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by a few poor people, and these mostly females,) in which the Rev. Messrs. Graham, Bradnack, Phenix, Hall, Gostick, sen., Eland, Dean, Cullen, Brougham, Fordred, Dredge, Seckerson, Gower, Golding, and others, successively preached the word of life.
It was during the superintendency of the late Rev. Richard Gower that the present chapel was built, principally through the persevering exertions of the late Mr. Thomas Hine, who then resided in this village, and who was encouraged to proceed with the work by the weekly subscriptions of a penny from many poor persons who were friendly to the undertaking.
One circumstance relating to this building ought not to be buried in oblivion. An attempt was made by the then proprietor of the Milton estate to prevent Mr. Iline from raising stones for building the chapel ; and he accordingly applied to an attorney at Bedford. The gentleman of the law advised him to “refrain from these men, and let them alone.” At such counsel the proprietor grew angry, and declared he would immediately go to London, and put an end to the chapel-building. To London he did go. He was taken ill there, returned home, and died !
No further impediment being placed in the way, the work advanced until the top-stone was brought on, if not literally with shouting, yet with rejoicing and gratitude. The chapel was opened for Divine worship by the late Rev. Richard Watson, on the 19th day of September, 1819. It is not unworthy of remark, that on the self-same day the roof of the old chapel fell in of its own accord, without injury to any one.
At this time the Society numbered about thirty members. But, in consequence of removals by death and otherwise, and on account of other discouragements, the work of God seemed for a while rather to recede than to go on ward. Latterly the congregation has much increased, and a few have been added to our Society. During the year 1859, our esteemed friend Mr. William Gibbins proposed the enlargement and thorough repair of the chapel. This has been accomplished at an expenditure of about £200, nearly all of which has been contributed by the liberality of the gentleman just named. Since the re-opening the congregation has considerably increased ; the Divine power has been realized, and good done. To God be all the praise !
“Now therefore arise, O Lord God, into Thy resting-place, Thou, and the ark of Thy strength. Let Thy priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation, and let thy saints rejoice in goodness.”
Were it possible to collect authentic records of the introduction of Methodist preaching into the various towns and villages of England, they would embody many facts demonstrative of providential interposition, and not a few examples of Christian heroism and self-denial. Should not then the friends of Methodism, who are qualified for the task, and surrounded by aged disciples, turn their attention to the subject, and show the men of this generation how fields were formerly won, and high religious advantages secured?
TAE RELIGIOUS OPPORTUNITIES OF THE HEATHEN
II.-THE OLD RELIGION.
(Continued from page 348.) When the nations, scattered from the plains of Shinar, stricken with a confusion of speech, took their diverging departure from the central home, they lost the remembrance of their original unity. But fancy supplied the place of the forgotten truth, and legends, classical and barbarous, celebrate the national descent from favourite deities. Each nation and each new territory acquired gods of its own, or gave its own names to the traditional objects of veneration.* A false science in later times has had its theories of
separate centres” of human multiplication. But in every age of darkness, when selfishness had broken the bonds of brotherhood, when history was deceptive, and lying spirits were triumphant, when philosophy was blind or deluded, the Bible attested the oneness of humanity. Now, history, with its many voices ; language, enshrined in monumental hieroglyph or secret Vedas, interpreting the thoughts of the ancient sage, or babbling the many dialects of the present; and science, laden with physiological and psychological comparisons, are witnessing to the truth which it has rediscovered to mankind, that “God hath made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth.” Though the affinities of language cannot be reduced to less than three † families, all point upward to a common source. The fact that the original unity of speech cannot now be demonstrated, independently of Scripture, supports its own statement that at the confusion of Babel an irreparable rending of the first language took place. Comparative anatomy also, though it finds strange differences of physical contour which have separated the races since the sphinx first overlooked the valley of Egypt, or “Fohi” founded the “celestial empire,” yet owns the essential unity of the human race. Common religious tradi. tions have been carried from the early sedes over Europe, Africa, and America. The cromlech and cob wall in Britain and Syria ; the bomerang still flung in the Australian bush, with its simile suspended from the girdle of the sculptured Nimrod of Assyria ; the altars of stone and earth found in every quarter of the world, with animal sacrifices and similar rites; the
* This notion of national and local deities was a cunning defence of idolatry, and a great obstacle to the prevalence of the truth in ancient times. See 2 Kings srii. 30–34; xvii. 26, 27 ; Jer. ii. 10, 11.
