« EelmineJätka »
then, feeling the edge of the fatal instrument of death, observed, with a smile, “ It is a sharp me. dicine, but a sure remedy for all woes.” Being asked which way he would lay himself on the block, he replied, “ So the heart be right, it is no matter which way the head lies.”
Pierre Du Terrail, Chevalier De Bayard, being mortally wounded in retreating from the Imperialists, he placed himself under a tree, his face towards the enemy, saying, “ As in life I always faced the enemy, so I would not in death turn my back upon them.”
Richard I, King of England, having invested :: the castle of Chalus, was shot in the shoulder with
an arrow : an unskilful surgeon, endeavouring to extract the weapon, mangled the flesh in such a manner, that a gangrene ensued. The castle being taken, and perceiving he should not live, he ordered Bertram De Gourdon, who had shot the arrow, to be brought to his presence. Bertram being come, “What harm,” said the king, “ did I ever do thee, that thou should'st kill me?" The other replied, with great magnanimity and courage, “You killed with your own hand my father and two of my brothers, and you likewise designed to have killed me. You may now satiate your revenge. I should cheerfully suffer all the torments that can be inflicted, were I sure of having delivered the world of a tyrant who filled it with blood and carnage.” This bold and spirited answer struck Richard with remorse. He ordered the prisoner to be presented with one hundred shillings, and set at liberty ; but one of the king's friends, like a true ruffian, ordered him to be flayed alive.
The following modern instance is extracted from a late French work, entitled Ecole Historique et Morale du Soldat, &c. A mine underneath one of the outworks of a citadel was entrusted to the charge of a sergeant and a few soldiers of the Piedmontese guards. Several companies of the enemies troops had made themselves masters of this work, and the loss of the place would probably soon have followed, had they maintained their post in it. The mine was charged, and a single spark would blow them all into the air. The sergeant, with the greatest coolness, ordered the soldiers to retire, desiring them to request the king to take care of his wife and children ; struck fire, set a match to the train, and sacrificed himself for his country.
Anne De Montmorency, a peer, marshal, and constable of France, being wounded at the battle of St. Dennis, a cordelier attempting to prepare him for death when he was covered with blood and wounds, he replied, in a firm and steady voice, “Do you think that a man who has lived nearly eighty years with honour has not learned to die for a quarter of an hour ?"
But of all the instances of fortitude and contempt of death, none are to be compared with those who have suffered in the cause of Christianity; for such is the peculiar excellency of the system, that its true adherents have not only thought it their họ. nour to live under its influence, but their privilege to die for its defence. Martyrs, indeed, have been found in almost every cause ; but none have eyer been so signally supported, or have died so nobly, as the martyrs of Christ. Some instances, perhaps, are found of their courting it, when they might have avoided it; but, in general, they have been men whose lives bore striking testimonies in favour of that truth which they sealed by their deaths. “ Blessed are they,' says our Lord, “ who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for their's is the kingdom of heaven.” They preferred truth to ease, liberty of conscience to hypocrisy, and the glory of their Master before the honour of man. They chose rather to suffer affliction than to enjoy the pleasures of sin, which were but for a season; esteeming the reproaches of Christ greater than the treasures of the world. Happy they, of whom the world was not worthy. Peace be with all them who are not ashamed to live nor afraid to die in the defence of Christianity.
We shall here select a few instances of Christian fortitude in the hour of death.
John Huss, when the chain was put about hini at the stake, said, with a smiling countenance,
My Lord Jesus Christ was bound with a harder chain than this for my sake; and why should I be afraid of this old rusty one?” When the faggots were piled up to his very neck, the Duke of Bavaria was officious enough to desire him to abjure. “No," said Huss, “ I never preached any doctrine of an evil tendency; and what I taught with my lips I now seal with my blood.” He said to the executioner, " Are you going to burn a goose? In one century you will have a swan you can neither roast nor boil.” If he were prophetic, he must have meant Luther, who had a swan for his arms. The flames were then
applied to the faggots, when the martyr sung a hymn with so loud and cheerful a voice, that he
was heard through all the cracklings of the con. i bustibles and the noise of the multitude. At last, his voice was short after he had uttered, VOL. III.
“ Jesus Christ, thou Son of the living God, have mercy upon me:" and he was consumed in a most miserable manner.
When the executioner went behind Jerome of Prague to set fire to the pile, “ Come here,” said the martyr," and kindle it before my eyes; for, if I dreaded such a sight, I should never have come to this place, when I had a free opportunity to escape.” The fire was kindled, and he then sung a hymn, which was soon finished by the encircling Hames.
Thomas Bilney suffered at Norwich in the year 1531, in the time of King Henry VIII. The night before he suffered he put his finger into the flame of a candle, as he had often done be. fore, and answered, “ I feel, by experience, that the fire is hot; yet I am persuaded by God's holy word, and by the experience of some spoken of in it, that in the flame they felt no heat, and in the fire no consumption; and I believe, that though the stubble of my body shall be wasted, yet my soul shall thereby be purged; and that, after short pain, joy unspeakable
As he was lead forth to the place of execution, one of his friends spoke to him, praying to God to strengthen him, and to enable him patiently to endure his torments: to whom Mr. Bilney answered, with a quiet and pleasant countenance,“ When the mariner undertakes a voyage, he is tossed on the billows of the troubled seas; yet, in the midst of all, he beareth up his spirits with this consideration, that ere long he shall come into his quiet harbour: so," added he, “ I am now sailing upon the troubled sea, but ere long my ship shall be in a quiet harbour; intended to settle on his eldest son ; but he proving a vicious young man, and there being no hopes of his recovery; he devolved it upon the sergeant, who was his second son. Upon the father's death, the eldest, finding that what he had considered before as the mere threatenings of an angry old man were now but too certain, became melancholy; which, by degrees, wrought in him so great a change, that what his father could not prevail in while he lived was now effected by the severity of his last will. His brother, observing this, invited him, together with many of his friends, to a feast; where, after other dishes had been served up, he ordered one which was covered to be set before his brother, and desired him to uncover it*; upon his doing which, the company, no less than himself, were surprised to find it full of writings; and still more when the sergeant told them, " that he was now doing what he was sure his father would have done, had de lived to see the happy change which now they all saw in his brother; and therefore he freely restored to him the whole estate."
Timoleon, the Corinthian, is a noble pattern of fraternal love; for, being in a battle with the Argives, and seeing his brother fall down dead with the wounds he had received, he instantly leaped over his dead body, and with his shield protected it from insult and plunder; and though sorely wounded in this generous enterprise, he would not, by any means, retreat to à place of safety, till he had seen the corpse carried off the field by his friends. How happy for Christians, would they imitate this heathen, and as tenderly screen from abuse and calumny