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our sight. Then every thing around us is gloomy and sad; the voice of joy and rejoicing is silent. But what then? Look unto the beclouded heavens, and remember the sun will soon appear; brightness and serenity will soon overspread the face of the earth ; and a calm day will follow. With these thoughts, and with the reflection that he who rules the seasons is the God of life, be comforted and rest in hope. In the day of prosperity, bear also in mind, that ere long it will most certainly be overcast with adversity, and be hence prepared to submit with tranquillity to the coming evil. Thus, let not the changes in the daily course of time, pass by unnoticed and unimproved to some valuable purpose ; for to him who studies with diligentcare their instruction, they will teach wisdom and understand. ing, virtue and piety, that peace and happiness may be his portion. Let all ponder well these things, and practice these precepts of nature and nature's God; and thus while the snows are dissolving, and the earth is softening to receive the vegetable seed, their hearts will also be opened to receive the seeds of divine grace, that shall hereafter bring forth a plentiful crop of virtue and righteousness, in the fear of God.
LIFE OF ST. POLYCARP,
BISHOP OF SMYRNA.
(Continued from page 10.] POLYCARP being arrived before the tribunal, the Pro-consul said Regard thy great age; swear by the genius of Cæsar; repent, and say with us, take away the impious.* The holy martyr, with a stern countenance, beckoning to the multitude with his hand, sighed, and looking up to heaven, exclaimed, take away the impious. The Pro-consul still urged him to swear, promising him diberty if he would blaspheme Christ; which he with a noble scorn refused; and with a dignified air, peculiar to innocence, made the following generous confession :-Four score and six years have I served him, and he never did me any harm; how then shall I now blaspheme my King and my Saviour ? But nothing will satisfy a malicious, misguided zeal : The Pro-consul still importuned him to swear by Cesar's genius: to which he replied—Since you are so vainly ambitious that I should swear by the Emperor's genius, as you call it, as if you knew not who I am, hear my free confession. I am a Christian. If you have a mind to learn the Christian religion, appoint me a time, and I will instruct you. The Pro-consul advised him to persuade the people: he answered To you I rather choose to direct my discourse, for we are commanded by the laws of our religion to give to Princes and those in authority, all that due honor and reverence that is not fire. judicial and contrary to the precepts of the gospel. As for them, (meaning the multitude) I think them not competent judges, to whom I should apologize or give an account of my faith.
The Pro-consul finding his firmness such as was not to be moved by flattery, undertook to frighten him with threats. I have wild beasts at hand, said he, to which I'll throw you unless you rocant.
* This was considered as paying divine honours.
Call for them, cried the martyr, for we are immutably resolved not to change the better for the worse, accounting it fit and comely only to turn from vice to virtue. Since thou makest so light of wild beasts, added the Pro-consul, I have a fire that shall tame thee, unless thou repentest. Thou threatenest me with a fire, answered Polycarp, that burns for an hour, and is presently extinct; but art ignorant, alas, of the fire of eternal damnation and the judgment to come, reserved for the wicked in the other world.* But why delayest thou ? Bring forth whatever thou hast a mind to. After saying this, and much more to the same purpose, with a pleasant and cheerful confidence in the hope that was set before him, the Pro-consul and the surrounding multitude, in silent astonishment; were struck with a reverential awe. But the moment prejudice had blunted the edge of convice tion, the crier was ordered to proclaim three times, in the middle of the Stadium, (as was the manner of the Romans in all capital trials) Polycarp has confessed himself to be a Christian! To which the Jews and Gentiles responded, shouting aloud, This is the great Doctor of Asia, and the Father of the Christians; this is the destroyer of our gods, that teaches men not to do sacrifice, or worship the deities: demanding him to be cast to the lions. After they were denied this, they unanimously exclaimed, burn him alive! Accordingly sentence was passed ; and with incredible activity they collected faggots and other combustible matter. The fire being prepared, Polycarp untied his girdle, laid aside his garments, and proceeded to unloose his shoes, when the Christians present prevented him by their assistance, shewing him due reverence and respect.
