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sand soldiers, refused to assist at a sacrifice, or to take the required oath for the extirpation of Christianity in Gaul, was decimated at the order of Maximian. Still they persisted, professing themselves in the most dutiful terms ready to obey the emperor next to their God, but not before Him; and again every tenth man was put to the sword. The second severity produced no effect; and the whole body, true to their allegiance, even while compelled by conscience to disobey, quietly submitted to the death to which they were consigned. I was unacquainted with their tenets; I had disliked them for their singularity, but I could not but admire their calm determination, and wonder at the impolicy of the emperor, in thus destroying the best and most trusty portion of his army."
“Ah! is it so short a time since you were there? Then you must have heard of Lucius, a relative of Diocletian, and one of the most brilliant of his court. He was an intimate associate of mine. I have said that I had a sister: he loved her. Sophronia.--"
“Sophronia!” exclaimed Alban; "the beautiful Christian be. headed by Diocletian for refusing to become the wife of Lucius?"
“ The same; you have then heard her history? It was much talked of in Rome, and Lucius blamed more than he deserved. It is true, he would have availed himself of the tyranny of Diocletian, but he knew that it was her religion alone, to him a superstitious weakness, which rejected him; and when he found her indeed to suffer, I believe he would have sacrificed his own life to preserve hers. It was the day before that 'on which she was condemned to die, that I was admitted to visit my sister. We were orphans: we had been companions from childhood; and, as then we had sat together over our tasks, and together, when they were finished, flown out like freed birds to range in the extensive gardens of our uncle, so, when we grew older, had each continued to share in the joys and sorrows of the other. I ought to have strengthened her resolution, but I did not: I attempted to shake it. I besought her, by all the arguments I could enforce, to yield. I entreated her to have compassion upon herself, upon me, upon the distracted Lucius. Sophronia,” said I, “if it were upon a man hateful, or even indifferent to you, that they would force you to bestow yourself, I would not seek to persuade you to it; but, Sophronia, you love Lucius.”
The face of Sophronia was buried in her hands, yet her slender fingers hid not the deep flush that crimsoned her lofty brow. It was but momentary, she raised her head, and the white marble
statue is not more colourless than was her cheek, or scarcely more calm. “I do love him,” she said; “I had not thought to confess it, except to God; but listen, Amphibalus, and I will tell you all—my folly, my weakness, and my deserved punishment. Lucius admired me, and I was flattered by his open and avowed admiration. I need not remind you how, whenever I chanced to appear in public, his attention was devoted to me; such notice was distinction, and you have enjoyed my triumph, when the proudest and noblest of the patricians have crowded to pay their homage to the poor contemned Christian. Christian ! dare I call myself by that sacred title, while encouraging dispositions so unworthy of the name ? And yet it was not mere selfish vanity that I indulged, I had higher hopes and views. We know that, let but one of the court leaders single out a peculiar deity as his favourite, and the shrine of that idol is in vogue for the
Lucius was the very arbiter of taste ; I fancied that in my person, Christianity itself was receiving honour. Already my style of dress was imitated, and at the barbarous show of the circus, the most distinguished ladies wore the veil of the Christian. My religion might become the fashion too; I need not relate the vain dreams, the wild, airy structure built upon this shallow foundation; it is enough to say that they sufficed to reconcile me to society, which I began to feel that I ought to have avoided; I trusted to my strength, and I awoke only to find that my affections were placed upon an idolater, with the still more painful, still more humiliating consciousness that I had been guilty of trifling with his. Then I searched into the depths of my divided heart, and its sinfulness stood revealed: I had sought to unite whom the Spirit of Truth has pronounced irreconcilable -I had attempted to serve both God and mammon; the time was come when I could no longer preserve even the semblance of such union; I must decide between them: You know how suddenly and completely I secluded myself. Once I saw Lucius, but not till I had implored that assistance which, erring as I had been, was yet granted me. He knelt at my feet, and I was firm -think you that the threats of Diocletian can prevail ?” She was beheaded the next day.
“And her constancy wrought a change in you ?” remarked Alban. “ It did;
I now saw in what her trial really consisted. She was a martyr without the aid of the emperor. She had cut off a right hand, plucked out a right eye,—nay, she had torn out her very heart, and cast it bleeding and quivering before the Cross of Jesus; and I felt that the faith which enabled her to do it, must be something more than a name. To the propagation of that faith, I determined to devote the remainder of my life. I was ordained by my uncle, and the good old man gave me his parting benediction with tears.
“ Amphibalus,' he said, “I know your disposition. You have spent your youth in carelessness of all religion, and in the ardour of a first conviction you would glory in being allowed to endure torments and death for the sake of Christ: but remember that martyrdom is to be suffered, not sought-suffered indeed joyfully, but not sought presumptuously; frequently do I exhort my flock to be prepared for the former; you I would rather warn against the latter. You are now a Minister of the Gospel; to stand against the temptations of the world; to go forth, and, in preaching that Gospel, stedfastly year after year, to encounter the daily hardships of a labourious and, as far as earthly distinction goes, a lowly avocation, will give a far higher proof of the depth of your devotion, than any fortitude under immediate persecution could evince. I charge you to give this proof; and as long as you can preserve life without a compromise of your faith, to preserve it for a continual offering and sacrifice unto God. Go; and may His Holy Spirit be with your efforts for the enlightening and salvation of souls,'
“I obeyed him, for conscience told me he had spoken truth. I left Rome, and pursuing the path he pointed out, have wandered to Britain ; but the arm of Diocletian is extended even here for the destruction of Christianity; orders for its suppression have arrived ; and I was flying from his officers when found and sheltered by you.”—Tales of the Martyrs. (To be continued.)
