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BRITISH ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY.
No. IV. Christianity in Britain in the Third Century, until the Conversion of Constantine the Great, A. D. 313. CHRISTIANITY doubtless made some progress in Britain after its revival in the time of Lucius, A. D. 164. But we have no information respecting its advancement until the close of the third century, when the tenth general persecution of the Christians arose under the emperor Dioclesian. Many were the martyrs to Christ in that season of trial, though we are not able to gain a perfect knowledge of the facts from the disfigured inonkish legends in which they are recorded.
ALBAN, canonized by the superstitions with the title of "Saint," from whoin his native town Verulamium, now St. Alban's, has been called, is mentioned as the first British martyr for Christ: we must therefore give a few brief notices of him. Alban had been seven years a soldier in the emperor's army; but returning to his native town, he entertained Amphibalus, a persecuted Welsh minister, by whose doctrines, prayers, and holy deportment, he was converted to the faith of Christ. His persecutors tracing the object of their pursuit, gave information to a magistrate, who sent to apprehend the Christian preacher. Alban generously put on the hairy cassock of his guest, and delivered himself to the officers, who led him to the tribunal. The judge demanding an account of his family, he replied, "To what purpose do you inquire of my family? If you would know my religion, I am a Christian." Then being asked his name, he said, "My parents named me Alban; and I worship the only true and living God, who created all things." Refusing to betray his pious guest, his spiritual father, or to sacrifice to the Roman gods, he was sentenced to be beheaded. Alban was first scourged, and then led to execution, as is said, on the spot where the Abbey now stands, which was erected to his memory, and called after his name. It is also said, that the soldier, who was appointed to put him to death, was so affected by the resignation and magnanimity of the virtuous Briton, that he chose rather to die
with him than to be his executioner.
Amphibalus was soon discovered, and made to glorify his Saviour in shedding his blood, being first embowelled, and then stoned! The precise year in which these things occurred we cannot ascertain. Dioclesian ascended the throne of the Cæsars A. D. 284, and laid aside the purple A. D. 305. Some think the persecution under him raged but the two last years in Britain, though it continued nine years in most parts of the empire. Bede, and most of our old historians, place the martyrdom of St. Alban A. D. 286.
Aaron and Julius, two citizens of Caerleon, and many others, both men and women, suffered at the same time for the name of Christ; but most of their names have perished from the records in our old chronicles. Fuller, a church historian, has beautifully remarked concerning them, "It was superstition in the Athenians to build an altar to the unknown God; but it would be piety in us here to erect a monument in memorial of those unkuown martyrs, whose names are lost. The best is, God's calendar is more complete than man's best martyrologies; and their names are written in the book of life, who on earth are wholly forgotten."
Divine Providence soon put a stop to these cruel persecutions, and the church enjoyed a large measure of tranquillity. Christianity in Britain henceforward received imperial protection. Constantine the Great, the first Roman emperor who embraced Christianity, is, by Dr. Anderson in his "Roval Genealogies," made not only a native of Britain, but son of a British princess! It is certain that his father, Constantius Chlorus,
was at York, when, upon the abdication of Dioclesian, A. D. 305, he shared the Roman empire with Galerius Maximus, and that he died at York, A. D. 306, having first caused his son Constantine to be proclaimed emperor by his army and by the Britons.
That amiable prince expressed in his last moments his desire that his son Constantine should succeed him, as his filial affection to his mother Helena had been most exemplary. Constantius himself had steadily opposed the persecuting spirit of the times; and in reply to some courtiers, who urged him to dismiss from his service those who would not abandon the profession of Christianity, remarked, that "it could not expected of those who had forsaken their God, that they would prove faithful to their prince." Constantius is said to have recommended the Christians to the protection of his son Constantine with his expiring breath. We need not wonder therefore that he should embrace Christianity, especially when its principles were recommended by his pious mother Helena.
