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Sources of Consolation to the Believer
A Parting Word to Protestant Missionaries
HE city of Canton in China is situated on the banks of a river about one hundred miles from the sea. The river is in this part of its progress called Chookeang, "The Pearl River," from the circumstance of its once having contained pearl oysters.
Between the walls of the city and the river, on the south west corner, is the residence of Europeans and Americans, who visit China for commercial purposes. In this neighbourhocd also are situated the counting-houses, warehouses, and shops, of those natives who are concerned in European commerce. These native warehouses are in Chinese called Hongs, or "Walks," from their extent.
On Saturday, the 2d of Nov. 1822, a fire, which broke out the preceding night, about half a mile to the north of the British Factories, extended southward and westward, with tremendous fierceness; and, impelled by a strong gale, overpowered all human efforts to resist its progress, till factories, hongs, and shops, were involved in flames, and consumed in one general conflagration. Thousands of houses, and millions of property were entirely destroyed. About a hundred lives were lost, partly by the fire, and partly by attacking or defending property. The governor of Canton, and all the local magistrates, attended.
On Sunday, the 3d, the first Bethel Flag ever hoisted on the rivers of China, was to have appeared at the mast-head of the Ship Pacific, of Philadelphia; and whilst preparing a discourse to the sailors, on the evening of Friday, the writer of this was called away to assist at the fire-engines. Friday night, Saturday, Saturday night, and Sunday, were all spent in sleepless anxiety, and unavailing efforts to extinguish the fire. It burnt till it arrived at the river's brink, and found no more materials to feed the flames.
The following Sunday, the sermon to sailors was preached at the anchorage called Whampoa, about eleven miles from Canton; and on Nov. 16th, the following discourse was delivered in an unconsumed native warehouse, called after its owner, Consequa's Hong. To the end of this building the fire of Canton extended, but being saved, it became a temporary dwelling for the English whose habitations were consumed. The congregation consisted of commercial agents, British and American Captains, Officers, Surgeons and others. The service commenced by reading the Prayers of the English Church.
THE WAY OF SALVATION.
ACTS XVI. 30.
"What must I do to be saved?"
THESE words were originally spoken under very extraordinary circumstances. St. Paul and his companions, whilst deliberating whither they should go to preach the Gospel, having been forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word at that time in Lesser Asia; saw a vision, which directed them to pass, for the first time, into Europe. A man of Macedonia appeared in this vision, and prayed St. Paul, saying, "Come over into Macedonia and help us." The Apostle deemed that this was a divine intimation, and proceeded thither accordingly. There was at that time a Roman Colony at Philippi, and the place was governed by Roman laws. The religious customs were
of course made up partly of the Paganism of Greece, and partly of that of Rome. Divinations, sorcery, and fortunetelling, were practised. Sometimes those who pretended to sorcery, magic, &c. were impostors; and, sometimes, there is every reason to believe, they were actuated by Satan, the father of lies and of false miracles, and of lying prophecies.
At Philippi there was a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying. This young woman followed Paul and his companions for several days, crying out aloud, "These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation." This statement was consistent with the real fact; but it is supposed the design of Satan, in suggesting this assertion, was insidiously to identify the sorceress and satanic influences with the apostles and the divine inspiration, which, blending the two, would hinder the truth amongst the Pagans, by leading them to say,' 66 our religion is from the same source as yours;" and would hinder it likewise amongst the Jews, who resided at Philippi, and who hated sorcery and divination, in which they were fully justified by divine command.
Paul was therefore grieved; and eventually, in the name of our Saviour, commanded the demon, or false spirit, to abandon the woman. It was done, and she was silenced. The false prophetess was struck dumb, and could no longer utter the responses, which she had been accustomed to do, for money paid to her masters. The proper effect of this would have been, for them to acknowledge the superiority of the Apostles, and that theirs was the true inspiration. They, however, actuated by a mercenary spirit, seeing that their gains were gone, seized Paul and Silas, dragged them before the magistrates, and accused them of being Jews, who exceedingly troubled their city; teaching customs, not lawful for those who were Romans to observe. And these magistrates, to satisfy the multitude, tore the raiment off Paul and Silas, laid many stripes upon them, and cast them into prison. The jailer, zealous in this bad cause, thrust them into the inner prison, and