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Passing Ebents.- Monthly Note.
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The state of Spain is by no means satisfactory; but still the circulation
= of the Scriptures and the preaching of the Gospel proceed uninterruptedly, We are informed that the committee of the Bible Stand in the Crystal Palace have a quarter of a million separate Gospels or Epistles printed in Madrid, nearly one hundred thousand of which have already been sold or gratuitously distributed in the following places, viz.: Madrid, San Sebastian, Cordova, Malaga, Seville, Burgos, Valladolid, Vittoria, Criptana, and in many towns in the provinces of Asturias and Andalusia. 2,500 Gospels were sold in one day in Madrid. It was a kind of rush depôt; the people literally struggled to buy the books, the crowd reaching half across the street. Some discussion has arisen as to whether it would be desirable to circulate a popish version of the Scriptures, similar to the Douay version; but we are glad to hear that the copies circulated hitherto by the committee of the Bible Stand are all of the most correct version. The Protestant congregation at Madrid numbers, it is said, a thousand persons. At Seville the Lord's Supper was publicly celebrated (the first public Protestant celebration that has taken place in Spain), and two hundred Spanish Protestants, who had attended the preparatory services and received tokens, partook of the Communion. The profoundest silence was observed by the crowded congregation, both during the impressive sermon from the pulpit and the address from the table by the Rev. J. B. Cabrera. Two English clergymen and several English gentlemen were present. The Protestant church in Seville is part of a suppressed convent, and has been fitted up and is supported at the expense of the Spanish Evangelization Society. It holds 500 persons; but, as great numbers are unable to obtain admission at every service, it is felt advisable that a large church should immediately be built. The correspondent of the Times states, that on “Easter Sunday, when twelve o'clock at noon was appointed as the hour of the first service, people began to crowd the little room used as a chapel at half past ten, and that by eleven it was absolutely impossible not only to find a seat, but even to obtain standing-room at the entrance." In Cordova, too, where as yet no special authorization of the Government has been obtained, a religious service is held privately in the house of a stout-hearted Scotchman, who is willing to take upon himself all the outcry that priestly rage and popular fanaticism may raise against him. No less than 700 or 800, between devout and merely curious people, crowd his house and premises on Sunday to hear Senor Soler, a Spanish Protestant divine, who reads prayers and preaches sermons in the vernacular idiom of the country. Cheering intelligence reaches us also from more distant lands. In Tinnevelly an ordination was recently held of thirty-two native ministers, a number probably unprecedented in modern times. And in Umritsur, in Northern India, three native candidates have been ordained, one of whom seems to be a very remarkable man. His name is Smaduddeen. For sixteen years
he persevered in the search after truth in vain, first among Mohammedan Moulvies, and then amongst the Soofies; he could find no peace from either outward austerities or inward sophistries; and at last (though he always led a moral life) he gave up all religion whatever, thinking that religions were mere human schemes to drown men's thoughts of God, and banish all fears of the punishment of sin.
But, when he met with the Gospel, he discovered in it that
of heart and soul which springs from sin forgiven, and through divine grace gave himself to the Saviour and His work. He is a learned man, and, when a Mohammedan, he wrote a great part of a Commentary on the Arabic Koran, and many other treatises on secular subjects. Since his conversion he has occupied himself in the compilation of several Urdu Christian works, some of which have proved of great value. The last one which he has published consists of some 460 closely-written pages, and is a reply to a well-known Mohammedan work opposing Christianity. These native ministers are to be placed, it seems, over native congregations, in connexion with local funds; and previous to their ordination they passed a most satisfactory examination, proving that they were (so far as men could discern) thoroughly fitted for the great work before them. At Umritsur a burial-ground was recently set apart for the interment of Christian natives, and it was remarkable that the first person buried in it was the first convert of that mission who was baptized by Mr. Fitzpatrick in July, 1853. He gave up what was dear to him for Christ when he became a Christian, and at his death, last month, he left his whole property to the Mission, consisting of about Rs. 300 in cash, and of a house in an admirable position in the city, which he set apart for the Lord's work, in order that, as he said, there may never be wanting a flag for Jesus Christ in a city where so many flags are raised in honour of Mohammed, and of the heathen gods, The Umritsur mission now numbers 250 Christians connected with it, of whom eighty-one are communicants. Three English and three native clergymen, and some twelve catechists and readers, are engaged in it in direct Missionary labour. In 1853 five or six girls could hardly be kept together for Christian instruction in a native-rented house by Mrs. Fitzpatrick. Now, in the Mission schools there, 340 girls are receiving a Christian education, and 1250 boys. From Abeokuta we learn that the native missionaries have been permitted to return, and that the people have welcomed them back with the greatest joy; even their temporary banishment has turned out to the furtherance of the Gospel, for it has been the means of establishing an important mission at Lagos, whither the missionaries were driven at the time of the outbreak.
