The Gospel first came to Europe in circumstances similar to those in which it came into human history. Through poverty, shame, and suffering—through the manger, the cross, and the sepulchre—did our Saviour accomplish the salvation of the world; through stripes and imprisonment, through the gloom of the inner dungeon and the pain and shame of the stocks, did Paul and Silas declare at Philippi the glad tidings of salvation. Out of the midnight darkness which enveloped the apostles of the Cross, as they sang in the prison, came the marvellous light that was destined to illumine all Europe. Out of the stocks which held fast the feet that came to the shores of the West shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, to proclaim deliverance to the captives, sprang that glorious liberty which has broken every fetter that bound the bodies and souls of men throughout Christendom. After the earthquake that shook the prison walls and released the prisoners came the still, small voice of power, which overthrew the tyrannies and superstitions of ages, and remade society from its very foundations.

Very similar were the circumstances in which the apostle landed at the quay of Puteoli. A weary, worn-out prisoner, accused by his own countrymen, on his way to be judged at the tribunal of the Roman emperor, associated with a troop of malefactors, St. Paul disembarked, on the 3d of May of the year 59, from the ship Castor and Pollux, after having gone through storm and shipwreck, and first touched the shore of the wonderful land destined afterwards to be the scene of the mightiest triumphs of the Gospel, and the most enlightened centre for its diffusion throughout the world. Like the birth of Rome itself, whose obscure foundation, according to the beautiful myth, was laid by the outcast son of a Vestal Virgin, the kingdom of the despised virgin-born Jesus of Nazareth that cometh not with observation, stole unawares, amid the meanest circumstances, into the very heart of the Roman world. Momentous events were taking place at the time throughout the Roman Empire, attracting all eyes, and engaging the attention of all minds; but the unnoticed landing at Puteoli of the humble Jewish prisoner, judging by its marvellous results, was by far the most important. It marked a new era in the history of the world. And there was something significant in the coincidence that St. Paul should have come to the Italian shore in the ship Castor and Pollux, the names not merely of the patrons of sailors, but also of the saviours of Rome. The mighty empire which human tyranny had established has crumbled to pieces, and we walk to-day amid its ruins; but the kingdom of peace and righteousness which Paul came to inaugurate has spread from that coign of vantage over all the earth, and in a world of death and change has impressed upon the minds of men with a new force the idea of the eternal and the unchangeable.

Earth holds no fairer scene than that which met the apostle's gaze as he entered the bay of Puteoli. "See Naples, and die," is the cuckoo cry of the modern tourist who visits this enchanted region; and such a vision is indeed worthy to be the last imprinted upon a human retina. It is called by the Italians themselves "Un pezzo di cielo caduto in terra," a piece of heaven fallen upon earth. Shores that curve in every line of beauty, holding out arm-like promontories, into whose embrace the tideless sea runs up; mountain-ranges whose tops in winter are covered with snow, and whose sides are draped with the luxuriant vegetation of the South; a large city rising in a series of semicircular terraces from the deep azure of the sea to the deep azure of the mountains, whose eastern architecture flushes to a vivid rosy hue in the afternoon light like some fabled city of the poets; and dominating the glorious horizon the double peak of Vesuvius forming the centre in which all the features of landscape loveliness are focussed—crowned by its pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night. Such is the picture upon which travellers crowd from the ends of the earth to gaze.

