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famous Franciscan commentator on the annals of Babylon in that passage as synonymous with Baronius, and after him by a series of great names Rome. In support of his opinion he did not as eminent for orthodoxy as for learning,—such as scruple to call Ewald, the German rationalist, to Calmet, Tillemont, Baluze, Valesius, and others. his aid, making use of that scholar's far-fetched
Fabiani having thus narrowed his ground, re- refinements to bolster up his argument. sorted to a line of argument which, as the event But this unscrupulous readiness of Romanists proved, did not yield him a rich return. Its to borrow weapons from their enemies is by no main feature consisted in the attempt to throw
Years ago, for example, when this discredit on the chronology of Scripture. “I very verse was in dispute, the learned Grotius bave studied Scripture for forty-one years," he was quoted in behalf of the Roman Catholic view, said, " and two years ago I gave to the world the just as Ewald is now. Nor is it in the least fruits of my inquiries in the Eponimi Assiri. degree unnatural that Romanists should find conThe celebrated Lepsius declared that after that venient allies among rationalists, when we reflect publication the Scripture chronology had lost all that their respective systems have one common value, and must be regarded as defunct.”. Now, idea at their root,—the disparagement of the whatever may be the attractions or conveniences supreme authority of Scripture. of this style of tactics for men driven by stress The Roman Catholic argument from Tradition of weather to adopt the shortest and easiest received, as it deserved, somewhat rough treatmethods of shelving the grave Biblical difficulties ment at the hands of the Protestants. The which stare them in the face at every turn of the observations of Signor Ribetti were of value on discussion, they can hardly expect those who this point, as showing the origin of the immense have any respect left for Scripture, to allow them- mass of tradition which had grown up in the selves to be hood-winked in this fashion. The course of ages upon the subject of St. Peter's visit Protestant speakers seemed fully to appreciate to Rome. “This belief,” he said, “is the product the insidious nature of this flank-movement, and of an insinuation first skilfully introduced into rendered good service not only to the cause they the popular fancy and then changed into a decree. had in hand, but to the general interests of Bible But error has no prescriptive rights, and does not truth, by their strenuous and efficient mainte- become true because of its antiquity.” The nance of the New Testament chronology. Gavazzi, same speaker then pointed out the total lack of in particular, demonstrated with great clearness anything like contemporary evidence of St. Peter's the certainty of the dates of various events re- visit, and showed that the long line of Fathers corded in the Acts of the Apostles, such as the quoted by Canon Fabiani mounted no higher arrival of Paul in Rome, and his journey to Jeru- than the third century. After showing that salem three years after his conversion.
there was really nothing in Clemens Romanus to Nothing that transpired on the occasion of this indicate the place of St. Peter's martyrdom, discussion throws a clearer light on the distinctive Ribetti went on to describe what dependence genius of Catholicism, than the readiness dis- could be placed on Papias, the writer to whom played on all occasions by its champions to take the Catholics are mainly indebted for the original liberties with Scripture, whenever such a course propagation of the legend. "Papias was nothing suited their purpose. This tendency was illus- but a propagator of fables. A bishop who trated, as we have just seen, in their treatment of understands by the Millennium a Carnival of a the chronological argument; and the same prin- thousand years scandalizes me. He reminds me ciple or habit was called into play, and wielded of Mohamet promising his disciples the Houri with effect in the interpretation of the word and all the pleasures of the world in Paradise. Babylon at the close of St. Peter's First Epistle. You see, then," he added, "that your edifice, With that deplorable contempt of the laws of which has cost you so many centuries of subtle exegesis not infrequently shown by Roman theo- insinuation, is a colossus of chalk, built upon the logians, Fabiani had recourse to the forced and point of a needle ; and we have dealt it a blow unnatural interpretation which treats the word which has made it totter."
