Wednesday, June 22, 2005

From Historical Sketches, Volume III
by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.

There never was, perhaps, in the history of this tumultuous world, prosperity so great, so far-spreading, so lasting, as that which began throughout the vast Empire of Rome, at the time when the Prince of Peace was born into it. Preternatural as was the tyranny of certain of the Cæsars, it did not reach the mass of the population; and the reigns of the Five good Emperors, who succeeded them, are proverbs of wise and gentle government. The sole great exception to this universal happiness was the cruel persecution of the Christians; the sufferings of a whole world fell and were concentrated on them, and the children of heaven were tormented, that the sons of men might enjoy their revel. Their Lord, while His shadow brought peace upon earth, foretold that in the event He came to send "not peace but a sword;" and that sword was first let loose upon His own people. "Judgment commenced with the House of God;" and though, as time went on, it left Jerusalem behind, and began to career round the world and sweep the nations as it travelled on, nevertheless, as if by some paradox of Providence, it seemed at first, that truth and wretchedness had "met together," and sin and prosperity had "kissed one another." The more the heathens enjoyed themselves, the more they scorned, hated, and persecuted their true Light and true Peace. They persecuted Him, for the very reason that they had little else to do; happy and haughty, they saw in Him the sole drawback, the sole exception, the sole hindrance, to a universal, a continual sunshine; they called Him "the enemy of the human race:" and they felt themselves bound, by their loyalty to the glorious and immortal memory of their forefathers, by their traditions of state, and their duties towards their children, to trample upon, and, if they could, to stifle that teaching, which was destined to be the life and mould of a new world.


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