fortune, looke vpō this matter, say thou with vs: Destroy these naughtie men. Then Policarpus beholdyng with constaunt countenaunce the whole multitude whiche was in the place appointed, and geuing a great sighe, looked vp to heauē, saying: Thou, thou it is that wilt destroy these wicked naughty men. And the Proconsul thus beyng earnestly in hand with him, sayd, take thyne othe, and I will discharge thee, defie Christ. MarginaliaA faythfull seruant of Christe hys Lord. Policarpus aunswered: fourscore and sixe yeares haue I bene his seruaunt, yet in all this tyme hath he not so much as once hurt me: how then may I speake euill of my king and souereigne Lorde, which hath thus preserued me? Then the Proconsull agayne inforced him and sayd: Sweare thou I aduise thee by Cæsars prosperity. Policarpus replyeth: if thou require of me this fonde word of vayne boasting, feining not to know (as þe sayest) who I am, I do thee to witte, that I am a Christian: MarginaliaPolicarpus ready to geue a reason of his doctrine And if thou desire to knowe the doctrine of Christianity, appointe a day, & thou shalt heare. Perswade the people to this sayd the Proconsul: Truly sayth Policarpus, I haue thought it my part, thus to saye vnto you, for so much as we are commaunded to geue vnto the gouernours and powers ordained of God, the honour meete and due to them, & not hurtfull vnto vs: MarginaliaPolicarpus obedient to hyer powers but as for those I do iudge them vnworthy, to purge my selfe vnto them. Hereupon þthe Proconsul stode vp. I haue, sayth he, wilde beastes, to whom I will throw thee, vnles thou take a better way: Wherunto Policarpus aūswered let them come: we haue determined with our selues that we will not by repentaūce turne vs from the better way, to the worse, but rather conuenient it is, that a man turne from the thynges that be euill, to that which is good and iust. Agayne sayth the Proconsul, I will tame thee with fire, if that thou set not by the wilde beastes, nor yet repeēt. MarginaliaPolicarpus threatned with wild beastes. Then sayd Policarpus, you threaten me with fire which shall burne for the space of an houre, & shalbe within a little while after put out & extinguished, but thou knowest not the fire of the iudgement that is to come and of euerlasting punishmēt, which is reserued for the wicked and vngodly. But why make you all these delayes, giue me what death soeuer ye list. These and many other such like things beyng by him spoken, he was so replenished with ioy and boldnes, and his countenaunce appeared so full of grace and fauour, that not onely he was not troubled with those thynges which the Proconsul spake vnto him, but contrarily the Proconsul him selfe begā to be amased and sent for the crier, which in the middle of the stage was commaunded to cry. 3. times, Policarpus hath confessed him selfe to be a Christiā, which wordes of the cryer, were no sooner spoken, but that all the whole multitude both of the Gentils and Iewes inhabityng at Smyrna, with a vehement rage and loude voyce cried. This is that Doctour or teacher of Asia, the father of the Christians, and the destroyer of our Gods, which hath instructed a great nūber that our Gods are not to be worshipped, & after this they cryed vnto Phillip the gouernour of Asia, & required him that he would let loose the Lion to Policarpus. To whom he made aunswere that he might not so do, because he had already his pray. Then they cryed agayne altogether with one voyce that he would burne Policarpus a liue. For it was requisite that the vision which he saw as cōcerning his pyllow or bolster, should be fulfilled: whiche when he had sene burnt, as he was in prayer, he turned him selfe vnto the faythfull sorte which were with him, saying by the way of prophecie, it will so come, that I shal be burned a liue. And the Proconsul had no sooner spoken, but it was out of hand performed. For why, the multitude by and by brought out of their shops, workehouses, and baynes, wood and other dry matter for that purpose, & especially the Iewes were most seruicable for that matter, after their wonted maner. And thus the pile beyng layd, and that now he had put of his garmentes and vndone his gyrdel, and was about to pull of his shoes, whiche he had not done before, MarginaliaAn example of brotherly loue. for that all the faythful sort among them selues striued (as it were) who should first touch his body at their farewell, because for the good cōuersation of his life, yea frō his yoūr age, he was had in great estimation of all men. Therefore straightway those instrumentes which are requisite to such a bonfire, were brought vnto him, and when they would haue nayled him to the stake with yron hoopes, he said: let me alone as I am, for he that hath geuen me strength to suffer and abyde the fire, shal also geue power, that without this your prouision of nayles, I shall abyde, and styrre not in the myddest of this fire or pyle of wood. MarginaliaThe willyng mynde of Polycarpus to suffer. Which thing whē they heard, they did not nayle him, but bound him. Therfore when his handes were bound behynde hym, euen as the chiefest Ramme taken out of the flocke, he was sacrificed as an acceptable burnt offryng to God, saying: O father ofthy