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of July, when the heat of the sun is usually the most intense, (the rain affording matter for exhalation, always naturally strongest at the hottest period of the year, and those exhalations yielding, in return, matter for rain,) it generally continues to nearly the end of the summer, when the action of that orb has considerably abated. Therefore,
“ All superstition from thy breast repel.
Nor Paul, nor Swithin, rule the clouds and wind.” ANGELINA. We will endeavour to take your advice, papa. But I perceive, William, that a female martyr or saint is next mentioned : who was she?
WILLIAM. St. Margaret, I suppose you mean, whose name stands opposite the 26th of this month. She was the daughter of an idolatrous priest at Antioch, in Syria.
Mrs. CONSTANCÉ. Are there any particulars related of her?
WILLIAM. Her history appears'so fraught with impious and absurd anecdotes; and it has been so frequently altered and amended, that little is left worth relating. Her father was distinguished for his great enmity to the Christian doctrines, and yet Margaret appears to have been so firm in the faith, as not only to be enabled to resist the persuasive eloquence of an admirer named Olybius, a president of the East, but also to undergo with fortitude the cruel torments which were afterwards inflicted upon her by his orders, when he found that he could not persuade her to marry him. She was even decapitated by this
wretch, it is said ; but it is altogether a doubtful history. And so also is that of the next-mentioned person in the calendar, called Mary Magdalen, formerly kept on the 22d of this month. Whether she was the sinner mentioned by St. Luke, or another person conspicuous for her virtue, has not been decided; but the 22d has been set apart to commemorate that Mary, whose original impurity, but subsequent eminent faith and exalted piety, is noticed in the Gospel.
MR. CONSTANCE. Are there any services performed in our church on the occasion ?
WILLIAM. Edward the Sixth first dedicated a day to her memory, when appropriate services were read; since. which time a strict inquiry has taken place as to her identity, and finding it doubtful whether she really was the Mary mentioned in holy writ, our Reformers thought it prudent to discontinue the festival. Not so, however, the Romish church; for every part of the service to her memory decidedly marks their belief in her being the repentant sinner, and they accordingly pay her due homage.
MARIA. To the 25th of this month is affixed the name of St. James : are there two days devoted to his memory, or is it a different person from whom you spoke of in May ?
WILLIAM. A different person. There are two apostles of the name of James; the one, whose remembrance is celebrated on this day, was called, for distinction's sake, St. James the Great; and the other, whose day is kept with St. Philip's on the 1st of May, was named St. James the Less.
MARIA. What was the cause of their being thus distinguished ?
MR. Constance. It is not now certainly known. Some imagine that it arose from the difference of their
statures; and others from that of their ages. It is a matter of small importance. It is more material to know their distinctive merits and sufferings; therefore, William, as you have already made us acquainted with those of James the Less, pray inform us of those of the greater St. James. Where was he born?
WILLIAM. He was by birth a Galilean, son to a fisherman named Zebedee, a partner with Simon Peter and Andrew, who were mentioned last month. James was also the brother of St. John, who, together with St. Peter, were the three select companions of our Lord. On passing by the lake of Galilee, our Saviour saw James and his brother John in their fishing-boat, and called them to be his disciples, which request they cheerfully complied with, leaving their aged father behind them. The effect of their preaching may be inferred from the title afterwards bestowed upon them by Jesus : he called the two brothers Boanerges, the Sons of Thunder, on account, as it is supposed, of their powerful and vehement manner of preaching, rousing the sleepy world to a consideration of their important mission.
Mr. Constance. Another explanation has been given, William. When the Samaritans refused the rites of hospitality to our Saviour, James and his brother desired that they might pray down fire from heaven upon their city; and that Jesus, in rebuking the fierceness of their tempers, as contrary to the nature of the gospel institution, surnamed them the Sons of Thunder, as descriptive of their tempers. James was, indeed, particularly distinguished by the exceeding warmth of his zeal; and was the first of the twelve chosen apostles who gained the crown of martyrdom.
CHARLES. By whose order did he suffer?
WILLIAM. By the order of Herod Agrippa, nephew of Herod Antipas, who slew his brother, John the Baptist.
The cruelty of Herod is well known. Being appointed governor of Jerusalem, he caused St. James to be apprehended, in order to ingratiate himself with the Jewish people. He gave him the mockery of a trial, and condemned him to death.
Mr. CONSTANCE. During which trial a wonderful conversion was effected. The apostle defended himself with such strength of reasoning and powerful eloquence, as to strike with remorse the soul of the informer who was suborned by Herod to be his accuser. This man was afterwards so impressed with the cheerful courage and meek resignation of St. James, that he implored forgiveness of the saint, and cheerfully suffered the death to which they were both doomed.
MARIA. Poor creatures! how distressing it is to hear of the sufferings and death of such noble-minded men; and how dearly ought we to prize that creed which was bought with their blood. Is it stated where St. James was buried ?
WILLIAM. No: perhaps he had no burying-place.
MR. CONSTANCE. You mistake, William. He is said to have been buried in Jerusalem, but afterwards translated to Compostella, in Spain; from which circuinstance, added to the belief of the Spaniards, that he was the first person who preached Christianity in their country, his memory is held by them in great veneration : they call him their patron saint.
WILLIAM. I am aware, Sir, that such is the common belief of the Spanish nation; no ancient authors, however, mention either his travels while living, or translation when dead; it is generally believed that the apostle never left Judea. His death happened in the year 44; and his festival was first instituted in 1089. MARIA. How was he executed ? William. The only account we have of that circum
stance is in the simple relation of Scripture, that Herod Agrippa “ killed James, the brother of John, with a sword.” The next and last name of import in this month is St. Anne, the mother of the blessed Virgin Mary, and the wife of Joachim. No particulars are related of her, and her festival is now discontinued by us. It is, however, celebrated both by the Romish and Greek churches; by the former on the 26th of this month, and by the latter on the 9th of December.
The dews of night were now fast thickening; and as each important day of the month had been explained, Mr. and Mrs. Constance led the way from their rural retreat to the more congenial apartment of the house ; where, during the service of refreshment, they forcibly impressed on the minds of their young friends, the necessity of a suitable reflection on the characters brought under their notice; and expressed a hope that they might extract, from every evening's Conversation, a lesson worthy to be treasured up in their minds. They afterwards separated, leisurely returning to their homes.