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J. W. McGarvey
Lands of the Bible (1881)


L E T T E R   X X.


      FROM Philadelphia I returned by rail to Sardis, having passed by it on my way out. It is about 24 miles west of Philadelphia, and 84 miles by rail from Smyrna. Sardis, unlike Philadelphia, has ceased to be a city. It is utterly desolate. My only opportunity to find lodging while visiting it was at the small depot building, and the superintendent [581] of the road at Smyrna, Mr. Purser, had kindly given me a note to the young man who has charge of the station requesting him to give me a bed. The young man was absent at another station during the night, and I occupied his bed. A native family near by cooked a chicken for us and made our coffee. With these and the crackers which we had brought from Smyrna we made our supper and breakfast.

      Sardis, like Philadelphia, is situated at the southern edge of the plain of the Hermus, which is here 10 or 12 miles wide; it is at the foot of a mountain ridge, which constituted its acropolis; its southern wall passed along the backbone of this ridge, and in the front of this acropolis were the stadium and the theatre. But here its likeness to Philadelphia terminates. The acropolis of Sardis is about 1000 feet high,--nearly four times as high as that of Philadelphia. In front it is so steep as to be climbed on foot only in one place, and on its southern side is a precipice 500 or 600 feet deep, reaching to an elevated valley between it and other mountains farther south. The acropolis is itself a magnificent ruin. It is not a mountain of solid rock, but one of pebbles and rounded stones intermixed with sand. It would be a mass of concrete but it has no cohesion, and it has been washed into all the jagged forms of sharp peak, knife-like ridge, and deep ravine that such a mountain could be made to assume. The view along its sides as we climbed it was full of sublimity, and this was heightened by the peculiar combination of art and nature on its summit. The sky-piercing peaks are crowned with ragged sections of an ancient wall, the bases of which often project beyond the surface which supports them, so that they appear ready to topple from their lofty perches. At the southeastern corner a section of the wall, about a quarter of a mile long, is so nearly undermined by the crumbling of the bill beneath it that it made me nervous to walk upon its top and cast my eye below.

      Arundel says that the ascent of this mountain is not worth the trouble;1 but I have seen nothing in my travel much more magnificent than the view which it affords. To the south, across a rough intervening valley, rise the mountains of Tmolus, about 2000 feet high, and here thickly wooded. To the west, across a narrow valley, is a ridge like the one on which we stand, jagged and peaked in the wildest manner. The ruins of the Temple of Cyb'ele lie in this valley, its two columns that are, still erect standing in loneliness amid a mass of marble [582] blocks lying in confusion about them. To the north the eye takes in the Valley of the Hermus, which stretches to the right and left until it is lost in the dim distance, and it traces the serpentine course of the river itself for many miles along this valley. We see, just before us on the bank of this stream, the place where Alexander the Great was encamped when Sardis opened her gates to him without resistance, and we gaze on the same landscape which he beheld when, standing on this very acropolis, he resolved to erect here a temple to Jupiter. Still nearer in the plain is the battle-field in which the army of the rich Crœsus, of whose kingdom Sardis was the capital, was defeated by Cyrus, after which event the city fell into the hands of this Persian conqueror. Across the plain, on a long, low ridge with a smooth surface, we see a large number of mounds, or tumuli, in which the rock-built tombs of ancient kings and men of wealth are covered thick with earth,--the largest of them the tumulus of Halyattes, the father of Crœsus. Beyond this ridge lies a beautiful sheet of water, the Gygean Lake, and beyond it rises the mountain-range which bounds the Valley of the Hermus on the north. To the east, in a valley at the foot of the mountain on which we stand, is the river Pactolus, whose sand was said of old to be mingled with gold; and we trace the silvery thread of its water across the plain until it unites with the Hermus.

