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“ Of all the christian martyrs whose histories I have read, I know of none whose behaviour appears to me more worthy of attention than the persons whose sufferings I now bring before the reader; as, though they were not directly put to, death, they shewed more real fortitude of mind than those who suffered a violent death in any form. To die by the sword, by wild beasts, or by fire, requires the resolution and exertion of a few hours at most, (though certainly the most vigorous and heroic that human nature is capable of,) but the horrors of a dungeon, which these men endured, to say nothing of the dreadful punishment of the gallies, as described in this work, required the unremitted exertion of months and years.".
“In a public execution, more especially, there, are many things which contribute to raise a man's spirits, and carry him through the dreadful scene with a good grace; but solitary confinement tends to depress the mind; and, in the cases before us, it was. attended with every thing that could make men pass their time in the most comfortless and irksome manner. To them, death, in any form, must have appeared a happy deliverance. Yet those long sufferings, we see, were borne without any impatience, or a spirit of revenge, but with the greatest meekness and resignation, and with sentiments of good will, even towards those who inflicted them."
“ This circumstance it is, that shews an infinite
superiority in the behaviour of christians suffering in the cause of truth, to that of the North Ame. rican Indians, in braving torture and death. They do it without complaining, indeed, but with the most rancorous and revengeful disposition; comforting themselves with the thought of having inficted on their enemies the same torments when it was in their power, and wishing to inflict them again. They die with the feelings of a brute beast; but christians, with that dignity, which is the perfection of human nature. They who, from a hatred of christianity, give the preference to the courage of the Indians, in bearing torture and death, to that of the christian martyrs, shew their utter ignorance of every thing in which true greatness of mind, and dignity of sentiment, consist. This is discovered, not by the mere bearing of pain, but by the temper of mind with which it is borne.”
“ The reading of such works as these, besides giving us a lively idea of the power of virtuous principles, and in some measure inspiring us with them, so as to prepare us to act with the same fortitude ourselves, should we be called to it, should make us more sensible of our happiness in being exempted from such trials, and dispose us to distinguish ourselves by ACTIVE services in the cause of truth, when we are not called to do it in the way of SUFFERING. As these martyrs promoted the great cause of christian truth in the manner which their times and circumstances required, let
us do the same in ours; and though not capable of doing it in the most glorious manner possible, let us acquire all the honor that we can. If we do not give our LIVÉS, which is unquestionably of far greater value than any thing else, let us at least give our time and our LABOR.”
“When I am sitting in a cheerful room, by a comfortable fire side, with my family about me, attending, without restraint, to any pursuit of philosophy, theology, or general literature, for which I have an inclination, visited by my friends, and corresponding with whom I please; when I see the chearing rays of the sun, and the fair face of nature, and make what excursions I please, and in what manner I please, to distant places, as health, convenience, or pleasure, may require; I think of Mr. de Marolles; who, after having been accustomed to enjoy all these blessings, voluntarily incurred the loss of them all, and, without repining, thought himself abundantly recompensed by the peace of his mind, and his future prospects. How strenuously, then, should we exert ourselves to make the best use of the liberty we enjoy."
Long may Dr. Priestley live to enjoy his chearful room, his comfortable fire side, his family, and his friends, attending without restraint, to any laudable pursuit of philosophy, theology, or general literature, for which he has, or may have, an inclination, visited by his friends, and corresponding wisely with whom he pleases; long may he see
the chearing rays of the sun, and the fair face of nature, and make what excursions he will, and in what manner he will, to distant places, as health, convenience, or pleasure may require; provided such indulgence will be best for him, for those whom he visits, and for those with whom he condescends to correspond: but if I think Dr. Priestley has not hitherto made the best use of his liberty, either in England, or in America, in so thinking, I am a necessarian. Should the Dr. say, that he has always made the best use of that kind of liberty which his own principles will permit him to enjoy, I beg leave to add, I wish he may live not only to renounce what is erroneous in his own principles, but to renounce also what seems to be one of his favourite sentiments, (a sentiment by which so many have been ensnared) I mean, the supposed innocence of error.
The period in which I publish the following pages is serious, and makes a great part of this publication seasonable. It has been said, “ In no country, of equal extent with France, was there ever so much real misery produced by any of the Roman emperors, as was occasioned by Lewis the Fourteenth:” but that infidels can produce as much misery, and propagate as much delusion as catholic princes, of the most superstitious cast, is now too evident to be denied, and too alarming to be thought of with levity and unconcern.
Whatever may be the mixture of our cup, let
xxiii us take care lest at any time, or in any respect, we suffer as evil doers. Let us not suffer as too many carnal protestants formerly did in France, by being the dupes of different factions in the State, and by struggling for property and power under many specious, but inglorious pretences.
Certainly, the apostles of Christ and their genuine disciples, behaved in a very different manner, under their most tremendous trials. In things pertaining to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who had called them to glory and virtue, they were undaunted. To the rulers of this world, they said, Whether it be right in the sight of God, to hearken to you more than unto God, judge ye: for we cannot but speak the things we have heard and seen. But, at the same time, they made it manifest, that neither avarice nor ambition, dishonesty nor disorder, was connected with their proceedings. They coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel; but took joyfully the spoiling of their goods; knowing in themselves, that they had in heaven, a better and an enduring substance. For Christ's sake, they were killed all the day long; they were accounted as sheep, and not as wolves, for the slaughter; they endured hardness, as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, and rejoiced they were accounted worthy to suffer shame for his name..
-Such were the men, whose faith we are exhorted to follow, considering the end of their conversa