Yesterday evening Professor Wright addressed the twentieth College Conference. He began his remarks by speaking of the difference between the Sermon on the Mount and the Nicean Creed, and of the development of religion since the Nicean Creed.
To understand a religion we must know its growth, and the three things we should consider about christianity are its original principles, its promulgators, and its interpreters. Chief among the interpreters stands St. Paul. I shall speak of only one aspect of the career of this wonderful man; his public speeches; and tonight shall take up some of the most striking features of his enviroment.
Paul was educated at Tarsus a conservative Jew. Nevertheless he was more or less influenced by his contact with other nationalities. He wrote and except in one instance spoke in Greek. His works lead us to think he was more or less influenced by the rhetors or sophists, a class of men who addressed mainly the intellect and the aesthetic taste.
At this time the state of morals was very different from what it had been. Although religion had lost its hold, its outward forms were still observd. The ignorant masses believed in all kinds of superstition, the educated believed in nothing.
The Cynics played an important part at this time. Their bravery and constancy won for them the respect of all. They resemble in some respects the modern anarchists except in relation to God. Their pure deism rebuked the polytheism of the age, and their asceticism did much towards shaping the hermit life and the monastic system of later times.
The Cynics were a branch of the Stoics as shown by the fact that Epictetus, the great Cynic leader, was sometimes called a Cynic, sometimes a Stoic.
Epictetus flourished shortly after St. Paul and we find him the noblest representative of Cynicism.
Professor Wright will speak on the speeches themselves at the next College Conference, and as references will be made to these speeches, students are advised to bring Bibles with them.