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A CHRISTIAN LEGEND AND ITS TEACHING.

THERE is a legend of the early Church exemplifying the effect of the teaching of St. Paul, which we introduce not for its own sake, but for the purpose of showing the idea which was entertained in the second century, to which the legend belongs, on an important doctrine of the New Testament, stated by our Lord Himself in His teaching.

When Paul left Antioch and went into Iconium, he was received into the house of Onesiphorus, where he preached the Word unto them. Among those who listened to him was a betrothed virgin named Thekla. Entranced with the teaching of the great Apostle, Thekla relinquished the idea of marriage and resolved to follow Paul. But Thamyris was not disposed to give up his claim to Thekla. Watching the house where Paul preached, to see those that went in and came out, he saw two men striving bitterly, and he said unto them, “Tell me, I pray you, who is this that leadeth astray the souls of young men, and deceiveth virgins so that they do not marry?” Hypocritical followers, but really enemies of Paul, these two men advised Thamyris to bring him before the governor, and charge him with persuading the multitude to embrace this new doctrine of the Christians, and the governor would destroy him and restore Thekla to her betrothed. Having given this advice, they added, “And we will teach thee that the resurrection which this man speaks of has already taken place, for we rose again in our children, and we rose again when we came to the knowledge of the true God." The final result of an appeal to the governor was that Paul was thrust out of the city, and Thekla was condemned to be burnt. But the fire that should have consumed Thekla was extinguished by rain and hail that poured out of a thunder-cloud, and the martyr was delivered. And this miracle is ascribed to the prayers of Paul. But Thekla had another trial to undergo. When she was entering with Paul into the city of Antioch, one Alexander, a ruler of the Syrians, clave unto her in love, and having embraced her in the street of the city, she tore his cloak, and pulled off his crown. For her refusal to marry Alexander, and the indignity she publicly offered him, she was again condemned, but this time to be exposed in the arena to the rage of wild beasts. Thekla requested of the governor that she might remain pure till she should fight with the wild beasts. And a certain woman named Tryphæna, whose daughter was dead, took her in charge. But from

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this death Thekla again escaped. The fierce lioness to which she was bound licked her feet. After the show Tryphæna again received Thekla. For Tryphæna's daughter, Falconilla was dead, and she had said to her mother in a dream—"Mother thou shalt have this stranger, Thekla, in my stead, and she will pray for me, that I may be transferred to the place of the just.” Thekla was not, however, released, but had on the morrow to fight with the beasts again. In the interval, Thekla, at the request of Tryphena, prayed and said, "O Lord God, who hath made heaven and earth, Son of the most High God, Lord Jesus Christ, grant unto this woman according to her desire, that her daughter, Falconilla, may live for ever.”

We may remark upon this prayer that, whatever particular idea the early Christians entertained of the Sonship of Christ, they approached Him immediately as the Object of worship, as the Lord God, the Creator of heaven and earth, and craved the highest mercies from Himself, not from another for His sake. And throughout the story Thekla addresses her prayers to Jesus Christ. When Thekla was exposed the second time to the wild beasts, a lioness became her champion, and slew the others. When the governor, overawed or convinced by this miraculous deliverance of the maiden, released the servant of God, the God-fearing Thekla, the women cried aloud, “There is one God, the God of Thekla.” It was then that Tryphæna also having received the good tidings, went forth to meet the holy Thekla; and she said “Now I believe that the dead are raised. Now I believe that my child liveth.”

The author of “The History of the Catholic Church,” from whose work this outline of the legend is taken, remarks on this exclamation of the mother of Falconilla, “I think this helps to explain what many in all ages have felt to be a difficulty-Why our Lord, when asked by the Sadducees for a proof of the resurrection of the dead, proceeded to give evidence, not of the doctrine of the resurrection, strictly speaking, but of the existence of the righteous after death." But the resurrec. tion, strictly speaking, is that which our Lord then taught—the rising of man from the dead at the time of death, not the rising of the body which has been buried at some far distant period, at what is commonly understood to be the end of the world. It is true that the words put into the mouth of Tryphæna include the idea which the Lord expressed to the Sadducees, but it is not strictly identical. Tryphæna believed before this that her daughter, though dead, still existed, but she was not in a state of happiness; and it was to obtain her deliverance, and be transferred to the state of the just, that both daughter and mother desired the prayers of Thekla. There is here the doctrine of the middle state, which the church of a much later age turned into Purgatory, and made praying out of its torments a means of

power and profit. And it is deliverance from this, and being transferred to the place of the just, that Tryphæna calls resurrection. The miraculous preservation of Thekla, who had prayed that Falconilla might live for ever, was an assurance to the distressed mother that the prayer of the saintly martyr had been heard, and that her daughter had indeed obtained a resurrection from the dead.

