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cumstances exemplified in their deaths. Thousands of them have suffered with deliberate judga ment, preferring heavenly things to earthly, having counted the cost, and made a reasonable decision, not uncertain (as he expresses himself) concerning a future life, calmly departing this life without any circumstances to justify tlie suspicion of pride or oftentation, and adorned with meekness, cheerfulness, and charity, which induced tens of thousands to examine what that hidden energy of christian life must be, which produces such exalted sentiments and such grandeur of spirit. And the power of prejudice was never more strongly exhibited than in this malignant sentence; which, in truth, is the more inexcusable, because he la. boured under no involuntary ignorance of chriftians. For, besides the knowledge of them which he must have acquired under his predecessor, he had an opportunity of knowing them from various apologies published in his reign. Justin's second apology we have seen was published; one sentence of which demonstrates, in how striking a manner our Saviour's prophecy was then fulfilled, a man's foes shall be they of his own houshold. Every where he observes, if a Gentile was reproved by a father or relation, he would revenge himself by informing against the reprover ; in consequence of which he was liable to be dragged before the Governur, and put to death. Tatian also, Athenagoras, Apollinaris Bishop of Hierapolis, and Theophilus of Antioch, and Melito of Sardis, published apologies. This last published his about the year 177, of which fome valuable remains are preserved in Eusebius. A part of his address to Marcus deferves to be quoted * on account of the justness of the sentiments, and the politeness with which
they B. 4. 35 C.
they are delivered. “ Pious persons aggrieved by new edicts published throughout Asia, and never before practised, now suffer persecution. For audacious sycophants, and men who covet other persons' goods, take advantage of these proclamations openly to rob and spoil the innocent by night and by day. If this be done through your order, let it stand good; for a just Emperor cannot act unjustly, and we will cheerfully carry away the honour of iuch a death : this only we humbly crave of your Majesty, that, after an impartial examination of us and our accusers, you would justly decide whether we deserve death and punishment, or life and protection. But if these proceedings be not yours, and the new edicts be rot the effects of your personal judgment, (edicts which ought not to be enacted against barbarian enemies) in that case we intreat you not to despise us, who are thus unjustly oppressed.” He afterwards reminds him of the justice done to chriftians by his two immediate predecessors.
From this account it is evident that Marcus, by new edicts, commenced the persecution, and that it was carried on with merciless barbarity in those Asiatic regions which had been relieved by Pius. There is nothing pleasant that can be suggested to us by this view of things, but this circumstance, that the out-pouring of the Spirit of God still continued to produce its holy fruits in those highly-favoured regions.
In the two next chapters I shall describe distinctly two scenes of this Emperor's persecution. Nothing more in general concerning him remains to be mentioned, except the remarkable story of his danger and relief in the war of the Marcomanni. * He and his army being hemmed in by the enemy, were ready to perish with thirst; when suddenly a storm of thunder and lightning affrighted the enemies, whilst the rain refreshed the Romans. It is evident that the victory was obtained by a remarkable providential interposition. The christian soldiers in his army, we are sure, in their distress would pray to their God, even if Eusebius had not told us fo. All christian writers speak of the relief as vouchsafed in answer to their prayers, and no real christian will doubt of the soundness of their judgment in this point. I have only to add, that Marcus, in a manner agreeable to his usual superstition, ascribed his deliverance to his gods. Each party judged according to their views, and those moderns who ascribe the whole to the ordinary powers of nature, judge also according to their usual scepticism. Whether the Divine interposition deserves to be called a miracle or not, is a question rather concerning propriety of language than religion. This seems to me all that is needful to be said on a fact which on one fide has been magnified beyond all bounds, and on the other has been reduced to mere insignificancy. It happened in the year 174. He lived five years after this, as far as appears, a perfecutor to the last.
* Euseb, B. s. G. s.
HE year 167, the sixth of Marcus, Smyrna
was distinguished by the martyrdom of her bishop Polycarp
The reader has heard of him before in the ac. count of Ignatius. He had succeeded Bucolus, a vigilant and industrious bishop, in the charge of Smyrna. The Apostles, and we may apprehend St. John particularly, ordained him to this office. He had been familiarly conversant with the Apostles, and received the government of the church from those who had been eye-witnesses and ministers of our Lord, and continually taught that which he had been taught by them * Usher, in his prolegom. to Ignatius, has laboured to shew I that he was the angel of the church of Smyrna addressed by our Saviour. If he is not mistaken in this, the character of Polycarp is delineated by a hand indeed divine, and the martyrdom before us was particularly predicted. He must indeed have presided 74 years over that church by this account; but we shall hereafter see that his age must have been extremely great. He certainly long survived his friend Ignatius, and was reserved to suffer by Marcus Antoninus. Some time before this he came to Rome to hold a conference with Anicetus, the bishop of that See, concerning the time of observing Easter. The matter was soon decided between them, as all matters lould be which enter not into the essence of godliness. They each observed their own customs without any breach of charity between them, real or apparent. But he found more important employ. ment while at Rome. The heresy of Marcion was strong in that city; and the testimony and zealous labours of one who had known so much of the Apostles were successfully employed against it, and many were reclaimed. It was not in Marcion's power to undermine the authority of this venerable Afiatic. To procure a seeming coalition was the utmost he could expect, and it was as suitable to his views to attempt this, as it was to those of Polycarp to oppose. Meeting him one day in the street, he called out to him, Polycarp, own us. I do own thee, says the zealous bishop, to be the first-born of Satan. I shall refer the reader to what has been faid already of St. John's similar conduct on such occafions, adding only that Irenæus, from whom Eufebius relates the story, commends his conduct, and speaks of it as commonly practised by the Apostles and their followers. Irenæus informs us that he had a . particular delight in recounting what had been told by those who had seen Christ in the flesh, that he used to relate what he had been informed concerning his doctrine and miracles, and when he heard of any heretical attempts to overturn chriftian fundamentals, he would cry out, To what times, O God, hait thou reserved me! and would leave the place.
tion 4. C. 14. I Cave's Life of Polycarp.
Indeed when it is considered what Marcion maintained, and what unquestionable evidence Polycarp had against him in point of matter of fact, we shall see he had just reason to testify his disapprobation. The man was one of the Docetæ; with him Christ had no real manhood at all. He rejected the whole Old Testament, and mutilated the New. He held two principles, after the manner of the Manichees, in order to account for the origin of evil. If men who assert things so fundamentally subversive of the gospel, would openly disavow the christian name, they might be endured with much more composure by christians, nor would there be any call for so scrupulous an absence from their society, as St. Paul has determined the case $. But for such men, whether
antient * Irenæus's Epistle to Florin. # 1 Cor. 5.X.