
left the stress of the conflict to fall on Seleucus and 
his other allies, and, when in the decisive battle of" 
Ipsus (301 B.C.) Antigonus was utterly overthrown, 
Seleucus not unnaturally claimed Phoenicia and 
Coele-Syria as his own. As Ptolemy, however, had 
again moved his army northwards and occupied the 
two provinces, Seleucus had to content himself with 
a protest. ** For old friendship's sake " he would 


take no active measures to possess himself of the 
territory, but he would know in future how to deal 
with a friend who thus grasped more than his share. 
Thus, then, when the game of Empire-sharing 
was ended, Palestine and the Phoenician coast fell 
to the lot of the Ptolemies, and remained under 
Egyptian rule for a century. It is important to 
remember this fact since we sometimes see it stated 
that at the division of Alexander's Empire Palestine 
became part of the Asiatic kingdom of the family 
of Seleucus.^ In point of fact the Jews were at 
least twice as long under the rule of the Ptolemies 
as under the rule of the Seleucidae, and their 
connection with the latter dynasty was a very 
recent affair when the great revolt of the Maccabean 
heroes took place. It was about the year 201 that 
Antiochus III. made the first conquest of Palestine, 
winning a decisive victory over Scopas, the Ptolemaic 
general, at beautiful Banias hard by the sources 
of the Jordan. Anticipating the course of my 
present narrative I remark that in the year 141, 
by the expulsion of the Syrian garrisons from the 
fortresses which they still held, Simon the Maccabee 
achieved the practical independence of the Jewish 
state, and under his son John Hyrcanus that inde- 
pendence was fully recognised by the Seleucid kings. 
Hence it follows that the period of effective supremacy 
of the Antiochi over Israel cannot be stated at more 
than sixty years. It is to be observed that for 
some reason or other the rule of the Ptolemies was 

^ E.g. in Conder's useful little book on Judas Maccabeus, p. 13. 


always more popular in Palestine than that of the 
Seleucids. *' Whenever the Seleucids did occupy 
Palestine they took it by force and held it by force." 
This is the assertion of Professor Mahaffy, who 
proceeds to discuss the reason for this difference 
between " The King of the North " and '* The King 
of the South." Something he attributes to the 
pleasant manners and courtesy of the first Ptolemy 
and something to the traditional dislike of the Jews 
to potentates who seemed to them the successors 
and representatives of those Eastern despots, 
Hazael, Sennacherib, and Nebuchadnezzar, at whose 
hands they had suffered grievous oppression in by- 
gone centuries. But he attaches more weight to 
the generally kind and friendly policy adopted by 
Ptolemy towards the Jews, and, contrasted there- 
with, the over-zeal with which Seleucus and his 
successors pursued their policy of Hellenising their 
Semitic subjects : 

Thus, while Ptolemy would provide for any number 
of Jewish emigrants in Egypt, and make room in their 
homes for the rest, Seleucus [or Antiochus] would crowd 
the country with heathen settlers, privileged in their 
cities, offering a bad example and much inducement to 
follow it,, to the ambitious youth of Judaea.^ 

The career of Antiochus III., surnamed the Great,^ 
was one of remarkable vicissitudes. In six years 
(from 2IO to 204) he conducted a series of successful 

1 Mahaffy, T/ie Empire of the Ptolemies^ p. 90. 

2 Bevan thinks that this title was rather a revival of the old appellation 
"The Great King," as applied to the monarchs of the East than an epithet 
meant to distinguish between Antiochus III. and other Antiochi. 


campaigns which restored the supremacy of the 
Seleucid house from the Tigris to the Indus, 
reducing the Parthian King and all the other 
chieftains who had claimed to exercise independent 
rule to subordination — unfortunately only temporary 
subordination — to the great Hellenic Empire. 

Soon after came the series of wars and alliances 
which in 201 made him master of the long-coveted 
land Coele- Syria. But there ended his good 
fortune. His ignorance of the real conditions of 
the problem and the persuasive tongue of Hannibal, 
the eternal enemy of Rome, brought him into 
collision with the great world-conquering Republic, 
a collision which involved him in such swift and 
surprising ruin as might befall a savage ignorantly 
meddling with a full-charged electric dynamo. 

After his crushing defeat at Magnesia, 190 B.C., 
he had to submit to the ignominious conditions 
imposed upon him by the Roman Senate : the 
entire evacuation of Asia Minor beyond Mount 
Taurus ; the payment of 15,000 talents (^3,270,000) 
to Rome and 400 (^87,200) to Rome's ally, the 
King of Pergamos ; the surrender of all his elephants 
and all but ten of his battleships ; the expulsion 
of Hannibal from his kingdom ; and, lastly, the 
delivery to Rome of twenty hostages, one of whom 
was to be his own younger son. That son was 
Antiochus Epiphanes. Three years later (187 b.c.) 
the great King perished in a struggle with the 
obscure tribe of the Elymaei who dwelt somewhere 
beyond the Tigris, and whose temples he sought to 


rob of their treasure of silver and gold in order 
to fill the void caused by the terrible indemnity 
to Rome. 

The eldest son of the dead King, Seleucus IV., 
reigned peaceably and, on the whole, wisely for 
eleven years (187-176) and at the end of that time 
was murdered by his chief minister Hellodorus. 
His son Demetrius, who was but a boy, was absent 
as a hostage in Rome, the Senate having for some 
reason — probably because they deemed that a son 
would be dearer than a brother — insisted that he 
should take the place vacated by his uncle Antiochus. 
That uncle, travelling eastward, had taken up his 
abode at Athens and was figuring not only as a 
citizen but an official of the Athenian Republic. 
On the news of his brother's death he at once 
quitted Athens, traversed Asia Minor, and, by the 
friendly aid of the King of Pergamos, succeeded in 
winning the kingdom of his ancestors under the 
title of Antiochus IV. Of the murderous prime- 
minister Heliodorus we hear no more. No doubt 
he was defeated and slain. 

