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SCOFFERS ARE UNACQUAINTED WITH THE FACTS
Examples.—Those who have "come scoffing" in the present age, are utterly unacquainted with Bible facts and Bible language. We first notice Bible facts. In exhibiting such cases, we are like the man who stands by an immense magazine of wheat. He may take a handful and hold it out to view ; but he cannot exhibit each grain in the mass to the eye of any purchaser. It would be a task endless and painful.
ITEM 1.-—In the second and third chapters of Revelation may be found the letters written by St. John, at the direction of Jesus Christ, to seven Churches, situa. ted in that part of the world which we call Asia Minor. To each Church was sent a different message, a different threatening, or a different promise. These prophetic declarations were long in fulfilling, but have all come to pass. It is common with the totally uninform. ed in chronology to say, when prophecy is named, · Perhaps this was written after the event came to pass. For the sake of such, it is here remarked, that the event about to be noticed, occurred more than nine centuries after the book of Revelation was much written against by haters of the Gospel, and defended by lovers of the truth. Inasmuch as a book is written before its contents are greatly controverted, even the most unlettered will be able to understand dates in this case ; and will be satisfied, after nine hundred years of discussion, that the book was in existence. For the
sake of those who may fear Christian partiality, when we come to speak of the fulfilment of these seven mes. sages, we will quote mostly from infidel authority. They will scarcely suspect an undue favour toward the sacred volume, in those who have hated its name, writ. ten against its authority, and mocked at its doctrines. To the Church of Ephesus, the Redeemer ordered John to write : “Remember, therefore, from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy Candle. stick out of its place, except thou repent."
The author of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, (Gibbon) one of the most accomplished, unrelenting haters of the Bible, that ever spent half a lifetime in writing against it, says: “In the loss of Ephesus, the Christians deplored the fall of the first Angel, and the extinction of the first Candle-stick of the Revela. tion.” He tells us this was accomplished by the Ot. tomans, A. D. 1312. In Ephesus, at the present day, there are none who even bear the Christian name ; so completely is the Candle-stick removed.
To the Angel of the Church, in Philadelphia, John was commanded to write: " 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, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” It was, indeed, an hour of trial to all the Churches, when the Mahometan, with his naked sword, gave the member choice to receive the Koran for his Bible, and Mahomet for his Prophet, or to see his sons and daughters go into servi. tude, his dwelling blaze, and to suffer his blood to stain his own hearth. From this temptation, it was especial. ly improbable that Philadelphia would be saved. This
we may learn from the language of the same unbeliev. ing author, who seemed almost startled himself at what he was compelled to record. Hear him speak, “ Phila. delphia alone has been saved, by prophecy-or cour. age. At a distance from the sea, forgotten by the Em. perors, encompassed on all sides by the Turks, her val. liant sons defended their religion and freedom, abovo fourscore years, and at length capitulated with the proudest of the Ottomans. Philadelphia is still erect; a column in a scene of ruins.” We have reason to hope that God has had new-born souls there in every age.
To the Laodicean Church the Saviour wrote: “Because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.” It seems to us, that words could not be placed on paper expressing a more deep and decisive abhorrence. What are the words the Infidel Historian, has chosen? He says, “ The Circus and three stately Theatres, at Laodicea, are now peo. pled by wolves ánd foxes.'
The Church at Smyrna, next claims our notice. In the sacred volume we find the Lord repeatedly telling his servants, that a day should stand for a year, in the oc. currence then foretold. This may be more fully con. sidered, when we come to mention the subject of pro. phecy. That the ten years persecution, during which the Church at Smyrna suffered, under the reign of Do. mitian, was a cruel and a bloody one, perhaps no one has ever questioned, and we need not pause here to quote history for its proof. The Lord had, long before. hand, commanded an Apostle to tell them, by letter : “ Behold, the Devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried, and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee
a crown of life," &c. &c.
A minister of the Gospel once felt a desire, and sought an opportunity to con. verse with a number of rejecters of Christianity, who possessed talents and literature. Between him and some of these, a friendly intimacy existed; some of them were admired by their countrymen, and kņown to the nation by their political eminence. He felt pres. singly solicitous to make inquiries, such as the follow. ing : “ Do you never find your curiosity at least, somewhat awakened, whilst reading the letters to the seven churches of Asia ? Suppose it had been of Philadel. phia, that the historian had said, with truth, it is in. habited by wolves and foxes ? or suppose it had been concerning Sardis, that the Redeemer's promise of sal. vation from the hour of trial, was penned ? How tri. umphantly would the event have been noticed by the opposers of Holy Writ! Suppose the Saviour had said of Philadelphia, I will spue thee out of my mouth ?' Suppose that Gospel light had still shone at Ephesus, even faintly, showing that the candle-stick had not been removed ? Suppose no marked distress, of ten years con. tinuance, had ever prevailed at Smyrna? Or, suppose some comforting promise had been recorded concerning Laodicea ? Vary either the history as it transpired, or the message which was sent, in any one out of a hun. dred ways,
and what would have been the result ?" The inquirer found that they did not know particular. ly what the Lord had written to any one of those Church. es. They had either not noticed, or they had certainly not remembered what had been the precise fate of Ephe. sus, Sardis, or Laodicea. With the long drawn train of Bible facts, as numerous as the pages of that singular book, they were entirely unacquainted. Let no one sup
pose that these items are here presented as the evidences of Christianity: by no means. They do, we believe, possess much interest, but the foundation is broader than these can make it. A few, out of the wide multi. tude, are here called to view, merely to show the wilful ignorance so strangely belonging to those who speak against light.
THE SUBJECT CONTINUED. ITEM II.-A man who was an able Senator, in Con. gress, from a State where talents was not scarce, once said to a Christian friend, "I have heard the prophecy concerning the destruction of Babylon, mentioned as evidence that the writer saw into futurity. With me it weighs nothing. Any one might guess that a proud city would come to ruin ; and the common tendency of things to revolution, might bring it to pass. It requires no inspiration to foretel the decay of perishing things.” His friend discovered that some things he did know and remember with readiness, but that of other very many and
very obvious facts, he was totally uninformed. He understood with alacrity, and he was correct in his doctrine, that if the overthrow of Babylon had been all that the Prophet foretold, that alone would have been no certain evidence that his pen was guided by a superior hand. But on the difference between a prediction with specifications, and one without them, he appeared never to have meditated. The difference between a prophecy, (like the heathen oracles,) where one naked event is declared, without any of the particulars, and a circumstantial prediction, where the items of time, or