« PreviousContinue »
with a cheerful countenance; and ordering a table to be set with provisions, invited them to partake of them, only requesting for himself one hour for prayer, which being ended, the magistrate taking him up
in his chariot, tried to undermine his constancy, and being defeated in the attempt, thrust him out of the chariot with so much violence, that he bruised his thigh with the fall. Being brought before the tribunal, he was urged to swear by the genius of Cæsar.
Repent,” continues the pro-consul, “ and say with us, take away the impious.” On this, the martyr looking round the Stadium, and beholding the crowd with a severe and angry countenance, beckoned with his hand, and looking up to heaven, said with a sigh, quite in another tone than they intended, “take away the impious :” at last, confessing himself to be a Christian, proclamation was made thrice of his confession by the crier, at which the people shouted, “ this is the great teacher of Asia, and the father of the Christians; this is the destroyer of our gods, that teaches men not to sacrifice or worship the deities.”
The fire being prepared, Polycarp untied his girdle, laid aside his garments, and began to put off his shoes. The officers that were employed in his execution, having disposed all other things, came according to custom to nail him to the stake, which he desired them to omit, assuring them, that he who gave him strength to endure the fire, would enable him, without nailing, to stand immoveable in the hottest flames. So they only tied him, who stand
ing like a sheep ready for the slaughter, designed as a grateful sacrifice to the Almighty, clasping his hands, which were bound behind him, he poured out his soul to heaven in prayer. Having done his prayer, the ministers of execution blew up the fire, when shortly he died.
It is related of Polycarp, that when before his accusers in the Stadium, and required to blaspheme Christ, (a temptation with which they were accustomed to try Christians, and thereby to ascertain the sincerity of their professions ; a course which Pliny, in his famous letter respecting the Christians, tells us he observed towards them, though he confesses that none of them that were really Christians ever did, even for the sake of their lives, blaspheme Christ) the motion was resented with scorn, and drew from Polycarp this noble confession. “ Fourscore and six years I have served him, and he never did me any harm, how then shall I now blaspheme my King and Saviour ?”
The amphitheatre wherein he suffered, was remaining, in a great measure, not many years ago, and his tomb is in a little chapel, in the side of a mountain, on the south-east part of the city, and it is solemnly visited by the Greeks on his festival day; and for the maintenance and repairing of it, travellers were wont to throw a few aspers into an earthen vessel, which stands there for the purpose
Cave, Chalmers, and t'sher.
Born about the year 185, died aged 69.
SURNAMED Adamantius, a native of Alexandria, and one of the most eminent among the fathers of the third century. So great was the desire of martyrdom, which occupied the mind of Origen in his carliest years, that he willingly encountered danger, bounding forward, as it were, and rushing to the contest. Immediate death, without doubt, had now befallen him, if the providence of God, consulting the utility of many, had not, through the means of maternal affection, restrained him. His mother first implored him to be influenced by some respect to a parent's feelings. But when she perceived that he was more vehemently excited, from the time that his father was detained and bound in chains, she concealed each article of her son's clothing, and compelled him, however unwillingly, to remain at home. Perceiving that nothing was left him, he sent letters to his father, in which he earnestly exhorted him to martyrdom, admonishing him with these, among other words: “ Beware, oh! my father, lest you change your opinion in our cause.” Leonides, animated by his son, resolved to persist even to martyrdom, and was accordingly beheaded soon after. (Eusebii Hist. Eccles. Lib. VI. fol. 202. 209.) Under the perse
cution of Decius, Origen himself suffered with great constancy for the faith. He was seized, put into prison, loaded with irons, had his feet in the stocks for several days. He was threatened to be burned alive, racked with various tortures; but he bore all with resolution and firmness. Being released from prison, he held several conferences, and behaved in every respect like a confessor of Jesus Christ; and, lastly, after having laboured so much, and suffered with such credit and glory, he died at Tyre, in the reign of Gallus, aged 69 *.
He was born about the beginning of the third century, and died
Sept. 14, anno 258. . Bishop of Carthage. In the year 249, the Emperor Decius began to issue out very severe edicts against the Christians, which particularly affected those living upon the coasts of Africa: and in the beginning of the year 250, the heathens in the circus and amphitheatre at Carthage loudly insisted upon Cyprian's being thrown to the lions; a common method, as it is well known, of destroying the primitive Christians. Cyprian upon this withdrew from his Church at Carthage, and fled into retirement, to avoid the fury of the persecution. As soon as Cyprian had withdrawn himself, he was proscribed by name, and
his goods were confiscated. He lay concealed, but not inactive; for he continued to write from time to time to the clergy and to the laity such letters as their unhappy situation and occasions required. He exhorted the clergy to take care of the discipline of the Church, of the poor, and especially of those who suffered for the Gospel, and he gave
them particular directions upon each of these heads. He exhorted the people to be of good courage, to stand fast in the faith, and to persevere against all the terrors of persecution, even unto death; assuring them, in the words of the Apostle, “ that the present afflictions, which were but for a moment, would work for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” When the persecution ceased, either in 251 or 252, Cyprian returned to Carthage, and appeared again at the head of his clergy. In 257 another
persecution of the Christians commenced under Valerian. Cyprian was summoned to appear before Paternus the proconsul of Carthage; by whom, after he had confessed himself a Christian, and refused to sacrifice to idols, he was condemned to be banished. He was sent to Curebis, a little town fifty miles from Carthage, situated by the sea, over against Sicily. After having resided there eleven months, he was cited by Galerius Maximus, a new proconsul, publicly to appear at Carthage. Cyprian came forth and presented himself to the guards, who were commissioned and ready to seize him. He was carried to the proconsul, who ordered him to be brought