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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.

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