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THE SATURDAY EVENING PRAYER MEETING.
COME, my Father's family,
At the throne of grace we meet,
Here the past week's sins we mourn.
Kindly answers in return,
O what pleasure fills the room!
Love flows sweet through every breast:
With his presence we are blest.
This is pure felicity.
Cease, ye worldlings, cease to boast,
Sinking deep in misery,
Through a long eternity.
But the pleasures we enjoy,
They shall never, never end;
With the glorified above,
We shall sing redeeming love.
G. M. B.
MEMORIALS OF FELIX NEFF, The Alpine Pastor. By T. S. Ellerby. 12mo. cloth, pp. 334. Hamilton and Adams. 1833.
NEFF was an extraordinary individual, and his "Memorials" contain a most interesting illustration of the character and labours of a "Home Missionary." Such was the lamented subject of this Memoir, stationed on the "Higher Alps," in the province of Dauphiny in France. His early religious history is peculiarly instructive, including various ministerial operations before his ordination, which took place in London, May 19, 1823, at the chapel of the Rev. John Clayton. From that period to the termination of his mortal course, April 12, 1829, he prosecuted his labours with astonishing zeal and success, establishing prayer-meetings throughout the various villages in his district, schools for the young, Bible and Tract societies, and preaching many times a week throughout his sphere of labour.
Neff was an agent of the English "Continental Society" formed to promote the advancement of Scriptural Christianity in the ignorant and formal churches through the continent of Europe; and we cannot but rejoice in the contemplation of the divine blessings diffused by means of such missionaries as the devoted Felix Neff.
The difficulties in the way of this servant of Christ may be conceived in a tolerable degree by a few extracts from this Memoir. "In many respects, the work of an evangelist upon the Alps bears a striking resem blance to that of a missionary amongst savages; for
the very small degree of civilization existing in this elevated region is more calculated to retard than facilitate the progress of Divine truth. Many of their cottages have no chimneys, and nearly all are without windows. Indeed, their habitations can only be described as dark and noisome hovels, seldom cleaned out more than once a year; and in which, during the eight months of winter, the whole family are accustomed to reside, in the midst of filth and smoke. As is the case amongst barbarous nations, the women live in a state of degrading servitude, and are invariably treated with harshness and brutality. They are seldom allowed to sit; and when this privilege is granted, they are compelled to crawl on their knees to their seats. They dare not place themselves at the same table, nor partake of the same food, as the men. Their unfeeling masters hand them the allotted portion across the shoulder, never deigning to turn their heads; whilst the poor women are obliged to acknowledge this beneficence, by kissing the hand and making obeisance." P. 130-132.
In what manner Neff succeeded in elevating and evangelizing such a rude and degraded people, must be a subject of deep interest and inquiry, and in this volumne will be found a most delightful record. "Such was the extent of his pastoral jurisdiction, and so difficult of access were inany of the hamlets within its limits, that he was unable to spend more than two or three days in the course of each month, at his nominal residence at La Chalp. When issuing from this secluded glen, to prosecute his arduous and disinterested labours, the pastor of the Alps had to travel twelve miles to the west, sixty to the east, twenty to the south, and thirty-three to the north. The life of Neff, from this period, was one of almost constant migration; nor was it until his physical energies were completely exhausted, that he allowed himself a single day of relaxation and repose. From the commencement of his labours here, to his last illness, he never slept three nights in the same bed. No sooner had the time expired which he had allotted for the religious instruction of the inhabitants of one hamlet, than he was seen with his staff in his hand and his wallet on his back, vigorously scaling the mountain side, or winding his solitary course through deep and dreary defiles, leading to some other portion of his beloved parishioners. It was the whole aim of his existence to follow closely in the footsteps of his Divine Master, and to be constantly going about doing good." P. 127-129.
PRINTED AND FUBLISHED BY C. WOOD AND SON, POPPINS COURT, FLELI STREET, LONDON.
AMERICA, on several accounts, must be far more interesting to Britons, than any other portion of the habitable globe. Colonized, in its most populous, intelligent, and religious division, by our own countrymen, and participating in common with us in the blessings of our language, literature, institutions, and divine Christianity, with branches of numberless English families settled there, -we cannot but take pleasure in every thing recorded of its advancement, improvement, and prosperity. Our present view of that vast continent relates to its condition before the eriod of its conquest by the Spaniards.
