Imatges de pÓgina

vailed within. Bean's Prayer for Departing Souls was read, and, after fome interval, the Commendatory Prayer for a Perfon at the Point of Death, which, after another interval, was repeated. As the prayer advanced her breathing became weaker; and as the prayer ended the breathed her laft. Her fpirit and the interceffion of her chriftians friends, it is hoped, afcended to heaven together. Her fon, who had not moved from her bedfide for a confiderable time before her departure, held her hands between his at this folemn moment, and received her last breath. Not a groan nor throb was heard, nor was the least change of countenance perceptable. She fell afleep in Jesus.

Thus died this excellent woman, at her fon's house in Lanfdown place, Bath, on Sunday evening, the 11th of November, 1804, in the feventy-fecond year of her age. May every reader of this narrative, encouraged by fo ftriking an inftance of divine mercy, become a follower of them who, through faith and patience, inherit the promises; that, together with thofe who have died in the Lord, he may be a joyful partaker of that bleffed reft which remaineth for the people of God.

From the Christian Observer.


HISTORY has conveyed to us few particulars of the first years of the life of Irenæus, and has not even specified his country, or the place of his birth. There is, how ever, fufficient ground for believing him to have been a Greek, and to have acquired in his youth a competent acquaintance with the philofophy and literature, which were then in vogue. The circumftances which led him to embrace

chriftianity are no where mentioned; but it appears, from his own writings, as well as from the teftimony of Eufebius and Theodoret, that he was placed, at an early age, under the inftructions of St. Polycarp, the Bishop of Smyrna, who had been the difciple of St. John. His words are, "when I was yet a child I was in the Lower Afia with Polycarp ;" and "I remember the things then done better than what has happened of late: for what we learn being children, increases together with the mind itself, and is clofely united to it: Infomuch that I am able to tell even the place where the bleffed Polycarp fat and difcourf ed; alfo his goings-out and comings-in; his manner of life; the fhape of his body; his discourses to the people; the familiar intercourfe which he faid he had with John, and with the reft who had feen the Lord; and how he rehearfed their fayings; and what they were which he had heard from them concerning the Lord, his miracles, and his doctrines. According as Polycarp received them from thofe who with their own eyes beheld the word of life, fo he related them, agreeing in all things with the fcriptures. These things, by the mercy of God bestowed on me, I then heard diligently, and copied them out, not in paper, but in my heart; and by the grace of God I do continually and fincerely ruminate on them."

The account which has been already given of Polycarp fufficiently fhews, that by him Irenæus must have been taught the true and uncorrupted doctrine of the Apoftles; and was likely alfo, confidering the deep reverence

• The life of Polycarp shall be given in a fe

ture number.

which he felt for his mafter, to imbibe from him a fpirit nearly allied to theirs. Accordingly we find him, in after life, to have been an eminent example of the effect of genuine christianity in fanctifying the heart, and elevating the foul above worldly and fenfual objects,

Irenæus is also faid to have been, for fome time, a fcholar of Papias, the Bishop of Hierapolis,* a man of unquestionable piety, but of a weak judgment and narrow underftanding, which, leading him to mifapprehend fome of the more abftrufe parts of fcripture, proved the occafion of great errors in many who followed him and revered his memory; errors, the contagion of which Irenæus himfelf did not wholly escape.

Of the life of Irenæus nothing more is known until the year of our Lord 177. We then find him acting as Prefbyter of the Church of Lyons in France, under Pothinus, who was Bithop of that fee. The circumstances which led to his being placed in this fituation have not been re

corded but the gofpel having been first planted in Lyons, at no very remote period, by means of miffionaries fent thither by one of the Afiatick churches, the Gallick christians probably continued paftors from the fame quarter; availing themselves for that purpofe of the commercial intercourfe fubfifting between the two countries. Pothinus, the Bifhop, was evidently a Greek as well

as Irenæus.

Soon after Marcus Aurelius Antoniust had fucceeded to the

Papias had likewife been a difciple of St. John.

This is the fame perfon whom Mr. Pope celebrates in the following lines :

throne of the Cæfars, a perfecution commenced against the chriftians, which continued with only occafional and partial intermiffions during his reign of nineteen years. In 177, the storm of this perfecution fell with peculiar violence on France, and particularly on the churches of Lyons and Vienne. An account of the miferies which it there produced is contained in an epiftle addreffed by thefe churches to their brethren in Afia and Phrygia, and written, as is most probable, by Irenæus himself; the fubftance of which will now be giv


"Who noble ends by noble means ob.