Whatever the term resurrection may include as taught in Scripture, as introduced into this legend it does not include the rising of the material body. It means resurrection from the death of sin unto the life of righteousness; the resurrection of the soul from the dead body; and, as introduced into the legend of Thekla, resurrection from hades into heaven ;-all being expressive of the changes of the soul, which is the real person, and of which the material body is only the tabernacle which is to be dissolved, from a state of death to a state of life; the putting off of mortality and the putting on of immortality; and deliverance from a state of captivity in the world of spirits and entrance into heaven, which in the prophetic Scriptures is not only compared to, but called, a resurrection from the dead and from the grave. It was from the graves in the world of spirits that the souls arose after the Lord's resurrection. The completed work of redemption was their deliverance, and their entrance into the holy city, Jerusalem which is above.

SCRIPTURE BOTANY.

(L EO GRINDON.)

THE OLIVE (Olea Europæa. Nat. Ord. Oleacec.) If there be one tree more than another which claims our especial love and reverence by virtue of its associations, surely that tree is the olive. It is one of the very earliest plants mentioned in the inspired history of mankind; it is identified with scenes and circumstances which Christians hold pre-eminently dear; one cannot speak of it

without the mind reverting to the gladsome time when the waters of the great Deluge subsided, and the dove “came in to Noah in the evening, and lo, in her mouth was an olive-leaf pluckt off, so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth ;”—we cannot speak of it without remembering in the same instant, the Mount of Olives and Gethsemane. It was to Olivet that David went up “weeping and barefoot';" to Olivet that our Lord ofttimes withdrew with His disciples, over which He often passed, and from which He eventually ascended into heaven. To the sweet hill named primevally after its abounding olive-trees, belongs a higher degree of sacred and moral interest than is to be found in any eminence in the world that is distinguished simply for magnitude or picturesque outlines, or than Scripture connects even with Lebanon or Tabor. Olivet is an abbreviation of Olivetum, the ancient Latin term for an olive-grove, as employed in the Vulgate, corresponding with Salicetum, a willowthicket, and Quercetum, a grove of oaks. In early times the whole range of high ground that lay to the east of Jerusalem was probably more or less occupied by these trees, though it was upon the western flank of the hills, or that next the city, that in the patriarchal and subsequent ages they appear to have grown most abundantly. At present it is only in the deep and secluded slope leading to the northernmost of the three principal summits, that they exist in sufficient plenty to constitute anything of the nature of a wood. The hills which include Mount Olivet are separated from Jerusalem only by the narrow valley of Jehoshaphat. The central one, or the Mount, is the highest, though perhaps not much exceeding the northern point, near which the ground takes a westerly sweep.

The northern summit had very anciently become a kind of sanctuary. In the primitive times, when all high hills, and lofty peaks in particular, were regarded with reverence, and consecrated to religious ideas and purposes, this northern summit, under the name of Nob, had been a scene of genuine worship, though at a later period profaned by idolatry—it would seem to have been the spot to which David carried the head of Goliath, when, at a date long before the capture of the city, it is said that “he brought it to Jerusalem ” (1 Sam. xvii. 54). tral summit is scarcely more than half-a-mile distant from the walls of the city, from every house-top in which it is clearly visible, seeming, through the translucency of the atmosphere, to overhang the town. It is from this central point of the three, the Mount of Olives emphatically, that visitors derive their most distinct and abiding impressions

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of the distant appearance of Jerusalem. It holds also the tragic interest of being the spot upon which Titus established his head quarters at the time of the great destruction by the Romans, A.D. 70. When the olive-trees were plentiful, and accompanied, as no doubt they were, by pines and fragrant myrtles, the shades of Olivet must have been exquisitely sweet, and a constant resort with all who took delight in the serene pleasures of meditation in the “shadowy desert.” The open portions of the hills would doubtless be a constant scene of recreation with those of the inhabitants who preferred company and pastime, serving as a sort of public park, and when, occasion required, as a Campus Martius. The locality called Gethsemane cannot be precisely identified, though if anything may be legitimately regarded as a possible indication of the spot, it will be the presence of eight extremely aged olive-trees, probably the oldest in the world, conspicuously different from all others upon the range, and to which tradition has long pointed. A duration of nearly 2000 years is by no means incompatible with what is known to be the potential life of the olive; though the probabilities are upon the side, perhaps, of these venerable monuments, which literally "make former times shake hands with latter," being the result of renewed growth from a stump charged with vitality, after the original stems had been destroyed. Such a renewal of growth is one of the peculiarities of the olive-tree, and could it be proved to have occurred in the trees under consideration, the tradition as to the site of the garden would be well sustained.

The exact geographical localities to which the olive can be positively said to be indigenous are scarcely determinable. There is abundant reason to believe that by birthright it is a purely Asiatic plant, and there can be no doubt that the Holy Land was one of its very special occupancy. Canaan was described to the wanderers as a land of wheat and barley, and vines, and fig-trees, and pomegranates, of oil-olive and honey. The tree could hardly have been plentiful in the country adjacent to Tyre, for Ezekiel tells us that Judah and the Land of Israel were accustomed to export to that famous city," wheat,

and honey, and oil, and balm" (xxvii. 17). Nor could it have held a position of any importance on the banks of the Nile, since Hosea makes express mention of oil being carried into Egypt. It is interesting to remember that when Solon, the famous Greek

Deut. viii. 8. Compare Deut. vi. 11 and xxviii. 40.

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