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to the promptings of your own mind. The more every thing in religion is voluntary and free, the more worth attaches to it. Christ would not that
any should be driven or urged to him; but that they should
Nevertheless the way must be pointed out. I have now shown you one way. Let me tell you of another. The Christian books bear the names of the persons who profess to have written them, and who declare themselves to have lived and to have recorded events which happened in the province of Judea, in the reigns of Tiberius and Nero. Now it is by no means a difficult matter for a person, desirous to arrive at the truth, to institute such inquiries, as shall fully convince him that such persons lived then and there, and performed the actions ascribed !o them. We are not so far removed from those times, but that by resorting to the places where the events of the Christian history took place, we can readily satisfy ourselves of their truth — if they be true — by inquiring of the descendants of those who were concerned in the very transactions recorded. This thousands and thousands have done, and they believe in the events -- strange as they are
of the Christian history as implicitly as they do in the events of the Roman history, for the same period of time. Listen, my children, while I rehearse my own experiences as a believer in Christ.
• My father, a native of Syria, attained, as I have attained, to an extreme old age.
At the age of five score years and ten, he died within the walls of this quiet dwelling of nature's own hewing, and there at the roots of that ancient cedar, his bones repose. Cyprian was for twenty years a contemporary of St. John the evangelist of that John, who was one of the companions of Jesus, the founder of christianity, and who, ere he died, wrote a history of Jesus, and of his acts and doctrine. From the very lips of this holy man, did the youthful but truth-loving and truth-seeking Cyprian receive his knowledge of christianity. He sat and listened while the aged apostle — the past rising before him with the distinctness of a picture - told of Jesus; of the mild majesty of his presence; of the power and sweetness of his discourse; of the love he bore toward all that lived; of his countenance radiant with joy when, in using the miraculous power intrusted to show his descent from God, he at the same time gave health to the pining sick, and restored the dying and the dead to the arms of weeping friends. There was no point of the history which the apostle has recorded for the instruction of posterity, which Cyprian did not hear, with all its minuter circumstances, from his own mouth. Nay, and he was himself a witness of the exercise of that same power of God which was committed without measure to Jesus, on the part of the apostle. He stood by - his spirit wrapt and wonder-struck — while at the name of Jesus the lame walked, the blind recovered their sight, and the sick leaped from their couches. When this great apostle was fallen asleep, my father, by the counsel of St. John, and that his faith might yet farther be confirmed, travelled over all the scenes of the Christian history. He visited the towns and cities of Judea, where Jesus had done his mar
arvellous works. He conversed with the children of those who had been subjects of the healing power of the Messiah. He was with those who themselves had mingled among the multitudes who encompassed him, when Lazarus was summoned from the grave, and who clung to the cross when Jesus was upon it dying, and witnessed
the sudden darkness, and felt the quaking of the earth. Finding, whereever he turned his steps in Judea, from Bethlehem to Nazareth, from the Jordan to Samaria, the whole land filled with those who, as either friends or enemies, had hung upon the steps of Jesus, and seen his miracles, what was he to doubt whether such a person as Jesus had ever lived ? or had ever done those wonderful works? He doubted not; he believed, even as he would have done had he himself been present as a disciple. In addition to this, he saw at the places where they were kept, the evangelic histories, in the writing of those who drew them up; and at Rome, at Corinth, at Philippi, at Ephesus, he handled with his own hands the letters of Paul, which he wrote to the Christians of those places; and in those places and others, did he dwell and converse with multitudes who had seen and heard the great apostle, and had witnessed the wonders he had wrought. I, the child of Cyprian's old age, heard from him all that I have now recounted to
I sat at his feet, as he had sat at the evangelist's, and from him I heard the various experiences of his long, laborious, and troubled life. Could I help but believe what I heard ? — and so could I help but be a Christian? My father was a man — -and all Syria knows him to have been such an one of a passionate love of truth. At any moment would he have cheerfully suffered torture and death, sooner than have swerved from the strictest allegiance to its very letter. Nevertheless, he would not that I should trust to him alone, but as the apostle had sent him forth, so he sent me forth, to read the evidences of the truth of this religion in the living monuments of Judea. I, 100, wandered a pilgrim over the hills and plains of Galilee. I sat in the synagogue at Nazareth. I dwelt in Capernaum. I mused by the shore of the Gallilean lake. I haunted the ruins of Jerusalem, and sought out the places where the Saviour of men had passed the last hours of his life. Night after night I wept and prayed upon the Mount of Olives. Wherever I went, and among whornsoever I mingled, I found witnesses eloquent and loud, and without number, to all the principal facts and events of our sacred history. Ten thousand traditions of the life and acts of Christ and his apostles, all agreeing substantially with the written records, were passing from mouth to mouth, and descending from sire to son. The whole land, in all its length and breadth, was but one vast monument to the truth of christianity. And for this pur. pose it was resorted to by the lovers of truth from all parts of world. Did doubts arise in the mind of a dweller in Rome, or Carthage, or Britain, concerning the whole of the Christian story, he addressed letters to well known inhabitants of the Jewish cities, or he visited them in person, and by a few plain words from another, or by the evidence of his own eyes and ears, every doubt was scattered. "When I had stored my mind with knowledge from these original sources, I then betook myself to some of the living oracles of Christian wisdom, with the fame of whose learning and piety the world was filled. From the great Clement of Rome, from Dyonysius at Alexandria, from Tertullian at Carthage, from that wonder of human genius, Origen, in his school at Cæsarea, I gathered together what more was needed to arm me for the Christian warfare; and I then went forth full of faith myself to plant its divine seeds in the hearts of whomsoever would receive them. In this good work my days have been spent. I have lived and taught
but to unfold to others the evidences which have made me a Christian. My children,' continued he, 'why should you not receive my words? Why should desire to deceive you? I am an old man, trembling upon the borders of the grave. Can I have any wish to injure you? Is it conceivable that, standing thus already as it were, before the bar of God, I could pour false and idle tales into your ears? But if I have spoken truly, can you refuse to believe? But I must not urge. Use your freedom. Inquire for yourselves. Let the leisure and the wealth which are yours carry you to read with your own eyes that wide-spread volume which
you will find among the mountains and valleys of the holy land. Princess, my strength is spent, or there is much more I could gladly add.'