      The sections of the city wall which I have mentioned, together with some on the plain below, are reconstructions, as appears from the pieces of columns, sculptured slabs, and other remains of more ancient structures, which are worked in with coarser material. All of the wall of the acropolis except these fragmentary remains has disappeared, having fallen with the ground on which it stood, rolled down the precipice, and been covered beneath the mass of sand and pebbles which followed. The summit of the mountain must have been far more extensive formerly than at present, but earthquakes and winter rains have carried it down upon the city below, which lies buried many feet beneath the present surface. That once broad summit is now so narrow in one place that the path by which the visitor goes from one part to another is scarcely 10 inches wide, with a deep precipice below. When we came to this, Fed'ros halted and would go no farther. He said it made his head swim to go across such places, and I must excuse him. But the native guide whom we had employed to show us the way walked boldly across, and I followed. Beyond this pass I obtained the view which I have described above, and I felt compensated for the little risk which I had run. As we were descending the mountain the guide told me that a few weeks previous he was guiding a [583] German traveler across that place, when the gentleman's foot slipped, and he would have fallen had not he (the guide) reached back to him a staff which he carried and helped him to recover his footing.

      The chief part of the city stood at the northern foot of the mountain. Here the remains of only a few buildings now project above the surface. The most conspicuous of these is the first that is reached in approaching the city from the railway-station. Its walls, which are built of alternate layers of broad, thin bricks, and small stones embedded in cement, still stand from 30 to 40 feet above the surface, and they inclose two immense halls standing end to end with a square passage between them. The northern hall is 150 feet long and 40 wide, while the southern is of the same width and 175 feet long. The roof was an arch of brick. Wings extended to the east and west from the southern hall, but their ruins are in such confusion, and so nearly covered with earth, that I could not determine their exact dimensions. At one side of the southern hall an excavation to its foundation shows that earth has accumulated around the building to a depth of at least 20 feet. It is called the House of Crœsus; but while it was large enough, and probably fine enough, for that richest of all kings to dwell in, it can scarcely be old enough.

      Leaving this house to the left, and crossing the western foot of the acropolis, I found on a low piece of ground the celebrated Temple of Cyb'ele, the mother of Jupiter. Two marble columns about 35 feet above the surface, and reaching, as excavations recently made show, about 20 feet under the present surface, are all that can be seen at a distance, unless it be from the summit of the adjacent mountain. The columns are 7 feet in diameter, and their capitals are beautiful specimens of the Ionic order. The blocks of other columns like them lie in a confused mass upon the broken walls of the temple and about the space which it inclosed. It is impossible, without removing the accumulated earth, to determine the exact form and dimensions of the temple, but the English engineers who built the railway have made a stone-quarry of this as well as of other ruins along the line of their road, and from the excavations which they have made it is safe to conclude that the foundations of the temple are yet entire. The marble of which the whole building was constructed has a coarse grain, but it is white and glistening, and I was told by the natives that it was quarried in the mountains a few miles distant, where masses of the same marble still exist.

      In the northeastern part of the city are the ruins of two ancient churches, one very large and built of original material. It has a striking [584] resemblance to the Church of the Apocalypse at Philadelphia. The other was evidently built of material from some heathen temple, including capitals, friezes, broken columns, and sculptured slabs worked into the walls without regard to their original design.

      At various places within the area of the city excavations have been made in search of building stones, and they were found in every instance. There are many mounds and irregular protuberances on the surface which indicate the sites of buried buildings. I have no doubt that a thorough system of excavations here would reveal many relics of antiquity, and they might throw much light on the history of this famous city.

      The only inhabitants about the place are a few families at the northeastern corner, who have a mill operated by water drawn from the Pactolus, and a few at the southwestern corner, who occupy in winter some rude stone huts without windows, and in summer a few permanent tents covered partly with goats' hair cloth and partly with leafy branches from the trees. We stopped at one of these tents, and while sipping the inevitable coffee which the old Turcoman ordered for us I asked the old man why his people made no windows to their houses. The answer was, "We live in them only in the winter, and then we need no windows."