Constantine appears to have hesitated whether he should embrace Christianity or not: but in marching at the head of his army into Italy, it is said, that seeing the Christians so rapidly increase, and knowing their excellent principles and conduct, he retired to a place of solitude: revolving in his mind the consequences of the expected battle with his rival Maxentius, he implored the protection of the God of the Christians, when he beheld in the heavens the vision of a Cross, with this inscription in Greek, "CONQUER BY THIS." His pagan priests interpreted it as an ill omen, but the Christians were encouraged by it, and some of them recommended to him to have a standard made with that significant inscription. Constantine adopted the suggestion a splendid banner was prepared, emblazoned with that motto: he marched against Maxentius, defeated him, and entered imperial Rome as con
At his triumph, he rejected the homage and applause of the multitude, pointing them to his new standard, as representing that by which he gained the victory; and when his own statue was afterwards erected in the Capitol, he caused an emblematical representation of the cross to be introduced, with this inscription: "By this victorious cross, Constantine has delivered Rome from tyranny, and restored to the senate and people their ancient glory."
From this period the profession of Christianity was honoured with all possible dignity and splendour. Helena, the mother of Constantine, became especially lavish in her contributions to honour the name of Christ; and though we have no particular account of her liberality towards Britain, the supposed land of her nativity, she is celebrated as having built a sumptuous edifice, or church, over the supposed site of the sepulchre of Christ at Jerusalem; for a particular account of which, see the "Christian's Penny Magazine," Vol. I, No. 22.
A REFLECTION AT SEA.
See how, beneath the moon-beam's smile,
And murm'ring then subsides to rest.
Thus man, the sport of bliss and care,
Letters to a Mother, upon Education.
On Hubits of Order.
Dear Madam, THERE is no need to explain to you the benefit of habits of order. You well know how much the beauty and the happiness of the universe result from the order which pervades it. You also know how important order is in the arrangement of our intellec
that it is essential to the quietude and well-being of a family. These sentiments must be common to every person who has arrived at maturity, and who has therefore had an opportunity of experiencing the comfort resulting from this principle, and of learning its value by having suffered from the want of it. But your child has no notion of all this; neither has he any inclination either to know, or still less to practise it. Habits of order must, like all other good habits, be early and habitually instilled.
As soon then as you give him a present, or entrust any thing to his keeping, tools, clothes, pencils, pens, paint-box, &c. let him be taught to have a particular place for every thing; and when he has done with it, let him be taught to return it, clean and in an orderly state, to its place. Let this rule be adopted, and pursued most rigorously. Never let him, for instance, go to bed, or out to walk, till he himself has put away the things which he had been using. Make him very particular about putting every thing into its place. Let the same rule be inculcated with regard to every thing relating to him, his books, his clothes, &c. &c.
In addition to the value of this rule, arising from the facility secured by it of finding every thing when it is wanted, and of having every thing in a constant readiness to be used, we may consider its influence upon the nind. Accustomed to arrangement in his conduct, he will insensibly learn to arrange his ideas. His mind, like his own little room, will be in constant order. He will know where to look for his knowledge, if I may so. speak, and there he will find it. When he acquires a new idea, he will put it to the ideas of the same sort of which he is possessed already.
It may seem strange to talk of having a place for our ideas; but it is a mode of speaking respecting the subject which is common to writers, and we are all conscious of what it means. The benefit of it is incalculable. It enables us to pursue one topic of writing and of speaking steadily. It affords us the means of knowing the real amount of our information upon any topic, and the power of using it at will.
This mental habit is however only to be acquired and preserved by use; and in consequence of the sympathy between our habits of body and of mind, the observ ance of order in domestic arrangements is in this respect alone truly valuable.
Closely allied to this habit is that of punctuality. I am afraid that punctuality is a matter a good deal of disposition. Some persons are naturally punctual: others can scarcely ever acquire the habit, although suffering every day from the want of it.
It seems essential to success in life. It is the girdle of all other good qualities. The celebrated Lord Mansfield is said to have declared, that he had known many men of great talent, who had never been successful because they were not prompt and punctual; and that, on the other hand, he had known many persons who were prompt and punctual, but who did not possess any particular talent; and that between these two causes, multitudes fail of reaching that point of utility to their fellow-men, which they would otherwise have attained.