Nor was the view different in its most important elements in the days of the apostle. The same great forms of the landscape met the eye; and the same magic play of light and colour, the same jewel-points flashing in the waters, the same gleams of purple and crimson wandering over town, and vineyard, and wood, transfigured the scene then, which gives it more than half its loveliness now. But its human elements were different. Swarming with life as are these shores at the present day, they were even more populous then. Where we now wander through picturesque ruins and silent solitudes, prosperous towns and villages stood; and temples, palaces, and summer houses of patrician magnificence crowded upon each other to such an extent that the sea itself was invaded, and an older Venice rose from the waters along the curves of its bays. The shores of Baiæ were the very centre of Roman splendour. The emperor and his court spent a large part of the year there; and noble families, that elsewhere had domains miles in extent, were there satisfied with the smallest space upon which they could build a house and plant a garden. Pompeii and Herculaneum, in all their reckless gaiety, lay, unconscious of danger, at the foot of Vesuvius, then a grassy mountain wooded to the summit with oak and chestnut, and known from time immemorial as a field of pasture for flocks and herds. The Bay of Misenum, now so solitary that the scream of the sea-fowl is almost the only sound that breaks the stillness, was crowded with the vessels of the Roman fleet, commanded by Pliny; and its waters were alive with the pleasure-boats of the patrician youths, filling the air with the music of their laughter and song. Puteoli, or, as it is now called, Pozzuoli, a dull and stagnant fourth-rate town, was then the Liverpool of Italy, carrying on an immense trade in corn between Egypt and the western provinces of the Roman Empire. It rivalled Delos in magnificence, and was called the Little Rome. It had a splendid forum and harbour, and was guarded by fortifications which resisted the repeated attacks of Hannibal. In this region almost every famous Roman of the later days of the Republic and the earlier days of the Empire had his sea-side villa to which he retired from the noise and bustle of the Imperial City. It was the Brighton or more properly the Bath of Rome; for though it was frequented during the burning heats of summer for the sake of its comparative coolness, it was principally chosen as a winter retreat to escape from the frosts and snows of the north. Lucullus carried here the gorgeous luxury and extravagance of his city life; here Augustus and Hadrian had their palaces erected on vast piers thrown out into the sea, whose waters still murmur over their remains; while Cicero built here his Puteolanum, delightfully situated on the coast, and surrounded by a shady grove, which he called his Academy, in imitation of Plato, and where he composed his "Academia" and "De Fato." Hardly an inch of the soil but is full of fragments of mosaic pavements. The common stones of the road are often rich marbles, that formed part of imperial structures; and the very dust on which you tread, if analysed, would be found to be a powder of gems and precious stones.

But alas! in some of the fairest spots of earth man has been vilest; and like the ancient Cities of the Plain, which stood in a region of Edenic loveliness, the shores of the Bay of Naples were inhabited by a race corrupted with the worst vices of Roman civilisation. Some of the most dreadful crimes that have disgraced humanity were committed on that radiant shore. Yonder sleeps in the azure distance the enchanted isle of Capri, haunted for ever by dreadful memories of the unnameable atrocities with which the Emperor Tiberius had stained its peaceful bowers. On the neighbouring heights of Posilipo are traces of the villa of Vedius, and of the celebrated fish-ponds where he fed his murenæ with the flesh of his disobedient slaves. On the shore of Puteoli the apostle might have seen the remains of one of the maddest freaks of imperial folly—the floating-bridge of Caligula, stretching across the bay for nearly three miles, and decorated with the finest mosaic pavements and sculpture. Over this useless bridge the insane emperor drove in the chariot and armour of Alexander the Great, to celebrate his triumph over the Parthians; and from it, on his return, he ordered the crowd of inoffensive spectators to be hurled into the sea. By withdrawing for the construction of this bridge the ships employed in the harbour, the importation of corn was put a stop to, and a grievous famine, felt even in Rome, was the result. And near at hand was Bauli, where Nero—the very Cæsar to whom it is startling to remember that St. Paul appealed, and before whom he was going to be judged,—only two years before attempted the murder of his own mother, Agrippina, which failed because of her discovery of the plot, but which was most ruthlessly accomplished very soon afterwards. Here too Marcellus was poisoned by Livia, that Tiberius might ascend the throne of Augustus; and Domitian by Nero, that he might enjoy the wealth of his aunt. Here Hadrian, a few days before his own miserable end, compelled his beautiful and accomplished wife, Sabina, to put herself to death, that she might not survive him in such a wretched world. And in the cities at the foot of Vesuvius have been revealed to us, after nature had kindly hidden them for eighteen centuries, tokens of a depravity so utter, that we cannot help looking upon the fiery deluge from the mountain, that soon after St. Paul's visit swept them out of existence, as a Divine judgment like that of Sodom and Gomorrha. And darker even than these monstrosities of wickedness was the divine worship paid on these shores to the Roman emperors. It was a pitiable spectacle when the sailors of an Alexandrian ship, coming into the harbour of Puteoli, gave thanks for their prosperous voyage to the dying Augustus, whom they met cruising on the waters vainly in search of health, and offered him divine honours, which the gratified emperor accepted, and rewarded with gifts. But what shall we think of the worship of the god Caligula and the god Nero? Surely a people who could raise altars and offer sacrifices to such unmitigated monsters must have lost the very conception of religion. Not only virtue, but the very belief in any source of virtue, must have been utterly extirpated in them. When Herod spoke, the people said it was the voice of God; and he was smitten with worms because he gave not God the glory. And surely the superhuman wickedness of the Cæsars may be regarded as a punishment, equally significant, of the fearful blasphemy of the worshipped and the worshippers.

No wonder that the shores of Baiæ now present a picture of the saddest desolation. Where man sins, there man suffers. The relation between human crime and the barren wilderness is still as inflexibly maintained as at the first. Until all recollection of the iniquities of the place has passed away it is fitting that these silent shores should remain the desert that they are. We should not wish the old voluptuous magnificence revived; and these myrtle bowers can never more regain the charm of virgin solitudes untainted by man. Italy, like Palestine, has thus an accursed spot in its fairest region—a visible monument to all ages, of the great truth that the tidal wave of retribution will inevitably overwhelm every nation that forgets the eternal distinctions of right and wrong.

St. Paul was a man of keen sensibilities and strong imagination. He must therefore at Puteoli have been deeply impressed at once with the loveliness of nature and the wickedness of man. The contrast would present itself to him in a very painful manner. As at Athens—where his spirit was moved within him when he saw the city wholly given up to idolatry—so here he must have had that noble indignation against the iniquities of the place—the outrages committed on the laws of God, and the dishonour done to the nature of man made in the Divine image—to which David and Jeremiah, and all the loftiest spirits of mankind, have given such stern and yet patriotic utterance. What others were callous to, filled him with keen shame and sorrow. He who could have wished that himself were accursed from Christ for his brethren, his kinsmen according to the flesh, must have had a profound pity for these wretched victims of profligacy, who were looking in their ignorance for salvation to a brutal mortal worse than themselves,—"the son of perdition, sitting in the temple of God, showing that he was God." And to this feeling of indignation and sorrow, because of the wickedness of the place, must have been added a feeling of personal despondency. From the significant circumstance that the apostle thanked God, and took courage, when he met the Christian brethren at Apii Forum, we may infer that he had previously great heaviness of spirit. He would be more or less than human, if on setting his foot for the first time on the native soil of the conquerors of his country, and the lords of the whole world, and seeing on every side, even at this distance from the imperial city, overwhelming evidences of the luxury and power of the empire, he did not feel oppressed with a sense of personal insignificance. Evil had throned itself there on the high places of the earth, and could mock at the puny efforts of the followers of Jesus to cast it down. Idolatry had so deeply rooted itself in the interests and passions of men which were bound up in its continuance, that it seemed a foolish dream to expect that it would be supplanted by the preaching of the Cross, which to St. Paul's own people was a stumbling-block and to all other nations foolishness. And who was he that he should undertake such a mission—a weak and obscure member of a despised race, a prisoner chained to a soldier, appealing to Cæsar against the condemnation of his own countrymen. We can well believe, that notwithstanding the sustaining grace that was given to him, the heart of the apostle must have been very heavy when he stood in the midst of the jostling crowd on the quay of Puteoli, and took the first step there on Italian soil of his journey to Rome. He felt most keenly all that a man can feel of the shame and offence of the Cross; but nevertheless he was not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. And his presence there on that Roman quay—a despised prisoner in bonds for the sake of the Gospel—is a picture, that appeals to every heart, of the triumph of Divine strength in the midst of human weakness; and a most striking proof, moreover, that not by might, but by the Spirit of love, does God bring down the strongholds of sin.

