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to Mark, a companion of Peter's, and whose Gospel we now have, praying him that he would write down for them, and leave with them, an account of the doctrines which had been preached to them that they did not desist in their request, till they had prevailed upon him, and procured his writing of that which is now called the Gospel of St. Mark. That, when Peter came to know this, by the revelation of the Holy Spirit, he was pleased with the request of the people, and confirmed the Gospel which was written for the use of the Churches."
After this, (as we learn from the same early writers,) St. Mark went to Egypt, where he preached the Gospel which he had thus written from the teaching of St. Peter at Rome, and founded the Church of Alexandria: a Church famous in early times for its great learning and also for its missionary labours among the heathen, insomuch that it was regarded as among the very chiefest of the Churches; and was the Church of which St. Athanasius was afterwards bishop, whom God raised up as a teacher of the true faith against the blasphemies of the heretic Arius, and others, who denied the Godhead of our Lord Jesus Christ. This Church of Alexan
dria was founded by the
preaching of St. Mark,
and in it he is said to have taught the Christians to live lives of great strictness, and self-denial, and poverty, having all things in common, after the pattern of the first converts on the Day on Pentecost. From Alexandria he is said to have preached the Gospel in other (more western) parts of Africa; then after some few years to have returned to Alexandria, where he suffered martyrdom. Almighty God granting him grace to seal with his blood his witness to the Gospel which he had preached, in that very Church which he had founded. His death is said to have been one of great suffering, protracted over more than one day.
It is thus described by one who has lately written a History of the Church of Alexandria.
Seizing St. Mark, and tying a rope round his neck, the Pagans drew him through the principal streets of the city, till the blood gushed from his sides and, at evening, they threw him into prison, while consulting with respect to his fate.
"On the same night the sufferer was cheered by the appearance of an angel, who comforted him with the assurance that his name was in the Book of Life; and shortly afterwards by the Saviour Himself, who, addressing him by the title of Mark the Evangelist, bade peace be with
him. To whom St. Mark replied, 'I yield Thee thanks, O Saviour, that Thou hast counted me worthy to suffer for Thy Name.' On the next
day, the Pagans drew the Evangelist around the city, as before, until with the words, 'Into Thy hands I commend my spirit,' he went to his rest."
Such was St. Mark in his life and in his death. Guided by the Holy Spirit of God to commit to writing, for the use of the Church in all ages, the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and confirmed and strengthened by the same Holy Spirit to preach the same blessed Gospel, and to found a Church, such as by strictness and purity of living, by zealous efforts for the conversion of the heathen, and by firm and fearless witness for God's truth, shone forth as a light in the Christian world: so guided and so strengthened both to write and to preach the Gospel; and, then, further confirmed and strengthened to suffer for the faith: the crown of martyrdom being added to his other titles to have his name remembered with love and reverence in the Church of God.
And, now, to pass to the practical lesson which we are this day to learn. And surely it is this. That we use, and profit by, God's great and singular gift of His Written Word. We have what
the Christians of Rome wished to have, the preaching of the Apostles committed to writing, and so secured to us; committed to writing by men indeed, yet by men guided and overruled throughout by the Holy Spirit, led into all truth, guarded against all approach to error, by the ever-present inspiration of God. May we have grace to use this gift aright for the glory of God, for the edification of His Church, for the salvation of our own souls. This is the practical lesson of to-day; and, in order to this, the Collect puts into our mouths words of thankfulness to Almighty God for the gift of His holy Gospel, and earnest prayer that we may be found sted-. fast and rooted in it-that " Almighty God, Who hath instructed His Holy Church with the heavenly doctrine of His Evangelist St. Mark, may give us grace, that, being not like children carried away with every blast of vain doctrine, we may be established in the truth of His holy Gospel."-Great indeed and inestimable is the blessing of the Written Word, which we, by God's great mercy, possess; and possess in such sort, as no other age of the Church, it may be, has possessed it. Great indeed is the blessing, and great also the responsibility, which we have in the Written Word. Alas, for us, if we fail to use
it aright. Alas, for us, if, (with this, which should be a sure anchor of our faith,) we, like children, be carried away with every blast of vain doctrine. Alas, for the unlearned and unstable, who wrest (as St. Peter says) the Scriptures to their own destruction. May we never so tempt God, or abuse His mercies. May we contend earnestly for the faith, which was once delivered to the saints. May we ever approach the holy Scriptures with a quiet, sober, devout, and reverent temper: seeking in them true spiritual knowledge, true practical guidance: not putting upon them new and strange senses, but content and thankful to receive the old; not seeking to explain away the high and holy mysteries of God, or our own duties to God; not speaking or thinking, as if our Christian liberty consisted in receiving and believing only so much as we are willing to receive and believe; but remembering that God Almighty, our Heavenly Father, is herein speaking to us His children, and that it is our privilege and our blessedness to hear and obey His voice, not alone when that voice is clear and distinct, but in its lowest whispers, in its faintest echoes.
Alas for the unloving temper, the spirit of mistrust and unbelief, with which men, in these