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fixed on the difficulties which impeded the success of the Gospel in that country; no--these to her strong faith were molehills:-the objects on which her mind was fixed, were the Divine origin of this religion, the decree of Heaven, and the power of God-these inspired hope amidst the storm. The faith of Rafaravavy saw a bow in the cloud. And this is the faith which the Church must exercise whilst this dark cloud obscures her prospects. She must open the Volume of Inspiration and read "He must reign until He hath put all enemies under His feet."
The fourth grace that we would notice is-her expansive benevolence. "Nothing grieved her," she remarked," so much as the spiritual state of those around her, and that the immediate prospect of martyrdom itself was less painful to her than seeing all her connections living in wickedness." This was the mind that was in Christ. The blessed Saviour was not mindful of His own sufferings-no; all these He cheerfully endured-the source of His greatest sorrow was the sins of men. When He thought of the hardness of their hearts, their neglect of their best interests, their nearness to perdition-Oh, it was this that filled His spirit with inconceivable auguish ; "And when He saw the city, He wept over it." Rafaravavy had been baptised with the same Spirit, and when she thought of her past condition, the curse which hung over the wicked, the Gospel they put away from them-Oh, what compassion did she feel for sinners! Even the pain of martyrdom was as nothing to the pain occasioned by the enmity of sinners to God. This is the spirit all Christians should cherish; and when they possess it, then will the Word of the Lord have free course, and run, and be glorified. May the Church, Rafaravavy, be baptised with thy spirit!
This Christian female's steadfastness in her Lord's cause is the last excellency in her conduct which we shall notice. This faithful martyr owned Christ, not only when the sun of prosperity shone upon them; but likewise when the heathen raged, and the rulers had taken counsel together against the Lord. The confession which she made of Christ was open and steadfast-made in Satan's head-quarters-made at the risk of life. Hearken! "An accusation was laid against her before the government by some of her slaves, of her having observed the Sabbath, retained and read a copy of the Scriptures, and conversed with some of her companions on religious subjects. These were the crimes laid to her charge. She denied not, but confessed the truth of the accusation; and neither the grey hairs of a parent, a zealous idolater, could persuade, nor the frowning threats of a sovereign could terrify her into an abandonment of her profession." This was a noble confession—of her it may be said, as it was of Antipas, "And thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith."
Rafaravavy's example we propose for your imitation. Though you are not likely to suffer martyrdom, yet you must expect persecution, "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." Should this be the case with you, like this holy female confess Christ, and know for your encouragement, the declaration of the apostle, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."
III. The cause of Rafaravavy's martyrdom.
This Christian woman was not slain because she had wronged any man, because she had been guilty of plunder, or murder, or treason, because she was an enemy
to civil government-no; but because she loved Him, who is altogether lovely, obeyed God rather than men, and stood up in defence of the glorious Gospel of the ever-blessed God. The crime, for which the haughty Ranavalono inflicted this wrong, in connection with the imprisonment of the other Christians, is no greater one than this-they were in the habit of meeting on the Sabbath, on a mountain at some distance from the capital, for the purpose of reading the Scriptures, singing, and prayer. This conduct, however, which the cruel Ranavalono regards as an unpardonable crime, we regard, looking at it in the light of revelation, as most praiseworthy. The example was set them by Peter, and John, and Paul, and by the great Master himself. When forbidden to spread the truth as it is in Jesus, they said, "Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye," &c.—Acts iv. 19, 20. The cause, then, of Rafara vavy's martyrdom was her ardent attachment to Him, who is despised and rejected of men. But let us consider the cause of her death as it existed in the heart of the queen. And we may trace it, first, to ignorance of the nature, preciousness, and glory of that Gospel, on the extirpation of which Ranavalono is bent. The account which Paul gives of himself, when a persecutor, may be applied to this cruel queen, and to all other opposers of the truth—" I did it ignorantly in unbelief." Then what an awful sin is ignorance of the Gospel! The greatness of this sin is seen in the consequences to which it leads. The apostle, in his Epistle to the Corinthians, in the second chapter, and from the sixth to the eighth verses, traces the crucifixion of Christ to the reign of ignorance. The Saviour, in the prayer He offered for His enemies on the cross, urges their ignorance as a plea why their sins should be forgiven--Luke xxiii. 34. The apostle Peter, when charging home upon the consciences of the Jews, the sin of murdering the Prince of Life, states their ignorance as the cause of this dreadful crime-Acts iii. 14-17. And the same sin which led to the martyrdom of the Son of God, and has led to all the persecutions in subsequent ages, led to the martyrdom of Rafaravavy-the sin of ignorance. Then, if ignorance of the Gospel be an evil so great, how anxious should every Christian be to diffuse the light which he has received, and which is contained in the Gospel. The Gospel is the orbit in which the Sun of Righteousness moves; oh, then, aid the spread of this Gospel by your property, efforts, and prayers.
