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of all ranks were accused to him of the crime of being. Christians.*
We have now prepared the several facts that constitute the materials of our argument. Here is an unquestionable historical event-the rapid and extensive spread of Christianity over the whole Roman empire in less than seventy years from the outset of its preaching. Has any thing else of a like kind been
* The early advocates of Christianity, in controversy with the heathen of Greece and Rome, were accustomed to dwell with great stress upon the argument from its propagation. Chrysostom, of the fourth century, writes, "The apostles of Christ were twelve, and they gained the whole world." "Zeno, Plato, Socrates, and many others endeavored to introduce a new course of life, but in vain; whereas Jesus Christ not only taught, but settled a new polity, or way of living, all over the world." "The doctrines and writings of fishermen, who were beaten and driven from society, and always lived in the midst of dangers, have been readily embraced by learned and unlearned, bondmen and free, kings and soldiers, Greeks and barbarians." "Though kings and tyrants and people strove to extinguish the spark of faith, such a flame of true religion arose as filled the whole world. If you go to India and Scythia, and the utmost ends of the earth, you will everywhere find the doctrine of Christ enlightening the souls of men." Augustine of the same century, speaking of the heathen philosophers, says, "If they were to live again, and should see the churches crowded, the temples forsaken, and men called from the love of temporal, fleeting things to the hope of eternal life and the possession of spiritual and heavenly blessings, and readily embracing them, provided they were really such as they are said to have been, perhaps they would say, 'These are things which we did not dare to say to the people; we rather gave way to their custom, than endeavored to draw them over to our best thoughts and apprehensions."" Lardner, vol. 2, pp. 614, 597.
known in the world? Did the learning and popularity of the ancient philosophers, powerfully aided by the favor of the great and the peculiar character of the age, accomplish any thing in the least resembling the success of the apostles? It is a notorious fact, that only one of them "ever dared to attack the base religion of the nation, and substitute better representations of God in its stead, although its absurdity was apparent to many of them. An attempt of this kind having cost the bold Socrates his life, no others had resolution enough to offer such a sacrifice for the general good. To excuse their timidity in this respect, and give it the appearance of profound wisdom, they called to their aid the general principle that it is imprudent and injurious to let the people see the whole truth at once; that it is not only necessary to spare sacred prejudices, but, in particular circumstances, an act of benevolence to deceive the great mass of the people. This was the unanimous opinion of almost all the ancient philosophical schools."* No further proof is needed, that such men were incapable of effecting any thing approximating to the great moral revolution produced in the world by the power of the gospel. How different the apostles! boldly attacking all vice, superstition, and error at all hazards, in all places, not counting their lives dear unto them, so that they might "testify the gospel of the grace of God." But where else shall we turn for a parallel to the work we have described? What efforts, independently of the gospel, were ever
↑ Reinhard's Plan, pp. 165, 166.
successful in the moral regeneration of whole communities of the superstitious and licentious?
The only event in the annals of time that has ever been supposed to bear any resemblance to the propagation of Christianity, is the rapid progress of Mohammedanism. But a little reflection will show you that the single fact of its rapid and extensive progress is the only point of resemblance, while in every thing else there is direct opposition. The Koran based its cause upon no profession of miracles, and therefore had no detection to fear. The gospel rested all upon its repeated miracles; and consequently, unless it had been true, would have been certain of detection. Mohammed was of the most powerful and honorable family in Mecca, the chief city of his nation, and though not rich by inheritance, became so by marriage. Jesus was of a family of poor and unknown. inhabitants of an obscure village in Judea, and had not where to lay his head. Mohammed began his work among the rich and great. His first three years were consumed in attaching to his cause thirteen of the chief people of Mecca. Jesus commenced among the poor. During his three years of ministry on earth, twelve obscure Jews, many of them fishermen, all unlearned and powerless, were his chosen disciples. Of the first thirteen apostles of the Koran, all ultimately attained to riches and honors, to the command of armies and the government of kingdoms. Of the twelve apostles who commenced the propagation of the gospel, all attained to the utmost poverty, contempt, and ignominy, and all but one to a violent
death on account of their cause. The age, when Mohammed set up his banner, was eminently propitious to his enterprise. "Nothing can equal the ignorance and darkness that reigned in this century."* Science, philosophy, and theology had everywhere declined into almost nothingness. The age when the apostles of Christ began their work, was eminently unpropitious to any cause but that of God. It was the Augustan age. Mohammedanism took its rise in an interior town of Arabia, among a barbarous people, and its first conquests were among the rudest and least enlightened of the most ignorant regions of the world. Christianity arose in the splendid metropolis of a populous and intelligent nation, and achieved her earliest victories in some of the most polished and enlightened cities of the world. In the town of Mecca, where Mohammed opened his mission, there was no established religion to contend with. In the city of Jerusalem, where Jesus and his apostles began their work of love, an established religion was powerfully fortified within the triple wall of priest, magistrate, and people, and defended by all the powers and passions of the nation. When the prophet of Arabia appeared, his cause was favored by the feuds that prevailed among the Arab tribes around him, and by the bitter dissensions and cruel animosities then reigning among various sects of degenerate Christians— dissensions that filled the greater part of the East with such enormities as rendered the very name of Christianity odious to many. When the great Prophet * Mosheim.
of Christianity appeared, the temple of Janus was shut, in token of universal peace, so that all the schools of philosophy, all sects of superstition, and all the powers and animosities of the nations were free to combine against his gospel. Mohammed attempted to conciliate the prevailing religion of the empire, by preaching to the ignorant generation of Christians that his religion was no other than what had been originally their own. The unity of God, the prophetic character of the patriarchs and prophets of the Old Testament, and the divine mission of Jesus, he carefully and artfully asserted, pretending to restore the purity, instead of attacking the foundations of the religion they had taught. This was politic. The apostles, on the other hand, attacked boldly and unsparingly the religion of all the world. While asserting the essential principles of the religion of Moses, they aimed directly at the subversion of its then degenerate institutions; and, as to all Gentile nations, they pretended to nothing but uncompromising opposition. This certainly was any thing but politic. Mohammed, while he required nothing of his followers that called for self-denial,* expressly sanctioned and promoted their strongest passions. Impurity, revenge, ambition, pride, were his cardinal and honored indulgences. Thus he enticed human nature. I need not say that the requisitions and allurements proclaimed
* The prohibition of wine, the fast of Ramadan, and the pilgrimage to Mecca, were no part of Mohammedanism until several years after its commencement, when military successes had completely established its authority.