But God furnished a providential cure for whatever despondency the apostle may have felt. No sooner did he land than he found himself surrounded by Christian brethren, who cordially welcomed him, and persuaded him to remain with them seven days. Such brotherly kindness must have greatly cheered him; and the week spent among these loyal followers of the Lord Jesus must have been a time of bodily and spiritual refreshment opportunely fitting him for the trying experiences before him. Doubtless these brethren were Jewish converts to the Christian faith; for that there were Jewish residents at Puteoli, residing in the Tyrian quarter of the city, we are assured by Josephus; and this we should have expected from the mercantile importance of the place and its intimate commercial relations with the East. How they came under the influence of the Gospel we know not; they may have been among "the strangers of Rome" who came to Jerusalem at Pentecost to keep the national feasts in obedience to the Mosaic Law, and who were then brought to the knowledge of the truth by the preaching of St. Peter; or perhaps they were converts of St Paul's own making, in some of the numerous places which he visited on his missionary tours, and who afterwards came to reside for business purposes at this port. We see in the presence of the Jewish brethren at Puteoli one of the most striking illustrations of the providential pre-arrangements made for the diffusion of the Gospel throughout all nations. The Jews had a more than ordinary attachment to their native land. Patriotism in their case was not only a passion, but a part of their religion; and their love of country was entwined with the holiest feelings of their nature. In Jerusalem alone could God be acceptably worshipped. And yet it was divinely ordered that those who had been for ages the hermits of the human race should become all at once the most cosmopolitan, when the time for imparting to the world the benefits of their isolated religious training had come. And the Jews thus scattered abroad preserved amid their alien circumstances their national worship and customs, and thus became the natural links of connection between the missionaries of the Cross and the Gentiles whom they wished to reach. Through such Jewish channels the Gospel speedily penetrated into remote localities, which otherwise it would have taken a long time to reach. We are struck with distinct traces of the Christian faith in the time of St. Paul in the most unexpected places. For instance, in the National Museum at Naples I have seen rings with Christian emblems engraved upon them, which were found at Pompeii; proving beyond doubt that there had been followers of Jesus even in that dissolute place, who, unlike Lot and his household, were overwhelmed in the same destruction with those whose evil deeds must have daily vexed their righteous souls. The same symbols which we find in the Roman Catacombs,—the palm branch, the sacred fish the monogram of Jesus, the dove, are unmistakably represented on these rings. Some of them are double, indicating that they were used by married persons: one has the palm branch twice repeated; another exhibits the palm and anchor; a third has a dove with a twig in its bill; and one ring has the Greek wordelpis—hope—inscribed upon it.

St. Paul at Puteoli may be said to have dwelt among his own people. Not only was he with his own countrymen and fellow-disciples, but he was in the midst of associations that forcibly recalled his home. The apostle was a citizen of a Greek city, and the language in which he spoke was Greek; and here, in the Bay of Naples, he was in the midst of a Greek colony, where Roman influence had not been able to efface the deep impression which Greece had made upon the place. The original name of the splendid expanse of water before him was the Bay of Cumæ; and Cumæ was absolutely the first Greek settlement in the western seas. Neapolis or Parthenope was the beautiful Greek name of the city of Naples, testifying to its Hellenic origin; and Dicæarchia was the older Greek name of Puteoli, a name used to a late period in preference to its Latin name, derived from the numerous mineral springs in the neighbourhood. The whole lower part of Italy was wholly Greek; its arts, its customs, its literature, were all Hellenic; and its people belonged to the pure Ionic race whose keen imaginations and vivid sensuousness seemed to have been created out of the fervid hues and the pellucid air of their native land. Everywhere the subtle Greek tongue might be heard; and all, so far as Greek influence was concerned, was as unchanged in the days of the apostle as when Pythagoras visited the region, and adopted the inhabitants as the fittest agents in his great scheme of universal regeneration. St. Paul therefore, at Puteoli, might have imagined himself standing on the very soil of classic Hellas, and felt as much at home as in his own native city of Tarsus. This wide diffusion of the Greek language throughout the West as well as the East at this time is another of the remarkable providential pre-arrangements which prepared the way for the preaching of the Gospel throughout the world. A Gentile speech, by a series of wonderful events, was thus made ready over all the world to receive and to communicate the glorious Gospel that was to be preached to all nations.

