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will. Let us consider the whole multitude of his angels, how ready they stand to minister to his will; as the Scripture saith, “ Thousands of thousands stand before him, and ten thousand minister unto him. And they cried, saying, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Sabaoth: the whole earth is full of his glory. Wherefore let us also, being conscientiously gathered together in concord with one another, as it were with one mouth, cry earnestly unto him, that he would make us partakers of his great and glorious promises. For he saith, · Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that wait for him.'

Thus did this venerable and apostolical man urge the necessity of stian holiness and obedience to the Divine will. The doctrine taught by St. Ignatius, who had been made bishop of Antioch by the apostles, was in perfect harmony with that of St. Cle. ment. Writing to the Church of the Ephesians shortly before his martyrdom, he urges on them the obligation of united worship and of harmony. “Nothing," he says, “is better than peace; by which all war, both spiritual and earthly, is abolished. Of all which nothing is hid from you, if ye have perfect faith and charity in Jesus Christ, which are the beginning and end of life: for the beginning is faith, the end charity. And these two, joined together, are of God: but all other things which concern a holy life are the consequences of these. No man professing a true faith sinneth ; neither does he who has charity hate any one. • The tree is made manifest by its fruits.' So they who profess themselves to be Christians are known by what they do. For Christianity is not an outward profession; but shews itself in the power of faith, if a man be found faithful unto the end. It is better for a man to hold his

peace, and be; than to say “he is a Christian,' and not to be. It is good to teach; if what he says, he does likewise.”



A.D. 30-320.

AVING seen the belief which was unanimously received by the primitive Church, let us now proceed to observe its fruits. The power of true faith has

never been more wonderfully exhibited than in the patience, the courage, and magnanimity of the martyrs. Animated by the promises of their Saviour, “ whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess before my Father in heaven-he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it—rejoice and be exceeding glad, for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you,"—they believed, and triumphed in the belief, that their short affliction was to work for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.

But the afflictions which they suffered were enough to have broken down the strongest heart. Every thing that malice and ingenuity could devise was employed to shake their resolution. The rage and insolence of a brutal populace, the scourges and tortures of legal barbarity, and the more subtle torment of promises and entreaties to save their lives by compliance in idolatrous rites, were the portion of innumerable disciples of Christ. The Jews had been the earliest enemies of the Christian faith; but their hatred was soon forgotten, in the persecutions which, for three centuries, were inflicted by the Roman

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emperors. To Nero, a tyrant whose name became proverbial, even with the heathen, for all that was abominable in impurity and fearful in cruelty, belongs the evil pre-eminence of being the first great persecutor of the Church. Accused by the popular rumour of having caused a dreadful fire, which had nearly consumed Rome, in order that he might have the honour of rebuilding it with greater magnificence, Nero expended large sums of money in conciliating the populace, in adorning the city, and in sacrifices to his gods. • But,” adds the heathen historian Tacitus, “neither human assistance, nor the gifts of the emperor, nor the atonements offered to the gods, arailed: the infamy of that horrible transaction still adhered to him. To repress, if possible, this common rumour, Nero procured others to be accused, and punished with exquisite tortures a race of men detested for their evil practices, who were commonly known by the name of Christians. The author of that sect was Christus, who, in the reign of Tiberius, was punished with death, as a criminal, by the procurator Pontius Pilate. But this pestilent superstition, though checked for a while, broke out afresh, not only in Judæa, where the evil first originated, but even in the city (Rome), the common sink into which every thing filthy and abominable flows from all quarters of the world. At first, those only were apprehended who confessed themselves of that sect; afterwards, a vast multitude discovered by them; all of whom were condemned, not so much for the crime of burning the city, as for their enmity to mankind. Their executions were so contrived as to expose them to derision and contempt. Some were covered over with the skins of wild beasts, that they might be torn to pieces by dogs; some were crucified; while others, having been daubed over with combustible materials, were set up as lights in the night-time, and thus

burned to death. For these spectacles, Nero gave , his own gardens; and at the same time exhibited there the diversions of the circus; sometimes standing in the crowd as a spectator, in the habit of a charioteer, and at other times driving a chariot himself: until at length these men, though really criminal, and deserving exemplary punishment, began to be commiserated as people who were destroyed, not out of regard to the public welfare, but only to gratify the cruelty of one man.”

Such was the dreadful commencement of persecution-such the torments under which Christians steadfastly continued in their profession of Christ. The heathen regarded this steadfastness as obstinacy and insanity. The rejection of all the gods of the heathen, and all their worship, was stigmatised as atheism and impiety. Abstinence from the vices, the corruptions, and the vile pleasures of the world, was treated as the result of a sour and unsocial temper. But though “hated of all men” for the name of Christ, true religion only multiplied and increased under persecution. St. Paul was at this time beheaded at Rome, and St. Peter was crucified with his head downwards.

The next persecution was under Domitian, A.D. 93, during which the apostle John was immersed in a cauldron of boilir.g oil, at Rome, and miraculously escaping without hurt, was banished to the isle of Patmos, where he beheld the visions of the Apocalypse; and from whence he went to Ephesus, and presided over the Churches of Asia. The reigns of Trajan, Aurelius, Antoninus, Severus, Decius, Valerian, Diocletian, and Maximian, were also stained by persecutions of the Christians. The last of these was also the most severe; it continued for ten successive years, during which innumerable martyrs attested their belief in Jesus Christ.

I shall select, as an illustration of the faith of Christians under persecution, the following account of the martyrdom of St. Polycarp, who had been made bishop of Smyrna by the apostles, and was a disciple of St. John. The epistle of the Church of Smyrna, in which it occurs, and which was written A.D. 167, commences as follows:

“ The Church of God which is at Smyrna, to that which is at Philomelium, and to all the Churches of the holy Catholic Church, in all parts, mercy, peace, and love, be multiplied from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” Having described the constancy of mind with which many of the martyrs in that city had borne the most dreadful tortures, they proceed thus:-“The admirable Polycarp, when he first heard of these things, remained undisturbed, preserving his calmness and serenity; and he had resolved to remain in the city, but being persuaded by the entreaties and prayers of his friends, he retired to a village not far off, where he continued with a few others, occupied day and night only in continual prayer, supplicating and beseeching peace for the Churches throughout the world; for this was his continual habit. And, as he was praying, he saw a vision, three days before he was taken ; and, behold, the pillow under his head seemed to him on fire. Whereupon, turning to those who were with him, he said, prophetically, that he should be burnt alive.” He was at length discovered by the persecutors. “ Arriving in the evening, they found him resting in an upper chamber, whence he might have escaped with ease into another house, but he would not, saying, • The will of the Lord be done;' and, having heard of their arrival, he went down and spoke to them with so joyful and mild a countenance, that they, who knew him not before, thought they beheld somewhat wonderful, when they saw his old age and

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