"Mexico," in its pagan state, as Dr. Robertson remarks, was the pride of the New World, and the noblest monument of the industry and art of man, while unacquainted with the use of iron, and destitute of aid from any domestic animal; and the Spaniards, who are most moderate in their computations, reckon that there were at least 60,000 inhabitants in the city." - History of America, vol. ii, p. 205.
"Ferdinand Cortes," and his "Conquest of Mexico," are familiar to many of our readers: but those who are not acquainted with the discovery and colonization of this "New World," including the West Indies, should at least read the History of America by Dr. Robertson.
Clavigero, a Mexican historian of reputation, remarks, | "The city and kingdom of Mexico, was begun by the building of the temple of Huitzilopochtli, or rather Megitli, from whence the city took its name. This building at the commencement was only a poor cabin, but a new and magnificent temple was afterwards erected by the zeal of several successive sovereigns. Various and very different accounts have been given of the magnitude of this proud monument of superstition, but the most probable is the following:
"This great temple occupied the centre of the city, and, together with other temples and other buildings annexed, covered a great portion of the present city of Mexico. The wall, by which it was surrounded, formed a square, and was so large as to be capable of containing a town of 500 houses. It was built of stone, eight feet high, of a proportionate thickness, and adorned at the top with representations of serpents. There were four gates pointing towards the four quarters of the heavens, and above each gate was a building abundantly supplied with every kind of arms, where in case of necessity the troops were accustomed to retire.
"The space within the exterior part of the wall was curiously paved with stones, that were so smooth and polished, as to cause the horses of the Spaniards to stumble and fall at every step. In the midst of this space there arose a vast oblong square building, all solid, and built with square bricks of equal dimensions. It consisted of five stories of an equal height, but unequal in the length and width. The first, or base of the building, was, from east to west, more than 300 feet, and nearly 258 feet from north to south: the second was six feet less, both in length and width, than the square below. The other stories continued diminishing in the same proportion, so that upon each story there was a space or open gallery turning round from the higher story, by which three and even four men could walk abreast.
"The steps, which were placed towards the south, were built of great stones, well wrought. There were in all 114 steps, each a foot high. It was not a single continued staircase, but there were as many flights of steps as there were stories in the building, as may be seen in the engraving; so that having arrived at the top of the first flight, it was necessary to go all round before ascending the second, and thus with the remaining portion.
Upon the fifth and last story there was a platform, 240 feet long and 204 wide, which was as well paved as the square or open space below. In the eastern extremity of that space were erected two towers, 56 feet high; each of these towers consisted of three stories, the lower one being built of stone, and the other two of wood. The lower story or base was properly the sanctuary; where, upon a stone altar 5 feet high, were placed the tutelary idols. One of these sanctuaries was consecrated to Huitzilopochtli and the other gods of war, and the other to Tezcatlipoca, who was said to be the god of providence, the soul of the world, the creator of heaven and earth, and the lord of all things. The other two stories of these towers were used to preserve the necessary utensils for the worship of the idols, and the ashes of some kings and chiefs, who, from peculiar motives of devotion, were deposited there. The doors of these two sanctuaries were placed towards the west, and the two towers terminated with beautiful wooden cupolas; but of the interior decorations of these sanctuaries, as well as the dimensions of the towers, we are unable to forin any idea, no author having left an account of them. But it may be asserted without fear of error, that the height of the building was not less than 114 feet, and to the top of the towers, about 168 feet. From this elevation might be seen the lake, the
surrounding cities, and a great part of the valley, presenting, according to the testimony of those who had an opportunity of beholding it, an extensive view of incomparable beauty.
"On the upper platform was the altar for ordinary sacrifices, upon the open space below, that for the sacrifice of the gladiators. Before the two sanctuaries were two stone vessels, about the height of a man, in which the sacred fire was constantly preserved with the utmost care, for it was believed that the greatest calamities would occur if it should ever happen to be extinguished. In the other temples and sacred edifices, comprised within the precincts of the external wall, there were six hundred vessels of the same size and form, which at night, when the whole were kindled, presented a most beautiful spectacle.”