Thus, then, we have Antiochus surnamed 
Epiphanes seated on the Syrian throne. What is 
the meaning of that title which has been generally 
translated the '' Illustrious"? It seems clear, how- 
ever, that it means something more than that. The 
full surname is Theos Epiphanes, ** the manifest 
God," and thus, extraordinary as is the contrast, 
it contains the same thought which the Christian 
Church wishes to express when it speaks of the 


Epiphany of Christ. The process of thought by 
which both Greeks and Romans brought themselves 
to see something actually divine in the rulers before 
whom they cringed is unintelligible to us moderns : 
though, indeed, the language of the Egyptian 
Moslem who has lately written an anonymous letter 
to Lord Cromer might help us to understand it. 
" Though the Khalif (that is the Sultan) were 
hapless as Bayezid, cruel as Murad, or mad as 
Ibrahim, he is the Shadow of God." This absolute 
deification of power, utterly regardless of holiness 
or even of wisdom, is one of the strange vagaries 
of the human intellect, but never perhaps has it 
been more strikingly exemplified than when men 
saw in Antiochus IV. the manifest God, or in 
Abdul Hamid the Shadow of God. 

As this man was the cruel persecutor of the 
Hebrew race we could not reasonably expect to 
find In the books of Maccabees an absolutely 
unbiassed estimate of this character. We are 
fortunate, therefore, in possessing another portrait 
of him, drawn by a superb judge of character, a 
contemporary and an intimate friend of his nephew, 
none other than the historian Polybius. 

Sometimes stealing forth from the Palace without 
the knowledge of his servants he would wander at will 
with one or two companions through the city [of Antioch]. 
Most often, however, he would be found in the quarter of 
the goldsmiths and silversmiths, chattering away and 
showing off his artistic knowledge to the workers in relief 
and the craftsmen. At such times he would enter into 


conversation with any one whom he met, and would have 
a drink with the meanest of the foreigners who happened 
to be passing through the city. If he saw signs of a 
carousal of young fellows he would present himself 
among them unbidden with cornet and bagpipe/ and 
having entered in he often behaved so oddly that many 
of the guests would get up and walk away. Often, too, 
laying aside his royal robes he would put on a toga ^ and 
go round the forum canvassing for votes. One man he 
would take by the right hand, another he would clasp in 
his embrace and beg them to give him their votes, 
perhaps for the office of market steward,^ perhaps for 
that of alderman.* Then, when he had obtained the 
desired office, he w^ould sit on an ivory curule chair after 
the manner of the Roman, would listen to the reading of 
contracts about market business and would deliver his 
judgments with the utmost gravity and earnestness. 

By all these vagaries he drove reasonable men to 
despair ; for while some thought him a good-natured 
simpleton, others took him for a raging lunatic. His 
conduct in respect of presents was all of a piece with that 
which has been already described : he would present 
some people with knuckle bones from the body of a stag, 
others with date stones, and others with gold, and some- 
times he would give costly presents quite unexpectedly 
to chance-comers whom he had never seen before. In 
civic sacrifices, however, and in all that pertained to the 
honour of the gods, he surpassed all his predecessors, as 
may be inferred from his work at the temple of Jupiter 
Olympius at Athens and from the statues with which he 
encircled the altar at Delos. 

/jxra Kepariou Kai avfufxavias : two of the Greek words for musical 
instruments used in Daniel iii. 5. It is a curious coincidence, but probably 
nothing more, that '* a little horn " is the term used to denote Antiochus 
himself in Daniel viii. 9. 

^ Tifl^evva. '^ dyopai'6jJiOs. "* Si^fjixipxos. 


He used to bathe in the public baths when they were 
crowded with townsfolk, and would have jars full of the 
most costly ointments brought to him there. Once upon 
a time a man called out, " Happy are you, oh kings, who 
can use such things as that and smell so sweet." He said 
nothing at the time, but next day when the man was 
bathing he ordered an enormous jar of that very costly 
ointment called Stacte to be emptied over his head. All 
the bathers who stood by rushed in and rolled themselves 
in the overflowing liquid, and as many fell down on the 
slippery pavement, the King himself being one of them, 
there arose a mighty laughter. 

The sum of the whole matter is that Polybius 
decides that Antiochus IV. should have been called 
Epimanes, the madman, rather than Epiphanes. 
And yet he finds it hard to abide even in that 
judgment of this most perplexing character, for 
in another place ^ he says : 

Antiochus the King was an efficient man and one 
who formed large designs, and was worthy of the royal 
name, but for one incident in his life [in connection with 
Egyptian affairs]. 

However, the portrait is now before us painted 
with extraordinary vividness, if it is not easy to 
read the soul that lay behind these ever-changing 
features. Though from other indications we know 
that he was a man of impure character, he was, 
pretty certainly, no mere bloated sensualist. His 
coins — at this period genuine portraits of the 
monarch — show us a face of Greek beauty and with 

1 xxviii. 1 8. 


signs of intellectual power and refinement. We 
have also to remember the fact that he had spent 
his boyhood in Rome, in the period which followed 
the great deliverance from the Second Punic War, 
and had doubtless made the acquaintance of 
senators and consuls, not yet wholly demoralised, 
though rapidly degenerating from the ancient 
republican virtue and simplicity of life. He had 
also spent some months or years in Athens, had 
seen the working of the Republican Institutions 
which that famous city still enjoyed ; and had some- 
times reflected how much more delightful it would 
be to earn power through the excitement of a 
contested election than to wear the same purple 
robe and the same diadem all one's life as a mere 
inheritance from an ancestor. But, after all, the 
chief factor in his history must ever have been 
the influence of his native city Antioch. This city 
which we know so well from the descriptions of 
Julian, of Libanius, and of Chrysostom, kept for 
centuries its character unchanged ; it was emphatic- 
ally the city not of commerce nor of learning but 
of sensual delight, a city of keen satire, of frivolous 
amusement, of little reverence for majesty, human 
or divine. All these influences, and probably some 
touch of madness in his brain, made of Antiochus 
one of the most ** inconsequent " beings that ever 
existed. That word, though still scarcely naturalised 
here, must be permitted us in order to describe 
the character of a man whose actions never seemed 
to follow one another as friend or foe expected. 


Wordsworth's wish, 

I would have my days to be 
Bound each to each in natural piety, 

was the very antithesis of the life of Epiphanes. 
But let us remember that through all his strange 
vagaries he was emphatically a Greek : Greek is 
his craving for novelty, Greek in that lack of 
personal dignity which contrasted so strangely with 
gravity that made the Roman Senate an " Assembly 
of Kings " ; Greek in the love of art which sent him 
down to the quarters of the goldsmiths to chatter 
with the artists in repousse work ; and Greek more 
than all in a strange underlying love for and belief 
in the gods of Olympus. It was this which caused 
him to continue, doubtless at great expense, the 
building of the temple which had been begun by 
Pisistratus and was to be finished by Hadrian, 
the glorious Olympieion at Athens. 