My friends,' said the princess, are, I am sure, grateful for what you have said, and they have heard.'
• Indeed we are,' said Fausta, 'and heartily do we thank you. One thing more would I ask. What think you of the prospects of the Christian faith? Are the common reports of its rapid ascendancy to be heeded? Is it making its way, as we are told, even into the palaces of kings? I know, indeed, what happens in Palmyra; but elsewhere, holy father?
As Fausta spoke these words, the aged man seemed wrapped in thought. His venerable head sank upon bis breast; his beard swept the ground. At length, slowly raising his head, and with eyes listed upward, he said, in deep and solemn tones: 'It cannot, it cannot be difficult to read the future. It must be so. I it if it were already
The throne which is red with blood, and he who sits thereon, wielding a sword dropping blood, sinks — sinks — and disappears; and One all white, and he who sits thereon, having upon his frontlet these words, · Peace on earth and good will toward men,' rises and fills its place. And I hear a movement as if a multitude which no man can nunber, coming and worshipping around the throne. the whole earth, arise! — visit it with thy salvation! Hasten the coming of the universal kingdom of thy Son, when all shall know thee; and love to God and love to man possess and fill every
soul.' As the venerable man uttered this prayer, Julia looked steadfastly upon him, and a beauty more than of earth seemed to dwell upon her countenance.
* Father,' said Fausta, 'we are not now fair judges of truth. Your discourse has wrought so upon us, that we need reflection before we can tell what we ought to believe.'
• That is just, said the saint; 'to determine right, we must think rather than feel. And that your minds may the sooner return to the proper state, let me set before you of such as my dwelling will afford.'
Saying this, he moved from the seat which till now he had retained, and closing the volume he had been reading, laid it away with care, saying as he did so, · This, children, is the Christian's book; not containing all those writings which we deem to be of authority in describing our faith, but such as are most needful. It is from reading this, and noting as you read the inward marks of honesty, and observing how easy it were, even now, by visiting Judea, to convict its authors of error and falsehood, had they been guilty of either, that your minds will be best able to judge of the truth and worth of christianity,'
* At another time, father,' said Fausta, 'it would give me great delight, and equally, too, I am sure, our friend from Rome, if you would read to us portions of that volume, that we may know somewhat of its contents from your lips, accompanied, too, by such comments as you might deem useful to learners. It is thus we have often heard the Greek and Roman writers from the mouth of Longinus.'
Whenever,' he replied, 'you shall be willing to ascend these steep and rugged paths, in pursuit of truth, I in my turn will stand prepared to teach. To behold such listeners before me, brings back the life of former days.
He then, with short and interrupted steps, busied himself in bringing forth his humble fare. Bread and fruits, and olives, formed our slight repast, together with ice-cold water, which Julia, seizing from his hand the hermit's pitcher, brought from a spring that gushed from a neighboring rock
This being ended, and with it much various and agreeable conversation, in the course of which the Christian patriarch gave many striking anecdotes of his exposed and toilsome life, we rose, and bidding farewell, with promises to return again, betook ourselves to our horses, and mounting them, were soon at the gates of the palace.
I confess myself interested in the question of christianity. The old religions are time-worn, and in effect dead. To the common people, when believed, they are as often injurious as useful — to others, they are the objects of open, undisguised contempt. Yet religion, in some form, the human mind must have. We feel the want of it as we do of food and drink. But, as in the case of food and drink, it must be something that we shall percieve to nourish and strengthen, not to debilitate and poison. In my searches through antiquity, I have found no system which I could rest in as complete and satisfying. They all fail in many vital points. They are frequently childish in their requisitions, and their principles; their morality is faulty; their spirit narrow and exclusive; and more than all, they are without authority. The principles which are to guide, control, and exalt our nature, it seems to me, must proceed from the author of that nature. The claim of christianity to be a religion provided for man by the Creator of man, is the feature in it which draws me toward it. This claim I shall investigate and scan, with all the ability and learning I can bring to the work. But whatever I or you may think of it, or ultimately determine, every eye inust see with what giant steps it is striding onward — temples, religions, superstitions, and powers crumbling and dissolving at its approach. Farewell.
Throughout the earth, from whom
Of beauty or of bloom :
Until we reach the tomb!