The want of punctuality is often to be ascribed to an acquired listlessness of disposition, the want of order, thoughtlessness in making engagements, irresolution to withstand temptation, and, above all things, to a want of sacred reverence to a promise. Let all these things be cautiously attended to. Teach him to avoid making a promise as much as possible. Teach your child always to consider well before he makes an engagement, whether he shall be able, and in all probability inclined, when the time comes to fulfil it. Never permit him to drink of the fatal delusion, that in order to be agreeable he must comply with every body's request. Many persons suffer intensely from a spurious species of good-nature, in being unable to resist a solicitation which they see will gratify others. They would be much happier if they could learn to say "No" on proper occasions. Should you see this disposition exist in your infant, eradicate it as a weed of bitterness. Show him that the genuine respect of mankind is all that is worth having; aud they never respect any thing but stability, prudence, and decision: that the listless, irregular, and unpunctual man, though often goodnatured and pleasing and kind and inoffensive, is nevertheless the mere plaything of society, a mere means of amusement, often wanted, but little valued that he is generally left behind in the race of human life, daily labouring under disadvantages which result from his habits; and that the rest of mankind, if they do not condemn or despise him, yet make him the object of their wayward pity.
I am, dear Madam, yours, &c.
A MOTHER'S INFLUENCE.
To whom was Sir William Jones almost exclusively indebted, in his most important, because earliest years, for all his future eminence? Who was it that bent the twig, or taught the young idea how to shoot? Who was it, that, to his incessant importunities for information on casual topics of conversation, and which were so watchfully stimulated, used kindly and constantly to reply, "Read, and you will know?" Who was it that cultivated his mind so that in his fourth year he was able to read any English book, and stored his mind from his birth to his ninth and tenth years? When, in his ninth year, he had the misfortune to break his thigh bone, which detained him at home more than a year, who was it that was his constant companion, and amused him daily with the perusal of such English books as were adapted to his taste and capacity? For all this, and much more than this, we are referred to only one individual, and that was his dear mother--an extraordinary woman, then a solitary widow, his father having died when William was only three
THE BLESSEDNESS OF THE SAINTS IN AN
SCRIPTURAL REFLECTIONS ON THE ALMIGHTY.
THE greatest blessing that man can enjoy on earth, is the sense of reconciliation with God; to be enabled to hold sweet spiritual converse with the Author of his being, by that lively faith and apprehension of Him, which can be realized only whilst we view the Great Jehovah under the character given of him in the Scriptures :-a merciful Parent! an Almighty and a faithful Friend! All which and infinitely more he is through Jesus Christ. The Scriptures are full of consolation on these points. They reveal to man the means of access to God! They point to him "an open door," a "new and living way to the holiest of all by the blood of Jesus." "Having taken God at his word, what scenes of glory and blessedness open for the contemplation and enjoyment of the soul! That God, who has been so imperfectly known, or recognized under characters only of vastness and majesty, perhaps as the Great Eternal! the Almighty! the Great Spirit of Nature! or by other of the more powerful attributes of Deity, now appears in a light of infinite love, attracting the sublimest regard of his creatures by developments of the unbounded goodness as well as greatness of his character. When discovered under such representations as those of "a Father"-"The God who is love"-"The Saviour "The Sanctifier" "The Holy One"-"The Husband"-The Vine" "The Foundation "-"The fulness of Him that filleth all in all"-"The Shepherd"-The Friend of man" "The Brother born for adversity"-"The Portion of his people "and numberless other equally beautiful and tender, yet familiar designations;-who would not wish to love such a God? The way then is open: Christ Jesus is the way; and the Holy Spirit will be the guide to it; and eternity shall unveil the fuller irradiations of the glory of God, which flesh and blood cannot inherit. S. F. W.
DIFFERENT VIEWS OF DEATH.
A calm and placid reflection on death, is what few can attain; and to most, the very idea of the time when this last enemy shall have them within his grasp, is accompanied by an inward and involuntary shudder. Any attempt to place the character of death in its true light, and to inculcate principles, the acting on which can alone make sweet the hour of awful solemnity, when all earthly things are closing on us for ever, cannot, it is to be hoped, be altogether unprofitable.
But in considering the subject of death, we must look at it in two distinct lights, as relating to the righteous, and to the wicked.