      After completing my exploration of Sardis, I next directed my course toward Thyatira. I found that the most practicable method of reaching this place was to return to Magnesî'a, about thirty-six miles back toward Smyrna on the railway, and there procure horses for the trip. I found Magnesî'a a very stirring city, claiming 25,000 inhabitants. I counted twenty-six minarets, indicating more than half that number of mosques, and I saw there a convent of the Dancing Dervishes. I also found, to my great gratification, a neat little hotel with clean beds, airy rooms, and a good table. The fare was only five francs a day. I learned from my Greek landlord that there was an American missionary in the city, and under his guidance I visited the mission premises. I found them consisting of a large dwelling and a small chapel, both the property of the mission, which is under the control of the central station at Constantinople. I had a pleasant but brief interview with the missionary and his wife, and found that their work was not encouraged by any decided success. The fast of Ramadân', during which Mohammedans are required to fast all day, though they may feast all night, was in progress, and at night the twenty-six minarets were all illuminated by three rows of lamps hung around every one. It was a very pretty sight. [585]

      We found in the city a large khân, kept by a Turk, and supplied with both horses and carriages for hire. When we called, he constrained us to take seats and drink some coffee while we bargained for horses and waited for them to be led out for inspection. I hired three horses and a Turkish servant, at one dollar a day each, for my journey to Thyatira and Pergamos. After trying them by a short ride, I selected the best one for myself, a strongly-built iron-gray with a good walk, and let Fed'ros have second choice. He and the Turk divided between them our baggage, consisting of two pairs of well-loaded Turkish saddle-pockets, and thus equipped we set out on the morning of July 17th for Thyatira.

      The country through which we were to pass was new to Fed'ros, and he was afraid to traverse it without a military escort. We called on the Turkish governor, who had a regiment of soldiers at his command, and made known to him our intended journey. He said that he thought the road was free from robbers, but he would not assume any responsibility for our safety. This made Fed'ros the more anxious for an escort, but the missionary told me that he was accustomed to go anywhere he wished alone, and I thought if he could go alone I could certainly go with two attendants, so I positively refused to ask for a guard. We set out unarmed into a region known only by the stable-servant, but he had traversed it many times in his present capacity, and I knew the general direction and distance.

      Thyatira is about 35 miles from Magnesî'a, a little east of north. After riding about two miles we crossed the Hermus, which is here a shallow stream not over two and a half feet deep and about forty yards wide. In crossing its valley we frequently came upon long stretches of a paved road, but it was so rough, and the stones were worn so slick on top, that we avoided it except where muddy places compelled us to take it. During the ride we saw some ill-constructed wagons, with large beds made of wicker-work, and with wheels so void of grease that they screeched hideously at every turn. We saw very large wheat-farms, covering in some instances more than a square mile of territory, each with a large building in it intended for the lodging of laborers during seed-time and harvest, and for the storing of grain and straw. The laborers dwell in villages often remote from these farms.

      After crossing the plain of the Hermus our road followed another plain, which enters into this at a right angle, and is drained by a stream almost as large as the Hermus above their junction. This stream heads near Thyatira, and the plain is terminated there by a mountain-range that rises back of the city. All the way the plain is bounded by low mountains on the east and west. [586]

      The Turkish name of Thyatira is Akhissar, the white tower. Seen at a distance from the south it is almost hidden by groves of tall cypress-trees, but white minarets gleaming through these, and occasional groups of houses coming into view, combine with the dark foliage and tapering forms of the trees and the purple mountain-wall in the distance to present an Oriental landscape of the most pleasing character. The cypress groves occupy the old graveyards of the city, the trees having been planted by the graves as signs of mourning, and it was sad to observe the fact that these cities of the dead occupy far more space than the city of the living. The same is true of many other cities and villages which I saw in Asia Minor, and yet these large cemeteries have been filled up during the comparatively short period of Turkish dominion, all the graves, tombs, and sepulchres of the early Christian period and of the still earlier heathen period having been long ago swept away or hidden beneath the surface.

