Page images
PDF
EPUB

probabilities, the chance would be incalculable against the success of the attempt, even in a single instance. But without enumerating all the particulars included in the volume of prophecy respecting the life, and character, and death of Christ, the nature and extent of Christianity,—the destruction of Jerusalem,—the fate of the Jews in every age and nation,—the existing state of Judea, of Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, Babylon, Tyre, Egypt, the Arabs, &c.—the Church of Rome, and the prophetic history which extends throughout two thousand three hundred years; may it not be assumed (though fewer would suffice, and though incontestible evidence has been adduced to prove more than double the number) that a hundred different particulars have been foretold and fulfilled ? What, then, even upon these data, is the chance that all of them would have proved true ? Such is the desparate hazard to which the unbeliever would trust, that it is mathematically demonstrable that the number of chances against him is far greater than the drops in the ocean, even if the whole world were one globe of water. Such is the stake on which unbelievers put to certain peril the interests of eternity.

By way of brief example, let us notice the prophecies respecting the seven Churches of Asia, recorded in the 2nd. and 3rd. chapters of the Revelation of St. John.

The CHURCH OF EPHESUS, after the commendation of their first works, were accused of apostacy, and threatened with destruction, except they should repent. The city was chiefly famous for the temple of Diana, "whom all Asia worshiped,” which was adorned with one hundred and twenty-seven columns of Parian marble, each of a single shaft, and sixty feet high, and which formed one of the seven wonders of the world. It is said that twenty thousand people could easily have been seated in its theatre. But what is its present condition? A few heaps of stone, and some miserable mud cottages, occasionally tenanted by Turks, without one Christian residing there, are all the remains of ancient Ephesus. It is described by different travellers, as a solemn and most forlorn spot. The Epistle to the Ephesians is read throughout the world; but there is none in Ephesus to read it now. They returned not to their first works," and the great city of Ephesus is no more.

The CHURCH SMYRNA was approved of as “rich," and no judgment was denounced against it. They were warned of a tribulation of ten days (the ten years persecution of Dioclesian) and and were enjoined to be faithful unto death, and they would receive a crown of life. Unlike Ephesus, Smyrna is still a large city, containing nearly one hundred thousand inhabitants, with several Greek churches; and an English and other Christian ministers have resided in it: the light has indeed become dim, but the candlestick has not been wholly removed out of its place.

The Church Of PERGAMOS is commended for not denying the faith in a time of persecution, and in the midst of a wicked city. But there were some in it who held doctrines which the Lord hated. Against them He was to fight with the sword of His mouth; and all were called to repent. But it is not said, as of Ephesus, that their candlestick would be removed out of its place. It still contains at least fifteen thousand inhabitants, of whom fifteen hundred are Greeks, and two hundred Armenians; each of whom has a church.

In the CHURCH OF THYATIRA, some tares were soon mingled with the wheat. He who hath eyes like unto a flame of fire discerned both. Against those to whom was given space to repent, and who repented not, great tribulation was denounced. These, then warned while on earth in vain, have long since passed, whither all are daily hastening, to the place where no repentance can be found, and no work be done. But there were those in Thyatira, who could save a city. It still exists, while greater cities have fallen, Mr. Hartly, who visited it in 1826, describes it as “embosomed in cypresses and poplars.” The Greeks are said to occupy three hundred houses, and the Armenians thirty. Each of them have a church.

Tha CHURCH OF SARDIS differed from the churches of Pergamos and Thyatira, they had not denied the faith, but there were some evil doers among them, on whom, if they repented not, judgment was to descend. But in Sardis, though the church had been founded by an Apostle, there were only a few who had not apostatized from their faith. The state of Sardis now is a token that the warning given to her was in vain. The city was the capital of Lydia : the wealth of Creesus its king was accumulated within its walls. But now, a few wretched mud huts, scattered among the

ruins, are the only dwellings in Sardis. Turkish herdsmen are its only inhabitants. As the seat of a Christian Church, it has lost all it had to losethe name. No Christians reside on the spot.

“And to the Angel of the CHURCH IN PHILADELPHIA write, these things saith, He that is holy, He that is true, He that hath the key of David, He that openeth, and no man shutteth, and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works; behold I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it; for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world,” Rev. iii. 7, 8, 10. “Among the Greek Colonies and Churches of Asia (says Gibbon, the infidel,) Philadelphia is still erect; a column in a scene of ruins.” Divine service is performed every Sunday in five Churches. “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God,” even as Philadelphia, when all else fell around it, “stood erect,” our enemies themselves being judges, “a column in a scene of ruins."

“Unto the Angel of the CHURCH OF THE LAODICEANS write,I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” The character and the fate of lukewarm Christians is the same in every age. Laodicea was the metropolis of the greater Phrygia. It was the mother Church of sixteen Bishoprics. Its three theatres, and the immense circus, which was capable of containing upwards of thirty thousand spectators, the remains of which are yet to be seen, give proof of the greatness of its ancient wealth and population, and indicate too strongly, that in the city where Christians were rebuked for their lukewarmness, there were multitudes who were "lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God.” Bnt there are no sights of grandeur, nor scenes of temptation around it now.

Its own tragedy may

be briefly told. It was lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, and therefore it was loathsome in the sight of God. It was loved, and rebuked, and chastened in vain. It has been blotted from the world. As described by Dr. Smith in his travels, it is “utterly desolated, aud without any inhabitant, except wolves, and jackals, and foxes.”

