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If it be a crime, why do you not forthwith dispatch the man who pleads guilty to the charge? If it be no crime, why do you pursue the innocent with vexatious prosecutions? If I denied your charge, then, indeed, you might legally and fairly put me to the torture: If I endeavoured to conceal the crime whereof you accuse me, by trick and doubling; if I declined owning what lam; if I did not plainly and clearly acknowledge that I am no worshipper of your gods, you would then have a fair occasion against me. But you have abundant witnesses of my confessing your charge against me: I own myself a christian before thousands of you ;* and by such acknowledgment, I reject, and
• This good confession Cyprian again witnessed immediately before his execution :—" The arrival of the Proconsul was announced, and this venerable servant of Christ was brought before him into the judgmenthall. "Are you Thascius Cyprian?" "I am." "Are you He whom the christians call their Bishop?" "I am." "Our Princes have ordered you to worship the gods." "That I will not do." "You would judge better to consult your safety, and not to despise the gods." "My safety and my strength is Christ the Lord, whom I desire to serve for ever." "I pity your case," says the Proconsul, "and could wish to consult for you." "1 have no desire," says the prelate, "that things should be otherwise with me, than that I may adore my God, and hasten to him with all the ardour of my soul; for the afflictions of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." The Proconsul grew red with anger; and immediately pronounced sentence of death in the following terms :—" You have lived sacrilegiously a long time; you have formed a society of impious conspirators ; you have shown yourself an enemy to the gods and their religion, and have not hearkened to the equitable counsels of our princes; you have ever been a father and a ringleader of the impious sect—You shall, therefore, be an example to the rest,—that, by the shedding of your blood, they may learn their duty. Let Thascius Cyprian, who refuses to sacrifice to the gods, be put to death by the sword." "God be praised," said the martyr; and while they were leading him away, a multitude of the people followed and cried,—" Let us die with our holy Bishop."—Milner.
as far as in me lies, I overthrow your gods, and the whole scheme of your worship and religion. Whilst I am therefore thus frank and open, why are you so mean and so ungenerous as to make your attack upon my weakest part, and to begin your dispute with the frailties of my flesh? Turn your arms, for shame, against a fitter enemy; try your skill upon my mind, my soul, my reasoning powers; see if you can make any impression there, or gain the least advantage over my faith.
5. What stupidity therefore is it, and blindness of heart, to reject the overtures made for bringing you out of darkness into light? What madness for those who are entangled in the chains of eternal death, to refuse the offers of eternal life? To hear, without concern, those menaces of God, saying; "He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the Lord only, he shall be utterly destroyed." And again: "They worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made; and the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself; therefore forgive them not." Wherefore, then, do you bow down and humble yourself to false gods? Why do you slavishly bend your body in honour to silly images, and the work of men's hands? God hath made you upright; to other animals he hath given indeed a different shape and figure, and made them to look downwards upon the earth; but your posture was formed erect, and your countenance designed for looking up to God. To him therefore look up, as you were made to do; seek him in his holy habitation, which is in the highest heavens. That you may avoid the damnation of hell, lift up your heart and your thoughts to heaven. Wherefore should you lie groveling upon the ground, in the way to ruin, with the serpent which first beguiled you? Why will you accompany the devil in his destruction, and be content to fall with him, and by him? Why should you not rather preserve yourself upright, as God hath made you; and let your mind resemble the posture and figure assigned to your body? Know first yourself, and consider the just dignity of your being, that thence you may acquaint yourself with God, and pay him his proper honours. Forsake those idols which owe their original to human art and invention. Turn unto the true God, who will hear and help you, whenever you humbly ask it of him. Believe in Christ, the Son of God, sent by his Father to make us alive unto him. Desist from your injurious persecutions of those who profess themselves the servants of God and Christ, and whose cause will one day be avenged by them: This apprehension is indeed the reason why we never make any resistance when your officers take us into custody; and though our numbers are great, and we are consequently able to make our adversaries very sensible of our resentments; yet we bear all your violence and injustice, without the least return to it.
6. It is indeed our entire dependence upon the providence of God who will own and avenge our cause, which encourages us to bear with patience the most injurious treatment. Upon this foundation good men are content to yield to wicked; and they who are guiltless of any crime, acquiesce in punishments and torments, upon an assurance that whatever they suffer, shall have in due time its proper vindication; and that the more unjust or grievous their adversaries' usage of them shall be, such in proportion will be the vengeance taken for it. And indeed an instance can scarce be named wherein the men of our persuasion have suffered from the malice and cruelty of their enemies, but that at the same time the justice of God hath visibly attended and repaid the oppressor. To say nothing of examples long since past, wherein the vengeance of God hath appeared on the behalf of his faithful worshippers, we have an instance, fresh in memory, of a great and sudden relief vouchsafed us, by the utter ruin* of those princes who shewed themselves so
• The persecution ot the Christians within the Roman Empire, though designed to appease the anger of the gods, and to prevent the devastations of the Barbarians, was, nevertheless, succeeded by dreadful irruptions of the Goths. Decius, opposing them in person, obtained a decisive victory; but, having resolved to pursue it, he was led into a defile by the treachery of his own General. In this disadvantageous situation he first saw his son killed with an arrow, and soon after his whole army put to rout. Resolving therefore not to survive his loss, he put spurs to his horse, and instantly plunging into a quagmire, was swallowed up, and his body could never after be found.
much our enemies, and by the mighty loss at that time sustained of soldiery, treasure, and all sorts of military provisions. And let no one think that this was an event which happened by chance, or in the common course of things, since it is so expressly said in holy scripture, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.'' And again the Holy Ghost hath cautioned us to the following purpose: "Say not thou, I will recompense evil, but wait on the Lord, and he shall save thee." From all which it is evident that the mischiefs complained of, and supposed very justly to proceed from the wrath of the offended deity, come not upon mankind through any fault of ours, but are really designed for our defence and vindication.
7. And let it be no objection to the preceding remark, that Christians have, themselves, some share of those calamities which I have asserted to come upon the world for their vindication; for the afflictions of this life are grievous and terrible to those chiefly who have no prospect of happiness or of enjoyment out of it. Well may he lament and mourn for those pressures and distresses which he suffers here, who hath no resources of comfort hereafter; whose greatest views and designs from life must be here, or no where, answered; who reckons much upon the little felicities wherewith this short and mutable state of things can furnish him, and hath no expectation but of pain and punishment beyond it. Whereas they feel not the