The well-known canoe traveller (Mr. Macgregor) has published some extremely interesting letters, giving an account of his visit to the Holy Land. He had it seems the privilege of first exploring the head of the Jordan; for up to the period of his visit, the lake or marsh of Huleh, from which the Jordan flows, had never been thoroughly examined. He thus describes the discovery of the outlet of the river: “Next day I returned to my survey and my sounding, and came to the end of a promontory which juts out from the north margin of the lake further than the rest, and there I found the highest papyrus, and an opening of about 100 feet wide with a decided current running out." He had discovered the head of the Jordan! "My heart," he continues, "beat high with pleasure and excitement as I entered here. All was to be new, not only to me, but, no doubt, to everybody else; for even if any one has ever gone up this river no record has been left of his voyage. I paddled slowly up the beautiful new river. It was graceful in its windings. Its banks were sheer upright, all of papyrus. Its breadth was a hundred feet, and its depth from twelve to fifteen feet all the way." He next describes his visit to the lake of Gennesareth : " This lake is about twelve miles long by seven broad, and surrounded by mountains, save
on the north, where the Jordan enters, and where there is a plain. On the western shore, the towers and walls of Tiberias are reflected in the water,' and beyond these “is the smooth beach of the land of Gennesareth, a little crescent-shaped strip of plain teeming with verdure down to the shore, which is of clean, pretty gravel, and shells and sand, with a row of oleander bushes growing in the water. At the other end of the charming
each-along which so often walked the Saviour of the world—the mighty God—the Prince of peace-we see the hill on which stood His
own city'--'Thou Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven;_but now not one house is there. Next comes the white strand, where once Bethsaida stood.” On steering towards it, Mr. Macgregor says: “Soon round my boat I saw ten thousand fish, their heads and backs above water, and as close together as they could lie. Outside of these was a circle of cormorants and ducks waiting for prey. No wonder that this was named Beth Saida, 'House of Fishes.' Lately two fishers' huts were built here. Twelve men came out and welcomed the Rob Roy with admiration and applause. One of them cast off his fisher's coat,' and waded out to greet me." These men pay £100 a year to fish in the lake. The voyager suggests incidentally that a payment of this kind might be the “ tribute money,” to furnish which the miracle was wrought. He spent three days at Bethsaida. “On one of them it was stormy, the waves rose rapidly, and a heavy cross sea
very soon thundered on the gloomy beach. I have been (he remarks) in many lakes where the wind is sudden and severe—in Scotland, in Sweden, and in America—but I never saw any sheet of water so subject to squalls as this, and so quickly moved from perfect calm into rough and distracting waves tossing about with a fretfulness altogether unusual. On the northern shore is the desert place' to which Christ withdrew for prayer. Near this the thousands were fed. As I went to it in my canoe, I saw men wading Jordan, for there is a ford near the place, and by this the multitudes could have followed Christ as He went. The northern beach is of fine black gravel. I discovered a channel 500 feet long and five feet deep, and a pier under water extending 100 feet more. The channel led me to a ruin, and plainly this was a little port inland. Another not so large was further east. From one of these the apostles may have embarked when they left Christ behind.” Mr. Macgregor finds“ at least four localities on the eastern shore in every way remarkably adapted to the incidents of the narrative of the legion of the devils and the herd of swine.
" There were the rocks and caves, where tombs would be. There was the wild feeding ground, covered with bulbous roots, where swine might feed. Even at that moment, a great flock of horses, camels, goats, and bullocks was actually grazing and browsing on the rank herbage of the mountain. Near them the hill sloped steep to the strand, in one spot only a few feet from the water, in another leading straight to the high gravel beach. Now, this beach for a mile in extent is very peculiar in its conformation, and quite different from any other part of the shore of this sea. The gravel shelves down at an angle of forty-five degrees, from about ten feet deep in water. A scanty fringe of oleander partially conceals the water. When I came close in my canoe, I could not see the inner shore at all, and therefore if a herd of animals were to run towards this they would come very suddenly to the top of the gravel bank, and being urged on by others behind they could not stop, but must certainly run into 'the deep' and be drowned. I compared all the various features of
the hills and slopes here from different points of view, which could only be done by patient scrutiny from a boat, for you cannot compare two hills unless you are at proper distance from both of them, though, of course, you can see each of them by walking under it upon the shore. I came away much gratified by this afternoon's work, in having fully satisfied myself as to the suitability of the slope near Wady Fik for the scene of the only miracle of our Lord where punishment was inflicted and death.” In a later communication, addressed to the Times, Mr. Macgregor describes his inspection of the subterranean explorations at Jerusalem. He was accompanied by Lieutenant Warren, and having passed, by means of a rope ladder, close to the exterior wall of the temple area at Robinson's arch, and reached a depth of fifty feet below the actual surface, the place is thus described : “ The hole we are in is like a well, but it is lined with strong plauks, and at the dark bottom our passage is through an opening as if into a kitchen grate, where we grope on all-fours, with hard knock on the head now and then, bending sideways too, as well as up and down, until suddenly the roof becomes rugged and crooked, indescribably contorted by angles, all of them the corners of well-cut stone. For here we are in the confused heap of huge voussoirs or arch-stones which, once high in the air, spanned gracefully the rocky vale between Zion and the Temple. At the siege of Jerusalem Titus parleyed with the Jews across this gorge, and then these stones were hurled down here, and with what a crash! Upon them, hidden by their own ruin, new buildings arose and gardens flourished. These also were laid low, and on the desolate mounds the present houses stand. The Jerusalem we see to-day is not the real Jerusalem. That is buried under fifty feet of wreck and confusion, but in its forced silence somehow it speaks eloquently, bidding the Christian and the Jew to heave its burden off, to open the dark to light and air, and to read in the covered relics the story of past times. Therefore we look
