|104||THE APOLOGY OF AL KINDY.|
the king, The number of them increaseth, instead of (as thou thinkest) diminishing. "How can that be?" exclaimed the king. "Yesterday," replied the Courtier, "thou didst put such and such a one to death, and immediately there were converted just double that number; and the people say that a man appeared to the confessors from heaven, strengthening them at the last moment." The king finding this to be true, was thereupon himself converted, and the persecution stayed. These men thought not their lives dear unto them. Some were transfixed while yet alive; of others, the limbs were cut off one after another. Some were cast to the wild beasts, and others burned in the fire. Such continued long to be the fate of the Christian confessors. No parallel will be found to it in any other religion: and all was endured with constancy, and even with joy. The story is related of one who smiled in the midst of great suffering: Was it cold water," they asked, "that was brought to thee?" "No," answered the Martyr; "but a youth stood by me and anointed my wounds; and that made me smile; for the pain forthwith departed, and seemed as if it had entered into my tormentors instead." But this Angel, you may say, could equally well have stayed the hand of the persecutors, and that might have turned to their conversion? To this Al Kindy answers, True, for if God had so willed, He might have forced all men into the faith; but then the glory of Humanity, which lies in the Freewill thereof, would have gone, and with it the merit of obedience based on evidence without the constant
|CHRISTIAN AND MOSLEM MARTYRS.||105|
show of miracles. Because miracles were needful only for those of the early ages, in order to perfect their faith. But these interpositions are now withdrawn, to make it manifest that obedience is to be grounded on free and intelligent conviction. And if men having such evidence refuse the truth except they see miracles, the Lord leaveth them in their error.
With all this, however, our Apologist holds that the virtue of working miracles, though latent, still survives in the Christian Church; and of all religions in it alone. He had seen with his own eyes, as well as heard on sufficient evidence, of cures wrought by the clergy and monks in their holy places, tombs, and churches dedicated to the Christian martyrs, and also in virtue of their bones and relics. It was so in every land of the East and West, excepting only the land of Mahomet, for in Arabia there never had been any professors of this class, saving only Sergius and Bahīra.1
"Now looking with an impartial eye," proceeds Al Kindy, "tell me seriously, my Friend, which of these two hath the best claim to be called a Martyr 'slain in the ways of the Lord' : he who surrendereth his life rather than renounce his faith,who when it is said, Fall down and worship the sun and moon, or the idols of silver and gold, work of men's hands, instead of the True God,refuseth, choosing rather to give up life, abandon