* “ These three systems of grammar, Arian, Semitic, and Turanian are," says Professor Max Müller, “perfectly distinct, and it is impossible to derive the grammatical forms of the one from those of the other, though we cannot deny that in their radical elements they may have had a common source.”
“ Even those who believe in a primitive language admit that the three families are irreducible, i. e., incapable of being derived from one another.”_“The Origin of Language,” by F. W. Farrar. Cambridge, 1860.
sacredness of groves, and the druidical adoration of trees; dim and fragmentary reminiscences of man's earliest history interwoven with the mythology of all nations, mingled with ideas of creation from chaos, of the deluge, and of the mystery of the serpent, which swims in the water-chest of Mexico, envelopes the incarnated Krishna, or lies beneath the tortoise in India, these and a multitude of other resemblances bear their own unmistakable witness to the primeval associations of the family of Adam.
The best extraneous inquiries also confirm the Scripture representation that the first generation of men were capable of reason and worship, possessed an ample language, and were enlightened by a direct revelation from God. The farcical doctrine made current by Horace and Lucretius, and revived since the days of Hume and Monboddo, which alleges that the first human beings were quasi-brute barbarians, is a base libel, contradicted by all history, and without a shadow of scientific proof. Savageism is degeneracy, not nature; or, if natural, it were also incurable. Tradition, commemorating in variously combined legend the circumstances of man's first temptation and fall,* only speaks to declare the honourable innocence of man's first estate, and to lament its loss. All the information we have + respecting the intellectual and moral condition of primeval man brings us only to one conclusion, and every contrary theory must be based on mere assumption. If, as some suppose, Moses was divinely assisted in the selection and arrangement of materials for his history from genealogical and historical documents which he found in Chaldea, Egypt, and Phenicia, it only proves that the cosmogonies and early records of those countries approximated to his narratives rather than to mythological absurdities, which belong to a time when the priesthood, for its own vile purposes, had corrupted the ancient knowledge. He treasured in his writings the surest traditions of men; he noted the vestiges of the true religion and history which remained in various countries down to his times ; while afterwards the early archives, having fallen into a few interested bands, were overlaid with fables. Secular history begins to be trustworthy with Herodotus, in whose days the last historical books of the Old Testament were penned.
* Kitto's “ Daily Bible Readings,” vol. i. “ Eastern and Western Traditions of the Fall."
† Moses is the most ancient historian. Sanchoniathon, the Phenician, whose veracity is pleaded for by Porphyry, because his statements resemble those of Moses, did not live for four hundred years after him. Herodotus travelled when Moses had lain a thousand years in his mountain tomb, and Ezra was restoring the Jewish government and worship. Manetho, the Egyptian, and Berosus, the Chaldean, did not write their questionable histories till after the times of the LXX. And by accepting their statements we do not escape the influences of supernaturalism and sacerdotalism. Sanchoniathon says he gained his knowledge from Jerombaal, the priest of 'leuw. Herodotus, where he competes with the Jewish historian, only relates the stories believed or taught by the priesthood of various lands. Berosus was a priest of Bel; and Manetho a priest of Egypt, who was interested in outvying the Septuagint chronology, professedly drawing his materials from the sacred pillars of Egypt. See Stillingfleet's Origines Sacre, vol. i., chap. 2, &c.
The historical space between Moses and Ezra is occupied with records bearing as much of verisimilitude as of interest ; while among other nations it is the arena of mythological development, thronged with monstrous perversions. When these systems were losing their power, and man-his reason regaining the authority long usurped by a superstitious imagination --was able to chronicle his own career, history remained no longer under sacred keeping,—the Divine record ceases, and only resumes its office for a short interval, when the “fulness of times” had come ; and the great event transpired, which turned the whole stream of man's moral history, and dated an era peculiar to itself,—the advent of the Son of God. The supreme importance of the great occurrences of the Redeemer's mission as subjects of human knowledge and faith, and the liabilities to shameful distortion such as had misapplied the Divine manifestation in creation, and which subsequent "church development” has attempted too successfully upon New-Testament facts and truths, made a history of superhuman perfection and authority nccessary ; such a record at the same time being in thorough harmony with the supernatural character of an era crowded with the iniracles of the word, and with the “signs” and “gifts of the Holy Ghost.”