      As we approached the city by a road winding among these groves I saw many relics of antiquity, such as broken columns from ancient temples used as head-stones for some of the graves, sculptured slabs of marble or granite used as side-stones for other graves, and blocks of rich material built in among the unhewed stones of the rude walls by which the cemeteries are inclosed.

      The city, like all the other interior Asiatic towns, is composed chiefly of one-story houses built of small stones laid in a thick mass of poorly-tempered mortar. The walls are frequently strengthened by pieces of timber built in horizontally at intervals of two or three feet, and in some instances they are plastered on the outside. The roofs are of rude tiles, supported by rafters made of round poplar poles, and they project about two feet beyond the walls so as to protect the latter from the drip in the rainy season. In these walls, as in those of the villages of Palestine, I frequently saw well-shaped stones from ancient buildings. On the streets I saw sarcophagi used for watering-troughs, and Corinthian capitals used for door-steps or perforated for the mouths of wells and cisterns.

      Within a few years past the city has been visited three times by destructive fires. The last of these, which occurred in October, 1878, destroyed about one-third of the houses. We rode through the burnt district as we entered the city, and found large numbers of men engaged in rebuilding the houses. They were under the general superintendence of a Greek engineer from Smyrna, named Vitallis. He was laying off new and straight streets 16 and 22 feet wide, and forbidding under an edict of the government the erection of any but stone houses. Some of [587] the burnt houses were of sun-dried bricks, and all these were now but masses of earth. These improvements excited the disgust of some of the Turks, and one old fellow was so rebellious that he had been thrown into prison.

      The only place of lodging for travelers to be found in the city was a filthy khân, full of dirt and night-prowling insects. I told Fed'ros that if we could not find a better house I would spread my shawl under a shade-tree at the edge of the town and sleep there. After much inquiry he finally appealed to the engineer, Vitallis, who said that he had a room in the house of a widow, and that we might possibly find lodging with her. He sent a servant to show us the way, and the widow promptly agreed to let us have a room, though she had nothing for us to eat. Fed'ros contracted with a man, who kept a small cook-shop where men called and ordered what they wished to eat, to prepare and send us our supper and breakfast. The engineer, when he came in from his work, took supper with us, and so did a Greek doctor who called to make the engineer a visit. The doctor was a native of Thessalonica, and the engineer had lived as an officer of the sultan in Constantinople; so they were full of information most interesting to me, and they remained with us to a late hour. The only drawback to the conversation was the impertinence of Fed'ros, who, while acting as my interpreter, persisted in putting in at least two words for himself to one for me.

      The next morning Vitallis led us to a colossal statue recently disinterred in the western part of the town; pointed out to us a portion of the ancient wall exposed in one of the streets, and showed us in a private yard a large sarcophagus whose sides were covered with wreaths and crowns. He was a young man of handsome person and fine address, and he treated us with much kindness.

      The present population of Thyatira is about 9000. The plain around it is flat, and much of it is wet. I could not resist the conviction that it is an unhealthy city, though all with whom I conversed contended that it is not. It is well supplied with water, which is distributed through the city in pipes, while the waste from fountains and watering-troughs is frequently seen flowing along the narrow streets. The people are nearly all Turks.

      At 8 A. M. on the 18th of July I left Thyatira for Pergamos, which I found to be about 48 miles distant. For about 12 miles the direction was northwest, across the head of the plain in which Thyatira stands. I then reached, by a slight ascent, the Plain of Kirgagatch, a beautiful circular basin about six miles in diameter, surrounded by smooth [588] mountains. It is noted for the production of superior watermelons, cotton, and fruits. Watermelons were not quite ripe. The city of Kirgagatch, containing a population of 12,000 or 14,000, and several cotton-mills, is beautifully situated at the southern side of the plain, with precipitous mountains towering grandly above it.

