« AnteriorContinuar »
SUBSTANCE OF THE EPISTLE, &c. ers were examined at the same
time, who proved illuftrious and We are unable to give you any ready martyrs; while some prov. adequate idea of the fury mani. ed unequal to so great a combat. felted by the heathens against the Of these ten fell away, whose case faints, or of the sufferings of filled us with deep dejection on the blessed martyrs. Our grand their account, and with alarming adversary affailed us with all his fears, not of being tortured, but might, and left no method of cru. left any of us also should be temptely unpra&ised. We were for- ed to apoftatize from the faith. bidden to appear in the baths, or The most eminent persons of both the forum ; in any house except churches were now daily appreour own, or indeed in any place hended, and with them some of whatsoever. But the Grace of our heathen servants, who were God fought for us, preserving the induced, by the dread of torture, weak, and exposing to the fury of to charge us with eating human the tempter those chiefly, who, Aesh, and with other practices not being armed with patience, were fit even to be named. This inable to withstand his affault, censed, beyond all bounds, against and to endure every species of us many even of those who before pain and reproach, esteeming had been more moderate. The them light and trivial, for the holy martyrs were now called to lake of Christ, and the glory endure inexpressible tortures, Sa. which should follow. They first tan endeavouring to extort from courageousy sustained the shouts, them also some lander against blows, plunder, Atonings, and all christianity. The rage of the other outrages and indignities multitude, as well as of the presiwhich an exasperated mob could dent and the soldiery, was chiefly be expected to infiet. They then directed against San&us, a deacon underwent a publick examination, of Vienne ; Maturus, who had on. and confefling themselves to be ly recently been baptized ; Attachristians were shut up in prison. lus, of Pergamus, a main pillar of When the prefident arrived, they the church, and Blandina, who, were brought before his tribunal, notwithstanding our fears for her and treated with the utmost bru. weakness, was supplied with so tality. Vettius Epagathus, an much fortitude, that even those eminent example of piety and de- who in succession were torturing votedness to God, was moved with her from morning till night were indignation at witnessing such a per. worn out, and owned themselves version of justice, and requested vanquished. They were even a. permission to repel the charge of mazed that she should be still aimpiety which was made against live, mangled and pierced as was the chriflians. His request was her whole body. But in the midst refused, and he himself, confelling of all her torments, it seemed to that he was a christian, was num- abate her pains, and to recruit bered with the martyrs. But ber spirits to be able to say, “ I having within him the Holy Spir. am a christian, and no wickedness it, and being a genuine disciple of is acted among us." Chrift, he gladly laid down his The astonishing courage with hte for the brethren, following the which Sanctus encountered the Lamb whitber foever he goeth. Oth- intense sufferings he was made to. undergo, excited in an extraordin places, their feet distended in the Dary degree the rage both of the stocks, till many were suffocated, governour and the torturers. At and others died in prison of the last they applied red hot plates tortures they had endured. Ma. ' of brass to the tenderest parts of ny, however, survived, not with. his body : these were indeed standing their destitution of all burnt ; but he still stood unmov. human aid, being Itrengthened by ed, and firm in his confeffion, be. the Lord. ing refrelhed by that heavenly Pothinus, the Bishop, who was fountain of living water which above ninety years of age, and ve.' flows from the body of Christ.' ry infirm in body, though Irong in His body was now one continued spirit, was now brought before the wound, and scarcely retained the tribunal, and having, amid the human form ; but Christ wrought shouts of the multitude, witnessed wonders in him, shewing that a good confession, he was violent. nothing is to be dreaded where ly dragged about and inhumanly the love of God, and the glory of beaten, until scarcely any breath Christ are present. For some was lest in him. He was then days after, while his body was in cait into prison, and after two an extremely tender state, swoln days expired. and inflamed by what he had suf It is particularly worthy of refered, they hoped, by repeating mark, that such as on being seized the same course of tortures, to had denied Christ partook of the fubdue his constancy; or at lealt same miseries in prison as the marto strike a terror into the rest. tyrs, being treated as guilty by But fo far was this from being their own confession of murder the case, that under this second in and incelt; while they were destifliction he seemed, by the grace of tute of the joy of martyrdom, the Christ, rather to recover his form- hope of the gospel, the love of er shape, and the use of his limbs. Christ, and the confolations of the
Biblias, one of those who had Spirit of God. Oppressed with denied Christ, was now brought the pangs of guilt, their dejected to the torture, in the hope of looks diltinguished them from the compelling her to charge the faithful, who went forth cheerfulchristians with impious practices. ly, their countenances beaming But on being tortured, the feemed with grace and glory: moreover, to awake as it were out of sleep, the very heathens reviled them as and to be reminded by her present cowards and murderers. When sufferings of the everlasting tor- the others observed these things ments of Hell. Denying, there. they became more steadfalt in the fore, the truth of such allegations, faith, and yielded not to the sugThe added, " How should fuch gestions of the devil. persons eat children to whom it is The martyrs suffered death in unlawful even to eat the blood of various ways. Maturus, Sanctus, bealts?” She then confefled her. Blandina, and Attalus, were profelf a christian, and was added to duced on one of the days of the the army of martyrs.
