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creation of the island from the depths of the sea, by Helius, the god of the sun, and its many graphic descriptions, mingled with songs of valleys and mountains which abound in Grecian literature, can not fail to interest every æsthetic mind.
How inspiring to survey the deserted city of ancient
renown, bearing the island's name! Its streets now quiet and lonely, its walls overthrown, the many half-obscured monuments, the castle and fortress of the Knights of St. John, speak aloud, amid the profound silence, of the eventful past. Art and arms, patriotism and learning, were the characteristics of this powerful maritime republic. There the eloquence of Demosthenes pleaded the cause of the city against the overwhelming power of Alexander of Macedon. There, astride the entrance of the harbor, the Clossus, a brazen statue of Helios, towers into the blue of the sky amid three thousand statues, as the wonder of the ancient world. Each isle, as each city of Asia Minor, possesses its own peculiar characteristic, and historical associations replete with war and romance.
Many toilsome tours and laborious excavations have been made in Asia Minor, many hardships have been patiently endured in the investigation of the ruins of the depopulated cities, and much is yet undone. Why have the intellects turned from the contemplation of realities to spend their precious hours wandering in the realms of dilapidated temples, theaters, tombs and old and mutilated inscriptions ? Why? Do not these obsolete, time-worn relics furnish materials for the building up of modern scholarship? Is not the keen appreciation of the knowledge of the past the richest treasure of the intellect of to-day? (Investigations made in a land associated with such great names, awaken in thoughtful minds not only a scholarly interest but a peculiar fascination. This region was the birthplace of Herodotus, the father of Greek history, of Homer the poet, of Pythagoras the philosopher. Here lived Croesus, the patriarch of fortune and the patron of art).
Froni a scriptural view, the topography of Asia Minor is radiant with apocalyptic visions, and with apostolic
labors, and with martyrs and missionaries of deathless fame. Every mountain and hill in Asia Minor will forever cherish the memory of St. Paul, the brave apostle of Christendom, against whom in vain have the furious armies of heathen opposition thundered. How inspiring to hear in the opulent cities of Greek and pagan Asia Minor, a voice most eloquent, the burning spirit of the great apostle of the Gentile world, pleading the Man of Galilee!
Asia Minor, the arena of diverse religions! where Christianity inaugurated its movement for universal empire, and where Judaism and Mohammedanism displayed their greatest exploits as religious institutions !
But where is the glory of twenty nations who on this soil once swayed a controlling influence? Where the seats of great military chieftains and empires contending for supremacy? Where the thriving commercial cities ? Desolate! Graves of Homeric heroes are roamed over by sheep and oxen. Palaces of fame and wealth have passed away with their occupants. The throne of Antiochus and Mithridates have vanished as an illusion. No longer do the skies of Ionia smile on an enviable array of poets, who sang beneath her azure arch. The light of Asia Minor has grown dim! She is to-day a vast cemetery of entombed cities, destined to an eternity of desolation. Here and there are clusters of villages or a shepherd's hut, more like beehives than human dwellings, and a traveller, like Virgil's Libyan herdsman, carried with him bedding, weapons and all his wants.
As a bright day wanes and becomes lost in the blackness of a long, dreary night, the brilliance of Asia Minor is lost and long passed into the oblivion. For ages in the throes of political death, she yet declines to die. But the existing population, enslaved by superstition and ignorance, distracted by religious animosity and mutual jealousies, indicates but little hope of immediate improvement.
Nations, as individuals, are under the law and process of gradual development. The golden age of Pericles is but brass to-day. Centuries slowly, silently but continually, are marching on to higher, brighter attainments in civilization, learning and all spheres and activities of human life. Any nation and country, no matter what achievements crown her past, if irresponsive to the onward beckoning voice of the times, will surely be left behind. Onward or backward is the universal law of the ages. The ever-increasing aversions and antagonism between the population of the Orient and Occident shall continue until, by providential arrangement, Eastern ignorance and prejudices shall give place to the spirit of this advanced age, and Western ideas and methods become prevalent.
Oh that the trumpet blast of the nineteenth century would awaken those still in slumber! Would that this age of enlightenment might reflect a ray of light across the waters, where the riot of boundless superstition has for ages cast a gloom over the otherwise bright and peaceful world.
THE SEVEN CHURCHES OF ASIA.
S the seven churches of Asia Minor are familiar to
every student of the Apocalypse, a description of their ancient sites can not fail to be of interest to every intelligent mind, be he Christian or non-Christian.
Every year, numbers of travellers from all parts of Christendom visit these seven cities, because of their historic and biblical associations. Thomas Smith of Magdalen College, Oxford, is considered the first English traveller who visited the sites of the seven churches, and in 1676 he published, in Latin, a volume of great demand and interest, entitled, “Septem Asiæ Exclesiarum Notitia.” Some, as Leake, Hamilton, and Arundell have turned their observations to account, and have given the Christian world much valuable information upon the subject. But most descriptions are extremely cursory, and because this is the case, and because we are from the land of those churches, we feel justified in presenting a chapter to our readers on this interesting topic.
A traveller seeking to inform himself as to the seven churches of Asia by personal observation, is apt to expect