We have in all these co-efficients of character 
some explanation of the causes which made of 
a man not naturally cruel or bloodthirsty the very 
type of a persecuting tyrant. The inconstant, 
paradoxical, pleasure -loving Greek was to dash 
himself against the solemn fervour of the Jews ; the 
man who cared only for the Beautiful was to try to 
break the wills of men devoted to the Holy ; the 
patronising worshipper of Jupiter Olympius and all 
his bright train of immoral deities was to strive to 
erase from the minds of a whole nation the deeply 
engraved but unutterable name of Jehovah Sabaoth. 

H. Of the people of Israel themselves, with whom 


the Syrian king was thus to come into conflict, we 
have far less information than we could desire, far 
less real and trustworthy information than could be 
inferred by an uncritical reader of the smooth- 
flowing narrative of Josephus. 

The transportation of the two tribes of Judah 
and Benjamin into captivity took place about the 
year 600 b.c. The books of the Maccabees begin 
their detailed history of the nation about 200 b.c. 
Of the intervening history of the Jewish people 
during all these four hundred years we have 
practically no authentic record, except for some 
twenty years (536-516) at the time of the Return, 
and twenty -six years (459-433), the period in 
which Ezra and Nehemiah were carrying through 
their work of Reformation. From 433 to 200 
authentic history is silent as to the doings of the 
little nation that clustered on the Judaean hills, round 
the temple of Jerusalem. Legends, now generally 
discredited, about the men of the Great Synagogue, 
the names of several of the High Priests and a 
story, probably mythical, concerning an Interview 
between the High Priest Jaddua and Alexander 
the Great, help to fill up the pages of historical 
manuals, but add little or nothing to the sum of our 
real knowledge. 

On the other hand, there are some Indications 
that this long period of unrecorded history was by 
no means the least prosperous in the religious life 
of Israel. It contains, it is true, the works of only 
three prophets — Zechariah, Haggai, and Malachi — 


but, as the mission of the prophet was generally to 
denounce the sins of his countrymen, and to warn 
them against idolatry, this silence may itself be a 
proof that it was not an age of apostasy from 
Jehovah. Some, at least, perhaps many, of the 
Psalms, which have become the rich heritage of 
the Christian Church, were composed in the course 
of these four centuries. If Ecclesiasticus, the 
noblest of all the Apocryphal books, was, as most 
scholars now hold, not composed till the very end 
of this period, at any rate the state of the society 
out of which such a book was to emerge cannot 
have been altogether unfavourable to holy living 
or to the growth of that wisdom, the beginning of 
which is the fear of the Lord. 

It is evident that during this interval the 
institutions which claimed Moses for their author 
maintained a strong hold upon the life and con- 
science of Israel. As Mr. Bevan has well said : ^ 

When Ezra and Nehemiah had repelled the encroach- 
ments of the heathen environment, and made the sense 
of the Law yet more strong, their labour was not lost. 
The little people dwelt separate in their hill country and, 
while wars rolled past them and kingdoms clashed and 
changed, nursed the sacred fire and meditated on the Law 
of the Lord. 

In their seclusion their antagonism to the 
Gentile nations round them grew stronger and 
more bitter. When St. Paul said of his country- 
men, in writing to the Thessalonians, "They please 

1 ii. 167. 


not God and are contrary to all men," though they 
would have indignantly denied the first clause of 
the indictment, they would probably have admitted 
the second. " Lo, the people dwelt alone and was 
not reckoned among the nations." '' Edom and 
Ammon, the heathen that were in Gilead, they of 
Tyre and Sidon and all Galilee of the Gentiles " 
were still regarded as enemies ; but the bitterest of 
Jewish scorn and hatred, half- racial, half- religious, 
was reserved for the Samaritan neighbours who 
said that Gerizim, not Jerusalem, was the place 
where men ought to worship. 

Judging by their conduct at the time of the 
Syrian persecution, we conclude that the three 
points in the Law of Moses on which the faithful 
Jew insisted most uncompromisingly were the rite 
of circumcision, the observance of the Sabbath, and 
the maintenance of the Mosaic distinction between 
clean and unclean beasts ; the uncleanest of all the 
unclean to him as to so many million adherents of 
another Semitic faith, this day, being " the swine, 
because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the 

There was a party of strict Jews called the 
Khasidim or the Pietists, who clung with desperate 
tenacity to these three essentials of Judaism ; but 
there were also, as we shall soon discover, some 
lukewarm Jews who, while very likely willing 
heartily to join in their brethren's scorn of the 
Edomite and the Ammonite, were half- fascinated 
by the joyous licence of Greek civilisation, and had 


no mind to be looked upon as fanatics and bar- 
barians when they visited the groves of Daphne, or 
sauntered through the colonnades of Antioch. The 
only serious dispute which had yet arisen between 
the Jews and their new rulers, the Syrian kings, was 
in the reign of the predecessor of Antiochus IV., 
his brother Seleucus Philopator. The dispute then 
turned on no deep religious controversy, but only 
on the necessity of replenishing the royal coffers, 
so grievously depleted by the terrible indemnity 
paid to Rome. Accoiding to the story, evidently 
much embellished, if founded on fact, which is told 
us by the author of the second book of Maccabees, 
Heliodorus the Treasurer, at the instigation of an 
evil-minded Benjamite named Simon, came to 
Jerusalem, demanded of Onias the High Priest that 
he should hand over some part of the ''infinite 
sums of money " which were stored up within the 
temple, and when this demand was refused, insisted 
on penetrating the sacred precincts and forcing his 
way to the Treasury, amid the horror-stricken 
lamentations of all the dwellers in Jerusalem. 
There, however, he was met by the apparition of a 
horse with a terrible rider upon him, covered with 
a complete harness of gold. At the onslaught 
of this terrible rider Heliodorus fell to the ground 
and was compassed with great darkness, having 
first been scourged with many sore blows by two 
young men> notable in strength and of excellent 
beauty, who accompanied the celestial horseman. 
The intruder was restored to consciousness by 


the prayers of Onias, and left Jerusalem without 
having accomplished his mission ; but it was by 
his felon hand that some years after, as has been 
already said, his Master Seleucus IV. was murdered. 

This story has been made memorable by the pen 
of Dante and the brush of Raffaelle, and there may 
be for it some groundwork of fact. At any rate, 
after the payment of the ransom to Rome, we find 
the kings of Syria constantly visiting the temples 
of the gods worshipped by their subjects, and 
seeking to despoil them of their treasures. 

