Page images


and are beautiful with vineyard or fig, orchard or olive; but a large portion of the face of the country exhibits only a stinted vegetation, which struggles for life among the stones, or sucks up vitality by constant effort from what earth it can find in the crevices of the bare, limestone rock. Care, labour, and some skill are required to make this land flow with milk and honey; heedlessness and neglect would soon give over its most fruitful and beautiful portions to sterility and desolation. The capacities of the soil are large, but left to itself the garden would speedily become desert.

On some accounts we seem to have had a favourable introduction to this land of the Bible. We had spent time enough in Egypt to recover from any shock which a first view of oriental life might occasion. The features which seemed at first strange and disagreeable had become familiar, and so had mostly ceased to absorb attention and give pain as they did at first. The trip across the desert had made us ready to appreciate the beauty which natural scenery had to offer, and the low life of the Arabs, among whom we journeyed for nearly a month, made Palestine appear beautiful in its spring costume, and a long way toward genuine civilization. As we came gradually upon the cultivated lands about Gaza, saw the flowers springing among the grass, caught the melody of birds as they flung their music to our ears from every side, and found peasants following the plough, or casting the seed into the soil, or coming out to greet us with smiles and civilities, it seemed like a blessed world that was giving us welcome, and the common people appeared dignified and noble. Just now the feet of spring are specially beautiful upon the mountains of Syria, and the city and the people find favour in the eyes of those who were becoming weary of the monotony of the desert, and who had been studying humanity in the type presented by the Bedouins.

Passing through the valley of Eschol, as we approached Hebron, it did not seem wonderful that the spies brought glowing accounts to their brethren in the camp of Israel ; nor did it appear at all unlikely that a generation which had grown up in the wilderness should have thought Palestine next to Paradise ; and when we passed into the city by the Jaffa gate, on the afternoon of March 21, and found ourselves comfortably quartered at the hotel, where the dirt did not lie in piles, and where not more than a score of fleas and a dozen mosquitoes attacked each


lodger in a single night, it was only natural to be appreciative and not difficult to be grateful.

And my feet are at length really standing within the gates of Jerusalem! I have walked on Mount Zion, explored Moriah, followed the bed of the Kidron through the valley of Jehoshaphat, drunk from the pool of Siloam, threaded the valley of Gehenna, mused in Gethsemane, stood on what is said to be Calvary, climbed Olivet, and strolled about Bethany. I do not much trouble myself now about the assertions, pretensions, and disputes of Mohammedan, Jew, Greek, or Latin, respecting topography in detail; and questions of historic and critical probability consume little of my time. I am sure that here is where the great events which underlie our Christian faith occurred; here Jesus walked, and taught, and triumphed, and opened a way. to redemption for those who take Him as Master and Lord; here the whole scriptural narratives are illustrated, confirmed, and invested with a meaning and a reality which they never before possessed, as I read them where their heroes lived ; and that answers every vital demand of intellect and heart. Light flashes upon the pages of the New Testament like that which came streaming down upon the plains of Bethlehem so long ago; I am sure its source is in heaven, and so I bow down with a grateful confidence, and lift up my eyes with exceeding great joy. The distant Christ comes nearer now; blended with the Divine majesty in His face, there is a more thoroughly human smile than my eye bad ever before caught; and in the incarnation of Jesus I behold the highest glory of God and the dearest hope of man. Here where the feet of the Messiah pressed the mountains, my faith finds a rock on which to plant itself; on the height whence He sprang to His uppermost throne, my hope spreads its wing and stops only at immortality.

We have spent nearly ten days in and around Jerusalem, and the work of exploration has now extended to nearly every recognized point of interest. We took Hebron on the way, and encamped during a night beneath the old oak which has been called Abraham's. Mohammedan turbulence and fanaticism allow nobody except a believer in the Koran and the Prophet to do more than look into a dark hole in the wall of Macpelah, where the bones of the patriarchs rest. The partial exception made in favour of the Prince of Wales has not yet been repeated, and so we saw the hole, but could only guess at the

cave of


rest. It is to be hoped that this puerile exclusiveness may soon give way to authority and reason. We have looked at: all the points of interest in and about the church of the Nativity at Bethlehem. It is a pleasant, thriving town, pleasantly located; the inhabitants are nominally Christians, and it being well identified as the home of David's boyhood and the birth-place of Jesus, the visit was not without its satisfaction. We have been to the Dead Sea, the Jordan, and Jericho, by way of the convent of Mar Saba, where we spent an agreeable night. We took a bath in the Dead Sea, according to custom. The waters are clear, the temperature was just comfortable, and the impossibility of sinking renders bathing a peculiar exercise. Beyond this the satisfaction is not large. The body being so buoyed up by the great weight of the water, it is almost impossible to get low enough to swim much, as the feet come quite to the surface at every movement and moment; the taste of the liquid, if only a drop or two gets within the lips, is not unlike that of beef brine, with a strong infusion of pepper-sauce and thoroughwort; and in spite of every effort at rubbing, the body keeps the decided sensation of having been immersed in castor oil. We were very glad, two hours later, to take a second bath in the Jordan; for though the stream is turbid like the Tiber or the Mississippi, the plunge in it was thoroughly refreshing, and the greasy feeling did not survive the second bath. Our stay at the modern village near the site of ancient Jericho is not to be described now; but if the blowing of ram's horns would set the modern town and castle tumbling, and open a door to civilization for the miserable natives, the sooner the blast rings the better.