Horrible in the extreine were the religious rites of the Mexicans, "formed," as Robertson remarks, “into a regular system, with its complete train of priests, temples, victims, and festivals."-"The aspect of superstition in Mexico was gloomy and atrocious. Its divinities were clothed with terror, and delighted in vengeance. They were exhibited to the people under detestable forms, which created horror; the figures of serpents, of tigers, and of other destructive animals, decorated their temples. Fear was the only principle which inspired their votaries. Fasts, mortifications, and penances, all rigid, and many of them excruciating to an extreme degree, were the means employed to appease the wrath of their gods, and the Mexicans never approached their altars without sprinkling them with blood drawn from their own bodies. But, of all offerings, HUMAN SACRIFICES were deemed the most acceptable. This religious belief mingling with the implacable spirit of vengeance, and adding new force to it, every captive taken in war was brought to the temple, was devoted as a victim to the deity, and sacrificed with rites no less solemn than cruel. The heart and head were the portion consecrated to the gods; the warrior, by whose prowess the prisoner had been seized, carried off the body to feast upon it with his friends! Under the impression of ideas so dreary and terrible, and accustomed daily to scenes of bloodshed rendered awful by religion, the heart of man must harden, and be steeled to every sentiment of humanity. The spirit of the Mexicans was accordingly unfeeling, and the genius of their religion so far counterbalanced the influence of policy and arts, that notwithstanding their progress in both, their manners, instead of softening, became more fierce."
Robertson adds, in a Note, "The exaggeration of the Spanish historians, with respect to the number of human victims sacrificed in Mexico, appears to have been very great. According to Gomara, there was no year in which 20,000 human victims were not offered to the Mexican divinities, and in some years they amounted to 50,000. The skulls of those unhappy persons were ranged in order, in a building erected for that purpose, and two of Cortes's officers who had counted them, informed Gomara, their number was 136,000! Herrera's account is still more incredible, that the number of victims was so great, that 5,000 have been sacrificed in one day; nay, on some occasions, no less than 20,000. Torquemada goes beyond both in extravagance, for he asserts, that 20,000 children, exclusive of other victims, were slaughtered annually. The most respectable authority in favour of such high numbers, is that of Zumurraga, the first bishop of Mexico, who, in a letter to the chapter-general of his order, A. D. 1631, asserts that the Mexicans sacrificed annually 20,000 victims!!
Human sacrifices were common in Mexico, however exaggerated these accounts may have been; and
the horrible fact is full of instruction to us, in relation to the apostacy of man from God; especially while we reflect upon the happy circumstances of those who are blessed with the full light of the Christian Scriptures, and who have been favoured with the faithful ministry of "THE GLORIOUS GOSPEL OF THE BLESSED GOD."
THE BEAUTIES OF CHRISTIANITY. (Continued from p.283.)
The Mosaic Chronology.
SOME writers have maintained, that the world exhibits inarks of too high an antiquity for the modern origin ascribed to it in the Bible. To begin with chronology. The ancient Roman year consisted, at first, of ten months; after that was the Julian year, of 365 days. The ancient Jewish year had but 354 days; sometimes 12 days, or a month of 30 days, were added, to form a solar year. The Syriac year also varies; the Turkish or Arabic year admits 11 extra months in 29 years. Besides these various modes of measuring time, all these years have not the same beginning, or the same divisions of days and hours; the first month of the Persian year corresponds with our June; and China and India begin from the first of March. We find days also of two kinds: the one commencing at sunrise, as among the ancient Babylonians, Syrians, and Persians; the other at sunset, as in China and in modern Italy, and of old among the Athenians, the Jews, and the barbarians of the North. The Arabs begin their days at noon; the French, English, and other European nations at midnight. Lastly, the very hours are not without their perplexities, being divided into three classes, of Babylonian, Italian, and astronomical; and were we to be still more particular, we should no longer reckon 60 minutes in an hour, but 1080 scruples, as the Chaldeans and Arabians. Is there one candid person who will refuse to admit, that so many arbitrary modes of calculating time are sufficient to make history a frightful chaos? The annals of the Jews, by the confession of scientific men themselves, are the only ones whose chronology is simple, regular, and clear. This, then, is a new evidence in favour of the Holy Scriptures.
Next to the chronological objections against the Bible, come those which are pretended to be deduced from historical facts. The traditions of the priests of Thebes, assigned to the kingdom of Egypt a duration of 18,000 years. But one who cannot be suspected of Their year at Christianity, Plutarch, says of them, first consisted only of a single moon: it is thus that their origin appears extremely long; and though it was late before they settled in their country, they are reputed to be the most ancient of nations.”
What necessity is there, after all, to lay so much stress on orthographical disputes, when we need but open the volumes of history, to convince ourselves of the modern origin of man? We ourselves are a striking instance of the rapidity with which nations become civilized. Scarcely twelve centuries ago, our ancestors were as barbarous as the Hottentots; and now we surpass Greece in the refinements of taste, luxury, and the arts.
