History Of Christian Martyrs To The First General Persecution Under Nero

The history of the church may almost be said to be a history of the

trials and sufferings of its members, as experienced at the hands of

wicked men. At one time, persecution, as waged against the friends of

Christ, was confined to those without; at another, schisms and divisions

have arrayed brethren of the same name against each other, and scenes of

cruelty and woe have been exhibited within the sanctuary, rivalling in

horror the direst cruelties ever inflicted by pagan or barbarian

fanaticism. This, however, instead of implying any defect in the gospel

system, which breathes peace and love; only pourtrays in darker colours

the deep and universal depravity of the human heart. Pure and

unsophisticated morality, especially when attempted to be inculcated on

mankind, as essential to their preserving an interest with their

Creator, have constantly met with opposition. It was this which produced

the premature death of John the Baptist. It was the cutting charge of

adultery and incest, which excited the resentment of Herodias, who never

ceased to persecute him, until she had accomplished his destruction. The

same observation is equally applicable to the Jewish doctors, in their

treatment of our blessed Lord and Saviour JESUS CHRIST. In the sudden

martyrdom of John the Baptist, and the crucifixion of our Lord, the

history of christian martyrdom must be admitted to commence; and from

these, as a basis for the subsequent occurrences, we may fairly trace

the origin of that hostility, which produced so lavish an effusion of

christian blood, and led to so much slaughter in the progressive state

of christianity.

As it is not our business to enlarge upon our Saviour's history, either

before or after his crucifixion, we shall only find it necessary to

remind our readers of the discomfiture of the Jews by his subsequent

resurrection. Though one apostle had betrayed him; though another had

denied him, under the solemn sanction of an oath; and though the rest

had forsaken him, unless we may except "the disciple who was known unto

the high-priest;" the history of his resurrection gave a new direction

to all their hearts, and, after the mission of the Holy Spirit, imparted

new confidence to their minds. The powers with which they were endued

emboldened them to proclaim his name, to the confusion of the Jewish

rulers, and the astonishment of Gentile proselytes.