ISCHYRION was an inferior officer who attended on a magistrate of a certain city in Egypt, which St. Dionysius has not named. His master commanded him to offer sacrifice to the idols; and because he refused to commit that sacrilege, reproached him with the most contumelious and threatening speeches. By giving way to his passion and superstition, he at length worked himself up to that degree of frenzy, as to run a stake into the bowels of the meek servant of Christ, who, by his patient constancy attained to the glory of martyrdom.
We justly praise and admire the tender piety and heroic fortitude of this holy servant and martyr. It is not a man’s condition, but virtue, that can make him truly great, or truly happy. How mean soever a person’s station or circumstances may be, the road to both is open to him; and there is not a servant or slave who ought not to be enkindled with a laudable ambition of arriving at this greatness, which will set him on the same level with the rich and the most powerful. Nay, a servant’s condition has generally stronger incitements to holiness, and fewer obstacles and temptations than most others. But for this he must, in the first place, be faithful to God, and ardent in all practices of devotion. Some allege want of time to pray; but their meals, their sleep, their diversions demonstrate, that it is not time, but zeal for the divine service that is wanting. What Christian does not blush at his laziness in this duty, when he calls to mind Epictetus’s lamp, and Cleanthes’s labour, who wrought and earned by night what might maintain him in the study of philosophy by day! Prayer in such a station ought not to trespass upon work, but who cannot, even at his work, raise his mind to God in frequent ejaculations! Also industry, faithfulness, with the most scrupulous exactness, obedience, respect, esteem, and sincere love which a servant owes to a master, with a care of their honour and interest, are duties to God, whose will he does, and whom he honours in proportion to the diligence and ardour with which he acquits himself of them. Justice, charity, concord, and ready mutual assistance are virtues constantly to be exercised towards fellow-servants, upon which depend the peace, happiness, and good order of the whole family. Patience, meekness, humility, and charity, must be called forth on all occasions, especially under reproofs and injuries, which must always be received in silence, and with sweetness, kindness, and a degree of gratitude when they carry any admonitions with them. Perfect resignation to the will of God, and confidence in his infinite wisdom, power, and goodness, must be joined with constant cheerfulness and contentedness in a person’s station, which brings servants much greater advantages for happiness, and removes them from dangers, hazards, and disappointments, more than is generally considered. Servants who are kept mostly for state, are of all others most exposed to dangers and ruin, and most unhappy; but must by devotion and other serious employments fill up all their moments. By such a conduct, a servant, how low soever his condition may appear in the eyes of men, will arise to the truest greatness, attain to present and future happiness, and approve himself dear to God, valuable to man, a most useful member of the republic of the world, and a blessing to the family wherein he lives.