Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

from the village, darting down from above on his back, and rising in a perpendicular line in perfect security. This bird also will sound the alarm, and strike at cats when they climb on the roofs of houses, or otherwise approach the nests. Each species of hirundo drinks as it flies along, sipping the surface of the water ; but the swal. low alone, in general, washes on the wing, by dropping into a pool for many times together : in very hot weather, house-martens and bank-martens dip and wash a little.

The swallow is a delicate songster, and in soft, sunny weather, sings both perching and flying ; on trees in a kind of concert, and on chimney-tops; is also a bold flier, ranging to distant downs and commons, even in windy weather, which the other species seem much to dislike; nay, even frequenting exposed seaport towns, and making little excursions over the salt water. Horsemen on wide downs are often closely attended by a little party of swal. lows for miles together, which plays before and behind them, sweeping around, and collecting all the skulking insects that are roused by the trampling of the horses’ feet. When the wind blows hard, without this expedient, they are often forced to settle to pick up their lurking prey.- White's Natural History of Selborne.

147

BIOGRAPHY.

Si. IGNATIUS.

He was a good man, one in whose breast the true spirit of religion did eminently dwell; a man of very moderate and mortified affections, in which sense he doubtless intended that famous saying, so much celebrated by the ancients, “ My love is crucified;" that is (for to that purpose he explains it in the very words that follow), his appetites and desires were crucified to the world, and all the lusts and pleasures of it. We may, with St. Chrysostom, consider him in a threefold capacity, as an Apostle, a Bishop, and a Martyr. As an Apostle (in the larger acceptation of the word, he being, as the Greek offices style him, “ the immediate successor of the Apostles,”) he was careful to diffuse and propagate the genuine doctrine which he had received of the Apostles, and took a kind of general care of all Churches. Even in his passage to Rome he surveyed (as Eusebius tells us) the Dioceses, or Churches, that belonged to all the cities whither he came; confirming them by his sermons and exhortations, and directing epistles to several of the principals for their further order and establishment in the faith. As a Bishop, he was a diligent, faithful, and industrious pastor, infinitely careful of his charge; which, though so exceedingly vast and numerous, he prudently instructed, governed, and superintended, and that in the midst of dangerous and troublesome times, above forty years together. He had a true and unchangeable love for his people; and when ravished from them in order to his martyrdom, there was not any Church to whom he wrote, but he particularly begged their prayers to God for his Church at Antioch; and of some of them desired that they would send a divine ambassador thither, on purpose to comfort them, and to congratulate their happy deliverance from the persecution. And because he knew that the prosperity of the Church and the good of souls were no less undermined by heresy from within, than assaulted by violence and persecution from

without, he had a peculiar eye to that, and took all occasions of warning the Church to beware of heretics and seducers, those beasts in the shape of men, whose wild notions and evil manners began even then to debase religion, and corrupt the simplicity of the faith. Indeed, he duly filled up all the measures of a wise governor, and an excellent guide of souls : and St. Chrysostom runs through the particular characters of the Bishop delineated by St. Paul, and finds them all accomplished and made good in him. With so generous a care (says he), so exact a diligence did he preside over the flock of Christ, even to the making good what our Lord describes, as the utmost pitch and line of episcopal fidelity, “ to lay down his life for the sheep;" and this he did with all courage and fortitude; which is the last consideration we shall remark concerning him.

As a martyr he gave the highest testimony to his fidelity, and to the truth of that religion which he both preached and practised. He gloried in his sufferings as his honour and his privilege, and looked upon chains as his jewels and his ornaments : he was raised above either the love or fear of the present state, and could with as much ease and freedom (says Chrysostom) lay down his life, as another man could put off his clothes. The truth is, his soul was strangely inflamed with a desire of martyrdom; he wished every step of his journey to meet with the wild beasts that were prepared for him. And though the death he was to undergo was most savage and barbarous, and dressed up in the most horrid and frightful shapes, enough to startle the firmest resolution, yet could they make no impression (as the Greeks say of him,) upon his impregnable adamantine mind, any more than the dashes of a wave upon a rock of marble. “Let the fire,” said he, “and the cross, and the assaults of wild beasts, the breaking of bones, cutting of limbs, battering the whole body in pieces, yea, and all the torments which the devil can invent, come upon me, so I may but attain to be with Jesus Christ ;” professing he thought it much better to die for Christ, than to live and reign the sole monarch of the world. Expressions certainly of a mighty zeal, and a divine passion wound up to its highest note. And yet, after all, this excellent person was humble to the lowest step of abasement.Cave.

