« AnteriorContinuar »
and receive alms of strangers, than out of hope to receive much benefit by the use of this water, though the inhabitants of the place will tell you stories enough, very confidently, and circumstantially of lately-done miraculous cures, by the use thereof.” Again. “We were told a legend of one St. Byno, who lived at Clenogvaur, and was wont to foot it four miles in the night, to Llaynhayrne, and there, on a stone in the midst of a river, to say his prayers ; whereon they show you still the print of his knees. His man out of curiosity, followed him once to the place, to see and observe what he did. The saint coming from his prayers and espying a man, not knowing who it was, prayed that if he came with a good intent, he might receive the good he came for, and might suffer no damage ; but if he had any ill design, that some example might be shewn unto him, whereupon presently there came forth wild beasts and tore him to pieces. Afterwards the saint perceiving it was his own servant was very sorry ; gathering up his bones, and praying, he set bone to bone, and limb to limb, and the man became whole again." We might multiply instances, but must content ourselves with one that will at once bring us back to our proper subject, and shew how errors are to be rectified, and truth elicited by simple observation. “ At Newton we saw the Well called St. John's Well, which ebbs and flows (as the people generally there affirm), quite contrary to the sea, but we found that it ebbed as the sea ebbed, and do believe that it constantly does so."
Thus in all ages we shall find people much more ready to guess than to observe-to dream than to investigate; sometimes, as in the case of St. Byno's knee-prints, they had the semblance of fact for a nucleus, around which to hang their crude imaginings of the romantic, and the mysterious. So it seems to have been also at Wells, “ There are divers good pieces of carved work in the church. In the body of it towards the west, and between two pillars in the wall is carved the head of a king, with priests on each side tumbling headlong; also a bishop with a woman on one side, and a child on the other, of which they tell this story. The abbot who finished the body of the church after king Ina's death, when the workmen were building the church, gave them a plate out of his pocket, which had these pictures on it, and bade them cut them in stone, and set them in the church wall. When the Abbot came and saw them finished, he wept, and
being asked the reason he answered, “ When there should reign a king like to that head, and a bishop sit like the other, then friars and priests should be thrown down, and bishops marry.' Now the king's face they assert to be exactly like to king Henry VIII., and the bishop like the first married bishop of that diocese.”
This was the kind of knowledge, if knowledge it can be called, prevailing not only in England, but elsewhere, before such men as John Ray, went out of doors to see and hear, and think, and reason for themselves. Men, unfettered by facts, guessed at, and invented truth-no matter at how large an outlay of credulity. Here is another specimen “ We rode through a bushet or common, called Rodwell Hake, two miles from Leeds, where (according to the vulgar tradition), was once found a stag with a ring of brass about its neck, having this inscription,
When Julius Cæsar here was king,
Let me go for Cæsar's sake. It matters nothing to enquire whether Julius Cæsar was ever king, whether he wrote after his own death, or if not, why he used the past tense ; whether he expressed himself in English or Latin; and if he employed the former tongue, why in the orthography of Ray's own time; or whether a stag set loose in the days of this emperor, was likely to have lived till within memory. Thinking, and dull matter-of-fact men in our own day, might perhaps ask these questions, but in those “ former days, which were better than these," the imagination was not to be cooled down to reason-heat.
But even John Ray, though in advance of his own age, was far behind ours. He doled out his great discoveries at first with a timid hand, recording mostly in Latin, the self-same truths, which God had written in His own sweet, matchless, universal language. Yet we owe him much : and we owe much to all his disciples. Let us study in the same school; let us drink into the same spirit, and may these gentle pursuits prove to us as he wished them to prove, “ A Persuasive to a Holy Life, from the happiness that attends it both in this world and in the world to come.” This, the title of almost his last work, gives a pleasing picture of his declining years, and sets the seal of God's approval upon time spent in reading his great volume of Creation.
THE FALL OF THE PAPACY. AMONG the books which have excited considerable notice of late, we may give a prominent place to one recently advertized on our cover; and entitled, “ The Rise and Fall of Rome Papal, by Robert Fleming," a reprint, issued by the publishers of this Magazine. The interest attaching to this little volume arises principally from the circumstance that its author, who wrote in 1701, predicted the French Revolution in the latter part of the last century. Explaining the import of the fourth vial, in his commentary on Revelations xvi. 8, he supposes “it will come to its highest pitch about A. D. 1717, and that it will run out about the year 1794;" adding that “perhaps the French monarchy may begin to be considerably humbled about that time ; that whereas the present French king takes the sun for his emblem, and this for his motto, nec pluribus impar, he may at length, or rather his successors and the monarchy itself, at least before 1794 be forced to acknowledge, that in respect to neighbouring potentates, he is even singulis impar."
