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windings, most of the entrances to the catacombs are now closed. On going over many of the Roman churches, it is a common thing to hear the guide say, “ And there was an entrance to the catacombs, but it is now closed.” Only one is freely opened to visiters, that of San Sebastiano : others may be seen on Friday, by a little trouble, on obtaining an introduction to Padre Marchi, who takes much interest in them. This is the origin and present state of the Roman catacombs, and were this all, other cities might boast of much the same thing, similar excavations being found at Naples, Palermo, Syracuse, and Malta. In Egypt, something of the same kind is known, and in the more modern city of Paris.
It is the use which has been made of the catacombs at Rome which has given so great an interest to them, and caused them to be the subject of such long and eager controversy. Though, no doubt, too much has, in many cases, been made of a little ; and Romanism, ever inclined to fabricate marvellous tales, has often supplied striking histories to unknown remains; still, there is enough resting upon good evidence to give a feeling of confidence in looking at the testimony which these dark retreats have furnished to the faith of the early church, and to afford a stronger sympathy with those who, sometimes in life, as well as in death, were compelled to take refuge “in dens, and in caves of the earth."
At the time of the birth of Christ, it was usually the custom among the Romans to burn the bodies of the dead; and though there is much in this repugnant to the ideas of the present day, it, too, has connected with it, its associations of interest, and its sacred memories. The remains of the departed were not guarded with less care because they were reduced to a shapeless mass; and two very remarkable remains now existing in Rome, the Mausoleum of Augustus, and the yet better-known fortress of St. Angelo, built by Hadrian as the resting-place of his ashes, bear witness to the anxiety which was shown to preserve what was mortal. The tombs lining the Via Appia, stretching across the desolate Campagna, show that man's natural desire for immortality would fain have bestowed it on his body, if possible. And the Columbaria prove that, as far as the preservation of the body goes, the very burning, which seems so destructive, can yet guard the precious dust as well as the earth in which we fondly lay our dead. These buildings seem frequently to have been intended for one family or tribe of people, sometimes the slaves and freedmen of an Emperor. They are square buildings, occasionally met with in the gardens of the larger villas, descending into the ground some depth, the bottom reached by a flight of steps on one side. Round the walls are niches, from about one to two feet square, each containing an earthen vessel called “olla,” in the shape of a saucer with a cover to it; they are even now full of ashes, among which pieces of bone may be distinguished. Frequently there is an inscription on the “olla,” or over the niche. A model of one of these may be seen in room X of the British Museum.
The Christians, thinking much of the resurrection, and probably supposing it to be near at hand, were anxious to preserve the form of their
THE CATACOMBS AT ROME.
departed friends as long as possible. To them had been given the promise that the “body also itself shall be delivered from corruption;" and they perhaps wished to imitate, as far as they could, the external circumstances of the death of their Saviour : they had no power to burst the bonds of the grave, but at least those dear to them, should lie down as He had done, in the hope that His voice would be heard bidding the dead live, before what was once so precious had again returned to dust. Besides, their first teachers were Jews, men who naturally carried with them their cherished ideas of the way in which it was most suitable to dispose of the bodies of their departed friends. Thus it came to pass that the Roman Christians were not long before they had recourse to the winding paths and recesses of the catacombs, as the most suitable and secure resting-place for their dead. The lowest order of the people, not able to obtain the honour of a funeral pile, seem usually to have practised burying, and employed for that purpose the excavations left on the Esquiline Hill. “The sand-diggers were of the lowest grade : there is reason to suppose that Christianity spread very early among them;" and that, from their thorough acquaintance with the underground passages, they were able to shelter themselves and their fellow-Christians in time of persecution ; while, in using them as a burying-place, they carried out an idea which was familiar to them, from having before seen many bodies deposited there. The rage of enemies must have been intense indeed, to have made men wander about these gloomy abodes merely to wreak vengeance on dead bodies; and the place would be generally shunned from the association connected with it. Be the beginning what it may, it is certain, from the inscriptions, that as early as the second century the catacombs came to be used as the general burying-place of the Christians.* About the year 314 they were formally made over to the Christians, as churchproperty; and they are called the burial-place of the martyrs. It is the inscriptions which form the chief interest attaching to what now remains; and they have almost all been removed from the places where they were first discovered, and are placed with much care in the Vatican and in the Lateran Museums. The slabs containing inscriptions are usually let into the wall; and other remains, in the form of sarcophagi and bas-reliefs, are ranged by the side: for in later times these were sculptured by far abler hands than those which traced many of the first rude inscriptions. Yet these perhaps possess a deeper interest : they place before us the circumstances of the church in its early ages before it was corrupted by wealth, while it was comparatively free from superstition. They show that it was at first chiefly among the poor that the Gospel prevailed; that the noblest hopes and strongest faith were possessed by those who had little of this world's good. It is in the gallery of inscriptions in the Vatican, containing more than three thousand, that those found in the catacombs have chiefly been placed; though many are now being arranged round the gallery of the Lateran, where what is called a Christian Museum is
formed, in which are the more elaborate sarcophagi. Among them is one of great beauty, with bas-reliefs of the Good Shepherd surrounded with angels gathering grapes. The gallery of the Vatican derives increased interest from having not only Christian inscriptions, which are ranged on one side, but also Pagan ones, on the other; which latter are classified according to ranks and professions, from nobles to slaves. Thus it is easy to compare and contrast the ideas of death possessed by the Christians, with those of the Pagans. Take the following in illustration :Pagan.