The offspring of this sin—this ignorance of the Gospel-is pride. And the martyrdom of this Christian woman may be traced to the reign of pride—a sin so deeply rooted in human nature, one so debasing in its influence—a sin so cruel in its consequences. Pride loves absolute dominion, and every opposition made to his reign kindles the fires of hell in the human breast, which seas of blood cannot quench. Ranavalono had issued an edict for the suppression of all Christian instruction— this edict the followers of the Lamb did not rigidly adhere to, having respect to a higher authority. This disobedience reaching the ears of the queen, nothing less than the imprisonment of the offenders, and the blood of Rafaravavy, can satiate the vengeance of this enemy of the cross. When Pride reigns in the heart, he requires every one to do him profound homage, and the rebel who refuses obedience must expect the sword of justice. Pride, O what hast thou done! May the sword of the Spirit slay thee in our hearts, and may Meekness ascend the throne! The death of this excellent female may also be traced to that enmity to the Gospel, which is universal in the unrenewed mind. "The carnal mind is enmity
against God." This enmity is the same now as in the days of Nero and Julian, and bloody Mary, and no doubt in many cases would lead to the same scenes of blood, if not restrained by fear of consequences. This enmity is not confined to any one age, one country, one people-this enmity is co-extensive with unrenewed nature. The human mind is opposed to every thing which restrains its unholy propensities. Sin has so disordered it, that the thing it longs for is nothing short of this—independence. This the Gospel will not allow. The Gospel demands an acknowledgment of guilt, submission, and dependence-exposes every sin, and prescribes a path diametrically opposite to the one which man by nature invariably prefers. This is the reason the Gospel has so many enemies. "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world," &c.-John iii. 19-21. When, therefore, we look into the heart of Ranavalono to see the cause why she opposes Christ's kingdom in Madagascar, we find this is it—the reign of ignorance, pride, and enmity. And these seeds of evil, fruitful in themselves, are made more so by the prejudices which are strengthened by wicked advisers. The cause, therefore, of this persecution can only be removed by the Holy Spirit, whose work it is to change the heart: for this Spirit to descend, let us constantly pray.
IV. The time of this martyrdom. The year 1837. The mention of this fact should lead the Church to deep thought. This painful providence shows the small progress which the Gospel has made all these years, the long reign of the prince of darkness, and the neglect of the church, in the non-fulfilment of the Divine command, "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature," &c. The writer does not mean to affirm, that if the Church had done her duty such a catastrophe would not have happened; but he means to intimate that if the Church had been faithful to her trust-that had she employed every talent for Christ's glory, the probability is, that we should not have heard of martyrdom in the year 1837. The martyrdom of Rafaravavy may be traced, we think, in a great measure, to ignorance of the Gospel; and this ignorance may be traced to the neglect of the Christian Church. The religious instruction of the people has been neglected for so many ages, that the darkness and superstition, and errors of heathenism, have become so inwrought into their souls, that it may require ages, without a remarkable descent of the Holy Spirit, to remove the dreadful evil. Whilst, therefore, we sympathise with our fellow-Christians in Madagascar, it becomes us also to humble ourselves, inasmuch as the evil may be traced in some measure to our neglect. Suppose the Church had sent out fifty missionaries, instead of two or three, during the reign of Radama, the light might have been diffused through the length and breadth of the land, and thus, even if Ranavalono had remained in the darkness of heathenism, she might not have found one to execute her merciless mandit. Every martyrdom that may take place in the present age of the world will reflect on the Church of Christ, for having for so many years laid her talents in a napkin. Indeed they appear so many monuments to remind us of our unfaithfulness.
V. The design of Rafaravavy's martyrdom. And we would notice, first, the design of Rafaravavy in submitting to it. She was not poor in outward circumstances, and by recantation, and by humbling herself to beg pardon of the queen, she might very probably have saved her life. Then why did this holy woman submit to death rather than do this? Hearken! "Never in the annals of the Church did a Christian martyr suffer from motives more pure, simple, and unmixed
with earthly alloy. She had never heard of any after-glory of martyrdom on earth. No external splendour had been cast around the subject in her mind by reading any lives of martyrs. All was to her obloquy and contempt. She died directly and exclusively in defence of the Gospel. The object, therefore, for which Rafaravavy submitted to martyrdom shows the excellency of her piety; the object was one which is man's chief end—the glory of God. And this is the object on which we should fix our eye in making a profession of religion; and where this is actually the case, it is an evidence of the reality of our conversion-Phil. i. 20.
Secondly, We may notice the design of Ranavalono in inflicting death on this innocent victim. The object aimed at was the entire extirpation of the Gospel. And oh, what a diabolical design was this! The subjects of this despotic queen are all in spiritual darkness, and she would extinguish the only Light; they are all diseased, and she would expel the Physician; they are perishing, and she would uproot the Tree of Life. But her wrath shall redound to the glory of God. Ranavalono has driven all the Christians in the world to a throne of grace, and in answer to their prayers, the inhabitants of Madagascar shall be baptised with the Spirit of God-Acts xii. 24.
