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time to time the bells were tolled mournfully, and curé, monks, and parishioners chanted the funeral dirge of the sacred edifice where most had been baptized, and which was associated with all the prominent parts of their little secluded lives. The lava here insinuated itself into the crypt of the building, thereby undermining it so that it was literally rent in twain, the two nearly equal portions of which rocked and tottered to their base, and then fell—belfry, bells, and all-into the burning gulf. For half an hour an intense dark green flame played over where once stood the doomed edifice, caused perhaps by the fusion of the bell-metal below. In other parts, blue flames of various degrees of intensity and depth of color, played and flickered about. All night parties arrived from Naples, who had missed the train; and the wood was glittering with torches approaching and receding in the distance. The arrival of a large body of priests, mounted on all the available jackasses and les in the neighbourhood for miles round, caused an immense sensation among the rustics, as there was little doubt these worthy men would soon settle the business of the ruthless enemy, and put things to rights; so to it they went-clergy and laity; and, on our departure from this scene of desolation and woe, the welkin resounded with the exertions of some hundreds of pairs of lungs. Much of the beauty of the effect faded on the approach of daylight, and when we left, which was at exactly half-past six in the morning, the lurid glare and vivid brilliancy of the lava was succeeded by a black carbonaceous dulness, with only here and there a deep red glow; the volume of lava had also diminished, and the crater was hushed.
OUR SAVIOUR’S MIRACLES. WHEN we say, that the evidence arising from miracles, for the truth of our holy religion, is as satisfactory as it is irrefragable, we only repeat a sentiment which we trust is familiar to the youngest reader. It is indeed the key note to all the glorious chain of harmonies, whereby we seek to soothe the spirit of the tempest-tossed waverer, and to establish the faith of the youthful enquirer.
We here especially have reference to the miracles of the Incarnate Word, of which he said, “The works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me." --John v. 36. See also xiv. 11, and xv. 24.
Viewing the Gospel narrative, simply as the unvarnished statement of historical facts, by credible witnesses—wonderfully preserved for us by the unslumbering vigilance of Providence, amidst the mutability of other earthly things—how sublime in majestic simplicity-how artless in all its details the account a few unlettered men give of the miracles of our Redeemer; so much so, that it has been truly observed, the fabrication of the narrative, and the history of its preservation, would require a greater stretch of credulity than the facts it records.
The impostor Mahomet did not assert miraculous powers. It is true he pretended to have been favored with many dreams and visions: so have others, equally veraciously, down to Joanna Southcott. It is also true, he appealed to his Koran, as a continued miracle ; but most of us know how little satisfactory is its claim to supernatural influence, being in fact but a flimsy tissue of contradictions and puerilities, except only in those parts that are obvious plagiarisms from the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, just as the great motto of Islamism is said to contain an eternal truth, and an impudent falsehood" There is one God, and Mahomet is His prophet.”
Mahomet dared not appeal to miracles, as vouchers for his mission; he was too sharp-sighted and too crafty not to see that such a procedure would but injure his cause. Conscience made him so far a coward—he felt (and who shall say he did not tremble as he felt) his whole system was but a base and baseless imposture, fit only to be propagated by arms and bloodshed—not by reason and testimony. How unlike the benignant scheme of the Prince of Peace.
Contrast, too, with the unaffected majesty of our Saviour's deeds of power and
mercy-Forgive, Lord, that we place them side by side even in momentary comparison !—the pretended miracles of the church of Rome, which we may remark, by the way, were distinctly foretold as characteristic of the Papal apostacy. 2 Thess. ii. 9. How clumsily does she simulate those wonders—with her holy coats and epileptic patients and automaton images-combined with a gorgeous apparatus and mock solemnity, taking captive the imagination, that the judg. ment may be misled, the result being that only the ignorant and credulous are "deceived"—the more instructed almost invariably bearing the still less enviable character of " deceivers."
It is hardly needful, we should hope, to remind the reader that a miracle is an action involving a suspension of, or a contradiction to, the established laws of the universe; and therefore, if genuine, must have been performed by Him alone who at first determined these laws, or by some one acting under his authority. If the former, it must be by God. If the latter, it must be in confirmation of his truth.
Jesus of Nazareth wrought stupendous miracles. He said he was God. His miracles proved his word to be truth, therefore he is indeed the Great God as well as our Saviour.
In the sequel of paper, we propose simply a few meditations on some of the most remarkable of our Lord's miracles. The exercise may prove instructive, and may suggest still more interesting thoughts to the reader's own mind; and that it may be blessed for this purpose, is the writer's fervent prayer.