The first assaults, however, on the citadel of the 
Jewish faith came not from foreigners but from 
domestic treason. The good high priest Onias 
was intrigued against by his brother Joshua, w^ho 
took the Gentile name Jason, visited the Court of 
Antiochus soon after his accession, and persuaded 
the king, by a bribe of 440 talents (;^95,92o), to 
grant him his brother's office. " At the same time 
certain wicked men, desirous to make a covenant 
with the heathen round about, went to the king 
and obtained from him " (assuredly with no great 
difficulty) "license to do after the ordinances of the 
heathen." The chief outward sign of this desired 
Hellenisation of Israel was the building at Jerusalem 
of a Greek palcEstra, in which, of course, naked 
athletes would run and wrestle and wield the cestus 
as at the Olympic games. Another less important 
innovation was made in the national dress. The 
Hellenisers laid aside, apparently, the Semitic turban 
and took to wearing tho, petasuSy the spreading hat 


which was the ordinary head-dress of the Athenian 
youths, and which we know from its frequent repre- 
sentation in the friezes of the Parthenon. The 
craze for athletics spread through all classes, and 
the chronicler records with horror that even the 
priests, finding it wearisome to continue their daily 
ministrations at the altar, rushed down to the 
palaestra as soon as the signal was given for the 
throwing of the discus. 

Probably in order to show his liberality in 
religious matters, Jason sent an offering to the altar 
of Hercules at Tyre, at the Quinquennalia, when 
the king was present, but for some reason which is 
not very clearly explained, perhaps because of the 
smallness of the offering, it was not accepted by 
the sacrificing priests. 

Possibly Jason found himself outdone by a more 
thorough-going apostate : he was at any rate easily 
vanquished by the same weapons of corruption 
which he had himself used. A man who had taken 
the Greek name of Menelaus, brother of Simon the 
Benjamite, offered 300 talents of silver more than 
Jason, and, albeit not of the sacred family of Aaron, 
obtained the high priesthood for himself, the vene- 
rable Onias being murdered in order to prevent 
opposition from his partisans. We are told that 
this crime was committed without the knowledge 
of Antiochus, who wept when he heard of it, and 
deprived the governor, who was guilty of the deed, 
both of office and life. 

It is not easy to follow the course of the 


Hellenisation of Jerusalem which, under these 
depraved and utterly irreligious high priests, seems 
to have gone forward rapidly : but there were 
evidently tumults and skirmishes between the 
partisans of the two claimants for the pontificate, 
and rightly or wrongly Antiochus looked upon 
these disorders as signs of disaffection to Syria 
and a desire to resume the old allegiance to the 
Ptolemaic kings. 

Meanwhile Antiochus, little heeding probably 
the religious or irreligious caprices of the little 
nation on Mount Zion, was playing the great game of 
Empire in the valley of the Nile. Taking advantage 
of the fact that Rome was engaged in a difficult 
struggle with the last king of Macedon, and also 
of a fratricidal strife between two princes of the 
Ptolemaic line, he had invaded Egypt, besieged 
Alexandria, and placed a strong garrison in the 
Egyptian frontier fortress of Pelusium. This he 
had been able to do in the years 170 to 169, because 
Rome needed every available soldier for her struggle 
in Macedonia. But when he moved southwards 
in 168 to renew the strife, and to impose a more 
humiliating yoke on the now reconciled Ptolemaic 
brethren, his opportunity was already gone. On 
the battlefield of Pydna, Aemilius Paulus had 
inflicted a crushing defeat on Perseus, king of 
Macedonia, and now the Roman ambassador, C. 
Popilius Laenas, had no need to temporise with 
the Seieucid king. Before Antiochus could appear 
under the walls of Alexandria the ambassador met 


him, and then followed that well-known scene, so 
typical of Rome's manner of dealing with her 
Mediterranean neighbours. Antiochus, who no 
doubt had made the acquaintance of Popilius during 
his captivity in Rome, hailed him from afar, and, as 
he drew nigh, stretched out his hand in greeting. 
Popilius made no other reply than to hold out the 
tablet on which was inscribed the will of the Senate, 
"Antiochus must retire from Egypt," and bade him 
read that first. The king hesitated and talked of 
consulting with his friends. Thereupon Popilius, 
who held in his hand the vine rod with which 
Roman centurions chastised unruly soldiers, drew 
on the sand a circle round Antiochus and demanded 
an answer, '' Yes " or " No," to the Senate's decree 
ere he stepped out of the ring. Antiochus was 
silent for a few minutes, and then answered that 
he would do whatever the Romans desired. At 
once the manner of Popilius changed : he clasped 
the proffered hand, and he and all his colleagues 
greeted the king with cordiality. 

Groaning in spirit, but yielding to the necessities 
of the time, Antiochus returned to his own land, and 
vented on Jerusalem the wrath which he dared not 
display against Rome. The disturbances which 
had happened in Jerusalem gave him a pretext, 
perhaps something more than a pretext, for doubt- 
ing Jewish loyalty, and now that Pelusium had 
been surrendered, it was more than ever necessary 
to strengthen Jerusalem against an invading 
Ptolemy. A citadel, the Acra, was built, probably 


overlooking the temple : it was made a place of 
arms and a storehouse for the army, and, as the 
chronicler says, ** It became a place to lie in wait 
in against the sanctuary, and an evil adversary to 
Israel continually." It is possible that, as is averred 
by the author of the first book of Maccabees, the 
proceedings at Jerusalem were part of a design 
on the part of Antiochus to Hellenise his whole 
kingdom in order, as he describes it, ** that all 
should be one people, and that each should forsake 
its own laws." If it were so, the other Semitic 
tribes, Moab and Ammon and the Edomite, yielded 
quietly : only Judah refused to abandon the God 
of his fathers, and his resistance stirred the sore 
and restless spirit of Antiochus to something like 
frenzy. There was indeed a method in his mad- 
ness, for when he arrived at Jerusalem he insisted 
on visiting the temple, and took from thence treasure 
amounting, according to one statement,^ to 1800 
talents (;^392,40o) : but when that was done he 
left a new governor, a Phrygian named Philip, at 
Jerusalem with orders to carry through the complete 
transformation of city and temple to a Hellenic 

On the fifteenth day of Chislev [November], in the 
145th year [167 B.C.], an abomination of desolation was 
builded upon the altar : [in other words, the great altar of 
Jehovah had superimposed upon it an altar to Zeus 
Olympius] : and in the cities of Judah on every side they 
builded idol altars. And at the doors of the houses and in 

* 2 Maccabees v. 2 1 . 


the streets they burned incense, and they rent in pieces 
the books of the Law which they found, and set them on 
fire : and wheresoever a book of the covenant was found 
with any, and if any consented to the Law, they delivered 
him to death. 

