But to accept the Jewish Teacher means earthly loss. As he keeps guard with himself through the night hours Quintus is wondering if he shall incur the hostility of his father Marcus and shall be forced to sacrifice his estates on the Palatine. He fancies also the grief of the fair Lucretia when she learns that he has chosen an alien faith. And he remembers, further, that in the choice of the Christus he is joining a company on whom the Eastern world is already casting its withering contempt. Cicero or the Christus. Which shall it be?
There are no struggles like the night wrestlings of the soul in matters of religion. What words can measure the divers arguments, the opposing considerations, the conflicting emotions that shape human choice? Quintus stands at the point where soon—in the progress of the new faith—Saul from Tarsus, Clement of Rome, and so many more of the great spirits of that first era are to stand. The wrestlings of the night! Then foul demons are abroad; and then God’s good angels are descending the ladders of the sky.
Soon comes a great moment. While the soul of Quintus is in wild commotion, there falls upon him a mighty force which is not of earth. Coming he knows not whence, but not invading the department of his will, it impels him to the Christ. Transformed is this Roman knight, who has been taught the doctrines of the Latin cult, and whose nation can only feel disdain for a Galilaean who proposes to revolutionize the ages. The words of the augur at Brundisium are having in truth a strange fulfillment.
As if the Man were present on whom he had looked in the Porch of Solomon. Quintus speaks his choice for the long eternities:
“Happen what may, I take thee, O Christus, for my Lord and Master. I sacrifice my Roman knighthood for thee, if it shall be required. I choose thee, because thou hast risen from the dead and hast proven that there is another life for men.”
Not Cicero, but Christ! The Roman knight has made the great decision.
THE VISION OF THE RISEN CHRIST
“After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once.”—Paul.
Once for himself was Quintus to see the Lord, before his departure heavenward. When midnight hours afterward came to him in Italy, the memory of that vision was golden. When, among the temples of the gods in pagan Rome, men challenged his belief, his sufficient answer was: “With mine own eyes I have seen the risen Teacher who has revealed immortality to men.” So did the first disciples of the faith who bore its weightiest burdens, enjoy its highest privilege.
It was the disciple John who told Quintus of the opportunity to see the risen Lord. In an hour of fellowship at Jerusalem—when the knight had confessed his new allegiance—John spoke of the Master’s wish. The disciples who were in the city and its environs were to gather in Galilee with those from that upper district. Once more would their Lord show himself to all who believed on him, and would speak with them. Nor did Quintus ever cease to rejoice that he was reckoned worthy to look that day on the Conqueror of death.