RIDLEY.

The evening before his martyrdom, Ridley prepared himself for his departure with joy and triumph. He washed himself, and invited his friends and relations to be present at his “marriage” in the morning. His discourse melted into tears one of his most obdurate enemies who was present. Ridley said, “ You love me not now, I see well enough ; for in that you weep, it doth appear you will not be at my marriage, neither be content therewith. But quiet yourself; though my breakfast shall be somewhat sharp and painful, yet I am sure my supper shall be more pleasant and sweet.”

In the morning he approached the place of execution, arrayed in a handsome black gown; and as he passed the prison of Bocardo, he looked to the chamber where Archbishop Cranmer was imprisoned, hoping to have seen and spoken to him ; but he was engaged in disputing with Friar Soto and others : but shortly behind him he saw and spoke to Latimer, who came clad in his shroud, to be ready for the fire. When they came to the spot, he ran to Latimer with a joyful countenance, embraced and kissed him, and comforted him, saying, “Be of good heart, brother; for God will either assuage the fury of the flame, or else strengthen us to abide it.” Then, turning to the stake, he kissed it, and kneeling down, prayed earnestly, as did Latimer likewise. Then rising, they conferred together for a little while. Dr. Smith preached the sermon usual on such occasions, to which the martyrs besought permission to reply; but were informed, that unless they recanted, they should not speak. “Well,” replied the illustrious martyr, “so long as the breath is in my body, I will never deny my Lord Christ and His known truth. God's will be done in me.” He then said, with a loud voice, “I commit my cause to Almighty God, Who will judge all indifferently.”

They were then ordered to make ready for burning, which they mildly obeyed. Ridley gave away several small things to persons standing by, many of whom were weeping. Latimer now stood in his shroud; and he who before, in an old coat and cap, seemed a withered and crooked old man, now roused to play the man, stood upright, and appeared a venerable and comely person. Ridley, standing in his shirt at the stake, lifted up his hands toward heaven, and prayed, “O heavenly Father, I give unto thee most hearty thanks for that thou hast called me to be a professor of thee even unto death. I beseech thee, Lord God, take mercy upon the realm of England, and deliver the same from all her enemies.” Then the smith fastened an iron chain round the bodies of both the martyrs, tying them to the stake. A faggot was now lighted, and laid at Ridley's feet, when Latimer said, “ Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man. We shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as, I trust, shall never be put out.” When Ridley saw the fire flaming towards him, he cried with an exceeding loud voice, “Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit; O Lord, receive my spirit.” Latimer, on the other side, exclaimed, “O Father of heaven, receive my soul.” Then he received the flame, as if he were embracing it, and soon died, with but little appearance of pain.

But Ridley had to undergo dreadful and lingering tortures; for the fire on his side was so smothered by the quantity of faggots, that his legs were slowly consumed, while he cried to his tormentors to “let the fire come at him.” But in all his agony, he still called on God, “ Lord, have mercy upon me.” At length the faggots were removed by one of the by-standers; and when the tortured martyr saw the fire flaming up, he wrenched him. self to that side. And when the flame reached a bag of gunpowder which hung round his neck, he was seen to stir no more, but burned on the other side, and either from the chain loosing, or by the overpoise of his body after his legs were consumed, he fell over the chain, down at Latimer's feet.

Thus died this illustrious martyr-or rather, thus did he enter eternal life ; and it may be said with truth, that never, since the days of the apostles, was there a nobler manifestation of Christian faith and heroism. It was worthy of the brightest days of the primitive Church ; and not even Polycarp, in the amphitheatre of Smyrna, exceeded the glory of Nicholas Ridley.-Palmer's History of the Church.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »