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Magnilian." The Emperors' command is the chief thing to be attended to, and what thou talkest of is all nothing. So give up all the books which thou hast, that they may be burnt with fire, according to the decree."
Felix." It were better that I should give up my body to the fire, than that the LORD's Scriptures should seem to be burnt by my means. For it is good to obey GoD, the immortal, everlasting King, rather than an Emperor of the world, when he commands that which is wicked to be done."
Magnilian.-"I have already told thee, that the Emperors' command is the chief thing to be regarded, and not what you talk of."
Felix.-"The chief thing is to keep the commandments of GOD, rather than to obey men."
Magnilian." I allow thee a space of three days wherein to recollect thyself. For if here, in thy own city, thou refuse to fulfil the decree, thou must go to the Proconsul, and plead before his court the things which thou hast now been saying."
After three days Magnilian, the mayor, commanded the holy Bishop, Felix, to be brought into his presence. And when he was brought in, Magnilian said, "Hast thou deliberated with thyself, and come to any better determination?"
Felix." My word is one and the same; where it began, there also by God's grace it shall finish. For the things which I said at first, the same I now also say, and before the Proconsul, I shall not utter any thing else whatever."
Magnilian." Well, then, thou shalt go straight to the Proconsul, and there give an account for thyself, as he shall examine thee."
"Inasmuch as Felix the Then he thus spoke to his men. Bishop is in no respect willing to act according to the decrees of the Emperors, which they had graciously communicated to us, let him be taken to Carthage, and do you accompany him thither."
To which Felix answered,-" GOD be praised."
Then one Vincentius, a Senator', of the city of Tubyza, was 1 Decurio, a Senator in the Colonies.
appointed to have the charge of him, and so Felix set out for Carthage.
When he was arrived there, he presented bimself before the Lieutenant of the Proconsul. And this Lieutenant said to him, “ What is thy reason for not giving up these foolish writings (Scriptures) ?”
The Bishop answered, “I confess I have them in my possession, but I will not part with them. The Scriptures which we have are not foolish, nor can they on any account be given up by us.”
Upon this the Lieutenant ordered him to be put into the dungeon. Into which when the Bishop was entered, he offered this prayer to the Lord his God," saying,
“ O Lord God! Creator and Governor of all things ! O LORD Jesu Christ! I beseech Thee, do not forsake me, seeing that for Thee and Thy Testament I suffer these things. Have pity on me, O Lord! and receive my spirit ; let my mortal body perish in this world, that according to Thy gracious promise I may be counted worthy to be clothed with immortality with Thee. For ever living in Thee, O Lord, death shall have no power against me."
But sixteen days afterwards, at the fourth hour of the night, the Bishop was brought forth from the prison, and at once introduced into the presence of Anulinus, the Proconsul,
And Anulinus said to him, “What is thy name ?”
Anulinus.-" I did not inquire concerning thy profession, but I asked by what name thou art called.”
Felix.-—" As I said before, so now I say to thee again, I am a Christian and a Bishop."
Upon this, Anulinus being angry that he had refused to tell him his name, said to him," Hast thou any foolish writings ?"
The Bishop answered,"I have some writings, but they are not foolish, as thou dost assert; and know thou for certain that I will on no account ever give them up."
Upon this the Proconsul ordered that he should be sent off to Rome, to the Prefect of the Guard.
When Felix the Bishop had come thither, and had presented himself before the Prefect, he ordered that he should be taken to prison, and bound with greater chains.
But after twelve days, the Prefect of the Guard ordered him to be put on ship-board, to sail after the Emperors.
So the Bishop went on board the ship very heavily laden with chains, and was in the hold of the ship four days and four nights, under the horses' feet, having no bread to eat, nor a drop of water to drink. And in this famishing state he came to Nola.
Then the Chief Judge of that city, as soon as the Bishop came, ordered him to be brought into his presence loaded as he was with very heavy chains.
And the Judge said to him," Felix, how camest thou hither?" The Bishop answered," As it pleased God."
Then said the Judge,-"If in thy own city, or at Carthage, thou wouldst have given up your divine Scriptures, thou wouldst not have come all this way to me."
To whom the Bishop replied,-"I have, I confess, the divine Scriptures; but as thou art not ignorant of the answer I have returned to others who have questioned me, so now to thyself I make known with all possible assurance, that I shall on no account whatever give them up."
The Judge answered,-" If thou dost not give up your sacred Scriptures, thou wilt forfeit thy life."
The Bishop replied," I am more ready to forfeit my life than to give up the LORD's books into sacrilegious hands."
Then the Judge bethought himself to have the Emperors' decrees recited. And when they had been read by Vincentius, the Secretary, the Judge said :-" Since this man hath remained so long in the same confession, according to the decree, I give sentence, that this same Bishop, Felix, shall be beheaded with the sword."
Upon this, the Bishop raised his eyes to Heaven, and said, "O GOD, I thank Thee. Thou who hast graciously enabled me to remain faithful to Thee in this world, during six and fifty
1 Cognitor, properly, a Proctor or Attorney,-here a Criminal Judge.
years. O LORD GOD of Heaven and Earth, FATHER of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, for the sake of Thee and Thy law, and for Thy honour, I suffer this, and yield my neck to the slaughter. Receive my spirit, O LORD, out of this dying world; for Thou art the Living God, invincible and eternally glorious, world without end. Amen."
Having finished his prayer, he was led away by the soldiers, and in that same place, namely, in Nola, he was beheaded, on the 18th of the calends of Feb. [January 15, ccciv.]
ACCOUNT OF THE MARTYRDOM OF ST. LAURENCE, ARCHDEACON
OF ROME, A. D. 258.
(From a Sermon of St. Augustine's.) LAURENCE was a deacon, ministering to the Apostles, though after their age. When that persecution, as prophesied in the Gospels against the Christians, furiously raged at Rome as elsewhere, and the property of the Church was demanded of Laurence as Archdeacon, he is said to have made answer, with me carriages, in which to convey to you the treasures of the Church.” The appetite of avarice was forthwith roused; but wisdom the while knew what he was about. The order was given; as many carriages as he had asked were sent. He asked for many; so much the more was the hope of booty excited. He filled them with the poor of Christ, and so returned with them. When asked the meaning of all this, he answered. “ These are the Church's riches." The baffled persecutor gave command to kindle the fire ; he was not so cold as to be afraid of it. So a fierce punishment consumed his body, while love of the brethren burnt more keenly in his soul.
In a word, the iron hurdle (or gridiron) was brought, and he was broiled upon it; one side at length caught fire, yet he is said so serenely to have borne his torments, as to fulfil the Gospel precept, “ In your patience possess ye your souls.”—Consumed in the flame, yet serene in his patience, he said ; “ The meal is now dressed ; turn me, and eat.” Such was his Martyrdom ; such his glorious crown.
Such his service to Rome, beyond price. Of him Christ spoke, “He who shall lose his life for My sake, the same shall find it.” He found it by means of faith, contempt of the world, Martyrdom. What must his glory be with God, when even among men he had such excellent praise !
Let us follow his steps in faith, in contempt of the world. Not Martyrdom only, but faith inviolate and perfect charity will secure all heavenly blessings, for the followers of Christ What is more glorious than for a man to sell his possessions and buy Christ therewith, to offer up to God the most acceptable of