Or failing fmiles in exile or in chains ; Like good Aurelius let him reign or


Like Socrates; that man is great in


It would not have fuited the poet's purpofe, or rather that of his infidel ined to view, as eminent examples of virftructor, Bolingbroke, to have exhibittue, thofe whofe ardent love of Chirft, and whofe realizing views of eternity, had rendered them fuperior to every worldly or felfifh confideration :

whom neither tribulation, nor diftress, nor perfecution, nor famine, nor nakednefs, nor peril, nor the fword, could move from the prosecution of the nobleft end; the glory of God, by the nobleft means; an entire devotedness of

themselves, fouls and bodies, to his fer

vice. No, it is the implacable perfecutor of thofe very men, every period of whofe history is stained with their blood, and whofe delegated cruelties toward them (though they were, indeed, the excellent of the earth) cannot be read without indignation and horror; this is the man whom our briftian Poet felects as his pattern of imperial magnanimity, of true good

nefs and noblenets of mind! See Mil

ner's Church History, Vol. I.

It was to the fury of this perfecution that St. Polycarp and Jufton Mar tyr, fell victims.


We are unable to give you any adequate idea of the fury manifested by the heathens against the faints, or of the fufferings of the bleffed martyrs. Our grand adverfary affailed us with all his might, and left no method of cruelty unpractifed. We were forbidden to appear in the baths, or the forum; in any houfe except our own, or indeed in any place whatsoever. But the Grace of God fought for us, preferving the weak, and expofing to the fury of the tempter thofe chiefly, who, being armed with patience, were able to withstand his affault, and to endure every fpecies of pain and reproach, efteeming them light and trivial, for the fake of Chrift, and the glory which fhould follow. They firft courageously fuftained the fhouts, blows, plunder, ftonings, and all other outrages and indignities which an exafperated mob could be expected to inflict. They then underwent a publick examination, and confeffing themfelves to be christians were fhut up in prifon. When the prefident arrived, they were brought before his tribunal, and treated with the utmoft brutality. Vettius Epagathus, an eminent example of piety and devotedness to God, was moved with indignation at witneffing fuch a perverfion of juftice, and requested permiffion to repel the charge of impiety which was made againft the chriftians. His request was refused, and he himself, confefling that he was a chriftian, was numbered with the martyrs. But having within him the Holy Spirit, and being a genuine difciple of Chrift, he gladly laid down his life for the brethren, following the Lamb whitherfuver he goeth. Oth

ers were examined at the fame time, who proved illuftrious and ready martyrs; while fome proved unequal to fo great a combat. Of thefe ten fell away, whofe cafe filled us with deep dejection on their account, and with alarming fears, not of being tortured, but left any of us alfo fhould be tempted to apoftatize from the faith. The molt eminent persons of both churches were now daily apprehended, and with them fome of our heathen fervants, who were induced, by the dread of torture, to charge us with eating human flesh, and with other practices not fit even to be named. This incenfed, beyond all bounds, against us many even of those who before had been more moderate. The holy martyrs were now called to endure inexpreffible tortures, Satan endeavouring to extort from them alfo fome flander against chriftianity. The rage of the multitude, as well as of the prefident and the foldiery, was chiefly directed against Sanctus, a deacon of Vienne; Maturus, who had only recently been baptized; Attalus, of Pergamus, a main pillar of the church; and Blandina, who, notwithstanding our fears for her weaknefs, was fupplied with fo much fortitude, that even those who in fucceffion were torturing her from morning till night were worn out, and owned themselves vanquished. They were even amazed that the fhould be ftill alive, mangled and pierced as was her whole body. But in the midst of all her torments, it feemed to abate her pains, and to recruit her fpirits to be able to fay, "I am a chriftian, and no wickedness is acted among us.”

The astonishing courage with which San&tus encountered the intenfe fufferings he was made to

undergo, excited in an extraordinary degree the rage both of the governour and the torturers. At laft they applied red hot plates of brafs to the tendereft parts of his body these were indeed burnt; but he ftill ftood unmoved, and firm in his confeffion, being refrethed by that heavenly fountain of living water which flows from the body of Chrift. His body was now one continued wound, and fcarcely retained the human form; but Chrift wrought wonders in him, fhewing that nothing is to be dreaded where the love of God, and the glory of Christ are prefent. For fome days after, while his body was in an extremely tender ftate, fwoln and inflamed by what he had fuffered, they hoped, by repeating the fame course of tortures, to fubdue his conftancy; or at least to ftrike a terror into the reft. But fo far was this from being the cafe, that under this fecond in fliction he feemed, by the grace of Christ, rather to recover his former fhape, and the use of his limbs. Biblias, one of those who had denied Chrift, was now brought to the torture, in the hope of compelling her to charge the chriftians with impious practices. But on being tortured, fhe feemed to awake as it were out of fleep, and to be reminded by her prefent fufferings of the everlating torments of Hell. Denying, therefore, the truth of fuch allegations, fhe added, "How fhould fuch perfons eat children to whom it is unlawful even to eat the blood of beats?" She then confeffed her. felf a chriftian, and was added to the army of martyrs.

