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strengthened by long continuance; and every desire and appetite in the soul is a stronghold for Satan. There is little time for repentance, little for faith, and none for obedience.” In the spring and prosperity of life, then,—when all the powers are active and vigorous, comparatively unencumbered, and in their best tenor, and when sin hath less dominion over them,- let the young devote themselves to the love and service of God. Let them present to Him the first ripe fruit, and not the gleanings of the vintage ;-the unblemished sacrifice, and not the blind, the torn, and the lame. “Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me,” saith the Holy One, "My Father, Thou art the Guide of my youth ?” Let those to whom this condescending appeal comes, from the throne of the Majesty above, add the prayer,—“O satisfy us early with Thy mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our Days.”
No. LXXXI.-CITIES OF BASHAN.
PROFESSOR PORTER contributes to the “Family Treasury” a paper on this subject, containing particulars which are at once fresh and graphic. Certain people ascribe a large amount of Eastern exaggeration to the language in which Moses has recorded the conquest of Bashan three thousand years ago. The venerable historian speaks of “threescore cities," all of them “ fenced with high walls, gates, and bars ; beside unwalled towns a great many.” (Deut. iii, 4, 5.) No man who has traversed Bashan will ever call this in question. The walled cities, with their ponderous gates of stone, are there now as they were when the Israelites invaded the land. Great numbers of unwalled towns are there, too; and roads, terraces, vineyards, all alike desolate, not poetically, but literally “ without man, and without inhabitant, and without beast.”
Mr. Cyril Graham, the first of European travellers to penetrate those plains beyond, bears testimony to the literal fulfilment of prophecy. Of Beth-Gamul he says: “On reaching this city, I left my Arabs at one particular spot, and wandered about quite alone in the old streets of the town; entered one by one the old houses, went up stairs, visited the rooms, and, in short, made a careful examination of the whole place : but so perfect was every street, every house, every rooin, that I almost fancied I was in a dream, wandering alone in this city of the dead, seeing all perfect, yet not hearing a sound. I don't wish to moralize too much; but one cannot help reflecting on a people once so great and so powerful, who, living in these houses of stone within their walled cities, must have thought themselves invincible; who had their palaces and their sculptures; and who, no doubt, claimed to be the great nation, as all eastern nations have done ;and that this people should have so passed away, that for many centuries the country they inhabited has been reckoned as a desert, until some traTeller from a distant land, curious to explore these regions, finds the old
towns standing alone, and telling of a race long gone by, whose history is unknown, and whose very name is matter of dispute. Yet this very state of things is predicted by Jeremiah (xlviii. 9, 42)....... Visit these ancient cities, and turn to that ancient Book no further comment is necessary."
No less than eleven of the old cities, visible from the hill of Salcah, and lying between Bozrah and Beth-gamul, have been thus visited. Ramparts, houses, gates, doors, nearly all perfect ; yet“ desolate," and "without man.” The same enterprising and daring traveller also made a journey into the hitherto unexplored country east of the mountains of Bashan. There he found ancient cities, and roads, and vast numbers of inscriptions in unknown characters; but not a single inhabitant. The long-predicted doom of Moab is fulfilled. “But why,” asks Mr. Porter, "should I continue to compare the predictions of the Bible with the state the country? The harmony is complete. No traveller can possibly fail to see it; and no conscientious man can fail to acknowledge it. The best, the fullest, the most instructive commentary I ever saw on Jeremiah xlviii., was that inscribed by the finger of God on the panorama spread out around me as I stood on the battlements of the castle of Salcah.”
Moses tells us, that Bashan was called “the land of the giants,” or Rephaim. (Deut. iii. 13.) Now the houses of Kerioth and other towns in Bashian appear to be just such as a race of giants would build. The walls, the roofs, but especially the ponderous gates, doors, and bars, are in every way characteristic of a period when architecture was in its infancy, when giants were masons, and when strength and security were the grand requisites. One door in Kerioth was found, by measurement, to be nine feet high, four and a half feet wide, and ten inches thick, -one solid slab of stone. The folding gates of another town in the mountains are still larger and heavier. There can scarcely be a doubt that these are the very cities erected and inhabited by the Rephaim, the aboriginal occupants of Bashan. The language of Ritter appears to be true: “ These buildings remain as eternal witnesses of the conquest of Bashan by Jehovah."
At Kerioth, and its sister cities, we have some of the most ancient houses of which the world can boast. How strange to occupy, during one's sojourn, houses of which giants were the architects, and a race of giants the original owners ! The temples and tombs of Upper Egypt are of great interest, as the works of one of the most enlightened nations of antiquity. The palaces of Nineveh are still more interesting, as the memorials of a great city which lay buried for two thousand years. But these massive houses of Kerioth scarcely yield in interest to either. They are antiquities of another kind. In size they cannot vie with the temples of Karnac; in splendour they do not approach the palaces of Khorsabad : yet they are the memorials of a race of giant warriors which has been extinct for more than three thousand years, and of which Og, king of Bashan, was one of the last representatives; and they are, probably, the only specimens in the world of the ordinary private dwellings of remote antiquity. The monuments designed by the genius and reared by the wealth of imperial Rome are fast mouldering to
ruin in this land ; temples, palaces, fortresses, are all shattered, or prostrate in the dust : but the simple, massive houses of the Rephaim are in many cases perfect as if only completed yesterday. It is worthy of note, that the towns of Bashan were considered ancient even in the days of Ammianus Marcellinus. “Fortresses and strong castles,” says that Roman historian, * have been erected by the ancient inhabitants among the retired mountains and forests. Here, in the midst of numerous towns, are some great cities, such as Bostra and Gerasa, encompassed by massive walls.” Mr. Graham, who has traversed eastern Bashan, writes thus :—“When we find, one after another, great stone cities, walled and unwalled, with stone gates, and so crowded together that it becomes almost a matter of wonder how all the people could have lived in so small a place; when we see houses built of such hoge stones that no force which can be brought against them in that country could ever batter them down ; when we find rooms in these houses so large and lofty that many of them would be considered fine rooms in a palace in Europe ; and, lastly, when we find some of these towns bearing the very names which cities in that very country bore before the Israelites came out of Egypt; I think we cannot help feeling the strongest conviction that we have before us the cities of the Rephaim, of which we read in the Book of Deuteronomy."
In regard to the mountains, one word may be said. Straggling trees of the great old oaks of Bashan dot thinly the lower declivities; higher up, little groves of them appear; and higher still, around the loftiest peaks, are dense forests.
METHODISM IN SOUTHWELL, NOTTS. The recent improvement and re-opening of the chapel in Southwell have revived recollections of a few incidents connected with its early history, which are worthy of being rescued from oblivion.
Southwell is a small and respectable town in the county of Nottingham, long famed for its beautiful collegiate church, with opulent endowments, and a large staff of clergymen, whose influence has for generations been felt in the quiet respectability and high-church feeling of the inhabitants,with strong prejudices, among the gentry especially, against any other form of religious service and profession. Of this influence, however, it is no breach of enlightened Christian charity to affirm, that it was seriously deficient in spiritual life and power, both among the higher and the humbler classes of society.
A little more than sixty years ago, Methodism was introduced into Southwell. Its early history is associated with the conversion of a gentleman who then resided at Epperstone, seven miles distant, but whose ancestry had been connected with Southwell from the fifteenth century, when one of them was a vicar-choral of the collegiate church. This gentleman, the late Mr. William Neepe, was, until thirty years of age, a stout Church-and-King man, and addicted to field-sports, though free from the
yices which often attend on such a career. Like many of his class, he was strongly opposed to the Methodist preaching, which about that time was introduced into new places in that part of the county, by the zeal of the late Rev. William Bramwell and his various coadjutors, whose labours were remarkably successful. Rustic persecution was not uncommon; and on one occasion, being desirous of assisting the clergy man of the parish in preserving his flock from the intrusion, Mr. Neepe united with another gentleman in turning a bull into the midst of a congregation assembled in the street. Happily, this freak was followed by little mischief: for the animal was less tractable than their purpose required him to be, and, instead of running through the congregation, he leaped over a wall six feet high, throwing a woman down in the leap, but doing her no further harm. With the same hostility to the “new sect,” and for the purpose
suppressing the superstition it was supposed to involve,-although nothing else could have induced Mr. Neepe to hear one of its preachers, the chivalrous idea occurred to him of dressing in his regimentals, that he might more authoritatively interfere on an occasion of preaching in a neighbouring vilJage. The text,—“Suffer me that I may speak ; and after that I have spoken, mock un,”—arrested his attention, and the sermon overcame his prejudices. The discovery that what he had heard of Methodism was quite false prepared the way for Divine conviction ; and, after the preaching, he said he had but one prejudice left. “What were the dark meetings?”– meaning class-meetings. He was invited to attend one, which was immediately held : after which he returned home an altered and a wiser man.
