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For some years, Irenæus laboured as presbyter at Ly. ons, a city in France, then called Gaul, under Ponthius, the venerable bishop of the place; and no where did the power
grace of Jesus more eminently appear than under their ministry. The Gospel is supposed to have been first iotroduced into this city by some pious mer. chants from Asia, why traded thither. Thrice blessed is that merchant, who in his commerce with heathen nations, forgets not, amidst the various articles he offers to their notice, to recommend the pearl of great price-THE GLORIOUS GOSPEL OF THE BLESSED LORD!
After Irenæus had continued some years at Lyons, the flames of perseeution broke out and raged with inconceivable fury, whilst a noble army of martyrs, of both
ages and ranks in life, bore a glorious testiniony to the grace of Jesus, who enabled ihein to triumph over all the cruel and malicious devices of their persecutors. Whilst we read, let us wonder and adore ! Amongst the various martyrs who suffered at Lyons dur. ing this persecution, were Ponthius, the bishop; Sanetus, a' deacon; Maturus, a late convert ; Ponticus, a youth of fifteen ; and Blandina, a female slave. ;
A short account of each of their sufferings will be interesting to our readers.
The venerable bishop, although upwards of ninety years of age, and very infirm and asthmatic, after having suffered a variety of ill treatment, was spurned, kicked, and pelted by the populace; each thinking himself deficient in zeal, antil he had personally insulted this aged saint. He was then thrown into prison, almost breathless; and after two days'expired.
Sanctus, the deacon, after having patiently sustained the most barbarous indignities, was scorched with hot plates of brass, applied to the most tender parts of his body. Still, however, he remained firın in his confession,
being, no doubt," to use the striking expression of one who witnessed his sufferings, “ bedewed and refreshed by the heavenly fountain of the water of life, which flows from Christ.” In the mean time his body was a sufficient witness of the torments be sustained, being contract. ed, wounded, and scorched, as no longer to retain a hu. man form. His patience shewed to the surrounding multitude, that nothing need to be feared, where the love of
the Father is; and that nothing is grievious where the glory of Christ is exhibited. Some days after, in conpany with Maturus, he underwent fresh tortures, and at length, after their bodies had been broiled alive on an iron chair, they expired—“ A SPECTACLE UNTO WORLD, AND TO ANGELS, AND TO MEN!”
During this tremenduous season, the poor female slave, Blandina, was not deserted by her heavenly Father.Though of a delicate habit of body, she was endued with so much fortitude, that whilst those who successively tortured her from morning to night, were exhausted with fatigue, and expressed their astonishment to find her still alive, she evidently seemed to recover strength whilst she repeatedly exclaimed, “ I am a Christian, and no evil is committed amongst us." For several days after her acute sufferings, she was brought with Ponticus, a youth of fifteen, to witness the tortures inflicted on the other martyrs.. At length the concluding scene of their own trials arrived : and now their tortues were aggravated by all sorts of methods ; no pily being shown to the sex of the one, or the tender age of the other.
The lad en couraged by his female partner in sufferings, bore with astonishing fortitude his accumulated torments, and then gave up the ghost. And Blandina, having again endured stripes, the tearing of wild beasts, the iron ebair, and the tossing of a wild bull, yielded up her spirit into the hands of her beloved Lord.
In the mean time, the savage persecutors, as if anxious even after death to vent their fury on the martyrs, appointed guards for six days to watch their lacerated remains, lest any of their friends should bury them; and at length they burnt them to ashes, and cast them into the river, that there might appear no remnant of them on the earth.
One more circumstance is well worthy of notice. Some, who to avoid persecution, denied their Saviour, were nevertheless imprisoned, and afterwards punished as severely as their faithful brethren, though with this remarkable difference :-The latter proceeded to martyrdom with cheerful steps, their very countenances being irradiated with grace and glory; whereas the former went on dejected and spiritless, and insulted even by the lieathens for their infidelity and cowardice.
But to return to Irenæus, in consequence of the death of Ponthinus, he was appointed bishop of Lyons, A. D. 177. And never perhaps, did a minister enter on a charge under more distressing circumstances. Dreadful persecutions harrassed the Church without, and subtle heresies undermined it within, whilst his office eminently exposed him to the first strokes of vengeance. Paul's emphatical language will accurately describe the labours and sufferings, which a bishop in that day must necessarily expeet ;- S“ in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure,
in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Surely under such circumstances, no one would eater upon the sacred office, unless it were his “ earnest expectation and hope, that Christ should be magnified in his body, whether it were by life or death.” For this important situation, Irenæus appears to have been well calculated. The labours of his ministry were great, and of his writings still greater. He ably refuted the various heresies of the day, the number of which afford a lamentable proof of the corruption, which was already ereeping into the Church. In this kind of writing indeed, he appears particularly to have excelled; for it must be acknowledged, that although his sentiments are in general evangelical, yet his philosophy, like that of Justin, tended to darken his views of some scriptural truths, and to lead him to mix others with human in- ; ventions.