The torments already inflicted proving ineffectual through the power of Chrift, the martyrs were imprisoned in dark and noisome

places, their feet diftended in the ftocks, till many were fuffocated, and others died in prifon of the tortures they had endured. Many, however, furvived, notwith ftanding their destitution of all human aid, being strengthened by the Lord.

Pothinus, the Bishop, who was above ninety years of age, and very infirm in body, though ftrong in fpirit, was now brought before the tribunal, and having, amid the fhouts of the multitude, witnessed a good confeffion, he was violently dragged about and inhumanly beaten, until fcarcely any breath was left in him. He was then caft into prison, and after two days expired.

It is particularly worthy of remark, that fuch as on being seized had denied Chrift partook of the fame miferies in prison as the martyrs, being treated as guilty by their own confeffion of murder and inceft; while they were deftitute of the joy of martyrdom, the hope of the gofpel, the love of Chrift, and the confolations of the Spirit of God. Oppreffed with the pangs of guilt, their dejected looks diftinguished them from the faithful, who went forth cheerfully, their countenances beaming with grace and glory: moreover, the very heathens reviled them as cowards and murderers. When the others obferved these things they became more steadfast in the faith, and yielded not to the fuggeftions of the devil.

The martyrs fuffered death in various ways. Maturus, Sanctus, Blandina, and Attalus, were produced on one of the days of the fhews before the wild beafts in the amphitheatre. There the two firf again underwent all forts of torments, having been previously fcourged in their paffage thither.

They were torn, and dragged up and down by the wild beafts, and fubjected alfo to every barbarity which the populace chofe to call for, and at laft to the iron chair, in which their bodies were fo broiled as to produce a moft offenfive odour. Nor did the cruelties of their perfecutors end here, but were continued with the utmoft fierceness until these two holy men at length expired under their fufferings.

Blandina was fufpended to a ftake and exposed to the wild beafts; and forming as the hung the figure of a crofs, her appearance ferved to encourage the christians by exciting a lively recollection of Him who was crucified, that he might obtain for those who believe in him and fuffer for his fake, eternal communion with the living God. None of the beafts touching her, fhe was taken down and caft again into prifon, being referved for another combat. Attalus alfo, being vehemently called for by the populace, came forward with ferenity, and was led round the theatre, preceded by the tablet, on which was infcribed, "This is Attalus the chriftian." The rage of the people against him was exceffive: but the prefident understanding that he was a Roman citizen remanded him to prifon, till he fhould learn the will of the emperor respecting perfons in his circumftances. The refpite which was thus obtained, proved highly beneficial to the church. The merey of Chrift confpicuoufly appear ed in the patience with which he armed his fervants: and by means of the martyrs, most of those who had renounced the faith were born anew, and acquired courage to profefs themselves chriftians; and being joyfully restored to the bo

fom of the church, they longed for a fresh opportunity of being examined. The emperor's orders were, that fuch as confeffed themfelves chriftians fhould be put to death by torture, and that the apoftates fhould be difmiffed. It being now, therefore, the time of the public games, the martyrs were again brought before the populace. Such of them as were Roman citizens were beheaded, the rest were thrown to the wild beafts. Chrift was now in a particular manner glorified in those who had formerly apoftatized; for boldly avowing themfelves chriftians they also were added to the number of the martyrs. None now remained in a state of apoftacy but a few whose conduct had always been a reproach to chriftianity, and had fhewn them never to have poffeffed true faith, nor to have had the fear of God before their eyes.

During the course of the examinations, one Alexander, who was diftinguished by his love of God, by his boldnefs in preaching, and by his apoftolical endowments, flood near the tribunal, and with geftures animated the chriftians to profefs the faith. This conduct excited the indignation of the populace against him, and being interrogated and confeffing himfelf a chriftian, he was condemned to death. The next day he and Attalus were expofed togeth er to the wild beasts, and having fuftained all the ufual methods of torture, were at lat run through with a fword. Alexander expired without having uttered a word or a groan, communing inwardly with God during his conflict. But Attalus, when placed in the iron chair and thoroughly fcorched, faid, "You indeed devour men, but we neither devour men,

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