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The high esteem in which his great virtues were held, caused him at length to be chosen to the episcopal station, but he peremptorily refused to undertake that office; and apprehending that violence would be used to compel hin thereto, according to the custom of those times, he conveyed himself out of the way, till another person was appointed in his stead.
About the year 370, he took a journey to Cæsarea, in order to converse with the great St. Basil; and having staid a while with him to his great satisfaction, he returned again to Edessa, where he continued the remainder of his life, employing himself in those works of piety and benevolence to which he had been so long habituated. A short space after his coming back, the city was afflicted with a very severe famine, in consequence of which great nunbers of the poorer sort of people died for want of nourishinent; and little or no care being taken by others to put a stop to this evil, Ephraim applied himself to those he knew were possessed of wealth, and sharply reproved them for suffering their indigent brethren to perish before their eyes for lack of necessary subsistence, when it was in their power to procure them supplies; and so effectually did he plead the cause of the unhappy sufferers, that an ample provision was soon after made for their relief. Some of the wealthy persons whom he addressed, in order to excuse themselves, told him, “ that it was not from an unwillingness to part with their money which had made them so backward to contribute on the melancholy occasion, but the world was so full of deceit and fraud, that they knew not where to find a person on whom they could depend for a faithful application of what they were ready to give.” On hearing this, he desired them to inforın him what sort of opinion they entertained of him? “We esteem you (answered they), to be a very honest, good, and upright man." "Why then,” replied he, “ if you will intrust me with your donations, I will undertake the distribution thereof myself.” Accordingly having procured a large sum of money, he purchased three hundred beds, which be placed in the publick cloisters of the city; into these he caused to be put such as were feeble and languishing, and supplied them with proper food, physic, and all other necessary accommodations; nor did he confine his benevolence to the inhabitants of Edessa only, but extended it to such strangers likewise, whom want of subsistence had driven out of the neighbouring countries. In this manner he continued to exercise his kindness while the calamity lasted ; but shortly afterwards he was himself visited with an illness which put a final period to all his labours. While he lay on his death bed, he earnestly exhorted those who were with him to a vigorous emulation in the practice of religion and virtue; and refecting on his own conduct, he said, “ never did I any ways willingly dishonour God, nor has foolislı or vain talk ever gone out of my lips : I have not cursed or miscalled any one; nor had the least contentious quarrel with an honest man in all my life.” His dissolution drawing nigh, he strictly charged all his attendants not to make any funeral pomp, nor to erect any monument for him, and he forbade them moreover to sing any hymns, or make any encomiastick oration at his burial, declaring, “ that he desired only the portion of a stranger, and a sojourner as all his fathers were:-and with a kind of triumph, “ Ephraim,” said he, “ has had neither purse, nor scrip, nor gold, nor silver, or any thing else. I hearkened to our Lord in the Gospel, in suppressing all inordinate desires after these things.” He died, as is conjectured, about the year 978. He is said to have written above a thousand different discourses, and his works were held in such esteem, that they were read in the Church after the Holy Scriptures. The best edition of this Father is that of Asseman at Rome, 6 vols. folio, 1747, Syriac, Greek, and Latin. The following is an affecting representation of his fervent piety and extreme humility. ST. EPHRAIM's CONFESSION and LAMENTATION, trans
lated from the Greek by the late Bishop HORNE. Have pity upon me, O ye my friends, who have learned to weep with them that weep. For surely it is not in vain that the Scripture saith, Aman sustained by his brother becometh for strength like a well fortified city, or a castle that hath foundations. And again the same Scripture saith, Confess your sins one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. I charge you therefore, O ye chosen of the Lord, that ye hear the request of one who having engaged by covenant in the service of God, hath lied unto him that made him; if perchance I may be delivered by your prayers from my transgressions which compass me about, and being restored to perfect sound
ness, ness, I may arise from off the bed of sin and co rruption on which I have so long lain.
From my youth up I have been a vessel unprofitable and without honour in the house of my Master: yet bave I emboldened myself against the fear of judgment, as one that was free from great and grievous offences; nay as one that had been a constant monitor of others against having fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. Wherefore my glorying is become my shame, and everys admonition to my brethren a witness against myself. Ah me! into what a state of condemnation am I brought; and how do I lie down in sorrow, wbile my confusion covers me! Alas! wo is me, that I am not such inwardly, as I outwardly appear unto men to be, So that unless the day spring of mercy speedily lightens upon me from on high, not one ray of hope do my own works afford me, in this night of my affliction. I discourse about purity, with a mind possessed by concupiscence. I talk much of freedom from the inordinate love of the creature, while night and day my imagination is impregnated with it. What shall I say unto my Judge in the day when he appeareth to try the world in righteousness, and I stand to be examined before him? Too surely it will then be manifest, that I have put on the form only of godliness, and have never been truly endued with the power. With what face shall such a hypocrite at that hour meet the Lord his God, who knoweth the very secrets of his heart? Even now, whenever I presume to approach him in prayer, overwhelmed as I am with guilt, I tremble very exceedingly, lest fire come down out of heaven, and consume me. For if such was the fate of those men who offered strange fire in the wilderness, of how much soever punishinent must I be thought worthy, the burden of whose sins is intolerable ?