shews before the wild beasts in the The torments already inflicted amphitheatre. There the two proving ineffectual through the first again underwent all sorts of power of Christ, the martyrs were torments, having been previoully imprisoned in dark and noisome scourged in their passage thither.
They were torn, and dragged up fom of the church, they longed and down by the wild bealts, and for a fresh opportunity of being subjected also to every barbarity examined. The emperor's orders which the populace chose to call were, that such as conferred themfor, and at last to the iron chair, selves christians should be put to in which their bodies were so death by torture, and that the abroiled as to produce a molt of- poltates should be dismiled. It fenfive odour. Nor did the cruel- being now, therefore, the time of ties of their persecutors end here, the public games, the martyrs but were continued with the ut- were again brought before the molt fierceness until these two ho populace. Such of them as were ly men at length expired under Roman citizens were beheaded, their sufferings.
the rest were thrown to the wild : Blandina was suspended to a beasts. Christ was now in a parItake and exposed to the wild ticular manner glorified in those beasts; and forming as the hung who had formerly apostatized ; the figure of a cross, her appear. for boldly avowing themselves ance served to encourage the christians they also were added to christians by exciting a lively re- the number of the martyrs. None collection of Him who was crucifi. now remained in a state of apoita. ed, that he might obtain for those cy but a few whose conduct had who believe in him and suffer for always been a reproach to chrishis sake, eternal communion with tianity, and had shewn them ney. the living God. None of the er to have poffefled true faith, nor beasts touching her, she was tak- to have had the fear of God been down and cast again into prif- fore their eyes. on, being reserved for another During the course of the examcombat. Attalus also, being ve- inations, one Alexander, who was hemently called for by the popu. distinguished by his love of God, lace, came forward with serenity, by his boldness in preaching, and and was led round the theatre, by his apostolical endowments, preceded by the tablet, on which stood near the tribunal, and with was inscribed, " This is Attalus gestures animated the christians the christian.” The rage of the to profess the faith. This conpeople against him was excessive : duct excited the indignation of the but the president understanding populace against him, and being that he was a Roman citizen re- interrogated and confelling himmanded him to prison, till he felf a christian, he was condemn. should learn the will of the empe- ed to death. The next day he ror respecting persons in his cir- and Attalus were exposed togethcumstances. The respite which was er to the wild beasts, and having thus obtained, proved highly ben- sustained all the usual methods of eficial to the church. The mer. torture, were at lait run through cy of Christ conspicuously appear with a sword. Alexander expired ed in the patience with which he without having uttered a word or armed his servants: and by means a groan, communing inwardly of the martyrs, most of those who with God during his conflict. had renounced the faith were born But Attalus, when placed in the anew, and acquired courage to iron chair and thoroughly fcorchprofess themselves christians; and ed, faid, “You indeed devour being joyfully restored to the bo- men, but we neither devour men, hor pra&tice any other wicked- tauntingly asked, Where is theit Dess."
