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Tacitus, Pliny, or Suetonius, did or did not reach Philippi, it is not im probable that Philippi was shaken by the violence of a convulsion which, if Mr. Arundell's coincidence holds good, overthrew twelve cities in a country not 200 miles off. This is not the place to argue that question, but I could show that there are a number of examples on record where a shock of earthquake has been selt simultaneously over a much wider space. When Lisbon was destroyed in 1755, that shock was felt the same day in Europe, Africa, the United States, and the West Indies.
“One fourth of the northern hemisphere was agitated by the same earthquake.” (Bakewell, Geology, 3d Ed. p. 336.)* There is, then, nothing extraordinary in the coincidence between the shocks at Smyrna and Aleppo, alluded to by Mr. Arundell, at a distance of only 560 miles. The earthquakes which occurred in the reign of Justinian, from A. D. 527-565, desolated at the same time Europe, Asia, and Africa, (Vide Gibbon, Vol. VII. p. 43,) and one of these shocks was extended, according to a modern writer, from Constantinople to the Red Sea. Τούτος ο σεισμός εγίνη είς όλην την Οικουμένην και έγινε φθορά πολλή και εις την 'Αραβίαν, και Παλαιστίνην, και Μεσοποταμίαν, και Αντιόχειαν ηφανίσθησαν Κάστρη, και Χώραι πολλαι, και πολλοί άνθρωποι, και άλογα (From Bιβλίον ιστορικόν περιέχον έν Σύνοψει Διάφορους και έξοχους ιστορίας. Venice, 1805. p. 255.)
There appears, then, nothing to contradict, but much to confirm the idea of Mr. Arundell ; nor would it have been necessary to make any inquest into the probability of his supposition, except to strengthen the fact of the earthquake's occurrence; which, by the marbles at Apamea, seems to have been contemporary with a powerful shock in Asia Minor. St. Luke states that the earthquake at Philippi occurred at “midnight ;" now it is certain that the great earthquake of the year A. D. 17, when the twelve cities were overturned, occurred also at " night,” and “ suddenly," as stated by Tacitus ; and it is well known that midnight is a common time for the occurrence of earthquakes all over the globe. This fact is, therefore, also in keeping with the observed conditions of terrestrial derangements.
Whether, then, the earthquakes 'alluded to in the inscriptions at Apamea, or by the ancient historians, did or did not extend to Philippi, enough has been now stated to put the fact upon a sufficient basis of probability, to prevent any doubt of the occurrence, and as detailed by St. Luke ; but as he has given two facts in addition, the remainder of these remarks shall be devoted to an illustration of the statement of those facts.
As proved by numerous quotations from the ancient writers found in Elsner, Bloomfield, and elsewhere, there was an impression on the minds of the Greeks and Romans, that the occurrence of an earthquake indicated the presence of a divine person ;t and it may have been, that the
• Vide an argument for connecting an earthquake at Chichester, with a shock during the hurricane at Dominica, Sept. 21, 1834, in the Magazine of Natural History, Vol. VIII. p. 134.
+ With respect to the Deity whom the ancients considered to be present during an earthquake, Aulus Gellius (ii. 28,) tells us, that as the causes of earthquakes were not known, and the Romans and Greeks feared to make a mistake in such a nice matter, being “castissimi cautissimigue;" “ Dei nomen, ita uti solet, cui servari ferias oporteret, statuere et edicere, quiescebant; ne' alium pro alio nominando,
gaoler, who must have known why Paul and Silas were imprisoned, viz. for proclaiming a new religion, (at least new to him,) and consequently that they were the messengers of God, seeing that after the earthquake his prisoners had not escaped, notwithstanding that their hands were loosed, became convinced that their mission was authentic, and thus by the occasion of the earthquake operating upon his mind in the natural way and under the peculiar circumstances of the case, he was led to em, brace the faith of the gospel. Such appears the most natural mode of accounting for the effect upon his mind. Nor is there any necessity to suppose, that as far as the gaoler was concerned, there was any miracle wrought in the occasion of the phenomenon for that specific purpose. As to the apostles, we are undoubtedly led at once to the conclusion, that there was something more than the mere occurrence of a not un. common physical event; for whether we suppose that the earthquake was occasioned for the purpose of delivering the apostles from prison, or that the shock was the vibration of a greater shock elsewhere, so extended for the same purpose ; or that it pleased the Almighty to make use of a natural event which might any how, at that time, and at that spot, have occurred, the language of the narrative is such that we cannot refrain from concluding, that the end was precisely adapted to the means, and the means to the end, for the purpose of producing a striking effect upon the minds of the Philippians, and of vindicating the character of the apostles as well as of displaying the authority of their Master. To deny that the earth and all its phenomena are under the control and direction and government of its Creator, would be barefaced atheism; to deny that he can, and has often so increased natural causes, or rather the movements by Him at first impressed upon the universe, as to produce what we denominate miraculous effects, would be akin to atheism ; but to suppose that God has never employed natural causes to work his will for a specific object, would be to deny that in the case of the inanimate world, which we scruple not to believe in the case of the Egyptian Pharaoh, or the Assyrian king.
