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at once of industry and self-denial. Not only the day, but the greater part of the night was devoted to religious study, and he practised, with literal conscientiousness, our Lord's rules of not having two coats, nor' fhoes, nor providing for futurity. He was familiar with cold, nakedness, and poverty, offended many by his unwillingness to receive their gratuities, and lived many years without the use of shoes, abstained from wine, and lived fo abstemiously as to endanger his life. : Many imi: tated his excellive austerities; they were at that time honoured with the name of Philosophers, and some of his followers patiently suffered martyrdom.
I itate facts as I find them; a strong fpirit of felf-righteousness, meeting with a secret ambition, too fubtil to be perceived by him who is the dupe of it, and supported by a natural fortitude of mind, and the active exertion of great talents, hath enabled many in external things to seem superior in piety to men of real humility and self-diffidence, who, penetrating more happily into the genius of the Gospel, by the exercise of faith in the Son of God, and that genuine charity which is its fruit, are led into a course of conduct less dazzling indeed, but much more agreeable to the Gospel. One cannot form an high idea of the solid judg: ment of these Alexandrian chriftians. Were there none of the elder and more experienced christians there, who were capable, with meekness of wisdom, to correct the exuberances of this zealous youth, and to have shewn him that, by refusing the comforts of life, he affected a superiority to Paul himself, who gratefully received the alms of the Philippians ? But this excess must have been attended with great defects in inward vital godliness. The reader is again referred to 11 Colossians
for a comment on the conduct of Origen. How much better had it been for him to have continued á scholar for some time, before his pride was feafted by being appointed a teacher! But the lively How of genius seems to have been mistaken for great growth in christian knowledge and piety.
One of his scholars, called Plutarch, was led to martyrdom. Origen accompanied him, to the place of execution, the odium of the scholars sufferings reflected on the master, and it was not without a peculiar Providence that he escaped the vengeance of the citizens. After him suffered Serenus by fire; the third martyr was Heraclides; the fourth Heron. The former had not yet been baptized, being only what was then called a Catechumen; the latter had been lately baptized, but both were beheaded. Asecond Serenus of the same school, having sustained great torments and much pain, was beheaded. A woman also, called Rais, as yet a Catechumen, fuffered death. Potamiæna, a young woman remarkable for beauty, purity of mind, and firmness in the faith of Christ, suffered very dreadful torments ; she was scourged very forely by the order of Aquila the Judge, who threatened to deliver her to be abused by the bafest characters. But remaining still unmoved, she was led to the fire and burnt together with her mother Marcella. The heart of Bafilides, a soldier, who presided at her execution, was foftened. He pitied her, treated her courteously, and protected her, so far as he durft, from the insolence of the mob. She acknowledged his kindness, thanked him, and promised that after her departure she would intreat the Lord for him. Scalding pitch was poured on her whole body, which she sustained in much patience. Some time after Bafilides being required of his fellow-soldiers to swear on some oc
casion, he refused, confessing himself a christian, They disbelieved him at first, but finding him so rious, carried him before the Judge, who remanded him to prison. The christians visited him, and asking him the cause of his sudden change, he declared that Potamiana had, three days after her martyrdom, appeared to him by night, informing him that she had performed her promise, and that he should shortly die. After this he suffered martyrdom.
The reader will think this an extraordinary story; yet it would be rash to reject it altogether; Eusebius lived not long after the time of Origen, had made accurate inquiries after him and his followers in Alexandria, and observes that the fame of Potamiæna was in his time very great in that province. Her martyrdom and that of the soldier feem sufficiently authentic. Her promise to pray for him after her departure only shews the gradual prevalence of fanatical philosophy, will-worship, and the like; and if the reader is not prepared by a sufficient degree of candour to admit the truth of christian narratives and the reality of christian grace, though pitiably stained in many instances with such superstition, he will find little satisfaçtion in the evidences of christian piety for many ages. But we are Naves to habit; we make in our times great allowances for the love of the world in christians; we are not so easily disposed to make allowances for superstitions. Yet many wrong sentiments and views may be found where the heart is devoted, in faith and love, to God and his Christ. The only difficulty remaining is, how we can apprehend that God should sanctify superstition by sending Potamiæna to appear to Basilides? I apprehend that God being at work with his soul, the idea of the woman would natų.
rally make a strong impression on his mind, and he might dream what he mentioned. On the whole the story seems tinged with the superstition of the times, and yet is too remarkable in christian annals to deserve to be forgotten.
An action performed about this time by Origen illustrates his character in the strongest manner. Though disposed beyond most to allegorize the scriptures, in one passage he followed the literal sense of the words too closely, “ There are some who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake*" Being much conversant among women as well as men, in his work of catechizing and expounding the scriptures, he was thus at once desirous of cutting off all temptations from himself, and the Nanders of infidels. But though he practised this upon himself, he took all posible pains to conceal the fact from his familiar friends.
One cannot but admire how strong self-righteous maxims and views were grown in the church ; but who, except those who are lost to all sense of goodness, will not revere the piety of his motives and the fervour of his zeal? It could not however be concealed. Demetrius, his Bishop, at first encouraged and commended him ; afterwards | through the power of envy, on account of his growing popularity, he publifhed the fact abroad with a view to asperse him. However the Bishops of Cæfarea and Jerusalem prorected and supported him, and ordained him a Presbyter in the church. Day and night he continued itill to labour at Alexandria. But it is time to look about into other parts of the Roman empire, and see what effects the persecution of Severus had in other places besides Alexandria.
Alexander, Matthew xix, 12. I Euseb, B. 6. C. 7.
Alexander, a Bishop in Cappadocia, confessed the faith of Christ, and sustained a variety of fufferings, and yet by the providence of God was at length delivered, and travelled afterwards to Jerufalem. There he was joyfully received by Narcissus the very aged Bishop of that See, a man of extraordinary piety, who affociated Alexander with him in the work. Some epistles of the latter were extant in Eusebius's time, who gives us a short fragment of one of them, sufficiently authenticating the fact that those two holy men were joint pastors of Jerusalem.
“ Narcissus greets you, who governed this bishopric before me, and now being an hundred and sixteen years old, prayeth with me, and that very seriously, for the state of the church, and befeeches you to be of one mind with me.
If the ancient martyrologists had been preserved uncorrupted, they would afford us useful materials, and illustrate much the spirit and genius of real christianity in its primitive professors. But frauds, interpolations, and impoftures, are endless; the papal and monaftic superstitions in after-ages induced their supporters to corrupt these martyrologists, and indeed the writings of the fathers in general. The difficulty of procuring materials for a well-connected credible history of real christians is hence increased exceedingly. What I cannot believe, I shall not take the trou. ble to transcribe ; what I can, where the matter appears worthy of memory, shall be exhibited. This is the case of the martyrs of Scillita, a city of Africa, in the province of Carthage. The narration is simple, credible throughout, and worthy of the purest ages of the gospel, and the facts belong to the times of Severus.