« ElőzőTovább »
tans at the pass of Thermopylæ, Themistocles with his ships at the Straits of Salamis, shall teach him that Europe has a nobler destiny than to repeat the dull formulas of Oriental society, and that human nature breathing the invigorating air of freedom, disciplined by science and animated by ardent and enlightened patriotism, grows up to a strength, a firmness, and a courage which hosts of slaves can never subdue, and by which the tenfold cord of oppression is rent asunder like the bands which bound the limbs of Samson. This army though raised by Xerxes, is under the command of the God of hosts. It shall not conquer. It shall teach the Greeks that they are the rightful masters of the world. It shall invite them to roll back the tide of conquest on Asia, and carry Grecian manners, arts, science, and language into the remotest East. They shall penetrate to the Holy Land. Into their language the Holy Oracles shall be translated. In their language shall be recorded the words of eternal life, and laden with the priceless treasure, that language shall come back to Europe, bearing light, and truth, and salvation, to nations and generations yet unborn.
THE CONQUESTS OF ALEXANDER AND THE ROMANS.
John 12: 20—23.—And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast. The same came therefore to Philip, who was of Bathsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying : Sir, we would see Jesus. Philip cometh and telleth Andrew, and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus. And Jesus answered them, saying: The hour is come that the Son of Man should be glorified.
What the train of thought was in the mind of Jesus, which led to this reply, we are unable to determine. The most probable is, that the desire of these Greeks to see him, led his prophetic mind to anticipate the extension of his religion to the Gentile world. That was to be the consummation of his glory. The curiosity of these Greeks was a sort of fortaste of what was to come, when the whole world should turn to him with affectionate reverence, and that same Jesus, who was then an humble Galilean, the scorn and contempt of his people, and had not where to lay his head, should be hailed by distant nations as the Saviour of the world. Whatever other connexion there may have been in the mind of Christ between these Greeks and his own glorification, we are unable to determine, but we can see through the medium of history that there was, by the providence of God, the closest connexion between the Greeks and Christ's glorification and the spread of his religion. Their arms, and their colonies, their intellectual and literary supremacy, had spread their language over almost the whole civilized world. In their language his Gospel was to be written, and thus through a medium, which their intellect had provided, the word of life was to be ministered to millions of minds. This diffusion of the Greek language took place by the means of conquest. That it entered into the plan of Divine Providence, we know from the fact that it made a subject of prophecy. In a vision of Daniel in the first year of Darius Hystaspes, it is written, “Behold, there shall stand up three kings in Persia, and the fourth shall be far richer than they all, and by his strength and through his riches, he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia.” Of this great attempt of Xerxes against Greece, I gave an account in the last lecture. After the retreat of Xerxes into Asia, there was no attempt of the Greeks to make reprisals for many years. Unfortunately they were divided among themselves, and exhausted their energies in mutual destruction. But the ages immediately succeeding the Persian invasion, were the most wonderful in intellectual development that the world has ever seen. More great minds were produced within that century than in any other within the recorded history of our race. Providence seems to have kept back that wonderful nation until her intellectual treasure-house was full, and then to have sent her forth conquering and to conquer, not to destroy, but to fertilize the lands she overflowed; not to extinguish civilization by barbarism, but io carry intellectual light to those who were sitting in the regions of ignorance and darkness. Nothing occurred of great interest between the Persians and the Greeks for nearly eighty years. The Greeks went on to create the most beautiful literature and the profoundest philosophy that human genius has ever produced, and their mutual contentions perfected them in the science and practice of war. At that time a circumstance took place which gave them a greater practical proof of their superiority to the Persians than even their victories over Xerxes. Cyrus the younger was sent by his brother Artaxerxes to Asia Minor as the governor of the Western provinces. Here he became acquainted with the martial valor of the Greeks, and thought by means of them to march to Susa and dethrone his brother. For this purpose he collected an army of more than one hundred thousand, thirteen thousand of whom were Greeks, and advanced into the plains of the East. He was there met by his brother with an army of nine hundred thousand, defeated, and left
dead on the field. The thirteen thousand Greeks, now reduced to ten thousand, found themselves two thousand miles from the nearest Grecian city where they would be safe, without a day's provision, in the midst of an enemy's country. Undismayed by this most appalling condition, they commenced their retreat, cut their way through enemies in front, and guarded themselves from foes in their rear, over mountains covered with snow, through forests without inhabitants, and over rivers rapid and deep, and reached their homes in safety. This exploit filled the world with its fame, and perhaps more than any thing else, convinced the Greeks that few as they were, they held the destinies of Asia at their disposal. But confederated Republics, however efficient for defence, are generally ill calculated for conquest. It was not till more than forty years after this, when all Greece had been subjected to Philip, king of Macedonia, that the nation turned their eyes to the conquest of the East. He procured himself to be elected general in chief of all the Greeks for the prosecution of a war with their ancient enemies, the Persians. Just at the moment when the conqueror of Greece was meditating a descent upon the Persian empire, he fell by the hand of an assassin, leaving his kingdom to his son Alexander, a youth of twenty. This happened in the year three hundred and thirtysix before Christ, and it may be justly considered as