The general logic of languages cannot furnish any The valid reason in favour of the antiquity of man. idioms of the East, far from announcing nations grown old in society, betray men very little removed from a state of nature. Their mechanism is simple in the highest degree. If to all these difficulties of chronology and facts, we add the errors arising from the passions of the historian; if we moreover take into our
consideration the accidents of time and place, we shall be compelled to acknowledge, that all the reasons drawn from history in favour of the antiquity of the globe, are as unsatisfactory as useless.
In the history of the firmament are sought the second proofs of the errors of Scripture. Thus the heavens, which declare the glory of God, proclaim nothing to the Infidel.
Astronomy owes its origin to shepherds. In the deserts of the primitive creation, man wanted a compass to direct him through the trackless forests, or on rivers where never sail before was set. It was natural that he should place himself under the direction of the stars; each family followed the course of a constellation, each star shone as the leader of a flock. India is still both astronomical and pastoral, like Egypt of old. By an ordination not a little remarkable, the simplest nations were best acquainted with the system of the heavens. The immense discoveries, however, in this art, are but of recent date. Of the various philosophical plans of the machinery of the heavens, it was Sir Isaac Newton who selected the noblest, the most sublime design, for it was that of the Deity himself. But who could have thought, that at the moment, so many new proofs of the greatness and wisdom of Providence were discovered? There were men who shut their eyes closer than ever against the light. the "How can the world be so modern," it was said, very composition of the skies implies millions of years." It is the feeling we possess of immortality, which makes men ashamed of the short period of their existence: they conceive, that by piling tombs upon tombs, and adding cypher to cypher, they shall at length produce an eternity.
Astronomy having been found insufficient to destroy the veracity of Scripture, natural history has been called to its aid. It has been said, that all the seas of the globe would not be sufficient to cover the globe to the height mentioned in Scripture. To this we answer, that to drown the earth, ocean need only overleap his bounds: and who is there that has penetrated into the treasures of the hail? God has indeed commanded the seas to retire within their beds, but he has impressed on the globe everlasting traces of his wrath. relics of the elephant of India are piled up in the regions of Siberia, and whole beds of marine substances settled upon the summits of the Alps and the Cordilleras.
It has been said, Examine the fossils, the marbles, the lavas of the earth; and you discover in them a series of innumerable years, marked by their various circles or strata. To this we answer, God could not but create, and doubtless did create, the world with all the marks of maturity and completeness which we behold in it. If the world had not been at the same time young and old, the grand, the moral, and the melancholy, would have been banished from the face of nature. Every scene would indeed have lost its wonders. The very day that ocean poured forth his first waves, he doubtless washed shores already worn by the billows. Without this original antiquity, there would have been neither beauty nor magnificence in the work of the Almighty, but an insipid infancy of plants, animals, and elements. But God was not so wretched a designer as infidels pretend. Adam was born at the full and in like manner did Eve shine of manhood; age in all the blooming graces of female beauty. (To be continued.)
33. CYPRIAN.-Thascius Cecilius Cyprian was a native of Carthage, and descended from a noble family. His parents were idolaters, and he continued such till the last twelve years of his life. Cyprian was educated in a manner suited to his senatorial condition; and according to Lactantins, he publicly taught rhetoric in his native city with extraordinary reputation. At that period he lived in great splendour and magnificence, his dress sumptuous and his retinue stately, never going abroad but he was thronged with a crowd of clients and followers. His popular talents as an orator, and his eminent authority as a senator, were employed in defence of the superstitions and idolatries of paganism; but Cecilius, one of the ministers of Christ at Carthage, induced him to listen to the gospel, which led to his conversion to the doctrine of God our Saviour. At his baptism, Cyprian took the name of his spiritual benefactor, Cecilius; and, until the day of his death, he cherished for him the sincerest friendship, and received, as his dying charge, the care of his family.
Cyprian's whole soul was now engaged in the study of Christianity; and his progress in divine knowledge was astonishing. In proof of his sincerity, Cyprian advocated the cause of Christ with his pen, and wrote a treatise "On the Grace of God," which he addressed to Donatus, bishop of the Christian church at Carthage. He also wrote another piece" On the Vanity of Idols" and being married, he resolved upon a state of continence, which was absurdly considered a high degree of piety in that age. He consigned most of his property to the church for the use of the poor, and consecrated himself to the service of the Redeemer. Donatus, therefore, ordained him to the office of the ministry; and that bishop dying A.D. 248, Cyprian was chosen as the most proper person to render service to the church, and to succeed him in the episcopal office. With some expressions of reluctance, having been a Christian but two years, Cyprian entered upon his responsible duties.
