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giftrates to profecute. Swords, wild beafts, pits, red-hot chairs, wheels to ftretch the bodies, and talons of iron to tear them; thefe were the inftruments of this perfecution. Malice and covetoufnefs were deeply and strongly set on work during this whole fhort, but horrible reign in informing against christians. And the genius of men was never known to have had more of employment in aiding the favageness of the heart. Life was prolonged in torture, that impatience in fuffering might effect at length what furprize and terror could not.
See two examples of Satanic artifice. A martyr having endured the rack and burning plates, the judge ordered him to be rubbed all over with honey, and then expofed him in the fun, which was very hot, lying on his back with his hands tied behind him, that he might be ftung by the flies. Another perfon, young and in the flower of his age, was, by the order of the fame judge, carried into a pleafant garden among flowers, near a pleafing rivulet furrounded with trees; here they laid him on a feather bed, bound him with filken cords, and left him alone. Then they brought thither a lewd woman very handsome, who began to embrace him and to court him with all imaginable impudence. The martyr bit off his tongue, not knowing how to refift the affaults of fenfuality any longer, and fpit it in her face. Shocking as these things were, chriftianity appeared what it is, true holiness; while its perfe cutors fhewed that they were at enmity with all goodness.
Alexander, bishop of Comana, fuffered martyrdom by fire. At Smyrna Eudemon the bishop apoftatized, and feveral unhappily followed his
Jerom vita Paul.
example. But the glory of this church, once fo celebrated by the voice of infallibility*, was not totally loft. The example of Pionius, one of the prefbyters, was falutary to all the churches. The acts of his martyrdom are ftill extant, and the fubflance, at least, of the account is confirmed by Eufebius, who refers us to his narrative not now extant. Nor, in general, is there any thing in the ftory improbable or unworthy of the chriftian fpirit. In expectation of being feized, he put a chain about his neck, and caufed Sabina and Afclepiades to do the fame, to fhew their readiness to fuffer. Polemon, keeper of the idol-temple, came to them with the magiftrates: "Don't you know," fays he, "that the emperor has ordered you to facrifice ?" "We are not ignorant of the commandments," fays Pionius, but they are those which command us to worship God." "Come to the market-place," fays Polemon," and fee the truth of what I have faid." "We obey the truc God," faid Sabina and Afclepiades.
When the martyrs were in the midft of the mul"You had better,' titude in the market-place, fays Polemon, " fubmit, to avoid the torture." Pionius began to fpeak: "Citizens of Smyrna, who please yourselves with the beauty of your walls and city, and value yourselves on account of your Poet Homer, and ye Jews, if there be any among you, hear me speak a few words: We find that Smyrna has been efteemed the finest city in the world, and was reckoned the chief of thofe who contended for the honour of Homer's birth. I am informed that you deride thofe who come of their own accord to facrifice, or who do not refuse when urged to it. But furely your teacher Homer fhould
*Rev. chap. 2. ver. 8, 9, &c.
fhould be attended to, who fays, that we ought not to rejoice at the death of any man*. And ye Jews ought to obey Mofes, who tells you, "Thou fhalt not fee thy brother's afs or his ox fall down by the way, and hide thyfelf from him; thou fhalt furely help him to lift them up again." And Solomon fays, Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth." For my part I had rather die and undergo any fufferings than contradict my principles. Whence then proceed the laughter and fcoffs of the Jews, pointed not only against thole who have facrificed, but against us? They infult us with a malicious pleafure to fee our long peace interrupted. Though we were their enemies, itill we are men. But what harm have we done them? What have we made them fuffer? Whom have we fpoken againft? Whom have we perfecuted? Whom have we compelled to worship idols? Do they think themfelves lefs culpable than those who fuffer death from perfecution ?" He then addreffed the Jews on the grounds of their own fcriptures, and folemnly placed before the Pagans the day of judgment.
The fermon bore fome refemblance to Stephen's in like circumstances, tending to beget conviction of fin, and leading men to feel their need of the Divine Saviour, according to the juftest views and in the foundest tafte of the gofpel. He fpake long, and was very attentively heard, and there is reafon to hope it was not in vain. The people who furrounded him faid with Polemon, "Believe us, Pionius, your probity and wifdom make us deem you worthy to live, and life is pleafant." Thus
* Odyfi. xxii. v. 412.
Deut. xxii. 4.
† Pionius adapts himself to his audience, and convicts them of guilt even by their own principles, a thing not hard to be done againit all but true chriftians.
Thus powerfully did confcience and humanity operate in their hearts. "I own," fays the martyr, "life is pleasant, but I mean that which I afpire after. We will not, through a contemptuous fpirit, forfake thefe gifts; but that which we prefer to them is infinitely better. But I thank But I thank you for your expreffion of kindness. I cannot, however, but fufpect fome ftratagem in it."
The people continued intreating them, and he ftill difcourfed to them of an hereafter.-The well-known fincerity and unquestionable virtues of the man seem to have filled the Smyrneans with veneration, and his enemies began to fear an uproar in his favour. "It is impoffible to perfuade you then," faid Polemon. "I would to God I could," fays Pionius, "perfuade you to be a chriftian."
Sabina had changed her name by, the advice of Pionius, who was her brother, for fear of falling into the hands of her pagan miftrefs, who, to compel her to renounce christianity, had formerly put her in irons, and banished her to the mountains, where the brethren fecretly, nourished her. She called herself Theodota fince this happened. "What God doft thou adore?" fays Polemon. "God Almighty," fhe answers, "who made all things, of which we are affured by his Word Jefus Chrift." "And what doft thou adore ?" fpeaking to Afclepiades. "Jefus Chrift," fays he. "What, is there another God?" fays Polemon. "No," fays he, "this is the fame whom we come here to confefs." He who worships the Trinity in Unity will find no difficulty to reconcile these two confeffions. Let him who does not fo worship, attempt it. One perfon pitying Pionius, faid, "Why do you that are fo learned fo refolutely feek death?"
Being put into prifon, they found there a prefbyter named Lemnus, and a woman named Macedonia, and another called Eutychiana, a Montanift.
The prifoners were placed all together, and employed themselves in praifing God, and fhewed every mark of patience and cheerfulness. Many pagans vifited Pionius, and attempted to perfuade him; his anfwers ftruck them with admiration. Some, who by compulfion had facrificed, visited them and entreated them with tears. "I now fuffer afresh," fays Pionius; " methinks I am torn in pieces when I fee the pearls of the church trod under-foot by fwine, and the stars of heaven caft to the earth by the tail of the dragon. But our fins have been the caufe."
The Jews, whofe character of bigotry had not been leffened by all their miferies, and whofe hatred to Chrift continued from age to age with aftonishing uniformity, invited fome of the lapfed chriftians to their fynagogue. The generous fpirit of Pionius was moved to exprefs itself vehemently against the Jews. Among other things he faid, "They pretend that Jefus Chrift died like other men by constraint. Was that Man a common felon, whose Disciples have caft out devils for fo many years? Could that Man be forced to die, for whofe fake his Difciples, and fo many others, have voluntarily fuffered the feverest punishment?" Having fpoken a long time to them, he defired them to depart out of the prifon.
Though the miraculous difpenfations attendant on christianity form no part of the plan of this hiftory, I cannot but obferve on this occafion, how ftrongly their continuance in the third century is here attefted. Pionius affirms, that devils
* Rev. xii. 14.