We are prevented by want of space and other considerations from giving in detail the arguments by which Mr. Fleming arrives at this conclusion : they seem, however, to our minds, to be lucid, satisfactory, and divested of all parade or mysticism. But as his general principles of interpretation apply equally to the ultimate fall of the Papacy, to commence with the present year, we will endeavor to give our young friends some idea of the scheme brought before us in this curious and modest little volume.
Our author lays the foundation of his scheme by explaining in a satisfactory manner the various terms used by St. John to convey the idea of time, shewing that the expressions, though different, are all precisely equivalent, and mutually illustrative; as will be apparent on glancing at the following table :A thousand, two hundred, and threescore days, Rev. xi, 3, xii. 6=1,260 Forty and two months,............... Rev. xi. 2, xiii. 5 (42X30)=1,260 A time (360;) and (two) times, (720) and a half (180)Rev. xii.14=1,260
The value of these premises will be sufficiently apparent, as they fix very clearly the duration both of the month and yearthe former at 30 days, and the latter at 360. For the veriest
tyro in arithmetic must at once see that a year and a half, or forty-two current months as the term is now understood, instead of containing only 1,260 days, would contain
42 months = 3 years, X 365 = 1,278 days. These three expressions, then, being clearly coincident, we have as it were, such a three-fold cord as cannot be easily broken. Mr. Fleming next proceeds to prove from Scripture, that days are in prophetical language employed to signify years, and having established this point, endeavors to fix the period at which the reign of Antichrist may be said to have commenced, following up the question in these words
“It is plain from Rev. xvii. 10, that the Imperial Government was the Regnant Head of the Roman beast, at the time of the vision; we have only the two following heads to consider, as to their rise and duration. Let these things, therefore, be minded here.
“1. That the seventh head, or king of Rome, whose character is, that he was immediately to succeed to the imperial government, and to continue but a short space, could be no other than that of the kingdom of the Ostro-Goths in Italy.
"For it is plain that the imperial dignity was extinguished in Italy, and in the western parts of the empire, by Odoacer, the king of the Heruli, who forced Augustulus, the last sprig of an emperor, to abdicate his throne and power, in the year 475 or 476, as others say. And though this Odoacer was soon destroyed by Theodoric, the king of the Ostro-Goths; yet the same form of regal government was continued by Theodoric and his successors. And though this kingdom continued for nearly eighty years, reckoning from Odoacer to Teias, yet the angel might justly call this a short time: for so it was, if compared either with the preceding imperial or succeeding papal government: And surely this kingdom was sufficient to constitute a new head of the Roman people, seeing Rome and Italy was subjected entirely to those Gothish kings, and that they not only acted with the same authority that the emperors had used before (excepting that they abstained from that title by a special providence, that they might not be confounded with that government,) but were owned by the senate and people of Rome as their superiors, yea, by the emperors of the east also.
“ 2. We may conclude that the last head of the beast, which is the Papal, did arise either immediately upon the extirpation of the Gothish kingdom, or some time after ; but it could not rise to its power immediately after, seeing Justinian did by the conquest of Italy revive the imperial government again there, which by that means was healed after the deadly wound which the Heruli and the Goths had given it. Though, I confess, Justinian's conquests of Italy laid a foundation for the pope's rise; and paved the way for his advancement, both by the penal and sanguinary laws which he made against all those that dissented from the Romish Church, and by the confusion that followed upon Narses, his bringing in the Lombards. For, during the struggles of them and the Exarchat, the pope played his game so, that the emperor Phocas found it his interest to engage him to his party, by giving him the title of supreme and universal bishop.
“Therefore we may justly reckon that the papal head took its first rise from that remarkable year 606; when Phocas did, in a manner, devolve the government of the West upon him, by giving him the title of universal bishop. From which period, if we date the 1260 years, they lead us down to the year 1866, which is 1848, according to prophetical calculation. Or, if a bare title of this sort be not thought sufficient to constitute the Pope head of the beast, we may reckon this two years later-viz., from the year 608, when Boniface the IVth. did first publicly authorize idolatry by dedicating the Pantheon to the worship of the Virgin Mary and all the saints."
It ought in justice to be added, that as Mr. Fleming reckons that the full rise of Antichrist did not take place till 758, when the pope was first invested with independent temporal authority, he supposes it will continue to exist till the year 2,000, though in a greatly weakened state.
To those who are curious in watching the signs of the times, we would strongly recommend this little volume, so opportunely reprinted for their convenience. Whether its author be right or wrong, he was evidently a man of deep thought, extensive knowledge, and sterling common sense.