First, then, we will consider the character of death, as relating to the righteous. By the true and established Christian believer, it cannot, if calmly reflected on, or at least ought not, to be viewed with any feelings, but those of satisfaction and welcome. It ought to be hailed by him as the messenger sent by God to free him from this world of sin and temptation, and exalt him to that heavenly rest which will prove so refreshing to his soul, which hath borne the heat and burthen of the day. Yet so deeply is our nature corrupted, so strong is the hold which the things of this world have obtained in our affections, that many even of true Christians do not look upon death with feelings altogether consistent with their character, as seeking a better country, even an heavenly. Were this subject oftener before their minds, and did they more frequently reflect on the necessarily short period which must elapse, before they must pass from time to eternity, how widely different would the transient things of this world appear. If it he asked, how such a blessed state of mind can be attained, as to be com
posed, calm, and happy in our last moments, the reply is, by a life of faith on the Son of God. O how many, and how great are the blessings with which such a life is attended, not only in the next life, as many perhaps may think, but even in this life. O how false is the idea (so common, alas!) that religion is an enemy to happiness. Certain it is, that true happiness and serenity of mind is alone to be found in a strict adherence to the commands of God, and a firm reliance on his infinite mercy, through the atonement of our blessed Saviour.
The second light in which we are to consider death, is as relating to the wicked. This is indeed an awful subject for contemplation. Well may the wicked man fly as it were from the very thought of death! Well may he shrink with horror when the thought flashes across his mind, that he too must soon be brought to pass through the valley of the shadow of death; for then the moment will have arrived when Justice shall execute her terrible work, and he will be left to mourn through all eternity the fatal effects of his infatuated conduct. As such will certainly be the consequence of a sinful life, let not the following blessed words of Scripture pass unheeded by us: "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him turn unto the Lord and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God for he will abundantly pardon A. Y.
REFORMED GIPSIES IN ENGLAND. No. 6 of the Christian's Penny Magazine contains some historical and statistical notices of this singular people. Every benevolent mind must feel a lively interest in this degraded class of wanderers, and anxious to promote their moral and religious improvement. HOME MISSIONARY SOCIETY deserves the thanks of the nation for the attention its agents have been employed to call their minds to the consideration of the Bible, and to the saving doctrines of the gospel of Christ.
Our readers will feel pleasure in reading the follow ing account of a Christmas meeting of reformed gipsies. "In Southampton, a small colony of reformed gipsies has been established five years, consisting of twenty individuals. The fourth anniversary was held at Springhill, on Friday, the 28th of December 1832, when one hundred and twenty-six wandering gipsies also attended. A great number of praying and benevolent friends assembled on the occasion. After Divine service had been performed, in which many of the gipsies appeared deeply interested, a pleasing account of the colony was given, and some interesting facts related respecting the moral improvement of these poor outcasts in Devonshire, Gloucestershire, Surrey, Scotland, and Germany. Their order at the dinner-table was pleasing, and their gratitude was strongly expressed, especially when every family was supplied with a blanket and with calico, and each person with a pair of stockings. On examination, it was ascertained that not above five of the number were able to read; but to each of these was given the word of life. A great number of the neighbouring gentry were present, and felt pleasure in waiting on these poor outcasts, and conversing with them. It was the general opinion, that if more attention were paid to them in imparting to them religious instruction, they would soon leave their present course of life. The reformed gipsies are respected by their friends and benefactors. Several of them have learned trades; and their improvement in reading and religious principle has rendered two of them fit to teach in a Sabbath school."
Friends of your country-friends of the Home Missionary Society, weigh with seriousness the closing observations of this interesting stateinent!
MY SCRAP BOOK.
"The Bee that wanders, and sips from every flower, disperses what she has gathered into her cells."-SENECA.
REV. OLIVER HEYWOOD, continued.
