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Being put into prison, they found there a presbyter named Lemnus, and a woman named Macedonia, and another called Eutychiana, a Montanist.
The prisoners were placed all together, and employed themselves in praising God, and shewed every mark of patience and cheerfulness. Many pagans visited Pionius, and attempted to persuade him ; his answers ftruck them with admiration. Some, who by compulsion had sacrificed, visited them and entreated them with tears. "I now fuffer afresh," says Pionius; “ methinks I am torn in pieces when I see the pearls of the church trod under-foot by swine, and the stars of heaven caft to the earth by the tail of the dragon*. But our fins have been the cause."
The Jews, whose character of bigotry had not been leffened by all their miseries, and whose hatred to Christ continued from age to age with astonishing uniformity, invited some of the lapsed christians to their fynagogue. The generous spirit of Pionius was moved to exprefs itself vehemently against the Jews. Among other things he said, “ They pretend that Jesus Christ died like other men by constraint. Was that Man a common felon, whose Disciples have cast out devils for so many years ? Could that Man be forced to die, for whose fake his Disciples, and so many others, have voluntarily suffered the severeit punilhment?" Having spoken a long time to them, he desired them to depart out of the prison.
Though the miraculous dispensations attendant on christianity form no part of the plan of this history, I cannot but observe on this occasion, how strongly their continuance in the third century is here attested. Pionius affirms, that devils
were * Rep. xii, 14.
were ejected by christians in the name of Christ, in the face of apostates, who would have been glad of the shadow of an argument to justify their perfidy.
The captain of the horse coming to the prison, ordered Pionius to to the idol-temple. “ Your bishop Eudemon hath already facrificed," says he. The martyr, knowing that nothing of this sort could be done legally till the arrival of the proconsul, refused. The captain put a cord about his neck, and dragged him along with Sa. bina and others. They cried, • We are chriftians,” and fell to the ground, left they should enter the idol-temple. Pionius, after much refiftance, was forced in and laid on the ground before the altar ; there stood the unhappy Eudemon, after having facrificed.
Lepidus, a judge, asks, “ What God do you adore ?" Him,” says Pionius, “ that made heaven and earth.” “ You mean him that was crucified?" "I mean him whom God the Father sent for the salvation of men.” “ We must,” said the judges one to another, “ compel them to say what we desire.” “ Blush," answered Pionius, " ye adorers of false gods; have some respect to justice, and obey the laws; they enjoin you not to do violence to us, but to put us to death."
One Ruffinus faid, “ Forbear, Pionius, your thirst after vain-glory." “ Is this your eloquence?”. answered the martyr: “ Is this what you have read in your books? Was not Socrates thus treated by the Athenians ? According to your advice he sought after vain-glory, because he applied himself to wisdom and virtue.” A case thus apposite, and which doubtless bore some resemblance, as the philosopher's zeal for moral virtue exposed him to persecution, struck Ruffinus dumb. Ee2
A certain person placed a crown on Pionias's head, which he tore, and the pieces lay before the altar. The pagans, finding their persuasions vain, remanded them to prison.
A few days after the proconsul Quintilian returned to Smyrna and examined Pionius. He tried both tortures and persuasions in vain, and at length, enraged at his obstinacy, fentenced him to be burnt alive. He went cheerfully to the place of execution, and thanked God who had preserved his body pure from idolatry. Then he stretched himtelf out upon the wood, and delivered himself to a soldier to be nailed to the pile. After he was fastened, the executioner said to him, “ Change your mind, and the nails shall be taken away.” · I have felt them,” answered he. After remaining thoughtful for a-time, he said, “ 1 haften, O Lord, that I may the fooner be raised up again. They then lifted him up, fastened to the wood, and afterwards one Metrodorus, a Marcionite. They were turned toward the east, Pionius on the sight hand and Metrodorus on the left. They heaped round them a great quantity of wood. Pionius remained some time motionless, with his eyes shut, absorbed in prayer while the fire was consuming him. Then at length he opened his eyes, and looking cheerfully on the fire, said, " Amen," and expired saying, “ Lord, receive my foul.” Of the particular manner in which his tompanions suffered death we have no account:
I have extracted a considerable part of this narrative, in which we see the spirit of Divine charity triumphing over all worldly and selfish considerations. The zeal of Pionius deserves to be commemorated while the world endures. It seems to have led him to a forgetfulness of himself, and to have absorbed him in the vindication of Divine.
Truth to the last. Onę may judge what a faithful preacher of the gospel he had been, who seems intent on the blessed work amidst his bitterest suf. ferings. What true religion is in its fimplicity, seems in him exemplified abundantly,
If there is any thing particular in the treatment he underwent, it consists in the repeated pains taken to preserve him. Is it that the man was much respected, though the christian was abhorred ? Integrity and uprightness, when eminent and supported by wisdom and good sense, fail not to overawe, to captivate, and to soften mankind. The voice of nature will speak for them, but they cannot conquer the natural enmity of the heart against God.
There are many good reasons which may be alsigned why sound learning ought to be cultivated among christians, especially by all who mean to be pastors of Christ's Aock. This the case of Pionius obyiously intimates. A character for knowledge never fails to ensure respect. It is not money, nor rank, nor power, nor quality, that will command esteem: Knowledge secures it a thoufand times more with mankind. It is evident that Pionius was a man of learning, and that his perfe. cutors respected him on that account, and took pains to preserve him. We may conceive how use. ful this accomplishment had been in his ministry.
One remark more on this story. A Montanist and a Marcionite are his fellow-fufferers. The latter is consumed with him in the flames. Doubt. less, from all the lights of antiquity, both these heresies appear in an odious light. But there might be exceptions, and who fo likely as those who suffered We must not confine the truth of godliness to any particular denomination. Providence, by mixing persons of very opposite
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parties in the same scene of persecution, demonstrates that the pure faith and love of Jesus may operate in those who cannot own each other as brethren: I know not whether Pionius and Metrodorus did so on earth; I hope they do so in heaven.
In Afia one Maximus a merchant was brought before Optimus the proconsul, who inquired after his condition? “I was born free," says he, “ but I am the servant of Jesus Christ.” « Of what profession are you?” “ A man of the world, who live by my dealings.” “ Are you a christian ?"
Though a sinner, yet I am a chriitian,” The usual process was carried on of persuasions and tortures. “ These are not torments which we fuf. fer for the name of our Lord Jesus Chrift; they are wholesome unctions." Such the effect of the Holy Ghost shedding the love of God in Christ abroad in the human heart! He was ordered to be stoned to death *
All this time the perfecution raged in Egypt with unremitting fury. In the lower Thebais there was a young man named Paul, to whom, at fifteen years of age, his parents left a great estate. He was a person of much learning, of a mild temper, and full of the love of God. He had a married lifter, with whom he lived. Her husband was bafe enough to design an information against him, in order to obtain his estate. Paul, having notice of this, retired to the desert mountains, where he waited till the persecution ceased. Habit, at length, made solitude agreeable to him. He found a pleasant retreat, and lived there fourscore and ten years. He was at the time of his retirement twenty-three, and lived to be an hundred
and * Fleury, B. 6-40.