The narrative before us appears, upon full consideration, to be one of those, the circumstances detailed in which are so completely according to what we term natural causes and effects, for want of a better designation, that we may safely infer it contains a proof that not even the daily and hourly occurrences of the most common events are without their assigned influence upon the destinies of man; and that there is more practical infidelity amongst mankind, when viewed in this way, than
falsa religione populum alligarent: eas ferias si quis polluisset, piaculoque ob hanc rem opus esset, hostiam, Sr. DEO.SI. DEÆ immolabat : idque ita ex decreto pontificum observatum esse M. Varro dicit: quoniam et qua vi et per quem deorum deorumve terra tremeret incertum esset."-Is it wrong to imagine that the altar “ TO THE UNKNOWN God," which St. Paul found at Athens, was dedicated to the deity who was supposed to have been present at some earthquake which had there occurred ?
Livy has a passage which throws light upon the terror which earthquakes inspired in ancient times. “Romæ per idem tempus (A. c. 192) duo maximi fuerunt terrores; diutius alter, sed segnior. Terra dies duo de quadraginta movit per totidem dies feriæ in sollicitudine ac metu fuere, in triduum ejus rei causa supplicatio habita est. Ille non pavor vanus, sed vera multorum clades fuit.". (Lib. XXXV. 40.) Livy (xli. 28) states also, that a supplication (B. c. 172) for one day, was held at the temples of Ceres, Liber and Libera, for an earthquake in the Sabine territory ; but does not say to what god.
at first sight appears, will from the consideration of this narrative be unhesitatingly allowed.
I am led to these remarks by the observations which have been made by some of the critics respecting the modus operandi of the delivery of the apostles from their chains during this earthquake; and because any illustration as apposite as that which I am about to offer is not without value or interest to the reader of the Scriptures.
I shall divide the illustration into two heads; Ist, affecting the circumstance of the earthquake ; 2d, regarding the effect of it upon the mind of the gaoler. · 1. I shall take but two examples of the circumstances. In the year 1707 a new volcanic island was thrown up from the bottom of the sea, near Santorini, in the Archipelago. It is related in the accounts of the time, that on the 25th September “the castle and town of Scaro suffered such a shock,” during the convulsive throes of the earth, " that the doors and windows of the houses flew open.”
Again, it is recorded in the Philosophical Transactions, (abridged, Vol. X.,) that during the earthquake which occurred in Pennsylvania, on Nov. 18, 1755, the shock “gradually increased for one minute to such a degree as to open the chamber door” of the narrator, “by drawing the bolt of the lock out of the staple.”
There can be no difficulty, after reading this, in taking the words of St. Luke in their literal acceptation, and concluding, that when he states that “ there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken, and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed," he states nothing which is contradictory to the experience of mankind in cases of earthquake, where no positive and extraordinary religious object is to be the result.
2. With respect to the effect upon the mind of the gaoler, there are so many cases which might be brought forward as parallel occurrences, that it is difficult where to choose. It would indeed seem, from the narratives of those who have recorded the impressions produced upon the minds of men in all ages by these awful phenomena, that the Almighty still employs them as agents of his mercy, as well as of his wrath ; and that, though it is the fashion of the modern world to discard that solemn and sacred conviction, which distinguishes the sacred writers, as to the agency and object of the phenomena of which they treat, there are still too many instances on record of permanent impressions, even in recent times, (notwithstanding the countless examples of evanescent convictions on the subject of religion,) to permit us to doubt that God does even now employ the tempest and the hurricane, the earthquake and the ocean, as agents in effecting those spiritual changes of which they are the types.
We need not go to times of equal antiquity with the age of the apostles, to seek for illustrations of these changes ; because we know that, though the heathen temples were crowded and religious rites observed whenever an earthquake occurred, those cases were not exactly in point, since Livy states, (xxxiv. 55,) the superstitious observances of those ages led to fictitious statements as to the occurrence of earthquakes, and that a decree was actually issued by the Consuls (B.c. 194,) to prohibit men. tion of them.
It may, perhaps, be objected to some of the following quotations, that they are narratives of what occurred in countries where Christianity bas assumed the garb of pagan superstition ; but the object which I have in view is to illustrate the state of mind in which the gaoler at Philippi was left by the first effects of the earthquake,-unquestionably a state of mind which rendered him capable of the ulterior impressions and convictions of the Holy Spirit, through which he was saved; and so far, therefore, may we allow the means to have been adapted to the end, when we refer his conversion to the earthquake itself. As to the processions of the priests, and the exhibitions of the images of saints, to which the victims of popery too frequently occur during natural convulsions of the earth, the sea, and the air, or indeed upon every occasion when they are in fear, though they necessarily form part of the picture placed before us, they have nothing to do with the point in question, for they prove nothing as to conviction of sin, or a sincere repentance, but only that superstitious observances so blind the eyes and so harden the heart, as to shut out those impressions which the ignorant heathen readily receives, and which can scarcely be resisted without doing violence to the natural feelings of the human mind.
