Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

1

cation to his studies and when the university had resolved in 1756, that the countess dowager of Pomfret hould be publicly thanked for her magnificent present of the remains of the very celebrated Arundelian collection of ancient ftatues ; he was folicited by the vicechancellor to undertake to shew the connection between works of science and of art. This he did in an oration delivered in the theatre, which gained him much applause.

Towards the end of that year he tock orders; in 1760 he was appointed chaplain to the late king; and in 1761 promoted to a canonry of Christ church.

In 1768 a residentiary ship of St. Paul's becoming vacant, by the death of Dr. Secker, it was offered to him, unapplied for. The air of Amen-corner disagreeing with the health of his lady, Mrs. Barrington, he exchanged this preferment in 1776, with Dr. Douglass, for a canonry of Windsor, In the summer of the

year 1769, his lord ship was promoted to the bishopric of Landaff. In the course of the ensuing feffion, he first tool: an active part in parliament, crpofing a bill brought in to 'eftablish a playhouse in Liverpool. Thishe did on the ground of thinking it less detrimental to every prpvincial town, to leave players subject to the controal of the magi. itrates of the place, than of the Lord Chamberlain. His Lordship was a warm advocate, and friend, in defence of the royal marriagebill; and replied, in the course of the debate, to the able speeches of the first lord Lyttleton, and bithop Lowth.

The unparalleled pitch to which the crime of adultery had advanced, particularly in noble families, in the year 1779, and the grofs collufion in obtaining acts of parliament for divorces, having created the not alarming apprehensions in the

was

mind of every one, impressed with the least degree of seriousness, our worthy bishop thought it his duty to attempt giving a check, at leait to an evil, which he hoped to diminish, though he could not expect to cure. With this view he brought in a bill, the principles of which was to render the subsequent marriage of the adulterous parties invalid.

The part he took on this occafion, and the speech he made on moving the bill, gave general satisfaction. The bill pafled the house of lords with very little opposition, and no divifion. It had not the same good fortune in the other house. Mr. Fox exerted his ta. lents and his influence

among

the young members.

The ministers gave the bill no support, and it was rejected by the commons in a very thin house. In the year 1781 the bishop had a large share on the negative side of the question, in the general debate which brought on by a motion to recommit an inclosure bill; in which the advantages and disadvantages of exchanging tythe for land was fully discuffed. He soon after replied, on the same subject, to lord president Bathurst; who moved the house to resolve itself into a committee for the purpo e of establishing certain resolutions relative to the commutation of tythes for land. The lord president withdrew his motion ; which had it been carried, would, in the bishop's opinion, have materially affected the interetts of that most useful and respectable body of men, the parochial clergy.

In the year 1770, the bishop published a new and improved edition of his father's Works in 3

vols 8vo. Of his own, there have hitherto appeared only two Sermons; and a large contibution to the 4to edition of Boyer's critical conjectures and observations on the New Testament, It is generally believed that he

owes

owes his tranflation to the See of San income of his fec, as rated in the
lisbury in 1782, solely to his Ma King's books, one thousand three
jesty's favourable opinion. His Lord hundred eighty-five pounds, five shil-
hip's place of residence is Salisbury | lings and ninepence.
Palace, in Wiltshire, and the annual

[ocr errors]

ANTIENT

CHRISTIAN BIOGRAPHY.

AND

of

ene

reproved, though all but one of the Μ Ε Μ Ο Ι R S neighbouring Bishops fell under cen

sure ; a remarkable proof of his fideOF THE Life of St. POLY.

lity and diligence. CARP, BISHOP OF SMYRNA, AN

With regard to his character in the APOSTOLICAL FATHER,

world, it was excellent to a very high SCHOLAR OF ST. JOHN.

degree. The Christians of his time T. Polycarp was born towards the speak of him with the greatest re

latter end of Nero's reign ; the spect; declaring, that he was adornplace of his birth is not certainly ed with all kinds of piety, a teacher known; some think it was at Smyrna. truly apoftolical and prophetical, It is asserted, that he was sold in his that

every

word that went out of his youth, and purchased by a noble ma mouth either had or would be fulfiltron named Callisto, by whom he led; and that, of all the martyrs was brought up, and at her death that place, he alone was had in memade heir to her estate ; which, mory of all men, being spoken of though very confiderable, he spent in by the very Gentiles themselves in works of charity. Several antient every place, as having been not only authors affirm, that he was a disciple an eminent teacher, but also a gloof St. John ; and both Irenæus, (who rious martyr; and so very diftinguithwas his scholar) and Jerom affure us, ed was his

reputation among

the that he conversed familiarly with the mies of Christianity, that they not only Apostles, and with many who had called him the Doctor of Asia, the fafeen our Lord in the flesh.

ther of the Christians, and the overa He was first Deacon and Catechift thrower of their gods; but after his of the church of Smyrna, an office death express their fears, lest the which he discharged with great repu

Christians should make him the ob. tation; and was afterwards, as many ject of their worship, instead of of the ancients affirm, by St. John Chrift. made Bishop of the same place;