In some cases the holy books were not burned 
but profaned by having idol-pictures scrav^led over 
them, or being dipped in the broth of abominable 
things which the ministers of the heathen sanctuary 
had prepared. For swine and other animals, un- 
clean according to the Mosaic law, were now offered 
on all the altars, and, moreover, once a month when 
the king's birthday came round the Jews *'were 
led along with bitter constraint to eat of the 
sacrifices, and when the Dionysia came they were 
compelled to go in procession in honour of 
Dionysus, wearing wreaths of ivy." The practice 
of circumcision was prohibited by law, and two 
women who had dared to disobey this decree by 
circumcising their children were led ignominiously 
round the city with their dead babes hanging from 
their breasts, and were then cast down headlong 
from the city wall into the Valley of Jehoshaphat. 
There is undoubtedly some exaggeration in the 
story of the persecution, especially as it is t^Dld by 
the author of the second book of Maccabees, who 
talks too freely of general massacres in which great 
multitudes were slain, but that the persecution was 
for a time intense, and that the. king with his fitful 
and irrational energy had set himself to root out 
the worship of Jehovah, and to substitute for it 


the worship of Olympian Jupiter, there can be no 

It is to this time that we must refer the story of 
the martyrdom of Eleazar, *'one of the principal 
scribes, a man already well stricken in years and 
of a noble countenance," who welcomed death by 
torture rather than eat the swine's flesh which the 
officers of the tyrant endeavoured to force into his 
mouth. The tragedy of the seven brethren who 
were successively put to death before the eyes of 
their mother for their steadfast refusal to taste of 
the abominable swine's flesh, and of that mother 
herself who followed them to martyrdom, can 
hardly be historically true in the shape in which it 
has come down to us, since it represents Antiochus 
himself as taking part in the scene and striving to 
threaten or to wheedle the young men into compliance 
with his wishes, but there is nothing in the general 
tenor of the story inconsistent with probability. 

There was at first some resistance, especially 
from those who refused to obey the governor's 
commands by working on the Sabbath day. They 
wandered on the mountains ; they^ withdrew into 
the caves, with which Palestine abounds, that 
they might there keep the seventh day secretly ; 
but the very scruples of these Khasidim were the 
means of their destruction, for the Syrian officers 
had only to set the battle in array against them 
on the Sabbath day. '* They answered them not, 
neither cast they a stone at them nor stopped up 
the mountain passes, but said, ' Let us all die in our 


innocency ; Heaven and earth witness for us that 
ye put us to death without trial.' So the Syrians 
fought against them on the Sabbath, and they died, 
they and their wives and their children , and their 
cattle, to the number of a thousand souls, because 
they scrupled to defend themselves from regard to 
the honour of that most solemn day." ^ 

Thus everything seemed to point to the triumph 
of Hellenism over Judaism, of Olympus over Mount 
Zion, when the wave of persecution rolled on to a 
little village in the Maritime Plain, met there with 
unexpected resistance, and was thence beaten back 
with scarcely interrupted defeat to its own Syrian 
starting-point. At Modin dwelt an aged priest, 
Mattathias the son of John, and he had five sons, 
John, Simon, Judas, Eleazar, and Jonathan. Each 
son had a surname, the interpretation of which is 
for us now somewhat doubtful, but it is generally 
agreed that Maccabeus, the memorable surname 
of the third son Judas, signifies a hammer. Thus 
Judas Maccabeus, the vanquisher of the Syrians, 
foreshadows Charles Martel, the vanquisher of the 

Already, when he had heard the tidings of the 
blasphemies that were committed in Judah and 
Jerusalem, Mattathias had poured forth a psalm 
of lamentation, and he and his sons had rent their 
clothes and put on sackcloth and mourned ex- 
ceedingly. Now came one of the king's officers 
to Modin with orders to execute the king's decree, 

^ I Maccabees ii. 28 combined with 2 Maccabees vi. 11. 


and compel the villagers to sacrifice to Jupiter. 
With courteous words he invited Mattathias as the 
chief man in the little town to come forward and 
do sacrifice as all his countrymen in Jerusalem had 
done. So complying, he should be enrolled in the 
aristocratic class of *' the King's Friends," and he 
and his sons should receive silver and gold and 
many precious gifts. 

With a loud voice Mattathias answered that if 
all the nations of Asia should obey the king's 
decree he would stand firm, and he and his sons 
would continue to walk in the covenant of their 
fathers. '* Heaven forbid that we should forsake 
the law and the ordinances. We will not hearken 
to the king's words to go aside from our worship 
on the right hand or on the left." 

When he ceased, an apostate Jew came forward 
in the sight of all to offer sacrifice on the heathen 
altar. Thereat the anger of the aged priest was 
kindled, and he ran and slew the recreant Israelite 
on the altar. Then he, helped probably by his 
sons, slew also the king's officer and pulled down 
the altar which he had built. 

Of course, after this defiance of the king, the 
peaceable Maritime plain was no place for Mattathias. 
He and his sons and all who like him were zealous for 
the law and maintained the covenant ''filed into the 
mountains and forsook all that they had in the city." 

Two voices are there : one is of the Sea ; 
One of the Mountains ; 
And both of Hberty. 


Never did the latter voice ring more truly than 
when that high mountain range, the backbone of 
Palestine, which travellers know so well, received the 
Hasmonean ^ patriarch and his sons. At first they 
''kept themselves alive on the mountains after the 
manner of wild beasts, feeding on such poor herbs 
as grew there, that they might not be partakers 
of the threatened pollutions.' Then as more and 
more of the Khasidim joined them, they made 
descents upon the villages, pulling down the heathen 
altars, slaying many of the apostates, persuading 
some of the faint-hearted lovers of the law to join 
them, and returninor, doubtless, with some weeks' 
supply of food to their mountains. 

After a few months the aged Mattathias died, 
worn out probably with the hardships of his life in 
the highlands, and Judas, who had been pointed 
out by his father's hand as his successor, took his 
place at the head of the movement. One most 
important element in the generalship of Judas was 
that, overruling probably the counsels of the stricter 
Khasidim, he carried into effect a resolution, already 
formed in his father's lifetime, to resist even on the 
Sabbath day. "Whosoever shall come against us 
to battle on the Sabbath day, let us fight against 
him, and we shall in no wise all die as our brethren 
did in the caverns." 