      This plain is drained by the river Caicus, and from it we passed westward into the Caicus Plain. This plain, after extending about 28 miles almost due west, and maintaining an average width of about six miles, is then contracted to about one-third of its previous width, the mountains on the north closing upon it by a curve to the south. There it turns toward the southwest, widens again after a few miles, and stretches away 20 miles farther to the sea. The entire plain is rich and well watered.

      Pergamos is situated at this southward curve of the mountains, the modern city at the foot of the range, and the ancient city on the summit of a mountain 2000 feet high. We entered the former through the doorway of an immense building called the Church of St. John. So vast were its proportions, and so fort-like its appearance, that I at first took it to be an old castle built to defend the gate. We rode to the principal khân and put up our horses and our servant, and then struck out to find lodgings for ourselves in some private house. A young Greek from the bazaar volunteered to go with us where he thought we could find lodging, and while we were making inquiries along the street a Turkish policeman, heavily armed, stopped our Greek friend and began to denounce him for helping the strangers to find lodging among the families. Turks have a great horror of allowing men such privileges. Fed'ros was equal to the occasion. He walked up to the policeman with an air of importance and said, "Get away from here, you impudent dog! Say another word, and I will have you strapped up and taken to Smyrna and punished for your interference with a gentleman!" The Turk, taking him to be some high official, and thinking me perhaps to be some lord from a distant realm, immediately apologized and got out of the way. We finally succeeded in finding a room in which we would be allowed to sleep, and Fed'ros boldly asked the owner if there were any "bugs" in it. He said there was none. Fed'ros demanded, "Are you certain there are none?" The man answered, "Yes; I will eat every one you can find there." With this assurance we took the room and ordered our supper and breakfast, as at Thyatira, from a bake-shop in the bazaar.

      Modern Pergamos is almost a fac-simile of Philadelphia and Thyatira, with a population of about 10,000. The ascent from it to the ancient [589] city is by a steep and winding road which reaches the old wall on the eastern brow of the mountain, and enters through a ruined portal. After entering the inclosure, which covers the entire top of the mountain, we followed the ancient pavement, which continues to wind about and ascend toward the highest part of the summit. It was the pavement of a street, yet it follows such curves as secure it the most gradual ascent to the acropolis, which occupied the most northern part of the mountain-top, and was separated from the lower part of the city by another wall. Immediately in front of this separating wall we found about 50 workmen engaged in uncovering the ruins of a large temple, and in boxing the pieces of statuary which they found, preparatory to shipping them. They were in the employ of a Mr. Humans, agent of the German Empire, who had been engaged for about eight months in making excavations here, and had already taken out 160 pieces of statuary, most of which he had forwarded to Berlin. Many pieces were still on the ground, and new discoveries were being made every day. I saw none which could compare with the exquisite masterpieces of Greece which are in the museums of Rome and Naples, but I saw some that were very well worth the expense of disinterment and removal.

      The interior of the acropolis and of the whole city is covered with ruins; and cisterns for rain-water, which was a necessity to the inhabitants, are very numerous. The city walls are everywhere in a state of ruin except on the extreme northern end of the acropolis, where a piece of the original wall still stands in an almost perfect condition. It is a splendid piece of masonry.

      The view from the summit of the acropolis is not excelled by any that I saw in my whole journey. In every direction mountains are seen, near by or far away, and they present every variety of form and every shade of color known to mountain scenery. The broad plain of the Caicus stretches away to the east, terminated by a mountain barrier dim in the distance, and the same plain continues its course to the southwest until its varied hues of yellow and green are exchanged for the deep blue of the sea, and this is limited by the dim mountains of the island of Mityle'ne, the ancient Lesbos. The Caicus is seen at intervals winding its way along this plain, and in the mountain passes in other directions many smaller streams are traced as they thread their way through crooked valleys. All the elements of a magnificent landscape, mountains, plains, rivers, and the sea, combine to make this one of the most magnificent ever enjoyed by the people of an entire city looking abroad from their own house-tops. Its commanding site made the city itself also a magnificent object when seen from the plain [590] below, and especially from the plain toward the southwest, whence it stands out distinctly against the sky and seems to exalt itself above all the hills.

