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CONTENTS.

PAGE

An English Squire . . . . . . . . . . . . 36, 129, 234, 329, 442, 545
A Native of the Society Islands .............
An Untrained Governess . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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French Literature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84

Casimir Delavigne . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 169

Lamartine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 391, 509
Influence of India on Englishwoinen .............. 405

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Night and Day .......
Note-Book of an Elderly Lady ..............

198283
218, 419

One Tragedy Averted by Another ............... 499

Passion Play . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 383, 436
Paul Seignerat, Hostage of the Commune ............ 596
Poetry :-

Captive Child . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 323
Heroism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 512
Easter Eve . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 313
Maundy Thursday . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 209
Mary by the Cross . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 210
Veni Creator . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 417
Waiting for Help · · · · · · · ·

... . . . . · · · · · · · · · · · · · · 590
Pool of Bethesda . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 433

301034

THE

MONTHLY PACKET

OF

EVENING READINGS
Jor Members of the English Church.

JANUARY, 1880.

CHAPTERS ON EARLY CHURCH HISTORY.

BY CECILIA MACGREGOR.

CHAPTER XIII. AURELIUS had commenced his reign by associating his adopted brother Lucius Verus with him in the government. Verus proved wholly incompetent to direct the affairs over which he nominally presided, while some were found to insinuate that, intoxicated by his lieutenant's successes, he dreamt that he could govern the Empire alone, and actually intrigued to overthrow his colleague and patron.*

At the outbreak of the war against the Parthians, Aurelius sent Verus to the east, but he remained at Antioch during almost the whole of the campaign, and only crossed the Euphrates once. After four years Verus returned, bearing the trophies of victory, but, at the same time, the seeds of a calamity which bore fruits of disaster outweighing all the barren honours of his triumph. A fearful pestilence, aggravated doubtless in its effects by the long continued famine, ravaged the countries from Ethiopia to Gaul : it raged with incredible fury, carrying off innumerable victims, among whom were numbered some of the most illustrious men in Rome and the principal cities of Italy. Amongst either the good or great, Verus certainly cannot be included. In his case the proverb, 'Sibi quisque peccat,' came literally true, for, on returning home, he fell sick of the plague, and died at Altinum, in Venetia, A.D. 169. Aurelius can scarcely have regretted the decease of so unworthy a colleague.

It is related that, on one occasion, the Emperor and his soldiers found themselves surrounded by the enemy in far superior numbers. Their position was a critical one, as the Quadi had seized every outlet and cut off all their supplies of water, and soon they would have been forced to succumb to the mere effects of heat and thirst; for, though offering a stubborn resistance, they were reduced to the greatest distress. A legion of Christian soldiers then knelt down and prayed ;

* See Merivale's History of the Romans under the Empire. VOL. 29.

PART 169,

from that moment the clouds gathered and refreshing rain fell, with which they slaked their own thirst and that of their horses. The name of Fulminatrix, or Thundering, was given to the legion whose prayers had been the means of saving the Emperor, A.D. 174. · Writing thirty years afterwards, Tertullian says :- Marcus Aurelius also, in his expedition to Germany, by the prayers his soldiers offered to God, got rain in that well-known thirst. When, indeed, have not droughts been put away by our kneelings and fastings?' And Claudius Apollinaris, Bishop of Hierapolis, who wrote an apology to the Emperor Marcus Aurelius about A.D. 176, to which Eusebius refers, bears witness to a remarkable answer to prayer received a year or two before by the Christian soldiers of that Emperor's army. S. Cyprian also, in the middle of the third century, seems to allude to this history in the following words :-'We always ask and pour out our prayers for driving away enemies and for obtaining showers.'

The calamities that had happened to the Empire during the joint government of Aurelius and Verus had been ascribed by the heathen priests to the Christians, for they had sought in vain to propitiate their own gods by celebrating every sacred rite. In the time of Aurelius the laws of Trajan were still existing, and a violent persecution of the Christians took place in the south of Gaul.

