Cross, The

   Among the ancients death by crucifixion was a very common mode of execution. Among the Romans, death on the cross was regarded as the most degraded death possible, and was used in the punishment of slaves and the lowest class of criminals. It was thus our Blessed Lord was humiliated; nay, it was thus that "He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross." (Phil. 2:8.) This humiliating death of our Lord by crucifixion, led His followers to regard the Cross with feelings of the greatest reverence. Henceforth, the Cross, the instrument of a shameful death, became the symbol of glory. It became the emblem of the Christian Religion. It was placed on all church buildings and over the Altar as the everlasting sign of the eternal hope of the Christian's belief. It became also a manual act. The custom of crossing oneself, as an act of devotion may be traced back to the very beginnings of Christianity. The Prayer Book makes provision for the newly baptized to be signed "with the sign of the Cross in token that hereafter he shall not be ashamed to confess the Faith of Christ crucified," and it is thought that if it be neither wrong nor superstitious on this occasion, it cannot be at other times.
   See Emblems.

American Church Dictionary and Cyclopedia. — New York, Thomas Whittaker. . 1901.

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