It is only the early campaigns of Judas 
Maccabeus that fall within the scope of this paper, 

^ The reason of this family name is not altogether apparent, but probably 
Hasmon \Yas one of the ancestors of Mattathias. 


for in the winter of 164 Antiochus Epiphanes was 
no more ; and even those campaigns must be treated 
with brevity. There was evidently something in 
the character of Judas Maccabeus which especially 
fitted him for the part he had to play as leader of a 
band of untrained patriots against the disciplined 
armies of a mighty monarchy. Arising, as he did. 
at the lowest and most depressing period ot his 
nation's fortunes, he had in his own personality a 
magnetism which attracted to him all brave men, 
and he shed around him an aura of happy confidence 
which caused them to ''fiorht with cheerfulness the 
battle of Israel. So he got his people great honour 
and put on a breastplate as a giant, and girt his 
warlike harness about him. In his acts he was like 
a lion and like a lion's whelp roaring for his prey. 
for he pursued the wicked and sought them out and 
burned up those that vexed his people. ' ^ 

The first battle which Judas fought was with 
Apollonius, who was probably the Syrian go\ernor 
of Samaria, and who " gathered together the 
Gentiles and a great host out o^ Samaria to fight 
against Israel, which thing when Judas perceived 
he went forth to meet him, and so he smote 
him and slew him : many fell down slain, but the 
rest fled. Wherefore Judas took their spoils and 
Apollonius' sword also, and therewith he fought all 
his life long." So says the chronicler, but the 
remainder of that victorious life was not to exceed 
the span of five years. 

^ r Maccabees iii. 2-5. 


His next victory was over a general named 
Seron, and was won on the historic site of the 
pass of Beth-horon, where Joshua had inflicted his 
memorable defeat on the Five Kings of Jerusalem 
and the surrounding cities. Though the number 
of slain in this engagement is given at the 
very moderate figure of 800 men, the fact that 
it was a victory, the second of its kind, won by 
the guerilla bands of the Hasmoneans over the 
Macedonian phalanx, caused, doubtless, many search- 
ings of heart, as well as much incoherent wrath, 
when the tidings thereof reached the palace of 

For, in the meantime, while this little-heeded 
revolt had been gathering head among the mountains 
of Judaea, Antiochus had been squandering the 
treasures won during his Egyptian campaign upon 
pageants and banquets of splendid absurdity. 
Having heard of the games given in conquered 
Macedonia by the Roman pro -consul Aemilius 
Paulus, and being desirous to outdo the great 
Republic, at any rate in peaceful rivalry, he invited 
all the Grecian cities to attend the games which he 
was about to celebrate in cypress-shaded Daphne. 
First came the procession of some 50,000 men, 
armed in the fashion of various nationalities, 
Roman, Gaulish, Macedonian, with brazen or silver 
shields, or with purple surcoats embroidered with 
gold. Then came 100 chariots drawn by six horses, 
and 40 drawn by four, two chariots drawn by four and 
two elephants respectively ; and then 36 elephants 


in single file with magnificent housings. Eight 
hundred young men wearing gold crowns carried 
the images of gods, demi-gods, and heroes of 
Night and Day, of Earth and Heaven : young 
slaves of the king carrying golden vessels, and 
hundreds of women in litters with gold or silver 
feet all adorned with great costliness. Then 
followed the games, the combats of gladiators, the 
hunting scenes, lasting for thirty days, and the 
public banquets of the most luxurious kind at which 
couches were spread, sometimes for looo and some- 
times for 1500 guests. At all these festivities the 
king himself acted as an assiduous Master of the 
Ceremonies ; during the processions, riding on a 
sorry nag alongside of the marching men, halting 
this squadron and hurrying forward that group of 
image-bearers, his own appearance being only like 
that of a respectable servant Then at the feasts 
he stood at the door to assign their places to the 
guests ; and when the banquet was begun he was 
perpetually jumping up from his seat and moving 
about among the company drinking healths or 
laughing at the jokes of the comic reciters. In all 
this part of the performance his conduct was that 
of a perhaps over-zealous host, intensely anxious 
that his guests should enjoy themselves and that 
universal jollity should prevail. But stranger yet 
were his proceedings towards the end of the feast, 
when the mummers carried him in, shrouded in a 
robe, and laid him on the ground, for all the world 
as if he were a comedian like themselves. Then at 


a signal given he leaped up, stripped himself naked, 
and danced an indecent dance with the buffoons, 
till the guests who still remained, scandalised at the 
sight, withdrew from the banquet hall. 

And this was Antiochus, Lord of Asia, Antiochus 
the Manifested God, in whose name, perhaps at 
that very hour, Macedonian warriors were fight- 
ing in rocky defiles against the solemn servants 
of Jehovah who clustered round the Maccabean 

But, as I have said, when at last the news of the 
reverses of his armies in Palestine reached the ears 
of Antiochus, he saw that a great effort was 
necessary, and that Coele- Syria, instead of pro- 
viding him with a handsome tribute, would be a 
drain to his already impoverished treasury. He 
decided, accordingly, to make an expedition beyond 
the Euphrates, to despoil the temples of Armenia 
and Mesopotamia. Thus, in Napoleonic phrase, 
"war was to support war," for at the same time 
he despatched a large army to Jerusalem under the 
command of his kinsman Lysias, whom he had 
appointed Regent in his absence. 

It was probably in the spring of 165 B.C. that 
Antiochus started on his Eastern campaign, from 
which he never returned. After achieving some 
successes in Armenia, and visiting the old Median 
capital of Ecbatana, whose name he changed to 
Epiphaneia, he attempted to break into the temple 
of the goddess Istar in the midst of an Elamite 
population who defended the shrine of their goddess 


so successfully that Antiochus was forced to retire 
wrathful and humiliated.' 

Some disease of the brain seems to have attacked 
him, and he died soon after at Tabae, a little town 
in Persia. The date of his death was probably the 
end of 165 or the beginning of 164 B.C. 
• Such an end, so obscure and inglorious, to a life 
in some wavs so brilliant and enerofetic, of course 
attracted the attention of moralising contemporaries. 
Polybius says that "he was driven mad, as some 
say, by some manifestations of divine wrath in the 
course of his wicked attempt upon the temple of 
Artemis." The Jewish writers naturally connect 
the king's death with his violation of their own 
sanctuar}' and persecution of their people. The 
author of the first book of Maccabees represents 
it as partly due to his grief at the news of the 
victories of Judas. 