It is very possible to underrate the first revelation given to man. Enoch, the seventh from Adam, predicted the coming of the Lord with “ ten thousand of His saints.” His “ translation ” would suggest many " thoughts that wander through eternity” to his own and following generations. Notions of the Trinity, of the existence and power of the evil spirit, of the degeneracy of man, and even of a final conflagration, possessed by so many different tribes of men, can only be explained as relics of primitive knowledge.* Beyond the historical intimations of his first book, none of these subjects receives more ample explanation from Moses, unless it be that the Sabbath is instituted with fresh obligations. Some truths vouchsafed to earlier times might not be made the subject of larger information, after men
* The universal tradition of the deluge also issued from this common source. The writings of Moses, known to later heathen writers, enabled them to improve their own accounts : e. g., Ovid. Many unexplained mythologies may commemorate persons and events of the antediluvian age, not noticed in the brief summary of the sacred history.
The learned Gale, in his “ Court of the Gentiles,” labours with great ingenuity and erudition to show that all human arts, sciences, and religion, were “ traducted from the Scriptures and the Jewish Church.” Phenicia was the gateway by which much of this knowledge passed from the sacred people to Egypt and Greece. Yet the Noachic traditions are most likely to have been the original and common source of heathen notions akin to revealed truths.
The Rev. Thornley Smith, in his “ History of Joseph,” says, (p. 82,) “On this theory we can account for the similarity that exists among all forms of religious worship,—those of Egypt, Assyria, Greece, and Rome. And this theory being admitted, we perceive that Moses, in adopting, as we believe he did, many of the rites practised in Egypt, did so, not because they were practised there, but because they were expressive of those great truths from which mankind generally had departed."
had corrupted their way and degraded the “truth of God into a lie,” lest the more abundant knowledge should increase the catalogue of blasphemous conceits. Rational and responsible man, capable from the beginning of expressing in language his own thoughts, must also have possessed a religion sufficient to elicit confidence and hope, adoration and obedience. This religion necessarily involved faith in the Divine personality; for God walked and talked with the first pair among the trees of the garden. It implied also a clear apprehension of the law of God; and the penalties following transgression were unmistakably set forth, as evil desire, murder, and irreligion took the form of outward reality. The grand expedient of mediation as the means of salvation was indicated in the promise given to the woman, and in the appointment of sacrifice ; while the hope of another life illumined the departure of those who “died in faith," and became more real after the disappearance of the pious Enoch. The gigantic violence and corruption of the antediluvian age was enacted against a religion emanating from the Triune God, offering to man the forgiveness of sins through an appointed propitiation, and affording the expectations of immortality to the virtuous. Because its sanctity was profaned, its hopes were flung away, and its threatenings despised, the devouring deluge came and “swallowed them all up.” The great facts and principles of its Divine constitution were conserved with the family of Noah, and were once more promulgated with the additional force and solemnity which such a preservation of the righteous, and such a destruction of the wicked, must have rendered. And, in the subsequent dispersion of men over wide tracts of the earth, each tribe of the race carried with it, as sacred treasures, greater or lesser portions of this pure, early truth, associated with many other reminiscences of the longlived giant race before the flood; and these they handed down to posterity, that they might reverence the ancestors of antiquity, might know something of the Divine grandeur of their origin, and, though they were unconscious of this higher purpose in the preservation of their ancient legends, that these broad-cast jewels of the dishevelled splendour of their forefathers might in later time be gathered to demonstrate the common rights of the nations to the immunities of humanity and redemption.
How favourable for religion and progress were the circumstances of the ark-redeemed family! The old corruptions, with their representatives, were swept away ; the recent deluge was a mighty memory; the kingdom of Satan staggered, and its lowest foundations were loosened. But evil still clung to human nature, and with the multiplied and replenished race acquired a new and far-reaching development. As the children of men receded from the scene and the age of the great catastrophe, they departed from the simplicity of faith, forgot the God of Noah, and lost, in the sensual enjoyinent of bounteous nature, their impressions of His attributes and law. Physical power and agility again began to be honoured above intellectual wealth or moral excellence. “A man was famous as he could hew down thick trees.” The prowess of the hunter, the strength and daring of the adventurer, and the fierce fury of the warrior, bore away the