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Ten Lectures on the Martyrs

Ten Lectures on the Martyrs

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  • ISBN-13: 9781484167502
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Release Date: Apr 20, 2013
  • Pages: 378 pages
  • Dimensions: 0.86 x 9.00 x 6.00 inches


Martyrdom, i.e. testimony given, by means of suffering and death, to the reality of a fact and the divinity of a doctrine, is an exclusive privilege of Christianity. There were no martyrs of philosophy, no martyrs of paganism, nor even of Judaism. Christians were alone in sacrificing their life, in the hope of asserting the reality of fundamental facts and the doctrines of their religion, of which they wished to be the witnesses and the respondents. This testimony as a proof of Christianity, and of its reality and superiority, entered into the plans of the Founder. Sending His disciples into the world, Christ had commanded them to be witnesses to His person and mission: "You will be My witnesses even to the ends of the earth." The writer's task was then to show how the disciples of Christ gave this testimony which they had been commanded to give, and also to show what demonstrative force attaches to this testimony in favour of the divinity of the Christian religion. This task has been admirably performed. The writer has shown, with all the amplitude which such an important subject demands, the motives which occasioned the testimony, the situation in which it was given, the number of those who gave it, the proceedings taken against them, the tortures and sufferings which they endured, the impression made by their testimony on the minds of their contemporaries, the honours bestowed on their relics, and the inferences which we are entitled to draw from all this. All these questions are dealt with and suitably answered. Martyrdom having followed the expansion of Christianity, it was only right that the author should begin with a brief consideration of the spread of the Christian faith during the first three centuries. This he has done with much learning. If he does not leave us under the impression that Christianity became at once a universal religion, this is because he is too well acquainted with the facts, and can demonstrate by the study of texts that its diffusion took place by degrees, more rapidly in some localities than in others. He sketches the geographical growth of Christianity" at first in the Roman world, spreading gradually through Greece, Italy, Gaul, Great Britain, Germany, Sarmatia, and the Iberian peninsula, North Africa, Eg..ypt, and the immense provinces of Western Asia, and he completes his map of the places about to become the scene of martyrdom by tracing the progress of Christian beliefs in the countries lying beyond the limits of the Roman Empire. What historical fact could be more exceptional and inexplicable by ordinary means than the progressive conquests of a doctrine which spread amongst the most diverse and hostile surroundings, which seemed to thrive in every state of civilisation and to adapt itself to the highest and the simplest minds, which was accepted by corrupt natures, though it meant in their case the sacrifice of all that they had held dear, which surmounted all obstacles and all persecutions, though in itself it seemed to contain nothing but weakness and utter want of power? Besides considering the rapid propagation of the Gospel, the author was also justified in seeking to find to what social classes the witnesses to Christ's divinity belonged, for knowing this we obtain a yet more accurate knowledge of the degree in which the different classes of society had been permeated by Christianity. From the documents brought together by Allard it is evident that Christianity, far from having been, as some imagine, a democratic religion which at first was confined to the lower classes and only later on ascended to the higher ranks of society, was in reality from its very beginning, and by the Apostles themselves, preached to everyone, poor and rich, scholars and ignorant men; scarcely had it made its first appearance in the world than it leaped the Jewish horizon and reached the highest quarters of the Roman world, finding adherents, and martyrs too, on every rung of the social ladder.

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