The aged Pothinus, Bishop of Lyons, was one of the victims of the rescript that had been issued, which commanded that those who refused to sacrifice to the gods should be punished with various kinds of torment. Though he was nearly worn out with age and infirmities, S. Pothinus rejoiced that he had lived to this time that he might suffer for his Master Christ before he went to bis rest. He was dragged by soldiers before the beathen magistrates of the town, and as he passed along the people reviled him.

The Governor asked the Bishop, 'Who is the God of the Christians ?' Pothinus answered, “If thou be worthy thou shalt know.'

After this he was shamefully handled by all about him; they threw stones at him, and at last dragged him, hardly alive, into prison, where he died after two days.

The constancy of Maturus, Attalus of Pergamos, and Blandina, a slave, was also tried by cruel tortures ; Blandina, remaining to the last upon the arena, which was covered with the bodies of the other martyrs who, with her, bore testimony to their faith. Even the heathen were obliged to own that they had never seen a woman suffer so many or such cruel torments. But not even death itself could protect the martyrs from the fury of their enemies.

The bodies of those who died in prison were thrown to the dogs, great care being taken that the Christians should not withdraw them from these animals and give them burial.

M. Gustave Doré's picture of the Martyrs in the Amphitheatre will, no doubt, have brought the victims of these early persecutions vividly

wo days.

before many of us. The stone seats of the amphitheatre are empty, the cruel, trifling, pleasure-loving crowd have passed from the spot, the stern impassive Imperator or Prefect or Consul is gone, yet the sufferers are not alone. He Who is ever watchful of them, in Whose cause they have laid down their lives, sends His Angels to carry their souls to rest.

Irenæus succeeded S. Pothinus as Bishop of Lyons during the last quarter of the second century. Eusebius states that he was sent, while yet a presbyter, with a letter from some members of the Church of Lyons to Eleutherius, Bishop of Rome. A letter has been preserved from the martyrs to the Bishop in which they render a flattering testimony to his zeal and virtue. These holy men thus recommended S. Irenæus : “We have desired our dear brother and colleague, Irenæus, to carry this letter unto you. We commit him to your care, and we entreat you to esteem him as a person that hath very much zeal for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If we believed that his dignity would add anything to his worth, we would have recommended him to you in quality of a priest ; but he is much more recommendable for his zeal and piety.

The principal work of S. Irenæus that has come down to us is his refutation of the Gnostic system, in five books. Irenæus makes a strong use of the argument of tradition in support of the Apostolical doctrino as against the new heresies, but his efforts in this direction represent but a small part of his labours and thought. Amongst the young men who gathered around him was one Hippolytus, whom he inspired with a thirst for Christian knowledge, and who afterwards became a Bishop, and took an important place amongst the writers of the third century.

The heresies which had arisen up to this time offered a confused medley of philosophy and mythology, mixed up with the dogmas of the Christian religion. S. Irenæus applied himself so diligently to the study of the system of the ancient philosophers and the fables of paganism, that it is said of him that he surpassed in his knowledge of their different features all those who lived in his age of the Church. Through S. Pothinus the faith had already penetrated to the different provinces of Gaul, when S. Irenæus was made Bishop, probably about A.D. 177. In his opposition to the Gnostics S. Irenæus had first to combat a heresy; his powers of controversy were next called upon in antagonism to a schism, which threatened to separate a portion of the Christian world from the communion of its most influential Church.

There had been a difference in very early times, and indeed from the beginning, between the Churches of Asia Minor, Syria and Mesopotamia on the one hand, and the rest of the Christian world on the other, with regard to the keeping of Easter; the former Churches keeping it at the Jewish Passover, upon whatever day of the week it happened to fall, whilst the others united in keeping it upon a Sunday. The inconvenience of the discrepancy had been felt in the time of S. Polycarp.

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