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of prosperity, there were then in the ranks of professors certain men who bore the Christian name, but were destitute of saving grace. Under fear of punishment, some of these surrendered the sacred volume to its destroyers; but they were at once branded as traitors to the truth. A compromise was attempted in some cases, by substituting other writings in place of the Scriptures; and such magistrates as were disposed to administer the edict with leniency gladly accepted these without farther inquiry. Prudence, combined with fortitude, was displayed by the majority; while the more enthusiastic boldly declared that they would never place the precious Book in the hands of its destroyers, and braved the consequences.
Had it been possible to execute this decree, the ruin of Christianity would have become, merely, a work of time. The truth was engraven on the memory, and treasured up in the hearts, of not a few but it must soon have been mixed with human ideas; and, in the absence of the authoritative record, bearing the image and superscription of God, must have perished. Such a result, however, was impossible. The Head of the church would, certainly, retain faithful servants to guard His own word in its completeness and integrity. And, were not the enemies of the sacred Book more blind on that matter than on any other, they would see that its preservation, in defiance of so many systematic attempts to destroy it, is an evidence of its Divine and imperishable excellency.
The church furnished many examples of noble endurance. The results of the imperial decree were sufficient to convince its authors that they had entered upon a vain and fruitless enterprise; but, in their infatuation, all served but to add fuel to their wrath. A fire in the imperial palace was attributed to the Christians, as an act of revenge. The charge could be believed by those only who desired some pretext of legality for their murderous proceedings. While the origin of the calamity remains unknown, there is quite as much probability that the torch was applied by the hand of the savage Galerius as by that of the most highly incensed Christian.
The occasion of political disturbances in Armenia and Syria was eagerly taken as affording a plausible reason for continuing this course of repression. The clergy were regarded as the heads of the disaffected party; and a third edict appeared, which was directed especially against them, and required that all members of their order should be thrown into prison. In a very short space of time the prisons were crowded with ministers of the Gospel, who had the choice of liberty on condition of sacrificing to the gods. In the year 304 a fourth and more rigorous decree was issued, which "extended the same injunction to the whole body of Christians." Public proclamation was made, ordering all the people to repair to the temples. Every individual was summoned by name; all who passed the gates of the cities were subjected to a strict examination; and every one found to be a Christian was taken into safe keeping. Though many of the Pagans sought to conceal their friends from the fury of the stern persecutors, the empire streamed with blood. The enemies of Jesus
waited in anticipation of full success, and claimed, in addition to all their other merits, "the glory of having extinguished the Christian superstition, and restored the worship of the gods."
In one part of the empire was found Constantius Chlorus, wearing the imperial purple,-a man whose heart was averse from these ferocious measures. A show of compliance with the edicts of his colleagues was needful; but the Christians under his immediate rule in the west enjoyed comparative freedom from the scourge of persecution. On the other hand, there was added to the number of the Cæsars a man as blindly superstitious, as thoroughly heathenish, and as cruel, as Galerius himself. Maximinus showed himself an adept in the meanest and the fiercest arts of persecution. A more imperative command was addressed to all the officers of the government, requiring the restoration of the decayed and forsaken temples, and enjoining that all classes of persons should be compelled to unite in the worship to be there celebrated. An instruction was added, that all the provisions in the markets should be sprinkled with the water or wine which had been used in the temple-services; with a view to force the Christians into contact with Pagan offerings. A multitude were condemned to the mines in Palestine; and many others were relieved of protracted sufferings by the band of the executioner. Notwithstanding this outburst of fury, tranquillity prevailed in the west; and in 311 appeared an edict which terminated the sanguinary conflict between the Christian church and the Roman power. The wretched man who had been the author of the persecution, now in extreme physical suffering, retired from the contest, with the avowal that he had only sought to uphold the religion of his ancestors, from which the Christians had apostatized; but, as his efforts had failed, he extended his clemency to them, and required them to implore the blessing of "their God" upon himself and the empire.
