« PreviousContinue »
Are we habitually thanking him boring to bring them into subfor the mercies we enjoy, ascri- ljection, that our hearts may be bing them only to his free and as a temple sacred only to Christ? unmerited gracein Christ Jesus; | if this is the case, how do we and are we striving by some show it? Are we daily examinmore substantial proofs than ing ourselves? With what perwords to testify our gratitude to verse dispositions are we mainhim? In our troubles, do we taining this struggle ? Are we as look to him alone for deliverance, | much and as earnestly engaged resigning ourselves to his holy in subduing ourselves, as in purwill, and even bearing affliction suing honor, wealth, or worldly cheerfully for his sake? Do we comfort ? In what do we deny value him as our chief good, as ourselves ? I ask not what open the only proper object of our and public sacrifices we are mahappiness; and do we prove king-vanity may prompt to that we do so by preferring no these : nor whether we are imgratification to his favor, by ma- posing penance on ourselvesking every requisite sacrifice, that is comparatively an easy and renouncing every evil habit, task. But are we mortifying our readily, for his sake? In short, vanity, curbing our pride, subdo we set him before us as the duing our self-will, renouncing witness of our actions, the judge our love of consequence and powof our conduct, the end of all er, giving up our own pleasure ; that we do?
and especially are ve resisting But let me now request your our besetting sin ? Many of the readers to take another view commandments of God, let it of the subject. They acknow- be remembered, it is both easy ledge, I doubt not, that this is and creditable to fulfil. Herod a sinful world, and that therefore himself seems to have executed a Christian is not to be of the these. But he would not give world even as Christ is not of up the gratification of a criminal the world, but is to make it his passion, from regard to those study to “ mortify his members doctrines of which he acknowwhich are upon the earth, forni- ledged, generally, the truth. cation, uncleanDess, inordinate The due reception of the gos. affection, evil concupiscence, and pel farther implies the attaincovetousness, which is idolatry ; ment of a meek and quiet spirit. for the which thing's sake the Do we then control our anger? wrath of God cometh on the Is the power of religion clearly children of disobedience.” Now visible in the restraint which we allow me to enquire, do we real- put upon those ebullitions of ly believe this doctrine ? Let us passion, and expressions of peebring the matter to a point with vishness, which would otherwise our consciences. Are we re-break forth? Can we govern nouncing the spirit of that world ourselves under provocation ? 1 whose friendship is represented others are angry with us, are we as enmity against God? Are we calm with them? But perhaps crucifying the flesh with its af- some one may say,“ My passion fections and lusts? Are we en is soon over.” Yes, this is natur. gaged in a secret warfare with al to you : but why was it pot all our evil inclinations, and la- | restrained by religion ? “ But has religion," it may be asked, , a heavenly inheritance than an 6 any thing to do with our petty earthly one. Our children themquarrels and resentments, which selves should be able to perceive are soon excited and soon allay. that it would make us more haped ?" Yes, for religion consists in py to see them religious than restraining these from a regard accomplished or rich. to God, and reverence to his I would further ask, what it law. True religion is an habit. is from which we derive our ual restraint on every evil tem- pleasures ? Knowing how imper : a powerful principle which pure and polluting many of the keeps under and subdues every sources of earthly pleasure are, other which stands opposed to and how apt to draw away our it. It is a principle derived from hearts from God ; are we so God, and it should be exercised | indifferent to them, as to rein the resemblance of him who nounce them entirely whenevwas meek and lowly in heart, and er the interests of our souls rewho, when he was reviled, revi- quire it? Are our pleasures deled not again, when he suffered, rived from other and purer sourthreatened not.