Now observe, in the third place, the design of God in permitting this martyrdom. That power which had converted the heart of His faithful martyr, and had sustained her, could, if He had pleased, smitten dead all her persecutors; but no, He allows her blood to be shed, that He may show the all-sufficiency of His grace, that He may exercise the faith of His people, and awaken His Church from her long sleep. That which her persecutors designed for evil, God designs for good. "And He doeth according to His will," &c.-Daniel iv. 35. The Great Head of the Church would teach us by this providence the value of our religious privileges—that we must walk not by sense but by faith, and that it is high time for the Church to arise from the dust, and to go forth into distant lands, and to deliver to the heathen the measure committed to her for their use. The voice of Heaven in Rafaravavy's martyrdom is this—“ Awake, awake, put on thy strength, O Zion”—Isaiah lii. 1, 2.
VI. The results of this painful providence. The results to this faithful martyr herself are most glorious. Had she apostatized she would have given to her enemies occasion for triumph, distressed the Church of Christ, discouraged those now in bonds, dishonoured God, and covered herself with shame; but, by her consistency, she has strengthened the faint-hearted, put her foes to shame, comforted the Church, glorified God, and finished her course with joy. Now Rafaravavy having endured unto the end, has received the promised reward; has joined the ranks of the faithful in glory, and has cast her crown before the throne. Blessed issue! And thus shall Jesus honour all those who honour Him. "Be thou faithful unto death," &c.Revelation ii. 10. The results of this martyrdom to all the persecutors, should grace refuse to interpose, will be most awful.
The spirit of persecution steels the spirit against the reception of all good, and thus ripens it for hell, the hottest place in which is kept in reserve for all who imbrue their hands in the blood of the saints: "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, saith the Lord." And the results to the world will be most beneficial, provided the effects now produced on the minds of Christians be lasting. This providence has aroused the sympathies of the Church, and we hope now she will give God no rest until all nations are blessed in Jesus.
VII. The knowledge which the Great Head of the Church has of the trials of His people in Madagascar. The Saviour is concerned that His people should know His omniscience—hence, when He told John to write the epistle to Pergamos, He told him to insert these words :-"I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, &c." Yes, the Lord Jesus is omniscient, and He knows the prisons in which His people are confined, the chains which bind them, and all the temptations by which they are assailed; and He, who is omniscient, is also omnipotent, and can help them in all their needs, and make all grace to abound towards them. And He who is omniscient and omnipotent is also just-holds in His hand the sharp sword with two edges. This thought should strike terror into the heart of every persecutor. The Lord whom the Christian serves is omniscient, omnipotent, just-this should encourage him in all kinds of distress. “Call upon Me in the day of trouble,” &c. Thus have we pointed out the place, the cause, the design, the time, the results of this martyrdom; and, in conclusion, would draw from the whole subject the following instructions:
1. The possibility of bringing forth fruit to God in the worst of places. Sometimes persons plead the circumstances in which they are placed as an apology for their wicked works; but this subject shows that it is possible to glorify God even in Satan's citadel. Pergamos was Satan's head-quarters—yet even in Pergamos there were those who did good in the midst of evil; and, in Madagascar, there is a remnant called, chosen, and faithful. Therefore, the wickedness of the place in which we live should never be made an excuse for our living in sin.
2. The reality and excellency of the Christian religion is proved from this subject. Rafaravavy had nothing to sustain her mind in these heavy afflictions but the consolations derived from the Gospel, and these she found quite sufficient. Oh, then, let us seek more earnestly the possession, and power, and rich enjoyment of this Gospel. The strength of our faith in it should be according to the clearness of the evidence which we have of its truth and excellence. "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation," &c.
3. The dreadful state of those who have Satan dwelling not only in their land, in their city, or in their house, but in their heart. The human heart is compared in Scripture to a house, and of this house, whilst we are unconverted, Satan is the master. The sinner has no occasion to visit Madagascar in order to find Satan's seat, for Satan's seat is in his own heart. That of this house Satan is the master, is obvious from the fact, that his will is constantly obeyed. "Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey his servants ye are," &c.—Rom. vi. 16-19. This master whom you serve is the father of lies, the wicked one, the accuser of the brethren. Oh, then, sinner, how you should long to exchange masters. And if you have this desire, Christ stands at the door ready to enter in, and make your heart His seat; and blessed are they who have Christ reigning in this house. Ranavalono could deprive Rafaravavy of her property, could load her with irons, and take away her natural life, but she could not expel Christ from her soul. No; He had taken up His abode there for ever. And now His faithful martyr, who once lived in Satan's citadel, is living in the city of her God, where she reigns in bliss. This also shall be your end, if you will let Christ have His seat in your heart, for "where I am there shall My servant be."
The writer cannot close this Essay, without urging upon his readers the duty of