In this state of confinement, Mr. Heywood sometimes ventured to admit a few friends into his house, in whom he could confide, and preached to them with such fervour and affection as his present circumstances tended to inspire. Now and then he supplied vacant churches at a distance, when he could obtain permission of the churchwardens so to do. But the spirit of persecution raged so hotly against him, that this worthy man was under the necessity of taking leave of his dear family, and going he knew not whither. But the question was, how he should be equipped for his journey? He had a horse, but the little money that remained must be left for the support of his family, for whom he was much more concerned than for himself,
One winter's morning, while it was yet dark, the horse was saddled, and this good man, after bidding adieu to his wife, and saluting his children in their beds, set out, like Abraham, when he left his father's house, not knowing whither he went. He moved silently along in bye-ways for some time, for fear of being seen, till he got out of the neighbourhood. Having not one farthing in his pocket, he committed himself to the protection of Providence. He determined at length to leave his horse at full liberty to go which way it would; and thus travelled on for a considerable part of the day, till both man and beast stood in great need of refreshment. Towards evening, the horse bent its course to a farm-house, a little out of the road. Mr. Heywood called at the door, and a clean, decent woman came out to inquire what he wanted. I have reason, said he, to make an apology for giving you this trouble, being an entire stranger in these parts. My horse stands in need, as well as myself, of shelter and refreshment for the night; if you could any way make it convenient to furnish my horse with a little hay, and a stand under cover, and myself with a seat by your fire-side, I ask no more. The good woman, a little surprised at his request, told him she would consult her husband. After a few minutes, they both came to the door, and Mr. Heywood repeated his request, but told them he had no money to satisfy them for any trouble they might have on his account; yet he hoped God would reward them. They immediately desired him to alight; the master led the horse into the stable, and the mistress took the stranger into the house, invited him to sit down, stirred up the fire, and began to prepare him something to eat. Mr. Heywood told her he was concerned to see her give herself so much trouble, that being unable to make her any recompense, he did not require either a supper or a bed, but only that he might sit by the fire-side till morning. The mistress assured him, that for an act of hospitality she did not expect any reward, and that though the accommodations her house would afford were but indifferent, he should be welcome to them; and therefore she hoped he would make himself easy.
After supper, they all sat down before the fire, and the master of the house desired to know of the stranger, what countryman he was. I was born, said he, in Lancashire; but I have a wife and family in the neighbourhood of Halifax. That is a town, said the farmer, where I have been; and some years ago, I had a little acquaintance with several persons there. Pray do you know Mr. S. and Mr. D. And is old Mr. F. yet alive? The stranger gave suitable answers to these,
and many other inquiries. At length the kind hostess asked him if he knew any thing of one Mr. Oliver Heywood, who was formerly minister at some chapel not far from Halifax, but was now for some account or other forbidden to preach. The stranger replied, There is a great deal of noise and talk about that man; some speak well; others say every thing that is bad of him: for my own part, I can say little in his favour. I believe, said the farmer, he is of that sect which is everywhere spoken against; but pray do you personally know him? And what is it that inclines you to form such an indifferent opinion of his character? I do know something of him, said the stranger; but as I do not choose to propagate an ill report of any one, if you please, we will talk on some other subject. After keeping the farmer and his wife in suspense for some time, who were a little uneasy at what he had said, he told them, that he was the poor outcast of whom they had made so many kind inquiries.
All then was surprise, and joy, and thankfulness, that a merciful Providence had brought him under their roof. The farmer said, Mr. Heywood, I am glad to see you here, having long had a sincere regard for you, from the favourable report I have always heard of you. The night is not far spent: I have a few neigh. bours who love the gospel; if you will give us a word of exhortation, I will run and acquaint them. This is an obscure place, and as your coming here is not known, I hope we shall have no interruption. Mr. Heywood consented; a small congregation was gathered; and he preached to them with that fervour, affection, and enlargement, which attending circumstances served to inspire. On this joyful occasion, a small collection was voluntarily made to help the poor traveller on his way.-Dr. Fawcett's Life of Oliver Heywood, p. 38.
The Danger of Impenitence after Afflictions. To be impenitent after severe corrections, is to poison ourselves with that which is intended for our physic, and by a miraculous kind of obstinacy to turn rods into serpents. Tillotson, vol. i, p. 235.
The Joys of Heaven.-The joys of heaven, are without example, above experience, and beyond inagination; for which the whole creation wants a comparison, we an apprehension, and even the word of God a revelation.-Norris's Serm., vol. ii, p. 191.
