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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/260

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

were laid bare. They were dragged naked over pointed shells. They were torn by lions; and finally, while still alive, were committed to the flames. But all these tortures failed to extort from them a murmur or a cry. The fortitude of the early Christians gained many converts to their cause; still, when the evidential value of fortitude is considered, it must not be forgotten that almost every faith can point to its rejoicing martyrs. Even these Smyrna murderers had a faith of their own, the imperiling of which by Christianity spurred them on to murder. From faith they extracted the diabolical energy which animated them. The strength of faith is, therefore, no proof of the objective truth of faith. Indeed, at the very time here referred to we find two classes of Christians equally strong—Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians—who, while dying for the same Master, turned their backs upon each other, mutually declining all fellowship and communion.

Thus early the forces which had differentiated Christianity from paganism made themselves manifest in details, producing disunion among those whose creeds and interests were in great part identical. Struggles for priority were not uncommon. Jesus himself had to quell such contentions. His exhortations to humility were frequent. "He that is least among you shall be greatest of all." There were also conflicts upon points of doctrine. The difference which concerns us most had reference to the binding power of the Jewish law. Here dissensions broke out among the apostles themselves. Nobody who reads with due attention the epistles of Paul can fail to see that this mighty propagandist had to carry on a life-long struggle to maintain his authority as a preacher of Christ. There were not wanting those who denied him all vocation. James was the head of the Church at Jerusalem, and Judeo-Christians held that the ordination of James was alone valid. Paul, therefore, having no mission from James, was deemed by some a criminal intruder. The real fault of Paul was his love of freedom, and his uncompromising rejection, on behalf of his Gentile converts, of the chains of Judaism. He proudly calls himself "the Apostle of the Gentiles." Pie says to the Corinthians: "I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they of the seed of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ? I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in deaths oft." He then establishes his right to the position which he claimed, by recounting in detail the sufferings he had endured. I leave it to you to compare this Christian hero with some of the "freethinkers" of our own day, who flaunt in public their cheap and trumpery theories of the great Apostle and the Master whom he served.

Paul was too outspoken to escape assault. All insincerity and double-facedness—all humbug, in short—were hateful to him; and even among his colleagues he found scope for this feeling. Judged by