      In the plain just south of the city there are three tumuli, similar to those in the plain of the Hermus over against Sardis; but of the origin and history of these nothing is known. They are about 200 feet in diameter at the base, and fifty feet in perpendicular height. Excavations will some day bring to light the story which they are able to tell.

      At night we made a short call at the residence of Mr. Humans, and found him pleasantly situated, with his wife and two or three children, in a suite of rooms where they kept house. They could speak some English, and I spent an hour or two with them very pleasantly.

      I left Pergamos on Sunday morning, July 20th, and rode that day more than forty miles, to Menimen, a station of the railroad about twenty miles from Smyrna. My general course was nearly due south, but it veered somewhat to the right, and I passed several times near the seashore. It was the first Sunday that I had given to land travel since I left home, and I would have devoted it to rest but for the fact that the ship in which I was to sail for Constantinople was to leave Smyrna the next day, and the whole plan of my journey homeward would have been deranged had I missed it. Having a long day's journey before me, I gave orders the night before for an early start; but Fed'ros, who was far more dilatory than any Ar'ab or Syrian whom I had employed, detained me at least half an hour in getting ready, and when we reached the khân we found our Turk just out of bed and quietly smoking his pipe though he had not yet fed our horses. Here was another half-hour's delay. The consequence of this was that when we reached Menimen, a train on which I could have proceeded to Smyrna that night had been gone about twenty minutes, and I had to hunt up private quarters again for a night's lodging. Fortunately, Fed'ros was acquainted with a Greek family here who had a comfortable house, and they agreed to lodge and feed us on the condition that I would advance enough money to enable them to buy meat for our supper and breakfast. It is astonishing how little meat is eaten in these Eastern countries, and how few persons can afford to buy it. I found, however, that in all the families where I bought meat for them to cook they were as hungry for it as I was, and they always took a seat with me and helped me to eat it.

      I found Menimen a place of about 8000 inhabitants, consisting of Turks, Greeks, Armenians, and Jews in the order of numbers. It is a place of considerable business, which has chiefly grown up since the [591] construction of the railroad. The effect of the railroad thus far has not been so much to increase the products of the country as to facilitate the transportation of its surplus. An increase of capital must necessarily result, and that will be followed by an increase of products.

      On Monday morning, July 21st, I took the train for Smyrna about 10 o'clock, and reached my hotel in that city about noon. As my vessel was to set sail at 5 P. M., I had little more than time to call on the consul for my valuables and the letters which had come for me in my absence, and prepare for another voyage by sea.

      I had now traversed all of Asia Minor that my limited time and resources would allow, and I had seen the sites of all of the Seven Churches of Asia, except that of Laodicea. This was so remote from the others that it would have required nearly a week of extra time and of very expensive travel to see it. The Smyrna and Aidîn' Railway terminates at Aidîn', within 16 miles of it, and this would have been the nearest route by which to reach it. It is east of Aidîn', and about 110 miles a little south of east from Ephesus. I learned from the old book of Mr. Arundel, and from conversation with persons who had visited it, that the ancient city is now totally uninhabited. Its ruins cover six or seven hills. Innumerable sarcophagi, sure sign of former wealth, are scattered about its area; it contains the ruins of three theatres, and many sculptured figures have been disinterred by laborers in excavating for building stones to be used in neighboring villages. The river Lycus, a branch of the Meander, flows past it about a mile distant on the north.

