Wednesday, October 22, 2008

tuesday martyr (a day late)

I found this in a copy of Foxe's book of martyrs that I have and it took me awhile to find it elsewhere (it seems it is not in most modern editions of the book.)

I did find it in the Acts and Monuments of the Church. So, below is the story of Romanus. Within it is also the mention of a young boy and his mother. What courage for Christ is displayed. (It is a bit long...)

Pitiless Galerius, with his grand captain Asclepiades, violently invaded the city of Antioch, in tending by force of arms to drive all Christians to renounce utterly their pure religion. The Christians, as God would, were at that time ongregated together, to whom Romanus hastily ran, declaring that the wolves were at hand which would devour the Christian flock; but fear not, said he, neither let this imminent peril disturb you, my brethren. Brought was it to pass, by the great grace of God working in Romanus, that old men and matrons, fathers and mothers, young men and maidens, were all of one will and mind, most ready to shed their blood in defence of their Christian profession. Word was brought unto the captain, that the band of armed soldiers was not able to wrest the staff of faith out of the hand of the armed congregation, and all by reason that one Romanus so mightily did encourage them, that they stick not to offer their naked throats, wishing gloriously to die for the name of their Christ. Seek out that rebel, (quoth the captain,) and bring him to me, that he may answer for the whole sect. Apprehended he was, and, bound as a sheep appointed to the slaughterhouse, was presented to the emperor, who with wrathful countenance beholding him, said, What! art thou the author of this sedition? Art thou the cause why so many shall lose their lives? By the gods I swear thou shalt smart for it, and first in thy flesh shalt thou suffer the pains whereunto thou hast encouraged the hearts of thy fellows. Romanus answered, Thy sentence, O emperor, I joyfully embrace; I refuse not to be sacrificed for my brethren, and that by as cruel means as thou mayest invent; and whereas thy soldiers were repelled from the Christian congregation, that so happened, because it lay not in idolaters and worshippers of devils to enter into the holy house of God, and to pollute the place of true prayer. Then Asclepiades, wholly inflamed with this stout answer, commanded him to be trussed up, and his bowels drawn out. The executioners themselves, more pitiful in heart than the captain, said, Not so, sir; this man is of noble parentage, unlawful it is to put a nobleman to so unnoble a death. Scourge him then with whips (quoth the captain) with pieces of lead at the ends. Instead of tears, sighs, and groans, Romanus sung psalms all the time of his whipping, requiring them not to favour him for nobility's sake; Not the blood of my progenitors, (saith he,) but Christian profession, maketh me noble. Then with great power of spirit he inveighed against the captain, laughing to scorn the false gods of the heathen, with the idolatrous worshipping of them, affirming the God of the Christians to be the true God that created heaven and earth, before whose judicial seat all nations shall appear. But the wholesome words of the martyr were as oil to the fire of the captain's fury. The more the martyr spake, the madder was he, insomuch that he commanded the martyr's sides to be lanced with knives, until the bones appeared white again. Sorry am I, O captain, (quoth the martyr,) not for that my flesh shall be thus cut and mangled, but for thy cause am I sorrowful, who, being corrupted with damnable errors, seducest others. The second time he preached at large the living God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, his well-beloved Son, eternal life through faith in his blood, expressing therewith the abomination of idolatry, with a vehement exhortation to worship and adore the living God. At these words Asclepiades commanded the tormentors to strike Romanus on the mouth, that his teeth being stricken out, his pronunciation at leastwise might be impaired. The commandment was obeyed, his face buffeted, his eyelids torn with their nails, his cheeks scotched with knives, the skin of his beard was plucked by little and little from the flesh; finally, his seemly face was wholly defaced. The meek martyr said, I thank thee, O captain, that thou hast opened unto me many mouths, whereby I may preach my Lord and Saviour Christ. Look how many wounds I have, so many mouths I have lauding and praising God. The captain, astonished with this singular constancy, commanded them to cease from the tortures. He threateneth cruel fire, he revileth the noble martyr, he blasphemeth God, saying, Thy crucified Christ is but a yesterday's God, the gods of the Gentiles are of most antiquity.

