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They combined to destroy the notion of a nation cultus, and to separate the service of the Deity from the service of the State.
Finally, as a contributory cause to the diffusion of Christianity, we must not fail to mention the widespread Pax Romana, resulting from the union of the civilized races under one strong central government.
During his whole mortal life on earth, including the two or three years of His active ministry, Christ lived as a devout Jew, Himself observing, and insisting on His followers observing, the injunctions of the Law ( Matthew 23:3 ).
The sum of His teaching, as of that of His precursor, was the approach of the "Kingdom of God", meaning not only the rule of righteousness in the individual heart ("the kingdom of God is within you" — Luke ), but also the Church (as is plain from many of the parables ) which He was about to institute.
In that nation alone, the great truths of the existence and unity of God, His providential ruling of His creatures and their responsibility towards Him, were preserved unimpaired amidst general corruption.
The ancient world was given to Pantheism and creature-worship ; Israel only, not because of its "monotheistic instinct " (Renan), but because of the periodic interposition of God through His prophets, resisted in the main the general tendency to idolatry.
Our documentary sources of knowledge about the origin of Christianity and its earliest developments are chiefly the New Testament Scriptures and various sub-Apostolic writings, the authenticity of which we must to a large extent take for granted here, as the much less grounds we take for granted the authenticity of "Cæsar" when dealing with early Gaul, and of "Tacitus" when studying growth of the Roman Empire. Kenyon "Handbook of the Textual Criticism of the N. We have this further warrant for doing so, that the most mature critical opinions amongst non-Catholics, deserting the wild theories of Baur, Strauss, and Renan, tend, in regard to dates and authorship, to coincide more closely with the Catholic position. He who attentively studies these letters (those i.e. Other points will, of course, be touched on and other results assumed, which are more fully and formally treated under J ESUS C HRIST ; C HURCH ; R EVELATION ; M IRACLES .
Whether due ultimately to the Old Testament predictions or to the fragments of the original revelation handed down amongst the Gentile, a certain vague expectation of the coming of a great conqueror seems to have existed in the East and to a certain extent in the Roman worlds, in the midst of which the new religion had its birth.
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.
What immediately preceded its institution, as it was born in Judaism, concerns the Jewish race alone, and is comprised in the teaching and miracles of Christ, His death and resurrection, and the mission of the Holy Spirit.