Gavazzi showed no less dignity and skill in Father Guidi closed the debate, in a speech dealing with some of the subsidiary arguments much more remarkable for its insinuation of obfrom Tradition,-as, for instance, the universal jections, for the self-complacency of its assertions, recognition of the fact of St. Peter's visit by and the serene composure of its assumptions, than artists of all kinds, who had embodied it in some for the solidity of its reasoning, or the clearness of their finest pieces. “Sirs,” said he in reply, of its insight. Attempting to deal with the “let us put the artists on one side. We do not question according to the rules of formal logic, follow them in their fantastic caprices. They his arguments wanted body and pith, and, accordhave painted the Magi as kings, Veronica with ing to the confession of the Catholics themselves, the countenance of the Saviour, the Cherubim fell flat and tame on the minds of his hearers. with wings, and only one head ; they have put He made no attempt to grapple with the diffian eye within a triangle and called it the Eternal culties of the case, but repeatedly took for granted Father.” This sally is said to have afforded the the very points requiring to be proved. audience considerable amusement. In an equally Casting our eye back on the whole controversy, summary way the same speaker disposed of a we can now at this distance gather together and similar argument founded on the supposed place before our minds in a concise shape the varipresence of the relics of St. Peter in Rome. “No ous conclusions established by it beyond dispute. conclusion can be drawn from this. The body These may be shortly summed up as follows :of St. Stephen is said to be buried in one of 1. The failure of the Protestants to produce any your Roman basilicas; but will you by any positive proof of their assertion that St. Peter wus chance thence infer that Stephen was martyred never at Rome. 2. The equal, and for them much here? The relics were transported hither, if more fatal, failure of the Romanists to produce here they are.” In a magnificent piece of plead- any positive evidence of their assumption that the ing, occupying three hours in the delivery, Signor Apostle was at Rome. 3. The consequent necesGavazzi entered into a detailed examination of sity of deciding the merits of the question by strikthe various heads of argument, rebutted the ing the balance of probabilities on either side. objections of his antagonists, and exposed their | 4. The enormous disproportion between the few evasions, hunting them down from point to slender possibilities on the Roman Catholic side, point, and meeting them at every turn, now with and the numerous weighty probabilities on the a triumphant superiority of logic, now by a Non-Catholic. 5. The consequence arising from dexterous application of the lighter weapons of putting this overwhelming mass of probable proof sarcasm and repartee. His naturally great against those feeble and distant possibilities, powers of destructive criticism and of copious namely, that no judge in a court of law, sitting and vigorous expression were raised to a special upon a case like this and arriving at similar constate of efficiency on this occasion by the thorough clusions, would have any difficulty in determining study he had given the subject several years ago, on which side the truth really lay. when he had written a book upon the question. It remains for us to notice in a word the Such, we are told, was the effect of his speech, practical results of this unique discussion. The that at its close Signor Sciarelli rose to intimate Roman Catholics, for their part, have virtually that, in consideration of the impossibility of con- acknowledged the crushing nature of their defeat futing Gavazzi's statements, he waived the right by their refusal to accept a second challenge from of reply which belonged to him as opener. This their opponents to argue the question of St. we cannot help regarding as an impolitic and Peter's Primacy. Thus left masters of the field, incautious step. We believe that Signor Sciarelli the latter have not been slow to profit by the would have done a much wiser thing, had he great opportunity which has been so unexpectedly used his privilege of reply to gather up the loose laid at their feet. “Although,” to quote the threads of the discussion, and put the net gains words of one of the ministers some weeks after and losses of the two sides in a clear and concise the event, “ the discussion did not tend to fill form before the audience and the public.
men's minds with the vital themes of evangelical Christianity, it has, nevertheless, greatly helped | hold all who desire to be present. Signor Gathe cause of truth. It has been; in the hands of vazzi has begun a series of lectures to prove the God, a powerful instrument in the way of inter- anti-scriptural character of the primacy and ponesting our fellow-citizens in religious questions. tificate of St. Peter. These meetings are crowded. All the places of Worship in which the gospel is What, therefore, our adversaries had intended for preached, and they are many, are now better evil, God has overruled for good, and the extenattended than before. Several are too small to sion of his kingdom.”
T. T. G.
The Church in the house.
BY THE EDITOR.