Popish Altar-piece. -I had a mind to see a picture, that, as I was told, is over one of the popish altars there [at Worms], which one would think was invented by one of the enemies of Transubstantiation to make it appear ridiculous. There is a windmill, and the Virgin throws Christ into the hopper, and he comes out at the eye of the mill all in wafers, which some priests take up to give to the people.-Bp. Burnet's Letters, p. 32.
Lord Chesterfield's Letters.-The substance of them is comprised in a few words. Adulation to those we despise; courtesy to those we hate; connections without friendship; professions without meaning; goodhumour without benevolence; good manners without morals; appearances saved, and realities sacrificed. Porteus's Serm., p. 377.
Compound and Simple Interest.-One penny put out at our Saviour's birth at five per cent. compound interest, would before this time have increased to a greater sum than would be contained in three hundred millions of globes of solid gold, each globe as large as the earth but if put out at simple interest, it would have amounted to no more than seven shillings and sixpence. Price's Observ., edit. 1803, p. 314. Dr. Price made this calculation in 1791. S. J. B*****,
ON THE NAME OF GOD, IN TEN LANGUAGES.
Great King of Saints, Almighty Lord!
Descend, thou holy mystic Dove!
Deceiv'd by Satan, we in Adam fell,
Inflated man, how dost thou dare
O fool! thus clad, hell stares thee in thy face.
Defence, secure from every ill,
A rise, thou mighty King of Grace!
A way with my fears:
Lo! Jesus appears:
Lo! Jesus the glorified Saviour now smiles,
Enough! the dying saint expiring cries, Secure on seraph's wings upborne he flies, A nd bids adieu to earthly things, Redeeming love alone he sings.
The Great I Am,
E xtol his name, ye wond'ring host:
E ver-blessed God of love,
May this poor sinful heart of mine!
"It must be acknowledged, the Gospel of Christ is full of mysteries; and if it be a revelation of God, it must be so. Secret things belong to God; revealed things belong to us. It ought to excite no wonder in the weakest mind, that the ways of God are mysterious. If we look into creation, we may trace cause to effect, and effect to cause; yet we come to something at last that we cannot explain."
Or, the Ability and Duty of Christendom to supply the World with Missionaries. By a Missionary. Second Edition, 12mo. pp. 40.
Missionary Institutions, as at present conducted, we are convinced, from many years' acquaintance with them, are the noblest of all systems of active benevolence. Much and sincerely as we regard them, we are not, however, satisfied that they are incapable of inprovement. We believe that they may be newly mo delled, and carried to a far higher degree of efficiency and extensiveness in their operations. We are decided Reformers, not merely political and ecclesiastical, but personal, ministerial, and social. Motives and rules for reform, in every respect, we find in the inspired institutes of our holy religion, which is essentially reforming, regenerating, and sanctifying, and destined to influence every tribe and family of mankind. "Does it never occur to the zealous friends of Missions, that the sum total of Protestant Missionaries supported by all the Missionary Societies in existence, does not perhaps exceed six hundred and that these have no less a task to perform than the conversion of six hundred millions; that is, each Missionary has one million for his part of the labour?”
These "Observations" of Mr. Bradshaw are properly. short sermons on some of the most important subjects of the word of God. Their style is plain, their doctrine is sound, and their adaptation to the end designed is judicious. On these grounds the volume before us is entitled to our recommendation: but when we reflect upon the gratuitous ministerial labours of the author, in a populous neighbourhood lamentably destitute of the means of evangelical instruction, and that "the object of this publication is to assist in liquidating a debt on the Sabbath school connected with the author's place of worship, and that the profits arising from its sale will be applied to this purpose," we feel additional reasons for recommending this useful volume.
The first volume of the Christian's Penny Magazine, from June to December 1832, is now complete. and may be had, neatly bound in canvass, price 38. 6d. through any Bookseller or Newsman; and also any of the preceding Parts or Numbers. A specimen of the Embellishments in the First Volume is printed on a large Sheet, price 2d., which will be found to contain some beautiful articles for Books of Prints.
The demand for the Sheet of Engravings having been much greater than was anticipated, it has been found necessary to reprint it. Subscribers and others can now be supplied through the usual channels.
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