During a period of forty years the Christians had enjoyed much peace; through which professors had become luxurious in living and dress, and greatly corrupted in manners. Cyprian resolved on a reformation, and published a treatise "On the Dress of Virgins," in which, besides what he says on that particular, he inculcates many excellent lessons of modesty and sobriety. Decius, the emperor, A. D. 249, issued severe edicts against the Christians, when a dreadful persecu tion arose; and the following year, the idolaters assembling at the Circus and the Amphitheatre, insisted on Cyprian being thrown to the lions. To avoid the popular fury, Cyprian withdrew from Carthage; and in his retirement he wrote many pious and instructive letters to his friends, encouraging them in their profession of Christ; and also to the Libellatici, those pusillanimous Christians, who were so denominated from having obtained certificates from the heathen magistrates, of their having complied with the emperor's orders in sacrificing to idols!
Cyprian was allowed to return to his pastoral charge at Carthage, where he held several councils concerning the proper mode of proceeding with those who professed repentance for their cowardice in falling from their stedfastness during the persecution. Cyprian received them to the communion of the church; but Novatus, a presbyter, opposed this laxity, and withdrew to Rome, where he joined Novatian; who, with him, thought that, though they might possibly be saved, they ought not to be received back into full communion. Novatian and Cornelius being both chosen bishops
by the Christians at Rome, Cornelius, being less strict in his discipline than Novatian, gained the strongest party, and excommunicated him, denouncing him as a schismatic. Cyprian, in a letter to Cornelius, expressed his approbation of this sentence, on account of Novatus having opposed his lax discipline.
Dr. Haweis, in his "Impartia! History of the Church," says, The reply of Cornelius to the bishop of Carthage bears an acrimony, an insolence, and abuse, that speak as little in favour of the man who could receive it with complacence, as of him who could indite it in the bitterness of his heart; and they must be sad Christians indeed whose state I should not prefer to the bishop's who could write these letters. Novatian, by his revilers, is admitted to be a man of genius, learning, and eloquence. His moral character was unimpeachable. However, it required singular excellence to maintain himself and his congregation against the weight of power and influence which were against him. One of the best, the clearest, and most precise treatises which antiquity can produce, of the Triune God, comes from his pen. He states distinctly, that the Holy Ghost is the author of regeneration—the pledge of the promised inheritance—the hand-writing of eternal salvation-who makes us the temple of God and his abode
who intercedes for us with groanings which cannot be uttered our advocate and defender-dwelling in usand sanctifying us for immortality,' &c. When I hear Cyprian anathematizing such a man, I can only say, I would rather be under the curses with Novatian, than utter them with Cyprian."
Cyprian at length died a martyr for Christ, A.D. 258, in the persecution under Valerian and Gallienus. Novatian about the same period died a martyr for Christ! Cornelius died in prison, a confessor of Christ! On these good, but imperfect men, Dr. Haweis makes the following beautiful reflections: "Ah! that great men, good men, confessors, martyrs, should quarrel, and not be willing to bear and forbear! If one is our Master, even Christ, to him let us be content to be responsible; follow the best dictates of our conscience, according to our views of God's word, and be happy to indulge our brethren with the same liberty. Cyprian and Novatian, at the right hand of the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls, must be ashamed of their hard spirit, and their harsh speeches. It is a mercy for us all, that we have such a compassionate High Priest, who knows how to pity our infirmities, and to pardon our iniquities. I am the longer on this point, because Mr. Milner calls these the first Dissenters from the church, not a tittle of which I can perceive; for Novatian was a bishop as truly chosen and ordained, from any thing which appears, as Cornelius."
THE BEST GEOGRAPHY OF THE HOLY LAND.
A YOUNG man of fortune, lately of Trinity college, Mr. Blane, returned to Cairo with his friend, Mr. Crompton, on the 15th of last May, after a journey across the desert, which was attended with a good deal of hardship, from the want of water and from excessive heat. They had pursued the route of Moses and the Israelites, and travelling with the Book of Exodus in their hands, had reached Mount Sinai. They drank their coffee on the spot where Moses received the Decalogue, visited the cave in which Elijah had taken refuge at Horeb; and placed themselves on the stone whereon Moses sat when his hands were lifted up whilst Israel fought against Amalek. They discovered also several caves containing curious objects of antiquity, not hitherto known nor visited by any traveller. On their return to Cairo they were preparing to start for Jerusalem and Damascus.— Cambridge Chronicle.