His care of the church was not conthough Irenæus, and the Alexandrian fined to the place immediately comChronicle, assert it to be done by the Initted to his inspection ; but extendapostles.

ed itself even unto Rome; whither He is generally believed to be the he went, on account of the contro. person mentioned Rev. ii. 8. under versy concerning the time of keeping the title of the Angel of the Church Easter; and though he did not so far of Smyrna ; and if so, how well he prevail on those, who were of a discharged his duty in that important different opinion from himself, as to Itation, may be learned from the bring them over to his sentiments, declaration of our Lord himself, (see yet he was entertained with all pofRev. ii. 8, &c.) in which it is ob lible respect and esteem. fervable, that he stands entirely un While he was there he employed

his time in confirming the faithful, and convincing gainsayers, whereby he reclaimed many, who had been infected with the pernicious heresies of Marcian and Valentinus : and so very fervent was his affection for the truth, that whenever he heard any of the mischievous opinions of his time mentioned, he used to fop his ears, and cry out,

" Good God! to what times halt thou reserved me, that I should hear such things.” And one day meeting Marcian, who called to him faying, “Polycarp, own us, he replied, I own thiee to be the firstborn of Satan.

A life of such peculiar excellence, and continued to the length of an hundred years, muft needs have afforded us a variety of edifying circumstances, had the memory of them been preserved; but, besides the above, there is nothing material that, can be depended upon, the following particulars only excepted, which relate to the close of his life ; and which are most remarkably affecting, as well as a considerable help towards forming a jait idea of this truly great and venerable man.

In the reign of Marcus Antoninus and Lucius Verus began a severe perfecution againit the Christians; which growing hot at Smyrna, the general cry was, Lei Polycarp he fought for:” who was so far from being difturbed at the news, that he resolved to tarry in the city ; but by the importunity of his friends was prevailed on to retire to a village not far distant, where he spent his time in

praying for all inen, and for all the churches, according to his usual custom. Three days before he was taken, he dreamed that the pillow on which he lay was on fire, and burned to alhes; whereupon he told those about him, that he should be burned alive.

Being very narrowly fought for, on the approach of his enemies, heremoved to another village, whither they also pursued him, and seizing on a couple of youths, one of them

on being tortured, confefled where he was ; on which they came to his lodging, from whence he could easily have escaped, but would not, saying, “ The will of the Lord be done.” When he heard that they were come, he went down to them, and ordered that comething ihould be provided for their repatt, defiring them to give him one hour to pray without disturbance ;, which being complied with, he stood praying near two, to the admiration of all that heard him, infomuch that many of the soldiers began to repent that they were come to take fo godly a man.

The time of his departure being come, they set him on an ass, and brought him to the city. Herod, the chief officer, with his father Nicetas, met him in a chariot, and having taken him up with them, they began to persuade him to say " Lord Cæsar, " and to facrifice ; with other things, that are usually said on such occasions. At first he did not answer them; but they con: tinuing to urge him, he said, “ 'I shall not do what you would have me.' On which they threw him out of the chariot, with all the inhumanity of brucich violence,

As he was entering the lists, there came a voice to him from Heaven, (as was teftified by several present), “ Polycarp, be strong, and quit thyself like a man.” When he came be. fore the Proconful, he asked him, whether he was Polycarp? he answer. ed, he' was. On which the other persuaded him to deny the faith, saying, " Reverence thy age,” with many other things of the like nature ; such as “ Swear by Cæsar's fortune, take away the wicked, &c.". On which, Polycarp, looking with a stern countenance on the multitude of Gentiles there gathered together, Thook his hand, and looking up to Heaven, faid,

" Take away the wicked.” The proconsul then urged him to swear, and to reproach Chrift; he answered, “ Eighty and fix.years have I served him, and he never did

me

[ocr errors]

me any evil; how then can I blarpheme my King and my Saviour."

The Proconful replied, “ I have wild beasts to call thee to, unless thou repent." Polycarp answered, “ Call for them then, for we Christians are not disposed to turn from good to evil.” The other added, Sceing thou despiseft the wild beasts, I will cause thee to be devoured by fire, if thou do not repent."

He replied, “ Thou threatenest me with a fire which burns for an hour, and is then at an end ; but art ignorant of that eternal fire which is prepared for the wicked. But why tarrielt thou ? bring forth what thou wilt."

Having said this, and some other things, he was filled with confidence and joy, insomuch that his very countenance was full of grace; and the Proconsul was struck with astoniihment, and fent the Cryer to proclaim three several times, that Polycarp had confessed himself a Chriflian. On which, the multitude of Jews and Gentiles cried out, “ This che Doctor of Asia, the father of the Christians, and the overthrower of our gods ; he that has tâught so many not to sacrifice, nor pay any worship to the gods.” After which they desired that a lion might be let loose against him. But being answered that it could not be done, they unanimously desired that he might be burned alive; which being agreed to, they instantly began to prepare the fuel, gathering faggots out of the baths and shops; and when all was ready, they brought him to the stake, to which they would have nailed him; but he desired them to let that alone, saying, “ He that has given me ftrength to endure the fire, will enable me to stand without nailing.” However, they tied him to it; and when he was fixed, he lified up his