When the officers were about nailing him to the stake, agreeably to custom, he begged them to desist, assuring them that he who gave him strength to endure the fire, would enable him, without nailing, to stand immoveable in the hottest flames. They listened, and only tied him; when, standing like a sheep for the slaughter, designed as a grateful sacrifice to the Almighty, clasping his hands, which were tied behind, he poured out his soul to heaven in the following prayer:
O Lord God Almighty, the Father of thy well beloved and ever blessed Son, Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the knowledge of thee, the God of angels, powers, and of every creature, and of the whole race of the righteous, who live before thee; I bless thee, that thou hast graciously condescended to bring me to this day and hour, that I may receive a portion in the number of thy holy martyrs, and drink of Christ's cup for the resurrection to eternal life, both of soul and body, in the incorruptibleness of the Holy Spirit; into which number grant I may be received this day, being found in thy sight as a fair and acceptable sacrifice, such a one as thou thyself hast prepared, that so thou mayest accomplish what thou, D true and faithful God, hast foreshewn. Wherefore I praise thee for all thy mercies; I bless thee, I glorify thee, through the eternal high Priest, thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ; with whom, to thyself, and the Holy Ghost, be glory now and forever, Amen. Which last
* The Universalists, who assert that the Apostles and primitive Fathers denied future punishment, would do well to notice this.
words he pronounced with a more clear and audible voice; and have ing finished this prayer, the ministers of execution blew up the fire, which, increasing to a mighty flame, soon encircled the body of the martyr, who stood in the midst, and yielded up his soul to his God and Saviour.
Thus died this apostolical man, A. D. 167, about the hundredth year of his age; for those eighty-six years of which he himself speaks, wherein he had served Christ, cannot be said to commence from his natural birth, but from his baptism ar new birth; at which time it is not probable he was under sixteen or twenty years of age. Besides, his converse with the Apostles, and consecration by St. John, of which we are well assured, reasonably suppose him of some competent years; for we cannot think he would ordain a youth or a very young man, a Bishop, in so considerable a city as Smyrna. Some have conjectured, from a passage in his epistle, that he lived even when St. Paul wrote, (though not then converted to Christianity) and if so, he must have been of a much greater age. But, however this may have been, Ireneus expressly assures us that he lived to an extreme old age, and then suffered a glorious and illustrious martyrdom for the faith. The Christians gathered up his bones as a choice and inestimable treasure, and decently interred them ; and where these were buried they used to assemble annually, to cel: ebrate the birth day of his martyrdom; both to do honour to the memory of the departed, and to prepare and encourage others to give a like testimony to the faith, when need should so require. These considerations it was that gave origin to those solemn anni. versary commemorations, which were generally kept in the primitive Churchi And let Christians of the present day remember, that to the firmness and unshaken resolution of such men as Polyçarp, Christianity owed, under God, much of its final triumph over heathenism and pagan idolatry; and consequently their memory deserves to be cherished with the utmost veneration. Think of a man an hundered years old or more, submitting to death in the most terrible form, rather than renounce his faith! How wonderful must have been the effect of such an instance of fortitude on many, at least, of the bystanders ! How apt to make converts to a religion which inspired men with such noble sentiments! It was truly and aptly, said by the ancients, that the blood of the Martyrs avaa the seed of the Church. Enjoying unmolested as we do, the profession of our fáithy: we should not beedlessly overlook, how much of the blessing weowe to those who laid down their lives, in defence of the gospel; but with grateful hearts piously thank God, that he hath cast our lot upon better times and circumstances.
I cannot better close the story of Polycarp's martyrdom, than with the preface which the Church of Smyrna has in the beginning of it, as what eminently represents the illustrious faith and patience of those primitive Christians. “Evident it is (say they) that all those " martyrdoms are great and blessed which happen by the will of God; * for it becomes us Christians, who have a more divine religion than others, to ascribe to God the sovereign disposure of all events. “Who would not stand and admire the generous greatness of their
" mind, their singular patience, and admirable love to God? Who us when their flesh was with scourges so torn off their backs, that " the whole frame and contexture of their bodies, even to their ine « most veins and arteries, might be seen, yet patiently endured it. “Insomuch that those who were present, pitied and grieved at the "sight of it, while they themselves were endued with so invincible “a resolution, that none of them gave one sigh or groan: the holy " martyrs of Christ letting us see, that at that time when they were "thus tormented, they were strangers to their own bodies; or ra“ther that our Lord stood by them to assist and comfort them. An.