In this wasting persecution the disciples in Palestine suffered much. Eusebius gives a short account of some of their martyrs, and signifies his intention to prepare a fuller narrative of the cases of those who were known to himself. This detailed account seems to have been lost for many centuries, though it is evident that some had access to particulars which are not found in the "History." Those who take an interest in such questions are greatly indebted to the indefatigable Cureton, who has discovered the missing account in those ancient documents which compose the "Nitrian Manuscripts" in the British Museum. The manuscript which Dr. Cureton has translated and edited is a Syriac copy, and bears marks of great antiquity, having been transcribed "as early as the year of our Lord 411." "The preservation of this work, in its complete state up to the present time, in the Syriac," says the learned editor, "is chiefly due to the circumstance of its having been transported, at a very early period, to the Syrian monastery in the solitude of the Nitrian Desert, where the dryness of the climate kept the vellum from decay, and the idleness and ignorance of the monks saved the volume from being worn out and destroyed by frequent use."
The style does not comply with modern requirements; but there is much that is beautiful and affecting in the simple narrative which this eye-witness gives. Some of the confessors and martyrs whom he commemorates exhibited, it is true, a spirit which cannot be approved; but their deep sense of the cruelty which was inflicted upon themselves, and upon those whom they tenderly loved, must be accepted in apology for occasional asperity of feeling. We are quite sure of the sympathy of our readers, while inspecting the narrative, and making ourselves acquainted with these heroes of early times. Suffering under any circumstances moves the heart of a Christian; but suffering" for righteousness' sake" commands his special and profound interest. He gathers instruction from examples of constancy, and exults in the multiplying evidence of the power of a Divine religion to sustain the soul in the last alarms. Many have boldly surrendered life in other causes; but the death of the Christian martyr has its own characteristics. These are found in the absence of stoical indifference to life, and of violent resistance to "the powers that be;" but especially in the earnest prayer for blessing upon his murderers. It is Christianity alone than can achieve this victory over the natural desire for revenge, and subdue its enemies by the meekness and constancy of its suffering disciples.
(To be concluded.)
MEMOIR OF JOHN LOMAS, ESQ.,
OF OXFORD-ROAD, MANCHESTER:
BY THE REV. WILLIAM B. POPE.
DEATH has within the last three years been rapidly breaking up the little circle of veterans who formed a link between the third generation of Manchester Methodists and the first. Upon that earliest generation, with their strongly marked characters and earnest work, the biography of Dr. Bunting has lately thrown a clear and steady light; and all its readers are waiting to see the same graphic skill exerted upon their successors,-men who followed their fathers not unworthily, and who have now nearly all joined them in heaven. Meanwhile, the following brief memorials of one of the company will have their own interest, not a little enhanced by the interest which has thus been awakened. Brief these memorials will necessarily be; for the subject of them took care to have it so. As long as he lived, he loved nothing better than to read the records of Christian life and death, as this serial presents them in a succession which, by the grace of God, never fails. Whatever else he might pass by, he never passed by these. But he did not contemplate his own appearing among them, or in any but the humblest department. He carefully suppressed every document, and obviated every inquiry, that seemed to hint that way. But the points of his good character, and the general
lessons of his consistent life and death, could not be suppressed; and one who observed him much in his latter days feels prompted to give him in this obituary a place which, if he did not desire, he certainly deserved.