Here again Romanus, taking good occasion, made a long oration of the eternity of Christ, of his human nature, of the death and satisfaction of Christ for all mankind. Which done, he said, Give me a child, O captain, but seven years of age, which age is free from malice and other vices, wherewith riper age is commonly infected, and thou shalt hear what he will say His request was granted. A boy was called out of the multitude, and set before him. Tell me, my babe, (quoth the martyr,) whether thou think it reason that we worship one Christ, and in Christ one Father, or else that we worship infinite gods? Unto whom the babe answered, That certainly, whatsoever it be that men affirm to be God, must needs be one, which
with one, is one and the same; and inasmuch as this one is Christ, of necessity Christ must be the true God; for that there be many gods, we children cannot believe. The captain, hereat clean amazed, said, Thou young villain and traitor, where and of whom learnedst thou this lesson? Of my mother, (quoth the child,) with whose milk I sucked in this lesson, that I must believe in Christ. The mother was called, and she gladly appeared. The captain commanded the child to be horsed up and scourged. The pitiful beholders of this pitiless act could not temper themselves from tears; the joyful and glad mother alone stood by with dry cheeks; yea, she rebuked her sweet babe for craving a draught of cold water; she charged him to thirst after the cup that the infants of Bethlehem once drank of, forgetting their mothers' milk and paps; she willed him to remember little Isaac, who, beholding the sword wherewith, and the altar whereon, he should be sacrificed, willingly proffered his tender neck to the dint of his father's sword. Whilst this counsel was in giving, the butcherly torturer plucked the skin from the crown of his head, hair and all. The mother cried, Suffer, my child, anon thou shalt pass to Him that will adorn thy naked head with a crown of eternal glory. The mother counselleth, the child is counselled; the mother encourageth, the babe is encouraged, and received the stripes with smiling countenance. The captain, perceiving the child invincible, and himself vanquished, committeth the silly soul, the blessed babe, the child uncherished, to the stinking prison, commanding the torments of Romanus to be renewed and increased, as chief author of this evil.

Thus was Romanus brought forth again to new stripes, the punishments to be renewed and received upon his old sores, insomuch as the bare bones appeared, the flesh all torn away.

Yea, no longer could the tyrant forbear, but needs he must draw nearer to the sentence of death. Is it painful to thee (saith he) to tarry so long alive? A flaming fire, doubt thou not, shall be prepared for thee by and by, wherein thou and that boy, thy fellow of rebellion, shall be consumed into ashes. Romanus and the babe were led to the place of execution. As they laid hands on Romanus, he looked back, saying, I appeal from this thy tyranny, O judge unjust, unto the righteous throne of Christ, that upright Judge, not because I fear thy cruel torments and merciless handlings, but that thy judgments may be known to be cruel and bloody. Now when they welcome to the place, the tormentor required the child of the mother, for she had taken it up in her arms; and she, only kissing it, delivered the babe; Farewell, she said, my sweet child. And as the hangman applied his sword to the babe's neck, she sang on this manner:

All laud and praise with heart and voice,
O Lord, we yield to thee,
To whom the death of all thy saints
We know most dear to be.

The innocent's head being cut off, the mother wrapped it up in her garment, and laid it to her breast. On the other side a mighty fire was made, whereinto Romanus was cast, who said that he should not burn; wherewith a great storm arose (if it be true) and quenched the fire. The captain gave in commandment that his tongue should be cut out. Out was it plucked by the hard roots and cut off: nevertheless he spake, saying, He that speaketh Christ shall never want a tongue; think not that the voice that uttereth Christ hath need of the tongue to be the minister. The captain at this, half out of his wits, bare in hand that the hangman deceived the sight of the people by some subtle sleight and crafty conveyance. Not so, (quoth the hangman,) if you suspect my deed, open his mouth, and diligently search the roots of his tongue. The captain at length, being confounded with the fortitude and courage of the martyr, straitly commandeth him to be brought back into the prison, and there to be strangled; where, his sorrowful life and pains being ended, he now enjoyeth quiet rest in the Lord, with perpetual hope of his miserable body to be restored
again with his soul into a better life, where no tyrant shall have any power.


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