MONG the greatest marvels which the traveler will see near Naples is the Piscina Mirabilis, a vast underground reservoir, to which water was brought from fifty miles distance by an aqueduct. Upon descending into it by a long flight of forty steps, it appears to be fitted for a temple or a palace, its area is so extensive and its architecture so imposing; it measures 220 feet by 83, and its vaulted roof of massive masonry is supported by forty-eight enormous pilasters, the whole structure being as firm as when it was first put together. It chills the visitor to his very marrow, and makes him glad to escape to the sunny air above. Once it was put to valuable use, and contained refreshing floods, but now it is as dark as it is stupendous.
Such is Calvinistic doctrine: if the life be in it, it is a fountain of living waters, a splendid store-house of vital nourishment, a gathering up of sacred streams from the divine wellhead of truth; but if the inward vitality be gone it is dark and dreary, repulsive to many, and chilling to all who enter it. We have known men who have dwelt in its empty vaults till they have become wretched as ghosts wandering among the tombs, and fierce as mountain wolves. To them the purposes of God were only dark retreats from the responsibilities of life, or prisons for the hopes of their fellow men. Pour in the life-bearing floods, and then you shall see the glory of that marvellous system, which comprises more of divine revelation than any other which the mind of man has ever discovered in the inspired page. Calvinism, or, better still, Pauline doctrine, is a collection of the living waters of the gospel and so abundant are the stores which it treasures that they are the daily joy and rejoicing of ten thousand saints. We prize the reservoir, not for its masonry but for its contents; and so we value Calvinism; not so much for its massive logic, its stupendous grandeur, its sublime conceptions, and its vast compass, as for the gospel of our salvation which from its depth it has poured forth for the supply of human needs.
Let its professors see to it that it becomes to them no dry doctrine, empty and void and waste; but let them receive it in its spiritual fullness and divine energy, and they need never blush to own in all companies that their faith is bound up with it. Our creed is no pigmy's fancy, no ephemeral creation;—it is worthy of the loftiest genius, though plain enough to be comprehended by the wayfaring man. It is alike sublime and simple, for it is truth.