The last half of the way up to Jerusalem from Jericho was marked by a constant stream of pilgrims, which must have embraced thousands, working their way toward the Jordan, where the great sacred bathing operation, annually performed, came off the next day. The pilgrims represented almost every nationality where Christianity has a foothold, both sexes, every variety of costume, and all the ages from infancy to senility, while the faces suggested almost every variety of character. Two-thirds, perhaps, were on foot; the rest were on camels, horses, mules, donkeys, man-back, woman-back, on cushions, on bedding, in a sort of chair-saddle, beneath awnings; the strong were supporting the weak, the seeing leading the blind; there was youth with elastic step, and age leaning on its staff; some were driving up


the animals, others clinging to their tails and thus being pulled onward; some moved with hurried step and hopeful face, others slowly and with downcast eyes; here was a soulless plodder aud copyist of custom, there a rapt enthusiast ready for any wild crusade; now a man of cares, moving silently on as though impelled by duty; there a gleeful, chatting girl, who frisked along as though drawn by curiosity or expecting to see fun; on one side a man of manifest wealth and standing, and on the other a poor, half-clad wretch, whose countenance was a picture of hunger and privations ;-and thus for more than two hours the motley host kept passing on, and passing on, as though the living stream were to have a perpetual flow. It suggested the old Jewish gatherings from the whole land of Israel, when the feasts at Jerusalem summoned the people to the place of sacrifice and the ceremonies of purification.

Of course we have visited the places and objects of interest in and about the city. They are of varied importance, and are coupled with the more or the less of superstitions--generally more rather than less. The hills and valleys mentioned in Scripture and by Josephus are readily made out, though time and revolutions have changed the face of the sites not a little. The five heights embraced within the city, in whole or in part, are still distinguishable-Zion, Moriah, Akra, Bezetha, and Ophel. The course of the Tyropean valley is yet obvious. Gihon, and Hinnom, and Jehoshaphat cannot be mistaken. The Mount of Olives still rises on the east just across the Kidron, with Gethsemane at its feet; and less than a mile south east from its summit Bethany still abides, suggesting at once the circle of sacred friendships and the calling of Lazarus from the tomb. Beneath the city, and entered near the Damascus Gate, is the great cave but recently discovered, whence it it is supposed that Solomon drew much of the stone for the ancient temple. The Church of the Holy Sepulehre and the Mosque of Omar need some detailed description; for the first claims to occupy the brow of Calvary, to embrace the spot where Christ's resurrection took place, &c. ; the latter undoubtedly stands on the site of the old temple of Solomon.

G. T. D.




Oh ye who on the sea of Life,

Shrouded with clouds and tempest-toss'd,
Surrounded with the beating waves,

Despairing, deem that all is lost;-
Whose hearts are full of phantom-fears,

Whose ev'ry joy seems ever flown,
Whose course is dark as starless night,

Where once the cheering sunbeams shone;-
Arouse ye from your moody thought!

Awake ye from your lethargy!
Erect in form and firm in mind,

And strong in purpose, true and high,
Fear not the clouds, but dare the storm ;

Press onward through the heaving tide;
Conquer the waves, repel Despair,

Be Faith for ever at your side.
Then all the clouds shall roll away,

The stormy billows will subside,
And night will change to brightest day,

As o'er the sea ye gently glide.

Anecdotes and Selections.

ACTIVITY IN DOING GOOD IS PLEASANT.-Activity in doing good is in itself pleasant. When a man aims only at self-interest, or selfsatisfaction, the state of his mind is servile, his views are contracted, and there is something unwholesome in his entire disposition. He is like a man confined to a narrow chamber, and forced to breathe again and again the same air; the consequence is, that his constitution is disordered, and he becomes subject to gloom and deadliness. But he who is engaged in promoting the common welfare, is like a man breathing the free air, the constant fresh supply of oxygen which be receives invigorates his system, and he is rendered lively and buoyant.

I DID SET MY BÓW IN THE CLOUD.-It was out of the cloud that the deluge came, yet it is upon it that the bow is set! The cloud is a thing of darkness, yet God chooses it for the place where He bends the arch of light! Nay; it is just upon this mass of overhanging gloom that He spreads out, in all its sevenfold richness, the beauty of His wondrous light. Such is the way of our God. He knows that we need the cloud, and that a bright sky without a speck or shadow would

« PreviousContinue »