ces, sources pointed out and Then as to covetousness : are sanctioned by the law of God, our desires of worldly things mo- which in this, as in every other derate? Are we contented with particular, ought to be our guide our present station, or are we and director ? Do we consider impatiently striving to be deliv- eating and drinking as principal ered from its difficulties ? Are sources of gratification ; or do we apt to be cast down when we we regard them in their true meet with disappointment, and light, as necessary indeed to the easily elated by worldly success? | support of our bodies, but at the Are we making the wealth or same time as liable to become the happiness of this world our instruments of temptation, and principal objects : or are these hindrances to a holy and spirwholly subordinate to religion ?itual life, and therefore requirIn a word, are we more anxious ing to be regulated by the rules to possess the favor of God and of strict temperance ? his peace in our souls, than to Thus also are we to guard possess any earthly treasures? against the inordinate love of Religion, it is true, does not re- any earthly object. We are to quire that we should relax in the beware lest we should love even just and proper duties of our a wife, a husband, or a child to calling, or be less diligent, in- such a degree, as to forget that dustrious, and frugal than others; God requires the chief place in but then, if we are living as men our affections. In short, we whose conversation is in heaven, must be habitually employed, and whose hearts are chiefly set would we really be christians, in on things above, we shall pursue watching over and subduing evour business with far less eager- ery evil propensity; so that all ness than others do : we shall the thoughts of our hearts may be far more anxious that our be brought into subjection to the children should be holy than that will of God. To hear the gosthey should be rich : we shall pel preached, to acknowledge take far more pains to give them | its truth, to enjoy a measure of
its comforts, is but a small thing. I when tried by the word of God, The essential business of reli- there is nothing in which they gion consists much more in the are generally more deficient. secret warfare which I have des I have already extended this cribed ; in carrying our knowl- paper to an unreasonable length, edge into practice, and regula- otherwise the enquiry which I ting by it our daily conduct. have proposed might be branch
There is a class of duties ed out into a variety of other which still remains to be notic- particulars. What I have said, ed, I mean the duties of justice however, will suffice to shew the between man and man. The manner in which the genuine-' law of God with respect to these ness of our faith may be brought is, that we should do unto others to the test, even in cases to which as we would they should do unto I have not adverted. us; nay more, that we should If any one of your readers, seek our neighbor's welfare as Mr. Editor, should object to this truly as our own, and in some paper as legal, and as manifestpoints even in preference to our ing an ignorance of the grace of own. Now how are we acting the gospel, I would intreat him in this respect? We acknowl- to peruse, among many similar the rule : are we following it? passages which might be pointed Can we withstand the tempta- out, the second chapter of St. tion of profiting by the ignorance Paul's Epistle to Titus. “ Speak or carelessness of our neighbor? thou,” says the venerable aposShall we be able to say at the tle, “ the things which become day of judgment, “it has been sound doctrine." But what were my rule in life to take no advan- the things becoming sound doctage of another ?" There will trine respecting which Titus was be daily occasions of exercising instructed to preach? They were the principle of true righteous the distinct and particular duties ness, if we are influenced by it. of aged men and aged women, It will lead us to judge favor of young women and young men, bly of our neighbor's actions, of servants and subjects. We and to defend him when unjust see then how practical the prealy accused ; to rejoice in his ching of Titus was required to prosperity, to sympathize in his be, and how particular also : not distress, to supply his wants as merely dwelling in generals, as far as we are able ; and, above too many are apt to do, and reall, it will teach us to promote commending holiness in a loose the welfare of his soul. It will and vague way ; but entering pervent our flattering him to his into the detail of the tempers hurt, or ministering to his cor- which his hearers ought to posrupt passions ; and it will in- sess, of the duties which they duce'us faithfully, but kindly, to ought to practise, of the sins they oppose him when he is in the ought to avoid: bringing religion wrong, though we incur his ill- home to their families and exwill by it. There is nothing, tending its influence to the ordiperhaps, in which men are apt nary business of life: regulating so much to pride themselves as their whole conduct in such a in the discharge of their duty manner as to adorn the doctrine to their neighbor ; and yet, of God our Saviour, and to command the admiration even of hea. After many had sealed their thens. And to confirm this view confession of Christ with their of the matter, the apostle states | blood, the multitude, with insait to be the very design of the tiable rage, began to call out for gospel to produce in all men such Polycarp, who when he received a conduct as he had recommend- | the intelligence was quite uned. For the grace of God hath moved by it. Induced, however, appeared to all men, teaching us by the intreaties of his people he that, denying ungodliness and retired to a small distance from worldly lusts, we should live so- the city, and with a few friends berly in the government of our spent day and night in praying appetites and passions; right- for the peace of all the churches cously in the due discharge of in the world. A dream which the duties we owe to our neigh-he had at this time, he told his bor; and godly in the conscien- friends, was a prophetic presage tious fulfilment of the duties we that he should be burnt alive for owe to God : and that we should the cause of Christ. be ever looking forward, as the The place of his retreat being object of all our expectations and discovered by means of a young hopes, to the second coming of man of his household, who was Jesus Christ, our God and Sa- forced by stripes to a confession ; viour who gave himself for us, his enemies went out at night that he inight redeem us from all with arms in their hands to seize iniquity, and purify unto himself him. They found him lying in a peculiar people zealous of good an upper room whence he might works.