. God, and what advantages have On the last day of the shews, they derived from that religion, Blandina was again brought forth which they preferred to life? At with Ponticus, a youth of fifteen the end of six days the bodies of (who had both been daily led in the martyrs were reduced to ashto see the tortures of the rest :) cs, and thrown into the Rhone, and the multitude being greatly that no remains of them might be enraged against them on account found on the earth. This was of their firmly refusing to swear done by the heathens under the by the idols, and their contemning vain idea of deterring others, by the gods, no pity was shewn either destroying their hope of a resurto the sex of the one, or the youth rection : for it was this hope, they of the other. The whole circuit faid, which led men to introduce of tortures was inflicted on them a strange and new religion, to conwithout effect. Ponticus, after a temn the most exquisite torments, most heroic exertion of patience, and even joyfully to undergo to which he was animaled by death. “Let us now see if they his fifter Blandina, gave up the will rise again, and if their God ghost. Blandina, having first been is able to aflift them, and deliver Icourged and exposed to the wild them out of our hands." beasts, and also set in the iron This epistle gives us a high idea chair, was at last enclosed in a of the piety of Irenæus, to whofej Aet and thrown to a bull, which worth a farther testimony is given tossed her for some time : she still by Eusebius in an extract from a appeared, however, fuperior to all letter addressed by the church of her sufferings, borne up by hope Lyons to Eleutherius, Bishop of and faith and communion with Rome, wherein Irenæus is spoken Christ, until being run through of as “ a follower of the Telta . with a sword, she at length breath- ment of Christ,” and strongly re. » ed out her soul. Even the hea- commended. It appears from thens owned that no woman had this extract, that it was intended ever before sustained such tortures. that Irenæus himself should be the But their rage was not yet fated. bearer of the letter ; but whether On the contrary, it was heighten. he actually proceeded on the miled by their disappointment to such fion is not certainly known. Cir. a degree, that they cast to the cumstances seem to favour the dogs the bodies of those who had supposition that he visited Rome died in prison, as well as the man- about this time. His stay there, gled remains of such as had been however, could not have been of torn by the wild beasts, or scorch- long duration ; for on the mared, or beheaded, watching day tyrdom of Pothinus, about the and night lest any should bury year 179, Irenæus was chosen to them. Some gnashed with their succeed him as Bishop of the teeth on the dead bodies. Oth- church of Lyons. ers derided and insulted them.
(To be continued.) Even the more sympathising
For the Panonlist, there were such men, as Cicero, THE WICKEDNESS OF SKEPTICISM IN Seneca, and Cæsar, who did the Doubt and indecision in any
things ascribed to them. The business are unhappy and injuri
history of the New Testament has ous; in religion they are wicked
all those marks of authenticity, and fatal. While the mind is
which give credibility to other clouded with uricertainty, it has
ancient writings ; and Jewish and little comfort in the promises of
pagan writers confirm many
parts of the narrative. The religion; it has little dread of its
learned Dr. PRIESTLEY asserted threatenings, and yields a reluctant obedience to its laws. As decis
that “ No other history is attend. ion elevates, so uncertainty de
ed with any evidence, that can be fresses a rational being. Where
compared with that of the goslight shines, to be undetermined Teipeating things of ferious aspect, JOSEPHUS gives information conto have no fixed opinion refpe&t. cerning, “ One Jesus, a wile jaz things of infinite moment, is man, if yet it be lawful to call to wound the dignity of reason, him a man.” He mentions his to disclaim the honours of a found “ miracles, crucifixion under Ponmind.
TIUS Pilate, his resurrection the Uncertainty respecting religion third day, and his numerous fol. is criminal, because there is evi. lowers in his time.” Within feydence to satisfy a teachable mind. enty years after his death TaciTo fuppose that God has require TUS wrote of “Christ, as the au. ed a religious belief of men, with thor of the christian name, and out affording them evidence for put to death by PONTIUS PILATE, the basis of that belief, is a gross the Procurator in the reign of Ti. reflection on his goodness. Noth. BERIUS.” PLINY wrote to TRAag can present the Divine Being JAN concerning “the christians, in a more dismal form, than to that they were wont to allemble suppose he requires faith, where together on a set day, and to ling he has not furnished conclulive hymns to CHRIST, as God." evidence.
Near the same time SUETONIUS No min is under obligation to wrote, that the Emperors punilh. believe without evidence ; where ed the christians on the score of their there is evidence, it is always crim. profefling CHRIST. Neither Pa. iaal not to assent. That the full gans nor Jews, who lived near the eit credit ought to be given to rev. time of CHRIST, denied the mira. clation, a superficial examination cles he performed. Thus have alone will make sufficiently cer enemies given their teltimony in iain. Christianity is supported support of the christian cause. ca a solid balis. We have to say The truth of the gospel being the least, as great reason to be. eltablished by these and a variety Tiere there were such persons, as of other proofs, we have only to Jesus Christ, Paul, and Peter, read the sacred volume, to learn who did the things ascribed to what is truth. tiem, as we have to believe With the same facility and cer.
Vol. I. No. 3.