Christian. Caius Julius Maximus, aged 11 years, Petronia, a Deacon's wife. The type and 6 months. O relentless Fortune, of modesty. In this place I lay my that delightest in cruel death ; why is bones. Spare your tears, dear husband Maximus so suddenly snatched from me? and daughters, and believe that it is forHe who lately used to lie joyful on my bidden to weep for one who lives in God. bosom. This stone now marks his tomb. Buried in peace on the third before the Behold his mother.
nones of October, in the Consulate of
(Fragment.) She lived twenty years. Proclus set up Who gave and hath taken. ... blessed this.
of the Lord .... who lived ...
years. . . in peace, in the Consulate of... The letters on the Christian monuments are from half an inch to four inches high, generally coloured red: they are often very roughly done, and not unfrequently badly spelt. Many are in Greek; and sometimes Latin inscriptions are in Greek letters, and Greek ones in Latin.
(To be continued.)
BY JOIN S. MAYSON, ESQ. The great object of Christian Missions is so familiar to us that, on that account even, it is possible that while it engages our attention in raising funds for its support, we may neglect sufficiently to sustain the true Missionary spirit, first enkindled in a mortal's breast when he has found a long-sought Saviour, and then manifesting itself in a thousand loving ways.
Embracing first all within its immediate influence, it soon seeks and finds extended action. It is but natural that the good man's personal labours of love commence with those nearest and dearest to him; and well if they most abound amid the misery which surrounds his home. Yet, while retaining these in its embrace, his charity will ever take a widening range. Kindred, country, home, never neglected, he is not, or cannot remain, unmindful of those millions of his fellows dwelling in darkness on which no single ray of Gospel light has ever dawned; where sin and sorrow reign supreme. To these he must needs extend the high privileges of his happiness; privileges how much enhanced by his church-communion !
Feeble if isolated but a giant when roused to exertion by contact with
A REVIVAL OF RELIGION, AND ITS MANIFESTATIONS.
others of kindred spirit, he unites his money, his prayerful efforts, his time and talents with theirs, and for a common cause.
How grateful ought we to be, that we (laymen with Ministers) can thus act in joyous union, and so share in that great work which is everywhere being effected by commissioned heralds of God's grace ! These for a moment let us regard ! Sent forth by human, by our instrumentality, see them well nigh fainting in the contest with the powers of this world; but, strengthened from above, spending a lifetime in their Master's service; in all their conflict encouraged by the blameless and blessed memory of their Saviour's suffering experience,-His shameful but atoning death; His last command and promise, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature ;” “I will be with you always.” Whom else, what else, need they?
“Happy, if with their latest breath
They may but gasp His Name ;
‘Behold, behold the Lamb!'” Much has been done in the world's wide field, and some fruit the writer has delightedly seen during a short sojourn in a far-off clime; but how very much more remains to be done! The harvest is rich in promise. Providence is offering souls to our charge; but the “ labourers are few.” Pray we, therefore, that more labourers be sent.
O that our Wesleyan-Methodist Society, so pre-eminently Missionary in its origin and constitution, may receive such an abounding measure of active love as shall evidently hasten that happy day when one man shall not have occasion to say to another, “ Know the Lord,” but when " all shall know Him from the least even to the greatest.”
A REVIVAL OF RELIGION, AND It will be observed that this state
ITS MANIFESTATIONS. ment lifts our thoughts above all "Wilt Thou not revive us again ; that means and activities possible to human Thy people may rejoice in Thee ?” (Psal. agencies, and fixes it upon God as the lxxxv. 6.)
source of this quickening life and this “A REVIVAL of religion,” accord- converting power. And if we advance ing to the popular understanding of the to speak of the process of a revival, we expression, conveys a somewhat com- find that this sense of dependence plex idea. Our conception of the idea upon the Holy Spirit, the Author of may be practically clear; but it may that special Divine influence, is often be well that we give it a definite and the first thing brought vividly home descriptive statement.
to the heart. There has been, perBy a revival of religion we under- haps, with some minds, a dissatisstand a special and unusual manifest- faction with the spiritual state of ation of Divine power, quickening the the church,—their own included, spiritual life of Christians, and secur- and a growing concern for the ing conversions in unwonted numbers. spiritual interests of the community.
In this restlessness of rekindling fallen and dishonoured, are rebuilt. spiritual desires, they undertake to do Long-deserted closets open and shut more than they have done. They upon frames all trembling in shame utter something of their burden pri- and penitence. Then follow a new vately to their brethren, something zeal, loving and burning; a fresh publicly in the social religious meet- devotedness that sticks at no selfing, and begin to address their sacrifice; a burden for souls that unconverted fellow-men as they have weighs like lost eternities on intercedopportunity. But all the while their ing hearts. Backsliders are reclaimed. own hearts are heavy and uncheered; Preaching takes on a fresh type, dealand all the while they seem unable to ing with awakening, alarming, and move others. Something they felt melting truths, and bathing each needed to be done, and they are trying discourse in the all-compassionate to do it; but the deep fountains within spirit of Jesus. Worldly minds, them are not broken up, the windows careless and prayerless, are touched ; of heaven above them are not opened, gay and pleasure-loving youth is and they set their faces toward seeking sobered; some stout-hearted rebel, God, though He be not far from any- openly defiant of God's Spirit, and one of them, and their sorrowful making sport of those unwonted deprayer bursts forth, “ Come, O breath, monstrations, is smitten down, perhaps and breathe upon these slain.” Then first of all, beseeches prayer and within them there springs a guidance, and strikes deep sensations tenderness of conscience. They accuse to men's hearts as he asks, “What themselves of many things in their must I do to be saved ?" Converts life to which they have been indif- multiply; their rejoicing songs mingle ferent, or striven stoutly to vindicate. like sacrificial flames; their new exTheir spirit is softened and subdued. perience thrills all listeners. The air If they have any harsh words to speak, of the place is solemn, as though filled they are words of self-condemnation. and stirred by unseen vital influences. They have that contrition of heart Men go and come as though vaulted which allies them to the publican, not everywhere by a Sabbath sky. The to the Pharisee, with nothing proud work deepens and spreads. There is and bitter in it, but of such a gentle more humility, more wrestling in sweetness that God loves it as a dwell- prayer, and adventurous activity, and ing next to the high and holy place the revival is in its full and victorious -His palace of heaven itself. There
progress. is more and more importunate prayer. Brethren begin to covenant with one another to unite in supplications till
CHRIST FOR EVERY MAN. the great blessing comes. They con- In Miss Marsh's little book, entitled secrate themselves anew to their Master “ Light for the Line," an account is and His work. Alienated members given of Thomas Ward's death. He are reconciled. Causes of dissension had been in great doubt; but before Miss are banished. Meetings are more Marsh left his bed-side, she heard him frequent. They are better attended.
say, “I see Him now. He is here. He Faces long absent are seen in the
is near. He is with me. He is around praying circle. Voices unheard there He will never let me go. How for months or years, give out a self- could I ever doubt Him? He is the accusing testimony; begin to make Saviour of sinners. He is Saviour. confession, break down, try again, and Jesus is mine, and I am His. His finish more intelligibly and effectively blood has bought me.
I never knew by sobs and tears. Family-altars,
Family-altars, what He is till now. 0! tell them all