ACTS xvi. 25.
they are well fitted to arrest attention and impress their SONGS IN THE NIGHT.
mark. When there is evidence of peace with God prevailing over the heaviest of outward troubles, it takes
effect on the conscience of an observer. It is a great RAYING, they hymned God:” for snch thing to see one taken up from a miry pit, and his feet
are the words when literally rendered. set upon a rock and his goings established; but it is Prayer and praise in the dungeon that when a new song is put into his mouth that many.shall
night were not two distinct and suc- see it and shall fear, and shall trust in the Lord (Ps. xl.). cessive acts. They sang in concert their address to It is specifically joy in believing when it bursts forth in God; and, doubtless, like the psalms of David, the ad- great tribulation that takes effect on others and wins dress included both requests for mercy and ascriptions them to the Lord. of praise. It may, indeed, have been the psalms of A lamp when lighted may burn by day, but it is only David that they sang- both the prisoners had the at night that it is seen by the neighbonrhood. The verses by heart: they had not a book, and did not darkness does not kindle or cause the light, but the
darkness reveals it and spreads it around. It is thus God heard their prayer, we know, for he gave it a that consistent joy in the Lord, when believers attain it signal answer. But there were also other listeners : in a time of trouble, becomes an effective testimony for " the prisoners heard them.” One would like to know Christ. Not a few owe their conversion instrumentally who these prisoners were. Like the contents of other to the light that streamed from a saint in the hour of prisons, they were probably of various characters and his departure - to the song that rose from the pilgrim conditions. Some may have been the callous habitués when he was traversing the valley of the shadow of of the place; and some may have been men of the high- death. est consideration, awaiting trial for political offences. Thus, though the speakers were bound that night, But to all the inmates alike the sound of psalms at the Word was free; not only the word that went upmidnight would seem strange and startling. It was ward to the throne of God, but also the echo of that probably whispered through the prison in the evening word, that pierced the gloomy partition walls and saņk thnt two Jews had been brought in-severely scourged-- into the startled ears of weary and wretched prisoners. accused of teaching some new doctrine regarding the It seemed a roundabout road that the Word of the gospel resurrection of the dead. Then the tender yet joyful took to reach these motley groups of Greek and Latin song of two blended voices rose on the midnight silence Gentiles ; but the Word did not miss its way. There of the prison. The wakeful listened, and the slum- was a dead-wall between the apostles and their audience, berers awoke. The hymn was probably in the Greek and therefore they did not preach that night. But there tongue, and the more acute ears would catch glimpses was no wall between them and the Father of their spirits:
praying, they hymned God in the inner prison, and the That was a night much to be remembered by the prayer sent upward fell down again on the other side of inmates of the jail. It is altogether probable that some the partition, falling there on listening ears. In this who heard that strange psalm-singing were among the circuitous method the gospel reached some needy souls. Philippian Christians to whom Paul subsequently ad- It is thus that in modern warfare they often overcome dressed his most affectionate letter from another prison a fortress which is too strong to be taken by direct
assault. The wall frowns thick and high between the “Songs in the night” are the special gift of God, and defenders and the assailants. No missile sent in a
of its meaning.
Acts xvi. 26-31.
direct line can touch the protected garrison. The be- By the use of the imperfect tense, it is clearly indisiegers in such a case throw their balls high into the cated in the history that the missionaries irere hymning heavens: these fall within the inclosure, and do more God, and the astonished prisoners in other cells prickexecution in their fall than they could have done by ing up their ears to listen, when the crash of the earthdirect impact on the walls. When a good soldier of quake came. The psalm was cut short in the middle of Jesus Christ cannot by direct preaching of the gospel a verse, and the sense, which the listeners strained reach the ears and hearts of men to subdue and win gather, broken off before it was completed. The founthem, he may sometimes effectively accomplish his dations of the prison were shaken, so that the doors object by prayer and praise. His arrow, going first up- were thrown open, but the walls were not thrown down. ward, may in its descent wound some conscience and The jailer, living in some wing apart, did not hear the subdue some soul.