welbeloued & blessed sonne Iesus Christ, MarginaliaHis prayer before hys death. by whom we haue attained the knowledge of thee, the God of Aungels and powers, and of euery creature, and of all iust men which liue before thee, I geue thee thankes that þe hast vouchsafed to graūt me this day that I may haue my part amongest the number of Martyrs in the cup of Christ vnto the resurrection of eternall life both of body and soule, through the operation of the holy spirite, among whom I shalbe this day receaued into thy sight for an acceptable sacrifice: and as thou hast prepared, and reuealed the same before this tyme, so hast thou accomplished the same, whiche canst not lye, MarginaliaThe thankesgeuing of Policarpus. O thou most true God. Wherefore I in lyke case for all thynges prayse thee, blesse thee, and glorifie thee by our euerlastyng Bishop Iesus Christe to whom be glory now and for euermore. Amen.[Back to Top]
And as soone as he had ended this word, Amen, and finished his prayer, the tormētors begā to kindle the fire, and as the flame flashed out vehemently: We to whom it was geuē to discerne the same, saw a maruelous matter, which were also to this purpose preserued, that we might shewe the same to other. MarginaliaA miracle shewed. For the fire, beyng made lyke to a roufe or vaute of a house, & after the maner of a shypmans sayle, filled with wynde, compassed aboute the bodye of the Martyr, as with a certaine walle, & he in the middle of the same, not as fleshe, that burned, but as gold and siluer when it is tryed in fire. And surely we smelt a sauour so sweete, as if Myrre or some other precious Balme had geuē a sent. At the laste whē those wicked persons saw, that his body could not be consumed by fire, they commaunded one of the tormentours to come vnto him, and thrust him through with his sword. MarginaliaAn example of much cruelty. Which beyng done, so great a quantitie of bloude ranne out of his body, that the fire was quēched therwith, and the whole multitude marueled that there was so much diuersitie betwene the infidels and the elect, of whom this Policarpus was one, beyng a Disciple of the Apostles, and a propheticall instructour of our tymes, and Byshop of the Catholique Church of myrna, for what word so euer he spake both it was and shalbe accomplished. But the subtill and enuious aduersary, whē he saw the worthynes of his Martyrdome, & that his conuersation euen from hi yoūger yeares could not be reproued, and that he was adourned with the crowne of Martyrdome, and had now obtained that incomparable benefite, gaue in charge, that we should not take & deuide his bodye. For feare least the remnauntes of the dead corps should be taken away, & so worshypped of the people. Wherevpon diuers whispered Niceta the father of Herode, and his brother Dalces in the eare, to admonish the Proconsul, that in no case he should deliuer his body, least (sayth he) they leaue Christ & begyn to worshyp him. And this spake they, because the Iewes had geuen them secret warnyng, & prouoked them therunto: MarginaliaThe Iewes enemyes alwayes to the Christians. who also watched vs that we should not take him out of the fyre, not beyng ignoraunt howe that we ment, at no tyme to forsake Christ, which gaue his lyfe for the saluation of the whole world, (as many I meane as are elected to saluatiō by him) neither yet that we could worshyp any other. For why? him we worshyp as the sonne of God, but the Martyrs do we loue as disciples of their Lord MarginaliaMarke that he sayth we loue them, and worship them not. (& that worthely) for their abundaūt loue towardes their kyng and maister, of whom we also desire and wishe to be companiōs, & to be made his Disciples. Whē therfore the Centurion saw & perceaued the labour of the Iewes, the corps beyng layd abroad, they burnt the same, as was their maner to do.[Back to Top]
MarginaliaTwelue Martyrs put to death at Smyrna. Thus good Policarpus with. xij. other that came from Philadelphia, sufferedMartyrdome at Smyrna which Policarpus specially aboue the is rest had in memorie, so that he in all places amongest the Gentiles is most famous. And this was the ende of this worthy disciple of the Apostles. Whose history the bretheren of the congregation at Smyrna, haue written in this their Epistle aboue recited.[Back to Top]
MarginaliaEx Irenæo. Lib. 3. cap. 3.
Euseb. Lib. 4. cap. 14. Irenæus in his. 3. booke agaynst heresies, the. 3. chap. and Eusebius in hys. 4. booke, and. 14. chap. of hys Ecclesiasticall history reporteth this worthy saying of Policarpus: This Policarpus (sayth he) meetyng at a certaine tyme Martion the hereticke, who sayd vnto him, doest thou not knowe me? made aunswere: I knowe that thou art the first begotten of Sathan. So greate feare what euil that might ensue thereof, had the Disciples of the Apostles, that they would not speake to them whom they knew to be the deprauers of the veritie, euen as Paule sayth: The hereticke, after the first and second admonition, shonne, and auoyde: Knowing that he whiche is such one, is peruerse or froward, and damneth him selfe. This most holy Confessour & Martyr of Christe Policarpus suffered death in the fourth persecution after Nero, when Marcus Antoninus, and Lucius Awrelius Com-