We quote with pleasure the following short extracts from his writings :-“ Man's redemption was procured not by violence, but the Lord redeemed us with his own blood, aud gave his life for our life, and his flesh for our flesti, and so effected our salvation. The Word of God, Jesus Christ, on account of his immense love, became what we are, that he might make us what he is.” The mysterious union between the Godhead and manhood of Christ in the work of redemption, and in general the
;, doctrine of the Fall and of the RECOVERY are scarcely treated in a more scriptural manner by any anciept writer tban by Irenæus.
During a few years of outward peace with which the Church was favoured, an insignificant dispute respecting the proper time for the celebration of Easter was renewed with much asperity. Irenæus on this occasion wrote 2d Edit.
several pacific letters to allay the difference thus unhap. pily excited In the mean time the Almighty, as if of. fended with these foolish dissensions of his people, once more permitted persecution to make its iproads on the Church. Severus, the Emperor, who had not since his coming to the throne molested the Christians, now began to persecute thein with great severity in all parts of his dominions. He was just returned victorious from the East; and the pride of prosperity induced him to forbid, under the leaviest penalties, the propagation of Chris. tianity. Christians still thought it right to obey God rather than man. Severus persisted, and exercised the usual cruelties. Previous to his coming to the throne, he had pbeen Governor of Lyons, where he probably noticed the flourishing state of the Church ; and hence it is not surprising that his enmity to Christianity should particolarly be exercised against the Christians in that city. Thus was Lyons once more dyed with the blood of the martyrs ! So great indeed was his rage against them, that, aceording to some ancient writers, after having severely tormented Irenæus, he put him to death, and together with him almost all the Christians in thy populous city, whose numbers could not be reek. oned, so that the streets flowed with their blood. The Emperor is supposed to have been an eye witness of this persecution; and indeed the great numbers that are sid
; to have suffered, agree but too well with the temper
of this cruel Prince, who had previously conceived a particular displeasure against the citizens of Lyons, and more especially against its Christian inhabitants. (A. · D. 203.
Thus lived and died Irenæus, bishop of Lyons. In zeal, in disinterestedness, and self denial, it would be difficult to find his superior. In order that he might promote the best interests of his fellow creatures, he deemed no dangers' or difficulties too great for him to encounter. To accomplish his glorious design, he forced himself to learn the barbarous language of the country, and serapled not to exchange the comforts and refinements of his native land, for the rude manners of an illiterate and savage people. Rare instance of Christian charity! May the recital call forth a missionary spirit in the breasts of our readers : Many of them might, yea,
ought to contribute to the furtherance of this glorious cause; some of them are qualified to follow the illustri. ous example of Irenæus and to exclaim, “ Here am I;.
A VOICE FROM THE GRAVE.
Extracts from the Sermon of Rev. Mr. FOXCROFT, (Pastor of the
Church which now meet in Chauncey-Place,) continued from
III. CONSIDER the extreme FOLLY of your present se. curity, and the madness of continuing therein. O how unreasonable is it! It is a prodigy of madness, as well as wickedness. He is unworthy the name of a man, that allows himself in it. O that you could see wbat a sottish, stupid, blind, and mad thing it is! I have not words or thoughts .comprehensive enough to reach the height of this folly. Your carnal security and ease is most irrational and absurd in its nature, ground and motives. It is an open contradiction to all genuine principles of reason, an offering violence to the laws of prudence and the dietates of regular self-love. He might be well called a fool, who said to himself, “ soul, take thine ease. Let me here offer a few hints, to illustrate this point a little.
Your security is unreasonable, in that it is without all ground; or stands on a deceitful bottom. It is chiefly owing to careless inadvertence, or wild presumption, or wieked infidelity. Your present ease and quiet is altogether false and delusive. It is mere forgery and fiction; a lying vanity, an empty show of pence; and is as dif. ferent from true solid rest of soul, as a killing lethargy from the sweet and refreshing sleep of health ; and at best it is but for a moment. O the stupidity then of your beloved dreams!
But your folly will be more glaring, if we consider what a MISERABLE STATE it is you are secure and easy in. Your misery is great upon you.
The miseries of your present state are dreadful and astonishing. You are at a distance from the blessed God, and are under his wrath and eurse, in your person and enjoyments and