      I was struck, wherever I went in Asia Minor, with the striking likeness between its natural features and those of Palestine. Its seasons are the same,--a short wet season and a long dry one; its temperature is only a little lower; its vegetation, both natural and cultivated, is almost identical; it is equally stripped of its original forests; and it has in summer the same bare and desolate appearance. It gives constant evidence, too, of having once been, like Palestine, a very rich and splendid country. One would not have to read Greek history, after seeing this country, to know something of what it has been, as he would not have to read the Bible after seeing Palestine to know that it is but the shadow of its former self.

      Smyrna is by far the most important city not only on this coast, but in all Asia Minor. It has a population variously estimated from 150,000 to 200,000, of which nearly half are Greeks and Europeans. By far the greater portion of its business is in the hands of these nationalities, though the Turkish bazaar is far superior to that of Damascus, and [592] inferior to none, perhaps, in the Turkish empire, except that at Constantinople. The city is situated on a flat plain between the harbor and a mountain, which rises in its rear more than 300 feet high. It fills all the space back to the foot of the mountain. Its harbor is completely land-locked. It is a beautiful sheet of water nearly two miles wide, and extending due west for six or eight miles, with a mountain ridge rising from its shores on either side. An island with a mountainous elevation, stretches across the mouth of the harbor to the west, leaving ample space for the passage of ships, but completely shutting off the westerly winds. The deep water extends up to the quay, and all vessels, except the largest iron steamers, can tie up to the quay for loading and unloading. Many vessels, both large and small, are constantly anchored in the harbor, some are constantly arriving and departing, and the surface of the harbor is always alive with row-boats, lightly built and painted in gay colors.

      The most pleasing sight that I witnessed in Smyrna was the gathering of the people on the quay after sunset. The quay is the water street of the city, and it extends along the harbor for fully a mile, with the water only three feet below its outer edge, and an almost continuous row of handsome buildings on the opposite side. It is about 60 feet wide, and it is smoothly paved with flag-stones. As soon as the sun is down every summer evening the people begin to pour out of the sweltering city upon this quay, men, women, and children, from the oldest matron to the youngest child that can walk, all neatly dressed for the occasion, and here they promenade, filling the street from end to end, until nine o'clock. At intervals along the inner side of the street there are open squares in front of cafés, that are filled with small tables and chairs, where the promenaders may take seats if they choose and call for ices, lemonade, candies, cakes, or wine, eat and drink at their leisure, and then join again the moving throng. Several bands of music are stationed at intervals along the way, and policemen are on duty in sufficient numbers to quell the slightest disorder should any occur. I walked out and mingled with that crowd on three different evenings, and I saw not the slightest departure from good manners. There was no hurry or bustle, no loud talking or loud laughing, and not the slightest appearance of intoxication. I could but wonder at the fact that the population of a commercial city like this could thus turn out en masse on a pleasure excursion, and preserve decorum so perfect. I doubt whether the same could be done in any city of 100,000 people in the United States.

      The student of the Bible will recognize some correspondence between [593] the condition of these seven cities and what was predicted concerning the seven churches which were first planted in them. The fate of a church is not to be confounded with that of the city in which it is located, yet it often occurs, as in some of these instances, that the one shares the fate of the other. The candlestick of Ephesus has been entirely removed out of its place. Smyrna, which was poor in purse but rich in faith, has become rich in purse but poor in faith; the sharp two-edged sword with which Pergamos was threatened has done its work, leaving nothing but the silent stones to tell the story; the Lord came to Sardis as a thief, shattering it into ruins with an earthquake; Philadelphia has been kept, if not "from the hour of temptation," at least from the hour of destruction; and Laodicea, whose ruins attest the riches of which she once boasted, has long since been spewed out of the mouth of the Lord.2

      1 "A Visit to the Seven Churches of Asia," by Rev. Arundel, English missionary in Smyrna. This work is about 30 years old, and out of print, but a copy was loaned me by the present English missionary in Smyrna, whose name I have forgotten. [582]
      2 Rev. ii. 5; iii. 3; ix. 12, 16; x. 16, 17. [594]


[LOB 581-594]

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J. W. McGarvey
Lands of the Bible (1881)

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