And he called for all his Friends and said unto them. 
" Sleep departeth from mine eyes and my heart faileth for 
care : and I said in my heart ' Unto what tribulation am 

^ First Maccabees (\-i. 1-4) says that ''Antiochus the King, while journey- 
ing through the upper countries, heard say that in Elyniais in Persia there was 
a city renowned for riches, for silver and gold, and that the temple which was 
in it was rich exceedingly, and that therein were golden shields and breast- 
plates and arms which Alexander, son of Philip, left behind there. And he 
came and sought to take the city and pillage it, and he was not able because 
the thing was known to them of the city, and they rose up against him to 
battle, and he fled and removed thence with great heaviness to return unto 

This writer seems to make the place of Antiochus' death to have been 
Babylon, though his language is not quite decisive. 

Second Maccabees puts it apparently near Ecbatana. The authority of 
Polybius who puts it at Tabae in Persia (whatever the precise site of that city 
may have been) is to be preferred to either. 


I come, and in how great a flood am I overwhelmed, for I 
was gracious and beloved in my power' [these words of 
a hostile chronicler are worthy of notice]. But now I 
remember the evils which I did at Jerusalem, and that I 
took all the vessels of silver and gold that were therein, 
and sent forth to destroy the inhabitants of Judah without 
a cause. I perceive that on this account these evils are 
come upon me, and behold I perish through great grief in 
a strange land." 

The author of the second book of Maccabees, 
who colours his pictures more highly than the 
author of the first, represents the king as moved 
to a paroxysm of fury by the tidings from Judaea, 
and as threatening to make Jerusalem a common 
graveyard of Jews : but in the mid-current of his 
passion he is struck down by an invisible hand ; he 
falls from his chariot and is attacked by some loath- 
some disease which makes him intolerable to himself 
and all his attendants. He repents of his past 
misdeeds, promises restitution of the vessels taken 
from the Temple, and says ''that he will himself 
become a Jew, and will visit every inhabited place, 
publishing abroad the might of God." But the 
repentance comes too late, and '* the murderer and 
blasphemer, having endured the sorest sufferings, 
even as he had dealt with other men, ended his life 
among the mountains by a most piteous fate in a 
strange land." 

The greater part of this later historian's narrative 
we feel that we may safely discard, but there is 
incorporated with it a document which some recent 


critics are disposed to consider as authentic/ It is 
a letter addressed by Antiochus, King and General, 
to the worthy Jews his fellow-citizens. The chief 
object of the letter is to inform the receivers thereof 
of his own " noisome sickness," from which he 
hopes to recover, but he has, nevertheless, appointed 
his son Antiochus his successor, and for him he 
solicits their loyal goodwill. But this letter, as 
has been well pointed out by Bevan, contains no 
evidence of contrition for the indignities inflicted 
on the worshippers of Jehovah, and ** the worthy 
Jews his fellow - citizens " are the Hellenising 
inhabitants of Jerusalem, who were the objects 
of fiercest aversion and bitterest scorn to the 
Maccabean patriots. On the whole, we are not 
entitled to say that there was any real repentance 
on that deathbed in the obscure Persian town for 
any misdeeds towards Jews or Elamites or any of 
his subjects. All that we know is that the pride 
of the God Manifest was suddenly brought low, 
and that his restless, fervid, inconstant brain at 
length had rest. In conclusion we must briefly 
notice the events of the years 165 and 164 B.C., 
some of which may — for the chronology is most 
uncertain — have reached the ears of Antiochus in 
his march through *' the upper countries," and may 
have hastened his end. 

While Antiochus was busily engaged in the 
eastern provinces of his Empire, his lieutenant- 
governor, Lysias, was organising his forces for 

1 See Bevan, ii. 177 and 298, quoting the German scholar Niese. 



the suppression of the revolt in Coele-Syria. An 
army consisting, as we are told/ of 40,000 infantry 
and 7000 cavalry '* was sent into the land of 
Judah to destroy it." This army was under the 
command of three great nobles (King's Friends) 
named Ptolemy, Nicanor, and Gorgias, and was 
accompanied by numbers of merchants who saw 
an opportunity for a profitable investment in the 
Jewish youths and maidens whom the generals 
would certainly take captive and would sell for 
slaves. The army took up its quarters at Emmaus, 
a town of the Maritime Plain about twenty miles 
from Jerusalem." 

While they were gloating over the prospect of 
the coming victory, Judas and his fellow-patriots, 
assembled on the top of Mizpeh over against 
Jerusalem, were fasting and praying, clothed in 
sackcloth and with ashes on their heads, crying aloud 
to heaven for help against the Gentiles who had 
profaned God's holy place. Then, according to 
the Law of Moses, Judas made proclamation that 

^ I Maccabees iii. 39. 

^ The name Emmaus naturally suggests to us the incident, so unlike a 
Maccabean battle scene, recorded by St. Luke xxiv. 13-35. ^^ ^s» however, 
certain that the Emmaus of i Mace. iii. 40 cannot be the Emmaus of 
St. Luke. In the first place, the former received after the battle the name of 
Nicopolis, the City of Victory, and was probably known generally by that 
name in the time of Christ. Secondly, it is at least 160 furlongs from 
Jerusalem, not 60 as was the Emmaus of St. Luke xxiv. 13. Thirdly, no 
alteration of the text would seriously affect this argument since it would be 
impossible for the events recorded in St. Luke to have occurred in connection 
with a place fully five hours' journey (for pedestrians) from Jerusalem. 

The suggestion may seem a hazardous one ; but is it possible that in 
memory of the great victory of Judas, the name Emmaus may have been given 
to some suburban retreat in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, as to 
Portobello in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh ? 


all the faint-hearted ones, all the newly married 
men, all they whose hearts were in their lately 
planted vineyards, or in their houses just rising from 
the foundations should return to their homes and 
leave only the whole-souled patriots to fight for 
their Temple and their nation. 

Was there some lack of unity and purpose in the 
triply generalled army of Lysias ? It is possible : 
at any rate the disposition of the country-folk gave 
Judas the better chance of learning the movements 
of the enemy. Hearing that Gorgias with 6000 
men meditated an attack upon his encampment 
among the hills, he decided to let him have his 
desire, and himself, the same night with 3000 men, 
not too well armed, stole forth from the camp, 
descended into the plain, and was ready at break 
of day to attack the camp of the other generals at 
Emmaus. The surprise, the fervour of the Jewish 
patriots, their irresistible onrush accomplished the 
utter defeat of the Syrian host, greatly superior as 
they were in numbers, and when the men of Gorgias, 
returning from the empty stronghold of Israel, 
peeped over the brow of the hills, they saw the 
smoke ascending from their own quarters, the camp 
of Nicanor and Ptolemy. Restraining his followers 
from dispersing in quest of plunder, Judas led them 
victoriously against the amazed and dispirited men 
of Gorgias, and then they returned to spoil the tents 
of the Syrians where they "got much gold and 
silver, and blue and sea purple, and great riches." 
So they returned home chanting the 136th Psalm 


with its continually recurring refrain, '' For his 
mercy endureth for ever " : perhaps also that noble 
song in which Ananias, Azarias and Misael call upon 
all the works of the Lord to '' praise Him and 
magnify Him for ever." 