But am I then to despair of salvation? O no; the adversary only wants to get me to the brink of that precipice, that he may drive me violently down the steep placeinto the great deep, there to perish everlastingly. Never will I so sin against the tender mercy of God, by which my trust is to be saved even as others, through your prayers and intercessions commending me thereto. Cease not then to intreat our heavenly Father for me, that my heart may be delivered from the bondage of unworthy desires. - My heart ! Ah me! it is hardened: my mind is
alienated alienated from the love and ardent desire it once had after righteousness: my understanding, the light is departed from it, and darkness is upon the face of it. I have returned to my old sins, as a dog to his vomit; and through the insincerity of my repentance, the grace of tears is still denied to my prayers. Yet will I complain in the bitterness of my soul; I will bemoan myself in the anguish of my spirit; I will cover my face in confusion; I will smite my breast, that cage of unclean birds, that habitation of every foul and disorderly passion.
Glory be to thee, glory be to thee, thou all gracious, forbearing, long-suffering lord: glory be to thee, the only wise God: glory be to thee, thou preserver of our souls and bodies : glory be to thee, who nurturest the nations of the earth, as one man: glory be to thee, who makest thy sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendest rain on the just and on the unjust; glory be to thee, who feedest all the fowls of the air, and the beasts of the earth, and the creeping things, and every living creature that moveth in the waters, as easily as a single sparrow: these wait all upon thee, and thou givest them their meat in due season; for great art thou, O Lord, and great is thy power, and thy mercy is over all thy works. By the prayers of thy servants, who are accepted of thee, reject me not, I beseech thee, O gracious Father, among those who cry Lord, Lord, and do not the things which thou sayest. Thou beholdest the first motions of sin in my heart, and the wounds of my spirit are 'not hid from thee.
Strive with me in your prayers, O my brethren, and implore for me at the throne of grace the riches of that mercy which endureth for ever. Let your consolations sweeten the sufferings of a soul that is in the gall of bitterness. Ye living branches of the true vine, communicate to a sapless and withered bough the portion of that water of life derived incessantly to you from the root. Let not a brother walk on still in darkness, O ye chil. dren of light, of which ye have enough, and to spare. O ye who have continued in the way of truth, direct the steps of one who has sadly wandered from it. Take me with you, o ye heirs of the everlasting kingdom, and let me not stay after you behind in the world; but lead me, as a servant of iny Lord, through the royal gate into the King's palace; for my spirit is straightened within me. Ó that the mercies of God granied ine,
profession into wo is me, from the con! I have fallen.am
hand; how how backumy, passion spiritual
through your prayers, may prevent me, e'er yet I am dragged away with the workers of iniquity, and all that has been said, and done, nay thought in secret, be proclaimed before heaven and earth.
What confusion unutterable must be my portion, when, they, who now admire me as a spotless character, shall be eye-witnesses of my condemnation? I have fallen, I have fallen, wo is me, from the height of ny spiritual profession into a base subjection to my passions. How forward am I to teach? how backward to learn? How ready to command; how unwilling to obey? How fond of binding burdens; how averse to bearing them? How ambitious of receiving honour; how shy in paying it? How given to slander, revile, contemn, and insult others; how impatient of the least retaliation? How officious in reproving? how peevish when reproved? How careless of injuring; how revengeful if injured; how swift to speak; how slow to hear? How desirous of liberty myself; how rigorous in restraining that of others ? How expert in advising what I do not practise ? How apt to say only what I ought to do? How prone to do what I dare not say ?
And now, who can think on me with dry eyes ? Weep for me, all ye saints, for I was conceived in sin: weep for me, ye who love the light, for I am of the number of those who have rebelled against it: weep for me, ye approved of the Lord, for my silver is become dross: weep for me, ye who have learned to shew mercy, for you cannot find a greater object of it: weep for me, ye that are blameless and harmless, for I am swallowed upin the depths of my iniquities: weep for me ye lovers of righteousness, for I have hated the ways thereof: weep for me ye that have in you the power of godliness, for I have had only the form: weep for me, ye that have pleased God in perfect charity, for I have been a man-pleaser, and the true love have I not known: weep for me, ye that have constantly minded your own business, for I have been always meddling in the concerns of others; weep for me, ye that have brought forth fruit with patience, for my life has been without either: weep for me, ye who can come boldly to the throne of grace, for I am unworthy to behold the light of heaverr; ye who are blest with the meekness of Moses, bewail the misery of him who has vilely cast it away: ye who are crowned with the purity of Joseph, pity the sad estate of him who has betrayed