JOHN LOMAS was the son of Methodists, of whom he never thought himself worthy. His parents, George and Martha Lomas, of Strangeways, Manchester, had, up to the time immediately preceding his own birth, been regular attendants on the ministry of Dr. Bayley, of St. James's church; exact in discharging all human obligations, and exceedingly punctilious in waiting upon all Divine ordinances. Shortly before the date just indicated, Mrs. Lomas was severely afflicted; and, finding then that some flaw in her religion made it insufficient, formed a resolution to begin a life of more entire devotion. Not knowing as yet the secret of this deeper godliness, it pleased the Holy Spirit to reveal it to her through the casual ministry of Dr. Clarke. As Lydia's prepared heart was opened, so was hers. While the word concerning Christ was entering her ears, she beheld her Saviour with a new vision; and the peace of faith entered her soul, never to leave it again. The gentle "conversation" of the wife soon afterwards won her husband "without the word." Through her influence, he passed from a life of comparative vanity to one of thorough and even unusual seriousness. He likewise sought the Lord in earnest; but did not attain then that unclouded vision of the face of God in Christ which had made his wife happy. Perhaps he never attained it this side of the veil; for the tradition of his piety is that of an experience always vibrating between assurance and doubt, and liable sometimes to fits of almost unbelieving depression. Withal, (and there is no paradox in this,) he retained the geniality of his disposition,-at least, in the presence of his fellow-men. His house was still filled with company; but the guests were different, and among them all none were more welcome, none more frequent, than the ministers of Christ's word. He filled, before he died, most of the offices in the Society. He was the treasurer of many public charities; and, while administering them, never forgot to be the almoner of his own bounty, which was great, but secretly dispensed. He died in faith, although carrying a somewhat anxious countenance into the other world, where, doubtless, full assurance awaited him; leaving his widow to children who never forgot their duty to her age and excellence. Of her nothing more need be said, than that during her widowhood she led a life as lovely as religion could make it. All her children have borne witness, in their lives, to the thoroughness of her Christian training; but none more decidedly than the subject of this memoir, who was exceedingly like her both in person and character.
These excellent Methodists lived in that transition-time when the mother-church and Methodism the daughter had not yet agreed to live in separate houses, and renounce, as a rule, all intercourse. The daughter, it must be granted by all, was at that time exceedingly filial. Many Methodist families were trained to love the old communion, to blend their new devotions with its well-known forms, and,
in fact, to regard their Methodism only in the light of an auxiliary. Mr. Lomas's family was one of these. He did not encourage the spirit of separation in his recoil from bigotry, he allowed his children rather more than the common latitude. Hence his descendants are now divided into two sections; not, indeed, divided in affection, or without deep mutual respect and true Christian fellowship, but divided in their public worship.
John, the fourth son, transmitted their Methodism. He was born at Strangeways, on the 19th of September, 1787; and received the rudiments of a sound education from the father of Dr. Clarke, who himself subsequently gave the lad, in company with a few others, the benefit of some finishing lessons. The results of this rather liberal training appeared, as his son writes, "not in any very high literary tastes, but in the power to appreciate the mental resources of others; in a considerable aptitude and keenness in criticizing a sermon; and especially in a passion for reading, which continued with him down. to the last." He remained with his father (one of the first printers of calico) until his twenty-third year, when he entered into partnership with the late Mr. Joshua Rea. Two years afterwards he married a daughter of Mr. John Walker, of Mereclough-Bottom, near Halifax. Not much, however, is known, or worth recording, until we reach the period of his conversion, when, as he himself used to date it, his real life began.
Always exact in his attendance on the services of the church, he was unblamably "moral," as measured by any human standard. But it was not until his twenty-seventh year that he became decidedly in earnest about his highest interests. At that time, it pleased God to use the instrumentality of two painful events-one following and confirming the impression of the other-in opening his eyes to a spiritual world, and bringing him to a spiritual life.
All who knew him intimately will remember with what emotion he used to describe his return from a watchnight-service in OldhamStreet chapel, 1815; the intelligence that met him on his way, that his warehouse was on fire; and how, arriving at the premises, he found that the entire contents of the building had been either destroyed by the flames, or ruined by water, or carried off by thieves. This was a stern lesson for a young man just beginning to thrive in the world, and in danger, perhaps, of thinking too highly of his prosperity. Soon afterwards he was travelling in Yorkshire, when, while musing on this calamity, he heard of the death of a dear friend. His decision was at once and irrevocably made: "God" had "spoken once; yea, twice;" and the young man now perceived His meaning. There is a particular point in the road between Wakefield and Leeds, which was always sacred in his mind as the place where God first appeared to him in mercy. Three times every year, through a long life, his business led him to that spot,--where he was wont to uncover his head, and bless the hour of his salvation.
No sooner had he returned from that journey than he joined the Methodist Society, becoming a member of the class conducted by the