The beginning of the Christian Church is reckoned from the great day on which the Holy Ghost came down, according as our Lord had promised to His Apostles. At that time, "Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven," were gathered together at Jerusalem, to keep the Feast of Pentecost (or Feast of Weeks), which was one of the three holy seasons at which God required His people to appear before Him in the place which He had chosen (Deuteronomy xvi. 16). Many of these devout men there converted by what they then saw and heard, to believe the Gospel; and, when they returned to their own countries, they carried back with them the news of the wonderful things which had taken place at Jerusalem. After this, the Apostles went forth "into all the world," as their Master had ordered them, to "preach the Gospel to every creature" (St Mark xvi. 15). The Book of Acts tells us something of what they did, and we may learn something more about it from the Epistles. And, although this be but a small part of the whole, it will give us a notion of the rest, if we consider that, while St. Paul was preaching in Asia Minor, Greece, and at Rome, the other Apostles were busily doing the same work in other countries.

We must remember, too, the constant coming and going which in those days took place throughout the world, how Jews from all quarters went up to keep the Passover and other feasts at Jerusalem; how the great Roman empire stretched from our own island of Britain as far as Persia and Ethiopia, and people from all parts of it were continually going to Rome and returning. We must consider how merchants travelled from country to country on account of their trade; how soldiers were sent into all quarters of the empire and were moved about from one country to another. And from these things we may get some understanding of the way in which the knowledge of the Gospel would be spread, when once it had taken root in the great cities of Jerusalem and Rome. Thus it came to pass, that, by the end of the first hundred years after our Saviour's birth something was known of the Christian faith throughout all the Roman empire, and even in countries beyond it; and if in many cases, only a very little was known, still even that was a gain, and served as a preparation for more.

The last chapter of the Acts leaves St. Paul at Rome, waiting for his trial on account of the things which the Jews had laid to his charge. We find from the Epistles that he afterwards got his liberty, and returned into the East. There is reason to suppose that he also visited Spain, as he had spoken of doing in his Epistle to the Romans (ch. xv. 28); and it has been thought by some that he even preached in Britain; but this does not seem likely. He was at last imprisoned again at Rome, where the wicked Emperor Nero persecuted the Christians very cruelly; and it is believed that both St. Peter and St. Paul were put to death there in the year of our Lord 68. The bishops of Rome afterwards set up claims to great power and honour, because they said that St. Peter was the first bishop of their church, and that they were his successors. But although we may reasonably believe that the Apostle was martyred at Rome, there does not appear to be any good ground for thinking that he had been settled there as bishop of the city.