IN that famous work which for more than a century has successfully withstood the assaults of criticism and controversy, Gibbon relates the incident that among the Christians brought before the tribunal of the Roman emperor were two persons whose extraction was more truly noble than that of the greatest monarchs. They were the grandsons of the apostle Jude, who was himself called the brother of Jesus Christ.

While as heirs to the throne of David these men might have gained the respect of a fickle public and aroused the jealous suspicions of the governor, so simple was their manner, so humble their garb, as speedily to convince their judges that they were devoid of all worldly ambition and of any desire to disturb the peace of Rome. They acknowledged frankly their royal origin and their relation to the Messiah. They showed their hands hardened by daily toil on the farm which was their sole means of subsistence. They disclaimed all interest in things temporal, saying, "It is another and a better country that we seek, and the kingdom promised us by the Messiah is not an earthly but a heavenly." "They were dismissed," concludes Gibbon, "with compassion and contempt."

In truth, the obscurity into which the new religion seemed to have fallen might well have protected them from the suspicions of a Roman tyrant. Years had elapsed since there had arisen an idle rumor, all too faint to stir from its settled indifference the culture of the Greek and the martial greatness of the Roman, concerning a new teacher of humble origin, who on the shore of Galilee day after day unweariedly reiterated certain simple, profound truths to a handful of 'untutored followers. There had been, too, stories of marvelous healing,—the blind had made to see, the deaf to hear, the leper cleansed, the dead raised.

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August 7, 1909

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