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He confined His explicit teaching about the Church to His immediate followers, and left it to them, when the time came, openly to pronounce the abrogation of the Law.
( Acts 15:5-11, 18 ; Galatians ; 24-28 ; Ephesians 2:2 , 14-15 ; Colossians -17 ; Hebrews ) It was not so much, then, by propounding the dogmas of Christianity as by informing the Old Law with the spirit of Christian ethics that Christ found Himself able to prepare Jewish hearts for the religion to come.
And thus it has been remarked that Israel alone amongst the nations of antiquity looked forward to glories to come.
All peoples alike retained some more or less vague recollection of a Paradise lost, a remote Golden Age, but only the spirit of Israel kept alive the definite hope of a world-wide empire of justice, wherein the Fall of Man should be repaired.
But a much more marked predisposition to Christianity may be noticed in certain prominent features of the Roman religion after the downfall of the republic. In their stead Greek philosophy occupied the minds of the cultured, whilst the populace were attracted by a variety of strange cults imported from Egypt and the East.
Thus much may be said with regard to the remote preparation of the world for the reception of Christianity.
Again, the faith which He failed to arouse by the numerous miracles He wrought, He sought to provide with a further and stronger incentive by dying under every circumstance of pain, disgrace, and defeat, and then raising Himself from the dead in triumph and glory.
It was to this fact rather than to the wonders He worked in His lifetime that His accredited witnesses always appealed in their teaching.
"The oldest literature of the Church ", says Professor Harnack, "is, in the main points and in most of its details, from the point of view of literary history, veracious and trustworthy . ORIGIN OF CHRISTIANITY AND ITS RELATION WITH OTHER RELIGIONS; II. According to the accepted chronology, these began their mission on the day of Pentecost, A. 29, which day is regarded, accordingly, as the birthday of the Christian Church .
In order the better to appreciate the meaning of this event, we must first consider the religious influences and tendencies previously at work in the minds of men, both Jews and Gentiles, which prepared the way for the spread of Christianity amongst them.