HISTORICAL ACCOUNT OF IMPORTANT PLACES
MENTIONED IN HOLY SCRIPTURE.
ARABIA. Signifying in the Hebrew, a wild or desert place, is a considerable country of Western Asia, lying south and south east of Judea. It extends 1500 miles from north to south, and 1200 from east to west. On the north it is bounded by part of Syria. On the east by the Persian gulf, and the Euphrates. On the south by the Arabian sea and the strait of Babelmandel, and on the west by the red sea. It is divided into three parts, Arabia Deserta-Arabia Petræa, and Arabia Felix.
ARABIA DESERTA has the mountains of Gilead west, and the river Euphrates east. Its inhabitants belong to the tribe of Arabs, usually called the Bedouins. In Scripture they are called Itureans, Edomites, and people of Kedar. They lead a wandering life, having no cities, houses, or fixed habitations. This will serve to illustrate Psalm cxx. 4. “Wo is me that I am constrained to dwell with Meshech, and to have my habitation among the Tents of Kedar.”
ARABIA PETRÆA lies south of the Holy Land. Petra was its original capital. This region contained the southern Edomites, the Amalekites and Cushites, sometimes called Ethiopians, all of whom are at present known under the general title of Arabians. But it is of consequence to notice the ancient inhabitants of these districts, as they are mentioned in Holy Scripture. In this country was Kadesh Barnea, Gloar, Lachish, Libnah; also Mount Sina, where the law was given to Moses.
ARABIA FELIX lay still further south, being bounded east by the Persian Gulf; south, by the Indian Ocean; and west, by the Red Sea. This region did not immediately adjoin the Holy Land, and is therefore less frequently mentioned in scripture. It is thought that the queen of Sheba who visited Solomon (1 Kings, 8. 1.) was queen of part of Arabia Felix. This country abounded with riches, and particularly with spices; and is now called Hegiay. It is much celebrated, by reason of the cities of Mecca and Medina, the birth and burial place respectively of Mahomet, being situated in it.
Arabia is generally stony, rocky, and mountainous ; principally in parts now remote from the sea, though formerly adjacent to it. The inhabitants who dwelt there before Abraham came into Canaan, are supposed to have descended from Ham. The Arabs derive their remotest origin from the Patriarch Heber, whom they call Herod, four generations before Abraham. He settled, they say, in the southern part of Arabia, and died there, B. c. 1817. They also add, that the name Arabia is derived from Jarab, one of his sons. The Arabs of the second race, claim to be descended from Ishmael, son of Abraham and Hagar, who came and settled among the former tribes. The present Bedouins are fond of tracing their descent from Ishmael, and consider their numbers, as fulfilling the promise made to Hagar, of a numerous posterity to issue from her son. Their character, too, agrees with that of their alleged progenitor, " for their hand is against every man, and every man's hand against them.” Their disposition leads them to the exercise of arms and warlike habits, to the
tending of flocks, and the taking of spoil. They despise the arts of civilized and social life; nor will they inter-marry with settled tribes, nor with the Turks, nor with the Moors, lest they should degrade their pedigree. They have but few kingdoms in which they possess absolute power, but they are governed by Princes (emirs,) and by Elders, (scheiks,) and though no where composing an Empire, yet in the whole, they are an immense multitude of men.
To us, who inhabit towns, and have fixed homes, the wandering lives of the ancient Patriarchs have a somewhat strange appearance; but among the Arabs this kind of life is customary even at this day. In Egypt, the Bedouin Arabs are distributed into little companies, each with a chief, whom they call a scheik ; they dwell always under tents, and each platoon forms a little camp. When they fix themselves anywhere, for a certain time, they make an agreement with the bey or cacheff, and purchase for a whole year the permission of cultivating a certain portion of land, or of feeding their flocks there. They continue there then very peaceably, go backwards and forwards into the villages and neighbouring towns, sell and purchase what they please, and enjoy all the liberty they can desire. But they often establish themselves in the land they occupy, and deprive, if they can, the governmentof the tax thereon. This may remind us of the mode of life of the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and so we find Abimelech jealous of Isaac's greatness :-"Go from us, for thou art mightier than we; and if we let thee stay a little longer thou wilt seize the land as thy property, and we shall lose the revenue of it.” (Gen. xxvi. 16, 27, 32.) This may also remind us of the command of Jonadab to his posterity; (Jer. xxxv. 6,) “ Ye shall not build a house, but dwell in tents all your days." Colonel Copper, in his observations on the passage to India, (1778,) thus describes an Arab encampment:-“From this hill we could plainly perceive at a distance of about three miles, an immense body of Arabs, which, as they had their families and flocks with them, looked like an encampment of the Patriarchs. They first sent out a detachment of about 400 men towards us; but, finding we were drawn up to receive them, five men only advanced from the main body, seemingly with an intention to treat. On seeing which we also sent out five of our people on foot to meet them. A short conference ensued and then both parties came to our camp, and were received with great ceremony by our Scheik; they proved to be Bedouins, under the command of Scheik Fadil, amounting together to nearly 20,000, including