Does then the Sceptic demand a miracle before he will believe the truths of the gospel? Here are seven, out of the multitude, which he may see with his own eyes! The fate of these seven Churches of Asia was predicted eighteen hundred years ago ; and infidels themselves, without knowing it, have borne witness to its literal fulfilment. How contemptible do all the vain reasonings of man appear beside this naked fact! He then “that hath ears to hear, let him hear what the spirit saith unto the Churches."

OUR TOWN.

Continued from Page 138. The reign of the Martyr Charles was favourable to the increasing importance of Our Town,” he having granted certain assistance to the Duke of Bedford, in draining his large possessions in the fens.-One of the most violent opposers of these improvements, was a Mr. Oliver Cromwell, who, from this very act of stupidity, was recommended as an able man to be sent to parliament, as the defender of the public rights! Such a better state of drainage however ensued, as to cause an increase of population through all the low district, and Soham, although then a long and straggling place, was of some note from the number of its inhabitants. The plough had now been driven through many an acre of new and rich soil; the green slopes were dotted with sheep and herds ; and many a sunny nook embosomed the cot of the bluff peasant of the fens.

The times were however far from tranquil, and, whatever either malignity or prejudice may say of Charles the First, it is certain that his enemies were base and merciless, and that his murder is a stain on our national escutcheon, and a sin, for which our country must ever bewail itself. The defender of the public rights, was the fell spirit that tracked upon the heels of this unhappy monarch, and, having dyed his ruffian hand in kingly blood, with sanctified hypocrisy, pleaded himself as God's agent, and held up the sacred volume as the text book of Revolution.—To gaze from the summit of our own age, on the revolting scenes of the Commonwealth, is enough to make us love 6 our glorious constitution” with renewed affection, as well as to teach us the value of just subordination and loyalty. The whole framework of society was now so disjointed, and the nation thrown into such a paroxysm of embroilment, as no other person but a Protector could have accomplished, Episcopacy being abolished, a host of erratic preachers scoured the country, and expounders of the gospel were started from every class of society, the military not excepted. Without entering upon all the profanities which were uttered by this herd, we may present a single instance of their evtravagance from Walker's History of Independency._" About this time, there came six soldiers into the parish church of Walton-upon-Thames, near twilight; Mr. Fawcet, the preacher there, not having till then ended his sermon. One of the soldiers had a lanthorn in his hand, and a candle burning in it, and, in the other hand, four candles not lighted. He desired the parishioners to stay awhile, saying he had a message from God unto them, and

thereupon offered to go into the pulpit. But the people refusing to give him leave, he went into the church-yard, and there told them that he had a vision, wherein he had received a command from God to deliver his will to them on pain of damnation ; consisting of five lights. (1,) That the Sabbath was abolished as unnecessary. And here, (quoth he) I should put out my first light, but the wind is so high I cannot kindle it. (2) That tithes are abolished as Jewish and ceremonial, and here I should put out my second light, &c, (3,),That ministers are abolished as antichristian and of no longer use, now Christ himself descends into the hearts of his saints, and enlightens them with revelations and inspiration. And here I should, &o. (4,) Magistrates are abolished as useless, now that Christ himself is in purity amongst us, and hath erected the kingdom of the saints upon earth. And here, &c. (5) Then, putting his hand into his pocket, and pulling out a little bible, he shewed it open to the poeple, saying, Here is a book you have in great veneration, I must tell you it is abolished; it containeth beggarly elements, milk for babes; I am commanded to burn it before your eyes. Then putting out the candle, he said, And here my

fifth light is extinguished.”

Remember too, that yon venerable and beautiful church of our own, could tell of polluted ruffians pacing its sacred precints, of soldier parsons spouting blasphemy and treason from its pulpits, and of an infatuated mob joining in their declamation. If the quiet rest of the grave could be broken into, and human dust become vocal, he who was consecrated to the offices of the sanctuary, and who Sabbath after Sabbath fed the people with the word of truth, and with uplifted hands prayed that "we, being defended from the fear of our enemies, may pass our time in rest and quietness,"—if the broken-hearted parish priest could revisit the glimpses of the moon, he could tell us how he prayed betwixt the porch and the altar, wept away the watches of the night, supplicated Heaven to defend the right, and then died, just as the troubled waters rolled back their last surge, the dark cloud faded from the east, and the blessed star of the RESTORATION rose upon us.

Who in the dust for years have slept,
Are still in holy memory kept,
And deathless Truth in glowing page,

Transmits their fame from age to age. If one may credit an oral tradition, which has travelled down from Job Standfast, the rotund landlord of the Royal Arms, that occupied the spot now known as the “ Fountain Inn," we had enough Roundheadism in Soham, to poison the country, and as stentorian an advocate of the puritanic creed, in Nehemiah Gracelip, as the times could boast of. Our modern Church-gate Street has been paraded by men with cropped poll and shorn chin, bedizened in buff jerkin and sugar-loaf hat, and anon by others of elongated visage, and a head of long lank hair, cut all round, and confined in a black cap with white edge; a frightful ugliness which they explained as an avoidance of “the vanity of dress.” The Scriptures too, were quoted with chilling profanity, whilst weak wives and fuddling men, discoursed with daring tongue on sacred mysteries, which the schoolman and priest drew back from as holy ground.

It is marvellous, if we did not know the gross state of mind into which our townsmen had sunk, that, notwithstanding a Barebone's parliament, a military government, a tyrant Protector, and a whole nation thrown off the pivot of order, they still retained their prejudices against the late king, and their wild and fanatical liking of Cromwell. Indeed, with the exception of Cambridge, the whole county supported his cause, but, no where had he more ardent spirits in his lists, than at Soham.

« PreviousContinue »