imated by the grace of Christ, they despised the torments of meng
by one short hour delivering themselves from eternal miseries “The fire which their tormentors put to them seemed cool and lit«tle, while they had it in their eye to avoid the everlasting and un, 4 extinguishable flames of another world; their thoughts being fixi " ed upon those rewards which are prepared for them that endure * to the end, such as neither ear hath heard, nor eye hath seen, nor “ hath it entered into the heart of man; but which were shewn to "them by our Lord, as being now no longer mortals, but entering " upon the state of Angels.. In like manner those who were con «demned to be devoured by wild beasts, for a long time endured the “ most grievous tortures; shells of fishes were strewed under their “naked bodies, and they forced to lie upon sharp pointed stakes driv. « en into the ground, and several such like engines of torture de. “ vised for them, that, if possible, by the constancy of their torments, # the enemy might drive them to renounce the faith of Christ.” And at the end of the epistle they particularly remark concerning Polycarp, that he was not only a famous doctor, but an eminent martyr, whose martyrdom all strove to imitate, as one who, by his patience, conquered an unrighteous Judge, and by that means, having attained an immortal crown, was triumphing with the Apostles, and all the souls of the righteous, glorifying God the Father, and praising of our Lord, the disposer of our bodies, and the Bishop and Pastor of the Catholic Church throughout the world.
As to his writings, he is known to have left sundry epistles and homilies, or sermons; all of which are lost, except one epistle, which appears to be written in the style and manner of the Apostles. It is full of useful precepts and short rules of life and manners, ada dressed to all sorts of people. We are told it was venerated in ancient times next to the canon of scripture, and read in the public assemblies of the Asiatic Church. Presuming the reader will be gratified with a specimen of a writer who lived so near the time when revelation was given, an extract is subjoined. DOLTCARP AND THE PRESBYTERS THAT ARE WITH HIM, TO THE
CHURCH OF GOD WHICH IS AT PHILIPPT. I REJOICED with you greatly in our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye entertained the patterns of true love, and (as became you) conducted onwards those who were bound with chains, which are the ornaments of saints, and the crowns of those that are the truly elect of God, and of our Lord: and that the firm root of your faith, føra merly published, does yet remain, and bring forth fruit in our Lord Jesus Christ, who was pleased to offer up himself even unto death for our sins: whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death : in whom, though you see him not, ye believe, and believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory ; whereinto many desire to enter, knowing that by grace ye are saved, not by works, but by the will of God through Jesus Christ.
Wherefore girding up your loins, serve God in fear and truth, forsaking empty and vain talking, and the error wherein so many are involved, believing in him who raised up our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, and gave him glory, and a throne at his right hand ; to whom all things both in heaven and in earth are put in subjection, whom every thing that has breath worships, who comes to judge the quick and the dead, whose blood God will require of them that believe not in him. But he who raised him up from the dead, will raise up us also, if we do his will, and walk in his commandments, and love what he loved, abstaining from all unrighteousness, inordinate desire, covetousness, detraction, false witness ; not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing, or striking for striking, or cursing for cursing, but remembering what
the Lord said, when he taught thus : Judge not, that ye be not judged; forgive and ye shall be forgiven; be merciful, that ye may obtain mercy: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again : and that blessed are the poor, and they which are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of God.
Likewise let the deacons be unblameable before his righteous presence, as the ministers of God in Christ, and not of men; not accusers, not double-tongued, not covetous, but temperate in all things, compassionate, diligent, walking according to the truth of the Lord, who became the deacon, or servant of all : of whom, if we be careful to please him in this world, we shall receive the reward of the other life according as he has promised to raise us from the dead : and if we walk worthy of him, we believe that we shall also reign with him. Let the young men also be unblameable in all things, studying in the first place to be chaste, and to restrain themselves from all that is evil. For it is a good thing to get above the lusts of the world, seeing every lust wars against the spirit ; and that neither fornicators, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind shall inherit the kingdom of God, nor whoever commits base things.
Wherefore it is necessary that ye abstain from all these things, being subject to the presbyters and deacons, as to God and Christ : that the virgins also walk with a chaste and undefiled conscience. Let the presbyters be tender and merciful, compassionate towards all, reducing those that are in error, visiting all that are weak, not negligent of the widow and the orphan, and him that is poor, but ever providing what is honest in the sight of God and men; abstaining from all wrath, respect of persons, and unrighteous judgment, being far from covetousness, not hastily believing a report against any man : not rigid in judgment, knowing that we are all faulty, and obnoxious to punishment. If therefore we stand in need to pray the Lord that he would forgive us, we ourselves ought also to forgive.