The remains of the ancient pier upon which St. Paul landed may still be seen. Indeed, no Roman harbour has left behind such solid memorials. No less than thirteen of the buttresses that supported its arches are left, three lying under water; all constructed of brick held together by that Roman cement called pozzolana, after the town of Pozzuoli, whose extraordinary tenacity rivals that of the living rock. You can plant your feet upon the very stones upon which the apostle must have stood. And if you happen to be there on the 3d of May you will see a solemn procession of the inhabitants of the decayed town, headed by their priests, celebrating the anniversary of this memorable incident. The first conspicuous object upon which the eye of the apostle would rest on landing would be the Temple of Neptune, of which a few pillars are still standing in the midst of the water. Here Caligula, in his mad passage over his bridge of boats, paused to offer propitiatory sacrifices. Here, too, Cæsar, before he sailed to Greece to encounter the forces of Antony at Actium, sacrificed to Neptune; and here the crew of every ship presented offerings, in order to secure favouring winds and waves when outward bound, or in gratitude when returning home from a successful voyage. Beyond this he would see in all its splendour the famous bathing establishment built over a thermal spring near the sea, which has since been known as the Temple of Serapis, an Egyptian deity, whose worship had spread widely in Italy. Three tall columns of cipollino marble, belonging to the portico of this building, are still standing, with their bases under water; and they have acquired a world-wide interest, especially to geologists, as records of the successive elevations and depressions of the coast-line during the historical period; these changes being indicated on their shafts by the different watermarks and the perforations of marine bivalves or boring-shells well known to be living in the Mediterranean Sea. In the upper part of the town, on a commanding height, he would behold the Temple of Augustus, built for the worship of the deified founder of the Roman Empire. A Christian cathedral dedicated to St. Proculus, who suffered martyrdom in the same year with St. Januarius, containing the tomb of Pergolesi, the celebrated musical composer, now occupies the site of the pagan shrine, and has six of its Corinthian pillars, that looked down upon the apostle as he landed, built into its walls. A temple of Diana and a temple of the Nymphs also adorned the town, from which numerous columns and sculptures have been recently recovered. On every side the apostle would see mournful tokens that the city was wholly given up to idolatry,—to the worship of mortal men and an ignoble crowd of gods and goddesses borrowed from all nations; and yet he had equally sad proofs that the idolatry was altogether a hollow and heartless pretence,—that the superstitious creed publicly maintained by the city had long ceased to command the respect of its recognised defenders.

I walked up from the town along the remains of the Via Campana, a cross-road that led from Puteoli to Capua and there joined the famous Appian Way. Along this road the apostle passed on his way to Rome; and it is still paved with the original lava-blocks upon which his feet had pressed. One of the principal objects on the way is the amphitheatre of Nero, with its tiers of seats, its arena, and its subterranean passages, in a wonderful state of preservation, richly plumed with the delicate fronds of the maiden-hair fern, which drapes with its living loveliness so many of the ruins of Greece and Italy. It was here that Nero himself rehearsed the parts in which he wished to act on the more public stage of Rome. The sands of the arena were dyed with the blood of St. Januarius, who was thrown to the wild beasts by order of Diocletian, and whose blood is annually liquefied by a supposititious miracle in Naples at the present day. Behind the amphitheatre the apostle would get a glimpse of the famous Phlegræan Fields so often referred to in the classic poets as the scene of the wars of the gods and the giants.