M. A. easily have made his escape :
but he would not ;, saying, “the will of the Lord be done.” He
came down and entered into conSome account of the Martyrdom versation with those who were
of Polycarp, in the Second Cen present, all of whom greatly ad- . tury.
mired his age and his compos
ure. Some said, “ What need TN the year 167, the persecu- all this stir to apprehend so old 1 tion which had commenced a man ?” He immediately orsome years before, raged with dered some refreshment to be increased violence. In Smyrna, set before his pursuers, and remany fell victims to its fury, quested that in the meanwhile who by their magnanimity, their they would allow him time for patience, and their love of the prayer ; which being granted, he Lord excited general admira continued praying near two hours tion : for though torn with whips together, fervently recommendtill their bodies were laid open ing to God the cases of all his even to their veins and arteries ; | friends in every station of life, though tormented with fire, con- and the state of the Catholic demned to the wild beasts, and church throughout the world, to exposed to various other tor- the great astonishment of his tures ; they endured these ex- hearers, who now began to retremities of suffering with a pent of having any hand in apmeekness which astonished the prehending so divine a characbeholders.
His prayer being ended, he ing it in vain to use persuasion, was set upon an ass, and led into | observed, “ I have wild beasts to the city. On the road Herod the | whom I will expose you, unless Irenarch, or keeper of the peace, you recant.”_" Call them," anand Nicetus his father-in-law, swered Polycarp, “ we are not • who indeed were the main. I to be changed from better to springs of the persecution, met worse, for we hold it only good him, and taking him up into to turn from vice to virtue.” their chariot, endeavored, by “ Since you make light of the plausible insinuations, to under- wild beasts,” says the pro-consul, mine his constancy, asking, “I will tame you with fire, if « What harm is it to say, Lord you repent not." - You threatCesar, and to sacrifice, that you en me," replied the martyr, may escape ?"
|" with a fire which burns only Polycarp was silent at first, for a moment, but art ignorant of but being importunately urged, the eternal fire reserved for the he told them that he could not wicked. But why do you delay? follow their counsel. On this Bring forth what you please." they loaded him with vehement This and much more he spoke abuse ; and thrust him out of the with a cheerful confidence, unchariot with such violence that daunted by menaces, while grace in falling he bruised his thigh. I shone in his countenance; so Unmoved, however, by this treat-that even the pro-consul himinent, he proceeded cheerfully self was astonished at it. The under the conduct of his guard herald then proclaimed that Poto the hall of judgment. During | lycarp had professed himself a the tumult which took place on | Christian ; on which the multihis appearing before the tribu- tude, both of Jews and Gentiles, nal, a voice from heaven (none shouted out, “ This is the great seeing the speaker, but many doctor of Asia, and the father of hearing the voice) said, “ Poly- the Christians. This is the decarp be strong, and play the stroyer of our gods, who teachinan.” The pro-consul began eth men not to sacrifice or ato persuade him to recant. “ Con- I dore." sider thy great age. Swear by They now desired Philip, the the genius of Cesar, and say, take Asiarch, to let loose a lion upoti away the atheists." The holy him ; but he refused, the shews martyr, with his hand directed to of the wild beasts having been the surrounding multitude, and finished. They then demanded his eyes to heaven, said, “ Take that he should be burnt alive ; away the atheists." The pro- which was done with all possible consul still urged him, “ Swear, speed, many of the people, but and I will release thee : reproach especially the Jews, being active Christ.”-“ Fourscore and six in procuring fuel. The fire beyears,” said Polycarp, “ have I ing prepared, Polycarp undresserved him, and he hath never sed himself, an office to which wronged me; how then shall I he had been unaccustomed, as blaspheme my king and my Sa- those around him had, from afviour?” The other still urging fection and reverence, always him, Polycarp replied, “ I am a been assiduous in performing it Christian." The pro-conşulfind-/ for him. When the execution