Perhaps the most magnificent, humanly speaking, as well as the most extensively beneficial, of our Saviour's mighty works, was the feeding of the fainting thousands who had followed him into the wilderness. They needed refreshment for the body, as well as food for their souls; and he who wrought no miracle to supply his own necessities, performed this act of creative energy to relieve their wants.
When we reflect how many processes are requisite, from the sowing of the seed to the baking of the loaves, we feel that the hand must have been the Creator's, who, out of nothing, produced a sufficiency of substantial food, of which so many partook and were satisfied, and yet so much remained for future use.
Those who were nearest to the August Presider at this extraordinary meal, must have gazed with reverential awe, mingled with gratitude, while they saw the Divine Distributor, having blessed two or three loaves and fishes, hand portion after portion, ample and substantial, to the wondering apostles, and yet the small original store hardly diminish perceptibly till the hungry multitudes were sufficed.
In some of the more remote of our country parishes, it has been no unusual thing, for the partakers at the sacramental table, to reserve a minute portion of the consecrated bread, as a talisman or charm against sundry evils. Against the impiety and absurdity of this relic of Romish superstition, of course we enter our unqualified protest. Yet should some simple loving one, have hoarded a fragment in remembrance of a repast so extraordinary as that of the five thousand with Jesus in the wilderness, ought it to be blamed as idolatry or superstition ? Had such a thing been done, however, the treasured relic has long ago perished, as all earthly things do. We have the imperishable record of this transaction of compassionate beneficence; and we adore alike the power and the goodness it displayed.
Most of the remarks now made on the production, or multiplying of the loaves and fishes, apply also to the turning of water into wine at the marriage feast in Cana. The same gentle sympathy in human feeling, the same omnipotent influence over the productions of nature and art, are here manifested; and even as it strikes us, more remarkably. If we may be permitted to imagine particulars, which have not been disclosed to us, we should say, that angelic ministry might, at the Lord's behest, have brought the bread and fish from many a source accessible to their agency, and then have placed them as they were required near his hands. But in the narrative of the miracle at Cana, the servants were commanded to fill the water-pots with water. The wine then, which was pronounced so “good,” could not thus have been supplied unseen, by other agency; though if it had, the wonder would scarcely have been less. The pure element was changed at once, in all its parts and properties, clearly manifesting unlimited control over every particle of which matter is composed.
One only of all the recorded miracles in our Lord's life in our world, did not seem to have an exclusively benevolent object, and that was the denouncement of the barren fig-tree. It has been remarked that this tree was not private property, but grew by the way side, therefore no person was injured by its destruction. Nevertheless, objections have been repeatedly insinuated against this action of the Saviour, which a little
enlightened reflection easily repels. None but a scoffer, indeed, would dare insinuate that He, over whose holy, gentle breast, one wave of passion never rolled, should have wreaked his disappointment when hungry, on the innocent tree, because he found not food thereon. Our Lord, however, we are told, was hungry,
“ Jesus ! to what didst Thou submit
“ To save Thy dear-bought flock from hell!” Could not He, who multiplied bread, and changed water into wine, more easily, to speak after human fashion, have in a moment covered the fig-tree with delicious fruit, ready for his refreshment. But no-He supplied not his own guiltless human need. He continued hungry, that he might teach his disciples the important lesson of the omnipotent power of faith, conjoined with a gracious promise, that “in his name believing, they should hereafter do greater things than this they had seen done to the fig-tree.”
When we read of the barren fig-tree, who does not call to mind the awakening parable, of which the withered tree by the way side was a practical illustration, “ Lo! I come these many years seeking fruit, and find none. Cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground ?”
Dear youthful reader, lay this awful denunciation seriously to heart. Jehovah looks for fruit, the fruit of holiness; not merely leaves of profession, from the trees he has planted. And who shall say that the present year may not be the last in which we may be permitted to “cumber the ground.”
But of all the miracles of the Lord Jesus, none come more closely home to the sympathies of every breast than those by which he called to life again those that had been dead. “Who has not lost a friend P” Who therefore has not a fellow feeling with the scenes of domestic life, painted for us by the sacred penmen, when the presence and word of our Redeemer changed mourning into gladness again.
The heart-stricken Jairus, agonizing for his only child—the weeping widow of Nain, childless and desolate; and the affeetionate sisters at Bethany, overwhelmed with sorrow at the loss of their brother and friend—these never fail to affect every fibre of sensibility in the ingenuous breast.