song, but was awakened by the earthquake. Mark Christian families or groups, travelling in Romish or here God's mercy in its fulness and overflowing. Those otherwise darkened districts, might in this way scatter who cannot or will not hear the still small voice of blessings on their track. They may possibly not possess praise, will be aroused by a providential visitation. talent or find opportunity for preaching; but if, in the They are not suddenly destroyed, but sharply shaken, evening in the hotel, they should “pray and sing praises that they may hear and live. God is long-suffering. to God," some prisoners might hear and turn to the Lord. If he had cast us off and shut us out on our refusal of
But the same lesson admits of application on a greater one invitation, where would most of us have been to-day? scale and nearer home. Some disciples of Christ have He has waited to be gracious. When we turned a deaf the misfortune to dwell in an ungodly neighbourhood. ear to his Word, he has made the earth shake beneath But alongside of the misfortune, if they are watchful, a us, that we might be compelled to listen for our own life. privilege lies. If their lamp burn, the surrounding darkness will reveal and utilize its light. Satan's prisoners are within earshot of Christ's free men. Per
XV. haps a hard partition of various prejudice shuts out the
THE JAILER. ungodly from direct instruction and reproof; but nothing can defend them from the indirect stroke which Paul and Silas dealt on their fellow-prisoners at Philippi. The jailer's first thought was suicide. This was the Let the prayer-hymn rise, soft and sweet, from the highest point to which heathen culture could soar. It church in the house when the door is shut; and the was held in high repute among the Romans. In parnotes sent up to heaven will drop down again into ticular, at this same town, Philippi, many illustrious houses where no church meets. The indirect method is examples of self-destruction had occurred. In a battle the best for reaching the rough, ungainly elements that near this place, the republicans were finally defeated by crowd and cluster in the centres of modern cities. Some the imperial army. The vanquished patriots, knowing po sprinkling of “the salt of the earth" in close contact way of escape, died in great numbers by their own with the corruption, would, under God, be the most hands. It is quite possible that the proximity of these effectual healer.
events may have raised suicide to an exceptional measOf late years many instances have occurred of songs ure of honour in Philippi. being given in the night to miners imprisoned by some The keeper supposed that his prisoners must have catastrophe in the recesses of a coal-pit. The most escaped. Remembering the special charge connected touching example I know is at once the latest and the with the two strangers recently committed, he believed nearest. It occurred a few weeks since, on the waters that his life was forfeited, and determined not to await of the Forth estuary opposite Edinburgh. Three fisher- the humiliation of condemnation and punishment. Paul men belonging to Newhaven went out in their boat at rushes to the rescue, eager to save life. Quickly he night to ply their calling. A sudden squall upset their adopts the most direct and efficacious means. “We boat. All three rose to the surface, and laid hold of the are all here!” he exclaimed: he has hit the nail on the capsized boat. Sustaining themselves thus above water, head. He has removed in a moment the cause, and they alternately conversed on the subject of the pre- the intended effect falls to the ground. The safety of ceding Sabbath's sermon, and sang hymns which they all the prisoners removed the jailer's fears : his band had by heart. First one, and then another, after bid dropped from the sword's hilt, and the horrid deed was ding affectionate farewell, let go through weariness, and left undone. passed away from suffering into rest. A pilot-boat bore Relieved now, and relieved completely from his first down on the wreck in time to save the strongest man, fear, a second instantly seizes bim. “He called for å the single survivor. From his lips came the narrative light, and sprang in, and came trembling.” Trembling? of their experience while they trod together the valley what makes the man tremble now, when his danger is of the shadow of death. In circumstances still more all removed ? Not a prisoner has escaped ; the magisdreadful than those of Paul and Silas at Philippi, they trates have not a case against him. Why is he still in also obtained songs in the night,