eyes to Heaven, and faid, “ O Lord God Almighty, the Father of thy well-beloved and bleffed Son Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the knowledge of thee, the God of angels and powers, and of every creature, and especially, of the whole race of just

men, who live in thy presence! I give thee hearty thanks that thou haft vouchsafed to bring me to this day, that I Mould have a part in the number of thy martyrs, in the cup of thy Christ, to the resurrection of eternal life, both of foul and body, in the incorruption of the Holy Ghoft. Among which

may I be accepted this day before thee, as an acceptable sacrifice; as thou the true God, with whom is no falfhood, haft both before ordained and manifested unto me, and also haft now fulhlled it. For this, and for all things ell, I praise thee, I bless thee, I glorify thee, by the eternal and heavenly High-prieft, Jesus Christ thy beloved son ; with whom, to thee, and the Holy Ghofi, be glory both now and to all succeeding ages. Amen.

He had no fooner pronounced Amen, but they lighted the fire; and when the names began to blaze very high ; behold a wonderful miracle apo peared to us (lay the writers of the History of his Martyrdom) who had the happiness to see it, and who were reserved by heaven to report it to others ; for the flame'making a kind of arch, like the fail of a thip filled with wind, encom palied, as in a cir. cle, the body of the Martyr, who stood in the midst of it, nor as if his fiel was burnt, but like gold or silver purified in the furnace.

When his adversaries saw that his body could not be consumed, they commanded one of the fpearmen, who used to dispatch the wild bearts when chey were unruly, to run him through with his dagger ; which being done, so great a quantity of biood issued from him, as even extinguilhed the fire. When he was dead, his enemies suggested to the governor, that if he let the Chistians take

away

his body, they might poliivly forsake their crucified maller, and worllip Polycarp ; on which it was thrown into the fie, and consumed to athes, except the bones, which were by his friends décently buricu.

Thus, on the 26th of March as

some, or on the 23d of February as others afiert, Anno Dom. 167, in about the hundredth year of his life, after having been fourscore and fix years a hining ornamentto Christianity was found faithful unto death, and triumphantly entered into the joy of his Lord, the blessed Martyr St. Po. lycarp; a man, perhaps, not to be equalled by any other since his time. Oh! that the christian clergy might learn, from such an example of fidelity and diligence, to make it their meat and drink to do their master's will; the advantage of such a conduct, both to themselves and those commit. ted to their care, needs not be mentioned here : may the Lord of the harveft fend forth such labourers into the harveft!

There are two observations which naturally arise from the foregoing account. One concerning the Christian Religion in general, and the other respecting the Divinity of Christ in particular; of the truth of both which, the conduct of this great man is a most convincing proof; for, with regard to the former, it can never be imagined that a person of his abilities, who lived at the very same time with some of the first teachers thereof, could be ignorant whether those facts, on which Christianity is founded, had really a being or not; and as to his integrity, after what we have observed above, that cannot, with the least sha. dow of reason, be called in question; so that the truth of the foregoing relacion fupposes the consequence, that Christianity is what it professes itself to be, is undeniable; and as to the lat. ter, (the Divinity of Chrift) it is evident, that it was firmly believed by him, as appears from his making him the proper object of divine worship; for that he did this, is manifeft, as almost the last words that ever he spoke were a solemn Doxology to him together with the Father; and that this was the practice of the rest of his brethren as well as him, is evident from the plain testimony of the enemies of the Christian Faish, who ex

preft their apprehensions, left the wor. ship of Christ Mould be transferred to Polycarp ; and therefore, as our Saviour's divinity was an article of Chriftianity at that time, the conclusion is apparent; as a general persuasion of this kind was im poffible, on any other supposition than that of its having been set on foot by the Apostles.

There is an Epiftle of St. Polycarp remaining, which on account of its excellency, we shall here subjoin. The Epiftle of St. POLYCARP to the

Philippians. Polycarp, and the Presbyters that are

with him, to the church of God, which is at Philippi; mercy unto you and peace, from God Almighty; and the Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour, be multiplied.

I rejoiced greatly with you in our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye received the images of a true love, and accompanied, as it behoved you, those who were in bonds becoming faints, which are the crowns of such as are truly chosen by God our Lord; as also, that the root of the faith, which was preached from ancient times, remains firm in you to this day, and brings forth fruit to our Lord Jesus Chrilt, who suffered himself to be brought even to the death for our sins; whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death ; whom, having not leen, ye love;, in whom, though.. now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy, unspeakable, and full of glory. Into which many defire to enter; knowing that by grace ye are saved, not by works but by the will of God, through Jesus Chrift.

Wherefore, girding up the loins of your mind, serve the Lord with fear and truth, laying aside all empty and vain speech, and the error of many; believing in him that raised up our Lord Jelus Christ from the dead, and hath given him giory, and a throne at his right hand; to whom all things are made subject, both that are in heaven and in earth, whom every liv. ing creaware thall worship; who shall

come

« AnteriorContinuar »