His first act that night was to wring the necks of all his game-cocks, and then to kneel in prayer for the pardon of his sins. Though he had never heard a Gospel sermon before, Divine light and comfort so penetrated his heart with these words, “ Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,” that he arose pardoned and renewed by the grace of God.
He now made arrangements for public preaching at Epperstone ; and on the occasion a mob collected, throwing bricks, stones, and any missiles that hand could find. As he walked, after the service, down the street, a woman vociferated, “ This is one of the soldiers who should have defended the town!” In reply, with fine musical voice, he immediately commenced singing
“We're soldiers fighting for our God: " &c. His religious decision awakened much attention, and challenged observation. Old companions staked bottles of wine, that his religion could not last a month. One gentleman, a particular friend, passing his house, heard what was to him an unusual sound ; and, after listening, went mournfully away, saying, “ It is all true. Poor man! he is deranged; he is praying with his family!”
Mr. Bramwell, who was one of his early religious advisers and friends, and who saw in him the elements of usefulness, authorized him to preach, and placed him on the Plan. This was in the year 1800. His first appointment was at Farnsfield, where many of his old sporting companions resided.
They came to the service, and the little Methodist band were at first afraid when they saw these gentlemen in the chapel. But, as the preacher rose, giving out the hymn,
“Shall I, for fear of feeble man,
The Spirit's course in me restrain ? " &c.,the old class-leader lost his tremor, and spoke aloud, with rustic simplicity, in words of encouragement.—Divine grace sustained Mr. Neepe through a long life; and, although he lost caste with those who had once been his companions, he was a blessing to his generation. And often he testified, in lovefeasts, and on other occasions, how graciously the Lord had crowned his life with temporal mercies, as well as with the higher blessings of the spiritual life.
Southwell was one of the places visited by the Methodist preachers of that day. But more than ordinary difficulty was encountered in obtaining a local habitation there, from the firm determination of the leading ecclesiastics and civilians of the town to prevent the erection of any chapel. Mr. Neepe felt a special interest in the place, (though not owning a foot of land there,) inasmuch as it had been the residence of his ancestors. The first room occupied for worship was a barn. Its fittings and furniture could not have been remarkable, except for their meanness: for a barrel is reported to have been the pulpit. But here the brethren preached for some time, with simple earnestness ; dwelling especially on the insufficiency and sinfulness of the form of godliness without the power.
A few years passed on, with no better accommodation an this ; until, in 1810, a favourable opportunity came, which was prayerfully and thankfully embraced, for obtaining a site of land on which a chapel might be erected. A tradesman, having entered into a building-speculation beyond his means, was under the necessity of disposing of a plot of land with unfinished buildings thereon; and, having a strong impression of Mr. Neepe's uprightness, this individual went from Southwell to Epperstone, and stated his case, making to him an offer of the property. It was near a streain of water, just outside the town. Mr. Neepe saw in the proposal the finger of God. He knew how eligible the place was for a particular business, and also how convenient for a sanctuary. Accustomed to acknowledge God in all his ways, he retired to his room to pray. While thus engaged in seeking the Divine direction, and imploring the Divine blessing, he offered to the Lord a piece of land for a chapel, if he might be permitted to become the proprietor of the estate. As soon as it was known that an agreement was entered into for the sale of the property to Mr. Neepe, it was expected that the Methodists would get a chapel; and, in pursuance of a series of efforts aforetime successfully made to prevent this, the vendor was tempted by the bid of a higher sum as the purchase-inoney; which, however, he honourably declined. Mr. Neepe entered into possession ; and on that spot, in the midst of much opposition, the first Methodist chapel was erected, and stood
for thirty years.
A tannery was established by Mr. Neepe, for which the place was pecuVOL. X.-FIFTII SERIES.