This is the Holy Land of Paganism. All the scenery of the eleventh book of the Odyssey and of the sixth book of the Æneid spreads beneath the eye. At every step you come upon some spot associated with the romantic literature of antiquity. From thence the imaginative shapes of Greek mythology passed into the poetry of Rome. There everything takes us back far beyond the birth of Roman civilisation, and reminds us of the legends of the older Hellenic days, which will exercise an undying spell on the higher minds of the human race down to the latest ages. It is the land of Virgil, whose own tomb is not far off; and under the guidance of his genius we visit the ghostly Cimmerian shores, now bathed in glowing sunshine, and stand on spots that thrilled the hearts of Hercules and Ulysses with awe. There the terrible Avernus, to which the descent was so easy, sleeps in its deep basin, long ago divested by the axe of Agrippa of the impenetrable gloom and mysterious dread which its dark forests had created; its steep banks partly covered with natural copsewood bright with a living mosaic of cyclamens and lilies, and partly formed of cultivated fields. During my visit the delicious odour of the bean blossom pervaded the fields, reminding me vividly of familiar rural scenes far away. Yonder is the subterranean passage called by the common people the Sibyl's Cave, where Æneas came and plucked the golden bough, and, led by the melancholy priestess of Apollo, went down to the dreary world of the dead. It was the general tradition of Pagan nations that the point of departure from this world, as well as the entrance to the next, was always in the west. We find the largest number of the prehistoric relics of the dead on the western shores of our own country. The cave of Loch Dearg—at first connected with primitive pagan rites and subsequently the traditional entrance to the Purgatory of St. Patrick—is situated in the west of Ireland, and corresponds to the cave of the Sibyl and the Lake of Avernus in Italy. Indeed the word Avernus itself bears such a close resemblance to the Gaelic word Ifrinn—the name of the infernal regions, and to the name of Loch Hourn, the Lake of Hell, on the north-west coast of Scotland—that it has given rise to the supposition that it was the legacy of a prehistoric Celtic people who at one time inhabited the Phlegræan Fields. On the other side of Lake Avernus is the Mare Morto, the Lake or Sea of the Dead, with its memories of Charon and his ghostly crew, which now shines in the setting sun like a field of gold sparkling with jewels; and beyond it are the Elysian Fields, the abodes of the blessed, the rich life of whose soil breaks out at every pore into a luxuriant maze of vines and orange trees, and all manner of lovely and fruitful vegetation. Still farther behind is the Acherusian Marsh of the poets, now called the Lake of Fusaro, because hemp and flax are put to steep in it; and the river Styx itself, by which the gods dare not swear in vain, reduced to an insignificant rill flowing into the sea. It is most interesting to think of the apostle Paul being associated with this enchanted region. His presence on the scene is necessary to complete its charm, and to remind us that the vain dreams of those blind old seekers after God were all fulfilled in Him who opened a door for us in heaven, and brought life and immortality to light in the Gospel.

St. Paul must have noticed—though Scripture, intent only upon the unfolding of the religious drama, makes no reference to it—the crater of Solfatara, one of the most wonderful phenomena of this wonderful region, for it lay directly in his path, and was only about a mile distant from Puteoli. This was the famous Forum of Vulcan, where the god fashioned his terrible tools, and shook the earth with the fierce fires of his forge. On account of its gaseous fumaroles, and the flames thrown out with a loud roaring noise from one gloomy cavern in its side, this volcano may still be considered active. Its white calcined crater is clothed in some places with green shrubs, particularly with luxuriant sage, myrtle, and white heather; but an eruption took place in it so late as 1198, during which a lava current, a rare phenomenon in this district, flowed from its southern edge to the sea, destroying the ancient cemetery on the Via Puteolana, and forming the present promontory of Olibano. The ground sounds hollow beneath a heavy tread, reminding one unpleasantly that but a thin crust covers the fiery abyss which might break through at any moment. With the exception of Vesuvius, this is the only surviving remnant of the fierce elemental forces which have devastated this coast in every direction. The whole region is one mass of craters of various sizes and ages, some far older than Vesuvius, and others of comparatively recent origin. They are all craters of eruption and not of elevation; and in their formation they have interfered with and in some cases almost obliterated pre-existing ones. Some of them are filled with lakes, and others clothed with luxuriant vineyards, and wild woods fit for the chase, or encircling cultivated fields. To one looking upon it from a commanding position such as the heights of Posilipo, the landscape presents a universally blistered appearance. Hot mineral springs everywhere abound, often associated with the ruins of old Roman baths; and the soil is a white felspathic ash, disposed in layers of such fineness and regularity that they look as if they had been stratified under water, the sea and the shore having alternately given place to each other. Of the white earth abounding on every side, which has given to the place the old name of Campi Leucogæi, and is the result of the metamorphosis of the trachytic tufa by the chemical action of the gases that rise up through the fumaroles, a very fine variety of porcelain—known to collectors as Capo di Monti—used to be made on the hill behind Naples, and it has been supposed that the china clays of Cornwall and other places have been produced from the felspars of the granites in a similar way. The whole of the Solfatara crater has been enclosed for the purpose of manufacturing alum from its soil. On the hillside to the north there are several caverns, called stufe, from whence gas and hot steam arise, and these are used by the inhabitants as admirable vapour baths. So late as the year 1538 a terrible volcanic explosion, accompanied with violent earthquakes, happened not far from Puteoli, which threw up from the flat plain on which the village of Tripergola stood, a mountain called Monte Nuovo, four hundred and forty feet high and a mile and a half in circumference, consisting entirely of ashes and cinders, obliterating a large part of the celebrated Leucrine Lake, elevating the site of the temple of Serapis sixteen feet, and then depressing it, and generally changing the old features of this locality. This eruption gave relief to the throes of Lake Avernus, which henceforth ceased to send forth its exhalations, and became the cheerful garden scene which we now behold.