Another battle, of which we hear fewer particulars, 
was fought at Beth-zur near Hebron against the 
Lieutenant-Governor Lysias himself, and was appar- 
ently so complete a victory that it opened to Judas 
the road to Jerusalem. Then '* Judas and his 
brethren said, ' Behold, our enemies are discomfited; 
let us go up to cleanse the Holy Place and to 
dedicate it afresh.' And all the army was gathered 
together and they went up unto Mount Zion. And 
they saw the sanctuary laid desolate, and the altar 
profaned, and the gates burned up, and shrubs 
growing in the Courts as in a forest or on one of 
the mountains,^ and the priest's chambers pulled 
down ; and they rent their clothes and made great 
lamentation, and put ashes upon their heads and fell 
on their faces to the ground, and blew with the 
solemn trumpets and cried toward Heaven." 

The Acra, the strong Seleucid fortress over- 
looking the Temple, was still untaken and remained 
so for many years. Judas had therefore to appoint 
certain men to fight against the garrison of the 
Acra until he should have cleansed the Holy Place 

1 Niese (quoted by Bevan, ii. 298) " has brought out that the writer is 
here intentionally making a vacuum where really there was a Hellenistic 
population. The two accounts of what happened to the Temple, (i) that it 
was given over to heathen worship, (2) that it was forsaken, are, in fact, 


— a remembrance of the days of Nehemiah when with 
sword in one hand and trowel in the other the soldier 
masons of Jerusalem wrought at their double labour. 

''Blameless Priests" — that is, men who had 
not polluted themselves by compliance with the 
idolatrous regime, and such as had pleasure in the 
Law — were employed to cleanse the holy place, to 
take down the stones of the great altar defiled by 
the offering of swine's flesh upon them and carry 
them forth to *'a convenient place" where they 
should be stored until some prophet should arise 
to give an answer concerning them. The altar 
itself was rebuilt, the gates re-hung, the courts 
hallowed anew, the candlestick, the altar of incense, 
the table of shew-bread brought once more into the 
Temple. The lamps were lighted ; the purple veils 
were hung in their accustomed places. All was 
again solemn joy in the House of the Lord. 

Such was the great feast of the Dedication on 
the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month Chislev 
(corresponding nearly to our December), the feast 
which Christ attended, and at which he ''was walking 
in the Temple in Solomon's Porch." ^ 

It was noted with especial gratification that this 
solemn Purification of the Temple took place on 
the precise anniversary of the day on which its 
desecration had taken place by order of Antiochus, 
but how long the reign of pollution had lasted we 
are not able to say.'^ 

^ John X. 22. 

2 Second Maccabees x. 3 says that the sacrifices ceased for two years^ 
surely an impossibly short time. The chronology of First Maccabees i. 54, 


With this joyous festival, the feast of Dedication 
or of Lights, our review of the first part of the 
Maccabean War of Liberation comes to an end. 
There were yet some vicissitudes in the struggle 
to be encountered. Judas himself fell in battle in 
i6i, his glorious career having lasted little more 
than five years. His brothers, Jonathan and Simon, 
continued the struggle : Jerusalem was captured and 
re-captured several times. Roman aid was solicited : 
the usurpations and disputed successions in the 
Seleucid house all helped the cause of Jewish 
freedom. At last in the year 141 B.C. the Syrian 
garrison in the Acra surrendered, and the in- 
dependence of the Jewish state was practically 
recognised by the Seleucid kings. 

In conclusion, I observe that we should do well 
to remember the strong impression which the 
events of the Maccabean struggle made on the 
Jewish mind and the degree in which that im- 
pression was still enduring when Christ came. The 
interval which separated the death of Judas 
Maccabeus from the Birth of Christ was only 
about as long as that which separates us in the 
present day from Charles Edward Stuart's attempt 
to overthrow the House of Hanover. Can we 
doubt that such a memorable struggle as that 
recorded in the book of Maccabees, the attempt 
so vigorously made and so nearly successful to 
Hellenise the Jewish nation had burned itself deep 

iv. 52 makes it three years. Mr. Bevan, ii. 299, who puts the purification in 
December 164, would, I suppose, make the pollution last four years. 


into the hearts of the posterity of the patriots : 
Jewish mothers would tell their children the story 
of the desecrated Temple, of the seven brave 
martyr brethren, of the righteous zeal of Mattathias, 
of the night march of Judas to the camp at Emmaus. 
In reading our own Christian Scriptures we should 
have the events of the Maccabean revolt vividly 
present to our minds. There are verses in the 
nth chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews which 
sound like echoes of the books of Maccabees. Such 
are "waxed valiant in fight turned to flight the 
armies of the aliens. And others w^ere tortured, 
not accepting deliverance that they might obtain 
a better resurrection. They wandered in deserts 
and in mountains and in caves and holes of the 
earth." Nor less strong must have been the effect 
of the struggle in making more bitter and more 
intense the religious prejudices of the Jews. When 
Peter on the house-top said, *' Not so, Lord ; for I 
have never eaten anything common or unclean,*' 
he repeated the protest of the Seven Brethren 
who died rather than eat swine's flesh at the 
bidding of Antiochus. When the infuriated mob 
of Jerusalem demanded the life of St. Paul, because 
" he hath brought Greeks into the Temple and 
hath polluted this Holy Place," they might be half 
thinking of Heliodorus and Epiphanes, and of how 
their intrusion into the Holy Place had been 
avenged by Jehovah. Nay, even the persistent 
wrangles of the Pharisees with our Saviour about 
the observance of the Sabbath become to us a 


little less meaningless when we remember that 
there was actually a party among the devout Jews 
of the Maccabean period who would rather *'be 
slaughtered in their innocency " by the myrmidons 
of the tyrant than raise a hand in self-defence on 
the Sabbath Day. 



Printed by R. & R. Clark, Limited, Edinburgh. 


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