up and around on these old stones, and seem to listen with an inquiring gaze, for nothing of their rich bold masonry has been spoilt by this turmoil above. Old as they are, we notice among
one stone below the rest, and yet more hoary than the others. It is part of a still more ancient bridge across the rocky cleft, which then was steep at the sides, but now is filled up by fifty feet of rubbish. David in former days may
have marched over here. Certainly many kings and prophets after him have trod upon these stones. Tanks, cisterns, aqueducts, pavements are opened to us underground. Once we have got down, we can scan by the magnesium light a subterranean city, the real city of Jerusalem. The labour of building this, and of now mining into it when buried, is forgotten in wonder when we gaze on the silent relics or wander about the caverns echoing a hollow voice.” The last visit was paid to shaft 52, “its number telling how many others must be left unseen. straight through the rubbish at the south-east corner of the old wall of Jerusalem. Above us, rising proudly still, is the ancient angle of the Temple area, which overhangs the valley steep below, 200 feet. Most likely it was on this, or on a pinnacle near, that our Lord was placed in His threefold temptation. Even now the wall is fifty feet high above ground, the most expressive feature of the Holy City seen from without in the profile of Jerusalem. At a depth of nearly eighty feet below the present ground, near the wall, we reach at last the corner stones of the venerable building, so that what we have looked up to before as lofty is seen only from a false base of rubbish, actually eighty feet high above the
real rock, and thus much robbing the Haram wall of more than half its veritable height. Even above the present surface the stones are huge as well as ancient, and at the bottom they are equally massive and beautifully cut. The rock itself is bared at last upon which the marvellous structure rests. Where each lowest foundation stone lies upon it we can see the rock has been levelled to receive its brethren. Here, and only here, are chippings from the chisel. The stones, indeed, were finished by Divine command before they were placed, but the mason's tool had to be used on the live rock as it lay. In one part there had been even then some rubbish here, and this had been cut out to admit the lowest stones. Among this ancient débris I was fortunate enough to pick out the tooth of a camel, which must have lived among the Jebusites before even this old wall was built. It is on these lowest courses of stones, most of them very large-one more than seventeen feet long-that you can see by candlelight the curious letters, or, at any rate, characters, in red paint, of which full particulars have been published in your columns. These letters are numerous, distinct, and large, and others are actually cut in the stone, but all of them are complete puzzles to the best scholars here, and the decision of the English, German, and French savans as to their meaning is awaited with deep interest.' In connection with these interesting explorations at Jerusalem, there is a remarkable prophecy in Psalm cii. 13,
" Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come. For Thy servants take pleasure in
, her stones, and favour the dust thereof."
Our home events this month are, we regret to say, not satisfactory. In the House of Commons, Mr. Gladstone's Irish Church Bill has been read a second time, with the large majority of one hundred and eighteen, and whilst we write it is passing through committee with similar majorities in its favour, each clause being contended by its opponents with little or no
Some remarkable speeches have been made during the debates, but decidedly the most remarkable by Sir Roundell Palmer. His known ability, his Christian character, the position he occupies, and the sacrifices which it is understood he has made in consequence of his disagreement with this measure, all combined to make his speech of peculiar value and force. It is said to have made a profound impression. Sir Roundell Palmer affirmed that, for the changes brought forward by this bill, there exists no parallel either in this or in other countries ; not even at the time of the Reformation, when extensive appropriations of Church property took place; appropriations which were followed by very serious evils. He showed that the Church has as much valid legal right to her property as any private individual has to his, and that there was as much injustice in taking away property in the one case as the other, without good and sufficient reason. Then he showed that no good and sufficient reason had been brought forward in this case, for even the alleged failures of the Church had been due to unfair legislation; and that no such failure could be said to exist now, inasmuch as the Church had of late years well and truly discharged her duties. Such is the deliberate opinion of one of the first lawyers of the day—the opinion of one of the highest liberal statesmen, and a lifelong friend and follower of Mr. Gladstone. How in the face of this, Mr. Gladstone and his colleagues can push boldly on, without hesitation or misgiving, it is difficult to understand. We can only ascribe it to insatiable ambition, supported by Rome's advancing forces, and all the radical and infidel tendencies of the age. As a contemporary well