This is another fear. In a moment, one great fear sunshine of the preceding day, might suddenly flash left him, and another, a greater, took possession of his upon his conscience as a truth, when the earthquake heart. It has been suggested by some critics, that this had thrown open the doors, and yet the prisoners had is the first terror not yet removed,—that the displeasure not made their escape in the darkness. of his superiors is still the cause of his apprehension,– These things are written for our admonition. The and that his cry, “What must I do to be saved ?" word that records them is a die deeply cut, that will pointed to the punishment due to the officer who slum- receive broken hearts in succession till the end of the bered at his post. Those who take this view of the his- world come, and mould them anew, and turn them out tory must be under a strong doctrinal bias; for it is a new creatures in Christ. The cutting of that die at view that is forced and unnatural. It is interesting, first was a great work : it was engraven when the Son eren as a critical study, to mark how manifold and com- of God was exceeding sorrowful even unto death. The pete is the evidence that his fear and his question now drops were eating deeply in when he cried, “ If it be point to pardon and peace with God. (1.) Had the ob- possible, let this cup pass.” It could not pass ; it was ject of his fear been punishment by his superiors, he poured out to the dregs. That fiery out-pouring cut its would not have fallen on his knees before Paul and way in, and formed the matrix into which melted men Silas. They had no power to shield him. But he had might afterwards be cast. Only one such type was ever now the presentiment that these men were servants of formed. None other than “God with us " could endure the Most High God, who could show him the way of sal- the baptism. Only one such type was made in the vation. On this supposition, his act becomes rational dying of the Lord Jesus ; but it serves for all the world, and consistent. (2.) The answer which they gave him and for all time. Whosoever will, let him come. Let show what they understood by his question. They en- melted hearts flow in ; and forthwith they become new. josel the best opportunity of knowing what he meant. This precious answer, “Believe in the Lord Jesus They saw in his terror his conviction of sin : they so Christ, and thou shalt be saved,” it is not easy to deunderstood his question, as to answer it by offering him scribe and define. If you were asked to explain what Christ
. (3.) And the man was satisfied with the answer sunlight is, you would not know how to answer. There he obtained. Assuredly, if he had feared for his head is nothing better known to those who see; but there of account of the prison being open, to believe in the is nothing more difficult to make known to those who Lord Jesus Christ would not have protected him from are born blind. the sentence of his heathen masters on the morrow. Manifestly it behoved Paul on this occasion to put
For his first fear, the appropriate and sufficient cure into his answer the whole marrow of the gospel. If it is was the assurance, “We are all here;" for his second, possible to give in one mouthful the essence of all that the appropriate and sufficient cure was, “Believe in he ever preached, he is bound to give it here and now. the Lord Jesus Christ.” These two distinct and suc- We are warranted in assuming that this answer concessive consolations show what were the two fears tained all that is necessary to salvation, and nothing which in rapid succession had occupied and oppressed more. There is not too little : there is not too much. his heart
. The first fear was, lest he should lose his It is manifestly a matter of life and death ; and it is at life for allowing the prisoners to escape ; the second his peril if the apostle treat it otherwise. The penitent fear was, lest he should be cast out of God's presence sprang in, and fell down, and cried. His cry was, because of his sin. Although it is not necessary that “What must I do to be saved ?” The missionaries are we should be able to trace the way of the Spirit in the bound, as they shall answer to God, to tell the man rapid succession of this man's experiences, the difficulty this, and at the moment nothing else. It would have would be much diminished if we should suppose that been to trifle both with the sinner and the Saviour, the jailer was an attentive observer of events, and was either to have kept back anything essential, or to have acquainted with all the circumstances that led to the dallied with redundant prescriptions. The missionaries commitment of the apostles. The things had not hap- are equal to the crisis. They spring out as eagerly pened in a corner. The strange persistent cry of the and sharply as the jailer springs in. He hungers : they Pythoness, articulately acknowledging these men as ser- give him the bread of life. He is lost: they offer him vants of the Most High God, and the subsequent change the Saviour. They give him enough; and nothing in her attitude and conduct, were matters of notoriety more. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou in the city. Now, although the jailer did not, when he shalt be saved. received his prisoners in the evening, believe them to be the divinely inspired teachers of a new salvation ;
XVI. het, if he was aware that this character had been ascribed to them in the raving responses of the pro
FAITH AND OBEDIENCE. phetess, the shock of the earthquake at midnight would in a moment throw a new light over the whole scene. Can faith save you, then, without works? Suppose a The startling announcement which he had heard with man should “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ," and incredulity, and, perhaps, with sarcastic hilarity, in the continue to exhibit a profane and in pure life, will he be
ACTs xvi. 31-40.