In the “ True and Particular Relation of the Dreadful Ruin in which Lima, (otherwise called La Ciudad de los Reyes,) was involved by the horrible Earthquake that happened there in the night of the 28th of October, 1746,"'* &c. after a description of the circumstances attending the earthquake, and the devotion of the people who survived, in raising a chapel for the most Holy Virgin of the Merced in the great square ; we are told : “ Among the commonalty, a remarkable edification is already begun in their contrition and repentance. It is inconceivable what a concourse of people the Queen of Angels brought together to the pious act of a nine-days' devotion, which was in the aforesaid little chapel, to implore her accustomed mercy for this city ; which has always experi. enced her favours in times of such like disasters."..." The continual use of the sacraments ; the humble attention to the exhortation with which the zeal of the ecclesiastics and other religious has excited their fervour and piety; the public processions of the penitents,t in which the rigorous excess of the outward discipline sufficiently manifested the inte. rior force of the compunction, together with the circumspect gravity and order observed in all this affair, joined to the modest silence of their solemn march, made the sighs and groans of the assistants more sensibly to be perceived : all these together (I say,) have caused the appearance of a quite new city, transformed into religion. May the Divine Majesty grant that this reformation do continue and increase; that thus the Divine wrath may be appeased, which even still makes us bear the dreadful voice of his indignation in the frequent convulsions with which the earth is daily agitated.” (Pp. 189—191.)
Captain Basil Hall, describing some of the effects of the great earth. quake at Copiapo, in South America, in April, 1819, gives some interest. ing particulars of the moral impression produced by it. He says, “Something peculiar in the shocks of the 4th of April had excited more
• The original was printed at Lima ; the translation, from which the title is here partly given, was published at London, 1748.
+ " These are persons who, on such occasions, go with their faces covered by a linnen vail, and their backs quite bare, with a sort of petticoat of white linnen. They carry lashes of whip-cord in their hands, with which they flog themselves very smartly, insomuch that their backs and linnen are all cover'd with blood."
than ordinary fear in the minds of the inhabitants, and at a particular moment, no one could tell distinctly why they all rushed in a body to the great church called La Merced.” A by-stander warned them of the danger* of the church falling, and entreated them to come into the street, “where their intercession would be equally efficacious. Fortunately, the prior of the church, who was just entering the porch, saw the value of this advice, and seconded it by his authority; ordering the people to remain without, and desiring those who had already entered, to bring the images instantly into the street.”—Extracts from a Journal written or the Coasts of Chili, Peru, and Mexico, Vol. II. p. 40. The church fell immediately after. “Nevertheless," added another person, gravely, “ although I am not a man to cry out, and play the fool on such occasions, yet I do fairly own that these earthquakes are very awful ; and indeed, must be felt to be understood in their true extent. Before we hear the sound, or, at least, are fully conscious of hearing it, we are made sensible, I do not well know how, that something uncommon is going to happen :t every thing seems to change colour ; our thoughts are chained immovably down; the whole world appears to be in disorder; all nature looks different from what it was wont to do; we feel quite subdued and overwhelmed by some invisible power beyond human control and comprehension. Then comes the horrible sound, distinctly heard ; and immediately, the solid earth is all in motion, waving to and fro like the surface of the sea. Depend upon it, Sir, a severe earthquake is enough to shake the firmest mind. I Custom enables us to restrain the expression of alarm; but no custom can teach any one to witness such earthquakes without the deepest emotions of terror.” (Ib. pp. 43, 44.)
One of the most interesting published narratives I have met with is in “ A Full Account of the late Dreadful Earthquake at Port Royal in Jamaica; in Two Letters, $ written by the minister of the place, from aboard the Granada in Port Royal Harbour.” • The writer states, that after the house in which he was, was swallowed up, he went towards his own lodging, “ there to meet death in as good a posture as he could. The people seeing me," he continues, “ cry'd out to me to come and pray with them. When I came into the street every one laid hold on my clothes and embraced me, that with their fear and kindness I was almost stifled. I persuaded them to kneel down and make a large ring, which they did. I prayed with them near an hour, when I was almost spent with the heat of the sun and the exercise." He goes on to describe the wickedness of some of the people, who took advantage of the confusion to commit robberies and break open houses (scenes which are described, as well of all other like commotions), but adds, “ I have been twice on shore to pray with the bruised and dying people, and to christen children, where I met too many drunk and swearing. I did not spare them, nor the magistrates neither, who have ' • Because, probably, built of stone, the most solid structures being the first to fall in an earthquake ; a beautiful illustration of the words, “When I am weak, then am I strong." (2 Cor. xii, 10.)
Probably by a disengagement of invisible, but powerful gases, which affect the uer. vous system, and produce vertigo, or a sort of apoplexy, for the moment. · I What, then, must have been the strength of mind of the apostles! They recognised in the earthquake at Philippi the presence of the God of mercy; the gaoler, and their fellow-prisoners, trembled at the mere conjecture of a present Deity.
Licensed 9th Sept. 1692, and printed by Jacob Tonson, London.