convinced many that these men were indeed men of God, and that their religion was the truth. Thus the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the Church. It was not by human learning and eloquence that the Apostles converted men to God. On the contrary, they used simple, homely, ordinary language (I Cor. ii. 1-5, 12, 13). And when, by the Holy Spirit's inspiration, they wrote out the Gospel (البِشارة) which they had been preaching, or taught converts by Epistles, they used a clear, unaffected style, the language of ordinary men and women, so that readers might be able the more easily to understand God's mercy, love, goodness, and wisdom, and to be embraced by that mercy and love and brought to salvation. The Word (كلام) of God is needed, not by the learned only, but by all men, for their guidance and enlightenment. There is no respect of persons with God, who is good to all (Ps. cxlv. 9). Therefore it was in accordance with the highest wisdom that God's message should be so written as to be understood by the unlearned as well as by the learned. For a somewhat similar reason the great philosopher Plato, when he wrote the "Apology of Socrates", used the ordinary conversational language of the time, in order that all might understand it.

The doctrines of the Gospel afford no encouragement to anyone to gratify his sensual passions, nor do they deceive men by telling them that the profession of Christianity will save them from punishment here and hereafter, if they continue in their sins (Matt. i. 21; John viii. 34; Rom. vi. 1, 2, 11, 15-23). The way of salvation was declared not to be a broad road, with room in it for a man and his sins, but a narrow way, where sin had to be abandoned by him who would walk therein (Matt. vii. 13,14). Christ and His Apostles taught that sin was slavery to the devil, and offered to believers release from bad passions and evil habits, calling upon them to abstain from fleshly lusts (i Pet. ii. 11, 12) and to be faithful soldiers of Christ, ready to lay down their lives rather than return to idolatry and


the service of Satan. It was not only or principally among uncivilized people that the Apostles laboured. They preached and made converts in Greece and Italy, then the most highly civilized countries in the world, and God's grace was seen in turning to righteousness some who had previously lived very wicked lives.

Even in the Apostles' days Christian congregations were gathered together in many of the cities and towns of Syria, Egypt, Asia Minor, Greece, Macedonia, and Italy. At first, as we have seen, most of the converts were made among the Jews, but soon the Gospel spread to Gentiles also. Throughout a large part of the civilized world there were then to be found Israelite traders and travellers. When these were converted, they were instrumental in teaching others. Those Jews who rejected the Gospel were the first persecutors of the Christians, but the heathen soon began to imitate them in this conduct. Yet soon after the death of the Apostles the Gospel had spread to the most distant parts of the then known world, by reason of the zeal, faith, patience, and love of the preachers and teachers who followed them. At last the Roman emperors, fearing lest the worship of the heathen gods and even the empire itself should be overthrown by the new doctrine, began most cruel persecutions. The first persecution began under Nero, who is said to have put Peter and Paul to death, besides burning many Christians alive,1 as lanterns to illuminate his palace gardens at night. The Romans at that time were very irreligious, but they adored the emperor as a god, and endeavoured in vain to make the Christians do so too. The persecutors seized and confiscated the property of the Christians, and put multitudes of them to death in the most barbarous ways. Some were thrown to wild beasts in the amphitheatre at Rome, others were burnt alive, others tortured to death. Again and again during nearly three hundred years did fierce persecution break out in all parts of the great Roman empire,

1 Tacitus, Annalium Lib. xv. 44.