Here on a small scale, in the very neighbourhood of man's busiest haunts, occur the cosmical cataclysms which are usually seen only in remote solitudes, and which during the unknown ages of geology have left their indelible records on large portions of the earth's surface. Here we are admitted into the very workshop of Nature, and are privileged to witness her processes of creation. In the neighbourhood of Rome the volcanoes are long extinct. Nature is dead, and there is nothing left but her cold gray ashes. But here we see her in all her vigour, changing and renewing and mingling the ruins of her works in strange association with those of man—the ashes of her volcanoes with the fragments of temples and baths and the houses of Roman senators and poets. The whole region lies over a burning mystery, and one has a constant feeling of insecurity lest the ground should open suddenly and precipitate one into the very heart of it. Naples itself, strange to say, a city of more than five hundred thousand inhabitants, is built in great part within an old broken-down volcanic crater, and the proximity of its awful neighbour shows that it stands perilously on the brink of destruction, and may share at any time the fate of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Were it not for the safety-valves of Vesuvius and Solfatara, the whole intermediate region, with its towns and villages and swarming population, would be blown into the air by the vehement forces that are struggling beneath. It was this elemental war—fiercer, we have reason to believe, in classic times than now—that gave rise to the religious fables of the poets. The gloomy shades of Avernus, the tremendous battles of the gods, the dark pictures of Tartarus and the Stygian river, were the supernatural suggestions of a fiery soil. To the fierce throes of volcanic action we owe the weird mythology of the ancients, which has imparted such a profound charm to the region, and also, strange as it may seem, the surpassing loveliness of Nature herself. The fairest regions of the earth are ever those where the awful power of fire has been at work, giving to the landscape that passionate expression which lights up a human face with its most impressive beauty.

The visit of the apostle to Puteoli served many important purposes. He who had sent his people Israel into Egypt and Babylon that they might be benefited by coming into contact with other civilisations, sent St. Paul to this famous region where Greece and Rome—which, geographically and historically, were turned back to back, the face of Greece looking eastward, the face of Italy looking westward—seemed to meet and to blend into each other, in order that his sympathies might be expanded by coming into contact with all that man could realise of earthly glory or conceive of religion. We can trace the overruling Hand that was shaping the destinies of the Church in the course which he was led to take from Jerusalem to Damascus, and thence to Asia Minor, Corinth, Athens, Philippi, Puteoli, and Rome; gathering as he went along the fruits of all the wide diversity of experience and culture characterising these places, to equip him more thoroughly for his work for the Gentiles. And we see also how the doctrines of the Gospel were becoming more clearly and fully unfolded by this method of progression; how questions were settled and principles carried out which have shown to us the exceeding riches of Divine grace in a way that we could not otherwise have known. Like the lines and marks of the chrysalis which appear on the body of the butterfly when it first spreads out its wings to fly—like the folds of the bud which may be seen in the newly-expanded leaf or flower—so Christianity at first emerged from its Jewish sheath with the distinctive marks of Judaism upon it. But as it passed westward from the Holy City, it slowly extricated itself out of the spirit and the trammels of Judaism into the self-restraining freedom which Christ gives to His people. The teaching of the Gospel was fully developed, guarded from all possible misinterpretation, and practically applied to all representative circumstances of men, through its coming into contact with the events, persons, and scenes associated with the wonderful missionary journeyings of the apostle Paul, which began at Jerusalem and terminated at Rome. When the Gospel reached the Imperial City, its relations to Jews and Gentiles, bond and free, were fixed for ever, its own form was perfected, and the conditions for its diffusion matured; and its history henceforth, like that of Rome itself, was synonymous with the history of the world.