Christian lessons on dating
Augustine does not hesitate to say (Retract., I, xiii, 3): "What we now call the Christian religion existed amongst the ancients, and was from the beginning of the human race, until Christ Himself came in the flesh; from which time the already existing true religion began to be styled Christian".
And thus it has been remarked that Israel alone amongst the nations of antiquity looked forward to glories to come.
Yet, though He often foreshadowed a time when the Law as such would cease to bind, and though He Himself in proof of His Messiahship occasionally set aside its provisions ("For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath ", Matthew 12:8 ), yet, as, in spite of His miracles, He did not win recognition of that Messiahship, still less of His Divinity, from the Jews at large.
He confined His explicit teaching about the Church to His immediate followers, and left it to them, when the time came, openly to pronounce the abrogation of the Law.
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.
Moreover, many of them were characterized by rites of expiation and sacrifice, which familiarized men's minds with the idea of a mediatorial religion.
It was to this fact rather than to the wonders He worked in His lifetime that His accredited witnesses always appealed in their teaching.
On the marvel of the Resurrection is based in the counsels of God the faith of Christianity.
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.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.